Perfection Politics

BELL VIEW--When I was a kid growing up in Chicago, Channel 7 News had a weatherman we used to call “Crazy John Coleman.” Compared to actual 21st Century media craziness John Coleman doesn’t really stack up. But he was undeniably a goof. He’s made his way back into the news by denying that manmade climate change is real.  

I only mention this because a friend from the old neighborhood posted Mr. Coleman’s findings on Facebook the other day. When I suggested that gambling your children’s future on the word of Crazy John Coleman was maybe not the best bet, my friend countered with the ultimate “conservative” argument against the threat of climate change: Al Gore is a hypocrite.

Ok. One of these days I want to ask a farmer why – when the US is sitting on the most primo piece of real estate on the planet – it’s not more of a big deal that, in fifty years, America’s breadbasket might look more like Africa than Iowa.

But this is CityWatch LA – and I’m preaching to the choir here. I gave up my hobby of arguing with Republicans just after my election-induced nervous breakdown last November.

I still butt heads occasionally, however, with those who, by all rights, should be members of my tribe. Those of us who saw Bernie Sanders as the most inspiring presidential candidate of our lifetimes. To say I butted heads with the Sanders people during the election would be an understatement. My own mother said I should take it easy on Facebook. I was losing it. Most of my Bernie-supporting friends saw me as a shill for Hillary Clinton. My defense of Hillary Clinton came about for three reasons: (1) she seemed the likely nominee to oppose the Republican nominee, and, therefore, I believed it was unwise to weaken her candidacy; (2) unlike Republicans, I never hated Hillary Clinton and would have liked to see a woman president; and (3) the attacks against her amounted to pure slander.

The other day, I got into it again with some die-hard Bernie people. They claim – and I have no reason to doubt them – that if the Democratic Party does not deliver candidates who will commit to, among other things, free college tuition, single-payer healthcare, no more war, and solar and wind power, then millions of otherwise progressive voters will sit out the 2018 mid-term elections. Of course, the reality is that most Democrats support some or all of these issues (or at least claim to) and ALL Republicans oppose them and will work hard to defeat them and march the country in the opposite direction.

Nonetheless, the millions of disenchanted progressives need a candidate they can vote for, not just a bogeyman they should vote against. The Bernie people need a rallying cry or they will sit out 2018 and point the finger at the impure Democrats as the cause of the destruction of America.

This is a position I still can’t wrap my mind around. You want to be for something? How about defeating the fascist takeover of America? Charles Pierce sums up the threat we face quite nicely when he says: 

[T]he genuine danger going forward is that the next ambitious American authoritarian will not be a half-bright bungler dancing on strings held by god-knows-which foreign autocrat or banker. The next one might be better at it. After all, the template has been established, and the Republican Party has demonstrated a taste for authoritarianism that history says is hard to shake. The Trump political template has to be crushed to dust so that it never rises again. Until it is, it remains a cancer on the republic that’s only in the most fragile remission.

The time has come, in other words to ask Which Side Are You On?  In a fight against fascism, there are only two sides: you either oppose it, or you support it. The great reckoning is coming. A hard rain’s a gonna fall. Fascism – open, unabashed fascism – has moved into the White House. If that’s not a cause you can rally behind, then just strap on your MAGA hat and get out of the way. 

(David Bell is a writer, attorney, former president of the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council and writes for CityWatch.)