Why I’m With Her

I’ve been thinking about something a lot lately.

Why do I support Hillary?

Well, I’ll be honest, it’s for a lot of reasons. And I’m just going to cite commonly known things about her, not obscure research or the insider knowledge of party back rooms.

First, her values. In the 90’s she said “it takes a village.” I agree that the nuclear family is primary for raising children, but it is also stronger when supported by a healthy community that reinforces lessons, provides a safety net and offers additional connections to the broader world. H.Clinton has shown several times that she is willing to be corrected and learn.  See the badly racist “super predators” comment and her later regret and learning. ALSO see her stand on “gay” marriage.  We might argue about her timing, but willingness to learn and change is a value I will defend every day.  On a daily basis, we work on the information we have, and my respect is MUCH greater for people who are willing to change than those who stick  stubbornly in spite of changing revelations.   Finally, she has a compassion for those who are struggling which manifests in policy solutions.

Where her foreign policy is too hawkish for some, and frighteningly wishy-washy to others, I see a moderate position that angers all extremes.  Yet she does not that these positions to avoid making a stand, but rather to live out her vision of a better world.

and she works in coalitions (aka, she’s too moderate for me, but knows how to get things done in the political morass of D.C.).

I’ve voting for her because you can’t prove a negative, but Whitewater, Bengazi, email Server, DNC leaks, Rose Law files, released tax returns, and 25 years of the most extensive scrutiny EVER has failed to bring up any evidence of criminal activity. You can’t prove a negative, but I’m convinced that if she WERE truly corrupt, the magnifying glass that she lives under would have found it rather than finding only evidence of humanity and the occasional lapse in judgement (private server, REALLY? COME ON).

Can you honestly say your life would stand up to that kind of scrutiny? I’ve written a few tactless emails that were more harsh than ANYTHING in the dnc leaks. I have said things that I honestly beleived that turned out false.

So, honestly, at the end of the day, I’m voting for her because I believe she is eminently qualified, capable and a good person.   And it doesn’t hurt that she is a woman so I’m pretty sure she’s been working twice as hard to get here.

Bernie Knows Better

ALRIGHT, so Bernie or Bust folks. Let’s talk Strategy! What do we want? A less corrupt government. Better election system. Less income inequality.

How do we get it? Whom should we be leaning upon? In what ways? What can they each individually accomplish?

Because here is the deal. It would be nice if we could elect a messiah and sit back and watch our problems dissolve, but that’s not reality. SO rather than cause trouble, why don’t we GET ORGANIZED, MAKE A PLAN and most importantly – BUILD THE POWER WE NEED TO MAKE OUR PLAN A REALITY?

I’m really tired of hearing disgrunted people say they hate the current system, but don’t know how to fix it. There is a way, its not blocked from you, and we can do it, but it’s going to take a few things:

  • Allied organizations
  • Time – years, but more importantly, personal committments of hours of work.
  • Education – of voters, of organizers, of those we try and influence
  • and eventually, Money
  • Strategy – an actual plan for how to get from here to there.

Strategy is the difference between wishful thinking (or despair-laden apathy) and an empowered action plan which outsiders  will only ever see in hindsight, but which has the power to radically change the world.

Protests FEEL good, but they need strategy.  That can start with:

  1. Identify the lay-lines of power, decision making, and current obstacles,
  2. Isolate the sources (groups/individuals) who have the decision making power to start changing something
  3. Select one target/audience
  4. Research the audience’s trusted sources, values, and communication preferences
  5. Offer them the opportunity to take a concrete and positive action &
  6. Consult with the affected communities to ensure you aren’t leaving behind the most vulnerable or ignoring potentially powerful allies

If you haven’t taken at least those 6 steps (preferably while consulting with people who know the system, the players and have strategic experience) your protest is only self-indulgent, I might even say masturbatory, noise making. 

Random pressure on targets of greatest visibility doesn’t accomplish social change. It MIGHT, MAYBE encourage an otherwise growing movement, but

the difference between vague discontent and voter-non-participation AND effective change is NOT the decibels at your protest, it’s the door knocking, relationship building, coalition maintaining long nights and longer days of organizing.

So, shall we keep doing this half assed, or shall we come together to actually make a difference?

Bernie showed up his strategy (in hindsight) last night.   He ran for president, thus moving the Democratic nominee left AND wielding enormous influence upon the party’s platform.  He mobilized young people and shifted the entire conversation about the world socialism.  That was no mistake, that was strategy.   We can see where he failed to recognize or target vital lines of power (underfunding African-American outreach for example) and what it cost.

BUT we can also see his long-game is not over.  Last night, he practically begged and chided his supporters to join the coalition.  He recognizes that a lesser good is a step in the right direction, and that it is infinitely better than a clear evil.  AND he knows that if he remains as a Senator, with a Clinton presidency and Warren on his side, we can GET SHIT DONE.

So, why don’t we choose the drudgery, tedium, and frustration of strategy over self-indulgent stands that feel good but won’t move us forward?

No Such Thing As Neutral

So, this is why I get irritated when we just focus on a singular behavior, person or event. It’s extremely unlikely (impossible) that every one of the hiring managers in the GOP is racist. BUT it’s also entirely possible that our cultural racism, those underlying and unexamined assumptions will are not going to just fade away unless we acknowledge the PATTERNS and outcomes of otherwise justifiable or “race-neutral” decisions.
Sorry too tell you this folks, but in 2016, there’s no way to be race-neutral in life. You may decide to de-prioritize considerations of race and ending racism, but that is NOT a neutral position. It is the kind of decision that reinforces existing lines of power and hierarchy – thus putting down people of color, and especially African American people. Your intention? it matters, but it matters less than the impact of your decisions.
Which of these pictures do YOU want to be part of?

