How to End the Feud between Hillary Dems vs. Bernie Dems and Unite

Accusations, arguments and demands have been swirling around on the Internet, between members of two groups: Hillary or Centrist Dems vs. Bernie or Left Dems. I wouldn’t be surprised if much of it were coming from GOP bots and trolls, trying to do a Divide and Conquer program on Democrats.

However, at least some of it is coming from real Centrists and Leftists, who are at each other’s throats. This reminds me of rats in experimental psychology experiments where the researcher shocks the rats. If there are two rats in the box, they’ll fight each other. In the face of uncontrollable pain, even animals often take it out on each other, as if the other animal is to blame. How about if we all start acting better than rats though?

All or almost all of us on the Left are in pain from all the destruction that the current GOP government is wreaking on our nation. We need to find some ways to release our distress and/or to target our anger in ways that make things better, not worse.

The Resistance has done some constructive channeling of anger e.g. through demonstrations against Trump Care and against Trump’s immigration policies. Many of us have also come up with our personal exercise routines or social support networks, or whatever else we need to release stress.

Even if none of the Democratic party feuding is coming from the GOP, it still needs to be a concern. There’s no good that will come from Democrats dividing and conquering ourselves, saving the GOP the trouble of doing it. We can end up splitting ourselves into fragments, each too small and weak to accomplish much.

Here are the two of the least inflammatory examples of some of these arguments that I could find, just so you know what I am referring to.

Why leftists don’t trust Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Deval Patrick

“Sanders Democrats” Don’t Own the Left

These are fairly civil arguments above. By contrast, sometimes Internet interactions seem to be about being right all the time, defending one’s point of view and “owning” other people, as if they are what? Our slaves? That doesn’t sound like a great formula for finding ways to cooperate on shared goals.

Making accusations or tossing around insults, while demanding respect from the accused, is also a popular move. All day long, people make demands of each other, that basically amount to: “Admit that you are the evil/stupid/wrong one and I am the moral/smart/right one.” Unsurprisingly, no one is admitting that their own side, or their own leader, is evil, stupid or wrong.

This method of interacting is as old as human history. However, it has been pushed hard by the GOP in recent decades, because it has successfully won elections for them. It does this by isolating Republicans from Democrats. Currently, the same behaviors are being practiced within the Democratic party, keeping it divided within itself.

Below is a description of how bashing politics works for the GOP. It can work because Republicans, when splintered off from Democrats, are still a big enough group to win elections. The same is not true of establishment Democrats vs. Left Democrats, neither of whom seem likely to defeat both the other faction and the GOP, and thus to rule the nation on its own. Dominance/submission power games only win in American politics when the winner can dominate Congress and perhaps the presidency too.

Fragmentation of the Democratic party is one reason why our government is currently controlled by the GOP. This article describes the Right Wing bashing of liberals by Fox news pundits, and the feelings of power and dominance that it gives to people. There are numerous other TV, radio and Internet news outlets besides Fox that also use such methods.

FEAR & UNbalanced: Confessions of a 14-Year Fox News Hitman
How Roger Ailes & Fox News Got Rich Scamming America’s La Z Boy Cowboys and Selling Out America’s Soul

Here is a description of the longer history of GOP attack politics in recent decades.
The political scientist who saw Trump’s rise coming
In the summer of 2015, most of the political world still thought Donald Trump’s candidacy was a joke. Norm Ornstein…

Getting back to Democrats, I’ve certainly participated in the current Democratic party feud myself, in ways that I later had to admit were not helping me to reach my goals. If your ways of discussing this aren’t having the desired effects, maybe you should re-evaluate what you’re doing also.

Perhaps this Democratic party feud will only be resolved after the 2018 Democratic primaries, when we’ll know which candidates the public prefers in various states — Left Dems or the Center Dems. After that, we’ll see whether the public prefers Democrat or Republican Congress members, in the general election. In politics, you don’t get a chance to be right in the legislating of policies, unless you are right by winning at the polls.

In the mean time, those of us who are willing, can certainly continue to work together across groups, at town halls, demonstrations and drives to contact Congress members on issues. We can resist destructive policies, just as we resisted Trump Care.

