Ideas matter. Policy matters.
While it is true that people can get lost in theory and ideology, as a culture we are in desperate need of a vision and a substantial direction for how to get there. Republicans have never had that, and they never will. They’re holding on to the very same policies and ideas that ruined us to begin with. Even so, we are hungry, our nation and culture is hungry for a new direction and it would be a drastic mistake if liberals underestimated the power of new policies and new ideas.
Many mainstream Democrat politicians are reluctant to take the kind of stand that Elizabeth Warren and Bernie have taken. They seem to be content to wait it out and watch the train wreck that is the GOP. This approach already failed. In the 2016 elections, Democrats were defeated at every level, from the Presidential race down to the local and state level. Being “not a Republican” is a strategy with limited appeal during a period of time when we need a bold vision.
Bernie resonates with so many of us because he takes ideas seriously, and he knows that policy matters. But what is more, Bernie matters because he makes us all feel like we were a part of one movement. He rallied people around the benefits of universal healthcare, the critical need to attack privilege and bigotry, and the deep reform we need in a political system of corporate patronage, a system that that benefits so many in the Democrat establishment.
At this point, it’s ideas that can best unite the left under one vision. It’s ideas that matter, and from a strategic perspective policy matters more right now than attacking Trump because people want to vote for something, and not simply against someone else. A bold progressive agenda will win in the years to come, and in the long-term, it’s the best anti-Trump action that we can take.
Over the last year, my approach and attitude toward politics has evolved. That’s probably true for most of us. A year ago, I was engaged and optimistic about the possibility that Bernie might beat the liberal establishment and make a serious run at the White House. I was in McCarthy, Alaska a year ago, and I went to a Democratic caucus where something like fifteen people showed up, which may not sound like much to you, but McCarthy is a remote community that is literally at the end of the road, way out in bush Alaska, so fifteen people represents roughly half of the winter population. The caucus turned into a party.
But then the establishment struck back and Bernie got booted out, and since then, our political situation has only devolved in a downward spiral of outrage and cultural dysfunction. The worse it gets, the more I find myself single-pointedly posting politically. I can’t help myself.
I don’t apologize for filling my social media with political shit, but it’s odd because I’m not sure that I like it that way. I’d like to broaden my horizons a bit. For example, I’m a new author, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, trying to build a writing career and publish a novel. So from a marketing perspective I know that I should be posting stuff that’s more neutral, less politically charged, in an effort to broaden my influence among potential readers. I know this, intellectually, but it doesn’t stop me. I’m undeterred, day after day posting on politics and power and socialism and, of course, Trump. Is it possible to break out?
Yuval Harari is the internationally best-selling author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, which is probably my favorite book of 2016. In the introduction to this fascinating YouTube talk (see below), Harari discusses one of the central elements of the modern self and of the modern world: the authority of the individual’s inner voice. We decide essential questions of personal identity, of right or wrong based on our inner sense. We make critical career choices or other life decisions based on how we feel. “Look within,” we tell each other. “What’s your gut telling you?” we ask. Then there’s that ancient Greek inscription that seems to say it all: “know thyself.”
This approach is often derided by religious types. This was certainly true back a decade or so when I haunted churches, seminaries, and other evangelical enclaves. There’s a higher authority than the self, evangelicals would say. For evangelicals, this was biblical authority. For other Christians, it might reside in the church. In conservative politics, the constitution has (for all practical purposes) a biblical authority. But not so fast.
Scott Nell Hughes from http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/videos/a51152/trump-surrogate-no-such-thing-as-facts/
For those interested/baffled/angered/betrayed by the evangelical support for Trump, here are some thoughts in the Washington Post by one of the editors of Christianity Today, Katelyn Beaty. I think she’s putting it very mildly here, being much more sympathetic than is deserved, but I have too many thoughts and emotions on this issue to even begin to comment on the so-called “Christian” born again evangelicals. Here’s an excerpt from this short op-ed:
After an election in which 81 percent of my white coreligionists supported Trump, the faith that has been my home for 20 years seems foreign, even hostile….
