The Presidential Election of 2020

A Discussion, November 7, 2020

Participants:

Chude Pam Parker Allen  
R. Cole Bridgeforth
Miriam Glickman
Bruce Hartford
Marion Kwan
Eugene Turitz

Contents:

Miriam: A Lot of Smiles
Bruce: Relieved, Disappointed, & Apprehensive  
Cole: Caste, Trump, and Power
Chude: White and Male-Supremacy
Marion: A New Understanding
Gene: On the Edge of Fascism
Environmental Issues
"Values" Voters
Insane?
Socialism?
Party Loyalties
Community
What the Data Showed
Reflections
How Do We Talk to People?
  
[This discussion of the 2020 presidential election by six veterans of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement took place four days after the end of voting on November 3rd while the last votes were still being counted. Though a few states were yet to be called, Biden had been declared the victor just a hours before. It had been an angry and bitter campaign, perhaps the most polarizing and racially-divisive since the Civil War era.]

Chude:

You meant that you were surprised that the presidential outcome was finally more or less decided?

Marion:

Yes. I didn't feel that the vote count was this far along. I didn't think we would go this far along and that Pennsylvania would have been the last place I would guess would give us an indication. But it was the state that put Biden over the top. So I was surprised at that.

Bruce:

Last I looked, Georgia was still not called and neither was Nevada. I don't know if that's changed in the last few hours, but as of this morning — 

Marion:

Yeah and Arizona, we still don't — 

Bruce:

No, Arizona has been called for Biden.

Marion:

Oh Wow! Okay. So how are we feeling about it?

Gene:

Who's going to begin?

 

Miriam: A Lot of Smiles

I can. I have gotten through these four years, a little easier than a lot of people I know. I know a woman who's woken up every single morning with her stomach in a knot and there was nothing I could say to her to calm her down. You know I mentioned to her that if you do something, it can help. If you're part of something, if you contribute money or — but that didn't take away her stomach aches every single morning.

Anyway, so I wasn't able to help her except to sympathize with her. But I figured it this way, I lived through in the Civil Rights Movement with its horrible things and it gave me maybe some perspective. Every single thing Trump did that upset people — I've seen worse. Now that's not true for everything he did, but it did help. So I've been happy since yesterday. Really clear to me when they were talking about Pennsylvania and I was watching the numbers. So yeah, a lot of smiles.

 

Bruce: Relieved, Disappointed, & Apprehensive

I think I'm more like your friend who wakes up every morning with her stomach in a knot — though this election did not entirely cure me of that. I've been doing work for four years with Indivisible, several hours a day at least in the last couple of months. So the election was an intense focus and I'm very relieved at the outcome of Trump being defeated.

But I'm depressed by what I think the election revealed about America. And I'm really deeply apprehensive about the future. There's almost no email chatter going on the Indivisible Slack, which is our message board, everyone is out partying. I ain't one of them. I'm more depressed and apprehensive than joyful.

I'm relieved that not only did Trump lose but it looks like he's really going to be a goner because so far as I can read between the lines, the Republican power brokers, the corporate elite, his media supporters in Fox News and the New York Post, and so forth, all seem to be abandoning him. So that's good and so I'm relieved at it. But I posted on the message board we use for Indivisible — I'm going to read you the paragraph that I posted because, I think it explains where I'm at.

"This election was nail biting close because Trump and his Republican toadies delivered to his racist, nationalist, bigoted, selfish, greedy, belligerent, falsely aggrieved, and anti-intellectual base, exactly what they wanted. For four years he played to his base, he fought fiercely and ruthlessly for what they wanted. And despite his self-evident incompetence and greed and corruption and cruelty and mean vindictive spirit, they adored him and they turned out in record numbers to reward him. And they are half the population. And that is very depressing and scary for me."

It seems to me — what that says to me, is that if Trump had been a little less a vicious, vindictive, personally corrupt buffoon, if he'd been a little less obvious in his lies, a little more disciplined in his deceit, he probably would have won.

And almost all of his Republican toadies: Collins, Ernst, McConnell, Graham, and so forth, all of them who slavishly supported him, were reelected rather than being punished. And to me that means that Trump has provided what in high-tech they call "proof of concept." He's provided proof that half the American population, will accept — welcome — authoritarianism, bellicose racism and nationalism, vindictive-cruelty, "greed to the wealthy and fuck the poor" policies. It's just agonizing for me. I knew that a third of the nation was like that, now it looks like it's half the nation. And I find that deeply depressing. So I'm not a happy camper.

