They is us

Ira Lacher plans to caucus for Pete Buttigieg. -promoted by Laura Belin

A guy I’ve worked with a for a long time believes whites are overlooked in favor of minorities, people who enter America illegally should be sent back, college graduates on the East and West coasts look down on those who haven’t a degree, and Christianity is under attack by atheists who want to remove God from our lives.

He has never said it outright to me, but I would bet everything I and my children will ever own that he voted for Donald Trump and will do so again.

Is he a bad person?

Before you answer, read Timothy Egan’s column in the November 9 New York Times. Particularly the last paragraph. After you read it, if you have to scratch your head and wonder, “What’s he talking about?” or even worse, disagree, you’re part of the problem.

Yes, you, who will support no Democrat other than he or she who vows to eliminate private health insurance, make college free for children of parents earning six figures, throw open the borders, and ban ownership of guns.

Now, you could argue that opposing progressive proposals plays right into the hands of those who attained their money and power by constructing, aiding and abetting and preserving a social, political and economic caste system that rewards those who already have money and power. And you might be right. But let’s think beyond our cardboard signs.

Not long ago, I was right there with you, chanting, “Power to the People!” And in truth, there are causes worth fighting for, because their consequences can change millions of people’s lives for the better. Getting arrested to eliminate institutional segregation is the right thing to do. Crusading to empower women to have the same rights as men is the right thing to do. Fighting for the rights of gay and transgender people to have the same rights as anyone else is the right thing to do. Marching to save Earth from catastrophic environmental damage is the right thing to do.

And I caucused for Bernie Sanders in 2016. But I’ve learned.

In every fight, in every demonstration, in every march, there needs to be comprehension. We need to ask not only, “Is the struggle worth it?” but also, “Who will be harmed by the collateral damage that every struggle begets?”

Many Trump voters — and, according to polls, they number two out of every five Americans — like him precisely because he is like them: vile, incompetent, childish, misogynistic, and racist.

But other Trump supporters — and undecideds — will vote for him because they see him as the bulwark against those they loathe and fear: the elitists, mainly from the East and West coasts, who smugly and righteously sip their Zin as they nibble at their caviar, who tsk-tsk those who believe in capitalism, American exclusionism, religion and the rule of law.

When their communities declined because the mines and factories that paid them closed and eliminated their jobs, or big ag displaced the family farmers who served those communities, Americans pleaded for help from the Democrats many supported for generations. Instead they got nonbelievers denigrating their religion, bureaucrats brandishing regulations that cost them money, pacifists vowing to deprive them of freedom-preserving tools, and academics peering and poking curiously at them before driving off in the cars made in Germany — the country their fathers and grandfathers fought against.

Democrats, like it or not: As the Fifties comic strip character Pogo famously said, we have met the enemy and they is us. Tens of millions. They were angry in 2016. And they’re still angry.

We can lament all we want about how we’re going to abolish the corruption, the immorality, and the slavish attention to power that got us here. We can dither about what’s the right way to solve problems until our vocal chords burn up.

But until we start paying attention to Americans, and nominate a presidential candidate whose slogan is not “I have a plan” but “I’m listening,” we are going to wake up on November 4, 2020, and wonder, “How the fuck did this happen again?”

  • No More Fear over Hope

    I am not sure where to start with this piece. For certain I am hearing the politics of fear over hope, and that does not win us elections. Assumptions are being made about mythical “undecideds,” that are not supported by close analysis. The 538 article cited below shows that the political views of political moderates, swing voters, or whatever you call them, vary widely. You appeal to some, and alienate some, no matter what position you take.

    The deciding factor may indeed be cultural. However, the cultural baggage does not implicate any one candidate neatly. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren come from humble backgrounds, and can talk sincerely about struggles that real people experience. Can Harvard-educated Pete Buttigieg do that? He could, but instead lately, he hangs around with Wall Street types and Mark Zuckerberg. When you express worry about “pacifists vowing to deprive them of freedom-preserving tools,” I think you are suggesting that we not go after people’s guns. Sorry, but that horse has left the barn. We can and we must control weapons and vastly reduce gun violence.

    I will caucus for Elizabeth Warren because she is sincere about taking on corruption, and that resonates with me. I will not allow fear about what other people think to guide my vote.

    The Moderate Middle Is A Myth

  • Genuinely curious

    I have read the phrase “throw open the borders” before. But I don’t know what it really means or if any candidates want to do it.

    I do worry that I keep reading, in connection with the immigration debate, that our society and economic system depend on having ever-larger numbers of young people in order to support the ever-larger numbers of old people. That model, which depends on the human population growing bigger and bigger forever, is wildly unsustainable.

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