Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Being a Liberal and a Democrat

I set this aside months ago, but I think it is worth a revisit. Wall Street did not change, and the realities of poverty have not changed,  so here are some thoughts I have on class, politics, and "party unity."

The other day, I had political thoughts. Weird, right? Ah, I am teasing you - politics are everywhere and I think about them all the time. I often say that I am a liberal that has to settle for the Democratic party, but it takes us on the far left pulling our political leaders so that they end up center left, because they will get pulled further and further right otherwise.Here are some thoughts on being a liberal and a Democrat when it comes to economics. This may seem choppy because this is my side of a dialog edited to make more sense here, but your milage may vary.

Ever notice that your issues are important while other peoples' issues are merely politics? Yeah, me neither...

Affirmative Action: For most of us, economic arguments are not Marxian theory - it is trying to make sure you have food on the table at the end of the month. And not only do we not give a damn about the feelings of the people that put us here, we might actually like to see them squirm some. That is right on target as far as I can see here from the bottom of the heap. I know that Bain is not going to actually pay for what it did to people, neither will Wall Street. But dammit, at least they should suffer some discomfort in our name. 

The best Democratic leaders have illustrated to the majority how helping minority populations helps everyone, including them. Example: affirmative action actually allows schools and employers to see candidates that are just as promising but would have been lost in the system due to a minority status that would have otherwise pushed them down. A good leader will talk about that, you know? Same sort of thing with women's rights and how that allows women to contribute in a more fulfilling way which makes them better social assets. All we, as liberals, need are leaders that can tie that together in a realistic way rather than in the metaphorical "rising tide" way. Because there seems to be a distinct lack of motivation to do things because they are right, correct, morally obligatory right now.

Frankly, while advocating for "minorities" looks like a losing strategy in the short term, the white male vote is meaning less and less as the USian populations changes. 

Traditionally Democratic voters are not just not Republicans, we are the future. We have been united by diversity in the past, and we need to revive that spirit.  Civil rights, women's rights, disability rights (to a lesser degree) were adapted and co-voiced by liberals. The definition of conservation is to retard and stop change whenever possible, so they cannot lead on any sort of real change.

Class-based Politics: I believe that political divisions matter and have real consequences that we should not be expected to ignore in favor of political unity. I also think that these divisions, when acknowledged and worked on together, can create strong political unity. It just is not that damn difficult to acknowledge that, say, racial boundaries are contributing to poverty, so to work on poverty we need to work on racial discrimination. And so on with all our social ills.

Bring in the folks that have dealt with it their whole lives or have dedicated themselves to these issues and give them equal places at the table. Make efforts to make sure those voices are heard. Hell, make efforts to make sure they can get to the table and feel safe and honored so truth can be spoken.

Liberals cannot go back to class based politics. Class based politics never left us.

Political Identity: As a poor liberal aligned with the Democratic Party (more because it is the best thing going, and better to be a red headed step child than an orphan) I do not stop being poor because "the Party" decided to stop dealing with it. I do not stop being a woman because the party shies away from gender issues. I do not stop being handicapped just because Democrats have never achieved uniform enforcement of the ADA. These issues never leave the party, no matter how fast the mucky mucks may insist on our votes, taking them and then slapping our hands and worse, our ideas away.

While I appreciate the history and academia - they matter less to me than my lived life and the lives I have witnessed. We, and our issues, did not leave the party - perhaps because there is simply no other politically viable place to go. 

The Base: The post [was] about caring for the feelings of Wall St. elites. You know, elevating the fee-fees of the Brooks Brothers crowd above people struggling with the lived reality of poverty. I added that the politics of poverty have not left the party, even though the party has sometimes not stood up for the poor. I say you illustrated the point because you went into history and academia - valuable but distancing the conversation from the lived reality of poverty (and wrestling with the party about it) or even the rich saying their feelings were bruised. This was a fairly accurate microcosm of the same thing the Party does when confronted with this issue (and others!). 

In the last three or so years the Party has divorced me at the rate of about once a month. I keep voting Democratic because the other guys (still pretty much guys) are worse, so where would I go? In any other setting, this would be the definition of an abusive relationship .

With all the indignities heaped upon me by the people that are supposed to represent me, I will be damned if they, you, or anyone else can turn around and call me their blasted Base. Especially when they rend garments and gnash teeth wailing about how any criticism of President Obama and/or his Administration [was] throwing the election. Do we not understand that our petty lives or morals or issues are so much less important than a facade of party unity? Sigh.

I felt like it was important for you to understand this aspect of lived lives, even if it was just mine. I am out of spoons, though, and I am sadly not sure we are going to get anywhere near that goal even if that were not so. 

Note: saying that PotUS could do things better, could be better, could appeal to our better selves rather than coddling rich cry babies did not cost him the election. But silencing the voices crying out for economic justice were ignored. Way to go.

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