Divided We Fall

Recently I had an experience on twitter where I saw somebody posting a link for an article that criticized presidential hopeful Kamala Harris and blamed Bernie Sanders for this criticism.  The thread was full of people with nothing but vitriol for Bernie Sanders going so far to call him both a racist and a misogynist.  My wife has noticed to that criticism of certain democratic candidates erupts into divisive attacks against Bernie Sanders supporters.  When I asked for evidence of any connection to Bernie Sanders and a critique of Kamala Harris I was given none.  This twitter account had 31K followers and had a lot of posts implying dark money and nefarious works of Bernie Sanders to attack the democratic establishment.  The account belongs to Tom Watson and his credentials seem reputable, but for one who claims to be a journalist, he seemed to present no evidence of many of his claims.

But perhaps people like these are a dime a dozen on the internet, but it does make me extremely worried about this future election.  What we need is at least some unity, preferably with people who voted for Trump, but if we can’t get that we have to at least be striving for some unity in the left.  Identity politics seems to be winning the day, and the left has been described some as divided into all sorts of small groups.  The tribalism that we characterize the right with in terms of racism and xenophobia seems to me just as rampant across many groups on the left.  It may not be some of the more obvious ones like skin color, religion, or nationalism, but it’s still there and what’s most worrying is that it seems to be based on very  minor differences in overall worldview.  It seems to me the more that liberals are at each others throats this just increases the odds that when it comes to general election time more people will stay home if their horse didn’t win the primary, or might actually go across the aisle because they are so bitter after all the in fighting.  There is no reason that Bernie Sanders fans should not support Kamala Harris at this point and vice-versa, but more importantly we have to get our heads on straight about why we are voting for a particular candidate.  This isn’t sports and who ever puts on the jersey we like we have to root for.  Government’s goal is to enact the best ideas about how to govern, and this should determine who we vote for.

After the last election I, and I know many of my friends did a lot of research and reflection of how we got to where we were.  As incredulous as Trump’s win was, to suggest that it is the fault of anybody who tried to run for the job who had generally good ideas and who represented more compassion and benevolence than Trump.  Nor should we be accusing each other because we supported who we thought was going to be the best liberally minded candidate.  As a Bernie supporter I was certainly disappointed, but it was clear to me that Hillary was better than Trump and I supported.  Bernie fans who voted for Trump, I think were misguided, but I don’t think this should start casting blame on inspirational politicians who challenge the establishment.  If your vote for a candidate is solely based on gender, or racial identity, or the party they belong to, you are just as guilty of the same behavior as somebody who didn’t vote for someone based on their gender or racial identity.  If you are liberal what you should be for is fighting for a future in which the content of the individual running for office is the reason to vote for them.  And while I think there is enormous value to new generations to grow up in a time with female president and/or ethnic minority president, there is also enormous value in having them grow up with leaders who intelligent and empathetic, and who have good ideas that are going to help people have better lives.

It’s also worth remembering that the Russian interference in the election is very real, and one of the ways it worked is by exploiting division.  I recently listened to this podcast interview on Sam Harris podcast with Renee DiRiesta who has done a lot of research into how Russians used social media to exploit divisions between people.  Not only getting more support for Trump, but trying hard to suppress democratic voters from going to the polls.  It did make a difference.  They are still doing it.  The same tactics have been used by terrorist organizations to recruit, and it can it it also being done within our country as well.  We must resist the temptation to be divided, and while I’m certainly not suggesting that we don’t take a stand on certain issues, if you are spending a lot of time arguing with people on social media you are simply wasting your time.  Twitter and Facebook can take all the steps reasonably allowed to try and prevent fake accounts, but people intent on manipulation on a mass scale through social media will find away around us and it is up to use to be aware and responsible users in the end.

