I’ve always felt politically homeless. I once identified as a small-l libertarian(ish) concerned with civil rights, the balance of public and corporate power, and public-private cronyism. Our systems are at their worst when public and private collude. Though I too often misappropriated blame to the public side when I should have blamed the private, I parted ways with most libertarians and neoliberals and other market fundamentalists because I didn’t want education, healthcare, prisons, or policing to be privatized. Some things should and must be public and detached from fiduciary duty and the profit motive, otherwise human lives become grist.
Unions have their pathologies and corruption (see the history of the Teamsters, union towns where you were nothing without your union card, and pretty much every Fraternal Order of Police), but their death has been to the grave detriment of society. Workers have lost almost all power, and we live in the inhumane, post-employment result. We live in sadopopulism.
I’ve never voted Republican because the party of the Southern Strategy and Confederate Catechism, the party that poisoned millions of minds, is overtly and obviously racist. No thanks. I voted instead for third parties, and, grudgingly, a Democratic party that didn’t seem very interested in protecting people—a party that privatized schools, carried water for double-tap drone strikes, let Wall Street tranche America without consequence, and forgot to be anti-war whenever it had power.
Over the years, I’ve become much more economically progressive as I’ve watched the balance tilt way too far toward corporatism and oligarchy (and read enough black women and disabled people to realize just how clueless I was about the reality of our systems even though I considered myself a bleeding heart in touch with such things). I agree with historian Timothy Snyder that we are tottering between democracy and oligarchy. With the passage of the tax bill—which effectively borrows billions from China and other foreign investors, gives it to oligarchs, and leaves taxpayers who are already hurting with the bill—I fear that “tottering” is now optimistic. We’re there.
Something that comes up in every school board election in our town is spending and efficiency. I’m concerned about wasteful spending in schools (particularly infrastructure spending, which invites cronyism), but I am more concerned with lack of funding, with the purposeful and deliberate starvation of the most critical institution to democracy: public education.
I do not believe you can be socially liberal and fiscally conservative, not with our current notions of fiscally conservative and not with structurally racist, sexist, ableist, unequal, and rotting systems that need immense investment. I regret my past selves that entertained the possibility. Safety nets have been shredded. We are fighting over scraps. Grandparents are pitted against grandchildren as public spending approaches zero.
We have a commons to protect. It is under threat by oligarchs, neoliberals (in the market fundamentalist, charter school loving sense), and Christofascists. I stand with those who resist these forces. Though I still have plenty of differences with the Democratic party, it is our best bet. I will be voting as such while opposing its ardor for charters—a tragic character flaw that attacks the fundament of our democracy and aligns the party with the most racist, corrupt, and vile people in our country.