Recently, I've been discouraged by what I have seen coming out of the progressive, Bernie-wing of the left. Since early in the primary season, I held out hope that the left would unite around Bernie Sanders’ biggest ideas and working class message to commandeer the Democratic Party from the Clintonite corporate elitists who held and still hold power. Unfortunately, as of this writing, that is far from the case. As of right now, the Democratic leadership is comprised almost exclusively of Wall Street rubber-stamped centrists who have no interest in speaking about, let alone aggressively pursuing, progressive policy.
After the Democratic National Convention, a convention littered with its own share of controversies, I made the decision to leave the Democratic Party and became an unaffiliated voter. At the time, my hope was that this change in voter registration would be something temporary. I figured I would be one of the millions of traditional liberal voters who could no longer support a party that has no interest in supporting my most core values. This ‘Demexit’ occurred, but its impact to this point has been minimal. In fact, all the hopes I held for the future of Bernie voters and traditional New Deal Democrats have essentially been incorrect.
The left is currently in disrepair. While the specifics of these schisms and ideological divides are worthy of their own post, that isn't what I want to discuss here. What is more important and worthy of discussion is how these conflicts do nothing but inhibit our ability as a political movement to enact meaningful change. The attempt of the Bernie-wing to materialize and take real root in the party is still underway and I don't want to sell it short, but frankly, this ‘revolution’ has seemed over since well before Tom Perez was handed the party.
The failure of the American left is a failure of the American people. This isn't the system’s fault and this isn't the party's fault. At this point, the reason why TRUE progressives have no power, representation or voice in America is that we don’t use our voices much at all. At least not in the most effective ways.
While progressives are trying to decide which members of the left are corporate shills, who are aligned with fascist Nazis and who truly want to carry on the great and noble Sanders legacy, opportunities to make significant changes to the system have come and gone. This only helps the dying establishment that resides in both parties on both sides of the political aisle. It is up to US to fight THEM and not each other.
The only way forward is together, but simply stating that is not enough. Acknowledging the need for unity isn't useful; what needs to happen is a real understanding of the many different ideologies that compose the working class coalition on the left. For example, I unapologetically support Donald Trump. Do I automatically become a conservative because of that? I still want peace, a clean environment and a single-payer health care system; am I a Nazi? You may or may not hate me for this strange position as a Trump-supporting leftist, but the fact is, if we don't work together, we will never topple corporate interests that control the system in its entirety.
Jimmy Dore has been the target of a lot of this leftist infighting. His highly critical opinion of Democrats has many on the left accusing him of being ‘divisive.' His recent videos calling for a ‘revolution of the mind’ hit on something I think is extremely important for the future of (what is left of) the Bernie movement and for U.S. politics in general. Jimmy contends we need to start thinking about politics differently because we are being screwed by a Democratic Party that is in bed with Wall Street. This Democratic Party offers us little while shifting all blame for anything onto Donald Trump.
I agree with Jimmy for the most part, but I want to make a distinction: I don't believe that what is needed is a revolution at all. What I think we need is better described as a renaissance -- an enlightenment, if you will. What progressive members of the American left need to realize is that there simply is no longer a left and right at all. Not long ago it seems, we were all aware of the battle that rages between the establishment and the Sanders wing. This Frankenstein's monster of establishment oligarchy consists of legacy media outlets, bought politicians, deep-state alphabet agencies and elite intelligentsia. Before Donald Trump, this is the true enemy of progressive politics.
The enlightened American voter would recognize that the labels Alt-right, Nazi, Fascist, Extremist-left and Bernie-Bro mean nothing. What matters most are ideas. What do YOU stand for? I KNOW WHAT I STAND FOR. I stand for peace, health care for all, fair wages, workers rights, accessible education, renewable energy, space exploration, nuclear disarmament and so much more. I don't care where on the left/right spectrum you want to place me, but I do care whether or not you want to work with me in order to advance and achieve these goals.
The left needs a renaissance because unless we fundamentally change our way of thinking, we will continue to allow ourselves to be subjected to the abuses of a political system that lies to get our votes and inflames tensions to divide us up and render us ineffective. This must be a true philosophical change. No longer can we be so quickly offended by ideas that are counter to our beliefs. No longer can we pretend that it is CONSERVATIVE WORKING CLASS VOTERS who prevent us from reaching our goals. That is simply not the case.
This brings us to racism. Yes, racism should hold no place in our political system, but racism exists in our population as it has for generations. This backward ideology will not be eradicated through pretentious shaming and incredulous dismissal. Much like correcting unwanted behaviors in a child, racism must be met with stern patience, corrected through example, defeated through a constant focus on love, goodness and humanity. We, on the left, know that our ideas do not depend on the skin color of our population, but the moral fiber from which those who seek progress are comprised.
An enlightened liberal knows that we work to better the lives of those who live in our society. We fight to empower all individuals to succeed. We hope to bring America to a shining future where prosperity is off limits to no one. White, Black, Latino, Asian -- all people deserve the best our nation has to offer, and to allow bickering and distractions to derail our efforts is simply a shame.
If our new American Renaissance can enlighten us to break free of the left/right paradigm and instead appreciate the individual ideals of our political adversaries -- leaving behind personal insults and delicate sensitivities -- we will make progress. Politics isn't about making each other feel good. It is about governing and formulating ideas to strengthen the common good. We on the left can still achieve this, but only if we are willing to work together.
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