It’s like the way you love your offbeat uncle — the one who rambles at Thanksgiving dinner about threats to his freedoms and political correctness run amok. You understand why he feels the way he does. You sympathize with him on many points. But when he starts in with racial slurs and sexist jokes and complaints about “illegals,” at some point you have to get up and leave the table.
So, I think I’ve fully come to grips with the fact that Bernie won’t be elected President today, even though I did my part and voted for him as a write-in candidate. You can do that in a few select states, like California.
A wasted vote, you say? Perhaps, although Clinton has a lock on California.
A risky vote, you say? Again, you may have a point, but show me a vote that is not risky.
And furthermore, which vote doesn’t feel wasted?
Right now, on the morning of the election, I am uninterested in judging anyone’s vote. I’m not so much concerned with who you vote for as much as I am concerned that you recognize the possible consequences of your vote. In other words, let’s keep it real today. Read more
There was something about seeing Donald Trump on the stage at the Republican convention that brought it home for me, seeing Trump in the bright lights, alone and bereft of opponents — alternatively barking or basking in the glow of his victory. It all made it feel legit, legit in a very creepy, skin-crawling sort of way, but more than feeling disgust was my heightened sense of urgency, an urgency felt by most people in the face of fascism or other forms or totalitarianism. With Trump on stage, we can see ourselves going down that road, and it’s all too real now. The most obvious political course of action: do anything to stop Trump. Read more
I was reading just yesterday about how Nixon prolonged the Vietnam war for no other reason than political calculations: he was looking for a way to get out with honor so that he wouldn’t suffer the political fall out. Perhaps something to consider before casting a vote this fall for a pro-war President like Clinton or Trump. Read more
Bernie Sanders just passed the torch to Dr. Jill Stein, and this political revolution continues stronger than ever…The Green Party’s Stein is now the liberal establishment’s worst nightmare: a trustworthy and inspiring progressive candidate who stands for ideals and principle. No more of Clinton’s prison lobbyist donors or FBI criminal investigations, just an honest woman named Jill Stein who states “Berners, I repeat: this isn’t the end…Not by a long shot.”
Dr. Stein also correctly states “If you don’t want to vote for a warmonger or racist billionaire, there are more options.” It might come as a surprise to Hillary voters, but most Americans are tired of voting for the lesser of two evils. Ultimately, when Bush administration officials are voting for Hillary Clinton, progressive politics needs a savior.
All violence is not created equal. One day we hear of yet another black person killed by a cop and the next we read of a black man ambushing police officers. Many of us feel comfortable denouncing both as equally tragic: at the end of the day innocent people died and we mourn all loss of life. It’s a travesty that a black man was killed and an equally terrible thing that officers were killed. To me, though, this can’t be the final word. It’s not an apples to apples comparison. Read more
A series of events brought me back to Indiana for a short two days, and I found myself (quite unexpectedly) walking the streets of downtown Fort Wayne, looking for a coffee shop to do some work on my novel, but before you could say “Hoosier,” I was marching with a group about a hundred strong, all of us caught up in that Bernie fever.
A big reason that politics interests me is because it reflects cultural trends, and the bonkers way that this election is going suggests that America is changing. The Atlantic has a short article, Sanders, Trump, and the War Over American Exceptionalism. Excerpt:
While grassroots Democrats and Republicans remain divided over the size of government, increasingly, what divides them even more is American exceptionalism. In ways that would have been unthinkable in the mid-20th century, the boundaries between American and non-American identity are breaking down. Powered by America’s secular, class-conscious, transnational young people, Democrats are embracing an Americanism that is less distinct than ever before from the rest of the world. And the more Democrats do, the more likely it is that future Trumps will rise. Read more
Bernie was on Saturday Night Live recently, and there’s a skit I love, featuring Larry David (of Seinfeld fame and Curb Your Enthusiasm). The scene is of a sinking ship. “Women and children first!” yells the captain. “Really?” Larry David says, incredulous. There’s a good bit of back-and-forth between Larry and the Captain, as women and children are loaded onto the life raft. Larry can’t seem to convince them to take him on the raft before the women and children, and he worries that he’ll not make it on the raft, so he finally plays his trump card: I’m really wealthy, he says. “I’m worth more than all the rest of you put together.” That’s when Bernie steps in, dressed as a commoner. Read more