Some Things are More Important than Outrage
Medium is an interesting community. When I first joined, I was thrilled to have a place where people published thoughtful pieces based on sound reasoning and a willingness for dialogue. I enjoyed the pieces I read here. I still do for the most part.
Then the election happened and we’re back to square one shouting insults at one another rather than engaging in actual conversation. Again, the problem is the comments. I am beginning to think there is no real way to communicate from relative anonymity.
We realize there are no real consequences to what we say. I would venture to say that 99% of us will never meet face to face. Just like Facebook and Twitter, this offers the freedom to be hostile and rude. The responses may be longer and in many cased provide more depth, but the bottom line is that what we really respond to as human beings is a good fight and invariably the need to respond is strongest when we disagree.
Back when I was growing up it took special effort to be an asshole. Now, it just takes a keyboard. It would be easy to say it is conservatives polluting the stream, but that would be a gross oversimplification. Yes, there are conservative commenters on here and I have debated some of them.
One guy in particular was interesting. While he was condescending and arrogant, he was also articulate and had a grasp of history. He called me out on one of my points and to my chagrin I discovered that he was correct. I acknowledge this to him. The correction did nothing to further the conversation however and we continued to talk past each other. I feel it was a missed opportunity.
But conservatives are not the only ones who are strident and cocksure in their arguments. The recent conversation occurring between the Progressive wing of the Democratic Party and the liberal wing is a case in point. Article after article rips the scab off the wound of the election and everyone is doing everything they can to assess blame.
But at some point we have to ask ourselves who the real enemy is. This constant bickering between (and I am oversimplifying) Bernie Bros and Pantsuit Nation is, in my opinion, ridiculous. Yes, Hillary was a flawed candidate. Yes, Bernie was unable to convert his voters into a solid vote for Hilary. Yes, Bernie refuses to become a democrat.
So what? Is Bernie Sanders the only progressive in the Democratic Party? Is someone finding Hilary off putting and flawed a sure fire sign of mysoginy? No and no. There are more choices here than for or against. Sometimes, the choice might be for and against.
We need to relearn the meaning of nuance. Stridency only takes us so far. It is easy to speak in a loud voice, but it more difficult to speak in a clear voice. That is killing the Democratic Party. For all the talk and rehashing and wringing of hands, we are no closer to retaking the house and senate, nor are we close to finding a way to take back the presidency. The clock is ticking.
While we snipe at one another, piece by piece healthcare is being dismantled. Public education is being replaced with a voucher system. National Monuments are being placed in jeopardy. The air is getting dirtier and women and minorities are being made less safe by the minute. The clock is ticking.
I think we all need to just shut up for a second, take a breath and get control of ourselves. The election is over. We lost. I will say it again. The election is over. We lost. Now what?
I am sick of trying to justify myself to people that should be my comrades in arms. I am tired of trying to explain myself to people that should be speaking the same language as me. I am really, really tired of hearing how a vote for Sanders was a vote against women and a vote for Clinton was a vote for Wall Street. Neither statement is true. Neither of them.
We all had our reasons for voting the way we did in the primaries. Some went with idealism and some went with pragmatism. But this is also an oversimplification. What is missed in all of this infighting is the fact that some changes are being made based on what was done in the election. And they please no one. Hilary folks are still upset with Bernie’s voters’ lack of enthusiasm for Hilary. They believe he siphoned away support that may have cost her the election. That is just bogus. First of all, those who talk about how bad Bernie was to Clinton fail to take into account how he campaigned for her after the convention. It was not half hearted either. He went full bore to get her elected. Many of us who chose Bernie in the primaries supported Clinton in the general. I would say a majority of us did, though, I have no statistics to back that up. And while we all weren’t wholeheartedly enthusiastic, many of us worked hard to get her elected as well. We may not have liked it, but the people had spoken. I defended her every day from people making spurious arguments and baseless accusations. I had to hold my nose at time, but I did it.
Bernie supporters say that Hillary and the DNC stole the election from Bernie by insidious politicking and bias on behalf of the power structure, some going so far as to say some of the primaries were rigged in her favor. That too is bogus. We didn’t get enough support. While Bernie did well in caucuses, excluding Nevada, he did poorly in primaries. The DNC recognized this and started gearing up for the candidate they thought would win, not because they wanted one or the other but because they wanted to win the White House.
What it all boils down to is that we have these big ideas we are trying to articulate as democrats. Some emphasize one thing, some another. We can’t be in lock step. It’s impossible. But when you look at the issues addressed by the candidates and the platform, the values stated are shared between all of us. People we are on the same side. We are killing each other with friendly fire.
I am a precinct chair. I work with everyone. Our party at the local level is trying to pull together in a very red part of the country. There just aren’t enough of us to argue over the finer points. We are all part of each other’s resistance groups, be they indivisibles or be they Rise North Carolina. I have friends and family that did not see eye to eye with me in my support of Bernie, but I have to work with them. We have horrible republican representation in this area and if you think for one minute I give a damn whether someone in my district voted for Hillary or Bernie you are sadly mistaken.
I want to make sure that you understand what I just said. It makes absolutely not one iota of difference who you voted for in the primaries. It makes not one iota of difference whether you identify as progressive or liberal. It does make a difference if you are willing to work to make sure healthcare is a right for all people. It does make a difference whether you are willing to work to protect LGBTQ persons from discrimination. It does make a difference whether you believe Black Lives Matter. It does make a difference whether you will support our candidates when they stand for election once they’ve been chosen through the primary process, even if your guy or gal didn’t win. It does matter that you are willing to find a way to work together instead of siphoning support from candidates whose margins of error are slim to none.
I don’t care if you are white working class, Native American, African American, Gay, straight, trans, Latino, Asian, Christian, Moslem, Hindu, Buddhist, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian or athiest. What I care about is whether we have your vote and your participation in the crucial elections we are facing. How you get there is up to you. But get there because by God, there are some folks out there that need to be turned out of office and that’s not going to happen if we keep replaying the last election. So please, everyone, let’s get our collective heads out of our collective asses and do something that makes a difference in people’s lives. Because at the end of the day, that is all politics should be about. Helping make our country a more just and compassionate place. If it isn’t, we are just wasting our time. I’m tired of wasting time. Aren’t you?