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I KNOW WHY YOU'RE SAD.

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On paper, Tuesday was a good day for Democrats. They took the House for the first time in eight years. Several important Governorships (in advance of post-Census 2020 redistricting battles) were won. Notably vile Republicans like Kris Kobach, Scott Walker, and Dana Rohrabacher lost. The high-visibility Senate races Democrats lost (Missouri, Tennessee) were pipe dreams anyway. You already knew that Florida sucks, hard. So you're not sad because "The Democrats did badly."

You're also not sad because Beto lost, or Andrew Gillum lost, or any other single candidate who got people excited this year fell short. They're gonna be fine. They will be back. You haven't seen the last of any of them. Winning a Senate race in Texas was never more than a long shot. Gillum had a realistic chance, but once again: It's Florida.

No, you're sad for the same reason you were so sad Wednesday morning after the 2016 Election. You're sad because the results confirm that half of the electorate – a group that includes family, neighbors, friends, random fellow citizens – looked at the last two years and declared this is pretty much what they want. You're sad because any Republican getting more than 1 vote in this election, let alone a majority of votes, forces us to recognize that a lot of this country is A-OK with undisguised white supremacy. You're sad because once again you have been slapped across the face with the reality that a lot of Americans are, at their core, a lost cause. Willfully ignorant. Unpersuadable. Terrible people. Assholes, even.

You were hoping that the whole country would somehow restore your faith in humanity and basic common decency by making a bold statement, trashing Republicans everywhere and across the board. You wanted some indication that if you campaigned hard enough, rednecks and white collar bloodless types alike could be made to see the light that perhaps the levers of power are not best entrusted to the absolute worst people that can be dredged up from Internet comment sections running on platforms of xenophobia, nihilism, and racism. In short, you wanted to see some evidence that corruption, venality, bigotry, and proud ignorance are deal-breakers for the vast majority of Americans.

And now you're sad because it's obvious that they aren't. Even where horrible Republicans like Walker or Kobach lost, they didn't lose by much.

So I get it. It's depressing. There's no amount of positives that can take away the nagging feeling that lots and lots of people in this country are just…garbage. They're garbage human beings just like the president they adore. These people are not one conversation, one fact-check, and one charismatic young Democratic candidate away from seeing the light. They're reactionary, mean, ignorant, uninteresting in becoming less ignorant, and vindictive. They hate you and they will vote for monsters to prove it.

Remember this feeling. Remember it every time someone tells you that the key to moving forward is to reach across the aisle, show the fine art of decorum in practice, and chat with right-wingers to find out what makes them tick. Remember the nagging sadness you feel looking at these almost entirely positive results; it will be your reminder that the only way to beat this thing is to outwork, outfight, and out-organize these people. They are not going to be won over and they will continue to prove that to you every chance they get.

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rocketo
11 days ago
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How many words fit on a sampler? I don’t want to get this as a tattoo.

“Remember this feeling. Remember it every time someone tells you that the key to moving forward is to reach across the aisle, show the fine art of decorum in practice, and chat with right-wingers to find out what makes them tick. Remember the nagging sadness you feel looking at these almost entirely positive results; it will be your reminder that the only way to beat this thing is to outwork, outfight, and out-organize these people. They are not going to be won over and they will continue to prove that to you every chance they get.”
seattle, wa
jaimeshade
11 days ago
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Atlanta, GA
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5 public comments
zwol
11 days ago
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This seems like the right place to tell the story of the dude who drove me to the airport the other day. His other job, apparently, was owning a gun store, and when talking about guns his opinions were informed and reasonable , e.g. "banning bump stocks won't stop school shootings, but we should require gun owners to go through safety training and have proper gun safes," ok, I can see that. But then the conversation took a hard right turn into Fox News conspiracy land: all politicians are corrupt, Planned Parenthood spends 10x as much money on lobbying as the NRA, etc. etc. etc. and I just didn't know what to say.
Pittsburgh, PA
tdarby
11 days ago
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Yes.
Baltimore, MD
lelandpaul
11 days ago
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Oh, this is so hard for me. On the one hand, the piece is dead right: This is exactly what I'm feeling today.

On the other: I fundamentally believe people are redeemable and that we shouldn't write them off. (That's sort of core to Christianity...)

