MODERATION IS A MYTH

There was a presidential election last week, and, honey, we’re FEELING GOOD!!

Now it is time to come together and heal the soul of a divided nation…hold on, what’s that??? More VIBES!

Whew, wait, we really need to talk about unity and the bright future of the world’s sexiest democracy….calm down, we can cool it down.

Yup, the mood is pure 2013 party – we just got out of a terrible relationship and we. are. ready. to. VIBE! Pound a Four Loco, inhale that tasty menthol flavor of a Camel Crush. Drop a dime in the jukebox and play me that sweet, sweet Of Monsters and Men.   

But these vibes…there is a sourness to them. Some great tasting headlines, but I’m picking up notes of losing, and a heady bouquet of handwringing in the nose.

Because let’s get real: the 2020 election was a disaster for the Democratic Party down-ballot.

No mandate in the Senate. A very slim majority in the House. Catastrophes in state houses around the country. Yes, we should all care about the two run-off Senate races in Georgia, but even if both are wins, that still means the entire legislative agenda for the next few years will be based around what red state Dem senators like Joe Manchin will sign off on.

So post your cringe and post your cope, but you can’t scold me (or the Democratic Party electorate, for that matter) into believing that I shouldn’t feel at least partly desolate about the political possibilities in the near term (ok so this is my own form of cope).

Already much cringe and cope has been posted, and much of it has tried to shore up the narrative that Democrats need to run toward the magical, sensible, boring realm of “moderation.”

Don’t fall for this!!

Elections are fascinating, the saying goes, because ideology collides with reality in real time. What is the overarching narrative of 2016 to 2018 to 2020?

It is definitely not the “demographics are destiny” and “increase voter turnout” slogans so many of us have been told – turnout was huge this year (cool!), but there was no tsunami Blue Wave beyond the White House, and Trump’s increases with Black and Hispanic voters should be raising alarm bells with DNC leadership that they can’t assume whole demographics will vote Blue, as if that ever was the case.

The latest cope to be shoved down our throats is that voters were scared off by worries about police departments defunded, high taxes, atheist college professors dating our daughters and other signs of encroaching socialism.

In a nutshell, the argument is that Democrats lost because the electorate wants moderation….

Now, a thought experiment (this blog posts counts as immersive theater).

Think about any arena of political policy. Healthcare. Racial justice. Climate change. Guns. Truly anything. Now articulate a policy goal that you think should happen regarding that issue (whisper it to a houseplant).

How did you come to this conclusion? Did you think about the two most extreme positions out there and then calculate what you believe is the best median position between the two poles? No? Why do we assume other people think like that?

When people call for moderation, it is based off a faulty understanding of how everyone actually formulates their own viewpoint (assuming these calls are made on good faith — I’m not getting into the fact that there are plenty of people making this suggestion who make a whole lot of money off it).

Most likely, I’m guessing that policies you believe in are based off of lived experience and some personal value system (if your value system is finding the political center of every issue, then you have overdosed on West Wing and there is no saving you).

To me, there is no overarching electoral narrative defining the past five years (besides: “yikes.”)

When you pop the hood on the 2020 election, you find lots of contradictions. Floridians rejected Biden, but voted for a $15 minimum wage. Montana voted for legalized weed. On the darker side, California went to Biden but approved Prop 22, a major win by Uber and Lyft in their efforts to make us a nation of beautiful, benefit-less independent contractors (time to hustle BABY).

Very interestingly, polls continue to show huge support for government-run healthcare plans.

How do we solve these contradictions so we can create a more equitable and just society?

Hey, I don’t know, I’m just another sensitive artist. I think there are many talented thinkers who agree with me and I’m hopeful a strategy for a reinvigorated Left will begin to cohere in the coming months.

My wider point here is that you shouldn’t believe it when pollsters, the media and political leaders rebuke you into believing that American voters are “moderate” in the sense of “not extreme.”

I think it is closer to the truth that the vast majority of Americans (especially the ones who don’t obsess over politics online) hold a bunch of loosely connected, and often contradictory, political beliefs that are often vastly more extreme (right or left) than what Joe Manchin or Susan Collins believes.

Maybe with targeted outreach and the right kind of messaging, something resembling a quality future can be achieved through the ballot box (ok so this is more cringe with a dash of cope).

Oh yeah, so in the 2.5 years since I’ve updated this blog, I’ve moved to NYC, attended NYU Tisch for a MFA in Dramatic Writing, received my MFA in Dramatic Writing (my Thesis in Screenplay, thank you very much), and I’m frothing up in Final Draft most days. Also, there was a global coronavirus pandemic and Clare and I were supposed to get married this past weekend (11/7/20, i.e. Bidenday AKA “Bruncher’s Revenge”), and we had to move our wedding until next November….but we’re still feeling these vibes!!!

Longish-form blogging on current events? I’m sort of feeling it. Are you? If so, let me know. If not, cry more lol

Love,

Barry