A Word to Progressives

There’s a story I’ve been telling recently I think bears repeating.

A year or two before my son started school, there was a buzz. Word on the playground was that a momentum was building. A group of neighborhood parents, priced out of NYC private schools and frustrated at the lackluster performance of the local public schools, were starting to mobilize. Fantastic, right? These parents started getting involved, going to town halls and attending district and zone meetings. They organized and advocated. They had binders full great ideas that would benefit not only their own kids, but everyone’s kids. Win/win.

In their passion to improve what was already there they neglected one important thing: the people who already called that school home. And those folks were understandably wary and resentful of a group of newcomers rushing in demanding change while liberally pointing out fault and failure.

I’m watching the same thing happen now with the progressive movement in the US. A fired-up grass-roots movement which wants to overhaul the Democratic Party for the betterment of all. Fantastic, right? But as I’m watching, I’m shaking my head. Because many are making the same mistake those neighborhood parents made: they’re not taking into account the people who actually make up the Democratic party.

The Democrats lost the last election. Bigly. They’ve lost countless seats and governorships in the last few election years. We can autopsy the whys until we’re covered in the gore of yesterday. We can place blame from here until Tuesday. None of that changes the fact that when you march into someone else’s school–or house, or political party–expecting to radically change the structure, you must take into account the needs, wants, and desires of the people who actually live there. Or, as the case may be, vote there.

Even if your ideas are great. Even if your ideas will help the people already there.

No one likes to be told they’re doing things wrong. No one likes to be told if only. Never mind if you’re right or not. Everyone’s well-versed in hindsight and its eagle-eyed vision. Would you march into someone else’s house and start shouting “You chose the wrong carpet! Your decor sucks! What were you thinking? Oh by the way, can I come stay with you for a while until I get my own place?”

If you expect them to say “Well sure, here are the keys!”, I want some of what you’re smoking.

What are they likely to do? The same thing any human being does when told they’re wrong, or stupid, or not good enough. They bristle. They resent the hell out of you. And they probably try to block every single attempt to change because hey, maybe the school/house/party is failing, but damn if it’s not our school and who are you to tell us how to do things? 

It makes my heart swell to see millions striving to make the world a more equitable place. But….you need to remember that there are millions of Democrats who’ve been living in their blue house for decades. Maybe it is falling down around them (and that point is arguable in and of itself). But remember, even if it is, it’s their damn house and they’ve been paying the mortgage on it for years. And despite what you may think, they’ve had a lot of good times in that house. There are some good memories there. They’re not going to let someone they don’t know come in and start tearing up the linoleum to see if there’s hardwood underneath, all the while berating them for every decorating choice they’ve made since 1960.

Most people don’t like change. It’s uncomfortable. Even when that change is going to benefit them. The reasons why so many old school Democrats are committed now to a resistance movement is that the change is threatening to go too far in one direction. But remember, for millions of Democrats–the people who have been living in that house, the ones who have been showing up and voting–change too far in the other direction is just as frightening. And they’ll fight it just as much.

Right now, Progressives need to rent some room in the Democrat’s house. Sure, you could declare it condemned. You could burn it and build something new. You could find another house on another street. But that all takes time, and by the time all is said and done, it could be too late.

Or…you could work with the people already living there. And, chances are, when you start looking around, you’re going to find a pretty decent bone structure to work with. In fact, the place may not be in as much disarray as you thought it was when you dragged your sleeping bag in looking for a place to squat.

Smart Progressives will approach coalition building with courtesy, caution, and yes, compromise. Maybe you reach an agreement to live together until your own house is ready. Great! After all, help with the bills is always welcomed. Until it’s ready it would be wise to remember that if you need a place to stay, it’s probably not the smartest move to go around  knocking holes in the walls and incessantly bringing up that time in 1992 when they let the pipes freeze. Or else you may just find your ass on the street. Noble intentions, passion, and good ideas go a long way, but when there’s a hurricane bearing down upon you, and there’s a big old blue house on the corner inviting you in, it would be dumb not to take shelter. Even if the roof is leaky and it stinks like mothballs. 

Eventually the new parents in my Brooklyn hood worked with the long-time neighborhood residents, wisely realizing that even if the school wasn’t winning any awards, it wasn’t really their school to criticize. The need for underlying change and improvement hadn’t gone away, but any forward motion had to take the old into account as well as the new.

Resistance is necessary. But the last thing a resistance movement needs is resistance within itself.

Apology Not Accepted

trump-1Warning: Explicit language below

I woke this morning to the news of (yet another) Trump scandal. Despite the nastiness he’s been spewing about women on the record for the last 18 months, it took the nastiness he said off the record ten years ago to finally get Donny to apologize. Sort of. Not only him, but many members of his party.

The problem is, it’s not just too little too late, it’s a lot too little, a lot too late.

So sorry, Mr. Trump, your apology is not accepted. Sorry senators and chairpersons and those of you so utterly desperate to garner votes or toe the party line that you’ve sat by like a bunch of wimps and let this person walk all over your human-ness. Your apologies are not accepted either. 

Hey, Reince Priebus, guess what? Women have been telling you for two goddamn years that no woman should be referred to in this way, but your half-apology holds no water with me. This from the man who watched as Roger Ailes, a man accused of sexual harassment, multiple times, was hired to consult on a Presidential campaign.

Your limp, “No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever,” apology sucks. As if you didn’t know how women are described? How the hell do you think men like Trump and others describe women? 

Yo, Paul Ryan! Asking Donald Trump not to attend your rally? Too little, too late. And screw you, women don’t need to be ‘championed and revered’. We need to be treated like fucking equals.

Even when you’re apologizing you still don’t get it.

Your apologies are not enough. Do you know why? Because they mean nothing. They mean nothing because none of you have a single plan in place to change this kind of systematic sexist bullshit backroom behavior from happening.

Instead of making boardrooms and Congress and life a more equitable place for women, your plans serve only to get women out of  the boardroom and Congress all together so you can back to your cigar-smoking, back-room dealing, grab-some-pussy ways.

Women have been screaming about this crap for years. The overt and covert harassment and systematic, excused sexism that runs rampant through industry, politics, life. We’ve been talking and screaming and trying to fix it and you just send us off with a pat on the head telling us that women in Saudi Arabia can’t drive or that we need to get our priorities straight. We’ve been documenting it, recording it, writing about it, singing about it for years and what do you do?

You go and hire the very people who have done us harm to run your campaigns. Or run for president.

What.The.Actual.Fuck?

All of that and you still have no plan to do anything to change the dynamic. You have no policy that is going to do anything at all to help women. NOT ONE. 

So that’s why your bullshit apologies don’t mean anything to me. You’re not sorry, you’re only sorry because Donald Trump got caught. You’re only sorry because it might influence your elections. If you were truly sorry, you would have distanced yourself from your crass, spray-tanned, clownish charlatan eighteen months ago. But no.

Perhaps it’s your deep-rooted fear of a pussy which is responsible for making us endure this buffoonish, disgusting, and yes, deplorable behavior from a PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. Not only that, but his “spectacular role-model” behavior has given legitimacy to large chunks of Americans who feel free to spew their own crass bullshit at the other PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. Not because she tries to ‘grab some pussy’, but because she is in possession of one.

cat-sorrySo take your half-assed apology and shove it up half your ass. My eight year old has better sense and manners than the lot of you

You don’t need to grow balls. You’ve got plenty of those between you and you still screw it up. What you need to do is grow a pussy.

This one knows who her vote will be cast for in a few weeks.