Please welcome my new guest blogger, Mrs. Whatsit. She’ll be appearing here from time to time. She’s one of my dearest friends; we talk politics all the time; we work political magic together; and, with the election, she’s decided to start sharing her thoughts in longer form than 140 characters at a time. But you should definitely follow @MrsWhatsit1 on Twitter, too.
If I could make one resolution for the Left for 2017 it would be this: to stop all the infighting and recognize who the real enemy is. Hint: it’s not each other.
Factions on the Left focusing the majority of our energy on tearing each other apart has a long and inglorious history, but it’s been particularly severe in 2016 and since the election. Witness:
· Liberal men on Twitter bitching about the January 21st Women’s March on Washington. “Why ‘women’s’ march? That excludes me!” “Why march – what the point?” “Why are you doing this the day after the inauguration? Some other timing would be MUCH better!”
· People bitching about the whole safety pin thing. “You don’t mean it – it’s just an SJW accessory.” “You aren’t a REAL ally.” “It’s just about making yourself feel better.”
· Berners bitching about how “Bernie would have beat Trump.” And Clintonistas taking the bait. EVERY. DAMN. TIME. “No, he wouldn’t!” “Yes, he would!” Ad infinitum ad nauseam.
· (I could go on – and I’m sure you have your own examples.)
Just stop already!
We’re all “woke” in some ways, and we all have blind spots in others. Everyone has implicit bias against what you see as “Other” and against the “Other” you see in yourself. No one is perfect. Some of the suffragettes were racist. Some civil rights leaders were homophobic. The 1960s anti-war movement was pretty misogynist. Does that mean that they and all their works were bullshit? No, it does not.
That’s why I think the team metaphor is really useful. If you have a teammate who’s screwing up, how do you respond? Do you call them out on Twitter? Get all your Facebook friends to pile on? Call them names? Flame their blog? Not if you want to win, you don’t.
I get tired of educating men. People of color probably get pretty damn tired of educating my white ass. I get tired of educating people with a nice, clear Kinsey scale number and mainstream sexual identity and practices. People with visible disabilities that have a major impact on their day-to-day lives get tired of educating me. I get tired of educating christians. People who were raised in – or live in – poverty get tired of educating me. I get it. Oppressed people should not have to bear the additional responsibility of educating people who claim allyship.
But we need to try to look past “you’re not sufficiently ‘woke’ in the particular area that’s most important to me, so I’m going to tear your ass up” and think like teammates. “You’re doing something wrong, and I think it’s hurting our team, so I’m going to coach you to do better.”
So we have to march AND tweet AND phone bank for progressive candidates AND write or call our Members of Congress AND write letters to the editor and blog posts and articles AND pray/work magic for change AND talk to people who don’t think exactly like us AND read AND educate ourselves AND coach each other AND wear a damn safety pin if that’s all you can do right now. But always be looking for ways to do more – and learn more.
As Hecate’s son says, this is a marathon, not a sprint. If we can’t stop dismissing and attacking each other’s efforts for being insufficiently pure (or radical, or impactful, or whatever), we are NOT going to get there. And given the unprecedented threat Trump poses to our Constitution, our democratic norms, our country, and the world, we can’t afford a DNF in this race.