One Halting Step at a Time

If you were to ask me what my optimal political alignment is, it would be that I am a libertarian socialist (or an anarcho-syndicalist.) One could argue that Jesus would have been a libertarian socialist. I am about as left wing and anti-authoritarian as you can get, although more broadly, I am a part of the libertarian left. According to the Political Compass test, I am more anti-authoritarian and more left wing than Gandhi.

But I am also a student of history, and have read vivid accounts of life in this country from the 18th and 19th centuries. I am a child of two people who experienced racism in much more stark ways than I have in my life (police violence notwithstanding.) I actually knew someone (my great-grandmother) whose mother was born a slave. My mother experienced Jim Crow first hand before she moved to New York, and was told point blank that she shouldn’t try to be an academic. My father did the best he could, knowing how many careers were simply out of his reach. There were many places they couldn’t buy a house, even though they had the money. And from hearing their stories, I understand clearly how their lives have changed in deep ways from the civil rights movement and accompanying government policies. I myself have experienced how my life has changed from the feminist and gay rights movements and the accompanying government policies. I understand how my life in 2016 as a queer black non-binary person is not only possible, but actually pretty good. Could it be better, and could the lives of all queer black non-binary people be better? Of course. But our lives are so much better than they were even 20 years ago.

I also know that most people in this country don’t agree with me.  Most people aren’t hanging out on that far libertarian left end of the spectrum (a lot of my friends are, but most of the country isn’t.) I know that the government of my dreams isn’t going to happen in my lifetime, and I’ve accepted that.

I heard something from a good friend of mine, which I really appreciate. Being an elder (I guess I must count, now) is “taking everyone’s side.” I thought that was brilliant, and deep.

There are some extremely important issues we are facing as a country, at the same time as we have to face our legacy – the legacy of a country built on genocide, slavery, and exploitation. And none of this is going to happen quickly. (Although frankly, if we don’t deal with global climate change quickly, it’s all going to be moot.)

This has been, for many of us, an agonizing year, for all sorts of reasons. And the election has been particularly fraught. But we have a chance, we have one step we can take. It’s not making me super happy to vote for a pair of people who, in many ways, aren’t my ideal. I’ll be honest, they have voted for, and advocated for some policies that I find abhorrent. But when I look at the big picture, this is what I see – I see a country on a tipping point – a tipping point we haven’t been on, possibly since the Civil War. A tipping point between fear and hope. Between slamming the doors, and having them open, between the worst of our natures, and the better.

I know that in the same way as I have experienced positive change in my life, and my parents have in their lives, that change is in real jeopardy. And so I’m not really voting for Hillary/Kaine. I’m “taking everyone’s side,” and voting for the one halting step in the right direction.