 

Cole: Caste, Trump, and Power

I finished Isabel Wilkerson book, Caste. And in there, she references an idea that I've had for a little while now, not too long. I always wondered why poor whites and other folks like that voted against their self interest. You offer them medical care, good jobs, all that shit, and they still, "No we want that, but we want something else more." And they want to be on top. To have that — I don't know, what to call it. It's what the Senator said back there in 1800s is when he said, "The order of things is that the lowliest white man must be above the most accomplished Black man."
"[People of African descent are] regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect and that the Negro might justly and lawfully reduced to slavery for his benefit." — Chief Justice Roger Taney's opinion in the Dred Scott case.

And that is what they're fighting for. They're willing to give up all this other shit, sorry, give up all those other things that they should be wanting, but they want what Trump is offering more. I mean, and I don't disagree with Bruce in that I've raised a question — "What if he had been just a little more skillful?" Because he was an awful person. He's awful. He's unjust and he's stupid to boot. So if he had been somebody that's really smart — I mean, I think this started off with [Alabama Governor] George Wallace, when he inverted himself and said, "I was never a racist, I'm not just against it." He railed against pinpointed-headed intellectuals and big government and for state's rights.

He set the tone and of course, Nixon carried it on and Reagan. But I think that's what's hidden underneath and it does make me feel optimistic because after the 2016 election, a lot of my Berkeley friends, our Berkeley friends said, "What we got to do is we got to talk to our white brethren and explain to them, or understand them and listen to them and do all that stuff you know?" And my wife and I were like, "Really? We know who they are, they will kill us. So you can talk all the stuff you want to talk about talking to them. They will kill us — they have been."

But I didn't understand the mechanism really. I should have, I've lived it for 76 years, I should have understood what I was seeing. But actually Bob Moses, back in July or April or something like that, did a thing on NPR with Taylor Branch an interview. And I listened to it again this week and I realized he was using the term "caste." He didn't use the term racism he said, "There's a caste system in our country. And we have, it's embedded in the educational system. It's not the educational system that creates castes, castes {UNCLEAR} the educational system."

Chude:

Makes sense.

Cole:

Wilkerson also points out that it would take Black folks 200 years to acquire the kind of wealth that white folks have because there's like 10 to one difference in wealth and all that stuff. So I'm not sure. I mean first of all, as one young man said this morning, "Oh, we got a old white man to come save us from the yellow, red, white men." You know.

Well at the very least we need more room and Biden will give us more room and Harris will give us more room. The mistake I think we made, in my community, when Obama was elected and maybe progress as well, "We can go home now. He got it." He's our magic Negro he can fix this stuff.

There is no magic person to fix this stuff. And of course we know that everything swings on Georgia right now, with those two senatorial seats. So this is the first campaign I can remember that I actually donated money to. And I've donated to Georgia already going to donate some more.

[At the time of this discussion, the Republicans had won Senate 50 seats to the Democrat's 48. A runoff election was scheduled in December for the two remaining seats, both of which were from Georgia. It was understood that if Democrats won both those seats the Senate would be split 50-50, allowing Vice President Harris to break ties and thereby give Democrats control. Without Democratic control, the assumption was that Republican Marjority Leader McConnell would continue to ruthlessly block all legislation favored by Democrats — as he had since the Democrats took control of the House in 2018. If there were any possibility of a Democratic bill garnering enough Republican votes to pass the Senate, he would use his power to prevent it from ever being voted on.]

Miriam:

Me too I've done it.

Cole:

Because if Mitch McConnell has control of the Senate, then it will reduce what Biden can do. Period that's all the deal is.

Chude:

That's right.

Cole:

I mean, McConnell was an avid, I would use the term "racist." You know, he said, "We're going to make Obama a one-term dude." I'm like, "What do you care if he's doing the right thing for people? Right now it's not about that, it's about some other stuff."

So anyway, that's kind of, we can see that hard work can accomplish some things. Yes, 70 Million people voted for that idiot. Like somebody said in TV today, that means every other person you see thinks differently from you, every second person. Okay. Doesn't change anything because you still have to get up every morning and go to war, whatever that is for you.

I love what Bruce was talking about and if we have to finish out our lives doing this then, because I really didn't want to imagine being 80 years old under Donald Trump. That's just, you know, I believe in the American way, that's what I grew up thinking and this man is an abomination.

He just did the absolute, everything you tell them about manhood and all of that shit that we buy into and kills us half the time because we get too stiff. But this dude, you wouldn't even tolerate him on the playground because he's nothing. But he keeps saying to that 70 Million people, "No matter what else happens, no matter how much I screw you, you'll still be on top of people of color. You got to fear them, they're going to be the majority in 20 years." Even if we're the majority, the centers of power are controlled by white men and it's going to be a long shift to undo that.

