I hate to admit it but lately I’ve been at a loss for words. I’ve already rewritten this first sentence half a dozen times just trying to figure out how to say I’m not sure what to say. It’s unusual for me to be in this position because writing has always been one of my strongest points. But lately….the words just aren’t coming out.
It’s not that the ideas aren’t there. My head is full of ideas on what to say and who to say them to. Maybe there is too much happening for me to stay focused, to decide what needs to be said right now versus what can be said later, but the end result is that I’ve not really said much at all for weeks. As a political writer, thinker, strategist, and pundit, this is a tough spot for me to be in.
Part of the problem, I think, is that I know I have a limited audience and I am beginning to wonder why I bother. Deep down though I know this isn’t the real issue. I’ve always had a fairly limited audience since I began writing about politics back in 2005. Limited to friends, family, and the occasional random unknowns who find my words somehow, somewhere, and get some value from them. The whole “limited audience” excuse only goes so far. though No, I think the real problem stems from the ever obvious fact that what I’m saying isn’t reaching the people who I think need to hear it and instead is staying within the echo chamber of people who already believe what I believe. I’m preaching to the choir, and while it feels good to hear agreement, ultimately my ideas can’t have the intended impact until they reach people who aren’t already in the same camp. What is done with the intent of changing minds, or at the very least opening up an avenue for conversation, becomes little more white noise in a sea of similar sounds.
Which all boils down to this: partisanship is killing our conversations, our progress, and our country.
Partisanship isn’t a new phenomenon, but the level to which it has overtaken all political discourse, and a fair amount of non-political thought too, is new to our era. It’s one thing to have different ideas about how things should be. It’s quite another to engage in rampant demonization of others for the sole purpose of advancing one’s own position. It’s insidious, this rabid partisanship, and it feeds upon itself in ways that make rapprochement next to impossible between the partisan political parties that are running our country and our conversations with each other into the the ground.
And yes, I’m also guilty of engaging in this kind of slash and burn behavior too, particularly when it comes to evaluating the actions of this current administration, the current GOP, and yes, even elected officials on the left. There are so few inspiring people in positions of political leadership right now that it’s a struggle to find good things to say about any of it (or them). It’s why I originally wrote only about ideas, programs, policies. It’s why I am mostly writing negative things now.
I created RedBluePurple with the idea that people needed a place to talk to each other, about the issues that matter, in a way that could spark ideas instead of sparking firefights. It was designed as an expansive platform for writing, video, audio, photos, memes, and social media where we could all tell stories about what matters to us as Americans. Instead it’s been bogged down in reactionary content drawing attention to the abuses of power coming out of the Trump administration, the fallacies which guide them, the gleeful dismantling of a cooperative government by the GOP and the inability of the Democrats to do much beyond stall tactics. I’ve been long on pointing out the wrongs and very short on providing positive ideas on which to build. It’s not what I wanted to be doing at all, but this administration has made rational discourse all but impossible. It’s purposeful divisiveness and deceit have caused me and so many others to go on the defensive that we’ve barely had time to think about ways we can advance our world. We’re too busy defending the progress already made. We’re too busy trying to hold our ground.
I hoped that people would participate and share the site(s) with others, from all sides of the political and social spectrum. That hasn’t really happened, and even though this is a young effort it seems clear that I need to rethink what I’ve been doing and how I’ve been doing it.
Or maybe I don’t.
Maybe we’re so far past the point of having productive, non-partisan conversations that the goal for this effort needs to be advancing a progressive agenda that spits in the face of GOP opposition, partisan obstructionism, and social backwardness. Maybe trying to build a bridge over a decaying battlefield isn’t possible anymore and the better effort is in building a bridge to the next generation, a group that knows what bullshit smells like and doesn’t intend to shove their noses in it anymore. Maybe this era of unbridled partisanship is the final wheezing gasp of the politics of greed and power and a better effort is to foster a new era of progressive cooperation and constructive policies that a new wave of activists can grab hold of and champion. Maybe it’s best to continue to call out the batshit crazy for what it is while feeding good ideas to a better breed of people than we now have at the helm.
I’m not sure I know yet. What I do know is this: I’m not ready to quit trying to engage people, to support good progressive ideals, to stand against destructive policies that hurt people only for the gain of profit and power to a few.
And maybe, just maybe, some of you out there will join me.
#partisanship #politics #redbluepurpleus #activism