Patiently Explain

Panic is the product of awareness of the need for immediate action combined with uncertainty about what that action is.  Panic seldom results in the best choice.
In previous elections, every election, “You aren’t voting for my candidate so you are letting the other guy win so you are a <insert favorite calumny>” would come up now and then. Of course, the “you are letting the other guy win” is business as usual, but the added insult, or expression of hatred, was rare. One would write the individual off as not worth talking to and move on with one’s life.
This election is different. This is happening a lot. For those of you who, like me, are not voting for either of the two major candidates (I’m voting for the Socialist Equality  Party),  I’m just writing this to suggest patience. This election is distinguished by a more extreme crisis among the two capitalist parties—indeed, it pits the two most hated candidates in living memory against each other—than I’ve ever seen. More, it is a reflection of an entire society in crisis, and masses of people feeling the increasing need to find a way forward, and less and less understanding of how to do so.
My point is, we need to try not to take the insults and abuse personally. Hell, I’ve felt it myself, the desire to scream, “WHY DON’T YOU PEOPLE GET IT?” This reaction isn’t helpful, but it is understandable. The threat of Trump, who was (in my opinion) produced exactly by the system personified by Clinton, is hitting us hard. Things are scary.
Trotsky’s words describing the activity of the Petrograd Soviet in 1905 were, “patiently explain.” This has never, in my life time, been harder to do, and never been more important.

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17 thoughts on “Patiently Explain”

  1. I’ll disagree with this: “One would write the individual off as not worth talking to and move on with one’s life.” It seemed easier to have friends with different politics when we were young. When neither of you have the power to change the world, why shouldn’t you find common ground where you could?

    Sometimes I suspect the differences between Republicans and Democrats are exaggerated in the same way differences between the American version of races are: to divide us to conquer us.

  2. I agree with Steve that the cataclysmic lack of good choice amongst the major parties – across the ex-British colonies- is a) a product of those systems moving towards their logical breaking point; and with Will that it is b) somewhat cultivated for the purposes of provoking fight/flight responses; c) absolutely reflective of an uptick in the abilities of the hoi polloi to make better decisions amongst ourselves. I’m not buying the lesser evil pitch, either. You have to ask for what you actually want, or make an even bigger claim, to get progress, imho.

  3. The threat of Trump is not so much in his stated positions, which are bad enough, but not worse than many establishment GOP policies. It is the way he is running. If you believe in the system,* then the walls of reality must seem to be melting these days. It’s like a 1960s farce coming to life. Werewolf of Washington had a more measured take on politics than the Trump campaign. Today we got up wondering if a) the potential First Lady wrote a speech using the tactics of a C student in high school; b) her speech writers really hate the Vogons; or c) they deliberately created a shit storm that made them look like idiots because any shit storm is a good shit storm in this campaign’s thinking. I could see Trump calling Pence on the tarmac at the airport and telling him he changed his mind. Pence dejectedly walking back to the jet; then Trump calling back to say “Psych! Just kidding. Get to the hotel.” Then doing this routine several more times. This is seriously weird shit and not exactly what most of us thought the crisis in capitalism was going to look like on the ground level. Several singularities colliding at the same time?

    *And we all believe to an extent. We certainly believe the system can put us in jail or take all our stuff or deny us medical care.

  4. This is the fourth Presidential election cycle in a row to be cast as the greatest existential crisis America has ever faced, and with each cycle more and more people are buying into that rhetoric. The next one will likely be no different in that respect.

    And yes, this is the political environment that spawned Trump’s campaign. And yes, it does reflect the failure of both major parties as organs of democracy. The system increasingly relies on fear and threats because they have nothing else to offer voters.

    My biggest concern is that, whether it’s this cycle or the next one, we as a country may be too inured to the rhetoric of crisis to be able to recognize an actual existential threat when one comes along.

    I think the only reason I’m not more terrified this year is because I’ve convinced myself the outcome is not really in question.

  5. I kind of laugh a little, quietly, mostly to myself.

    This is exactly what we deserve, this election cycle, and each cycle is only going to get worse, and worse, until it all blows up in some way.

    You say Trump is a product of Clinton/etc, but I say Trump is the product of the same process that led to Jeff Probst becoming almost a household name.

  6. Mechaninja–

    I had to look up Jeff Probst to see who he was. After my tee vee told me that the U.S. should invade Afghanistan in response to 9/11, I lost a little love for it. After my tee vee told me that the U.S. should invade Iraq in 2003 which I knew was garbage thanks to folks like Scott Ritter, the love affair died at last. I think a lot of HRC and Trump supporters are still pretty plugged in, though. How else to explain it?


