I argued with my friends.
We did not solve the world’s problem.
We divided from one another along partisan lines; playing a child’s game of follow the leader.
Some people that I know took extreme positions, as if the fate of the world depended on the choices we made, the fate of the country, the soul of the nation, our spiritual well-being, our moral probity.
The political contest came to an end. I had chosen the winning side. I stood with a majority of democrats nationwide, but here in Minnesota, among my friends I often felt alone; marginalized.
That does not really matter.
Some people I know are still carrying on the fight. They do not, maybe will not except the outcome.
Some people that I know, disgusted with the entire political affair; they are making calls, some have been making calls to stop participating in the process. Why vote? They ask. It will not change anything. They say. It does not matter, it will not change anything, both parties are the same, the system is rigged, the banks control everything, etc…
They are right, and they are wrong.
There are differences between the parties; between conservatives and progressives. And yet, however great those differences might be, it is true that the effect on public policy is minimal.
Our government moves slow, when it moves at all, but that may not be a bad thing. When government moves fast, the common people get crushed. When justice is swift, it is more often wrong.
In the end, on the democratic/progressive side of the political divide, the things that separated Hillary Clinton from Bernie Sanders were not as great as the candidates themselves made them out to be. There has been a coming together, and the loser will support the winner for the sake of party unity. He will be rewarded, and it does not make him a sell-out, though it confirms the fact that he is a politician.
The majority of the partisans will fall in line; some will did it enthusiastically, some will do it begrudgingly, some will not do it at all. They will stand by their conviction that the candidate they opposed was evil, malicious, corrupt, even though the candidate they supported, is now calling her friend, and a respected colleague.
Some people took the calls for revolution literally; believing that it would be better to collapse the whole system, to enter into anarchy rather than perpetuate the systemic injustices they have identified and are against, but they have never lived through the horrors of war, they cannot see what happens when civil order collapses, as it has collapsed in other parts of the world, and apply it to our situation here. It is simplistic to believe that if you were to usher out the corrupt officials, that you would usher out corruption. Because it is not our system of government that is corrupt, it is the human heart.
The president, the congress, the courts; they wield great power, but they do not have the power to make changes rapidly, social change, of the type we are looking for is generational. That is why, for progressives, it is vital that one democratic administration follow another; in order to build on the work in a stable manner. It is neither glamorous, nor exciting, but it is the only way to stay on the path, and to broaden it.
As individuals we have even less power, we have a vote, and the ability to write essays, or make speeches, to influence our friends, but the scope of that power is limited, to salon discussions, and coffee house forums. We have the power to make one another feel less lonely; alternately; we have the power to alienate.
The trajectory of social progress in our society is like a boulder rolling down the side of a mountain. I can vote and make speeches, in the hope of altering the trajectory of that boulder, but my power is little more than air. I can blow in the direction of the boulder. My breath is real, it enters into the equation, at the same time it is nothing.
I am at peace with that, as we all should be.
Only the fanatic believes that his or her vote, or life, or death will alter the course of history. This is something that we should each be mindful of, because we all have something of the fanatic inside.