I don't know how to reconcile these two things.
San Francisco, CA
sirshannon
11 days ago
You can’t redeem the unwilling.
lelandpaul
10 days ago
But does that give you the right to stop giving them opportunities to redeem themselves?
sirshannon
7 days ago
Yes. You’re not powerful enough to stop someone from redeeming themselves any more than you are powerful enough to make them redeem themselves. As long as you’re not actively working to prevent them from doing the right thing, you’re good.
notadoctor
11 days ago
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“They are not going to be won over and they will continue to prove that to you every chance they get.”
Oakland, CA
cjmcnamara
11 days ago
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gin and tacos absolutely spot on once again

Abrams’ Flag-Burning Incident: That’s What They Force You to Do as a Black Person in the South

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In 1992, when Stacey Abrams was in college, she participated in a protest where there was a burning of a Georgia state flag that had been redesigned in 1956 specifically to incorporate the Confederate battle flag emblem in it, in a clear attempt to make a statement against the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement. That…

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jaimeshade
26 days ago
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Atlanta, GA
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A Seahawks Fan's Defense of Kshama Sawant

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The Seahawks aren’t going anywhere thanks to Allen, but the powerless have been forced to relocate over and over again over the past decade within and outside of the city. by Spike Friedman
Kshama Sawant
Kshama Sawant Karen Ducey / Getty

Shortly after former Seahawks owner and Vulcan chairman Paul Allen’s death last week, Seattle City Councilmember Ksahama Sawant made the following Facebook post:


This was, to put it lightly, not received well. Sawant has drawn the ire of Seahawks fans and mainstream columnists, for both the timing and content of her post. As a Seahawks fan and, well, not-so-mainstream columnist, I wanted to weigh in with what is maybe a counterbalancing view of this comment.

First though, as a Seahawks fan, let me give Paul Allen credit. Allen’s wealth kept the Seahawks in Seattle. He hired Pete Carroll, ensured the team drafted Walter Jones, and jammed out after the team won the Super Bowl. I love the Seahawks, and it would have crushed me as a kid if they had left. Allen gave me some of my favorite memories. Allen’s wealth also funded cancer research. It led to scientific breakthroughs and the rediscovery of the treasures of the deep. His wealth funded the arts and endowed large cultural institutions in the region. That he also owned fancy yachts is a symptom of the inequity of capitalism, but is hardly a great sin. As billionaires go? Paul Allen could have been a lot worse (see: Bezos, Jeff).

That said, Allen’s wealth also reconfigured Seattle to conform to a mental map of the city that disproportionally benefitted a small subset of the region while neglecting a large portion of the area’s residents. His work with Vulcan is perhaps the most important spatial transformation that Seattle has undergone since the Denny Regrade, making Allen Seattle’s equivalent of Robert Moses. Like Moses he was unelected, and like Moses, he reshaped the area while privileging an image of the city seen from basically a bird’s eye perspective. This was true of South Lake Union when he proposed the Seattle Commons, and only more true when he developed the area into Amazon’s campus. It is not Allen’s fault per se that he was allowed to act as the de facto city planner of a wide swath of the city, but he was, and he leveraged his vast wealth to make choices that disrupted a lot of lives.

The most vulnerable populations in this city have suffered as a result of Allen’s massive interventions. The gentrification caused by the recentering of the tech industry to the spatial center of the region has led to massive waves of displacement and dispossession. The middle and lower classes of the city have effectively been shunted out of Seattle proper and into outlying areas. This spatial reconfiguration may not have been Allen’s intention in redeveloping South Lake Union, but it has been the effect of what he did. This could have been mitigated through progressive taxation. It was not in large part because of Paul Allen.

In this respect, Sawant was right: Allen funded anti-tax campaigns (including the opposition of I-1098 in direct conflict with the Gates family) that would have had a redistributive effect on the benefits reaped by those lucky enough to thrive over the past decade. She cited former Stranger writer Dominic Holden’s piece “Remember the Greediest,” which may be a relatively unfair characterization of Allen when compared to, say, Bezos, but speaks to his desire to control not only where the wealth he distributed went, but also the shape of the city he lived adjacent to.

