Home > Communication, Idealist, Personal, Safety > Because … Democracy?

Because … Democracy?

I am no longer a Democrat.

It’s a matter of safety.

I was born unsafe.

My father abused my mom while she was pregnant with me, her eldest child.

By the time I was in first grade, my mom had become physically abusive. She thought by being hard herself she could shield herself from the pain of the hardnesses she suffered, a fact for which she apologized profusely to me in my teens and twenties. She’d been so, so wrong.

My siblings and I walked on eggshells inside our home, trying to interpret every glance and tone for indications violence was forthcoming, and to do our best to avert it upon noticing telltale shifts.

My siblings and I knew no fewer than nine predators in my childhood.

We were not only unsafe within our home, but outside it as well. Even family friends–excepting my godmother–were villains, so that we understood early “good guys” were works of fiction. We read at home, at school, at church, while walking. We read ourselves into different worlds so much freer and more hopeful than our own.

In fiction and fiction alone could we be totally safe, though we found glimmers of light within our godmother, a local librarian, and, in my case, our mother’s divorce attorney.

It wasn’t much, but it was what we had. For us to make it, it had to be enough.

Safety was fiction.

My younger sister Rachael met her future husband, Nick, in high school. He ate things barely foodlike, said terrible things all the time, and was absolutely and unequivocally safe.

I’d had no idea what “safe” felt like until the day the pedophile against whom I’d testified cornered Rachael at the store where she and Nick were working. Driving me to a party that evening, he shared every little bit of what he thought about that damned, damnable human substitute. His pride in my sister’s strength shone through so bright that I began sobbing.

This teenaged boy man whose friends all thought him the crassest of the crass pulled over his car and held me while I sobbed.

I was not alone. I was as close to safe
as I had ever been.

The safety I felt then was a tiny spark that grew.

Among Nick’s friends were others who were disgusting to each other, but by choice, and who were loving and protective of my sister and me.

That tiny spark of safety grew into a little flame.

In martial arts, I met a lady named Sarah.

We became fast friends, and her family welcomed me among them.

Among them, I understood what it meant to be safe at home. With enough time, I came to understand they wouldn’t cut me out for saying the wrong word. They wouldn’t scream at me, belittle me, or hurt me.

My little flame of safety grew into a campfire.

I began law school in another city both alone and unalone.

The little fire of safety I’d built kept me warm though those who’d helped build it were physically far away.

I’d grown up knowing unsafe, but by now, I could also recognize safe. The friends I made in law school were safe.

The man I met just after graduating law school, the one who would later become my husband, was safe.

I understood that my safety depended on using all the
knowledge and all the skills I’d amassed
to date to hold close those who would
protect my fire from the wind, and
keep away those whose actions
showed they’d blow it down
if it suited them.

There are people my husband holds dear, and wishes I’d hold dearer.

Our many conversations on the subject were gradually exhausting and dispiriting me.

“Honey,” I finally told him, “I need you to stop trying to force me. When you do that, when you tell me repeatedly you would be so happy if I would just do this or that and override the signs that heeding has kept me safe within my family of love until now, you tell me–whether or not that’s what you think you’re doing–that my safety as I experience it is not a primary concern for you.

“They don’t become safer by their pushing harder. You don’t become safer by pushing harder for them. You become dangerous to me, by failing to understand and reflect understanding that safety grows not by force but by making space for growing into something without pressure.”

Pressure–and force, no matter how overtly gentle–are the opposite of safety.

Sometimes their indicators are clear,
others much harder to see
and interpret.

A couple of years ago, I read essays by many feminists.

Many feminists of color said, “These are my experiences. These are the ways in which White feminism fails me.”

The White feminists I read said, “You are fracturing feminism by your failure to unite with us!” The unity they envisioned was a unity in which their vision ruled, with dissenting voices ceasing dissent and accepting this one correct vision.

They failed to see that the feminism they described failed feminists of color, and thus could never be a unifying feminism. Unity, I saw, would come not by force, but by making of safe spaces: by listening, reflecting, and working together to create a vision of feminism that better reflected the varied realities and needs of the many … not simply those most vocal.

We'll have unity if I HAVE TO PRY IT FROM YOU.

