thank you for everything.
@oldflame Panic button--that's it exactly. "I mean, we should be able to manage this stupid reptile-brain stuff, right?" Right. Here's to hope!
@J.M. @kateshatz@twitter I love that our group of strangers has reconvened online. I will be there tomorrow--I'll be holding a dark blue sign with white lettering. I hope to see you both.
@Benkai_Debussy Agreed--see my comment to @Ralph Haygood above concerning the problems plaguing "moderate" and "extreme" as descriptors for what we've come (erroneously) to think of as a linear spectrum when a circle is probably a better metaphor for political tendencies.
@gremlint It has been suggested to me, and I agree with you that the problem of scale is real. Chile, for example, has a far more engaged and informed citizenry than we do, as well a more nuanced political conversation. That's partly because it only has 17 million people who tend to pay careful attention to local government because they know they can affect it, partly because voting is mandatory.
Despite their small size and high levels of political engagement (or possibly because of it), they're still undergoing massive upheaval with nationwide protests, etc. That's why I don't agree with your solution, but I look forward to reading Kirkpatrick Sale. Thank you for the recommendation.
@Ralph Haygood Touché. You're right, of course: all this is so much a matter of degree and perception, and it is inflammatory to call entirely legal campaign donations "bribery". I'm duly chastened.
True, too, that it's much easier to be moderate when one's experience has been, well, moderate. It's an intractable problem: the fact that we can never know the real source of our theoretical convictions (how much is "nature," how much "nurture," for lack of a better analogy) means that we fall all too easily into the trap of seeing our truth as the only truth. Or, in my case, our "middle" as the true middle. I have no doubt many would disagree with my characterization of myself as a moderate, and you're not the only one to express some discomfort with my use of the word "extreme" for those who live further to my left. And my usage *is* problematic: "moderate" carries with it connotations of both weakness and good sense, while "extreme" suggests irrationality, passion. I intend none of those connotations, but they're undeniably there, wrapped up in the words, loading them up with judgmental baggage. (FWIW, I groped around for a different vocabulary and hit a wall. As imprecise as "moderate" and "extreme" are for what I'd like to be able to say, they were the best bad tools I had ready to hand.)
You said this so well: "although I try to speak carefully myself, I also try to be patient with people who seem to speak authentically even when their language is uncomfortably unnuanced." I try for this too. But patience with (and real respect for) a position different from your own is one thing--and something we can all do on an individual basis. Finding a way to bring those different positions together so that they represent something broad enough to justify the 99% slogan is so much thornier. What surprised me about that General Assembly was its real willingness to try.
@jankyhellface@twitter Thanks for posting the photo!!
@LadyAsian Thank you for saying this.
@Danzig! I agree with much of what you've said here; you're making me think a lot harder about American apathy. While I obviously can't speak to whether my mindset is representative of my generation, I can say that, at least among my friends and colleagues, hope is in fatally short supply. The point you make about "local government meetings that the average person thinks are utterly without point or function" hit home.
I'd offer, though that it isn't quite as simple as a self-perpetuating kind of learned helplessness. Again, speaking only for myself, I have actually seen those avenues repeatedly *not work*. I've seen the University of California Regents reject the Faculty Senate's recommendations out of hand. That kind of disregard for a governing body would have been unthinkable at a California public university, but it makes sense in a model that's moving away from democracy and toward privatization. On a smaller scale, I've watched a neighborhood where flooding is frequent get together and object, via local government meeting, to a plan to redirect the creek's "excess" water flow so that it would pour out in the most flood-prone area. Despite clear evidence favoring the neighbor's case, the company contract prevailed, and the project went through.
I could go on, but the small counterargument I'd like to offer is this: while the Koch Brothers didn't pay to get the fluoride taken out of the water, while it's true that the leftist tendency to ascribe all victories on the right to corporate astroturfing (as opposed to real civic action) is counterproductive and less than accurate, it's also dangerous to suggest that our sense of being outmatched is just a self-perpetuating error in perception. We can tell ourselves that we have the power to effect change, but there needs to be a bit of empirical data to back that up.
Still, you're making the most eloquent and persuasive case I've seen yet for how those ordinary channels could be revitalized. I'm inspired (unfairly, given how much I depressed you.) So thank you.
@J.M. Oh my gosh--J.M., yes, we were in the same group. Thanks for being there, and here. I'm stunned.