The Power of Solidarity Trumps the Fickleness of Fanaticism

Senator Sanders endorses Hillary Clinton
So, Senator Bernie Sanders has officially endorsed Hillary Clinton.

It is the dawn of a new day; a day in which those on the Left (or even sorta Left!)—Democrats, progressives, liberals, lefties, democratic socialists, humanists, greeners, even some libertarians—could, if they choose, come together to coalesce, compromise, and collaborate to bring progressive, compassionate, socially responsible ideas to fruition under the leadership of Secretary Clinton with great progressive fighters like Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders by her side.

There is power in that solidarity, especially against the inane, idiotic, and utterly irresponsible demagoguery of the Orange Man on the right… OR even the hate-filled about-face denigrations and attacks on Sanders from some of his most rabid “former” supporters on the Left (the politically faint-of-heart may want to stay off social media for a bit!).

Those of us who care about such things as solidarity and forward motion—who care more about our fellow citizens than “election ego,” who see incremental progress (usually the only kind that happens in the real world) as worthy of our efforts and commitment; who reject the lies and misinformation of oppositional mudslinging, and who understand that no candidate is perfect, no candidate has all the answers, no candidate can get everything done they wish to get done, and that the best candidates come together to offer the best outcomes toward changing the world for the better—are applauding Senator Sanders’ endorsement.

Because we understand that, regardless of campaign rhetoric and its de rigueur focus on all that divides, post-campaign reconciliation comes with the putting down of arms (so to speak), the dismissal of previously bandied bad-mouthing, and the rejection of oppositional dialogue. It embraces the Venn Diagram of platforms and ideology, and accepts that the attention once put on differentiation is now put on common ground and the solidarity of shared priorities.

I was not a Sanders supporter, but I understood those who were, and shared many of their causes and concerns. I believed then, as I believe now, that Clinton and Sanders are far more aligned than that notorious campaign rhetoric suggested, and I found it extremely disheartening when the most rabid, the most vitriolic and aggressively fanatical of supporters on the Left, chose to make this an ugly, hate-filled war instead of just a “feisty campaign.”

I lost respect for many I knew who were “in the mud” in that ugly war, who insisted that “pointing out differences” meant spreading lies and misinformation, sharing debunked and salacious gossip and propaganda, promoting the worst they could scrape up of the oppositional candidate rather than focusing on celebrating and supporting their own. It got ugly, real ugly, and much has been written (some by me) about the unfortunate, unnecessary, and, in some cases, “friend-ending” nastiness of the haters and mud-slingers.

But now we can leave all that to the Right… right?

We on the Left can celebrate the fact that those of us who refused to grovel in that mud can now bone fidely unify around the Democratic ticket, can join hands to fight the true battle against the profoundly unqualified candidate on the right, and can gird ourselves for the ugliness and idiocy that will no doubt be a part of the general campaign up ahead. But at least we Dems are unified…

… though it seems we’ll still have to endure—at least until their venom peters out or their slinging arms weary—the ugliness of former Sanders supporters who have now turned on their heretofore hero. Sadly, it was expected, particularly after witnessing the mind-boggling attacks on Elizabeth Warren after she endorsed Clinton, but still… the fickleness of fanaticism is showing its hateful head in Tweets, Facebook comments, Reddit hysteria, and general online trolling attacks on Sanders (along with implications that he’s a pathetic, spineless puppet squirming under the thumb of the Clinton machine… yes, H.A. Goodman actually went there!). It remains disheartening. Predictable, shameful, counter-productive, and disheartening.

Which makes it all the more inspiring and energizing to see the loyalty, the support, the passion, the belief, and now the coalescence of those jumping in to support the Democratic ticket… which will only get more exciting when Clinton announces her VP choice. I’m choosing to ignore the haters, the naysayers, the foot-stomping “unrealists,” to, instead, focus on the positive forward motion currently in play. I suggest—I urge—everyone who understands the stakes, the incremental nature of progress, and the value and power of compromise, coalition, and collaboration, to do the same.

Because that’s where the power is: in solidarity and coalescence. And that’s how we’ll ensure that progressive, compassionate, big-tent, open-hearted governance continues in the White House.

