Monday, January 14, 2008

The Squandered Bickering of the Democratic Front-Runners = Schadenfreude for Right Wingers

Maybe I'll have some more personal insights as this ugly thing moves forward (or actually as it drags us backwards), but for now I wanted to quickly capture my current stream of consciousness (and fragmentation) about the latest drama of Hillary, Bill, Obama:

As an ex-republican, I have little doubt that Karl Rove, the republican presidential candidates, all the current republican members of congress and party officials, the swift-boat-type 527s gearing up since 2004, and all the evil brains and strategists of the republican party are smacking their lips, gleefully applauding this sand-box behavior by the democrats -- they simply couldn't be happier.

As a white anti-racist activist/educator who was born in and raised for the first 13 years in Mississippi, and who has lived in the Southwest and on both coasts: WTF were both Bill & Hillary thinking? Clearly not thinking things through carefully. As Oprah sometimes reminds us: "Words have meaning, words have energy, words have consequences."

As a white anti-racist, social justice, women's rights feminist/activist/educator: I know very well that racism "infects" us from birth in this country. I know that participating in the struggle to 'disappear' all forms of bigotry and racism from our culture, combined with my own internal struggle for personal integrity, combined with an ever-present awareness of the myriad, unconscious ways in which the ugly virus of racism spreads its infection, means that we always have work to do. That struggle to defeat the residual molecules inside us never ends just as it is clear the struggle outside -- out in the world, the community, the schools, the churches, etc -- must continue.

And so I ask myself: what is it about being American (especially WHITE and American) that we're so arrogant (and defensive) to presume that we have to be always right (and perfect)? I know part of the answer to that for myself and my culture, but it's for another day. So, Bill, Hillary: why don't you just apologize, acknowledge you're not perfect on this issue -- who is perfect on this ugly issue? -- and move forward, promising to be more aware, more thoughtful and more sensitive. A little authentic humility could go a long way. You have fanned the flames by your stubborn refusal to take responsibility for being unconscious and careless even though you clearly weren't intentionally doing so (and probably a lot tired and fuzzy-minded in addition to being defensive).

It makes me question whether I want leaders who can't admit they're not perfect or all-knowing who can't learn from mistakes and move on to not repeat those particular mistake(s) again.

As a lesbian woman (who has been a single-mom raising a son) and who knows full well the ugly combined effects of sexism and homophobia and their stubborn resistance to innoculation and healing, I'm still hurt that Obama has pandered to the ugly homophobia of the black and intolerant religious communities. It makes me question whether I want leaders who can't admit they're not perfect or all-knowing who can't learn from mistakes and move on to not repeat those particular mistake(s) again. Because of this well-known incident, it makes me reluctant to trust Senator Obama. Which makes me understand even more why my african-american brothers and sisters may feel very reluctant to trust Hillary again.

As a white southern woman from Mississippi with working class roots and my family's middle class aspirations and who was raised on much of the 'hidden' as well as overt racism of the South, this is exactly the kind of "P.C." (politically correct) crap -- arguing over who is more 'pure', who's more of a 'victim' -- known in identity politics and academia as 'essentialism' that becomes tiresome very quickly -- even moreso for folks who really aren't that keen about working on the 'inner demons' -- they just want people to get along and move on.

As an idealist: I especially gravitated to the fact that Obama had been using a more conscious, more sophisticated (and spiritual) language of inclusion, transformation -- with great potential for moving us past the old stale model that Hillary still knows and practices very well

As a pragmatist and realist: I realize that knowing how to negotiate that old stale model may be necessary with the ugly republicans and their ugly strategies that WILL occur once the nominees are chosen.

As a developmental humanist, life-long learner and educator: I believe the democratic party began a developmental, ultimately necessary, but very painful process during the 70s (which the Republicans used, manipulated, exploited to great effect during the 80s) that drove almost all white Southerners and countless other white working class voters from the democratic party (to the republicans and distressingly against their own economic interests).

As a competitive political activist and human being who wants things to change and especially sees the need for turning away from the rich-getting-richer to hell with everyone else Republicans: A return to the ugliest aspects of that process could quickly cement into a dead-stop roadblock of what has recently become a gathering downhill steamroll for the democratic party. The candidates and their campaigns better stop it NOW if they truly care about the country, the voters, the citizens, families and working people of this nation (and beyond).

As a southern woman raised to believe in 'good manners' and whose family knew well how to fight verbally and viciously to the bitter end (but not to make up and heal things over -- much less how to 'use your words' to avoid the ugly words in the first place): I viscerally recoil from and hate the ugly conflict and the public display of bad manners and family disputes. Conflict can usually be resolved, if both parties are willing participants -- but conflict can also have real consequences, often very NEGATIVE, long-term consequences. Some people have a higher tolerance for it and are more resilient, but not everyone.

Like good southern girls are raised to do, and because it's my authentic nature, I mostly try to avoid conflict when possible, especially the dishonest indirect manipulative, passive-agressive stuff that BOTH of these campaigns and candidates have been engaging in (and yes, I think it originated in the Clinton campaign). But please, if you're going to disagree, do it respectfully, peacefully, honestly, and directly. Those are communication and assertiveness skills I've worked hard to learn and master -=- admittedly with mixed results. But then again, they're all much more privileged, far richer, more educated, well-traveled and supposedly 'experienced' than most of the rest of us. How come they're acting worse than pouty, bratty children?

As an independent-minded progressive with a strong, core focus on the woeful economics of our country for working folks and families, and who is one of the 47 million without access to health care, who sees that these 'potential presidents' are squandering precious time, resources, creativity, brain power at a critical time, and whose friends, community, family members have lost ground financially especially since the Bush-Cheney rape and pillage of our country, and who knows that if people can't feed their families, don't have decent work or a place to live that NONE OF THIS CURRENT PEDANTIC SQUABBLING WILL MATTER if the Republicans continue to turn us into another third world country of plutocrats and elites ruling over the rest of us, another has-been former empire crumbling at the seams, with leaders and the power elites continuing to grow fat, rich, richer and fiddling while our own version of Rome burns, while we the people continue fighting over the 10% of the crumbs that the indifferent-to-the-suffering/plight-of-others upper 10 percent brush off their well-enriched, overflowing, privileged, mean tables, I ask myself: WTF are they doing? And I can't help but answer: John Edwards is looking pretty good right now. How ironic is that?

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