Tuesday, March 05, 2019

On being realistic and calls for gradual change …


Hey y’all! 

Sorry I disappeared again. My brother Bill took ill right after Christmas, and he spent 49 days in the hospital. As many of you know, Bill is autistic and non-verbal. My sister and I are his co-guardians. So, we pretty much spent 49 days at the hospital making sure he received the best care and was as comfortable as possible.

I’m happy to say Bill is out and on the mend. We’ve got a long road ahead, but we’ve found the right path ahead.

I’ll have more to say about some key lessons learned through Bill’s unexpected hospitalization as soon as my nerves settle down.

Whew.

Anyway … hello!

Today is election day in St. Louis city, Missouri.

Yay!

Longtime readers know that I absolutely adore voting.

It’s cold as hell outside, so I won’t be able to walk to my polling spot … and I have to vote in a Catholic elementary school auditorium, which means I’ll be walking by pictures of church leaders currently knee-deep in rape, molestation, and cover-up scandals … *shudder* ... but I’m still excited to get my vote on. 

That's probably why I woke up thinking about politics, and calls for folk to be realistic and patient.

As folk gear up for the looming 2020 political battles, I’ve noticed a theme of pundits and reporters pitting bold progressive policy against moderate “realistic” proposals. They usually frame it as risky versus safe. 

Here’s my take on why that’s bullshit.

When pundits and reporters pit progressive policy against what they deem realistic, they are building off a foundation that assumes primary candidates will have to pivot their campaigns to fight over the same gaggle of independent/undecided voters in the general.

I get it. 

I just don’t agree. 

I used to think campaigns leaned into the moderate-for-the-general campaign strategy because it was the most efficient way to thread the needle, but I’ve grown to understand that all too often the candidates are actually moderate as hell within their party's framework … and thus eager as hell to make that pivot once they survive the primary.  

Add in the fact that most people moving up the political power ladder are pushed up by various interests, they spend way too much time in a bubble obsessed with maintaining power to satisfy those interests, and that will produce a moderate every single time.

But that's the result of the system currently producing most candidates, not what the masses want or need. 

I learned so much watching organizers work the hell out of the primary campaign that helped defeat 20+year incumbent Democratic county prosecutor Bob McCullough in St. Louis county. 

We can continue to exclusively fight for the same pod of undecided voters … or we can go bold, throw the net out wider, and speak to people who feel the ebb and flow of policy on a daily basis and thus are passionate as hell about change even if they don’t have faith that the candidates we've historically run can make it happen.

When Action St. Louis and other progressive groups spoke to voters, they engaged them in dialogue about how folk can make change together. Not just likely voters ... voters.


And the best part of the win is that the voters who made it possible have a realistic expectation of what comes after the election. I know they do, because I’ve had the privilege of talking to several voters touched by organizers last year who have schooled me on what to expect going forward.

Fantabulous work.

If we want to see more of that, we need to support organizations like Action St. Louis. It also means that we're going to have to lean into the current tension between moderates and progressives.

It’s important to question whether the people sparking fear over progressive policy proposals have something to gain beyond winning office from a moderate approach.

Do they benefit from the status quo? How?

Do they have donors and backers who benefit from slowing things down, stalling change, or hitting pause so that [insert great idea here] remains a bright shiny object that people keep chasing but can never seem to catch?

Is their privilege threatened by your liberation? Do they think that it is?

Have you seen them in your ‘hood or at a community event when they aren't running for office or supporting someone running for office?

Blink.

In conclusion ...

Every single right I have was earned through protest, direct-action, and the courage of my ancestors to look moderates in the eye and then hip-check them out of the way.

I know that the impossible is possible. 

And now I'm off to vote ...