Photo from Hillary Clinton’s Facebook page.

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Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

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We’ve Reached That Point: This Election Is Like Fighting With Your Boyfriend

Or girlfriend. Or that customer service rep at the insurance company, your cable provider, or any one of those monolithic corporations that cyclically make your head explode.

You know that point in a fight:

You’ve exhausted all worthy material but you keep going just for the sake of “principle.” Every known argument has been made, debated or deflected to no avail, but you can’t keep yourself from hitting even lower below the belt. Any reasonableness or respectfulness of earlier has devolved into epic flinging of invectives and epithets, some you didn’t even know you knew. The mantra of “wait… just LISTEN!!” comes with increased decibels of volume and venom to the point that neighbors call, dogs bark; walls are up, minds are closed, stress chemicals flow, rational thought exits, and no one can possibly win because it’s a zero sum game. But still… you keep throwing that mud until someone finally collapses under the weight.

Welcome to Election 2016, the Democrats.

(I’m ignoring the Republicans until we settle this mess.)

We’re there, folks. We Democrats are at that point. It’s ugly and wounding and has absolutely no value, but still people are out there trying to draw blood any way they can. They’re posting propaganda, screaming “fuck yous” at opposition rallies, ripping up kids’ posters, sharing unsubstantiated slander and gossip, and acting like the very worst the worst has to offer… and couching it all in the nobility of “fighting for my candidate.”

Witnessing this insanity as a sane bystander — one hoping to stay politically involved without being sucked into the maelstrom — is as soul-killing as that awful road trip your sophomore year when the couple in the front seat screamed at each other from Redding to Lake Tahoe and later demanded that you take sides if you were “a true friend!”

That kind of soul-killing.

We Democrats probably reached the zero sum game months ago. Or at least after the New York primary. When the idea of trashing the winning candidate to aggrandize the other just made the entire ticket seems as nuts as the Republicans. Beyond the math, beyond arguing the math; beyond delusion and fanaticism and revolutions and glass ceilings and wishful thinking and slogans and hashtags and conspiracies and finger-pointing and idiotic celebrities and Westboro-style harassers and sexism and ageism and all of it, the jig is up. Whatever you think the ending is going to be isn’t the point. You can have hope, you can have faith, you can keep fighting the good fight, but fighting the bad fight gets us nowhere.

And we are fighting the bad fight. And it is getting us nowhere.

Let’s be honest: we’re deep enough into this thing that odds are good everyone’s taken their positions. They know where they stand, who they’re supporting and why, so preaching from here on out is only to the choir. As long as folks are happy with that harmony, keep on a’preachin’! But anyone who thinks there’s anything to be gained from the incessant posting of the most incendiary, salacious stuff they can find on the other candidate in hopes of — what? convincing someone to jump on their bandwagon? — has missed the trajectory of this narrative.

Even if — in the most random of circumstances — there really is anyone left who doesn’t feel informed enough to make a choice, that person has to know they aren’t going to get an unbiased, objective education from the posts of oppositional supporters. Let’s start with that truism.

So, given that, may I suggest to ALL who continue to post ridiculous things like videos screeching, “If you would still vote for Hillary Clinton after watching this 4-min video…,” or anonymous blog posts by someone who’s talked to someone who knows a doctor who says Sanders has Alzheimer’s, or scurrilous and slanderous propaganda from sites run by known Hillary-haters, or unsubstantiated dirt on Jane Sanders, or slimy posts about Chelsea Clinton’s mothering, or…STOP. JUST STOP.

It’s over. The fight is over. It no longer has any merit whatsoever and continuing it will only toxify any good thing that still exists between you and the other side and what’s the point of that? There’s still Trump out there.

If, despite the math, Sanders supporters want to continue to promote positive information about their guy as a way to keep the team going, great. If Clinton supporters want to shout their enthusiasm from the rooftops, they should be able to do that without enduring a gauntlet of verbal abuse. But beyond in-house, in-candidate, to-the-choir pumping up, there is no where else to go with this fight.

