So, it’s been a month, and progressives and Democrats have been hearing a constant refrain–that we need to reach out to Trump supporters, to try to understand the forgotten working-class base in the heartland of America which voted for him.

That is a very good point.  We do need to do that if we want to win the next election.  There is only one problem for me:  I don’t really want to know or understand the Trump voters.

This is not the wisest attitude to have, and I guess it marks me as an elitist of some sort. But I don’t care.  I don’t want to know why people continue to support Trump and overlook all the things he’s already said and done when it comes to women, immigrants and Muslims. When I recently visited a website where the deplorables gather to chat, I saw plenty of caricatures of yarmulkas and hooked noses, and references to Reichsfuhrer Trump. Blaming the Jews for your own economic woes is an age-old tradition.  The Trumpsters clearly feel the need to scapegoat someone for their own miserable situation.  What can I possibly say to them about that?  How would I change their mind?  I could suggest changes to the political and economic system which would make their life better, but these are the same people who thought Obama was a Marxist and the ACA was a government assault on their liberty–and frequently voted against their own health insurance coverage.  What does one do when faced with such ignorance?

Not to mention that in order to reach out to the Trump voters, I would have to find them where they live.  Thing is, I love my urban bubble.  I have little interest in going too far beyond its protective shield.  I’ve lived in the rural world before and I’m grateful to have escaped it.  I have no desire to move to a place where my neighbors give me the side-eye just because I don’t attend the same church they do and behave in ways they don’t consider “normal.”

Again, this does not bode well as a political strategy.  Democrats did get the popular vote in 2016, but the Democratic electorate is clustered in a few major metropolitan areas, mainly on the two coasts, and that’s not the way the American electoral system works. Hence the idea that progressives should transplant themselves to swing states.  If only I could convince myself to be enthusiastic about a midwestern or southern swing state….

The progressive movement certainly needs ambassadors right now to take its message across the country.  Unfortunately, I’m not that person.  And I wonder how many of my fellow liberal bubble-dwellers are willing to do the difficult work of outreach.  And if that work doesn’t get done, what will 2020 look like?

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Here I sit, the winner of my own private civil war, and what have I gained?

Bombs were thrown and insults were lobbed back and forth.  “Liberal Demoshit.”  This was a fight in the family, so relatives jumped in.  “Well, you’re a right wing piece of shit.”  The battle had to end with the final shot–the unfriending.

Granted, the guy in question is an asshole.  He has a virulent hatred of the President and the First Lady.  And he doesn’t do a very good job of hiding the fact that his hatred has a lot to do with their skin color.

It should be easy to crow over how stupid he is.  But there is no feeling of triumph after a debate with a Trump supporter.  There’s no satisfaction in having to cut off a part of my family.  There’s only an empty sensation.  I hate conflict.  I hate fighting and mudslinging.  My “uncle” hit me with a low blow, but I allowed myself to get dragged down there with him, and became just as much of an idiot as he was.

And it’s a bad sign of what’s been happening, more and more, to all of us.  We can’t be friends if we’re on the opposite sides of the political party divide.  And now it’s even difficult for members of the same party.  I bite my tongue and stay quiet about the worries I have about a potential Bernie presidency, because I don’t want more unfriendings in my life.

I get the premonition that someday we’ll be standing there, looking at the charred, smoking remnants of our homes, our family relationships, our country.  We’ll shake our heads sadly and say:  “Yeah, it all started with an online argument….”

 

So what is the Republican party going to do to discredit Donald Trump?

They’re going to have to do something–they can’t allow him to be the nominee. In fact, that’s what I keep hearing: “Reince Priebus is going to do something.” But what? I’m racking my brains and, for the life of me, can’t come up with what that will be. So far, Trump has been saying offensive thing after offensive thing, and still going up in the polls. He attacks Latino immigrants–up in the polls. He attacks a Fox News host–up, up, up.

Since a lot of Trump’s appeal stems from his outsider cred, it might be possible for his opponents to undermine him if they can somehow portray him as an insider–a moderate or on the side of the Democrats. But right now, that doesn’t seem to be working either. He came right out and said he likes single payer health care at the debates. He’s fine with Planned Parenthood. His fans don’t care.

So what will the Republicans do? As we speculated, my mother came up with an elegant solution. “If it gets too close to the convention and he’s still the frontrunner, they’ll just shoot him.” I wonder if they could get away with that? They could always claim they mistook his hair for a lion….

On the other side, the Democrats are stuck with a similar dilemma. I’m sure they’ll want to get rid of Bernie Sanders. Perhaps they can do so by making the argument that he would be unelectable in the national contest. But that argument is getting harder to make as Bernie rises in the polls and Hillary continues to sink into her e-mail scandal. What happens if Hillary is too wounded to go on and Bernie sticks around?

I’ve got enough cynical faith in our country’s political machine to believe that we will, in the end, get the designated mainstream nominees we were meant to have in the first place. But the plotline of how we arrive there could be very interesting indeed to follow…stay tuned!

First off, let me say that I tend to be pessimistic about most aspects of American politics. I was pessimistic about the chances of Obama winning re-election in 2012. And I was totally wrong about that. So, grain of salt and all that.

I’m not optimistic about Bernie Sanders.

Everyone I know on the left is super excited about Bernie. And why not? I get it. I love what he has to say too. But I’m not so sure the general American public is ready for him. The Bernie supporters that I’ve spoken to claim that it is. Perhaps they’re encouraged by Obama getting elected and then re-elected. But Obama has spent his presidency governing more like a moderate Republican, and half the country STILL believes that he is an evil Communist. So I’m a little worried about the chances of a self-proclaimed Socialist.

