In my non-anonymous-blog life, I’ve been obsessively following the Democratic National Convention these past few days. Although I generally detest electoral politics and didn’t bother to vote in the last general election, I have been following this election due to the grassroots energy that’s been gathering for months. I’m encouraged and excited by the protests and rallies that are going on right now. On Sunday I joined the local Bernie march/DNC protest along with my husband. For me, it’s not about Bernie Sanders (although I would rather have him as president than HRC or the Donald). It’s about the movement, the voice of the people breaking out. The DNC can’t control it. Bernie can’t control it. That’s the beauty of it.
But it also scares the shit out of a lot of people, not least the centrist liberals who can’t understand why we won’t just “accept that our candidate lost,” “get in line” and “unify the party.” Sorry to tell you, but 1) I’m not actually a Democrat even though I temporarily registered as one so I could vote in the primary; 2) it’s not about a candidate at all, it’s about the democratic process, corruption, and the two-party, first past the post voting system itself. I’m an anarchist. I couldn’t care less about party unity or endorsements.
Those who tell us to be quiet about the anti-democratic process, the corruption and possibly illegal activity, because we need to be afraid of a Trump dictatorship, are using exactly the same logic that was used to erode civil liberties after 911. The logic of “We must submit to government surveillance, because terrorists!” and the logic of “We must pretend everything is cool with the DNC and not hold anyone accountable, because Trump!” is the same. You can actually be worried about terrorism/Trump AND feel that eroding civil liberties/democracy is unacceptable.
Those who bemoan the “inconvenience” caused by protesters, who complain that they’re obnoxious and impolite, are on the wrong side of justice. Those in power don’t give that power away, even in little pieces, because people are polite. The (bloody) American Revolution did not happen because people were polite. The (again, bloody) Civil War and civil rights movement did not happen because people were polite. (I’m not at all advocating bloodshed here, just observing history.) I’m sure there were plenty of people who felt inconvenienced by the Montgomery bus boycott, just as there are now feeling inconvenienced by Black Lives Matter et al. (They’re blocking traffic! Why can’t they just protest nicely where no one will see them?)
Those who say we are (I’m an older millennial, but even boomers are getting this) “sore losers,” “whiny entitled brats,” etc, are condoning the disenfranchisement of my generation via debt, underemployment, increasing corporate power in politics and so-called “free” trade agreements like the TPP and TiSA that threaten to undermine the remnants of democracy, not only in our country but all over the world.
We are not the enemy for speaking out. We want to be part of the solution, but people would rather call us names, insult our intelligence and moral character, and threaten us with dire events than actually listen.
Having these conversations, I’m realizing for the first time just how wide and how deep the gap really is between my politics and the politics of my liberal friends and relatives. It is sad and sobering for me to realize this. It’s not that I’m farther down some imaginary linear spectrum of political belief. I’m on a different plane. And sometimes, on that plane, I bump into people with whom I vehemently disagree on social and economic issues, but who believe, like me, that our government is corrupt, that tinkering with it is not enough and that we need to radically reorganize society so that people are free.
Imagine that you have a blood-clotting disorder. Now you get a cut that’s bleeding heavily and you put a band-aid on it. Within minutes, the band-aid is soaked through, so you take it off and put on another one. You keep changing your band-aid, you try some that are larger, different shapes, etc, but the wound keeps bleeding and bleeding …
One response is to say, “Well, we just haven’t found the right band-aid yet. We’ll try a different drugstore to see if they have bigger ones.”
Another response is to say, “Hold that band-aid in place while I drive you to the hospital for a transfusion.”
But after repeated emergency blood transfusions, maybe, just maybe, it would be a good idea to treat the underlying clotting disorder. And this is all that so-called “radicals” are saying. Most of us are not going to say no to a band-aid if it’s the only thing staunching the flow of blood, nor will we refuse an emergency transfusion; but because we accept desperate measures, don’t think we are happy to live the rest of our lives in a continual state of emergency. We are asking that the underlying disease be recognized, named, and – if possible – treated.
Not everyone agrees how to treat the disease, of course; but that is the conversation we should be having. It’s hard to talk with people who don’t think the disease is a problem; who refuse to see beyond symptoms; who dismiss as “unrealistic” any suggestion that leaving the cause untreated will eventually result in death; who call us “childish” and “ridiculous” when we demand to have a real conversation about this. It’s hard to problem-solve with people who refuse to make any kind of diagnosis beyond “Oh, I see you’re bleeding. Here’s a band-aid.”
“But it’s not stopping the bleeding …”
“Now now. Don’t whine.”