We’re at that point. It’s obvious, everyone knows, let’s not get the neighbors on their phones again.

When you hit the wall-of-no-return with your customer service rep, that call is terminated (either by you or them), services may be cancelled, grievances may be filed. When you reach that point with a significant other, one of you has to have the wherewithal to shut the f**k up, leave the room/house/apartment, walk off the adrenaline, and detach until both parties can manage rational conversation, sincere apologies, and a willingness to let go of past rancor (that’s a big one!).

And at that point in a party primary, everyone on oppositional sides has to put down the swords, eschew further debasement, and attempt to reframe the debate. There has to be a willingness to reconsider whatever indoctrination has been amassed or allowed to flow freely, to change the filter to look at the bigger picture, to see past preconceived ideas, and find a way back to party unity.

That’s what grown-ups do. That’s what this party needs to do. Now. Not later. Now. Whatever happens at the convention is another moment. This moment is the one where we acknowledge the zero sum game we’ve been fighting and step off this battlefield, to rejuvenate and rehabilitate to take on the bigger battle ahead.

Are Democrats and those in their camp willing and able to do that? I don’t know. I hope so. We’ll have our answer when the intra-party, click-bait, poop-throwing mud-fest on social media finally stops. That can’t happen soon enough… I swear I hear the phone ringing.

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Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

No, America, Everything Is NOT a Conspiracy

– or is it?
– or is it?

Some days I sit back from my selective scan of the day’s news and shake my head at the persistent, perplexing perceptions of my fellow Americans. At a time when media coverage of events — any event, all events — is not only ubiquitous and never-ending but usually completely redundant by the 24-hour mark, we remain an epidemically suspicious and conspiracy-driven culture that either doesn’t believe anything or, paradoxically, believes anything.

Depending on one’s allegiances, one’s belief system; one’s depth of distrust or disdain, there seems little that happens that isn’t ultimately ascribed some nefarious intent, from matters large or small, absurd or provocative, profound or ridiculous. Two stories today struck me as emblematic of the trend on several sides of that swinging spectrum.

Jared Lee Loughner, the Arizona parking lot shooter who permanently injured Gabby Giffords and killed six people back in 2011, has now filed a $25 million lawsuit claiming that, not only is he innocent, but Giffords is a member of the Illuminati and her case against him has caused him “emotional distress,” warranting millions from the women into whose head he shot a bullet. Yes, he’s insane, but still… he’s actually put together the paperwork for this repugnant action and someone’s now going to have to spend their precious time dealing with it before it gets thrown into whatever trash bin it belongs.

Obviously that’s an extreme case, along with Loose Change, the Alex Jones-produced fever-film about a supposed 9/11 conspiracy, the Sandy Hook truthers, who believe the deaths of 27 people at Newtown were a hoax meant to further Obama’s anti-gun agenda (another “gift” from the heinous Mr. Jones), or even the generalized and persistent hysteria surrounding the moon landing or Elvis’ death.

Certainly there are some theories that persist due to a not-illogical incredulity with their “talking points” (Kennedy’s assassination the most prevalent of that category), but there’s undoubtedly a contingent of slightly unhinged humans who are prone to seeing dark secrets and dubious intent behind any events that don’t match their political or personal agendas, are complex or unusual enough to provoke suspicion, or happen to involve elements that lend credence to their preconceived beliefs. And some days it seems like that contingent is outnumbering the rest!

The other conspiracy angle I made note of today is related to the election (yes… the election), with a situation playing out in ways that is, frankly, disturbing, certainly from the standpoint of our ultimately having to find unity and solidarity as a country.

We currently exist in a political climate where Republicans are being bamboozled and bedazzled by a carnival barker charlatan, while Democrats are acting-out like Sharks and Jets over their two candidates, one of whom is a registered Independent, the other a woman. And while it doesn’t seem that anyone — even those trying — can sort out the three-ring circus over there on the right, we on the left are, unfortunately, having our own challenges.

