Today, it is time to take a step back, time to take a broader view. The election cycle demands of us that we continually focus our attention on the nitty gritty of campaigns, sorting through the rhetoric, filtering out the lies and half truths. But today, today it is time to look more broadly at what we have learned and ask how we shall choose to live in light of it.
We have learned that while there are quite a few bad apples out there, there are a hell of a lot of good and decent people, who want to be involved and want to make a difference. This time, it seems as though the demarcation line between the two sides is somehow clearer; we have been encouraged to define it as establishment against outsider, but in the end, it has nothing to do with our politics. This is about our priorities.
One the one hand, we have the institutions that value money and power. On the other, people and the planet. It could not be more clear. This is not about Democrats and Republicans; each side has its good and its bad people. Equally, this is not just about the candidates; this is about the people whom they attract as supporters and the actions taken by those supporters to advance the cause.
On one hand, we could express this as the year that pitted hope against hate. It troubles me, as it troubles so many that the level of vitriol expressed against immigrants, muslims and people of different political persuasions, owes nothing to reality and everything to fear. It is sorrowful for the country to acknowledge that some candidates made the conscious decision to garner support by catering to that hate and fear. The good news is that they are losing ground. In the end, it is much harder to hold onto your hate than it is to hold onto your hope. Hate burns you up and burns you out. Hope is sustaining. I believe that in November, the country will choose hope.
We have also witnessed a pitting of two dimensional vs. three dimensional characters. A novelist could not create a work of fiction with Donald Trump as the main character and hope to win the Booker Prize. He has no depth. There is no there there.
And it is those same characters, the ones drawn expressly for the six second sound bite on the main stream media, that have allowed the rest of us to see just how much the media has become complicit in the problem. Calling elections with 1% of the vote in is just the most recent and egregious example. Not giving equal time to all candidates, creating pundits out of campaign flunkies, and above all else, refusing to report on the real issues facing the country, have shown us the degradation of the Fifth Estate. The news media was supposed to stand up for us, to speak truth to power, to use our freedom of speech to represent us against the wrongdoings of our own government. Instead, they have become self-appointed kingmakers.
When the real story is one of voter suppression and election fraud on not just a grand, but growing scale, they choose to present tabloid reports regarding candidates’ wives, purportedly insurmountable delegate leads and Super Delegates who have pledged votes but not actually voted. Similarly, it is somehow not newsworthy that voters arrive to polling stations after standing in line for five and six hours, only to be handed a provisional ballot which will likely not be counted, because their party affiliation has mysteriously changed since they last voted. We also seem to not need to know that the votes have actually come in from two caucus states, because the media chooses not to announce the winner until it is late enough that most folks have gone to bed. But, we have to thank them, because now we see them for what they are. In showing their true colors, they have done all of us a favor. We can now consign them to their rightful place as background chatter, the white noise of society.
We have learned that to many, the governance of our country is just a game. Winner take all, to be sure, but just a game. For the Mitch McConnell’s of the world, doing the job they have been elected and sworn in to perform takes a back seat to the gamesmanship of obstructing the process, grinding everything to a halt lest it be perceived that the other side has actually achieved something. And Mr. Mitch is not the only one. The gamesmanship extends to the campaign trail, where Bill Clinton defined the Obama presidency as “the awful legacy of the last eight years,” but only after the African American vote was secured in the primaries of the southern states. We have witnessed the efforts of Debbie Wasserman Schultz to rig the election process, from denying Bernie Sanders access to the voting lists, to scheduling debates for times when no one is watching, and making sure that there are never enough ballots for the voters who show up to exercise their civic duty.
But I find something interesting here, too. All of these people are looking mighty old. There is a Picture of Dorian Gray component to this. The corruption, degeneracy and wickedness of these thieves who would steal the country from its own people, has crept upon their faces like lines on Gray’s portrait. And all of the spray tan in China can not varnish it away.
Largely, that distinction is now visible because we have learned that there are so many good people, standing up and standing together in opposition to the establishment, the forces of darkness, the forces of same as it ever was. From Elizabeth Warren to Nina Turner, Bill Moyers to Cornel West, Robert Reich to Spike Lee, Asher Edelman to Danny Glover, there is a vitality among the forces of change and hope that grows stronger by the day.
The pairing though, that shines most clearly is that of Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard. Two distinctly different generations, two distinctly different experiences of life. But between them, fire and focus, wisdom and compassion, and most of all, continuity. What we have learned is that there is a movement, a revolution, that has been going on in this country since the early 1960’s. It comes back to that mindset of hope. It hinges on the priority of doing what is right for the planet and for our fellow human beings.
It has been suppressed, to be sure, for many years. So much so, that many of us thought we were alone. We are not. When the enthusiasm in one county’s voter turnout from 2012 to 2016 rises by half a million voters, we are not alone. When those people stand in line for five and six hours because they will not be denied their right to participate in the process, we are not alone. When a candidate takes in over five million separate donations averaging less than thirty dollars a piece, from real working men and women, not the $27,000 a plate crowd, we are not alone.
The single most exciting piece of news during this cycle has to do with the involvement in the process of so many people, young and old, who thought previously that they did not have a voice. It was not that they had no voice; it’s just that no one was listening. Now, we have learned that those combined voices can change the world. The same as it ever was crowd is frightened, as well they should be. They are circling the wagons and sending out volleys through their super pacs and media cronies, in a last ditch effort to stem the tide of change, to convince us that we need to be pragmatic, that we need not expect too much, that we can not win against that which is inevitable.
They are trying to negotiate a truce for fear that hope will sweep them from the field.
In the end, we have learned that you will fail to galvanize a nation around hatred, but succeed when you do so around hope. You can send out dinner invites with a $27,000 a plate RSVP or you can throw open the doors to the entire neighborhood. You can deny people their voices in the process with rigged elections, or you can trust the goodness in their hearts to make the right call. You can believe what you hear or you can shine light on the lie. As we used to say, you can be part of the problem, or part of the solution. It is for each of us to choose how we shall live from what we have learned.
Increasingly, we are learning that it is the solution that is becoming inevitable.