There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I do or say.
W.E.B. Du Bois
I’m sure many already read this excellent piece by Michelle Alexander. It’s enlightening whoever you support. But, to me, the most important kernel of truth is this:
But what about a larger agenda that would not just reverse some of the policies adopted during the Clinton era, but would rebuild the communities decimated by them? If you listen closely here, you’ll notice that Hillary Clinton is still singing the same old tune in a slightly different key. She is arguing that we ought not be seduced by Bernie’s rhetoric because we must be “pragmatic,” “face political realities,” and not get tempted to believe that we can fight for economic justice and win. When politicians start telling you that it is “unrealistic” to support candidates who want to build a movement for greater equality, fair wages, universal healthcare, and an end to corporate control of our political system, it’s probably best to leave the room.
Nothing tires me more than the idea that things cannot be changed for the better based on principle; the notion that the very unfair system we have was created by some law of nature or some god and, hence, rendered immutable, as though what is just man made cannot be transformed.
The discourse of realism is exceedingly convenient to those of us in good enough situations in society, because timid measures and minimally incremental changes will, in the worst case scenario, just improved our already comfortable lives. I, honestly, find it almost immoral to advocate for slow, incremental changes in the face of people who have been drinking lead-poisoned water as the financial improvement process for the state runs its course. It may seem an extreme example, but it is not, because there are plenty of such instances around urban areas in the country. We just notice them when the crisis is too big to hide. The same way Ferguson was an extreme example, right? I remember during the Ferguson’s protests someone – a huge defender of Israel, no less – wrote in response to a comment I made that this was all blown out of proportion because it wasn’t like there were lynchings going on there. Apparently, that’s the minimum required for black people to fight back.
Alexander shows here clearly how the arch of wrongheaded policies is long, and, unlike that of history, doesn’t bend towards justice. Since the Clintons now regret the hugely detrimental effects of their policies on those who could least afford them, they should be the first to abandon supposed political realism and confront the system at its core. They pushed for those rather right wing policies in order to get and stay in power, so they then could do a lot of good for those same people they screwed on the way in. It is a very bad system, if it required such horrid human sacrifice to ascend in it. How much longer are we going to say: Republicans will be worse?
Lastly, the one thing I hate the most about Trump is the irresponsible way in which he is fanning the flames of hatred and racism for his own gain, without any regard to the long-lasting consequences. When Hillary Clinton spoke of black children and teens as “super-predators” and dangerous criminals the likes of which humanity had never seen before, she lent her voice to long-standing prejudices and added to the list of tropes that dehumanize blacks. It is not difficult to see how Darren Wilson could say in public and without shame that Michael Brown “looked like a demon”. Discussions of dismantling the profitable incarceration system begin now all the time by arguing that not all of them are so dangerous.
To say nothing of Hillary Clinton’s remark: “We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.”
Yeah, we can talk about it, alright.
By Isabel Manuela Estrada Portales, Ph.D., M.S.