It would be funny (well… sort of) if the stakes for this election were not so high, but we have Supreme Court justices to appoint, terrorism wreaking havoc on a regular basis; an immigration conundrum that requires serious and thoughtful solutions; civil, gender, and basic human rights that need immediate intervention. The list of heavy-hitting issues requiring focused attention is long, yet, instead of approaching this election like intelligent adults ascertaining who of the bunch is best equipped to deal with this prodigious and profound list, we’ve got one side cheering (and jeering) as their candidates insult each other’s wives, while the other, despite having two good candidates, is reduced to flinging insults at each other while some behave like cultists and hooligans.

I won’t speak to the GOP kerfuffle; personally, I think they’re all nuts and cannot fathom a world in which either of their two front-runners have anything at all to do with leading the country. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit how disappointing and dispiriting it is to see those on the left behaving in ways that are equally counter-productive and fractious. I’d like to pass it off as “campaign fervor” (as some do), but when supporters of either Clinton or Sanders take to each other on Facebook like teeth-gnashing hyenas, when sexism becomes a defended tool of political “trash talk,” or when Sanders supporters frame every loss (either perceived loss of a debate or actual loss of a primary) as a conspiracy of malfeasance by the DNC, the media, the nebulous “establishment,” the Clinton campaign, or that ever-evil Debbie Wasserman Schultz, I have to take pause.

What is the point of all this finger-pointing and victim-mentality? Where is the integrity and intelligence we on the left are supposed to embody? Come on, people, we are better than that…right?!

When a line at a polling station is held up for hours, when other polling places run out of ballots; when any kind of shenanigans occur at any kind of polling place, we should all be deeply concerned. But why are those events immediately framed as conspiracies against Sanders specifically (a theme seen over and over again on social media)? Why are they not considered endemic failings of a system that is inefficient or poorly managed? Why on freakin’ earth would one Democratic campaign create a negative scenario that could impact their voters as much as the other candidate’s? There is no logic in the thinking, but then again, logic is rarely a factor for those who traffick in conspiracy theories.

I realize it doesn’t matter what I, or anyone, says about the way people comport themselves in this election. For whatever reason, and with whatever cultural explanation, this cycle seems hell-bent on being ornery, irascible, uncivil, and just plain nasty. Sure, all elections trip down some version of that rocky road, but this one has an edge of ugly with a stench all its own.

Maybe it’s because a woman is running and, much as Obama’s presence in the ’08 and ’12 races triggered the latent (or not so latent) racist tendencies of some, it seems possible a similar reaction is happening for those who get twitchy at the thought of a female president, particularly one called Hillary Clinton (that ball-busting, speech-screeching, non-cookie-baking harridan). I don’t know…but I’d guess that’s a good guess.

There are also many who blame the ugliness of this race on the “anger so many Americans feel,” but given my own observations of the most vitriolic amongst us (who are usually bouncing somewhere between the political spectrums of Sanders and Trump), they seem less angry about anything/something in particular and more immersed in the idea of being angry…and having a candidate who stokes and supports that anger. Call me cynical, but when comment threads can devolve into some of the most hateful speech you’ve ever heard over things as banal as pop stars or gluten, I suspect anger in this era doesn’t need much substance to create combustion.

But here’s the thing: for all the “Bernie or bust” cacophony, the campaign bullies; the fist-pumping “bros” (trashing Elizabeth Warren…really??); the “uneducated” mobs sucker-punching protesters, the sexist digs disguised as campaign rhetoric, the mud-slinging, misinformation-passing, lie-embracing, agenda-thrashing, conspiracy-theory’ing behaviors of far too many, there are millions out there who are quietly, sanely, smartly, and considerately supporting their candidates, doing their research, sharing perspective when asked, but, amazingly, not denigrating or demeaning those with another view. Those people? We don’t hear from them as much as the louder folks, but don’t think for a moment that the louder folks are running the show… they’re just louder. The rest of them are getting the job done with integrity and civility… and less volume.

We need more of that and less of the chaos. More action and less anger. More listening and a lot less yelling and screaming. More productive protest and less fisticuffs. More logic and less conspiracy theories. We need, at some point, to come together. How about we start now?

“Illuminati is real” by Peter Taylor @ Wikimedia Commons

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Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.