Posted by: minnow | July 7, 2018

What It Is and What It Isn’t

Over the last few months I’ve been having on going conversations with my son (a millennial) as well as others via FB about the state of our Nation. When I comment on certain posts I’m told–you really need to stop tone policing (only not quite so politely). When I comment on other posts I’m told–you’ll never reach the folks on the sidelines by being mean to the folks on the Right (only not that politely, either). Frankly, I feel damned if I do and damned if I don’t.  I tried to explain, in my I Will Be Civil post the difference I see between justifiable protest and uncivil rhetoric. My son didn’t buy it. I tried to explain to my more vocal and angry friends on the Left that name calling and vulgarity are counter productive. But, rather than seeing their “jokes” and posts, actions and comebacks as equally bad, they call it Karma or a “taste of their own medicine”. And so it goes–a tit for tat merry-go-round–cue obnoxious music.


I understand the frustration of those on the Left who have actual skin in the game. Particularly POC who deal with racist political and social systems every day of their lives. I am beginning to understand the wear and tear on a person’s confidence, hope, and trust that correcting the barrage of false messages and carrying the weigh of oppressive policies, systems, and attitudes, has on an entire group as well as the individuals within the group. The oppressed should not need to wait patiently for the rest of us to wake up. They should not be expected to quietly educate the obtuse and uninspired. And they most certainly should not have to be deferential to their oppressors.

Yet, those of us who have been asleep, who are just now coming out of our slumber, sound (especially to POC, and other marginalized voices) like we are insisting they continue to be nice, wait patiently, and stay in line. I’m sorry. Truly I am. I wish we’d get our acts together faster. People with skin in the game have every right to vocalize their unwillingness to be treated as less than or ignored completely. They have every right to be angry and refuse to be silenced. They have every right to mobilize, to protest, and to demand change. To people with skin in the game I say this: no matter what you say or how you say it, no matter what you do or how you do it, I doubt its intensity could ever match the injustice and pain you have endured. And so, if your actions or your words extend beyond my ability to collaborate, I will watch you, listen to you, and try to hear you. And, I will defend your character rather than condemn your spirit. That is the best I can offer.

As for those who remain in the middle–the uninspired, the cynical, the not yet woken. I get it. You have watched a system that hasn’t worked, that favors the few and privileges white, male, and wealthy. For some of you it isn’t just a question of the marginalized and minorities. The gluttonous greed of the politically powerful is at odds with your ideals of sustainability, freedom, and global well-being. Like the flower children of the 60s and early 70s you rather drop out than sell out. You don’t buy in to the dog eat dog mentality that drives our capitalistic society. Many of you deem the currant political structure as hopelessly broken and not worth saving.

The only problem is–if what we have fails to protect us from what is coming we will not have the luxury of a self imposed simpler life style.

If I could summarize what I’ve heard my son say it would be this: 1).Attacking people makes you look small. 2). They certainly don’t deserve any more air time, so why waste your time by giving it to them? 3). By engaging with 45’s supporters, or even raging at them, you end up validating them. And 4). If we want to be problem solvers, if we want to encourage those who are disengaged from politics to re-engage tell the middle what’s wrong, not who’s wrong. Or better yet, champion a solution they can embrace. 

To my activist friends on the Left–We have no guarantees that advocating FOR something will get the attention of the middle but we’re pretty much guaranteed blaming and deflecting, name calling, and and whining won’t get this ship we call the American Dream heading in a better direction. We need to decide what we are willing to fight for and what we’re willing to do to get it.

What and who I am fighting against is diametrically opposed to who and what I am fighting for. So in November, I will vote for Senator Jon Tester and Kathleen Williams. TESTER works tirelessly for Montana farmers and educators. He has championed reforms in the VA to better serve our vets. He isn’t afraid to meet with his constituents and he isn’t afraid to stand up to 45–even when the president promises to get even. Proving he can work across the isles, Tester supported limited deregulation of banks and credit unions so “too big to fail” would not have “too small to succeed” consequences. WILLIAMS believes in honest stewardship of our public lands and natural resources. She’s aware of the need for Montana jobs but doesn’t think we’re facing an either or situation when it comes to making a living and being able to live. She fought for healthcare reform in the Montana legislature and will continue that fight at the national level. Both these candidates, Jon Tester and Kathleen Williams, live by Montana values. They work hard. They love their families. And, they respect Montanans for their grit, courage, family loyalty, love of the land, and fierce independence. Montana deserves no less!


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