When the structure of any movement is rejected, flaunted, or ignored by its own highest members, the most sensible reaction, in my eyes, is to find others to rebuild and strengthen that movement which is being undermined.
I am dismayed, then, when I hear and read of ordinary citizens who, now doubting the leadership they feel has failed them, instead turn to the radical right for inspiration. I speak of some who, now that they have lost faith in our president, begin to champion the opposite opinion, that of radical right fascism and theocracy, for which they had no respect as recently as a month ago. Why is the choice always either/or? It needn’t be.
Now, I’m not referring to large groups of people being swayed, or those who are involved in the political process. I speak not of our public leaders, who themselves might benefit from a range of choices; I speak of average citizens. I saw polls today in which the percentages have almost reversed, because some people only see two choices. But for any progressive who believes Rush Limbaugh, John Boehner, and Karl Rove are equally deserving of our support as other Democrat leaders, I say think about this choice, please. This is a time when we can become more united and steadfast, not afraid or wishy-washy.
We needn’t choose current Democratic leadership, unwilling to back up their promises, or current Republican, whose actions consist mainly of name-calling and standing in the way of Congress getting anything done. Our legislative branch has the job of establishing law, not of judging the other party’s elected officials unworthy. Much of the good work of our Congress has been nullified by those who ridicule our president, and declare him unworthy, and who vote for the good of the party, rather than the good of the nation. So like a bunch of children.
No one person solely represents progressive thought and action, and any one person’s failure to uphold the principles of that school of thought does not defeat the purpose or the value of social consciousness — in fact, our disappointment with our party’s leaders can be our best path to deeper involvement, and a reason for others to step forward and assume leadership, remembering and learning from the failures of those before them.
We would do well to beware our own tendencies to react to failure of one side as a reasonable case for leaping to the other side. What we need is for other progressive activists to become leaders, and carry forward our fervent belief and faith in the importance of considering each other in all our national decisions; not simply in the social area, but in any part of society’s choices about others less fortunate than themselves.
I include myself in this warning. I have not rejected my party’s leaders, but I question them more now than once I did. I tend to black-or-white decision-making, and I need to be reminded that I have more choices than either/or. I choose either/instead. I hope regular citizens remember they can do the same.