A Quick Note on My Political Praxis, That Others May Find Useful

There are candidates and politicians I like better. There are candidates and politicians I like worse. None are perfect, because all are fallible human beings who willfully and routinely put themselves in a position to make morally gray choices, often if not always among options of which none are what a regular person might call good. And though I do believe character matters, ultimately, my fealty is *not* to individual candidates or politicians.

My fealty is to a platform of policies. Policies which in turn reflect my ideals.

Save the environment. Take care of everybody. Leverage the potential and talents of the entire human population. Minimize unnecessary suffering, maximize general prosperity and happiness. Make room for everyone to participate, thrive, and matter.

You know, bend the moral arc of history toward justice. Save the world. Eat the rich.

Just kidding on that last one. Mostly.

Anyhow, when I approach a political question – like how to vote, which party or candidate to support, where to donate whatever time and money I have to spare – I ask myself a simple question:

Which of the choices realistically brings me closer to the world I want to help bring about? Even if it’s not that close. Even if it’s a lesser-of-two-evils situation. Put it in the grand context, sink it into my lived historical particularity. Which choice moves us closer to the future progressives and liberals and, well, anyone left of wingnut these days want.

Because let’s be real: the stakes are as high as can be. Half the population on the verge of losing their bodily autonomy. Majority rule, hell, rule for the benefit of any but the richest and worst among us, threatened, along with the tattered remains of our democratic traditions. The planet we all live on heating up, soon to be past the tipping point and shit getting all kinds of fucked up. We need to be making big strides. Barring that, baby steps. Anything to start the momentum moving the right direction.

And we need to be pragmatic about it. Because our ideals – and the stakes – deserve no less.

No Safe Space for Them

Thinking about Ijeoma Oluo’s Medium piece and something my friend said last night on Facebook, about things we on the left can do outside of (the still absolutely vital and necessary work of) GOTV in November and beyond. I’m thinking also about GOP Senators and White House officials being confronted in elevators and hounded out of restaurants, and how much news it makes and how much it seems to rattle them when the effects of their actions are brought home.

And, you know, it makes sense. These are people who are used to the world being their safe space. That’s why they always piss and moan about civility when backlash from their day job spills over into their personal time. That’s how they can do what they do – it doesn’t touch them, most of the time. And when it does, oh how mightily they whine.

So I think we should keep doing stuff like that, because it’s clearly working. I am not, to be clear, advocating violence, even if I can sympathize with the temptation.

But turnabout is fair play, and seeing how their policies and political goals create a general atmosphere of threat and uncertainty for everyone not like them, I think it’s only fair they should get a taste of that in their own lives.

Will it change their minds, or policies? Who knows? Probably not. But it’s time those policies start costing them the way they cost so many other people.

Quick note on Joe Manchin (D?-WV)

I know, I know, he’s like, practically a Republican, and it’s super disappointing he didn’t vote against cloture for Kavanaugh. I fking hate it, too.

But when the confirmation vote comes up, if his no vote makes it 50-50, I want him to vote yes, and you should, too, much though it may gall you. Because the shitty reality is that Kavanaugh’s popular in WV, and Manchin’s vulnerable. A tie means confirmation, because Pence casts the tie-breaker, making Manchin’s no vote symbolic at best. It’s likely to hurt him politically without accomplishing anything concrete.

Why do we care? Because the D after his name is meaningful. However individual members vote, who holds the majority confers a great big fucking fuckton of power (it’s why McConnell’s been able to wreak so much havoc since we gave the Rs the majority). Committee chairmanships, investigations with teeth, SETTING THE LEGISLATIVE AGENDA. Whatever can be done to make that more likely is what needs to happen right now, and fuck us all if it makes us sad. If we’ve learned anything these last two years, I hope we’ve learned that much, at least. You can’t do shit if you can’t work the levers.

It ain’t pretty, and it might not make you happy. It sure AF doesn’t make me happy. But we’re in a fight for our lives, our country, and the future of life on earth right now. There’s no more sacrificing tomorrow for someday. No more making the perfect the enemy of the good, or the good enough, or the best we can do right here right now. We might once have had that luxury, but if we did, we have squandered it. It’s gonna be trench warfare and suck for the foreseeable future, and every goddam inch counts.

So says this pragmatic progressive, who desperately hopes you agree.