And I’m very worried about the chances of Scott Walker getting the Republican nomination, since that is the direction I believe the GOP is heading in. Scott Walker makes me nervous. I’m an American worker, and he’s got a legacy of either doing or trying to do awful things to the workers in his state. Keep in mind, this is the pessimist talking–I believe he could win the whole thing. I think he could easily beat Bernie, as Scott has a way of pretending that he’s a centrist during his campaigns. He will portray himself as the moderate and Bernie as the fringe candidate.

What are some of the things I fear a President Walker doing? Reclassifying overtime pay law, so that fewer jobs qualify for it. Killing the weekend and the 40 hour work week, as the Republicans in Wisconsin wanted to do. Repealing the ACA. Privatizing Medicare. I don’t buy for a second that there wouldn’t be any difference between a Hillary presidency and a Walker presidency. Yeah, most Democrats are part of the corporate system too, but none of them are going to go after the average worker in the aggressive way that Walker will.

Of course, Bernie would be perfect at addressing all these issues. Sadly, America just isn’t progressive enough for him. Maybe there’s been a deeper and faster demographic shift than I realized. Otherwise, I don’t see it.

I should add that if Bernie does become the Democratic nominee, I will definitely support him and put time and effort into working for his election. Until then, I remain cautious.

One thing is for sure–volunteering for Hillary’s local campaign should be a lot of fun. I expect to get abuse from both sides, the conservatives *and* the Bernie supporters. Bring it on! I’ve always enjoyed a good debate.

I’m not sure I can handle it.

The trashy pink lights. The corny classic rock soundtrack. And oh, those horrible performers.

There’s Hillary, sitting on a potential donor’s lap. “See? I can be warm and friendly,” she murmurs.

Meanwhile, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker are working the pole, gyrating their hips as hard as they can, while the Koch brothers make it rain cash on the stage. Maybe they’ll get more money if they make out with each other?

Poor Chris Christie is sitting at a table alone, all forlorn in his bra and garter belt. Nobody cares about him anymore.

And off in a dark corner of the club, Rand Paul is doing his own weird dance. Only a few are turned on by him–those who are into the kinky masochistic fantasy of living in a pure libertarian state.

Watching this spectacle doesn’t exactly cause feelings of arousal. It’s more of a mixture of disgust, despair, and a complete loss of self-respect. But this is the best we can do, or so we’re told.

Yeah, the 2016 election season…it’s going to be the worst striptease ever.

The man being interviewed clears his throat thoughtfully, as he ponders the really big dilemmas. Does alien life exist out there in the universe? Will we find it–or will it find us–one day?

I think the entire conversation is silly. We’ve been receiving alien transmissions for a long time. All I have to do to hear them is turn the radio dial.

“Who knows if the theory of evolution is true? And who cares? Why would you even ask anyone about it…it’s such a gotcha question!”

“Kbbhhlth…zgfffx…Women who want equal pay are angry feminazis….”

Somewhere in the darkest reaches of space, a planet is spinning wildly. Its empty canyons echo with the sounds of Joni Ernst’s manic laughter, its silence occasionally interrupted by the sobbing call of the orange-hued Boehner. It’s beaming its signals back to the reality I inhabit. Its messages are enigmatic and difficult to decipher.

“It was a good decision to go into Iraq…bleep bleep blorp…”

What in God’s name are these lifeforms trying to say? Either this is a civilization so advanced that I am unable to follow the twists and turns of its logic, or these aliens have spent such a long time breathing in their own unique atmosphere that it has driven them nuts.

The serious question is, why do I continue to spend my time intercepting their radio communications, trying to make sense of the garbled noise they broadcast? I could listen to NPR, which reports on actual Earth news as opposed to that of an alternate universe. The NPR hosts speak in measured, reasonable tones. The guests are experts in their field. They don’t scream at the people they disagree with, or break down weeping, or rave with excitement about the upcoming end of the world. So why do I change the station?

Could it be that I’m just a little bit crazy myself? Could it be that I have an attachment to my beliefs which is unreasonable, immoderate, irrational? Is it easier for me to identify with these strange creatures which lose their temper when they care too much, than with the humans who calmly explain how they feel?

Whatever the case, I will keep listening for the sounds of the insane planet, listening to it whirling in the darkness, while I sit in front of the radio and whirl around my own confused axis.

It’s funny–I’m thinking that to most progressives like me, Barack Obama’s presidency has been a bit of a struggle and a letdown. It’s my own fault. My expectations were way too high. It was hard not to get swept away in the idealism of the moment back in 2008. Reality could never live up to that, for so many reasons, whether because the President himself wasn’t gutsy enough or because the Republicans hated him too much. The presidency itself has become mired in so much nastiness–government shutdowns and gridlock and calls for secession and endless vitriol–that it’s difficult to recall that once upon a time, it was inspirational to watch this guy get elected.

So it’s been a little surreal to see Barack’s old slogan “Yes We Can” take on a life of its own on the international scene. The Prime Minister of India recently used #YesWeCan as a hashtag to solicit suggestions from citizens about how to improve the country. And the Spanish anti-austerity party, Podemos, has been chanting “Si Se Puede” at its marches. I suppose that for people in those countries, the phrase has not become soiled by our domestic political wrangling. Or maybe the world still loves a catchy American meme.

I find the Spanish left-wingers especially humorous. Watch out, if you keep chanting that, you might get a…paralyzed center-right government? Oh well, perhaps their willingness to protest will get them what we haven’t been able to achieve. The Europeans are pretty good about standing up for themselves when they feel their quality of life is being curtailed.

My personal aspirations for “Yes We Can” are a lot more humble than they used to be. “Yes We Can” elect someone other than Scott Walker to be the next President? Please?