These are dark days. There is dangerous saber rattling by Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump, two infantile national leaders intent on ginning up a nuclear war. Here at home, football fans divide up over Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players who kneel to protest racism and police brutality. Trump has weighed in, labeling Kaepernick and others as "sons of bitches," though he was much nicer about the "very fine people" who marched with the KKK and the American Nazis creeps in Charlottesville several weeks ago.
A woman who showed up with her husband to stand against those bigots who carried torches and wore sheets in Charlottesville described her experience on that dark Carolina night: "It was intimidating to walk from our car with our signs to join other anti-Klan protestors," she wrote. "At one point we were surrounded by a large group of Trump supporters. We heard some loud comments, some whispering. I reminded myself to hold my head high and keep walking. We felt better once we joined the other protestors. There is such power in unity. We had a great turnout. Not everyone in Red States is a Trump supporter and that's a ray of sunshine peeking through darkness!"
People of my political persuasion have always had a tendency to give energies to division in our own ranks. We lose sight of shared objectives, clustering into groups dedicated to boutique causes and identity politics.
There is, indeed, power in unity, but it can be hard to get people to stand or to kneel when they feel outnumbered and intimidated. Much of my writing for the Paradise Post and elsewhere has been devoted to taking issue with Republicans in particular and the right wing in general, but I have occasionally found myself at odds with friends on the left, some of whom don't seem much like friends. People of my political persuasion have always had a tendency to give energies to division in our own ranks. We lose sight of shared objectives, clustering into groups dedicated to boutique causes and identity politics. It's less scary to argue with other liberals and "progressives" than to take on right wing nasties, people we don't want knowing our names, how we think, or where we live.
Liberals feel beleaguered up here. More than a few newcomers over the years have told me they might have chosen another place to live had they known how backward the prevailing political views were here. Some have expressed gratitude for columns I'd written that gave them to know that there was at least one other on this ridge who thought as they think.
Other liberals say, however, that they just see no point in standing up outside the secure company of like-minded friends. I long ago lost count of the angry or threatening responses to liberal opinions I've shared, but I can count on the fingers of one hand the open support my opinions have prompted from like-minded liberals or Democrats. Some say they agree with me, but don't like my "confrontational" style. When I have suggested that they could always speak out in a tone more representative of their personal style, I usually got tedious rationalizations for why they don't speak out. Now, as we try to remain sane during this Trumpian nightmare, energy for arguing with people who are or should be in agreement is in short supply.
The silence of the sane gives more power to the right wingers than their numbers would justify. We could redefine the political ambiance of this ridge if liberals held up their heads and let it be known we're here, that we no longer intend to skulk around. We're proud to stand against Trump, LaMalfa, and the deplorable ugliness they represent and foment.
How many local liberals, progressives, Democrats, or merely fed-up "moderates" would be willing to have their names shared in public stating something simple, like: "We, the undersigned residents of the Paradise ridge, are appalled by the division, the racism, the cabinet appointments, the attacks on the press, the unpresidential tweeting, and the reckless and warlike tone that has been set thus far by Trump and his administration."
When I posted that on Facebook, Facebook friends rushed to offer their names in support of such a statement. Here are just a few of your friends and neighbors willing to put their names to such a sentiment: Terry Wild, Linda Weekes, Rhonda Morris Lawrence, Susan Sears, Sandy Metzger Goulart, John Silvera, Cecilia Dortch, Steve Seeber, Amanda Moncada, Marjie Echols, Frank Savage.
There were others, and they are not alone. Nor are you. If liberals would emerge from the shadows to openly support single payer healthcare, environmental protections, union rights, an end to gerrymandering and voter suppression, Planned Parenthood, wasteful military spending, and other unifying issues, we could change the dynamic. We are the majority in every poll on nearly every issue that matters, but we always feel like we're the despised minority. That's our own fault. Unlike the always-vocal Republican right, we have no reason to be ashamed of what we think.
Send a card to your local paper saying you stand with your neighbors who kneel against racism/ Stand with those who reject unimpeded militarism and corporatism. Stand against Trump and all he stands for. Stand and be counted. Or kneel, if that suits you better. But whatever you choose, do it where it can be heard or seen.