Monday, April 11, 2016

My Own Private Idaho

One of the pitfalls of living in a leftist utopia in your mind is that you're reminded often--especially during presidential election years--that you're way out of step with a large chunk of Americans. For the most part, this sums up my relationship to presidential elections and politics in general. Bernie Sanders comes close, but there really hasn't ever been a presidential candidate who's left or progressive enough for me. And when I write that, I realize some people will think "What, you want a Communist, right?" or "You want to take away all of my rights to religious freedom?" Um, no. The idea of being to the far left politically has become so twisted and contaminated by too many ultra conservatives over the years that no one knows what it means anymore. It's like saying you're a feminist. Even today, there are people who will shiver at the word "feminist" when things like--gasp!--women wanting equal pay and equal rights under the law spring to their minds. There's a surprisingly large contingent of citizens of the world who see feminism as a threat and recoil in horror at the thought of it. Same thing goes for being far left politically.

I never call myself a "liberal" for several reasons. Our parents are liberals, but I don't necessarily see the successive generations as making much meaning out of that label. No disrespect to our parents, but that term lost a lot of impact after the sixties. It's become meaningless in today's political sphere; it's used by the right strictly as a pejorative, while a lot liberals avoid claiming the label for fear of scorn. The most prominent reason I have for not identifying with it is that liberals aren't typically left of center enough for me, politically. Progressive politics and progressive movements are largely responsible for the immense social and political progress our country has made in the 240 years since the Declaration of Independence was adopted. Why can't more people see that?

So, while I'm hanging out in my own private Idaho, the rest of the country parses Hilary's and Bernie's words or debates Trump's credentials for being president. He has no credentials to be president! I digress. Intellectually, I understand that the center makes up the majority in this country, and that during election years any issue situated either too far left or right is often avoided in an attempt to secure votes. Emotionally, however, I have a hard time accepting that it has to be that way. This inevitably sets me up for frustration and disappointment, obviously. But every year, progressives make change, sometimes slowly, often by chipping away at the established policies and social norms until eventually making advances. So, until the day where more of us see the benefit in evaluating things from a progressive angle, I have my own leftist utopia in my mind to keep me going when things like Trump happen.

No comments:

Post a Comment