The insults, arguments about who’s right, and demands for respect from people to whom we may not be showing respect, aren’t changing any minds. No one seems to have persuaded a Center Dem that Bernie would have won. or that Hillary was a terrible candidate. No one seems to have persuaded a Left Dem that Bernie would not have won, or that Clinton was not a terrible candidate. I’ve participated in those arguments myself, and watched them go nowhere.

Some of what is done is done unconsciously. For example, some people argue with facts and believe they are being objective and rational. But facts can be — and often are — carefully chosen to trigger or reinforce bias for or against a certain candidate or group.

For example, obsessively pointing out only Hillary’s or Harris’s real or perceived flaws, or only Bernie’s or Stein’s, is bound to rankle those who see those people as visionary leaders.

Also, labeling the other candidate or group as evil, corrupt, greedy, stupid or hopelessly naïve and ignorant — that’s making a value judgment. It is doing so, regardless of whether you find facts that you think support these labels or not. The other side can find facts that they believe support labels just as negative about your candidate or group too.

It’s going to be easier to notice the other side doing these things than your own. So feel free to make a study of people on the other side doing these things, before you set out to stop doing them — before you set out to focus on common values or areas of agreement. If someone on the other side does it, think of how your side could do the same behavior, make the same mistake. But no there’s no need to be like Trump and spend your time on insult wars. Just note the mistake, and then shift to looking for how to focus on constructive vision.

I can’t blame anyone for defending their side against e.g. Hillary or Harris bashing, or defending their side against the charge that all Left Dems are racist and sexist. However, that is preaching to, or defending of, the choir.

It’s not a bad idea, to shore up your group by defending it. Doing so may help your group to feel good and to move forward with goals, rather than feeling demoralized and stuck. Maybe it will help you find and promote like-minded candidates. Maybe it’s a good stress release — a way of venting frustrations with Trump, or with the other faction. Just don’t fool yourself into thinking that defending your own side is persuading anyone from the other side. At least I’ve never seen it happen.

We have a better chance of getting to a constructive place with the other faction, with conversations about visions of what we would like to see for our nation, and about values and goals. Those people who share similar values may be the best ones to focus on and join together with, to make constructive policies happen.

Hopefully, once the primaries are over, Center Dems and Left Dems can find ways to to work together on behalf of Democratic candidates chosen in the primaries — just as both Hillary supporters and the vast majority of Bernie supporters, all voted for Hillary in the general election. Of course, most Hillary supporters would likely have voted for Bernie, had he been the nominee. For some, probably most, people, the Congressional candidates chosen in the primary are going to be a compromise, rather than representing 100% of what they want.

Here’s a good book that discusses well how to communicate on the basis of values and possible shared goals, rather than talking instead about areas of disagreement, as is most often done on the Internet.
The Little Book of Revolution: A Distributive Strategy for Democracy

The direction of change in the United States over the past 40-50 years has been decidedly in favor of wealthy…

George Lakoff has also written about this. Here is an article by him.
Berkeley author George Lakoff says, ‘Don’t underestimate Trump’

Berkeley author George Lakoff says, ‘Don’t underestimate Trump’

If you like the article and want to read more about his work, here is an excellent book he wrote: The ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate

I like the idea of sustainability — not just with regard to the environment but with regard to human relationships. There are times for short conversations. Sometimes, however, conversations are prematurely cut off, when something might be learned by one or both parties if a different approach is used. Focusing on areas of agreement, rather than disagreement, and on values more than on facts, are two such promising approaches.

I’m just starting to try to switch my focus myself. My attempts at this are very imperfect so far, and my results are varied. Varied results are better than what I got before though. The results of focusing only on defending one side or the other have been pretty much uniformly negative.

Since I was for Bernie in the primaries and for Hillary after she became the nominee, I am actually really on both sides here. So I have felt the pain of being bashed by both sides. This is part of what motivates me to make a shift in communication strategies.

I’ve been told that this is not about hurt feelings. To me, it is totally about hurt feelings on both sides — because they could get in the way of people being willing to cooperate across Democratic party factions, in order to achieve common goals and defeat the GOP agenda.

Although we shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells around one another, it can pay off in cooperation and achieved visions, for us to sincerely attempt to act considerately toward each other. Trying that seems far more promising than acting like some Trump supporters do — going around bashing people and yelling labels like “snowflake” at people who get upset.

