On the Path Forward, 1 of 5
There are a lot of talking heads in the major media outlets who have been chattering away about how this was the problem or that was the problem; folks who say we need to reach across the aisle, and talk about how half the country supports the kind of thinking that has led to the complete usurpation of government at all levels over the majority of the US map.
The ascendancy of the populist collective of disaffected people we are dealing with is actually pretty historically justified, when you realize, accept, and embrace that it is backlash to the election of a Black man as President.
I don’t care what your party is. I don’t care who you think should have won, or could have won, or how they were screwed. I can argue all those things too, but the time for arguing about how we got here is over.
We are here, and, ultimately, one thing that isn’t political, but rather asinine, is behind it.
We, collectively, forgot what we as a nation are about.
It would be nice to blame this on failing educational standards or deep poverty and desperation, but to do so is still not accurate. Especially on the side of things that supports an America — a USA — that is strong, and leads the world, and does so in wealth that is monetary and knowledge and freedom-wise as well.
We forgot, in this gradual shift of the Center of American Politics to the Right that began following the debacle that was Nixon’s second term, that what this nation is about, first and foremost, is Human Rights.
We have fought four huge wars over human rights — and they are the wars we usually look on with pride — Revolutionary, Civil, WW1, WW2.
None of the wars we have fought since have been about human rights. Be it a war on poverty or drugs, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War, or the liberations of Afghanistan and other parts of the middle east (wars which we, in part, are responsible for starting in the first place, if you know your history), we have plastered over them the notion of fighting for democracy, but the impetus for them is rarely so clean and precise.
Indeed, I have argued in the past that pretty much everything we have been seeing since 1945 is the collapse of the old Imperial systems that governed the word for much of the last five hundred years.
The backlash isn’t just about a Black President, though. It is about a browning population, a manifestation of white privilege in the political arena as they realize that their understanding of the world is finally truly at risk, since they see themselves as the rightful heirs to planet, from their White Jesus to their White Dollar.
I have begun, of late, to speak about “white politics” — to call out a problem within the Left as a whole — the centrist, the radical, the moderate, and the progressive arms of it.
This is a politics that looks at things from a markedly white perspective, and has little to do with the figures who preach it, but much to do with what is seen, when it is viewed through a lens of whiteness, as the key problem: money.
Classism is not strictly about wealth. But for most white folks, it is essentially synonymous with how much money you have — there are the poor and there are the middle class and there are the wealthy, and if we can just get the wealthy to do less taking and more giving and spread it around a bit, things will get better.
Which is true. Things will get better. For white folks. Even more specifically, for white men with college educations whoa re able bodied, straight, cis, and conforming.
The rest of the country, though, will get screwed by such a focus on politics, because classism is the simplest form of division, the least dangerous form of oppression we are dealing with, and, ultimately, the easiest to solve if you look at it through the lens of seeing it as being about how much money one makes.
Except that isn’t classism That’s wealth inequality, and wealth inequality is seriously easy to fix. It is the low hanging fruit, but it does not intersect well with other forms of oppressions because it hasn’t had the strength in it yet (though, under the new regime in DC we are facing, that could seriously change).
Now, some folks reading this,with eye rolls and bitching about how Ii must hate Sanders or be some Hillary lover and blah blah are forgetting a few things.
I am white, for one. I am also black and native. None of those is over the other for me — unlike President Obama, I am light skinned enough that folks do not immediately decide that I am more one than the other, and most of the time they default to white until I mention something about whiteness.
But the point of my noting I am white, for one, is to point out that what am saying about whiteness applies, at least in part, to myself, as well. I am well educated, I come from a truly middle class background, which is reasonably conservative, and I have had access to privilege for a large chunk of my life, even if much of that privilege is presumed, instead of possessed.
The other thing they are forgetting is that there is an excellent time period to reference when the degree of wealth inequity was minimized, the same period that is thought of as a marker of a “great time” — the “best of days” that is used by both Left and Right as a Halcyon moment in US history — is the 1950’s.
In terms of wealth inequality, it was at an incredibly low point — if you were white. Racism was still overt — Truman was just starting to integrate the Armed Forces, the Civil Rights Act had yet to be passed, evolution was still not taught in schools, and college was only for those who could afford it, yet it was, in comparaison, far, far cheaper than it was today, even by today’s dollar value.
Women were incredibly limited, and single young women were not expected to actually learn anything at a college if they were wealthy enough to sent to one — they were there to find a husband and learn effective social graces.
So wealth inequality being incredibly low did essentially bupkiss for the rest of the nation — yet that was the concern of white feminism, and it is the concern of socialism (indeed, Marx was, himself, rather racist and quite ignorant of it, and you really don’t want to go into the world of Engles), and the same can be applied to Libertarianism (which, at its heart, is opposed to the very foundational understandings of what makes the USA a nation, as a matter of Philosophical understanding, since the constitution itself and the notion of human rights themselves are contrary to the underlying basis by which Libertarianism arose).
At this point, even more people are angry with me right now. They won’t describe it as angry — they disagree with me.
