Practical Idealism

We’ve been compromised to the right.  We’ve risen up in anger against extremism.  It’s time to explore why listening to our higher angels is actually a practical tactic, not merely an idealistic one.

Focusing on the Positive in Times of Despair

A little elaboration on Moving Beyond Righteous Anger.  In it, I outline my hope that we can go beyond what we are against – Oz the Grate (your teeth) and Terrible.  Instead, I would like to focus on what we are for.

No, I am not saying not to resist.

No, I am not merely advocating pie-in-the-sky optimism.  As a 50-year old transsexual, life has pretty well beaten that one out of me.

What, then is the point?

Most of my Facebook feed these days is filled with righteous vitriol about OZ.  Making fun of him. Being outraged at his newest string of lies.  Being offended at the newest slate of bigots he is appointing to run the country (into the ground).  I share the anger, I share the outrage, I understand all of it.  I just don’t think it’s helping.

Personally, it drains the life out of me faster than The Hobbit  movies drained the life out of Tolkien’s work.

I do not need to debunk the Great Prevaricator’s lies.  He is a con man bent on eliminating most of the federal government, and I can’t imagine much of what he says has much truth in it.  Those who know this, don’t need convincing; those who do not, aren’t likely to change their minds on the authority of another leftie spitting in the wind.  Not even worth my time.

I do not fret over media who propelled him, for free, to the top of the Republican ticket, and who are now being excluded from his press conferences.  In my opinion, they should be excluding HIM from THEIR coverage.  Why are we so dependent upon repeating a con man’s spin on events?  Are they really that desperate to give his lies even MORE coverage?  I mean, really.  Ignore what he says entirely, and focus on reporting what he does, what his connections are, what the leaks reveal.  More real investigative reporting, and less giving an obvious propagandist and demagogue a level of amplification and legitimacy  he neither needs nor deserves.  Maybe even give a stronger voice to those affected by his policies, rather than giving more power to those who already have too much.

This does not mean I am giving Trump and his administration a free pass.  Far from it.  I simply think it a far more valuable use of my time to focus on positive action than I do in getting riled up even more.  Anger, dismay, etc, however valid they are, change nothing.  Virtue signaling changes nothing.  Political action, community building, civic involvement all make real changes for the better.  That’s where I’m putting my efforts.

Anger is a natural response.  It is not, in the long run, a helpful response.

With the scorched earth policies being put in place, I expect we are going to have a lot of rebuilding to do.  Resistance matters, but so does articulating a vision of what we want.  Every major social movement in the U.S. had a vision, be it abolition of slavery, voting rights for blacks and women, the labor movements of the 30’s, civil rights, environmental protections, etc, etc, etc.

Right now, half (or so) of the Democratic Party is peddling the vision of “We told you so, the Republicans are worse, you have no choice but us.”  Hardly inspiring.  I wonder why they are doing so poorly.  Don’t worry, the leadership is doubling down on triangulation and neoliberalism, as is evidenced by their recent pick of Tom Perez for the DNC leadership.  And their choice of Chuck Schumer.  Perhaps, just perhaps, the Democratic Party’s chasing of Wall Street donations has blinded them to the vast income inequalities under which so many citizens are suffering.  Inequalities which have come as much from Democratic policies as Republican policies.  The vision of this group is anti-democratic, as evidenced by authoritarian policies and concerted efforts to defeat a populist candidate.

Other Democrats are actually fighting for a truly progressive platform.  Actually trying to get corporate money and influence out of politics.  Building up social safety networks, instead of giving credence to austerity measures and budget balancing.  Questioning the great military-industrial-prison complex.  Questioning the very systems of institutionalized racism, misogyny and homo/transphobia, all of which ripple through every institution in society.

We are constantly being told that these lofty ideals are impractical, if not impossible.  By Democratic leadership and their media mouthpieces.  The only thing lacking is political will, and I cannot imagine that any candidate, on either side, who is funded by mega-corporations, will ever have that will.  Every structure in government was created by people.  Every time both parties tell us we cannot have something, all they are doing is limiting our voices, limiting what is even up for debate.

We, the citizens of the U.S.  deserve a whole lot better.  It will never be given to us, not by either party.  We must take it.  That means challenging both Republicans, and Democrats who fail to fight for what’s right.  That is the only way for us to gain power and influence.  Voting is necessary, but it is not sufficient.

It’s time to work for something truly better.

The Necessity of Non-violence

But.. the guns! And the fascist! And…..

I know.  Transwomen, especially transwomen of color (which I am not) have been on the front lines of this for longer than the last six months.  I defy anyone out there to go to just one Transgender Day of Remembrance.  Watch the parade of beautiful young faces of the murdered trans people who have been murdered, often brutally, every single year, and tell me I don’t know. It’s personal.

Understand, I am not speaking out against self-defense.  I am not purely pacifist.  I merely recognize the necessity of absolute non-violence at every major protest/rally/march we attend.

Why?

A few reasons come to mind.  First off, it’s a losing battle.  They have more guns, tanks, militarized police, nuclear weapons, tear gas, etc, than we ever will.  What do you think would happen if the Water Defenders had tried firing upon the National Guard in North Dakota?  It would not have ended well for us.  Granted, it didn’t anyway, but there is a bigger picture to consider.

Those of us old enough to remember the “Battle in Seattle.”  This was a massive protest against globalization and trade deals which gave multi-national corporations even more power over our lives.  I wasn’t able to go, so I watched what I could on t.v.

The media dutifully showed film clips of the massive crowds.  Occasionally, they even talked about the message of the march.  At first.

At some point, someone threw a cinder block through a window. This then became the only image plastered across every television set across the U.S. for days.  Nothing else.

Most media are not the friend of the left.  They are largely owned by the mega-corps.  It would be fatuous to claim that they lie, as one recent leader is fond of claiming.  They do have something of an institutional bias, however.  This affects which stories get the most attention, and which points are emphasized.

If there had been one fight, one ruckus, one incident of vandalism at the Women’s March on Washington, it would have gotten attention well beyond the many, many who marched peacefully.  That incident would have been the story, rather than the message of unity and support for the most vulnerable in our society, which is what the march was actually about.  The media have done a fine job of obscuring that message as it is.

They are waiting for us to screw up.  We must not give them that moment.

Staying positive and nonviolent keeps the attention on the message, which is right where we need it.  These are not ideals, they are highly practical approaches.

Or both.  We can do both.

CAM

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