Seattle is a profoundly and increasingly unequal city. And this inequality persists along racial, gender and class lines. Allen’s work with Vulcan inscribed these power imbalances in the spatial configuration of the center of the city. The people who lost out in the reconfiguration that created our new Seattle are angry and have every right to be angry because of systemic structures of power.

Which is to say that while essentially dancing on Paul Allen’s grave before he was lowered into it was gross, and I understand why people are mad at Sawant, I also understand why she and others are mad at Allen. Reading Sawant’s comment generously, she is attempting to give a voice to this anger, to preempt a hagiography of a man who wielded a lot of power and did so in the service of only a subset of the people affected by that power.

And to the large number of Seahawks fans out there who are really pissed at Sawant right now? I’d ask them to take a second and think of the relatively powerless to whom she’s giving voice. The Seahawks aren’t going anywhere thanks to Allen, but the powerless have been forced to relocate over and over again over the past decade within and outside of the city. I know how rough it would have been if the Seahawks had lost their home; consider sympathizing with someone giving voice to people who have lost theirs.

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rocketo
25 days ago
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seattle, wa
jaimeshade
26 days ago
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Atlanta, GA
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So, What's Marijuana Got to Do With It?

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In a search affidavit that we apparently know all the contents of, we now know that the police apparently found some marijuana—about .37 ounces—in Botham Jean’s apartment after he was shot by Dallas police officer Amber Guyger.

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jaimeshade
65 days ago
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Atlanta, GA
rocketo
65 days ago
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seattle, wa
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When you realize what Trump’s vast popularity means: that you don’t like Americans anymore.

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When an anonymous Trump official says that the official Trump Doctrine is “We’re America, Bitch,” they’re representing the people

↩︎ GQ

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jaimeshade
136 days ago
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Atlanta, GA
rocketo
136 days ago
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seattle, wa
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F#@k Civility

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For a very long time, I have been writing about the false equivalencies drawn, by pundits and by politicians, between progressive and conservative positions in the United States, in order to create an illusion of parity, rooted in a mendacious narrative about good faith disagreement, that does not exist.

I have written, again and again, over and over, about the inherent lack of equivalance between the left and the right, in both the nature of our policy positions and the tone of our public communications. It is not my opinion but a statement of fact that progressive policy positions broaden choice while conservative policy positions limit them. It is not my opinion but a statement of fact that progressive rhetoric does not seek to normalize eliminationist language. These are vast and irreconcilable differences between the "both sides" that we are meant to understand are similarly problematic.

The imagined similarities — designed to function so as to suggest that "both sides" are equally troublesome to the other — can only exist in a public square riddled with profoundly dishonest discourse that has obliterated truth beneath an insistence that opinion is all that matters, and all are equally valid.

The slow but determined erosion of the idea that there are facts and there are fictions, and they are not equivalent, is how we arrived at the point in which we now find ourselves — a point at which Democratic leaders and editorial boards of national newspapers are lecturing the resistance about their lack of civility toward an administration who is keeping babies in cages as a matter of national policy so aggressively unjustifiable that only wholesale lies can be invoked in its defense.

The trail leading backwards to the origins of the bothsideserism currently plaguing us, underwriting both silencing of legitimate criticism and the amplification of calls for "civility" directed as dissidents, is visible. Scattered all along its way are the scrawled traces of Cassandras who urgently deconstructed the harmful dynamic as it emerged.

Here, for example, is me writing on the subject thirteen years ago:
The media are further compromised in the current political climate because they're faced with an administration which repeatedly exhibits such wanton contempt for the truth, that genuine objectivity would often require calling the president, a member of his cabinet, and/or a close advisor a liar...

Giving ample time, as Ezra [Klein] suggests, to "everything going wrong in the country, they're certainly not buying the spin on Iraq, they're certainly not glossing over gas prices," isn't really the point. Ample time only matters if the time given produces something closely resembling reality, something genuinely objective, and the media has (repeatedly) mistaken objectivity for giving equal time to opposing sides, sans critique, irrespective of how fallacious one side may be. This tendency manifests itself most evidently in coverage of wedge issues like gay marriage and intelligent design, which weren't mentioned in Ezra's piece.