They don’t think of socialism as Marx established its premises as being racist, and no doubt have many great arguments about it, yet likely remain blithely unaware of how it was influenced and generated in an era of imperialsm and colonialism and is itself an imperialist and colonialist idea. That’s fact — it doesn’t take much to realize it beyond understanding it.
Yes, modern effort within it are much better, but it is still Structurally racist in a great many ways.
Which is not to say that Capitalism is any better — it isn’t. Neither system is better, they are simply different; The way they are framed within the broader system is what matters.
Libertarians are trying to figure out how to argue that their political philosophy doesn’t run counter to the constitution, yet those that are doing so almost certainly fail to realize that their entire philosophy grew out of the movement that was opposed to things like a Constitution. Even that is too limiting.
But then, most of them are in that party over the money and taxation thing — and truly would not be fans of Hamilton, musical or otherwise, and much more fond of Burr.
this is the difference understanding what you are talking about makes. And to be frank, am having a hard time coming up with ways to make people see that the focus on wealth inequality is not what the Progressive, Moderate, Centrist, or Radical wings of the Left need if they are to win back the city, county, state, and federal branches of government.
Note that when I say Left, I do not say Democrat or Green. That is intentional — fuck your party. Your party sucks. All of it. Which I say as a registered Democrat, myself.
I could have registered as a green or an independent. Indeed, I was registered as an independent for several years after I switched from Republican. And, to be absolutely factual, it was Hillary Clinton who caused me to switch to Democrat.
And, just to show you how truly different I can be, I say that while she lost the Primary, I never liked her husband and worked against his election, twice.
But I did like Barack Obama. Still do. Love the man. Yet, I will point out that he is Left, true, but he is a Centrist Left. HE would have been Moderate Left — perhaps even Progressive Left — if he had been gifted with a Dem majority on Congress for more than one cycle, but Dems are notorious for failing to work on mid terms and for the last several decades have essentially said fuck it when it comes to the states.
Which means I am saying it wasn’t *just* Hillary’s fault she didn’t tour the upper Midwest Rust Belt. Those places have been ignored for longer than just her campaign, and at a more local level where such stuff really matters a lot for affecting the mood of an electorate.
Late in this last campaign, the orange fuckup’s team was even uncertain they were going to win, until they consulted with their statistics people.
This is a group of folks who are data miners. They have made enormous fortunes on Wall Street, and guided merges and all manner of stuff, and they are not Bankers or brokers. They are computer scientists and sociologists and social psychologists and really brainiac types. In the sense of the Superman Villain, for those who don’t realize the reference.
They crunched numbers using their data — which comes from places like facebook, tumblr, twitter, instagram, etc, as well as from purchasing habits in grocery stores and online surveys and so forth — and they said “nah, we’re good.” and from that day on, the entire team of the orange menace said, basically, we got this.
The Dems and the Greens need that kind of social data mining and such — flat out, they need it. The place that the orange shitpile used is tight with the Heritage Foundation. Should be — by some estimates, they doubled the money that most of the wealthiest folks there had in under two years.
I kinda do that sort of stuff, except I don’t have supercomputers, I just have my own brain, and my own faults and prejudices.
I want you to think about this for a bit. I am telling you all of this because I want it all in your head, however meaningless it seems to you right now.
Because for the next 20 years, we are in for the single greatest change in US history since the Civil War, and you are going to be part of it.
Where that change takes us is entirely up to us, right now — and it will get harder over the next four years and then easier to do. Possibly too easy — but if we start to go overboard, I will still be there, saying the same stuff, because of the fundamental guiding point that *must* underlie all our efforts from now on.
The United States of America exists, in part, to Oppose Oppression. It says so, in the Declaration of Independence, it guarantees it in the Bill of Rights, and it describes how in the Constitution.
It historically sucks at it, mind you. Not gonna gloss over the millions dead, the internment camps, the forced death marches, the invasion and occupation of foreign territory, etc.
But it does get better at it, each time, and this time, we need to change our focus as a country back on to that noble and worthy goal — and, for those still smarting about the whole white politics thing, that does include income inequality.
When I talk about Opposing Oppression, I am not trying to avoid talking about racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, ableism and so forth. I am talking about all those things. All at once, in fact.
They are all Oppression. By shifting our discussion to all of them, and the ways that they all work, it becomes more and more apparent that what we are doing is talking about specific ways in which oppression affects specific groups, and the resistance to talking about oppression as a collective issue actually contributes to the division we have in dealing with it.
Especially since, well, white folks think that things are much better for black folk than black folk do. And Black folk think things are much better for Native folk than native folk do. And so forth and so on and we get caught up in this bullshit oppression Olympics and forget that what we are all trying to do is End Oppression.
We are human beings. When we put our focus on one of four things, the other four tend to disappear — this is fact. If you don’t believe me, let me show you something:
Take a piece of paper. Draw four stars on it, in four different locations, like on a die — a six sided die, or maybe even a playing card.
Now, set the drawing out in front of you and focus your eyes on only one of the stars. Keep doing that for a bit, and you will see the others start to fade, or wink out.
Yet they are all still there.
