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.


Anyway … hello!

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


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?


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 ...

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Thoughts on the NYT MO Platform article …

Y’all, my Afro is featured in The New York Times!

Check it out.

I was interviewed about the Missouri Democratic Party’s platform drama earlier this year. I served on the platform committee and, after a prolife Dem added template language from Democrats for Life to nullify the pro-choice section of the platform, I worked with fellow committee members to right that wrong. Anyhoo, the Times wanted to revisit the whole thing and I damn sure wasn’t going to let a prolife Dem spout nonsense unchallenged.

The article is solid. 

The podcast is slanted, and it seems that they want to cast the prolife Dem as a victim and all the rest of us as unreasonable.

Thus, this post!

***pause … crack knuckles … continue***

After the disaster of 2016, I made several promises to myself.

First, that I am not going to organize to get back to where we’ve already been.

Second, as a Black woman who is part of the most reliable voting block on the left, I will either be respected and heard as such or I will take action to hold those accountable who fail to do so.

And finally, that I will not take strategic advice from groups of folk who haven’t refreshed their strategy in damn near ten years.


I also pledged to wear leggings as often as possible, because this sistah requires comfort in these troubled times.


So, I approached my service on the platform committee with all those things in mind.

Shall we?

Things I wish I’d thought to say during the interview …

Access to abortion is not some insignificant wedge issue that politicians can chose whether or not to champion based on how they think their district feels about it.  Reproductive healthcare is key to every single progressive issue Democratic claim to champion, so failing to support the full spectrum of services indicates a fundamental lack of understanding how policy works.

There can be no economic justice without reproductive justice. The ability to control whether or not you get pregnant, whether to carry a pregnancy to term, and the spacing between children is a big fucking deal. It means the difference between being able to make ends meet or not, being able to get an advanced degree or attend college/training or not. For some people, it is the difference between life or death. I’m passionate about access because IT FUCKING MATTERS.

Folk can’t claim to be pro-worker and support policies that would allow employers to block coverage for reproductive healthcare.

Dems can’t claim to be working to lift folk out of poverty and support policies that ban abortion coverage for poor women and defund programs that make it easier to afford birth control.

You can’t claim to stand with Black women and then dismiss our leadership, ignore our demands, and support policies that promote reproductive oppression.

And you can’t say a platform is pro-choice if it includes language stating that the party will welcome people who do not support abortion access and see their presence as a strength.

In conclusion …

As I said earlier in this post, I am not organizing to return to where we have already been. I regret almost every compromise I’ve made over the years on core progressive policy. They didn’t result in wins, they just slowed down losing.

In our new reality we have the opportunity to build something better that is informed by the fuck-ups of the past. I’m here for that. I’ll work hard on that.

What I’m not going to do is quietly sit back and watch folk perpetuate abortion stigma while pushing an appeasement strategy that is surrender by another name.


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Pondering political advertising …

***2 cups coffee, 2050 steps (blame the rain), one yummy plum***

I got the final color added to my newest tattoo last night! It’s an owl with purples and blues. I love it! I’ll post a pic as soon as it heals up.

Let’s jump right on in!

We are well into the political season, y’all. The House of Bitchitude has been trying to watch less political news, but it is damn near impossible to avoid the commercials. As a St. Louisan, I get to see both Illinois and Missouri political ads.


It’s not all bad, though. I’m a former broadcast advertising sales person, so I enjoy trying to figure out who the hell these ads are supposed to appeal to. The thing about television ads is that they are going out to a huge audience even if they are supposed to speak to a select universe.

For example, NRSC is running an ad in Missouri featuring footage of Trump speaking at some sort of rally or event about McCaskill and the GOP tax cuts that were so poorly crafted that your average Missourian either forgot they happened or is still pissed they happened but failed to trickle down.

The ad is a mess. Trump is slurring his words and not the most articulate fellow on a good day, but I could make out that he thinks every senator should have supported his tax cut for the elites … and he’s confused why McCaskill opposed burning money to increase debt with zero benefit for the majority of her constituents.

Clearly NRSC thinks featuring Trump is a positive, even a mumbling slurring Trump. I really don’t want to live in a state where featuring an un-indicted co-conspirator in ads is still a benefit, but here I am.

Time will tell if the Trump slurrified ad helps Hawley, but Lawd it shouldn’t.

The tax cuts haven’t benefited most Missourians. And they sure as hell won’t help Missourians facing the ramifications of Hawley’s anti-ACA lawsuit. Lots of us have pre-existing conditions, and not having coverage is expensive as hell. The kind of expensive that folk with backgrounds like Hawley (Stanford alum, Yale law school grad) don’t understand, and the comms team at NRSC probably call fake news.

Anyway, we’re all going to be seeing a lot of political ads claiming all manner of shit until election day. Some will feature that orange man, lots will be inaccurate as hell.

In a world of bullshit, spin, and faux news voters need to focus on the known knowns.

What policies have helped you?

Who is fighting to protect them?

And who has said they don’t support them, partnered with an orange-faced man who puts them at risk, or has taken action while in office to destroy those policies?

Meanwhile, I’m holding out hope that the team that gave us the demon sheep ad gives us another gem. 

That, my friends, was an amazing campaign ad!