The anti-establishment writing is on the wall, and it was for the last election, but the DNC refused to recognize it.  Trump was no anti-establishment answer but it what many people were looking for.  Likely that sentiment is going to be there again and it is going to be a source of contention on the left.  For those of you who followed Bernie his goal was never to actually win, but to shift the conversation.  To stay focused on issues and to address the anger that many Americans were feeling towards an economic elite that were bleeding the country dry.  Not all of his ideas were great, and whoever you end up supporting will probably not have all the best ideas either.   I suggest:

  • If you want to discuss politics, discuss the issues.  Avoid name calling and personal attacks.
  • Stay away from social media for your information and to keep your emotional health in check during this election season.  It’s a ridiculously long cycle in the U.S. and it’s easy to let your boredom lead you down the path of social media, but it is not your friend, and there are entities on there aiming to continue to divide people.  Don’t let it work.  Not only do you share many similar concerns with your fellow democrat, but probably also your fellow Republican.
  • Consider supporting a few newspapers monetarily.  These platform that are free and run on advertising are prone to attention getting not truth finding.  Good information and journalism costs money.  Do some research on what papers have good investigative research and get an on-line subscription
  • Promote empathy by sticking with politicians who demonstrate it, and also be giving it to your fellow human.

Peace out!

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15 thoughts on “Divided We Fall

  1. Good post.

    Your comment … If your vote for a candidate is solely based on gender, or racial identity, or the party they belong to … offers textbook reasons why many vote for a particular person. Sad, disappointing, even disgusting … but true.

    Example — My other-half is a registered Republican, but he detests tRumpsky and has nothing good to say about him. Yet when I asked him if he would vote for him again in 2020 if there were no other Republican candidates, he said he didn’t know. SMH!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. But maybe what he detests in personality he likes in terms of policy, or at least what he perceives Trump is concerned about in terms of policy. I mean on a topic like immigration, I am not sure how much longer we can go with a democratic candidate who doesn’t feel like there aren’t valid concerns regarding immigration. Many countries limit immigration far more severely than we do, and while I do believe that immigration is overall a help, I don’t think it would hurt for democrats to address the problem intelligently and with nuance. So perhaps the better conversation to have your husband is what issues is he concerned about and educating him about those issues…if he feels better informed then maybe when he looks at the candidates choose from his priorities might be different.

      Like

  2. I believe this would work, but it sure would be refreshing if party members would only give praise to same-party candidates during the primaries. Make people choose between the goodness of each other instead of the lies or faults. I wonder how that would affect the attitude of the country? I’d love to see that trial take place. Obviously the other way doesn’t work for the country either.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s true, but when I compare the conversation during the democratic primaries last election in comparison to the Republican primaries, there was definitely a lot more mudslinging among Republicans. And Bernie and Hillary I thought were rather civil to each other and Bernie said many times that he agrees with Mrs. Clinton on many issues, but that he was only concerned about where she was getting donations from, and that was a valid concern, and a valid difference between the two candidates. Maybe what primary debates should be focused on is questions about leadership quality. Examples of reaching across the aisle…how they place importance on talking to Americans who don’t agree with them politically,

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t know what it is about politics that makes discussions about it go vitriol. After a few short exchanges, all you get is name calling.
    Avoiding social media is a good idea but i think the best is to have connections also with the other side and listen to what they are saying or else you will stay in a bubble of your own making

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Certainly one can use social media wisely. I guess my point is to follow vetted people on there, and don’t get into the conversation, just read the articles. But there are certainly otherwise to access information outside of your bubble besides using social media. And having discussions with people you know who have differing political views and is willing to have substantive conversation is probably better than any conversation you can with a stranger on the internet.

      The one thing that Ms. DIRiesta said about the explotation on social media is that none of us are immune to being exploited given a certain frame of mind, and it’s good to be mindful of that heading into social media.

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  4. I was afraid this would happen. Again and it’s not the first time. This country yearns for something beyond a two-party system and this divisiveness is a symptom. But politics has become a money game. Far too corrupt. I can imagine T supporters saying oh, just wait! The dems will blow themselves apart, just be patient. We’ve got this! And this chills me to the bone.

    I offer no solutions, this is not my field of expertise. But I do hope there are voices of unity that are heard in time to save the environment and more pointedly our species from any more of this destructive insanity. Aloha.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Agreed Bela. Indeed it definitely seems the strategy to divide liberals, and it seems it’s much more easily done than dividing Republicans. Time and time again, we see that even when Republican politicians or pundits disagree with Trump they still end up supporting their party in the end. I hope the Republicans take a stand this election and offer a couple people to run against Trump before the convention. I do think there is also a place for more moderate conservatism, and a third party would do wonders I believe, but that third party still has to rise from the bottom up. So strong voices are going to have to reshape the platform of their own party if we are going to head towards a more sensible future.

      There are plenty of conservative solutions to taking care of the environment, but we can’t even have that discussion right now because the Republicans are too buys denying that the problem exists.

      Liked by 1 person

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