Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
Last year I argued with a lot of my friends on Face Book. We argued a great deal during the primaries. We argued about Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton, old BS, and HRC.
I was, and am a Hillary supporter, the nation lost out on a good leader when we failed to elect her.
I love to argue, I have an instinct for it, maybe an addiction. I find certain things in politics very hard to resist. I think it is a character flaw.
Ultimately, I had to result in a program of self-censorship. In an argument I can be aggressive uncompromising, this largely stems from my conviction that I am right (I am not giving that up). It also comes from my desire to cut back all the noise, to go for the close when I am in that argumentative mode.
As I have said, I have a character flaw, I love to argue. I like to win. I believe I am right, and I can sometimes be impatient.
These are all good reasons not to argue with people that I genuinely like, on Face Book.
Sometimes I cannot resist.
I waded into an argument yesterday. A friend of mine posted a link to an article by Harvard Professor, Dr. Cornell West.
Dr. West has been arguing for progressive thinkers and voters to abandon the Democratic Party. The basis for this is his interest in social justice. He believes that the Democratic party cannot cure itself of its racism, homophobia, militarism, or its alignment with big, banks, big agra, big oil, all of which perpetuate grave injustices on the people, but more importantly on those who are the most marginalized already.
While Dr. West sees the problem for it is, the Democratic Party, like the majority of Americans, is deeply tied to economic forces, those fears, those corrupting social issues, those matters of identity politics. He is right about that, but he is wrong, and absolutely wrong about the prescription.
My response to this post was simply to say that Cornell West is an idiot. That was not very nice, but it is true. When he, or anyone speaks about dividing the political power of the Democratic party, of abandoning it, they is being idiotic.
I quickly edited my response to remove the incendiary language. My edited comment read, Cornell West doesn’t know what he is talking about.” This is true. Cornell West, who has legitimate roots as an activist, who is a brilliant writer, public speaker, public intellectual, he is also someone who stopped living in the real world some decades ago. Because he is disconnected from the world, he finds himself, like Noam Chomsky trying to solve problems from his office in the ivory tower at Harvard square.
His answer to the real problems of social injustice have become, “take an ideologically pure position and make a lot of noise.” When the real solution has to be, “change public policy.”
The social injustices that beset the poor and the marginalized, are matters of law, and public policy. We cannot bring justice without changing law and policy. To make those kinds of changes, we need to win elections. We need to elect people to public office, at every level of government who will do the right thing. Put the bills on the floor, bring them up for a vote, and pass them into law.
I understand if people want to take umbrage with democratic lawmakers, and policy shapers, for being sellouts, and not being good at their jobs. Those individuals are a fraction of the party, the party is tens of millions of people, slightly larger than half of the electorate, spread throughout the nation.
When Dr, West argues that we should abandon the Democratic Party, he is saying, abandon those people. Stop working with them. The very people he purports to want to help.
Politics is a game of compromise, and compromise never satisfies anyone. Politics should be informed by idealism, but cannot be held hostage to it. Advancing public policy requires political legislative victories, and that requires victories at the ballot box. We on the left need to stay together, work together, collaborate and compromise if we are to have any hope getting control of the ship again.
Dr, West, Noam Chomsky, people like my friend who I argued with yesterday, they look right past this point. They want to draw power away from the place where it is most heavily concentrated, rather than add to it. They want to divide and diffuse it, because they believe that being right, is more important than doing right.
That is a shame.