This weekend, I was part of an email exchange in my state Democratic Party. Aaaaand…it never fails. Somebody started bitching that someone wasn’t attending enough meetings. Someone else called the complainer disrespectful, and off we went. The initial topic of the email thread–trying to make meeting information more accessible on the party website–got completely lost, and wasn’t addressed again until much later.

On that same day, I attended training to be an election observer in my county. Our trainer’s warning could not have been more stark. For the first time ever, he told us, he believed that intentional disruptions to the election process were likely. Disruptions like intimidation of voters, protests in front of election offices, even rioting. We received safety instructions for what to do if we were threatened by violent MAGAs during our shift.

(By the way, if you have a chance to volunteer to be an election observer in your local area, do it! It’s more important than ever.)

It’s a cliche to say that working with Democrats is a bit like herding cats…but it’s a cliche because it’s true. Our meetings always take way longer than expected, because we don’t just bicker about the issues we’re voting on, we bicker endlessly about what the voting process should be. Our party is full of lively and big personalities, which is part of what makes it so much fun. And no, we don’t fall in line easily.

That is all well and good, but it’s also true that we really are in a battle for our democracy. For the first time since I arrived in this country, I’m genuinely worried that our election system will not survive the next couple of cycles–that we will see political violence, that MAGA candidates will refuse to concede, and state legislatures will overturn election results.

So we can’t afford the petty in-fighting. Yes, people on our own side will disagree with us, and yes, people can be difficult to work with. That is not relevant right now. We need to set that aside and focus on what matters–supporting our candidates and making sure they’re elected, putting our message out there, and getting out the vote, while simultaneously keeping an eye out for any voter suppression shenanigans.

The extreme right-wing is organizing and preparing for its assault on our institutions and our republic. Will we be able to unite and oppose this assault, or will we continue hurling finger-wagging emails at each other?

Eyes on the prize, Democrats!

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No matter how skillful I am with my words, someday I am going to trip over them, and I know that when I do, you will be there, waiting.

You embrace me.  “I’m so happy to see you here today, sister!”

We are sisters–not through blood, but through purpose.  We’re part of the same community.  Working together to make the world better.  Or are we?

Or are we happier when we get the opportunity to cut each other down?  Tear each other down in the name of…what, exactly?  Not in the name of power.  Lord knows there isn’t any real power in our little activist groups.  No real money to be had from this, either.  Oh, but there certainly is the chance to look morally superior.  To feel virtuous.

You’ve already got an advantage over me when it comes to that.  You’re younger, so the forces of history are on your side.  The story of our times is flowing your way, while I’ve turned into The Man (or The Woman, in this case).  Someday you will be The Woman, too, although you can’t imagine it now.  Because you’ll never be like me!  Right?

Your other advantage is that you’ve got sharp eyes.  As well you should–this is politics, after all.  They don’t miss the slightest flaw, and so of course you will catch me when I stumble.  And you will not be forgiving when you do.  We’re a bunch of perfectionists on the left–one flawed cookie spoils the whole revolutionary batch.

Hell, I grew up in a world in which lefties regularly informed on each other and sent each other to prison.  I’ve got no illusions.  I know we’re not anymore tolerant or forgiving than the other side–except we’re that way for a good cause.

At least in this case, I won’t be sent to prison–not by you, anyway.  Instead, our group will get caught up in the infighting, and it will become even smaller and more laughable as we exclude more people.  Our opponents will love it, and will mock us mercilessly.  You will be praised for your rock-solid principles, and will advance to greater personal success, even if the community as a whole loses out.

But I really do believe in the higher purpose of what we’re doing here. So I will do my best to outmanoeuvre your all-seeing eyes, and will keep doing my work.  And even if someday I commit the unforgivable sin of being human and tripping over myself, regardless of what you may think of me, I will still be here.