So we've got a step taking today because if we hadn't taken step today, oh my gosh. No. And it's a pretty big repudiation of Trump. There's a lot of states Trump would have to go after to change votes, but if we don't win that Senate, we're going to be facing what Obama faced. At some point he was just dealing with what the executive branch could do, of course, better that only the Attorney General did not.

Chude:

That's right.

Cole:

Better to bring — And I know people will say, you shouldn't go after Trump after the election. New York should bury his ass. Run him out the country. He needs to pay for what he's done, for all these years. He flew too high. You've heard of the Icarus syndrome, right? Icarus was a Greek guy, wings of wax and feathers and flew too high and the sun burned him and he fell to his death. I want to see Trump experience that, you flew too high and people saw who you were and you can't hide your taxes no more. Okay I'll quit. Just to tell you how I feel. .

 

Chude: White and Male-Supremacy

My daughter-in-law told me last night when we were talking that she had heard that 55% of white women had voted for Trump. So I've been thinking a lot about that — That's not true?

Bruce:

Yes, but — One of the things I do for Indivisible is I'm tracking all of these statistics. All the numbers are still preliminary for this election, but it looks like around 55% of white women voted for Trump. Which is the same, or very slightly higher, than the portion of white women who voted for Trump in 2016. But the roughly 62% of white men who voted for Trump this year is down from the 69% who voted for him in 2016.

Chude:

That's been really sobering. And I do think it's connected to his Evangelical base and the fact that the pastor — supposedly some people said the pastors are actually reminding the men to make sure their women voted the right way. So it's had me thinking about that whole question of the domination of women by men. And as long as women choose to allow that, then in terms of the white community, they are going to go with these reactionary white men.

I also have been thinking that more and more for me, at least, the issue really is to begin to speak in terms of "white-supremacy" rather than just "racism," because I don't think people necessarily get the difference.

And I think what Cole, you were saying is a lot of it. Like white-supremacy means even if I'm dirt poor, because I'm white I'm superior. And people are holding on to that. And then you get into that whole thing with, especially the European immigrants coming in and being discriminated against and treated so badly, and then proving that they could be white and becoming part of — and you get it.

And we're talking about people who were oppressed, we're talking about people who were really badly treated and so we're also into that question of why is it, from the beginning of the English European settlement of this country, people who were oppressed turn around and become oppressors? So that's one of the things that I think is behind what we're talking about here.

Some of my women friends who are good liberals are just so thrilled at Trump's defeat. And some of them are thrilled that Biden is already being conciliatory. And I think... and I, of course can be totally wrong, but I think it was one of Obama's biggest mistakes that right from the beginning he failed to take into account that these people are evil. These people are bad. These people are trying to hurt you. Instead of stepping a little bit to the right to appease them he needed to take strong stands. And of course we all know with, we remember Kamala Harris saying to voters in Pennsylvania, "Biden isn't opposed to fracking."

So from my point of view, it's what you said, Cole, it gives us a little room, but that's all it gives us. And Bruce your point, I think, is well taken that in no way has the struggle stopped.

But in all of that, I should also say that I basically all but ignored the election. I chose not — Of course, yeah, I voted. And even the 19 year old grandson voted this time. Yaaay! He didn't vote last election, but he voted this time. But I mean I'm not into adrenaline rushes and so I couldn't handle watching everything. So I just went about my business of trying to focus on what's important in terms of my own work.

And I do think I have to step up to the plate on the question of, at least in my writing, white women and white-supremacy, that's my job. And I've been working on that because they're going to reprint Reluctant Reformers and I have to rewrite a couple paragraphs that focus on how the white women in women's liberation failed to address racism and white supremacy.

And I've been thinking about own experience of being in the women's liberation movement. I did teach courses on racism. I did try to work on that question, but I know I did not understand how serious it was as more and more women came into the movement to make sure they understood the importance of struggling against white supremacy and racism. It was a grassroots movement and it grew very fast.

I think the class of women that benefited most from the gains of the women's movement, the white women especially, got complacent. And now we're looking at the fact that we don't even have the majority of the white women voters. But I do think it's connected to the right-wing Evangelicals and right-wing Roman Catholics.

Maybe we're in that period where either we'll survive and things will begin to get better or human beings won't survive. This may be some kind of, is it called a "swan song?" Where in terms of this kind of right-wing extreme, it's either going to kill us or it will be defeated. I don't see how, but maybe I'm wrong, maybe we'll go from this to worse.

