Voting – Heart vs. Head
I went to my caucuses last Tuesday night. I showed up to vote for Hillary, and I did, as I said I would. I am proud to have done so, proud to be casting this vote for the person I expect will be the first woman to hold the office of the president.
The caucus site was disorganized. There were three different precincts voting at Jefferson Elementary, and there was not much clarity about where you were supposed to go. However, once I figured that out, matters proceeded in an orderly fashion.
I was expecting something different from what I experienced. I thought there would be a period to persuade and convince the other voters, but there was not.
I showed up; received my ballot, marked it and put it in a box. Many people left after that point. Fewer than one-hundred, of six-hundred stuck around. I did.
I listened to the organizers, tell us the rules of the caucus. They went over the agenda. We elected people to committees. I was elected as a delegate to the endorsing convention for DFL Senate District 61.
I listened as a number of ballot resolutions were introduced by various party activities. Most of the measures I supported. There were some that I was disinterested in. There was one that I spoke against. The measure I spoke against passed, and I was the only person opposed to it. It was a call for a constitutional amendment to reform campaign financing, the issue that was articulated seemed that it could be gotten too much sooner through the normal legislative process, or through the courts; than through the more onerous, and more dubious process of a constitutional amendment.
There was little, actual opposition, to any of the resolutions that were offered, though I sensed that there were real opposition that simply went unspoken.
Many of the resolutions had a “daydreaming” quality, “pie in the sky” realism.
It set me to thinking about some of the conversations I have had about my support for Hillary.
My precinct went for Bernie at a rate of about 4 to 1 (a little better). Minnesota went for Bernie in the final count. Here in my neighborhood, at my job, and among my friends I have definitely felt like I was in the minority.
When asked about my support; my response begins with this: “I have always supported Hillary Clinton. She is smart and capable, and will prove to be an effective manager of government.
“While I agree with the idealism that Bernie Sanders expresses, I do not believe that idealism and politics should mix.”
This seems counter-intuitive to most of the people I have spoken with.
There is a well-established, but uncritical norm; vote for the candidate you like, for the candidate you believe is right. Vote for the candidate that speaks to your heart, for the one that make you feel good.
The slogan of the sanders campaign is not: Understand the Bern, analyze it, asses it, and know it. The slogan is Feel the Bern.
I am not suggesting that we should not feel good about our votes, but feelings are more easily moved than reason, more easily preyed upon, and more easily misdirected.
While the appeal to idealism may articulate the place we want our society to be, when that appeal is fueled by the power of emotions it does not leave any room to negotiate, or compromise with those on the other side of the table.
Idealism is too easily transformed into fundamentalism, the uncritical sense of empowerment based on the belief that you are right.
Fundamental-idealism is a powerful force. It can motivate a lot of people, but it also brings out an ugly and even violent aspect of our human nature. This is true wherever the arrow of your idealism is pointing.
I have heard a lot of my sisters and brothers on the left side of the political spectrum tell me:
If Bernie loses they will sit out the election.
They will never vote for Hillary.
Hillary is no different than a republican.
Republicans and democrats are the same, that’s why we need a socialist.
Hillary is evil and she must be stopped.
This is the place that fundamental-idealism brings us to in our politics. This is the power of the heart over the head.
We suffer the machinations of the fundamentalists on the other side of the spectrum all the time. They have taken over the republican party. Their idealism has led them to name corporations as people, to curtain the voting rights act, to fear the immigrant, to religious intolerance, and too many other atrocious principles to articulate.
Though I am predisposed to supporting the agenda from the left wing, tyranny can also flow from those good intentions, but it will only flow from that idealism if it uncritical and fundamentalistic.