We’ll have unity if I HAVE TO PRY IT FROM YOUR COLD BODY.

My childhood was marked and marred by sex predators.

They obtained or tried to obtain what they wanted by force. Their attaining power and dominance was far more important to them than my or my sisters’ well being. (Indeed, according to this small but disturbing study, one-third of a small sample of college men said they’d “force a woman to sexual intercourse” if they could get away with it consequence free. Apparently many failed to recognize this as rape; roughly one-sixth persisted when the word “rape” itself was used. A United Nations study cited found that “men who had perpetrated rape simply believed they had the right to take control of women’s bodies.” )

No one I dated tried to coerce me, but friends and acquaintances told me their tales of non-consent and I shuddered at the prevalence of these horrors. Time and time again, I heard variations of, “I only wanted to kiss, but that didn’t matter to him … and he was stronger.

“And then, when all was said and done, I was the instigator, because I’d consented … to kissing.”

When the Associated Press announced a few days ago that Clinton had conquered the U.S. Democratic primaries by anonymous superdelegates officially weighing in end of next month, Clinton supporters far and wide begin talking about how Sanders supporters would–if not such sissy, sore losers–unify the Democratic party by getting in line. By accepting the majority vision of what it means to be a Democrat.

“Sounds familiar,” I thought, thinking of White feminism and wishing I had a way to show party members how their mandate that Sanders supporters like me depart our naive idealism and fall in line didn’t do a whole lot to assuage us of the gentle, non-militarism of their vision of the true Democrat.

I support Sanders for many reasons. Those reasons didn’t vanish because someone else with some similar ideas got more votes than has the candidate I support.

“Your reasons are unimportant!” I hear in messages to fall in line and unify.

To you,” I reply. “You don’t get to define what’s important to me. And the thing is, when you tell me it’s unimportant to you and should thus be unimportant to me, what you’re actually telling me is my merit to you is in my supporting you unequivocally. I am what you want, or I am nothing.”

“But Trump! We can’t have Trump, so you’d better!”

Hey. So here’s the thing: pointing out that this other guy is unsafe doesn’t make you safe.

Pointing this out doesn’t mean you hear. If you did, you’d hear I’d rather stand for something than against another. That I acknowledge a significant portion of the U.S. populace thinks we’ll fare better with Trump than any other candidate, and believe that true unity will come from finding the root cause behind that and addressing it rather than calling his supporters imbeciles and making hope of outnumbering them our sad pseudo-solution.

Pointing this out doesn’t mean you care about me. It doesn’t mean I’m suddenly compelled to discard things incredibly important to me because it’d be more convenient to one party’s majority if I did.

It doesn’t mean you understand that force is not the same thing as persuasive commentary; in fact, quite the opposite.

There’s even a certain peace in being among Trump supporters, who don’t pretend to represent me.

In at least a dozen articles now, I’ve read how Sanders just has to step out of the way to clear his supporters’ path to Clinton.

I’ve read and wanted to move to Antarctica, away from all these people who think it’s as just as easy as that, that the inevitable onslaught of pressure to just fall in will soon enough work.

Away from these people who remind me that “home” isn’t always a safe place to be, and that sometimes you have to move away from home to find peace among people who accept you as you are and find common ground by listening, not commanding.

I moved out of the Democratic party to be clear its leaders do not speak for me. That they do not have my consent to speak for me.

Democratic Party: That we have–or had?–much in common does not mean I’m yours for the taking. You don’t have the right to take control of me, no matter how wide the margin of your majority.

I’m a human being, not a commodity. You don’t “win” me as part of the spoils of war, because … Democracy?

npp

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  1. June 10, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    This election year is sad all around for me. I am seriously considering voting for Gary Johnson or a Write-In candidate who at least has half a chance. I need to do some more research. You seem well informed, would you write-in Bernie? And I agree, the way all the articles dismissed Bernie out of hand, even from the beginning really rubbed me the wrong way.

    • June 10, 2016 at 5:54 pm

      I read an article about Gary Johnson today. While I’m not sure he’ll get my vote… I sure do like the idea of having a wider pool of people to vote for…
      It’s only a two party system because we are too afraid to “throw our vote away.” We need to get over that fear. We need to vote for the best option for ourselves regardless of their perceived chances of winning. We shouldn’t worry about the lesser of the bad choices and only worry about who the best for us is…

      • June 10, 2016 at 6:32 pm

        Exactly. I want to do my research about everyone who is going to be on the ballot.

