On the wrong side of history

In the middle of all our angst about which Republican is actually the worst possible option, whether the fascist or the bible-humper is worse, or who is most likely to fiddle while the seas rise, or who’s going to get more of us shot, or spend more of our treasure blowing up the wrong people on the other side of the world, or pick a stupid fight with someone bigger, or disenfranchise more people, or nuke the economy, or… i find myself wondering if maybe, for all our talk of these things not being what America Is About, maybe I and people who think like me are the ones who are the outliers.

So many things have bubbled up to the surface in the last few years, things that we thought we were ‘better than’, things that we repeated cliches about–how it’s just a small group of bad actors and not indicative of the fine people of whatever town systematically discriminated or whatever state poisoned the water supply.  What if we’re not better than that?  What if that’s actually us?  What if the American capacity for empathy, generosity, and respect for people who aren’t us has been found, and found wanting?

The fact that at any given time, 40% of the country is going to vote for a Republican president, no matter how loathsome they are means that whether or not you personally think poor people don’t deserve clean water if it costs too much, you’re willing to live with that because your taxes simply cannot go up.  Or perhaps it’s so important that your exurb is protected from terrorism that thousands need to be barred from the country on the off chance that someone thinks they might be one.  Or that if one undocumented immigrant commits one crime, it’s best to keep them all out and that you’re willing to throw in with homophobes to get that done.

Nearly half the country thinks any one of the buffet of Scary Things on offer at the Republican table is so bad that awful things need to be done, and that that scary thing is so important that it is worth endorsing all the other awful things to do about all the other peoples’ scary things.  And they’re committed, as evidenced by the extent to which our national discourse has turned into the Herald’s comments section.

i sure wish i could say that those of us on the other side were as committed, as unified.  Is it because we’re complacent, having assumed for so long that progress progresses?  Are we balkanized, instead–how motivated are union members for a candidate who’s passionate about gun control, for instance?  Is it just plain harder, harder to sell and harder to live a platform that necessarily involves the upfront costs of sharing and tolerance of disagreement?

Or are we just outnumbered?

Is it possible that progressives are just not destined to win, even that we shouldn’t win, because in truth we’re outnumbered?  Is this is a selfish, paranoid, cynical country and are we merely a blue archipelago at the mercy of the angry sea of red?  Maybe in November, these guys win a fair* fight and we’ve just got to accept that this is what the country wanted.

Then we get to stop pretending we’re better than this and just need to be reminded, and learn how to address the fact that deep down, we aren’t.


* Here, i mean a Citizens United, voter-suppression kind of ‘fair’

Author: rcolonna

crashes, bangs, maniacal laughter.

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