I could barely watch the RNC because the right has become united by hate. Now, I’m almost as uneasy watching the DNC because hate threatens to tear apart the left. For us democratic, progressive, liberal types, the key to avoiding a disastrous outcome to the election is showing compassion to others, regardless of where they are on the political spectrum.
I generally avoid much engagement in politics (although I make sure to vote in almost every election). Mainly, it sets off my anxiety big-time. But I’ve also lived in enough places and been exposed to enough people to understand why different opinions emerge – even if I don’t agree with them.
I understand the frustration certain progressives feel toward the democratic party and candidate. I understand why women cheer for the first female nomination of a major party, and why others criticize the continued exclusion of women of color from mainstream feminism. I even understand the desperation that fuel conservatism among impoverished, rural, and religious folks – even though I recognize the extreme danger of scapegoating racial/sexual minorities, immigrants, women, etc.
Even though I consider myself more of a progressive, I’ve always voted Democratic at the presidential election. Although I wasn’t of voting age during the 2000 election, I was old enough to have friends who proudly voted for Nader, and then never mentioned it again once the casualties of war and victims of torture started piling up. The Bush presidency wasn’t a wake-up call to progressives, it just ushered in more extreme conservatism and attempts to suppress dissent.
But the main reason I vote Democratic is that in our screwed-up, bipartisan system, the vulnerable fare much better under the Democrats than Republicans. While the Obama administration was not without its flaws, the ACA saved my family from bankruptcy and me from being uninsured while a broke grad student (our educational system is pretty screwed-up too…) I was overjoyed when many of my friends in more conservative parts of the country were finally able to marry the people they loved. As horrifying as the endless stream of gun violence was, it was a small comfort that one side was speaking out for some sort of regulation and control – even if it went opposed by those on the other side.
For vulnerable people and their allies – women, racial minorities, immigrants, LGBTQ folks, etc. – we’re having to ask people to vote for the more compassionate of the two parties in the (again, screwed-up, bipartisan) system and potentially vote for someone they despise. We can’t try to mock, or belittle, or scare them into voting a certain way. Instead, we need to ask for compassion, and not to be punished for the failings of a candidate, a party, and a political system.
Note: My thoughts for this post were informed by this article.