Sunday, November 6, 2016

Sunday Sermon [An Open Letter to Moral Conformists]

Hola mi gente,
Enough is enough. Every day, my social media streams are inundated by posts by cowed, fearful, and at times positively rabid Hillary Clinton supporters. To paraphrase a meme I saw today: pointing out Trump’s faults does not make a case for Hillary. 

The following is for those who profess to be liberals or progressives and who are voting the conservative candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Pathologizing Dissent

“Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
 -- Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

Almost every day I have to suffer through yet another post appearing on my stream by the Working Families Party of New York (WFP). Having first endorsed Bernie Sanders, the WFP now wants people to vote on their line. Their presidential pick? Hillary Clinton. 

A little bit of self-disclosure: during the early days of the WFP, I was an organizer for them. I spent many nights in NYC’s gulag, Far Rockaway, going door-to-door in the projects there and I spent a few months organizing in my old Brooklyn neighborhood, Bushwick. Ironically, I also assisted with organizing a huge accountability session that included Hillary Clinton who, at the time, was running for the New York State senate seat. At the time, I thought the WFP was a great idea. 

The WFP took a grassroots guerilla warfare approach to local elections. Basically, we presented a slate of policies and asked local politicians if they would commit to publicly endorsing them. The effective part was being able to demonstrate to politicians that we could get a few thousand people to vote. That usually put the fear into them. It was a very effective approach, and I have to admit that the WFP did some good work in those early years.

However, today’s WFP is not the WFP of yesteryear and has, in my opinion, made some very suspect decisions, culminating with the decision to endorse Cuomo in the last gubernatorial race. It was a decision that threatened to rip apart of the coalition. I left the WFP for several reasons, one being that while it used a grassroots model of organizing, its decision-making process was very hierarchical (not grassroots). We did the organizing, but the ultimate decisions about direction and strategy were made by a few people.

And this is why it bothers me that the WFP is endorsing Hillary Clinton. I see that decision, as with the Cuomo endorsement, as a way to garner more votes on their line. The more votes a political party garners, the better access it has to power. So, a political entity with the words “working families” in its title, is endorsing a candidate who used racial stereotypes to pass legislation that gutted social safety nets for the most vulnerable in our society and advocated for a trade treaty (NAFTA) that erased millions of jobs for working families. This is the same candidate that that is on record as saying that the TPP -- NAFTA on steroids -- set the gold standard on trade treaties.

Think about that.

I have previously written about why I could never vote for Hillary Clinton. Others have also written why Black and Latinx people should not vote for Clinton. Therefore, reiterating a case against a Clinton administration will not be the purpose of this post. Let me put it this way, the last time the Clintons were confronted with a recalcitrant GOP congressional majority, they turned tail and helped pass some of the most pernicious, ultra-conservative policies.

But point this out to a Hillary supporter and after reflexively barking out “Trump,” it only elicits contempt. I am not realistic, they say. I am too idealistic. They are proud “pragmatic progressives” -- the adults in the room -- they sneer. The thing I find particularly disturbing is how an empirical observation such as that a ruling elite, primarily corporate in character, exists and exists for its interests and not the interests of the people, is stigmatized by so-called lefties as the ravings of unhinged misogynists. I am embarrassed -- no offended -- that there are people advocating for a strategy that discourages people from using their vote to organize and support viable alternative voices, and instead encourages people to give up their power to a right wing, neoliberal, corporate-controlled politician with the hopes that they will somehow push her to the left once she ascends into power.

Hope, my friends, is not a strategy. At least it is not a winning strategy.

Hillary is the poster child of everything that’s wrong with the Democratic Party and what the faux liberal Hillary supporters don’t seem to understand is that this election is really about disgust with the current status quo. This is the main reason why Hillary is barely beating out a childish narcissist who can’t even run a coherent campaign. People don’t trust her with good reason. People don’t like her, not because she is a woman, but because she hasn’t earned that trust. We on the left should see this election as a clarion call to organize, to support progressive third parties, to speak out against a dystopian status quo in which people find themselves barely keeping their head above water. People are drowning. The time for short-term fixes is long past. It is time for change and it seems that the reason Hillary Clinton has some of the lowest favorability and trust numbers is that the Democratic Party holds no attraction presenting itself as a bullshit “Republican Lite” alternative. In fact, I would submit that Hillary has nothing but contempt for the common people -- the unwashed masses.

We should be encouraging people to vote strategically, lending their franchise to progressive third parties. For example, people dismiss the Green Party because it can’t win. But if the Green Party could garner at least 5% of the popular vote, it would qualify for millions in federal funds. Shit, 15% would have compelled the duopoly to allow a candidate like Jill Stein at the debates and there would have been discussions about climate change, inequality, poverty, and an economic structure that benefits the majority, not just those lucky enough to be born rich. Instead we got a series of bad reality shows that were obsessed with grabbing pussy and Benghazi.

But instead of calls to organize, or the will for marginalized communities to take power, what I’m hearing from so-called progressives is that we must vote for war, privatization, inequality, mass incarceration, and corporate dominance in order to achieve goals that are exactly the opposite. What we will get is a more right-wing version of Obama -- quite possibly eight years of it. Can we afford it?

It. Makes. No. Sense. 

What do you honestly expect to achieve if the candidate in office, regardless of who they are, has nothing to fear? The DNC has nothing but contempt for progressive ideals and knows you will vote for them out of fear regardless of their record.

Those advocating for Hillary are the living example of the definition of insanity: committing the same acts and expecting different results. I’m not trying to convince people on how they should vote, but don’t fuckin' tell me that voting for Hillary is a road to anything amounting to change. The historical record refutes anything you say. But instead of looking at the evidence, some want to practice a form of magical thinking they have the nerve to call “pragmatic.”

The time to fight is now. If not now, when. If not you, then who?

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization… 

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