I keep thinking that the ruling elite from the right ought to be done with Trump. He is a nasty, horrible person, but he has also been a loose cannon. I kept waiting to see if they were going to knock him off, let him die of the COVID before this was even over, because they don't need him now. I mean, I may be wrong and I'm not going to dispute that we have a little bit more room, but Biden isn't very far from the Republicans.

So in that sense, I completely think that if they had been able to put up, if something had happened to Trump and they had to put up a different person, even maybe Pence, they might've won. They might've won. I just think it's scary that they would have won. That's what scares me. Though I am perfectly happy that I never have to see his face and hear his voice once he leaves office.

And what was it? Was it the governor of Georgia? My husband Norris told me he heard this on the news and it was somebody had said it was time for him to put on his big-boy pants and leave.

Cole:

It was the mayor of Philadelphia.

Chude:

It does show a level of insanity we're struggling with because he does represent a segment of the population who are essentially probably insane. But then I've always considered white supremacists insane.

Cole:

Okay.

Chude:

You know? Anyway, that's me.

Cole:

But they're not.

Chude:

They're not insane?

Cole:

No, they can make good money.

Chude:

Oh, well, that's at the top. But see, that's the whole thing with Bruce's timeline on the website. I've learned from reading his history of the civil rights movement, as soon as the elite doesn't need it anymore, they squash the extremism.

That the insanity is not... The elite are not insane, you're right. But the people that they allow, or even in the case of Trump, encourage, there is an insanity there. These are not mentally healthy people, but then I consider white-supremacy insane. Just like I think that, if you'll pardon me, anybody who thinks having a penis makes you a better person than a person who has a vulva is insane, but that's just me. I just think that these kinds of things are a level of insanity in people because human beings are — We're all human together.

 

Marion: A New Understanding

Well, I always thought of the president of the United States as a mentally ill person. I've always looked at him that way. I'm always wondering why the elephant in the room, which is mental instability, that we're not addressing this president who has gone so far. We still answer to him. When he says jump, we jump. Why are we doing that? He's mentally ill, and that's how I see him. Actually "mentally deranged" is a better description, an ego-manic. I'm equally shocked at how many people in Congress did everything in their power to keep their own greed and self-interests intact, knowing their democracy was falling apart into authoritarian-rule.

I agree about Bruce's — My biggest worry right now is the 70 million people who voted for Trump that I don't understand, or I refuse to acknowledge they exist until now. I'm really worried about how we can bridge the divide. I really don't know how to do that without doing what we're doing, which is speaking to kids, speaking to generations of people.

I think what we're doing is really important because we're opening up channels for young minds to be more exposed to what we, or I have been exposed to, and as a young person in my twenties, if I hadn't stepped out of my cocoon, which is the Chinese community, if I hadn't stepped out of it into the world and see the same suffering, I may not be here today with this group. I think we need to reach out, and I feel like this is the population that's going to be my challenge for the rest of my life if I want to seek the justice that I want to see happening.

One of the things that really makes me curious is how did Trump's agenda — because he doesn't have any policy and Congress doesn't have any policy, it's just Trump's agenda. I wonder how he was able to do this in the democratic society such as ours that's different from other countries in the world. The rest of the world is looking to us for leadership for so many generations and they look up to us and they still do. They're really troubled about Trump, and now they're relieved that they also no longer have to deal with this guy.

The world is so much heavily dependent on what we do, which is amazing. I didn't know the depth of it that — It just makes me wonder about if Bernie Sanders were running instead of Biden, I don't think the outcome would be what it is today. I don't know. I don't think that Sanders would have made it. I think that there could have been easily another Trump administration.

That's my personal view that I'm not — I don't know why, because when you think about Biden's, I mean, Sanders' agenda, I would be behind that a 100%, but I don't think the rest of the 70 million that voted for Trump, it would have been easy, maybe 80 million that voted for Trump, if Sanders were to run. That's my educated guess. I may be way off. But that's where I'm coming from. I don't think we're ready. Seventy million may not be ready for a Sanders. I would be, but I'm not one of those 70 million.

So these are things that are really what I hope that you can discuss with me, because my mind is just — I'm trying to be non-traditional in the way I look at America now because Trump really just put it off the deep end for me. It just wasn't the way that I'm used to looking at this country, but he did me a service in that he's forcing me to look at the darkest side of dictatorship, the darkest side of a Hitler. He's forcing me to look at that for the first time because I've never experienced it this way until the last four years.

I'm beginning to understand some of the — What it means to be under that kind of regime. So that's where I'm coming from. I'm just relieved. I'm happy. I feel I can go for a drink, but I'm renewed. I'm just perturbed at the same time. I'm feeling a little bit like a Bruce kind of feeling.

