Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Empty Hourglass and the Boomerang Curve

The extremist ends of our two dominant American political parties might best be illustrated by a couple of familiar, if not ancient, objects. How we decide to address the problems and predicaments presented therein will determine the future of our country and our world.

"Time is up" describes not only the assertiveness of women and the renewed feminist movement, but also the growing urgency in addressing climate change, labor rights, consumer protections, universal healthcare, civil rights for all ethnic populations and all categories of gender and sexual orientation. These are timeless issues that have advanced only incrementally even when the Democratic party has been in power. The sand in the hourglass has been wasted by previous centrist democratic leadership seeking to appease Republicans who lean slightly left. The exhaustive effort to convert centrist Republicans has sucked all the energy out of the rest of the party. Change has been at a snail's pace; and that same impatience in the far-right has resulted in great leaps backwards as current administrations dismantle existing protections for all but the wealthiest of individuals and corporations.

The trajectory of the Republican party is best described by the path of a boomerang, originating from the point of absolute White Privilege, and seeking to return to that point, albeit in a form that does not resemble original slavery. "Reactionary" is the word that was once used to describe this desire for a return to the "good old days," but now we just call these people what they really are: racists, bigots, homophobes, and misogynists, to name but a few. They are not interested in the prosperity, or even the survival, of anyone but themselves, and they define prosperity only in monetary terms.

The two parties have always been similar, starting to diverge only when the democrats began realizing that there were constituents to be mined from the feminist and civil rights movements. Later, they embraced gay and lesbian issues, but mostly to again swell their voting rolls. Democrats have, to put it bluntly and cynically, recognized minority populations as a means to advance a tamer form of White Privilege. Yes, dear Blacks, Hispanics, gays, lesbians, and transgendered, and disabled and discriminated, we are reaching out, we are giving you a seat at the table, just not any power to enact significant changes that require sacrifice from White men.

Ideally, we want the trajectory of our political party to steadily increase, with no setbacks, instituting changes that are perceptible but tolerable to all, assuming that our motivations are clear and in the best interest of our constituents. The curve of that pursuit over time represents a graph we can comprehend easily, a smooth climb of idealism.

The Republican curve has become a boomerang arc, a "fool you" curve that turns back on itself in trying to reassert White male privilege, with increasingly hostile legislation and policy, more distractions for the gullible, and no apologies to the disenfranchised. The Democratic curve, on the other hand, is more schizophrenic in its ascent, and the leading edge has become a splintered rainbow of constituencies, each with its own overriding agenda, and the upper layer (Democratic National Committee) still being White male interests. Guess what? A rainbow has no white light. That is the whole point, in fact. You address the white light by embracing whole-heartedly the colors behind it. Raise the profile of each color and you lift up the whole radiant beam.

How do we prevail as a just and equitable society, then? We need faith. White democrats need faith in leadership that does not look like us, that came from a different culture and different circumstances. We have to lose the fear that by electing and supporting leaders from disparate enclaves we are turning power over to people who will try and oppress us as we have oppressed them, historically.

Do we deserve to be punished for our own version of apartheid, our prior collective hate crimes? Sure. Personally, I don't see vindictiveness in our diverse and newly-elected federal representatives. I see an energy, enthusiasm, and commitment to making our country better for all, including White people. We should be grateful for the strength and forgiveness of those we have suppressed and neglected and waged war on. Let us begin the road back by letting them lead on the road ahead.

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