The progressive wing of the Democratic Party, of which I am nominally a part, wants a liberal revolution. It wants one bad. It has teamed up with leftist independents who support Bernie Sander to demand revolution RIGHT NOW.
What they fail to notice is that we had a revolution. It just wasn’t the one they wanted. It was the Trumpist revolution.
In 2016, Trump ushered in a world-altering wave of change. He has changed the discourse, changed the vocabulary, changed the policy agenda, and changed the spirit of the nation. Since the day he was elected Americans have existed in one of three states: the uber-wealthy cashing in on pro-business policies; the republican base reveling in lobbing verbal abuse at “libs”; and marginalized groups suffering at the hands of the previous two.
It has been a constant bombardment of bad policies, insulting language, and persistent fears of a crisis of war, poverty-driven famine, or mis-handled pandemic response.
Most of America is tired and emotionally battered and not ready to take up arms after three years of fighting a war to retain their own worth and dignity. They don’t want another revolution. They want palliative care.
Bernie is promising the sweep across the landscape again and remake everything. His supporters are no less vitriolic and dogmatic than their counterparts on the right. It’s yet more of the frantic, destructive energy that has been sapping the lifeforce of the nation. Is it any wonder that some people look at his plans for Medicare For All and think “Oh god. Will that mean I have to redo all my medical forms again? That sounds like work.”
We are looking at torches and pitchforks on the right and more torches and more pitchforks on the left. And then there in the middle is Joe Biden. Uncle Joe, inspiration for a million memes. The grieving dad who took the train home from the Capitol every day when after he and his sons lost his wife and daughter. Obama’s loyal wingman. Dr. Jill Biden’s husband. Familiar, and jocular, and gentle in the ways that maybe we all really need right now.
You don’t have to be afraid of what will happen at a Biden rally. You already know. He’ll quote Obama, make some mistakes because of his congenital stutter, and talk about his boyhood in Scranton. He won’t demand to lock up his enemies or demonize the establishment. He’ll be the same guy he has always been. No shock. No awe. No fear or anger.
So to my fellow progressives who often mutter “burn it all down” when we see history and the patriarchy repeating themselves: give a little grace to the people who are in the middle of the fires already burning. Be willing to accept that maybe this is a moment for a fire extinguisher, not a flamethrower. And don’t blame the losing side in the Trump revolution for being weary and afraid. Be willing to offer them a hand, no matter how they vote.
Photo Credit: United State Senate – the Office of Chris Murphy – https://twitter.com/ChrisMurphyCT/status/1056015874505822208, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87634297