Multi-Front Political Battles, and the Stuff That Keeps Me Up At Night.
Happy Friday, my lovelies. If you’re not in the mood for political introspection on a Friday morning, direct your gaze to how Twitter flipped out because Forbes’s social media team discovered cannabis edibles - and then actually check out Mike Montgomery’s piece on pot entrepreneurs and the edibles market that “sparked” the whole thing… heh heh heh.
But if you want to talk about the Left’s civil war, welcome to my coffee-addled brain.
I spent half an hour this morning writing about the divisions in progressive politics between the moderates and the “Dirtbag Left” after reading Jeer Heet’s take on the podcast Chapo Trap House. And while I’m sure my original overly-verbed prose was both enlightening AND hilarious, when I started digging deeper into the online Leftist reaction to Heet's piece, what started as a shallow “huh, that’s interesting” take on a piece that aligns with my moderate progressive North Star of “Don’t Be a Dick” turned into anxiety about publishing anything that might possibly attract the ire of the online left. And guys, it’s not like my megaphone is that big.
As I wrote about after the election, I mourn the “mushy middle” of politics. But as the internet shows me, that mushy middle isn’t exactly in season.
On Paste, Jason Rhodes responds to Heet’s piece, which he called a “long, strange screed,” by saying that moderates don’t understand that politics is an “ass-kicking” contest, and that leftists should have “pity for the alt-center.” This piece made me squirm, in no small part due to the fact that Rhodes’s rhetoric takes square aim at folks like me who believe in coming together, not division. He calls out those of us who focus on language and propriety, who believe in the importance of respecting norms and history, and who strive for principled compromise if it means helping more people. He equates those beliefs with fighting for the status quo due to a desire to stay comfortable.
I agree with a few of Rhode’s sentiments, in particular his derision of the Left’s quasi-academic reliance on insulting Trump’s “bumbling oafishness,” a sin of which I am guilty. Despite the oft-repeated shoulder-brushing smugness of Twitter LOLing at a “your” vs. “you’re” in a Trump statement, we aren’t going to solve our current national crisis with an internet grammar-off.
But I also can’t get behind the straight “Revolution or GTFO” mentality. Because some people need our imperfect status quo, and I’m not talking the Ivy League chattering classes. Americans who need supplemental nutrition assistance rely on our imperfect status quo to put food on the table. Victims of domestic violence rely on our imperfect status quo to protect them from their abusers. And all of us rely on our imperfect status quo to provide roads, and water, and electricity, and health care without pre-existing conditions.
Now, I know that cuts to food stamps, police brutality, and a crumbling infrastructure point to how the current status quo sucks. And that the status quo protects those who commit corporate malfeasance and massive economic disparity. Which is why we need activists to help push elected officials to make things better.
But merely striving for revolution isn’t going to solve the crises above. Constantly attacking your own team isn’t going to get shit done. There are so many external fights to be had.
At this very moment, what truly keeps me up at night is my fear that the center will not hold.
Right now I’m concerned about the very real possibility that the President of the United States fires the special counsel investigating his campaign,setting off an unprecedented constitutional crisis, and that the craven opportunists in the Republican-controlled House and Senate don’t do a damned thing about it. That this multi-century democratic experiment that previously survived civil war and Nixon falls under the weight of a short-fingered vulgarian.
And if you made it down this far expecting some profound wrap-up, I’m going to send you off into the weekend with no such thing.
But here’s a gif you've seen before, because I’m not a total monster…