Hey folks. It has been a WEEK here, let me tell you. I have been so tired and busy, nothing has even gotten me all self-righteously angry. That is, until yesterday, when GarlandGrey's post, which I think is fantastic and I totally agree with, precipitated my getting salty in the comments.
I'm going to tell you a story: So once upon a time, there was a woman who ran a national security and human rights law and policy organization. This was a very impressive, very respected, very well-known lady - she had brought lawsuits defending civil liberties! And written bills! And done all kinds of amazing things, like work against racial profiling after 9/11! She is really expert, this lady. Well, one day this lady gives a task to her intern, to research and write about the national security exemption to the Freedom of Information Act, and look into other nation's laws and policies about balancing the need to reveal information for the public good against any supposed harm to national security (our courts are WAY OVERLY deferential)(I am going to stop being legal here, bear with me). So, the intern says, oh, like, when there are human rights abuses, it should be weighted towards disclosure, like that? And the woman says yes, like that! And the intern says, oh, ok, like the Abu Ghraib pictures should be released, and the woman freaks out and says NO, YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT, YOU ARE CLEARLY UNINFORMED AND NOT THINKING. (She said this).
Now the intern is all, uhhhh, whuuuut? Because under the standards we just talked about, standards you just made up yourself, those pictures should be released! And then we can prosecute the people who committed crimes against humanity, right? This is what we want! And then the woman, she gets VERY mad, and lapses into a speech about Them (aka, "our enemy")(she also said this), how the intern doesn't understand Them, and They come from a culture that only understands an eye for an eye, and They will not think courts and justice are legitimate, They will want blood, and They will hurt our soldiers because They cannot actually understand anything but violence.
What is the moral of this story? THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU ARE IN THE BELTWAY ECHO CHAMBER AND HANG OUT WITH THE VILLAGERS FOR TOO LONG.
Politics, as peddled in Washington, is a load of hogwash. Have you ever watched a Senate debate? DON'T. You will fear for the future of the U.S. and the free world. The media/lobbyists/talking heads are Villagers who pretty much repeat the same things to each other in the Echo Chamber here, and generally are totally morally and intellectually dishonest, only care about power, and could give a fuck about the public good. The Echo Chamber of D.C. is what allows Serious People to get credit for intensely asinine or beyond-the-pale things, the Washington Post op-ed page to even exist, and the disconnect between, say, the supermajority of the American population wanting no one to touch Social Security and politicians running around talking about mucking with it. But this same Echo Chamber has kept torturers safe, the Democratic party from passing any progressive legislation or a decent healthcare bill, allowed the Bush counterterrorism policy to go on unchallenged, and will get the Obama administartion to focus on reducing the deficit instead of creating jobs and getting the economy moving, no matter how shrill The Shrill One gets. It also means that people who know better start echoing shit they have heard, because it's all you hear, the bullshit.
Look, I have sat in on panels and meetings that are off-the-record with the real movers-and-shakers, including people from the Obama administration, I have tracked legislation, I have gone to hearings, I have researched the legality of all sorts of American actions, and I can tell you: our side, the side of the angels - we are losing. With a Democratic president and a Democratic majority, we are losing BIG TIME.
We are losing the fight on everything from reproductive rights to civil liberties in the "War on Terror" to getting equal rights for gay folk (yes, we just got a victory in the courts against DOMA, but it's the Obama administration who decided they were going to use our tax dollars to vigorously defend the law). And so when Garland suggests maybe we shouldn't just continually support DNC anymore, which continually sacrfiices the rights and needs of minorities because "the Other Side is worse," there are a lot of angry commenters who insist that we need to GET IN LINE. Because the Other Side! They are worse.
Which is funny, because in my line of work, THE DEMOCRATS ARE THE OTHER SIDE. I hear the same from a friend of mine who works in immigration and racial profiling. We are not even the lesser evil, as Nader once pointed out; we are just The Evil. There is no worse. We have become the very thing we are pretending to decry.
How did that happen? Well, we can blame it on the echo chamber, maybe. But the entire DNC agenda has shifted rightward. Why?
Because no one on the left dug in their heels and said, "No more." We let our fears trump our idelas.
And this is what allows the Democratic party to be the abusive partner. Because we women and queer folks and trans folks and all these other minorities, we want things! Like our BASIC EQUAL RIGHTS. And the DNC says, yes, give us your money, and we will make that happen. And then we give the DNC our money, and once they have it, they disappear, they stop caring about our issues, they focus, once again, on only what those in privileged positions care about. They never call. They get all "bipartisanship" and date Republicans and leave us at home, waiting by the phone and creeping them on Facebook to try and figure out what they've gotten up to. We get burned. But then, an election comes up, and the DNC comes wheedling back, and says, please, we promise to care about you, please give us money! We're sorry! We'll do better! Unlike all the other times! We still love you! And if you don't: the Other Side is worse! They will hurt you!
Aaaaaand then repeat this cycle ad nauseum.
THIS, Readers, is an abusive relationship. If this were going on in your personal life, your friends would be all over you to dump this fucker already.
But my favorite response to refusing to just support Democrats blindly: DON'T BE SO SELFISH. There are other issues than yours. Suck it up and be a Democrat, because there are more important things, and you are being unrealistic and egocentric.
Those people who say that? They don't give a fuck about your rights. Because they had a choice - they could either support you, or they could not. They chose not to. When people say there are other issues that are also on the table, it really means you should subordinate your "little" wants to the ones the privileged majority wants. Asking that of any minority group is not being an ally. That is being part of the problem. That is taking sides, and taking sides against the oppressed group.
Besides, and I mentioned this in comments, have we noticed how crap the Democrats are at governing and getting any progressive legislation passed? Seriously. I mean, we got the shittiest option of a health insurance bill out of a hundred better options. And that HAPPENS because a whole bunch of people said, don't be unrealistic, we'll never get universal coverage or single-payer, STOP BEING SO SELFISH. Let's just go for the something-is-better-than-nothing approach. And thus, we have a system that will continue to fuck people over, run by the former CEO of a health insurance giant, that the Democrats will get blamed for for decades.
Look, I understand, and I have written about before, the hard choices that people face in this broken, two party system. But there is something to be said for making your own personal vote matter (what? electoral college? Shhhhhhh, I can't hear you LALALA). In the sense of: I cannot vote for a man for President who does things like this. I cannot sleep at night with that on my conscience.
So, fuck the falling-in-line arguments. I have played the lesser-of-two-evils game, and we have all lost. I do not want to turn into that progressive woman who invokes "Them," who has lost her bearing in the Echo Chamber. I am going to insist any political candidates I support not be part of the problem, not marginalize minorty issues, not have been part of the Village so long they have lost all sense of what needs to be done. I want better. I demand better. And I am going to work towards that actually progressive party I want to see, one of my votes at a time.