Day: January 23, 2017

United We Stand

Don’t be fooled by the narrative that tells you the women’s marches were whiny white rich bitches. The organizers were primarily women of color. Crowd shots of the rallies will show you a mix of men and women of all races. A look at the speaker lineup at the rally is chock full of names like Maxine Waters (congressional black caucus), Linda Sarsour (Arab-American Association of New York), Tamika Mallory (prominent civil rights activist) and Carmen Perez (Gathering for Justice Group).

I don’t know why the clips getting passed around are Ashley Judd and Madonna and Scarlett Johanson (I do know), and not, for instance, the (black, female) mayor of Washington, DC, whose outrage was more persuasive than any of theirs. It’s not an accurate representation of who was on stage, or in the crowds. The crowds were colorful. The crowds were gay. The crowds were differently abled. The crowds included people who hitchhiked in, and slept on floors.

United we stand. Divided we fall. Thieves want us fighting among ourselves and will lie about the alliances that exist, to try to make white women scared of black people and non-white people disbelieve that anyone can hear them. It’s a way to control us, and it’s false. We are in this together. We showed it. We’ll show it again.

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The Bare Minimum for Legitimacy

Ciro wrote:

As long as a fascist is President, I will stop pretending that the important conversation is how to help the middle class.

I was born and raised poor. The kind of poor that skips doctor visits, dental check-ups, school supplies, clothes, groceries, basic meals, safe spaces sans drug and alcohol abuse. I was regularly without child care as young as 8. I sheltered a mentally ill and homeless parent on my bedroom floor in my late teens and twenties while working minimum wage, dreaming of a way into college. I later lost that parent to his illness. The one that remains continues to suffer under crippling illness and abject poverty.

Neither trickle-down nor compassionate conservatism nor personal responsibility nor “liberty” nor middle-out economics did a thing to help me through these times. I called every public, private, and religious service in existence for help with my father to absolutely no avail. I myself survived only on the grace of some remarkable people that I continue to think of as heroes and saints.

We rarely talk about poverty in American politics except to say that it is a chronic, systemic problem that it is not pragmatic to consider, perhaps because the poor rarely vote. I have been stunned and saddened to see Democrats (Clintonian and otherwise) confidently dismiss “economics” as the fig leaf of misogynist Bernie bros and self-righteous white-boy radicals, even as it touches every group with a claim to the politics of identity. Going forward I will no longer tolerate this myopic view of what is possible or practical. There comes a point where “pragmatic” simply means whatever you can do without changing anything.

Everything must change. Outside the realm of traditional “third way” politics is another child who has fallen through the cracks. I will not leave that child behind. I will not accept a politics that insists nothing can be done for that child. If we can first rescue civilization from the folly of capitalist environmental destruction, we must then consider the least among us, before anyone else.

The core of my politics: Every person deserves a safe place to sleep, enough food to eat, basic medical care, and enough education to read, to add, and to understand the rights within our democracy’s basic legal and governmental framework. That’s not liberal or conservative. That’s basic morality. It’s the bare minimum that must belong to everyone, including people who won’t or can’t work and people who hate my guts. Any government that doesn’t prioritize guaranteeing these things is not a legitimate government. We’ve been illegitimate a long time. Enough is enough.

Clapper’s Clappers

It appears that Pres. Trump may have brought his own cheering section to his CIA speech, much as he did at the January 11 Trump Tower press conference. And I appreciate the gesture, which I’m sure wasn’t an attempt to fool television audiences, but a profound respect for the intelligence of the American people. He trusted us to understand the claquers (theatre term for paid or institutional applauders) as both a demonstration of goodwill toward the European NATO countries (who originated the theatrical practice) and a witty thank-you to outgoing National Intelligence Director James Clapper, who so recently defended the CIA against President-Elect Trump’s attempts to discredit them.

Bravo to him. It was a marvelous, peacemaking attempt to lighten the gloomy mood. However, I am disappointed in our new Commander in Chief for not including a mariachi band. I know he is on the outs with Mexican Americans, and hasn’t appointed even one Hispanic to a cabinet-level position, but he is the PRESIDENT. He deserves to be followed at all times by a mariachi band.

As do we all.