      • June 11, 2016 at 7:31 am

        I, too, like the idea of a wider pool of people to vote for! I was watching John Oliver’s segment on caucuses and primaries a couple days ago, and I really liked his idea about setting aside a day to contact representatives and let them know the current system is unacceptable. He suggested 2/2, which I’m marking on my calendar. I’ll be thinking a lot between now and then of how to correct it, but my position right now is that … I don’t feel like caucuses and primaries are a very democratic institution, though I certainly understand why entrenched power-holders favor them.

        You are so right about fear being behind this two party system. In order to obtain a truer democracy, more people need to step outside this narrative of fear and accept some potential uncomfortable consequences short term from pushing toward longer term toward something closer to actual representation.

        I’d believe until this election that unity against Other was of the utmost importance. The last few years have been illuminating for me, so that I see a lot more clearly how “unity” is obtained … and how much is lost in its pursuit.

        I can’t cast someone else’s vote for them and feel like I have done something good anymore. I need to cast my own vote, even if someone else–or many someone elses–characterize that as a fatal error, or (utilizing a more refined version of peer pressure) blame me for the consequences of their own many miscalculations beginning years back.

    • June 10, 2016 at 6:19 pm

      I’m intrigued and delighted to learn that I’m not the only person who would welcome either Gary Johnson or Bernie, or – now THIS would be interesting – a combination of the two. I like Johnson a lot, voted for him last time around. This year, though … I’d like to vote for someone who has a real chance of winning (and who isn’t either of the main contenders, obviously). So waiting to see whether I’ll write in Bernie or vote for Johnson. Apparently write-ins have won seats within Congress, so it’s not impossible someone with Bernie’s strong following would win the presidential seat. I’d rather see him run as an independent, though.

      • June 10, 2016 at 6:37 pm

        That would be nice if he ran independent, but could be political suicide. I really feel this primary season, there are several of us who feel neither side represents us and are looking for a viable alternative and this might be the year something new happens rather than option R or Option D.

        • June 11, 2016 at 7:46 am

          Hear, hear!

        • June 12, 2016 at 8:01 pm

          Would that be wonderful? It really troubles me the way the US system seems set up to accommodate only two strong parties. I would love to see a strong, viable third party with a genuinely fresh approach enter the field.

      • June 11, 2016 at 7:45 am

        I didn’t know that about write-ins having won Congress! That feels very hopeful to me, for both the short and long terms. At this point, I’m planning on writing in Bernie, though I’m planning on doing more research and my position (or the dominant one) might change between here and there.

        What’s been scarily eye-opening to me the last few months has been seeing how readily I still accept dominant narratives, without questioning. My Black Lives Matter research from a couple years back was … so startling. I’d follow live accounts of things that were happening, and then read articles in the news that represented things so very dramatically divergent from what I’d actually spent hours watching via first hand media.

        That was when I started realizing that dominant narratives include a whole lot of subjective interpretation disguised as objective fact, and that one of the most significant benefits of social media is its ability to quickly and without anyone else’s blessing communicate first-hand accounts from the ground.

        And yet, despite having seen facts twisted so repeatedly into traditional media narratives, I unflinchingly accepted the DNC-dominant narrative of Bernie not being a realistic candidate!

        I hope the lessons I’ve learned here will help me be more critical of future “facts” more quickly in more situations.

        • June 12, 2016 at 8:14 pm

          I think we all struggle in that way – and frankly, while social media can be a huge boon in terms of sharing first-hand experiences, it’s also a scarily effective meme-vector.

          What frustrated me regarding the “Bernie is a nice guy but not a practical choice” meme is that, when you stop and think about it, it’s just silly. NO President is going to accomplish everything they promise. Their campaign promises should rather be evaluated as statements of intent, and then measured up against the candidate’s history to determine whether they’re a real reflection of values. In a Republican-dominated Congress (with an established track record of dragging its heels no matter what), the best we can hope for is a gradual realigning of the direction we’re traveling in. So I don’t think Bernie would turn us socialist overnight, and I don’t think Johnson would transform us into a libertarian utopia. There’s just too much drag built into the system. But I do think either of them, working within their disparate political ideologies, might nudge us closer toward a place of greater political accountability, economic freedom and social wellbeing.