I invite others to give this a try and to let us all know in the comments section below, what your results are. What do you have to lose? If you decide you don’t like talking about values, goals, visions, possible areas of agreement and/or ways of cooperating toward common goals, that’s fine. You can always go back to bashing the side you are not on, complete with lists of facts that you believe back up your side’s point of view, just like almost everyone else on the Internet.

No matter how this turns out, there are going to be some on the Left who won’t choose to work together with Democrats. That certainly is their free choice to make. Some Leftists and centrists and others will end up working with Democrats, to take back Congress in 2018. If we make our case for our political values, if we appreciate and support and try to have some fun working with those who choose to work with us, I think that’s the ticket to success here.

By the way, the Internet is not the ideal forum for communicating and uniting. Marches and other projects for common purposes are better. Although some constructive political communication does happen on the Internet, it may be the exception rather than the rule. Much of the Internet is far too tribal and troll filled, to lend itself to constructive communication.

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Why Are We Deferring to the 1%? Understanding How Gates, Kochs, Waltons and Buffett Are Just Like the Rest of Us

Please cut and paste the link. (I made the mistake of updating Word Press, which now will not link to a url unless it is on their tiny whitelist of just a few web sites. If you use Word Press, then learn from my mistake and don’t update it. Software companies ought to refer to these new versions as “downgrades” and “downdates”, in order to be more accurate.)

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Dealing with Political Differences.

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Clouds Got in My Way

It’s cloudy again here in the Pacific Northwest today. That’s why I moved here– to escape sunburn and heat stroke. Part of me is jubilant. Still, I would like more days when the sun is shining on me but isn’t too hot — as if God put one of those light dimmer switches on a tree, and I pushed it down to a low setting.

What a delight it was to move here from the suffocatingly hot climate of the Southern U.S. But then I blew past the honeymoon stage, and began to descend deep into culture shock. While walking in my suburban neighborhood, the realization hit me right smack in the heart– that there were big differences between walking here and walking in New Orleans, where I grew up.

I came across other walkers, but most didn’t make eye contact. If I spoke, most did not respond. Back home, I looked at myself in the mirror. Was my fly open on my jeans, revealing my underwear? No. Was my nose running? No. What was it? Why wouldn’t these people return my “Hello” and my eye contact, like almost all New Orleanians used to do?

When I asked people at my church about this, I heard responses like “People are the same everywhere”– an interesting attitude held by many folks who have lived in the same place for decades.

We can’t see a culture if we are inside of it. Our own culture seems as natural as the sun rising in the morning– or, in the case of the Northwest, the sun NOT rising in the morning because it’s hidden behind thick layers of clouds. Oh, sure, people in Seattle are aware of the “Winter Blues.” Everyone knows someone ELSE who has it, but no one thinks THEY have it themselves. They say “The lack of sun doesn’t bother me. I feel all right.”

So I turned to other outsiders– for a view of Seattle culture from outside of it. On an airplane I met a guy who had grown up in Seattle, but then moved to Arizona. He said “You never realize how much it affects you when you don’t see the sun for months on end; I feel so much more alive now in Arizona.” He said this, looking straight at me, with emotion in his voice and a friendly smile on his face, just as if he were from New Orleans.

A business colleague of mine from the Mid-West announced excitedly one day “I finally figured out this culture. “Socializing is a means to an end here. It isn’t something enjoyable that you would do for its OWN sake.”

So what’s the solution to these Winter Blues? Well, for starters, people avoid other people. After all, many of us have sad eyes, expressionless faces, negative thinking patterns, and non-appreciative responses to even good events. This was somewhat new to me. Having grown up with hot weather, I had gotten more accustomed to the irritability caused by heat. Scorcher summers had helped me to understand a character in Camus’ novel The Stranger. When asked why he murdered a man, he replied “It was hot.”

What else do people do about the Winter Blues? Some vacation in Hawaii. Others can only afford to paint their walls yellow, to remind them what color the sun was, the last time they saw it. Many folks drink gallons of coffee daily to speed themselves along. Seattleites strongly believe that “Thou shalt keep busy every waking minute of thy life.” People ask “How are you? Are you keeping busy?” Busyness can push away depressing feelings– at least for a while.

People read a lot here. Me too. I communicate on line with folks in sunny climes– people who, if they were here with me, I’m sure would make eye contact, smile and speak warmly.

