Entering Philadelphia

“It is beneath human dignity to lose one’s individuality and become a mere cog in the machine. In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place. It is slavery to be amenable to the majority no matter what its decisions are.”
— Mohandas K. Gandhi
Last night, I hosted had an informal meeting of local leaders of grass roots political leaders from a three-county area of upstate New York. All of those attending were registered Democrats. Most are from communities in which Democrats are the minority among voters, with republicans being the majority, followed by independents.

While we met to discuss several upcoming elections, our primary focus was to try to find common ground, in preparation for a area Democratic Party meeting. At issue is, not surprisingly, people’s opinions about the presidential primary. We are in a region of the state where the majority of Democratic voters support Bernie Sanders. Virtually everyone at my house has been active in the Sanders revolution.

At a recent Democratic Party meeting, there was “lively” debate about our state’s primary, and its implications. Although the map of the state shows that Bernie won almost all of the upstate, Hillary won in terms of numbers. The majority of people in our region believes that there was some “hanky-panky” involved. (And this was before Nevada.) This is equally true among members of the Democratic Left — many of whom have been attending Democratic Party meetings in our area. One fellow’s pronouncement — “I like to participate when I get fucked” — sums up the general feeling.

There are, of course, some Democrats who voted for Clinton. They do not deny that there are, at times, underhanded activities with elections. It’s as American as apple pie. They were convinced that both Trump and Cruz posed such a threat to this country, that people in our party need to speak in one voice in opposition to them. Indeed, they believe that Trump represents fascism, and Cruz theocracy, and that each one poses such a threat — particularly in regard to the US Supreme Court — that the Sanders revolution will need to unite with the Clinton campaign, for the common good.

There are also people, including one of my top advisers, who support Bernie, but think that by the time of the Democratic National Convention, we will need to support Hillary as the much lesser of two evils. From what I’ve seen — from an admittedly small sample group — those who feel this way tend to be over 50 years old.

Now, to me, anyone under the age of fifty is a “kid.” I’m not hip to all the names young folks use t identify themselves. But those who are approximately 34 to 49 seem less inclined to be willing to consider compromising at this time. And those 18 to 33 are even more intent on “Bernie or Bust.” However, age does not appear to be a factor in people’s desire to go to Philadelphia in July, for the convention; all of those planning to attend are part of the Sanders revolution, and want to engage in peaceful demonstrations, if Clinton gets the nod.

As often is the case, I agreed with everyone and no one, simultaneously. I fully support everyone’s right to decide for themselves what to do in July and November. As Gandhi often said, I believe in anarchy, so long as it is well-organized. I also disagree with those who tell others what to do.

We need to have trust in each other’s ability to weight the facts, and come to their own conclusions. There is plenty of time, between now and the convention, for each of us to evaluate who we will or will not vote for. And there’s enough time between July and November for people to re-evaluate, based upon current events. We need to have trust in that process.

Trust in the process does not equate with trusting the system. Our political system is corrupt. National politics is rotten to the core. But as a growing number of citizens recognize that the system has become a pile of compost, we can nurture new life that grows from that decay. We must have the patience of gardeners.

There is nothing “wrong” with Sanders’s supporters supporting Hillary Clinton if she is given the party’s nomination. A person can do that in good conscience. Likewise, there is nothing “wrong” with a person who decides that supporting Hillary would require them to butcher their conscience, and opting not to vote for her. Likewise, there is nothing “wrong” with not deciding either way at this time, and keeping all options open.

It is wrong to tell a person how they “must” cast their vote. It’s wrong to consider those who would vote for her as sell-outs. It’s wrong to tell someone that they must ignore their values and beliefs, and vote for a candidate they despise. Neither one of these options works, or brings about good in the long run.

I’ve said that, to say this: if you are concerned with the direction our nation is heading in, please come to Philadelphia. Come and voice your opinion. The first of the Amendments in the Bill of Rights speaks to citizens’ rights — as groups or individual — to speak their mind publicly.

We need to exercise that right. More, we need to understand that with rights, come responsibilities. No matter what your opinion of the two Democratic candidates may be, come to Philadelphia. It promises to be an important event in our nation’s history. And no one else can speak for you.

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