          My main concern about Bernie is that he would try to do so using lots and lots of bureaucrats … and my main concern about Johnson is that he’s so little known and he’s not a showman. I don’t think he can make the press pay attention, and so they’ll ignore him, and so he won’t be heard. Like you, I decided a while back that I was done with voting against. I vote for what I believe in, and I refuse to consider my vote wasted just because it’s not either D or R. But I’m weary of never voting for winners… 😦

    • June 11, 2016 at 7:24 am

      I would absolutely write in Bernie! Typing this, of course, I remember how I thought people shouldn’t “throw away their vote” several presidential elections back, before I appreciated that my thinking that so had much more to do with my interpretation of their positions than the positions themselves. That’s what got me thinking about these Venn diagrams, which I collapsed into a single image in the final post.

      We’ve got these two circles that overlap so greatly, one party–the dominant–insists that the two positions are so similar as to render the non-overlapping areas insignificant. In an assault situation, the aggressor says, “Well, we’re already 90% of the way there–the other 10% isn’t that big a difference!” The aggressor forces the bridging of the other 10% gap, bringing a “unity” that isn’t real unity at terrible cost to the non-aggressor.

      I currently work in an environment that’s very, very receptive to different positions and very averse to uses of force. One of the safest people I’ve ever worked with has very different political beliefs from me, such that I’ve recently understood “unity” in a very different way than I understood it before.

      It’s in this total context that I looked at what happens in physical assault and recognized less blatant expressions of force for force nevertheless. These disparate actions have consistent internal motivations: obtaining what’s desired through whatever force is available, versus listening, making space, making adjustments, being patient.

      Mulling these things over, I understood why I’ve felt so very uncomfortable with folks telling me and others similarly inclined that we just have to suck up that 10% difference … alone. Because it’s better for the totality.

      Yeah, if the totality has failed to understand why certain things are important to me, why again am I interested in fulfilling its objectives?

      I used to try explaining, taking a personal responsibility to making people understand where I was coming from, until I saw that people invested in one perspective are often deadset against truly hearing alternatives. They’re often interested in converting/attacking other, not adapting positions to incorporate other views. After having bunches of fruitless conversations, I landed on that it’s not my obligation to make someone else understand my position, especially someone invested in not hearing, who will only listen to nitpick fine points instead of hear the totality: the words and the specific spaces between them. Now I disengage when I see these subtler acts of force, and am glad to understand a little more clearly what that’s about.

      As to your final point about how articles dismissed Bernie out of hand … I honestly didn’t even notice! When I visited Oregon recently, I arrived firmly in Hillary’s camp. My siblings’ (sister, brother, BIL) conversation, full of no attacking whatsoever and lots of very specific points leading them to support Bernie, was so eye-opening. They didn’t force. They made space.

      I realized that my “he’s-not-a-viable candidate” position had reflected my adopting the tone I was suddenly able to see in articles–and discourse!–everywhere. I’d been totally unseeing to the fact I’d uncritically adopted the dismissive narrative. Stepping back from that automatic dismissal, I saw huge alignment with my values, and benefit in proceeding in accord with those values instead of “accepting the more realistic candidate” (= “accepting the DNC’s version of realism, even if it meant some uncomfortable misalignment of positions”).

  2. June 10, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    Wow, I am simply in awe at your strength to overcome and to find your voice in it all. Most of us have a hard time simply saying how we feel let alone why or what we need. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It was raw, moving and inspirational.
    As for the election, I had never looked at it from your point of view, I just though hmm ok I guess that is what happens when two candidates are in the same party, one ends up supporting the other. It is great to see if from a voters perspective.
    Many blessing 🙂

    • June 11, 2016 at 7:51 am

      Sometimes I get frustrated with myself because I can’t immediately identify why something feels wrong. I’ll try seventeen different ways to explain something and none of it’s right. Of course, the act of trying improves my ability to articulate, so that it’s not a loss.