    I am going to practice patience. Even my wife and her mother got into rhetorical combat over whether Trump was a Godly man. It’s a bizarre season. What do you think of Jill Stein?

  7. Kragar: Jill Stein appears to be taking the place of Sanders–someone trying to coral the hostility to capitalism into something that doesn’t threaten capitalism.

  8. Trump et al seem to be exploring interesting avenues of odiousness. The Prosperity Theology angle looks like it is striving to be the OxyContin of the masses.

  9. My points:

    1. The next President will set the course of justice for a generation. Who do you think will do worse?
    2.One candidate will destroy the EPA, IRS, FDA, CFPB, DOJ, & Dept of education. The other won’t.
    3. One may expand healthcare. The other will destroy it.
    4. Name a viable (able to win) 3rd party candidate. Go ahead. I’ll wait here and reminisce over the 2000 election.

    The two are not equally bad. These are the choices we have. Deal with it.

  10. I think it very likely that the ruling class will choose Clinton to carry out all of those tasks you are attempting to scare me with. In the same way that a Republican might not have gotten away with all the things President Obama did (cutting food stamps, deporting more people (especially Children) than any other administration in history, expanding the war onto four more fronts, militarizing the police, covering up for police murders, committing drone assassinations of non-combatants, persecuting whistle blowers, creating a supposed “health care” plan that takes money from workers and puts it into the pockets of the insurance companies, making concession after concession to the religious right), they might decide that Democrat is better to carry out their agenda. But, whoever is elected, it will be the agenda of our class enemy that is carried out.

    The problem with the “name a viable” candidate approach is that is makes certain assumptions, in particular, that the most important thing about the election is the name of the person who wins. In my opinion, the most important thing about an election can and should be the discussion it engenders and the possibility it gives for building an organization that can fight the misery inflicted on us by both parties.

    We can either chose to accept what we’re told, that capitalism (and, therefore, war, murder, oppression, climate change) is a permanent part of life, or we can take a stand against it. Those are the choices we have. Deal with it.

  11. Kragar:I think the tv analogy is apt. There are a lot of people who don’t seem to realize they are not watching a reality tv show or rooting for a sports team.

  12. Harvey Summers–

    HRC and her neo-con pals seem more likely to start WWIII with their intentional ramping up of tensions with Moscow. Trump in all his noxiousness has at least said he will try to find common ground with China and Russia. That’s probably why the wealthy donors are flocking to the Queen of Chaos.

    Steve Halter–

    Thanks for the kind comments, but I did not intend my snippet to be an analogy. I really actually just think HRC and Trump supporters are getting their information from corporate-controlled media sources.

  13. Kragar:Yes, I agree that the corporate controlled media sources are not at all the places to go to for news. skzb–Is it the spun messages of the corporate media (and their bosses by extension) you are referring to when you mention, “that the ruling class will choose”?

  14. Steve: A tiny expansion, because the way I left it might make it seem I’m suggesting a massive conspiracy in which THEY pick who wins and then manipulate us into voting for their chosen candidate. I think it is more precise to say that the arguing among the ruling class over who should run their system is reflected in and refracted through the media, which necessarily has a huge effect on the results of the voting: the creation and dissemination of scandal, the emphasis on which quirks of personality of which individual candidate are important and which are not, and the arguing over “policies” that involves, first and foremost, ignoring all the policies the ruling class through its media are NOT arguing about, all play the major role in setting the terms of the discussion, which in turn cannot help but be reflected by the masses of people who have little or no access to reliable alternatives.

    No conspiracy as such, in other words, but the net effect on most of us is the same as if it were a conspiracy.

  15. skzb:Thanks for the longer explanation (although it is essentially what I inferred from the first answer).
    I think the message of corporate media is fairly clearly largely controlled/influenced by the controllers of those corporations (note that the controllers are not the same as the owners in every case). In some cases, NewsCorp for example, this control is pretty clear and unequivocal. Interestingly, their message may have gone a tad further than they anticipated with Trump and his minions. Or maybe it hasn’t.
    Unfortunately, it seems that many people are all too willing to simply hear the message that reinforces their current thinking without examining the facts/data that underlie that message.
    From the Right (of the US), basically none of their messages are based upon facts and so it is obvious that people don’t do any checking at all. From the “moderate center” we get the messages of support TPP and such without very much actual economic research behind them.
    So, as you say, the end result is a kind of emergent conspiracy gestalt without any specific driver behind it.

  16. My main hope at this point is that Congress will continue to be a dead-locked do nothing congress with antagonistic tendencies towards the president. If HRC wins, a republican controlled senate will probably force her supreme court picks to be fairly moderate.

    I would love to see the primary season killed off. It only encourages far left and far right candidates and culls the moderates.

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