At times I find myself wondering whether I would feel better overall, if I still lived in a place where I was passing out from heat stroke every time I went outdoors. Sometimes I think that all of us in Seattle should form a big chorus to sing that Joni Mitchell song– you know, the one that goes “So many things I would have done. But clouds got in my way.”

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Feeling Alive: My Latest video. This one is person-on-the-street interviews

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New video: Going to Extremes

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World Healing Song Lyrics & You Tube

Youtube video World Healing Song

World Healing Song
Copyright February 2013 words and lyrics by Julie H. Hotard

I can feel my heart.
You can feel your heart.
They can feel their hearts.
We can feel our hearts.

I can feel my need.
You can feel your need.
They can feel their needs.
We can feel our needs.

I can do my work.
You can do your work.
They can do their work.
We can do our work.

I can sing and dance.
You can sing and dance.
They can sing and dance.
We can sing and dance.
I can feel your need.
You can feel my need.
They can feel our needs.
We can feel their needs.

I can be myself.
You can be yourself.
They can be themselves.
We can be ourselves.

I am free to be.
You are free to be.
They are free to be.
We are free to be.

I am free to love.
You are free to love.
They are free to love.
We are free to love.

I can feel my heart.
I can feel my need.
I can do my work.
I am free to be.

You can feel your heart.
You can feel your need.
You can do your work.
You are free to be.

They can feel their hearts.
They can feel their needs.
They can do their work.
They are free to be.

We can feel our hearts.
We can feel our needs.
We can do our work.
We are free to be.

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YouTube video The Problem with Ayn Rand

This is my first YouTube video. I am hoping to get better at them as I practice over time.

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A Fable: Good, Evil, and Boat Building

Once upon a time there were a brother and a sister who lived on a small island, connected to the the mainland by a bridge.  They had both recently been through divorces. Brother was over at Sister’s house, sitting on her big bright gold and green and purple couch, drinking coffee, while she drank tea. They were talking about all the crazy times they had gone through, consoling one another. Suddenly the sound of the loud tsunami siren blaring startled them on to their feet.  A fierce flood was rushing over their island.

They jumped into Brother’s pickup truck and drove toward the highest hill. Many other folks had the same idea, so traffic was thick. As luck would have it though, Sister’s house was an inexpensive one, one of those without a water view and far from the shore. So they were already a few miles away from the coast when they began their drive. They even managed to get halfway up the hill, well away from the flood waters, before the traffic came to a halt. They ran out of the car and stood aghast, looking down at the waves and flooded homes.

Once the waters receded, they went back down, to look for their flooded homes and boats and to assess the damage. They were shocked to find that that everything where they lived had been swept into the sea by the flood and the wind.  

But first things first. The bridge to the mainland had been destroyed. They and others on the island would need medicine, additional food, and other supplies that could only be gotten from the mainland. The land lines for telephones were down, the cell phone tower was down, and as far as they knew, no one on the small island owned a satellite phone. So, while they cried over their lost homes and boats, and the devastation around them, they began to gather wood.  They would build a new boat to travel to the mainland to get supplies.

Soon it occurred to them that no one else was building boats, and that the boat building would go a lot faster if more people pitched in and helped by contributing work and tools. Maybe some folks could mentor others. So one evening, after a hard day’s work, they walked around the island, trying to find others to join in their effort. They came to a group of folks who were screaming and crying to one another, in a state of grief over their destroyed homes and lost relatives. Brother and Sister weren’t able to get their attention.

Brother and Sister saw a couple of people hauling cold cuts and bottles of water from an abandoned store which someone had broken into. Those people rushed on by. Soon a couple of new folks came along, who looked calmer than the others.

Sister explained that she and Brother were building a boat to travel to the mainland to get supplies. “Would they like to help?” The others asked what political party Sister belonged to, and she told them. One of the others snarled, saying “You’re not in the same political party I’m in. Are you blind? Can’t you see that my party is Good and your party is Corrupt. You party is responsible for all of the Evils on the island. You are Evil and can not be trusted.” The two others raved on about the various Evils of Sister’s party. Surprised and hurt, Sister defended her party’s policies, and argued about issues.

After a while, Brother grabbed Sister by the arm to pull her away. Sister was a strong woman, and could easily have pulled herself free. But she told Brother “You’re right. This argument could go on forever. We’d never get the boat built. By the way, if you want my attention, please just touch my shoulder. Don’t grab me and try to haul me away, okay?” Brother agreed that next time he’d just touch Sister on the shoulder. “Thanks” she said “I appreciate that.”

