Friday, November 13, 2020

Sent: 11/2/20: Oh Apathy, Where Is Thy Bliss?


Yesterday the New York Times had a title for its opinion sectionwhich they don't usually do:
What Have We Lost?
The subtitle:
All 15 of our columnists explain
what the past four years have cost America,
and what's at stake in this election.

Here are a few of the things these astute observers see as gone gone gone:
A Kind of Innocence
Faith in One Another
Pax Americana
Principled Conservatism
A Female President

Farhad Manjoo titles his column with one word:

He writes:
"It's difficult to remember now, but before Trump, to a lot of Americans much of what the federal government did could be relegated to an incidental corner of life.

Obama frequently called on Americans to rise above political apathy. Yet beyond his own campaigns, his policies rarely generated mass enthusiasm for the political process.. The midterm elections of 2010 ad 2014 and the presidential races of 2012 and 2016 were low-engagement, low-turnout affairs. You might even say that American political life in the past decade has been determined more by the inaction of those who didn't participate than by the actions of those who did."

"The past decade"? "THE PAST DECADE"?!!? In my entire adult experience -- and that's a long time, because I'm OLD -- the defining characteristic of American politics has been the apathy of its citizens! We are absolutely RENOWNED for the low voter turn-out of our elections. We have always had the lowest percentage of people registered to vote and the lowest number of people who actually vote, of all the Western democracies.

I remember in 1984, when Reagan was running for re-election against Mondale, such a GOOD strong man. I actually experienced becoming boring. Margo and I toured the country for four months with Baum & Tufo, the Official Lesbian Music & Comedy Act of the 1984 Olympics. Everywhere we went, I talked about the necessity of defeating the incumbent. Not from the stage! Heavens, no. That simply wasn't done. But in all the social events surrounding our performances. And everyone EVERYONE EVERY SINGLE RADICAL LESBIAN FEMINIST I ENCOUNTERED said the same thing:
"There's no difference between the two."
This was so manifestly untrue. But when I tried to explain that to whoever -- as my voice rose and my gestures got wilder --- well, my listeners' eyes would always glaze over and they would find some reason why they needed to be somewhere else right away! Boring. I was boring people!

Electoral politics has always been central to the world we live in. The power to make laws and spend tax money is REAL POWER . Therefore, we ALL need to be involved in choosing WHO ends up with that power!

And when I say "involved," I am NOT talking about just voting.

I'm repeating myself, aren't I? I said all these things in 2016. I said all these things in 2000, when Gore ran against Bush. and again in 2004, when Bush ran for re-election.

Back to Manjoo, who is not only a wonderful writer, but is probably not repeating himself:

"All the time we spent focused on Trump has not been for nothing; there has been an unexpected up-side to his omnipresence. Even as Trump's presidency has been tiring -- not to mention profoundly cruel, deadly and embarrassing for our nation -- it has also been something else: Motivating.

With nearly every tweet, Trump gave us a new 10-car pile-up from which we couldn't look away. But in the process of making us look at him, Trump forced many of us to actually look for the first time. By turning us into a nation of rubbernecks, he has pushed us to reckon with why things are crashing in the first place and to examine the faulty infrastructure of our democracy.

If we're lucky, this will be his only lasting legacy. For many of us,
Trump has shattered the comfortable bliss
of not having to pay attention."

After describing Obama's accomplishments as "quiet" and "incremental", Manjoo goes on:

"From Day 1, there was nothing quiet or incremental about Trump. he attacked American institutions frontally and clamorously, shocked us into realizing their fragility and compelled us to stand up against his wrecking ball.

The backlash was swift. When Trump spewed racist ideas from the White House, many Americans recoiled. For the first time, more Americans now favor expanding immigration instead of restricting it, and a majority of Americans say they support Black Lives Matter. The more that Trump has pushed white identity politics, the less popular it has become."

And the result of this was the election of 2018, which had the highest turnout for the midterms in more than 100 years. That was an exciting election. So many Congressional seats flipped from GOP to Dem. And so many women and people of color ran and WON -- including our future President, AOC.

In that 2018 election, I canvassed for Josh Harder in Modesto, who succeeded in flipping a long-time red Congressional district to blue. I've been canvassing door-to-door since 1972, when I volunteered for George McGovern for President. And this canvassing was different because the people were different. And I'm talking about traditional Republican neighborhoods. People were INTERESTED, they wanted to talk, even if they were voting for the incumbent. Everyone understood that it made a difference who won the election. I found that absolutely wonderful.

This is the change that Farhoo and I are talking about. It's been years since I've heard the familiar refrain, "Aw, they're all a buncha thieves; it doesn't matter who wins!"

Actually, it's been four years. And it has ALWAYS mattered who holds electoral office.

Manjoo again:

"Would the #MeToo movement have had the same impact if we hadn't elected a president who had been accused of dozens of instances of sexual misconduct? Would Democrats be talking about far-reaching reforms of our democracy -- eliminating the Electoral College, expanding the Supreme Court, statehood for the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico -- if we weren't shocked by the dreadful chief executive this broken system has given us?"

Indeed, our system has been broken for so long, and so deeply structurally flawed from the beginning, distorted by compromises to make slaveholders feel safe and secure.

Manjoo concludes:

"The Trump years have been among the most disastrous in recent American history. But they weren't for naught. One day, Inshallah, we will look back on this time as the beginning of the great American awakening."

You know, it is a basic principle of Buddhism that your enemy is your greatest teacher. That is, your enemy forces you to confront your own biggest problems and then figure out what to do about them. Manjoo is saying exactly this. So..... Thank you, Teacher Der Toddler!

Me, I'm not counting for help from Allah or God or Buddha, who is no god and doesn't intervene as gods supposedly do. This transformation to a true democracy is something we must do ourselves, for ourselves, and for our children and grandchildren and everyone thereafter.

Bloggelinis, tomorrow I'm going to send out a lovely long photo ramble, a little break from the awful tension. I've already handed in my absentee ballot. How about you? Usually I love to go to my neighborhood polling place. But I decided this time not.

Please go to "PROTECT THE RESULTS" so you'll know what to do if Biden wins and Trump refuses to concede. I know there are rallies planned everywhere for Wednesday if it's needed. I can't get anything right now from that link. I have a feeling that these systems might be overburdened. I know there's a really Wednesday 3pm at Market & Steuart in SF. Terry

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