Monday, October 31, 2016

Addressing the Extremes

Yesterday, from two politically astute pals, I received separate messages that, taken together, represent the extremes of my left-leaning friends. One, who manned the barricades in Paris in '68 and lost his job in publishing when he tried to unionize workers, wrote that he was very much enjoying canvassing in PA every weekend and was surprised and impressed by the organized passion of the 20-somethings leading the way. The other, who has maintained a daily FB post on presidential politics that has been intelligent, educational, and increasingly bleak, announced that he's leaving the Democratic Party and becoming a Green.

I have written amazingly little about the 2016 election, mostly because what the hell is there to say that isn't being said and spread, People's Mic-fashion, at lightning speed across the planet? I have been unsurprised at the fact that *gasp* there is racism in the world and that *gasp* Donald Trump is a con man. Even the appalling coverage by the media hasn't shocked me, because I've read On Bended Knee and Manufacturing Consent and haven't had much hope that things would get better with the addition of social media.

What's really astonished me has been the tendency of some on the left to spout Breitbartisms (and worse) unironically and to collude in the logical fallacy that equalizes evil on both sides. Some of the dumbass stuff I've read this week (friends of friends, and not people I know, thank God) includes that Trump and Clinton are longtime friends who conspired to have Trump win so that Clinton could easily take the presidency and that Bernie was bought out by friends of the Clintons.

Is Clinton the "establishment" candidate? Well, they both are, to be honest. I'm "establishment," too, despite having solar panels on my roof and working out of my home for 30 years. I know that for sure, because I know that if anything goes wrong with me, I can pick up the phone and call a doctor, a lawyer, my town supervisor, a manager at NYSEG, my assemblyperson, and so on up the line. I may not be in a position of power, but I am connected to and comfortable with those who are. And you know what? Based on your upbringing, schooling, and life choices, so are most of you. That's privilege.

I cannot tolerate people who are apologists for Trump rally racists, who lib-splain away those people's homophobic rants by suggesting that trade agreements broke them. No, they are racist homophobes. Yes, corporate America sold them down the river, their unions cravenly abandoned them, and people have lied to them for 30 years that their jobs are returning and not being handed over to robots. But they are still dangerously uninformed racist assholes. Sexist, too, whatever their gender.

Hillary Clinton wasn't my first choice; I voted for Bernie in the primary, as I always vote my heart in a primary. I don't like her foreign policy, and I don't like her stance on fracking. I don't like her careful parsing or her penchant for secrecy; the only concern at all that I have about her server is that it represents an end-run around FOIA. Bill Clinton was about my eighth choice in 1992. That's the way it goes. None of us loves incremental change, but with the exception of important Court cases, historically in the U.S., big changes have come about through power grabs by the executive, and I'm not sure that's something to be admired.

Our local Democratic Party signed up nearly 5,000 new voters this year; I know, because I had the letters to new voters printed up. Around half of those (I assume, based on their timing) were Blanks and Greens and Working Families voters signing up to vote for Bernie in the Democratic primary, but half happened post-primary. Without talking to each of them, I don't know why they made their choices—but it's interesting.

I am a woman of Jewish heritage who is raising a woman of Jewish heritage. In our family, meaning those who might join us for a holiday meal or funeral, we have Asian immigrants, Latinos, and African-Americans. Catholics, too. I have no problem with people's leaving the Democratic Party, which like all organizations of a certain size and age, is rusty, unwieldy, and as hard to turn as the Titanic. But in this year of Trump, I would posit that voting for a third-party candidate is the epitome of white [male] privilege.