Brother and Sister went back and slept all night on the beach. They worked hard the next day. When evening came, they sat down to take a break. They saw two folks walking by, who were younger and stronger than themselves, though perhaps not as skilled. Brother and Sister looked at one another. “Well, no harm in asking” Sister said. But first she asked them “What political party are you in?” One answered “Oh, we’re not in a party. We’re not very political.”

Sister heaved a sigh of relief. She began explaining the boat building effort and asked if they would like to join in. But, to her surprise, one of the young folks shouted at her “You’re not in the same generation we’re in. Can’t you see that all the harm your generation has done to this island? People of your generation are Evil and can’t be trusted. People of my generation are the only Good ones. ”

Sister decided to take a different approach this time. She listened to the grievances of this younger man, asked questions about how he came to these conclusions, and asked about his fears, his desires. After about an hour of Sister listening and asking questions about his concerns, he began calming down a little. But he still was not interested in Sister, or Brother, or their boat building effort, or anything else but himself. Then Brother gently touched Sister on the arm and asked “Do you want to sleep now, so that we’re ready to build the boat in the morning?”

The next day they continued to work hard on the boat. Maybe it wouldn’t take too many more days to finish. Sometimes people came up to them and asked what they were doing. Brother or Sister would briefly explain and ask if they wanted to join in the effort, so that folks on the island could have supplies sooner.  

But the new people always turned out to be in some other religion or race or social class or other group that was Good, while Brother and Sister’s group was Evil and could not be trusted. A few of their divorced friends came by.  They were horrified that a person would trust someone of the other gender enough to build a boat with them. Brother and Sister sighed. Then they turned their full attention back to their work.

They got a few death threats from people who were in Good groups and who thought that some group that Brother was in, or some group that Sister was in, was Evil, and so they should be destroyed. Luckily, no one carried out any of these threats. So they lived on, and kept building.

In time, they were able to finish the boat– a small one that would hold only the two of them. They hoped to get the help of other people with bigger boats, once they reached the mainland.

They set out as soon as the boat was finished and seaworthy. At first, Brother had to do more of the boat rowing, because Sister was so fatigued, frustrated and depressed from having tried to persuade so many people to help with their efforts. And she had a headache from trying to listen to people for hours– people who never took a turn listening to her. Brother didn’t mind, because he knew Sister had put forth most of the effort to try to get others to help them. He knew that it had been worth a try. Sister soon recovered enough to do more of the rowing. They were both very tired. But they rowed on as strongly as they could, occasionally catching a fish to eat.

Just when they were almost too exhausted to go on, they reached the shore. They fell down on the beach in exhaustion and slept for a few hours. Then they awoke to see what was before them. The mainland wasn’t in such great shape either. But some people had managed to survive the flood. There were some abandoned stores that had been broken into, where they were pleased to find food and fresh water. But all the boats they saw, other than their own, were in pieces, destroyed by the storm. Sadly, they began taking apart their boat, and collecting more wood, in order to build a larger boat– one big enough to bring back food and medicine to the island.

After several days of collecting wood and then starting to build, it was clear that it was going to take a very long time to build a new bigger boat. Sister thought about asking more people to join in the effort. But as soon as she thought about this, she was overcome by a wave of sadness and exhaustion running through her body, as big as the tsunami wave. She shook it off and went back to boat building with Brother.

That night she became sad again. Instead of going to sleep on the sand there as usual, she wandered off into the nearest town. She found a liquor store that had been smashed open by the storm, grabbed a bottle, and began drinking. Then she went next door to a pharmacy. She crawled in through a broken window and looked through the bottles of drugs. She started popping various pills into her mouth, to try to ease her distress.

The next morning, Brother was shocked to find that Sister had disappeared. On other mornings, she had always popped awake like a bird at dawn, and began working on the boat, even before he had finished drinking the coffee that he had found in the abandoned store.

Brother rushed off to search for her. He found her lying in the street, dead from all the drugs and alcohol. Brother’s heart fell deep into grief. The formerly quiet Brother wandered around wailing loudly, feeling lost. He felt like killing himself.  He didn’t. But it was going to be a while before he went back to building a boat.

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