      Something that’s been so good for me the last year or so is seeing that it’s not my responsibility whether or not someone understands. I started seeing when people would confuse their not understanding my position with my position not being a valid one, and how it’s not my responsibility to overcome their mental roadblocks. It’s easy for me to step back from that now and move forward with folks who don’t place on me the burden of explaining enough times in enough ways to find the way that helps them get where I’m coming from. Not my responsibility.

      Man, has this all made me grateful for folks who accept me as I come! It’s also made me aware how my own fight-or-flight responses from past trauma can make me potentially unsafe to others. That’s something I’m going to try tempering, because I want folks to know we don’t have to agree to be at peace in each other’s company.

      Thank you!

      • June 12, 2016 at 4:17 pm

        So true, definatly not your responsibility and with some people you can explain 100 times and they don’t want to get it. Keep speaking your truth 🙂

  3. June 10, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    Both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of this – of thinking in terms of “what’s best for The Party”, rather than considering what might be best for the country. So we have people who have expressed the deepest antipathy toward Trump suddenly shifting into alignment with him – and when his outrageous statements make them cringe, they make excuses for him and for their own cringing. And now the “Democrats” – fuck, I hate that they’ve co-opted that word, because they are SO not democratic – as you say, here they go, essentially accusing Sanders of being a threat to The Party because he doesn’t waltz into line behind that conniving bitch.

    • June 11, 2016 at 7:56 am

      Hear, hear. Part of me wants to say more, but I’d just be using more words to say what you said above. No more peer pressure thinly veiled as politics, please.

  4. June 10, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Wow, now this is an interesting post. About you and your past and the politics in your country. Now I need to think… Thank you for this. I truly enjoyed reading and I’m so happy that you found safe! In regards to your elections I can only repeat myself: I’m so glad I don’t have to vote! It’s a mess…

    • June 11, 2016 at 7:58 am

      LOL @ your don’t have to vote comment … I’m a little envious, though hopeful I can find a way to turn my current disenchantment into part of systemic change!

      Thank you for your comment on safety. I am so grateful to be where I am now, and to have a range of choices … no matter what anyone says to the contrary. 🙂

  5. June 10, 2016 at 8:09 pm

    I’m sorry that it was unsafe but I am happy that you are now safe. It’s wonderful to provide that safety to your children, truly it is.

  6. June 11, 2016 at 8:13 am

    thank you for courageously caring
    despite these seemingly overwhelming
    obstacles to feeling safe in the past
    and even now.
    i support your feeling connected somewhere
    that feels safe in your body, heart & mind,
    perhaps a meetup outdoor group.
    your children will always know of
    their mother’s love for them
    and herself 🙂

    • June 12, 2016 at 2:03 am

      Thank you so much for your warm words. They soothe more each time I read them.

      I grew up in Oregon, so that I gravitate toward green and feel the home in it. I try to go walking with my family each weekend day and on weekdays as we can afford it, and take at least one trip to “hike” weekly. I feel so much better when I do. (We are meant to spend good time outdoors!)

      • June 12, 2016 at 5:25 pm

        wishing you continued success
        step by step
        calm breath by breath 🙂

  7. June 11, 2016 at 9:01 am

    I was just thinking similar thoughts. I don’t want to make the “lesser of 2 evils” choice. I was thinking of abstaining, better yet, maybe I’ll just write in Bernie. I’m an independent so I can do what I want. Unfortunately most people are just going to align with a party and we’ll get what we get. Since the beginning I’ve felt like this whole campaign cycle has been a setup, and I’ve been wondering – who’s really running the show behind the scene? It is sad to see that America has come to a point such as this with two candidates that don’t offer a promising future. I don’t feel safe in the country I have known as my home.

    • June 12, 2016 at 2:08 am

      I’ve felt like this whole campaign cycle has been a setup, and I’ve been wondering – who’s really running the show behind the scene?

      Ditto, I’ve wondered whether it was always what it is now, and I just failed to see it. Whether or not that’s the case, I do see now and I want to take part in fixing it. “Fixing it,” of course, does not mean “voting the lesser of two evils,” a grimy band-aid which feels like a vote for the very processual evil by which I cannot, having seen, comfortably abide.

  8. June 11, 2016 at 11:43 am

    Deborah. You are truly amazing. You continue to inspire and help me believe that I can keep going on my own journey .

