...and the band played on.
The only social media I use anymore are Facebook and the times I post in here. I glance into Tumblr from time to time to catch up with a couple of folks, but I stay out of Snapchat, Twitter and the rest because it's simply overload. I've also refined my Facebooking so it's the rare day when I see something from a "friend" that offends me because 1) I'm an adult and I don't get offended easily and 2) an asshole is an asshole no matter what the political stripe and I eliminate assholes pretty quickly. Life is too short.
I also don't subscribe to any feeds that are clearly biased one way or the other (DailyKos, Patriotnews, etc) because I don't like echo chambers. I spent 32 years in the news business, so I stick to the AP, AFP, the BBC, NPR, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and a few local stations for my news. If you feel that's "corporate media" and they're hiding the "real" news, I feel bad for you.
A few days ago, I heard some morose Republican nabob saying on NPR he likely wouldn't vote this year because he can't go Trump but he also can't quite go Hillary. I honestly understand why he can't go Trump and I feel for my Republican friends these days. Their party has been hijacked by hypernationalists (it's their own fault, but that's another discussion). The fact is honest conservatism in the vein of Buckley and Burke left the GOP some years ago. There is a place for it and it will return (perhaps with another name), but is sadly out of fashion these days.
Of course, there are third-party options for those who find themselves in a political wilderness. You can go Green, Libertarian, American Independent or whatever. Or you can do what I've done for a couple of decades (and we're now the largest political group) -- go "No Party." It keeps us out of a lot of primaries (and, for the life of me, I can't understand why some feel they're being "denied the right to vote" in a primary. You chose "no party." Sit down and STFU). But I'm comfortable there, okay? I've never been big on identifying with a group. Fergodsakes, even admitting I like bourbon and cigars tends to stereotype me. I have long hair and a beard. I am nearly 62 and will partially retire this summer. Some days I like jeans and flipflops, while others I like a tweed jacket and a button-down. Seems nearly everything we do anymore groups us into some kinda goddamned corral, so it's nice being "no party." At least on paper, I'm a fucking loose cannon (which is, actually, pretty close to the truth).
What bends me out of shape is the widening and increasingly vehement gap between the Hillaryites and Bernieons. I use those names because their spat reminds me of some Old Testament confrontation described in, say, Numbers or Deuteronomy, with slings and spears and lots of folks being smote. Much like in the so-called Old Covenant, there's lots of allegory and a ton of exaggerated crap, outright falsehoods, plenty of Casablancaesque pearl-clutching about gambling in this establishment and, ultimately, some folks have talked themselves into such a snit they say they're just not gonna vote if their candidate isn't the Democratic nominee.
Y'all. That's stupid. I'm not saying YOU'RE stupid. I'm saying deciding to not vote is stupid, and I don't care if you're anti-Trump or Never Hillary or Bernie Sanders Is Your Crazy Communist Uncle.
As mentioned in my last post, I have a Bernie sticker on my car. I like a lot of what he stands for and what he wants to do and his vision for the future of this country. I'm glad he's still in the race and I'm seriously looking forward to how all this plays out in the convention this July. But if Hillary's the nominee, I'm a goddamned disciple through the general election. Here's why....
It has to start somewhere.
Like the Bernieons, I know Hillary's in bed with Wall Street and the one percent she's now a part of. I don't like the idea of voting for a lesser evil. I realize she's not trusted and has a high disapproval rating and, honestly, she's earned it. Bring up a Hillary negative and I'll pretty much buy in. But, historically, we've bought into a lot worse to get some pretty damned good stuff.
In order to secure votes for the New Deal, FDR turned a blind eye as Southern legislators hardened Jim Crow into an even worse system that began in Reconstruction. We're still dealing with that every freaking day. Even though he had a house in Warm Springs GA and saw up close how legalized bigotry kept people in conditions little above slavery, he was getting approval of Social Security and other programs that benefit everyone regardless of race or color. LBJ fought a similar battle over Medicaid and Medicare and the Civil Rights Act -- sometimes tamping down his personal liberalism (and, at the same time, bigotry) to buy compromise and advance a larger agenda in the face of terribly right-wing opposition.
I think pretty much everyone with any political knowlege at all will agree LBJ and FDR were pretty much the ultimate DC insiders, just like Hillary. Roosevelt was certainly a one-percenter with a swank law office in Manhattan and the resources to buy the absolute best medical science had to deal with his polio (though, now, some experts think that wasn't his real issue). While Johnson's background was hardscrabble, he quickly adapted to political reality and became a master arm-twister once he gained a little power. Both nodded, thanks to their experience, to the political realities of the day.
I'm not going to say the Bernie folks need to just get practical and accept reality and vote for Hillary to keep someone even worse out of office. If Bernie supporters (like me) were all that damn practical, he wouldn't have gained his huge traction in the first place. His personality is ill-suited to the White House, "compromise" is little-used in his vocabulary and he has no constituency (except Sen. Elizabeth Warren) in the entire US Congress. He has spent his entire political life on the fringe and his message has not changed. This is what we admire in politics, particularly when we feel the same way about ourselves, both personally and politically. While Walt Kelly's "Pogo" found the enemy and it is us, we have found the enemy and it is Them -- the oligarchy, the uberrich, the bigots, the religious nuts, the hedge fund managers and all those others who have subverted the public good in the name of personal and corporate profit. Our health care system sucks, our infrastructure has crumbled and we're reduced to a fucking gig economy. Burn down the goddamned mission.
The Trumpsters are equally as frustrated, but they're blaming immigrants and minorities and want to Make American White Again. Sorry dudes (and I literally mean dudes) -- demographics and the truth say otherwise. I'll reserve my thoughts on that for a later post. But just as Bob Dylan sang, "you gotta serve somebody," we all agree we gotta blame somebody.
It has to start somewhere. It won't unless we elect folks who see long-term. Getting There is a messy process, but one that requires us to make choices. When we refuse to vote, we put those choices in the hands of someone else. Saying, "well, if it's not MY candidate, then I just won't vote" is as childish as some of the seniors I serve each day. It serves no one, no cause and only identifies you as a selfish prima donna.
Take a stand that means something. Be willing to work for it. Defend your choice. Be willing to admit your choice was wrong. But don't fail to make one. Particularly this year.