When I was in grade school, I HATED dodge ball. I hated the violence of it, I hated getting hit, I hated having to hit others – I hated it all. I was philosophically against this horrible game and complained about it relentlessly. But I learned very quickly that as much as I hated the game – if I didn’t pick up a few balls – my ass would get pegged and I would most certainly lose.
I (and many others) have heard at incessant levels from fellow progressives over the past few months that because I am a Democrat: I am the “establishment”, I am “accepting of corruption”, I am “part of the problem”. I have been told that if I don’t say this or protest that – I am no true progressive or am some kind of traitor to other liberals. If I don’t chant so many hours per week, I guess I may just have my leftie card confiscated.
Just because I am not eternally beating a drum or shoving my fist into the face of the man – doesn’t mean I don’t have complaints. It isn’t that I feel anyone is owed an explanation of my feelings or beliefs – but I’ll try anyway.
I became a Democratic Party member at the age of 38. I almost always voted for Democrats but I avoided that label as though accepting it would automatically get me fitted with robotic body parts and a microchip in my brain. Honestly though, I didn’t want to “join” anything. I was an independent thinker. I didn’t vote for party, I voted for candidates and ideals. I was no Democrat!
Then came the Recall. I got to know other Democrats. I volunteered in their office. I read more. I witnessed more. I began to see that being a Democrat was indeed not the same as joining a cult. I realized that all Democrats are different. While they hold similar ideas and beliefs – there is still a very wide range on which one may land. Some have guns. Some hate guns. Some are Catholics. Some are Atheists. Some volunteer 90% of their time. Some never lick a single envelope. Some are obnoxious as all hell. Some are lovely as can be. For a “cult”, the Democratic Party is surely one diverse bunch of mofos.
Do I agree with everything the Dems do or say? Um, no. That would be pretty impossible. And weird. Dems aren’t some kind collective brain. Contrary to what some believe, we are not Borg. There are Dems at the national level, state level, county level and then there is each individual. All of these entities are different with different policies, different powers, different strategies, etc. Blaming all Dems for one entity or for one decision is akin to saying that all ice cream sucks because you don’t like cookie dough.
I have issues at times with each level of the party. I have even gotten into some pretty heated arguments with several individuals. Just because I do not call out each person or action in public does not mean I am twirling through a field of flowers convinced everything is hunky dory.
Here is another lame attempt at a metaphor…
My husband, sometimes, DRIVES ME NUTS. He has some qualities that really bug the shit out of me. Ask anyone who spends time with us…we do NOT always agree. But I still love him. We are still married. This is because I am adult and rational enough to know there isn’t a single person out there who wouldn’t piss me off from time to time. I even piss MYSELF off occasionally. There is no perfect person, candidate, organization…it simply does not exist. And I do not think that stomping my feet until Utopia appears is an efficient use of my time.
Instead, I decided to do what I can to make things better in the little ways I am able. Sometimes that is pitching a fit. Sometimes that is learning to work with those whom I may not always agree. Sometimes that is waiting for a more strategic time to make a move. Sometimes it is listening and learning and, God forbid, accepting a new perspective (yes, that can be the most difficult for stubborn people such as myself).
What works for me may not work for you. And it doesn’t need to. I will defend your right to protest even if I think you’re kind of being an asshole. And while I am defending your right, I have the right to say that I think you’re being an asshole. See how that works? You do you. I’ll do me.
Before I am accused of mincing words or not fully putting it out there – let me tell you where this is all coming from at the moment. This is about a group of people who claim to have the authority to designate whom can or cannot label themselves a progressive. A few of the hangers on of the Bernie or Bust crowd – those booing at inspirational leaders and young children at the convention, those taping their mouths claiming they’re being silenced, those bullying every Hillary supporter they can find – these are the people of whom I am speaking.
Apparently, at some moment in their lives, they were canonized in the church of Liberal and were given exclusive rights to decide just what a true progressive means. Oh the tragic responsibility of it all. Even when their chosen deity expresses his wish for unity – they decide the deity has fallen and only they know what is best – disruption and tantrum disguised as revolution. I can just imagine all past revolutions rolling over in their history books. They claim oppression; they claim they have been silenced. What I hear is a big white “whatever” (with a vocal fry, of course) towards those whom have truly been victims of injustice. SO. MUCH. PRIVILEGE.
We had a primary. You voted. Delegates were invited to go to convention. You voted. That is not being silenced. You simply did not win. And it fucking sucks! I know! Believe me, I do know. But there was no injustice here. It’s politics. It’s dirty and strategic and, yes, some of it is corrupt. The system is far from perfect. But this is not how to create change. Sometimes the squeaky wheel is effective. That ain’t gonna cut it here. Their wheels are bigger, stronger and much louder.
We need legislators in place who are willing to listen. We need civics courses in school. We need people to be involved at the local levels. You cannot blow up an entire building by throwing firecrackers from the outside. Get in there. Run for office. Help others run for office. Learn to pick your battles. Do not sabotage the candidates most likely to implement positive change – even if that change isn’t good enough for you. Do you really think a Trump presidency is going to push us in the right direction? No. It will tear down decades of progress pushing us further away from what it is you truly want. Again, that is not a revolution – it is a tantrum.
So how about this…you protest all you want, for whatever reason, 24/7 until you die. Go for it. Totally your right. You can even call names, roll your eyes and put on your tin foil hat as you claim we are just establishment tools. But don’t expect us not to retort. Don’t expect us to take you seriously when you avoid reasonable dialogue at a time it is most crucial. And don’t think WE aren’t paying attention. Because we are far more aware than you give us credit for – we are listening, watching, reading and remembering.
On that same token, you are lucky because many of us are extraordinarily forgiving and understanding. We are compassionate and generous. Many of us keep open minds and accept other perspectives. We even, at times, evolve and progress. We are fluid and constantly changing. So, when you want to work together – we will be here. When you want to come out from behind your anger – we will listen. When you realize that unity makes us stronger – we will fight with you.
In the meantime, we have work to do. So excuse us if we seem too busy to concern ourselves with your conscience and latest conniption. There are too many lives at stake.
P.S. I voted for Bernie.