To wit, a recent AP story contained the following paragraph:
The theory of intelligent design says life on earth is too complex to have developed through evolution, implying that a higher power must have had a hand in creation. Nearly all scientists dismiss it as a scientific theory, and critics say it's nothing more than religion masquerading as science.
Two big problems here:

1. Identifying intelligent design as a "theory," while also referring to the theory of evolution in the same story, is, if I'm generous, bad application of language as theory is used in its scientific sense ("a set of related observations or events based upon proven hypotheses and verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers") in regard to evolution and in its layman's sense (a proposed but unverified explanation) in regard to intelligent design. If I'm not generous, it's a cynical attempt to imbue both sides of the debate with equal viability. While both sides have a right to their arguments, the suggestion that both are correct in their assertions their beliefs belong in a science class is sheer claptrap.

2. An intellectually honest statement about scientists' critique of intelligent design would be: All credible scientists dismiss it as scientific theory. Not "nearly all scientists." Any scientist who recognizes intelligent design as a scientific theory, considering it hasn't meant the minimum requirements for being categorized thusly, is utterly lacking in integrity. The suggestion that there are respected scientists within the scientific community who recognize intelligent design as a scientific theory is misleading at best and outright bullshit at worst.
That is a long excerpt, but an important one. None of this happened in a vacuum. It happened to the lingering echoes of critics who foresaw the deleterious effects such conjured parity would have on our institutions, our democracy, and eventually our very sustainability as a nation.

It happened as Cassandras who were shamed for our incivility pointed out that "policy differences" — one platform of which was increasingly defended using religion as a shield for otherwise indefensible bigotries — were, to an ever greater extent, becoming proxy battles for an overarching war over empathy: Its valued and governing presence on one side, or its contemptible status and resultant absence on the other.

Which brings me to the question that nags at me (and maybe you, too) a lot these days: How can "both sides" coexist as one nation, when the thing that divides us is not really policy difference at all, but fundamental differences in the way we express our own humanity and value others'?

On one side — and it's not in perfect alignment with progressive and conservative distinctions, but it's closer than not — are people who prioritize empathy and don't regard human variation and difference as something to fear or despise.

These folks support universal healthcare access, jobs with liveable wages, legal and accessible abortion, racial justice, gender justice, full LGBTQ equality, disability rights, voting rights, equal pay for all, restrictions on guns, regulations on capitalism, fair housing, public education, desegregation, criminal justice reforms, asylum, a fully funded social safety net, and other policies that broadly recognize the humanity of their fellow countrypersons.

It's the policy of empathy, struck through a rational self-interest driven by the understanding that we are all in the same leaky, creaky, unreliable boat — and the knowledge that a fortune is worth nothing at the bottom of the ocean, less than a single penny carried safely to shore.

On the other side are people who hold empathy in disdain, who sneer at the "weakness" of caring about strangers and regard the social contract as a zero sum game.

These folks support whatever personally benefits them, or, failing that, what will provide maximum harm to the people they've erroneously decided are responsible for their not having the life they want. Restrict healthcare to those who can afford it, good jobs are for white men, criminalize abortion, white is right, women are trash except their moms and wives, no gay marriage, trans people aren't real, more guns, fewer regulations, privatize schools, militarize the police, shut down the borders, no entitlements, fuck you.

It's the policy of selfishness, of privilege, of insularity, insecurity, ignorance, bigotry, hatred.

And we cannot change their minds. Not with all the civility, understanding, patient explanations, facts, appeals to reason, photos of infants in cages in all the world.

I could not change their minds any more than they could change mine.

The difference, however, despite the pundits' and politicians' insistence on concealing this rather significant reality, is that I want to enact laws that let us both live our lives as closely as possible to the way we'd like and they want me fucking dead.

At least some of them. Many of them. Large numbers. I've got 14 years of missives from their ranks to prove it.

Now we have reached the point where they control virtually everything — all three branches of the federal government, most state governments, an increasing share of the lower courts, and an abundance of media.

And it still isn't enough for them. Now we must bow. Be civil.

I will not. Our refusal to be civil is the one thing we've got left.

I don't know how we can coexist as a nation when we can't agree on the most fundamental issue of basic empathy. I'm not sure that we can. But what I do know is that I won't abet some sickening false harmony with authoritarian sadists by offering them my capitulation under the auspices of "civility."

Fuck civility. And fuck anyone who asks me for it.
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jaimeshade
144 days ago
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Atlanta, GA
rocketo
145 days ago
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seattle, wa
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