That is us when we focus on just Racism. Or just Transphobia. We are aware the other exist, and we know they are all in the same space — the sheet, itself, is Oppression as a whole — and the more we focus on one, the less we see the others.
That is the human brain actually working. It does that on purpose. And while the trick of it is nice and all as an exercise to prove a point, the point still remains:
We need to restore our nation’s focus on ending Oppression within our own borders.
Once we do that, we can focus on doing so beyond our borders, and believe me, we will have a lot of that to do.
Especially with the effects of Climate Change, nationalist movements on the rise around the world, and extremism dictating policy by fiat.
Now, the really cool thing here is that we can actually make significant, long term, hard to dismantle and easy to perpetuate systems and programs that get this done, and we can do them within six years, and we can achieve this with only one half of the nation involved in doing so.
Not even kidding. We can flip red states purple in such a way that it will be a decade before they can even think about going red again, by which time we will have shifted the economy so much that the voters might not want to, and in the process ensure that no matter how incredibly bad the incoming orange fucksup is, he goes down in history as the worst President to ever sit in that office — *while he is alive*.
Sounds pretty unbelievable, I know. Sounds downright undoable, even, to a lot of folks.
Three things can stop it:
1 – Cynicism. This is what kills democracy, and right now is what led to the state we are in now.
2 – Cults of Personality. The slavish devotion to a particular person because you like their ideas or their leadership as a specific political figure. The person is the least important aspect of this plan — and indeed, they will be the things that get in the way most often.
3 – Not Participating. Not voting, not speaking out, not being willing to engage with people. This includes being willing to engage with the small percentage of really horrible human beings out there. The engagement with that sort can be really short — but if you are willing to even run into them, to even go and hold your nose while you vote — maybe even for the first time in years –then you are already ahead of the curve.
The process of making this happen is surprising simple, which, in my experience, is part of the reason it is so damned hard to make it happen.
Oh, yeah — this is going to be hard. It is work. It is effort, and for something that you will not benefit from for the most part for at least eight years.
But seriously, you will get something out of it, even if you die in the interim.
Are you feeling defeated?
Are you feeling hopeless?
Are you feeling as if your voice is unheard?
If you answer yes to any of those questions, then it is on you, personally, to register to vote, to work towards ending oppression beyond wealth inequality, to attend your precinct meetings and to fight for what is right, to support those who may not be the most eloquent speakers but who are Americans that understand that the job, first and foremost, of all Americans, is to end Oppression, regardless of the form it takes.
Do not assume your registration is current. Go and register again. Now. In case they try to take that away from you as others have done in the past.
If you are a “fiscal conservative & social liberal”, remember that you are a liberal first, because until we solve the problems of the social side, the fiscal side can never be balanced in any way except to benefit those in power or coming into it.
There are four types of people on the Left.
There are the Centrists — who are, currently, right of center.
There are the moderates — who are, currently, left of center.
There are the Progressives — who are what we used to call Unionists, and Agitators, and Nuisances
There are the Radicals — who are far right.
There are also the extremists on the left — those who would undo the constitution and the history of the US in order to create something new.
I am a Liberal. Capital L. My heart does not lie on my clothing, pumping out blood. I am about Human Rights, first and foremost.
I am about human rights first and foremost because when this nation was founded — the result of a bitter and bloody war, the first of its kind fought over the ideas of human rights — that was what drove them, the birth of a concept the media has come to call the Great American Experiment.
It is not an experiment, to me. It is a way of life, a way of living, a manner of dwelling side by side with those who disagree with you in the effort to achieve a better place for everyone. An ever growing effort that is informed by truth, honesty, knowledge, conviction, and the power of the people, collectively.
It has not always been good at it, but four times this nation has fought wars over civil rights, over human rights, over the ongoing battle of man’s inhumanity to one another.
So all my politics are grounded, are based, are started with the notion of Human Rights first, because from there, everything else is possible.
And now, as we watch the first rumblings of the single most unprecedented attack on human rights in the history of the nation — one coming from those who are supposed to uphold and defend them, who are, philosophically, ultimately descended from those who have fought against human rights since before this country arrived — it becomes apparent that more than ever before, this is where we must ground ourselves as we begin the fight to take back our nation from those who would destroy it.
There is much talk of how we get the support to make that push, and I will tell you that Human Rights is how we do it, that opposing oppression is how we do it, that what we build now is what will shape this nation for the next 20 years if we focus, and if we do so with earnest zeal and devotion, we can ensure that no one will do it again for at least another 240 years.
For we hold these truths to be self evident, even as those in power do not: that all people are created equal, and that they are endowed at birth with certain unalienable rights, among those rights the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Because what we are seeing, right now, is a golden idol that is screaming the opposite.
That said, let’s take a break and get ready for Part Two of this post.
While on your break, grab a copy of Indivisible, from the staff of experienced progressive lawmakers in DC. Everything there also applies to the local spaces.
I read it. It contains all the stuff I did locally to make what I was doing for years possible. Including killing bills that would have shut my effort to help people down before they even got introduced.
Also, register. Because that is step one.
We are gonna go into the steps in the continuation.