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In Which I Go to a Democratic Party Meeting

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One of the things that I vowed to do, after this election, was to shout louder.

I know that sounds “not constructive,” and liberals are always trying to find constructive ways to do things, liberals are always trying to find ways to communicate with people. But I now live in a red state and I’m so sick to death of Trump people mansplaining to me how I’m too naive to understand how nobody means anything by swastikas and also E-MAILS, God save me from the invention of electronic mail and their determination to mansplain to me, a woman with a career in which I have ALWAYS been governed by important confidentiality obligations, the proper etiquette for work e-mail. I had, before this election, been noncommittal with these people, mostly because I didn’t feel like getting into political debates every time I step out of the house (people here seem to think mansplaining politics is like the weather: an endlessly safe topic of conversation. Actually, they would probably like to mansplain the weather to me, too). But now I have decided that what I need to do is shout louder. I think there are more normal people in this country than crazy and horrible people, but we get drowned out by all the shouting, because we tend to want to speak in reasonable tones like grown-ups. So. No more. I’m shouting louder. I live in this red state, too.

Anyway, the women’s marches were good shouting-louder moments, as is all of the civic engagement I see online every day. This is our country, this is our democracy, and we have our right to shout.

So I went to the local Democratic Party meeting, because I want to know what I can do to make this red state less hellish to live in. Over drinks a few nights ago, one person, referring to my blue state upbringing, said, “It must be so nice to live in a place where you have rights.” YES. IT IS VERY NICE TO LIVE IN A PLACE LIKE THAT. I recognize now how privileged I was and I want *everyone* to get to grow up with rights. I want to be trying to help accomplish that for everyone.

The meeting was actually really interesting. They started by asking us what we were worried about, which of course was this massive flood of “EVERYTHING IN THE UNIVERSE.” Everyone was like, “Sooooo do I need to be more specific than ‘massive free-floating anxiety that we’re all about to die’?” A couple of people sounded off on the fact that we need to feel more comfortable saying we’re Democrats. I was relieved that I am not the only person constantly being accosted for not being a Trump person every time I have to meet someone new. I was also relieved at the turnout, at how many Democrats there were. The turnout at all Democratic events down here has apparently at least doubled since the election. Other people want to shout louder, too.

At one point, though, in the flood of concerns (they were things like “civil rights,” “reproductive rights,” “gun control,” “immigration,” “religious freedom,” “voting rights,” etc.), someone raised their hand and said, “The problem with the Democratic Party is we care about everything. If you ask Republicans what they’re about, they’ll say: lower taxes, less government. We need something like that.”

Okay, first, I think that’s a lie. They’ll *say* that but it’s a lie. They want less government except when it comes to women and people of color and LGBTQ people and non-Christian people and then they want ALL THE GOVERNMENT up in every inch of people’s business. But they would *say* that, and it *is* nice and pithy.

So we spent some time trying to come up with a nice, pithy summation of Democrats. Several people were like, “Democrats: We Care About Others.” Or “Democrats: We’re Nice.” I think the one that really resonated at the end was a proclamation that Republicans might be about less government but Democrats are about individual rights, and I think that is not such a bad summation.

The other thing that I thought was interesting, though, was that when people found out I was a lawyer, several of them said, “I wish I was a lawyer. We need lawyers.” The thing is: I am not an especially useful lawyer in this time. But also: I don’t think I have ever in my life been especially proud of being a lawyer, but I was thinking, over the weekend, that in the midst of the entire systemic breakdown of our constitutional system, some of the people I was most proud of were the lawyers, not just the ACLU doing what they did but the immigration lawyers running to work, pro bono, through the night. A constitutional crisis happened, and the lawyers? They showed up. We’ve done a lot wrong in legal education but, by and large, I’m proud that we seem to have turned out people who got the lesson we gave them, about the privilege that it is to practice law, about how much society needs fair-minded lawyers to speak up for the rights of those who don’t have voices. I teach my students as I was taught--the importance of the rule of law--and I am proud to be watching them stand up for it. Laws can do terrible things, of course--TERRIBLE things--and it is definitely not foolproof, but...yeah. We teach them to fight, within the system, to work hard and shout louder in the courtrooms of this country, to shout louder on behalf of everyone who can’t, and they did that this weekend.

