Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Mourning After

Progressives face an important choice today. 

In the aftermath of Trump's triumph Tuesday there is considerable soul-searching and despair among progressives. That's understandable, but it behooves us to not just sit in the corner wringing our hands. The issues haven't changed and neither has their urgency—I'm talking about climate change, LGBTQ rights, universal health insurance, education subsidies, and anti-racism programs. But our tactics will have to undergo some serious revision because the Republicans are about to have their way with us. 

They control the Presidency, the Senate, the House, and a majority of state governor slots. So we're in for a bumpy time.

And you can't blame it all on the Republicans or the bungling of the FBI. Of the 231 million registered voters in this country, a whopping 43.2% did not vote!

The question before us is how will we respond. Will we retire from the field to lick our wounds? Will we become bitter and cynical, talking only among ourselves and reinforcing the us/them dynamics that dominated the political rhetoric of the Presidential campaign? 

Or will we rise above it? Divisiveness and vilification of Other cannot be the answer. It cannot possibly "make America great again." Can we be gracious losers? Can we be the loyal opposition that steadfastly continues to state our concerns and to voice our objections to the suppression of minorities, the gutting of environmental law, and the repeal of Roe v Wade.

Our task is not to overthrow or to monkey wrench the government; it's to change it from within. And that means dialog. It means reaching out to the 63% of white men and 52% of white women (yes, you read that correctly: a majority of white women spurned Hillary and voted for Donald) who put Trump in the White House. We need to know why a majority of white women felt they could support Trump even after the awful misogynistic statements he'd made in the Billy Bush tapes were revealed, and after a plethora of women stepped forward to give personal testimony about his reprehensible womanizing.

It is our challenge to try to find ways to bridge between the fair, just, and sustainable world we crave and the land of dignity and opportunity they feel has been denied them. There is only one lifeboat and we're all in it. As progressives it's our job to initiate these conversations, reaching out to people we ordinarily don't talk with, hungry for the ways in which we're all human and can make common cause. This is not about the homogenization of our culture or bending others to our will; it's about getting along with our neighbors, people with whom we don't always agree or see things the same way.

Though the room just go darker, guess what? We have a light. And the preciousness of its illumination only increases as the darkness grows.

For me, this moment is highly evocative of the aftermath of 9/11. While Bush was immediately intent on revenge (striking back at terrorists with deadly force), there was a significant minority that was more focused on the question: why are some Arabs so angry with us that they bombed our buildings, killing more than 5000 all together?

Fifteen years later, I don't want to fuel the anguish and despair; I want to channel the energy of this election into a wake-up call for progressives. There is work to do. As activist and songwriter Joe Hill wrote in a telegram right before being executed in 101 years ago: "Don't mourn, organize!"


FFrydendal said...

Can democracy be wrong?
I think it can, meaning it has its weaknesses, and the recent election in the nation that is supposed to be vanguard of democracy most shows time is long overdue to notice democracy's need for a serious update. Fortunately new knowledge to create updates has recently become available.
The actual election of Trump as the president of the United States of America is only part of the evidence that democracy as we know it, is obsolete. Clinton as the final counter-candidate and the whole process has denounced democracy's claim of being the final solution to the questions of state.
The present implementations of democracy differ a lot, but they all rotate around the majority decisions, and all the possible ways to influence the majority including ways that allow for manipulation and collective folly. Of course majority voting is not used for decisions about scientific evidence, neither is it used (much) for business.
The recent US-process is only one out of many democratic processes leading to questionable, inferior or even disastrous consequences and decisions. Think the democratic triumphs of Hitler, Brexit, Putin, Assad, Erdogan, and other examples of democratically re-re-elected despots.

Why is it that so many believe that democracy with majority vote is the best decision making system for a nation or a state? It all comes down to the lack of a better alternative.
However almost with Winston Churchill's words, democracy is only the best system of state among the ones that have been tried. It is time to try something new, otherwise democracy will indeed be the end of that chapter of history.
I think it is an important task for community workers to locate and inspire communities that have the wish and potential to develop better implementations of the core values of democracy to a point, where we can say it has been tried at least on a local scale. The bits and pieces to replace majority voting are evolving fast in the circles of Sociocracy.

Booklover said...

"There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in." Leonard Cohen.

May the cracks produced by this election provide enough light to see us through.