Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Daymares or Cloudland on November 3rd


I'm about to do what I'm never supposed to do -- get into pointless speculation about our future in politics, the Democratic tribes and their respective throw-weights, if Joe Biden and Kamala Harris actually win today. (What else am I supposed to do on Election Day, when I've already voted and I'm no good on the phone? What else can I do, other than, say, replay compulsively Carly Simon singing "The River Runs"?)

The spaghetti fights that are coming! I'm not thinking of the armed Trumpists. They're someone else's problem. (The internal struggle for control of the Republican Party, if Trump loses, may resemble The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I'll have tourniquets and/or popcorn handy.) No, I'm thinking of the over-caffeinated and not at all demure Democratic activists from left and middle who are going to duke it out over the direction of the Party -- not to mention exert excruciating pressure on the Biden presidency and the presidential initiatives of the Biden/Harris administration.

I'm rumored to be a "progressive Democrat." A Bernie Sanders partisan. A dangerous liberal. Like Trump's working-class white men, my resentments are class based. If it hadn't been for a good education in a little podunk high school in West Texas, followed by more education at a West Texas Baptist college and then even more education at a Mormon-dominated university in Utah, I probably would have grown up stuck like amber on my tenant farmer rung, ambitious without wherewithal, angry and bitter about others moving on up. My resentment might have coagulated into reactionary politics. Saw it happen to plenty of others. 

"Think you're better'n me?" Trump's fan boys want to punch out educated people, media elites, scientists, and professors. 'Cause I am one of those educated people, I deserve punching-out because I've got it good, or at least better, and I'm probably a snob and a gun-control opportunist and an abortion-on-demand destroyer of traditional values. Some of that's true -- not the gun control part (I was actually the author once of a famous bumpersticker: "Democrats Arm Yourselves"), and I ain't no goddamn snob just because I have a vocabulary and read books. I won't apologize for my education, which is actually -- and ironically -- responsible for the loss of my religion. We had a saying at Wayland Baptist College that it produced either preachers or atheists. You got one guess.

But I still identify with my lower- and working-class roots. It's just that I pick Wall Street to hate. I pick smug rich people and bullies and people who cut me off in traffic. I say sometimes that I can't understand the enthusiasm for Trump among rural and working-class folks. But I do understand it. Trump's core base have every reason in the world to hate and cuss someone, anyone, the easy targets supplied by their leader for the supposed "level playing ground" which actually slants like a bitch. They just mistakenly blame their failure to rise on what they see as the privileging of racial minorities, the tyranny of science and Democratic governors, rather than the privileging of the already rich by an economic system whose dogma is: If you ain't got property, you ain't shit.

I want both the progressives and the moderates of my Party, going forward, to be strategic and practical. They won't be. My side will push too hard and at the wrong pressure points. The moderate/conservative, establishment side, which controls the wheels and cogs, will shut down dissent and breed more dissent. Crockery will get broken. Some people will leave the house and slam the door behind them. There could be a third party, or multiple third parties, and I might have trouble resisting the urge to join one. The tectonic plates will shift and buildings will crumble. I'm too old and tired for that additional chaos.

But the Party has got to be bold in standing for the working class against the forces that keep them subservient (and ignorant!). The Party's got to respect their religion and their traditionalism and actually help nurture its future, without simultaneously allowing church to dominate state. Bring broadband to everyone. Is that a middle way or a progressive way? Regulate assault weapons and atomic bombs but leave the household arsenals alone. Decriminalize a lot of petty offenses that catch up the most vulnerable and the most uneducated. Do not be jerks. Stop insulting and stereotyping those who are less. Stop the pity, too, because pity always runs downhill.

Bonus version:

And another, because that song needs -- demands -- a choir of young people:

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