jlh: Alexander Hamilton, with a banner that says "Federalist" (gents: Alexander Hamilton)
[personal profile] jlh
David Simon, creator of The Wire (among other things) made a blog post yesterday that's making the rounds today. You might recognize the money quote: "Change is a motherfucker when you run from it." Which is a true thing. But I'd recommend reading the post in full, as Simon's main point is about the ways that the changing demographics in the US are shifting the relative power of voting coalitions that have been in place since 1980. (By the way, I could EASILY put on my historian's hat and go on at length about the shifting voting coalitions that make up the bases of American political parties; it's my favorite thing about political history by far, and if anyone wants me to I will, but not here.)

To boil down post of thoughts about this week's election and what we need to do next, they are:

So one of the issues with the Obama coalition--and let's just call it that for now--is that it's built on people who have not, or have not yet, made a habit of voting. Young, female, non-white voters tend to turn out only when they are turned out by the efforts of other people, or by some symbolic event. And we saw that in the 2010 midterms, when the Republicans increased their majority in the House of Representatives, which allowed them to create two full years of gridlock that they thought would pave their way to the White House.

If you're sick of people saying that Obama hasn't done anything? VOTE IN THE MIDTERM ELECTIONS. The midterms are often spun as a referendum on the presidency so far, and when there's backsliding it does not help. I'll say this again at the time but please, please, please vote in 2014. A third of the Senate and all of the House will be up for reelection in 2014, so obviously that election is crucial.

And if your state has important off-year elections in 2013 or 2015, like mayoral races in large cities or your governor, please vote in those elections as well. Governors make a huge difference in the kinds of laws that are enacted at the state level, like abortion rights and marriage rights and school curricula and voting rights. When you do vote, please try to educate yourself on the smaller races--local papers and websites often have sample ballots so you can do some research--and then vote in those as well.

Why is this important, you ask? The Christian Coalition gained its power in the Republican party through showing that its members were reliable voters, and they did that by slowly and steadily taking over town councils and school boards throughout the south and midwest. Local elections aren't as sexy, and they don't get as much media attention, but they are crucial.

Now, another issue with the Obama coalition--really, with all coalitions of the American left since the beginning of the 20th century--is that they're seen as squabbling fractions who are happy to ditch each other in order to gain what they seek. (See: all coverage of the Democratic party from something like 1964 until the present.) We think, well, we'll get the thing that benefits all of us first, and then maybe we'll work on your little problem. See: feminism's treatment of women of color/working class women/women with disabilities/the trans* community; the gay rights movement's treatment of people of color/the trans* community/the elderly; the civil rights movement's treatment of women/non-heterosexuals; the labor movement's treatment of women/people of color/various immigrant commnities--and this is just a sample.

We keep talking about the need to work together, blah blah blah, but we only sometimes manage to actually work together, to understand that working on rights for women is working on rights for people of color is working on rights for the disabled is working on trans* rights and so on; that when the kyriarchy turns us against each other by making us think that rights are a zero-sum game we've already lost something; that every strike against the idea that "normal" or "average" is white, middle class, middle-aged, Protestant, cis-male, able-bodied, neuro-typical, heterosexual, and preferably northern European with a wife and children is another strike for all of us who DON'T fit that description and all of us who DO.

I'm not saying that I know the solution to this problem, but I do know that it exists and it's a mess and I'm just watching and hoping that this isn't what happens, because these are the rocks upon which the American Left founders. Or, as LBJ said in a very different context (or maybe not so different?): "We must either love each other, or we must die." I've been spending time lately educating myself on the places I have privilege (I'm cis-gendered and able-bodied though not neuro-typical; as an adult I'm middle-class, educated and urban though that wasn't the environment in which I was raised) and the places that I don't, and that makes it easier to know and understand things in the places where I have privilege and give myself a damn break in the places where I don't. Maybe let's make that a PLAN to keep that going?

As always I welcome your thoughts. As always I reserve the right to stop conversations I do not choose to host.

Date: 2012-11-08 07:26 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] sajia_kabir
Why aren't you a regular political blogger? We need you. Can I link to this (if my coding works, that is) ?

Date: 2012-11-09 04:12 am (UTC)
sundancekid:   (Default)
From: [personal profile] sundancekid
Sing it, lady. <3


jlh: Chibi of me in an apron with a cocktail glass and shaker. (Default)
Clio, a vibrating mass of YES!

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