(originally posted to Daily Kos on 7 Sep 2020, 3:56 PM)
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted to Daily Kos. I joined way back during the Bush years, and wow, I never thought I’d feel nostalgic for that warmongering Alfred E. Neuman wannabe, but here we are. Yes, Bush was a terrible president, but — to paraphrase YouTube reviewer Nostalgia Critic — he was still a president, which is more than I can say for Donald the Clodfather.
So I’m seeing a lot of two different kinds of posts: “Stop worrying! The race is stable and Trump’s shooting himself in both feet every day!” and “Don’t you remember 2016? They’re gonna steal the election!” No, I’m not the only person to either point this out or call for balance, but writing is what I do, so here I am.
Because there’s more to this issue than just needing to brace ourselves for both victory and defeat, needing to be ready to fight for every vote before and after the election. The current Biden coalition — which makes it the de facto current Democratic coalition — includes some very progressive members and some frankly center-right ones. Full disclosure: I consider myself on the progressive end. I voted for Bernie in both the 2016 and 2020 primaries, but I enthusiastically supported Hillary in the 2016 general and am doing the same with Joe now.
And the most frustrating thing about all this for me is, the Democratic Party has to be both sides of rational debate right now.
For most of my life, I saw value in liberal/progressive voices and small-c conservative ones. My father was a Republican all of my life, but his father was a Democrat and a union organizer. My mom left political engagement for religious reasons, but for the most part she holds progressive views. I grew up with a view of the two main sides that probably derives from the 60s and 70s. Liberals are the dreamers, the ones who insist “we can do it!” when it comes to feeding the hungry, making peace, and shooting (for) the moon. Nixon’s name might be on the Apollo 11 plaque, but it was Kennedy’s vision that got us there. The job of the conservative was to ask, “what does that cost?” They were the guys with the pocket protectors and slide rules (I can’t use one, but I actually remember them) who supposedly kept us from walking off cliffs while our heads were in the clouds.
Yeah, now I know it was never really true. But at least for a little while, there was a veneer of reality to it, if only because once upon a time the term “conservative” actually had a meaning in America. It was crude and racist and sexist and more branding than reality, but there were some principles among Republicans and conservatives. They were the heirs to Lincoln, and they had not yet completely forgotten that.
Now? It’s all up to us. Ever since the Clinton Presidency at the latest, we’ve had to fight to balance budgets and take care of the needy. We’re responsible for protecting our diplomats and our military. We need to provide universal medical insurance without throwing millions out of work in the middle of a pandemic. We’re the ones juggling unemployment benefits and job creation.
And we have to dismantle systemic racism in policing while protecting federal law enforcement from a corrupt idiot-savant who loves jackbooted enforcers but hates actual detective work. The Republican Party has abandoned all principle, all policy, all purpose but greed. The GOP is now a wing of the Trump Organization. They’ve been willing to suppress voter turnout ever since embracing the Southern Strategy, but now they’ll destroy anything from the Post Office to democracy itself to win. We have our work cut out for us.
So after a lot of yammering about the grim state of affairs, what’s my point? We may not have to embrace everyone in the coalition, but we must — must — accept them, at least until Trump is out of office. If Biden’s victory is successfully ratified, we can fight over policy after he’s sworn in. If Trump manages to steal another election, we have four more years of nightmare to resist. We need everyone in the Rebel Alliance, whether they’re the purest of progressive representatives or pragmatic political operatives soaked in the mud they’ve slung. We need the The Squad and the Lincoln Project. We can’t throw out Sanders or Kasich. We must accept votes from everyone from antifa activists to those suburban white women Trump seems so eager to send to our side.
At the same time, we are not required to forget the past. Yes, I want votes from John Kasich and George Conway and Anthony Scaramucci — but I’m not going to pretend they didn’t help get us into this mess. There’s nothing wrong with hearing what center-right Democrats have to say on policy, but we have to be done letting them poison good policies with bad compromises (c.f. almost everything wrong with the ACA, just to start with). We cannot abandon our passions, but they must yield to facts and reason when they clash.
Yes, it’s exhausting. For those who didn’t already know, 2020 has made it clear that our Black siblings are bone-weary for ten thousand good reasons. (And no joke, don’t forget to engage in self-care. I’m “enjoying” the first SoCal day in almost a week that maybe didn’t go over 100 degrees. It’s ugly out there; take care of yourselves.) I get it. I’m a mixed-race, non-binary neo-pagan; I’m a freakin’ human liberal Bingo card. I just want to focus on my writing and my family. But we don’t have much choice. It’s us or nobody.
One last note. This post was inspired by a comment about not trusting folks like the Lincoln Project because they were part of the problem for so long, and the GOP needs to be burned to the ground. Funny thing: Steve Schmidt, the point man for the Lincoln Project, said pretty much the same thing about the modern Republican Party:
“The analogy would be in the same way that fire purifies the forest, it needs to be burned to the ground and fundamentally repudiated,”
Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. And make a plan to vote, especially if you have a Republican Secretary of State where you live. We’ve got to do it all…but looking around at our diverse, brilliant community, I truly believe, after all these years, yes, we still can.
Hope is a phoenix