So, I don’t know, tl;dr, things are such a mess, but I am grateful for how many of you, like me, have been forced to show up and shout louder. Because we can hear each other now, from every corner we can *hear* each other. The shout gets louder.

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On January 31st, 2017 03:54 am (UTC), bookshop commented:

Several people were like, “Democrats: We Care About Others.” Or “Democrats: We’re Nice.”

omfg i'm cringing

the way i describe progressive ideology — and i honestly try to avoid associating it with democrats mostly because the democratic party is so uselessly centrist at this point that it just... doesn't even uphold my ideals 80% of the time (witness the utter appalling lack of action we're seeing from dems on the hill this week) because they are too busy trying to appeal to the middle in hopes of getting re-elected, because they have not yet accepted that the way forward is to completely embrace and reclaim morality for the left-wing instead of letting right-wing extremists shove arcane bible verses in our faces in order to justify their incendiary, racist, body-violating politics.

— as i was saying, the way i describe progressive ideology to people in red states is that it's focused on just the red parts of the New Testament. (In the bible, the words of christ are in red.) That is, its main concerns align with Christ's order to shelter and protect the needy and the helpless while treating others as you'd like to be treated. And democrats believe that a moral government under the constitution should have these protections in place by default.

I do everything I can to couch democratic values in terms of morality and christianity, because fuck right-wing extremists for turning "bleeding heart" into an insult, what the fuck kind of monster thinks compassion and care for the helpless makes you weak and mockable?

oh wow this was a rant, forgive me. haha.
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On January 31st, 2017 04:36 am (UTC), earlgreytea68 replied:
lolol rants allowed!
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On January 31st, 2017 04:18 am (UTC), wendymr commented:
*applauds you*

You're so right: this is the only way to take back your country and your rights from the dangerous neo-fascists who are in charge, and the blinkered, easily-led people who support them (not the alt-right, because you'll never convince them). More power to you!

We up in Canada are simply horrified and sickened by what we've been seeing, both before and after the inauguration, and it seems as if each passing day brings another outrage or reason to be more afraid. Short of impeachment or a revolution, the only solution is to organise and win back enough hearts and minds to vote the orange menace out next time around.

The West Wing's President Bartlet often said that decisions are made by those who show up - it's also true that elections are won by those who show up. But the hard job is getting them to show up, and getting them to show up for you. Good luck and keep fighting the good fight!

Edited at 2017-01-31 04:18 am (UTC)
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On January 31st, 2017 04:31 am (UTC), earlgreytea68 replied:
Thanks for the support! The only thing that I can say is that a huge part of this country is equally horrified, and so we're busy trying to make our voices louder.

The sad part is, if we'd had an actual election process this year instead of whatever that nonsense was, things could have gone so differently.
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On January 31st, 2017 04:38 am (UTC), rereader commented:
How about "Less inequality, more human rights"?

And Sally Yates is my new hero, so three cheers for (ethical) lawyers like her and you!
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On February 1st, 2017 04:41 am (UTC), earlgreytea68 replied:
Sally Yates, just doing her job.
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On February 1st, 2017 05:14 am (UTC), rereader replied:
Doing exactly what she swore to do when taking her oath of office. *nods*
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On January 31st, 2017 10:34 pm (UTC), alafaye commented:
This time for quiet polite discourse is over. We have to shout and rant and yell as loud as possible and make our anger heard because we'll win no other way.

*offers tea*
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On February 1st, 2017 04:13 am (UTC), earlgreytea68 replied:
*accepts tea*
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On February 1st, 2017 10:53 am (UTC), miwahni commented:
I've been watching on the sidelines and am appalled by the events of the last two weeks. Good for you for getting involved.

It's a hard row to hoe, though, trying to get through to people who have much more immediate concerns than those values held by the Dems. If you're in imminent danger of losing your job, or have been unemployed by a while, your greatest concern is not going to be women's rights or immigration. We're seeing this here, too, with a groundswell of support for the One Nation party which is about as backward a group of rednecks as you could hope to find. But their members are concerned about job losses, about the mechanisation of industry, and who consider immigrants to be the biggest bunch of job-stealing swine to ever swig from the government's teat. How the hell do you ever get through to people like that?

Edited at 2017-02-01 10:53 am (UTC)
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On February 3rd, 2017 04:19 am (UTC), earlgreytea68 replied:
Yeah, I have no answers.
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