  9. June 11, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    Wow! You are so right about safety! All of it. And you’ve said it strongly and well. I don’t feel our country is a safe place any longer But I’ve never been able to put it into words anyone else can understand…. Thank you. BTW, I’m very new to the blogging community. Are we allowed to post a FB link to your page???? This needs to be read, and reread.

    • June 11, 2016 at 2:46 pm

      Please feel free to share! I will reply more fully later. ♡

    • June 12, 2016 at 2:13 am

      I’ve never been able to put it into words anyone else can understand….
      I know there is still room for me to do it so much better, but practice certainly helps! Part of me is frustrated that I’ve taken so long to try beginning to express it, having seen others express their non-representation eloquently for more than a year, but another, larger part is glad to be beginning to try … even seeing how skilled people can be at not hearing what they don’t want to hear, no matter how eloquently expressed. (Seriously, the number of times I’ve now seen majority members unironically say, “But we do hear and represent you!” is mind-boggling.)

  10. June 11, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    It’s so disheartening how everything has gone for Bernie, and even more, what it means for our voices, our votes.

    • June 12, 2016 at 2:26 am

      My younger sister sent me a post I think you’ll really appreciate. I wish it were published so I could reblog it already, and share a quote or two here.

      I mentioned my sister’s email to Anthony, who replied that my BIL had posted on FB. I read my BIL’s post and was so heartened by it. And then … then I read the comments and went, “How is that adults can tell their kids not to give into peer pressure, all the while exerting themselves? Wait, is it not ‘peer pressure’ if politics are involved? Or adults?”

      Saying, “I am going to do this because it’s what I believe in” is one thing. Rock that! Saying, “If you don’t also do it, it’s because you’re ignorant/a traitor/an asshole/clear can’t understand consequences/…” is another thing entirely. Peer pressure is not a better, kinder, more sensible thing just because adults are the ones doing it.

      We appear to have a nation overflowing with people who fail to understand representation. When Person A unironically tells Person B who doesn’t feel represented that they are represented, Person A has just proven Person B’s point. You can’t be represented by someone either incapable of or completely disinvested in actually hearing your underrepresented concerns in the first place.

      • June 12, 2016 at 11:43 pm

        Absolutely. I read something in the Washington Post today telling people how they have a moral obligation to vote for the lesser of two evils here as opposed to voting with your conscience. Gotta love all the shaming with this election. Maybe it’s been like that in the past and I just haven’t noticed.

        • June 17, 2016 at 3:17 pm

          Shaming is EXACTLY it. I was able to identify it without the word until I read it here, so seeing it made me go, “Aha!”

          I’ve been shamed enough since I was a tiny girl that I don’t give a flying @$^ when folks try to shame me now, apart from to wish they understood how horrific and reprehensible they sound pushing the very peer pressure they tell their kids not to perpetuate.

  11. June 12, 2016 at 9:51 pm

    Bernie is the only candidate I respect. I don’t think I’m looking for unreasonable strengths or perfection. He isn’t stepping down, so we’ll have to see how this plays out. I cringe a little reading your childhood recollections, but only because it hurts my heart to think of the “little girl you” and what you had to endure, but the amazing thing is that you did just that–endure. And you have a very powerful voice. I always feel stimulated to think from perhaps a different perspective.

    • June 17, 2016 at 3:36 pm

      I’m sorry I didn’t reply sooner, but also glad. Last weekend, I watched the Tonys with two people I love. They talked about all the musicals they enjoyed in younger days and I felt these rare but profound pangs of, “What musicals might I have loved, if I didn’t have to focus so much on simply surviving?” The next day I felt okay, but I felt pretty devastated that evening, imagining the alternate reality where I’d been able to spend so much energy in so much more externally rewarding ways. Reading your comment now is like a huge sigh of affirmation: There’s no telling what else might have been! Focus on what is, which is: You did great with what you had.

      I’m glad Sanders isn’t stepping down. Every time I read articles slamming him for not stepping down, I feel better about having stepped away from the Democrats, and more certain I will never step back toward. I also understand better why more and more people register Independent, feeling–understandably–like neither established party represents them.

      With pretty much every article I read, I think the parties benefit entrenched major participants than they benefit the people they purportedly represent. I’m not sure I’ll ever identify with a party again.

