Time to Come Together
By the time you read this, January 20th, 2021 will have passed, and barring another attempted mass insurrection, we will have a new President of the United States of America. I never held my tongue about how dark a chapter was written over the last four years, and I am glad that it is closing. There is no telling what the future will hold, but I am extremely hopeful and feel positive about the prospects. I’m an not pollyannish about the next four years; pragmatism is in my blood. However, I think that a lot of good can be accomplished. A more inclusive, progressive society can flourish so long as everyone does what they can to till the field. A lot of dust was kicked up in political and social battles, though. The first step in the right direction would be to set down our ideological weapons, swallow our pride, and reconcile with our opponents. We need to reach out and make peace.
I am not talking about the far right. To hell with them. They slept with actual nazis and let new ones in yellow and black to pop up (I really liked that color scheme). Your misogynist racist uncle is probably still going to be misogynist and racist, and you may not have time or emotional bandwidth to explain to him AGAIN how there is no such thing as a “Blue Life” outside of Smurf Village or Na’vi. I’m talking about reaching out those center-left, the folks who were so wrapped up in semantics that they may not have heard our message loud and clear. These are the “moderates” of whom Martin Luther King spoke while incarcerated in Birmingham. They are the folks who “just don’t understand” how the demonstrations of the summer devolved into violence when in the 1960s they were “peaceful”, but they will actually listen when you explain to them that the marches of the 1960s were met with the same amount of violence under the pretext of the law, and they were depicted in the media the same way today’s protests are. They have probably been sharing the memes about how we need to change the phrase “Defund the Police” to something more palatable, yet they like all of the years-long researched bullet points about how we should redistribute our taxpayer money to fund programs that reduce crime and the need for police presence in non-criminal incidents. Now is the time to talk to them, though we definitely will disagree, and feelings will be raw, and tears may be shed. Regardless, we will have to work together to see the change we desperately need.
This is where the term “agree to disagree” is actually a valid thing to say. Most of the time over the last four years, I heard the phrase in reference to the value of someone’s race, nationality, sexuality, or economic status. You cannot “agree to disagree” about a person’s humanity, though, which is what folks expected. I am not going to sit down with someone who thinks that person doesn’t “deserve” health care or a living wage because they are a fast food cook or addicted to drugs. I am more than happy to hash out how to give everyone similar health care regardless of their situation. The same goes for education. It is imperative that learn the distinction between arguments that question a policy and those that question the people affected by the policy. I believe this is possible.
The reason I am so hopeful is who is about to be inaugurated. Neither Joe Biden nor Kamala Harris were my first, second, third, or fourth choices for presidential candidates. However, they are who we have. The pragmatist in me knows that Bidens years of experience in the Legislature makes him a great negotiator, so there is a chance he will listen to folks and get policy passed. I am aware that the down side to him being in government for so long that he has long standing ties to the less savory parts of the process, like possibly being in the pockets of private lobbyists. There is still a chance that change can happen. His Cabinet choices are the most diverse in the Country’s history, which is a low bar given that most cabinets over the last 230 years were made up of old white men. We will see soon if his picks were just routine Democratic check box marking, or if the people he chose plan to work, even if it means having a little tension with the President.
I’m also hopeful about the future because of Kamala Harris being his right hand. Again, I am aware of the negative sentiment around her, that she was a DA, and she’s a “cop”, and some other scandalous things about her ascendant career that are just plain false and misogynistic. A lot of the policies she upheld as a district attorney hurt a lot of poor Black and Brown folks in California, just as Biden’s crime bill of the 1990s did to the nation. However, I have yet to see anyone of her detractors on the left really put out anything except a few bullet points about her law enforcement background. Before her career, she was an activist in Oakland, CA, an epicenter of Black Activism and Black Power. She went to Howard University, the second best Historically Black University in the nation (Sorry, Bisons. but Morgan FOREVER). She was inducted into the first and oldest Historically Black Sorority. I don’t know where her head is at, but I grew up in a similar background, matured in a similar academic environment, and learned similar lessons through my matriculation. It may be my sense of pride that drives my feeling, but folks who went to HBCUs are always able to adapt and succeed. We are taught that from freshman year, whether we were art or aerospace majors. I feel like she’d be willing to listen, change, and proceed.
Despite not having our first choices to lead us, so long as we’re pragmatic and willing to reach out to the moderates, we can make a better nation, one that truly reflects the values it advertises. We need to come together and hold them accountable to the promises they made. Most importantly if they don’t we know exactly what to do: VOTE LOCALLY, and VOTE EVERY CHANCE WE HAVE EVERY YEAR. If we don’t change the nation in four years, we can at least change our local community.
About Chris Thompson
(he/his/him) Chris Thompson is an engineer, writer, comedian, and activist who made Rochester, New York his home in 2008. In addition to his role as Contributor for 540Blog he currently writes and regularly posts on his own on Instagram and Twitter at @ChronsOfNon. Chris is also a regular contributor for Rochester City Newspaper. His blog is www.chroniclesofnonesense.com
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