Don’t Reject Trump. Reject Authoritarianism.

Reject unending war.  Reject corporate funding as a necessity for candidate viability.  Reject an agenda which prioritizes Wall Street over, essentially, everything else in the U.S.  Reject all forms of bigotry, obvious and subtle, external and internalized.  Reject extreme income inequalities which leave some people struggling just to get by.  Reject systems which support any of it.  It’s not a party issue, it’s a values issue.  If we allow ourselves to make these things partisan, we lose the ability to criticize these things in our own chosen party.  Both parties have been guilty of these sins for several years, and it’s just as bad for citizens when either side promote these policies.

Way too many liberals and Democrats, in my opinion, are eager to blindly devote themselves to the Democratic Party and its leadership, while silencing those of us who criticize them.  Many marginalized people have good reasons for mistrust of this leadership.  Economic policies and trade deals which benefit corporations may well also benefit well-off Democrats with 401ks.  Marginalized people, however, are being increasingly squeezed by an economy which has only increased income inequalities under all administrations.

Democratic response has been to shore up its own power and quell the voices of dissent.  It’s time we reverse these priorities.

Authoritarianism first.  Anyone worried about Trump and the Republican Party’s efforts to ignore and quell dissent to their policies might keep in mind the Democratic Party’s efforts to do the same.  Many of the other issues and inequities feed into the creation of a more stratified, unequal society, and both parties are guilty.  I’m not concerned about calling out the Republicans.  Yes, of course they are worse.  Yes, of course, they do it, too.  From everything I’ve ever seen of the Republican Party, I expect little else of them.  Frankly, in light of the new administration, I don’t think this requires much explanation.  It’s wrong, and I hope as many as possible rise up in resistance to it.  Many have been, including myself.  The question I would put forth is, what, really, is the alternative?  Slightly less of an authoritarian bent?  Authoritarianism, but, you know, in the right hands?  OUR autocrat instead of THEIR autocrat?  I shudder at the thought.  If that’s all there is to it, then yes, shut up and go home.  We lost, get over it.  I’m still hoping we can do better.  This will never happen unless the Democratic Party

Prison reform was an autocratic measure brought to us by the Democratic Party.  But, hey, that mostly just affected blacks and the poor, so why fuss about it?  We have to compromise, right?  Mass surveillance, even under the guise of the War on Terror, Which No One Must Ever Question, is an autocratic measure, and it was brought by both parties, and used by both.  Allowing the National Guard to stand against the water protectors was and autocratic measure.  Militarizing the police is a frighteningly autocratic measure, and both parties are responsible.  Remember who was president when Occupy Wall Street was raided.  Remember how Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer (now minority leader) pushed militarizing the police in New York in the name of terrorism?

Oh, and yes, favoring a Wall Street candidate over a populist candidate in the primaries, through pressuring superdelegates, misusing party funds, purging voter rolls, misrepresenting the populist positions, and dragging the entire party to the right after squashing dissent, was a horribly, horribly autocratic measure.  It’s almost as if the Democratic Party was more concerned about shoring up their own establishment power than in promoting democracy and the will of the people.

I do not like autocratic Donald Trump.  I do not like autocratic Democrats.  Neither serve the citizenry well.  Neither are democratic or empowering.  It’s time for a change.

Unending war?  We have been either directly at war with or merely bombing countries in the Middle East (and elsewhere, certainly) for at least the three decades of my adulthood, under both administrations.  It’s a great way to shore up corporate profits and corner resources.  It’s also a great way to fritter away trillions of dollars that could go to other purposes.  It’s a great way to kill or disrupt the lives of millions of innocent citizens in the countries we bomb.  It’s a great incentive for terrorism recruiting.  It’s a great way to keep citizens in the U.S. in constant fear of the next bogeyman, so we submit, gleefully, to greater autocratic control of, well, US.  Except in cases of defense, which are much rarer than we are led to believe, unending war is serving the citizens of the U.S. very poorly, whichever party supports it.  It’s time for a change.

Even before Citizens United, both parties gleefully courted corporate money.  Do we need to question the influence this has had on the economic policies from both sides of the aisle?  Trickle down is a soulless sham, and both parties have participated.  It’s no accident that income inequality has continued to extremes over the last thirty years.  Both parties have helped deregulate Wall Street.  Both parties have adopted corporate models for education.  Both parties have kept taxes low on the richest citizens.  Both parties have cut social services for the most marginalized.  Both parties favor health care policies that enrich insurance companies and pharmaceuticals.  Many citizens of the U.S. are struggling, or at least doing less well than their parents’ generation, and the policies of both parties are to blame.  It’s time for a change.

So, then, does this mean all is hopeless?  Should we join in despair with the 40% of citizens who do not even bother to vote?  Maybe, but I’m not there, yet.

The point is that we will not create our beloved community by merely voting for Democrats.  We need to reform the Democratic Party.

Republicans will never do the right thing by the left.  Democrats will, but only if forced to.

I say, it’s past time to force them.

Voting for Democrats is not sufficient.  We need to support progressive candidates in districts where incumbent Democrats have drifted too far to the right, as well as in districts where we might defeat Republicans.  We need to take over the Democratic Party.

All of this takes time and conversation.  It takes movement-building.  It takes either a broad-based movement, or a broad-based coalition of movements working together, while maintaining distinct and broad leadership and genuine grassroots participation.  We’ve all seen this energy and commitment in Occupy Wall Street, in NoDAPL, in BLM, in Bernie Sander’s campaign, in the Women’s March on Washington.  These were decidedly progressive movements, not necessarily Democratic movements.  Thus far, Democratic response has been to tell the left to fall in line, or else TRUMP.  It’s time for a change.

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