      • June 18, 2016 at 7:41 pm

        You learned early how to think for yourself, to survive, I’m sure. What an awful way to gain wisdom, but now you have so much to share with your own children. You have truly challenged me with your thoughts on this election…as an “almost lifetime” Dem I have struggled, but had none of your clarity! I have really been thinking about your post, Deborah. I shared it with a friend yesterday after she expressed some of the same uneasiness you wrote about…I think we are all a bit unsettled, even if we can’t pinpoint the precise issues. 😦

  12. June 13, 2016 at 6:28 am

    ” I’d rather stand for something than against another.” This. This is what I’ve been saying all along. xoxo

    • June 17, 2016 at 3:37 pm

      I’ve heard people saying this for so long and thought I understood, but truly … I have only just gotten it, and I’m certain to have more getting-it ahead!

      xoxo

  13. June 13, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    Amen, sister! If you thought Hilary was the bees knees, you would have supported her to begin with. Clearly there was a reason you stood for Bernie. In the past 12 years (and this may just be because I just started paying attention to politics around then), I feel like politics have become more about a popularity contest and racism/sexism than what is actually best for our country. I didn’t vote for Obama because he was black. I’m not going to vote for Hilary because she’s a woman. And I’m not going to vote for Trump because he’s rich and famous. And I’m just… blah. I mean, even though Bernie is out of the race, I envy you that you were able to at least stand for something at some point during this election because I can’t find ANYTHING to stand for. Harsh or not, Trump is a fool and Hilary is a terrorist and I just don’t even know which one will do more damage. I don’t feel safe. Period.

    • June 17, 2016 at 3:50 pm

      He’s not out of the race, though! He’s not yet conceded. Even if/when he does, I’ll no longer default Democrat because “I’m a Democrat and that’s what Democrats do.” I’m truly no longer a Democrat, and I’ll write in Sanders as needed. (Perfect? No. Closer to it, IMO, than other candidates? By far.)

      Before, I felt I had to do what people of my affiliation did. Now, I understand “my affiliation” is not what I thought it to be while taking easy shortcuts earlier.

      When Clinton said she’d put her husband in charge of economic growth, I knew for sure she was not my candidate. Her husband’s policies played a huge role in today’s economic inequality. Voting for her–and her husband–thus means perpetuating those inequities. (There’s little to no indication they’ve learned from national lessons, when they earned $$$$$$$$$$ for the policies they implemented.)

      No, thanks. I’ll use my vote in a way that’s meaningful to me instead of in a way that a vocal, peer pressur-ing majority demands I use it (thus making me so glad I extricated myself from them, yuck).

      I feel like parties today benefit the entrenched politically powerful. I feel like politics that benefit the many moving forward will encourage a proliferation of candidates and enable the populace to vote for those most truly aligned with their perspectives instead of splitting them into a not-very-representative two parties … because that worked, kinda, two centuries ago.

      (Like you, I don’t feel safe. Period.)

  14. June 13, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    Maybe it’s time for parties to be abolished so we can consider things that truly matter.

    • June 17, 2016 at 3:51 pm

      Oh, geez! If I’d read one comment down, I’d have seen you’d already addressed my concerns!

      YES, YES, YES! Parties do not benefit the people. They benefit the existing party elite, with whom I do not identify at all.

  15. June 14, 2016 at 7:29 am

    This is what I just shared on Facebook after reading your sister’s post before this one:

    Our country’s economy is radically different than it was 40 years ago. And yet the income of 98% of the population has not risen with productivity and in many ways, and for most workers has effectively decreased.

    I’m not against pragmatism and incrementalism. I’ve watched over the last two decades as pragmatism and incrementalism hasn’t touched the core of the problem – our approach has been to treat the symptoms rather than the condition.

    So tell me again why we incrementalism is once again the right choice?

    It seems that we have failed as a people to account for the fact that our politics and our common space is completely different from our hopes and dreams. Not just that we’ve let it be a battlefield, but that we have let such dysfunction rule.

    It reminds me of going to a hospital and seeing a huge gaggle of nurses and doctors smoking outside the door. We’ll tell you how things can be improved, but we aren’t actually going to do them. Because its too hard. Or we need to negotiate. Or the mean people won’t let us. Or because we are suddenly all constitutional scholars.

