Because frankly, I’m tired of arguing. Really, really tired of it.
And as a Democrat/liberal, I’m sick that we didn’t win, not because I root for Democrats like a favorite sports team, but because our policies are actually better for ordinary Americans.
But to win, we have to change. Arguing with people on social media, posting scathing, pithy takes, getting in everyone’s face with righteousness. It doesn’t work. We should have won this last election by 10 points, but we lost, and we have to take responsibility for that.
What do I mean specifically? We, Democrats/liberals, have to stop being mean, smug, and condescending. We have to be kind. I think I’ve gone to at least two university’s that used the slogan, “be the change you wish to see in the world,” and it hasn’t sunk in until now what that actually means.
BE the change you want to see in the world. Not yell at people about it.
There are a lot of reasons liberals, Democrats, and sane human beings lost on Nov. 8th, a day that will surely live in infamy—and all of them are correct to a degree—but we lost, it’s over, and now it’s time to think about where we go from here. So here it goes:
WE HAVE TO BE NICE
Whatever we say, whatever our message, we have to be nice—and I should know because during this election and the week or so since, I’ve been a complete ass. But what I’ve learned is that no one is going to listen to us if we’re yelling at them and calling them racists. Keep in mind, I’m not saying the people who voted for Donald Trump aren’t idiots or racists—many of them are (at the very least, they were willing to ignore the racism, which is bad in itself)—it’s just that we’re not going to convince them to be less stupid and/or less racist by calling them stupid and racist.
We have to convince them not to be, and that starts with being kind. So here are some ideas:
A) Begin conversations with: “I disagree” or “that seems a little divisive” or “I don’t think that’s true.” Basically, we want to interrupt the stupid/wrong comment, politely. Interrupt, politely.
B) Next, pivot to fact and truth. That’s the great thing about this result, ironically. Conservatives, Republicans, the alt-right (white racists)—they’re wrong. Yes, on race and civil rights, but on just about everything else too: the economy, the environment, taxes, health care, education, foreign policy, the social safety net, etc. Basically, name any political issue, and you can bet Republicans are fantastically wrong about it.
Obviously, if you can, cite evidence or an article to support your claim, but on a lot of issues it’s simply a matter of common sense, as in, “having a Muslim registry would violate the First Amendment,” or, “do you really want government officials going house to house asking people for their papers?” We occupy the higher moral ground—there’s absolutely no reason to be afraid to say so. In fact, we should push that point as much as possible.
C) End conversations with: “thank you” or “I hope you have a good day” or, if it has to end negatively—and some do—simply “I don’t feel this is a productive conversation anymore,” and then, “I hope you have a good day.” It’s really hard to be mad at someone who says that at the end of a conversation.
By approaching our conversations in this way, we rob conservatives of the contrarian rationale, which is simply to oppose people they don’t like, without regard to motive. In addition, we can potentially bridge our polarized politics to an extent. If we’re kind, chances are those on the receiving end will be too, and that make a huge difference. People we disagree with aren’t our political enemies–they’re our neighbors and countrymen and women. We need to remember that (especially me).
TAKE DIRECT ACTION
A) Get out of the house. If there’s a protest, go—be loud, be proud, and remember, keep it clean. Rioting undermines our cause.
B) Join your local Democratic or Republican Party. Go to meetings. Rent a hall and invite your Senator or Congressional Representative. Become a committee chairperson. Take power from its roots.
C) Start or join an organization that registers people to vote. Hillary won the popular vote by a 1.8 million and counting, but there were a lot of people who stayed home, or were prevented from voting because they didn’t have a valid ID or fell victim to other Republican voter suppression tactics.
D) Talk to people, whether it’s face-to-face or on social media. Especially those you disagree with. We’ve been taught to fear these conversations, but if we begin and end with kindness, there’s nothing to be afraid of. And that’s a good place to start: tell them you’re afraid—for your country, for people of color, for Muslims, for the economy or the environment. Ask them what they think? These are the conversations we have to start having with each other.
A NEW HOPE: OUR POPULIST AND INCLUSIVE POLITICAL PLATFORM
1) Front and center: a Constitutional Amendment that states corporations aren’t people, and money isn’t speech. Ordinary Republicans agree with this, and that’s important; this is one of the primary reasons the Republican Party is almost entirely corrupt, along with a lot Democrats. Also, it undercuts the power of the wealthy to control the outcomes of our elections, and that’s a good thing, both strategically and philosophically.
2) Propose a new Voting Rights Act, complete with the following provisions: issue every American citizen a voting ID card valid in all 50 states, make election day a national holiday, set a maximum distance a voter has to travel as well as requiring a minimum number of polling places to be available by population, and require states to issue voters a paper print out confirming their vote was recorded accurately, which can act as a receipt in the case of a recount.
Finally, the act should repeal the electoral college in favor of the popular vote. There’s really no good argument against this position, other than tradition, which is invalid. But for those opposed, ask them: so a person in Wyoming should have their vote count 3.6 times more than a person in California? How is that Democratic? And how is it good, in the long run, to have a president a majority of citizens didn’t vote for? The fact is one of two people was going to win this last election, and because we have the electoral college, the person who lost by 1.8 million votes, won. As for the rest of it, the response is simple: why don’t you want people to be able to vote? That’s a hell of a hard position to defend.
Republicans almost certainly won’t go along with this, but it’s a weak position we can force them to take. Where we can win this battle is state by state. Currently, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact requires electors to vote for the winner of the popular vote, no matter how their state voted. So far, 11 states totaling 165 electoral votes have enacted this legislation, and more are coming on board. This should be on every state ballot in 2017, 2018, 2019, etc., until enough states sign on to make the winner of the popular vote our President.
3) Single payer healthcare or reinstate Obamacare. This obviously depends on how badly the Republicans screw up their Obamacare repeal and replace, but they almost certainly will, and combined with Paul Ryan’s desire to wreck Medicare and Medicaid as well, our health care system could be so mangled there’ll be ample reason to do what we should’ve done in the first place.
4) Tax reform. Reduce tax rates (corporate and income) and get rid of loopholes and deductions that favor wealthy Americans and/or corporations. Eliminate other tax qualifications: income from capital gains or dividends or any other fancy way of earning money is taxed as ordinary income. Again, tough to argue with: why shouldn’t we all be taxed at the same rate? Why should a billionaire pay a lower tax rate than an ordinary American? Republicans have been promising to do this for years, but what they’ve proposed so far are huge tax breaks for the rich with not much for anyone else. Depends on what they do, but we need a plan to fix it.
5) Infrastructure for the 21st Century. This depends, like single payer and taxes, on how badly Trump and the Republicans screw up their infrastructure plan, but so far their plan is to finance this through private industry—basically they want to allow really rich people to make money rebuilding and privatizing roads, bridges, airports, etc. If/when they fail, Democrats need to come to the table with a plan that would actually help ordinary people and rebuild infrastructure that is public. Part of this plan should focus on investments in renewable energy and reducing our carbon footprint. Climate change is real, and to whatever extent we can, we need to be proposing solutions—not burying our heads in fossil fuels as the Trump administration will.
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