Fair? Not Really.

Do not let them deceive you. RULES (laws, etc.) are not written with fairness/justice as the only purpose. They are written to give the appearance of fairness/justice in order to maintain a social order which is beneficial to those who are doing the writing.
Loitering laws? created to ensure that the wealthy can kick “undesirable” people out of public spaces.
Jurisdictions? created (in the UMC) so white people could pretend to live in a racially inclusive church while still seeing only white people on Sunday mornings and at their happy annual meetings.
School Districts? created so wealthy people could ensure their kids get the BEST schools by funding through property taxes. OH, and the rise in neighborhood schools? directly in rejection to the bussing model of integration.
Murder? surely that’s a clear one! Except if the person doing the killing is sanctioned by the government. Or protecting their own property (and white) or driving a car drunk but powerful enough to hire great legal counsel.
Rape? much higher chance of arrest and conviction when the rapist is lower on the social-power scale than the victim.
And let’s be honest. There is a social power scale. It’s complex, and absolutely not one-dimensional. BUT it exists. White > all other races/peoples (with all others being > Black). English >>>Spanish. English > most other languages. Men/Mascuiline > women/feminine. and $ >>>>>> …
So, stop it. stop pretending that some kind of “reverse discrimination” exists outside of the prevailing social power scale. Stop pretending that laws are enforced equally. STOP lying to yourself and others that you believe in justice, when what you really like is the status quo.

I’ve never met a Troll, Racist or Rapist

Yesterday, my friend Allen posted a conversation he’d had where Allen suggested the laws, slavery and other racist systems of the United States had outcomes that were equivalent to genocide.  TrollFriend responded that clearly Allen had no understanding of genocide or the evils and atrocities committed in the name of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and others.   This is a laughable proposition; Allen has a grad degree in history, but happens to be of African American descent. Then, someone told Allen to “ignore the troll,” and he replied, “nah, he’s actually a reasonable, likable guy, not a troll.”

Except TrollFriend was acting like a troll.  His assumption of ignorance, his dismissal of AH knowledge and experience, and mostly his attitude of superiority and knowledge are the epitome of troll behavior.  But, because AH knows him to be a decent human being, even as the victim of troll behavior, he had to ensure that TC was not labeled a troll, aka, a “bad person.” 

This is an inherent flaw in all of our thinking. We want to believe there are good people and bad people.  Corrupt people and trustworthy ones.  Cheaters and faithful. That these two groups are made of fundamentally different people, and there is no overlap.  But that is not how the world works.

I’m not arguing against the existence of bad people.  I know there are people who sample from honey pots that do not belong to them, who cut off drivers in traffic because they can, or who take public jobs just for the accolades and attention. There are people who hate women and want to dominate them and make a pattern out of raping or at least coercing them to have sex regardless of the woman’s desires.  There are hurt, broken people who deal with their own sense of powerlessness by becoming bullies. Malevolent narcissists, psycho/sociopaths, antisocial personalities, sadists, abusers and cruel people exist.

But what if most acts of cruelty, rape, racism, sexism, cheating, corruption, and trolling are propagated by people who are mostly good, decent, kind , broken human beings?  What if we can’t divide the world into good-guys and bad-guys and tell the difference between one and the other?

Because the worst things I’ve ever experienced or seen were propagated by otherwise good people.  An employer who failed to fire the offending employee after a case of sexual harassment, because the plaintiff had quit anyway and, “didn’t have a legal leg to sue us.”  Most of the time this boss pushed for women’s empowerment and would not tolerate even the hint of sexist jokes in the break room!  This leader wrote policies with a thoughtfulness to racial and sexual inclusion that were LAUDABLE and should be used in more places.  But when it came down to a very clear choice between “path of least resistance” and “uncomfortable confrontation with a charismatic bully” she choose the easier path.   (I’m looking at you, most Christian churches, it’s not limited to the RCC).

Racism would be SO EASY to deal with if it were a question of racists and the rest of us.  BUT so many policies that look value neutral on their face have necessary and logical racist, sexism or classist outcomes.  Property taxes – a primarily local business – pay for schools.  But this cycle keeps repeating itself: people of color buy a few houses in a neighborhood => one or two families move out of the neighborhoods because they want to “be with their own” => values begin to slip because too many people are selling => more landlords (rather than homeowners) purchase homes and don’t care for them at the level of an owner (nor do tenants, why should they?) => values continue to fall => lower incomes mean lower spending & lower values=lower taxes.  All of a sudden you end up with underfunded schools.  And that’s not even going to touch on the impact on teachers, students and administration from the falling morale and vague sense that “things are going the wrong way.”

Who knows? MAYBE one family in this cycle was racist enough to actually look around and go “ew, i don’t want to live next to those people”  PERHAPS a few families simply thought “huh, the neighborhood isn’t what it used to be.”    That’s about all it takes for white flight to begin.  But are the 4th, 5th, 6th families racist?  PROBABLY NOT.  they simply see the trend to schools faltering and values struggling and decide to find something more stable. at some point, the middle-class families of people of color ALSO move out because their motivations for moving in were – STABLE VALUES AND GOOD SCHOOLS.

They aren’t moving out because they are racist.  But we see an example here of how racially-toned-shared-subconscious-assumptions end up meaning that people of color are blamed for being the cause and have to pay the greatest price.

Racism, Trolling, Even the sexism that too often leads to “acquaintance rape” or “date rape” are not because there are monsters hiding at every party.