    • June 17, 2016 at 3:07 pm

      Yes. Yes a million times over.

      I actually attended a course on Continuous Improvement a little more than a week ago. In light of having taken that course, “incrementalism” sounds an awful like like “address-the-symptom-ism.”

      The course’s instructors were adamant about the importance not of mopping harder when the sink is overflowing but addressing the overflowing sink. When you’re used to addressing the symptoms frantically, of course, it can seem strange to address the cause and accept the short-term impact to symptoms, but the cause will never be addressed–or rectified–by just continuing to address its symptoms (such as mopping a constantly flooded floor).

      Incrementalism doesn’t begin to change the economics that have led to devastating inequities the last few decades. It reflects no accountability. No comprehension of what life is like for the tired and poor who’ve suffered as a result of fiscal changes the last few decades. So when Clinton says she’ll have her husband take charge of economics, I’m both horrified and absolutely certain Clinton’s “incrementalism” doesn’t reflect my politics AT ALL. It doesn’t rectify any wrongs. It doesn’t make life one bit easier for those who most need change to just keep going, nor hint at the possibility things might ever become easier.

      In every silence, in every “you must!” I hear, “But you’re not one of the totally disenfranchised. How could you vote otherwise?!”

      BECAUSE MY CHILDHOOD. Though my mom is dead, I want to fight for her when I face inequity now. When I face something that looks all shiny and happy and smiley but would make her life even harder. !#%!%$#^ that. !^##^ anyone who says, “BUT TRUMP!” in response to that.

      I’m trying to be more loving and positive, but … it will be a long road, especially when trying to respond calmly to people tell me with a straight face they represent me and mine when I am equipped with the tools to validate that couldn’t be further from the truth.

      They are so far from even being able to hear, why do I even begin to waste the energy of trying?!

      I read a fantastic March RS article that summed it up perfectly:

      Democrats “have been saying, ‘The Republicans are worse!’ for so long that they’ve begun to believe it excuses everything”

      Indeed. Every day, I find at least one moment where I go, “Aaah, it’s good to no longer be a Democrat!” I used to think I had to believe as the party said because it said so. Now … no. If the party says “jump” when it’s clear “swim” is the right thing to do, I’ll just go ahead and swim.

    • June 17, 2016 at 3:14 pm

      Also, my six-years-younger brother has been reading my textbooks since I was in high school. He researches meticulously and can support his any position at length, with analysis and copious footnotes off the top of his head.

      He supports Sanders. When he says as much, people write him off as “not pragmatic” and disregard anything else he says. I now interpret the words “not pragmatic” as “too smart and considered against whom to argue effectively.”

      What’s described as “not pragmatic” today will be tomorrow’s “critical to address rectify however we must.” We’re still new enough in this world of readily available data that people can fall back to tired, broken ways of thinking and address analyses based on outdated data. I hope this will have changed by the next election, so that the people who say “you’re not pragmatic enough!” eventually go “oh. I get it now.” It’s hard to say, though; it’s too easy to live in the now, and choose based on fear not of a decade down the road but tomorrow.

      • June 23, 2016 at 7:10 am

        Apologize for the delay in responding. Yes! Yes!

        For the last two decades, I’ve read countless articles in every major paper showing the problems in our current economic theory, its failure to do what it claims it will, and the disastrous effects it is having on ours and the global economy. I’ve read about the IMF realizing that it’s use on neoliberal economic theory has led to greater instability and poverty in Latin America and have changed their policies in the lat several years. We read over and over how these things we take for granted are our problem.

        And yet dealing with them directly is somehow not pragmatic. I really don’t understand how they don’t understand this part.

  1. June 14, 2016 at 6:06 am
  2. June 14, 2016 at 11:01 am
  3. July 16, 2016 at 6:30 pm
  4. July 18, 2016 at 8:52 pm
  5. July 21, 2016 at 4:19 pm
  6. July 24, 2016 at 9:28 am
  7. August 8, 2016 at 5:02 am
  8. November 9, 2016 at 5:48 am
  9. January 9, 2017 at 5:01 am
  10. January 9, 2017 at 8:22 pm

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