Sunday, December 11, 2016

They called us Elitist, and we acted the part.



We – if you didn't feel disoriented after Trump's election you won't feel included in this "we" – are listening now to people who don't feel their survival depends upon the survival of all of all of humanity, who accept their privilege as a right condition of human relations, who see themselves as being in competition with other human beings to have their needs met, who feel forgotten by us, who neglected them. I don't expect every Trump supporter to accept these characterizations. But we are guilty as charged. We forgot a significant number of Americans because they lived in "red" states, listened to Rush Limbaugh, like to drive big trucks, and work in oil fields. There is a large segment of the American populace whose interests we defend, but they didn't get the word. And we didn't reach out to them.


It's true, if the Democratic party  had not been corrupt, we might have had Bernie, and if we had, some of these disaffected Americans who voted for Trump might have voted for Bernie, and he would be president. I'm not letting the Democrats off the hook, by saying we failed to listen. The democrats absolutely failed to listen, and I'm including myself in the mistake they made, that progressives could ignore the disaffected masses and get away with it. And I think I am not alone. I'll bet you made that mistake too.


We are listening now because enough of them there were to elect a President who channels their fear, their anger, their sense of loss and need to be considered in the affairs of the nation. We are listening now because we were so disconnected from them and their needs that when their candidate won it shocked us, and set us back. Because we were too comfortable in our cozy little bubble of self-righteous "inclusivity". Except we forgot to include them. Now we are wondering, "Who are they?".  


So now, in our shock, we are re-grouping. We are looking for allies and preparing our defenses. We are thinking about the damage a Trump administration is likely to do for our agenda. We are gearing up to resist and obfuscate, to do to him what the Republicans did to the Obama administration. We are preparing for strikes and protests, we are hunkering down in our mountain lairs, preparing sneak attacks on their convoys. We are getting ready for guerilla politics, because that is what the group out of power does. We are re-counting our resources and allies, re-formulating our strategies, getting ready the political IEDs we will need to stop the onslaught of dangerous new policy. We are thinking about how to protect our prior gains, and how to avoid new losses.


Thus we are on two tracks. We vote culturally and with our politics for diversity and inclusion, but we forgot to vote the interests of our brothers and sisters who live, feeling ignored by the system that deprecates their white privilege, in desperate downward mobility. We ignored them, because we thought they were wrong and we were right. And this, we learn, is wrong. We need to own our elitism and stupidity. It's nice to win, as we did when Obama won, but then someone else loses, and scapes the winner. We need to do what their politics reject: we need to share. We need to take account of the humanity of even those whose values we deplore. We must ensure that  everyone wins equally. We must ensure that the needs of everyone are on the table, and that government policy is good for them too. Then there will be no need for bigotry.


The  other track is the obvious need to defend civil liberties, democracy, equal opportunity, protection of minority communities, and the sharing of prosperity. We must protect, as best we can, the sense of a shared humanity. Indeed, we must remind OURSELVES of a shared humanity.

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