But also I remember Cole was saying that the day after the election, we have a lot of work to do. I think he's right, that we have an — I feel like it's a renewed energy for me, but it's a very serious outlook for me, for the near future for me, that I have to look at it in a new way and have to plan it in a new way that I'm not used to because it's a new world for me now. Trump has put me into that kind of perspective that I never expected. That's all I have to say. I have a lot to say, but that's it.

 

Gene: On the Edge of Fascism

Well, I will follow up on part of what you [Marion] said. I think the relief I feel at this moment is that for the last week or so, two weeks before the voting started, I was feeling that we were on the real edge of a fascist society. I felt that, and I'm still not sure. I don't think we've seen yet the response from the right, whether they will respond or not, but I could easily see the right-wing saying, "We're not going to accept this," and get out their military weapons and start causing trouble someplace. I don't think that's out of the question. I don't think it's exactly likely, but I don't think it's out of the question, and for me, that the acquiescence to Trump — 

You see, I don't believe the people are insane. I think it's like when Cole mentions Isabel Wilkerson's book, she writes this stuff about pictures that she looked at and films of crowds welcoming Hitler, and from these lovely looking people, lovely looking white people from adults to little children with ecstasy on their face, waving their flags.

This was for a guy who in every way certainly was as bad as Trump and worse, and wasn't quiet about it. He said all the things he had to say. He wasn't hiding. He didn't try to make himself sound like somebody else. He was perfectly clear about eliminating Jews from the society. He was perfectly clear about eliminating labor unions. He was perfectly — You know, you go down the list of things. He was totally clear about it, and people greeted him with ecstasy, with just this wonderful ecstasy. We didn't look and say, "Oh, the Nazis are all crazy." They were Nazis. They were fascists. They believe in that shit, and I feel the same way about a lot of the people here, too. They actually believe in this stuff.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of what they believe in, not the extreme stuff but the less extreme, is believed by a lot more people than voted for Trump. Look, in California, what did we see? We saw Biden. What did he get? Seventy percent of the vote, some huge amount, I forget. Yet, not one progressive initiative passed. Couldn't get more than 50% on one of the progressive initiatives.

Now, is that because people don't know what the initiatives are about? Did all those people vote for Uber and Lyft because they're really — How many people use Uber and Lyft that there are that many people worried about the price going up a little bit? Is that what it was? You couldn't sell that. We couldn't sell education money. Lost that. Go down the list of stuff. So while they're voting against Trump, they're voting against anything else that's progressive.

[Referring to a failed California ballot propositions that would have required ride services like Uber and Lyft to treat their drives as employees with benefits rather than independent contractors without benefits. And also failed initiatives that would have increased property taxes on large corporations to restore cuts in education spending, and another that would have repealed a law barring race-based affirmative action programs in college admissions, government contracts, and employment.]

Now I'm also half torn because — Last night, we've been organizing all week, not around the election. But last night we had a meeting with the city and the police department. That was because about two weeks ago, a young 19-year-old woman was murdered by a drive-by shooting in our neighborhood. This is only the last of four or five killings that have taken place and shootings, and since that time there were three shootings. Nobody got hit so far. They can't figure it out. So some people said, "We want to meet with the police to find out what's the hell's going on."

They put on a Zoom meeting to supposedly hear from the community, and what do we get to look at on the screen, because you can only look at them, are six police officers and two people from the city council and the mayor. Not one of these police officers could show sympathy to a woman whose son was shot down two years ago, and nothing's happened.

When she said, "No, nobody reached out to me and provided counseling from the city. Nobody helped our family." There wasn't an iota of sympathy in the faces of these police officers, and people said, "Do you have any idea why the community doesn't trust the police?" And they're like, "Well, we don't know. We're trying to have more communication, but it costs too much to have patrolmen on the street." It's this and that, you know.

So here we are, and Berkeley's probably more liberal than most communities on all these questions? We can't even get that to happen with our police force, with our city government.

At the same time I took a walk this morning and there are young people driving in cars, blowing their horns, how wonderful the Biden victory was, and people writing in chalk on the sidewalk. These wonderful things and really happy. I don't know if they worked on the election or not. I hope they did. And they're feeling good about that, or are they just feeling, "Oh God, we're in a better place now." Yet are they willing to do anything? I don't know. I really don't know.

There were a lot of young people who worked on parts of the election, and we did okay locally in the election. We elected the rent board slate that we wanted, but we lost one of our city council people because real estate interests put a whole lot of money in. They got rid of one of the Black, two Blacks on the city council, elected another Black who was willing to accept $80,000 from real estate interests around the state, so we know what we're looking at.

So I have these really mixed feelings about this whole thing. I don't think that the fight's going to change that much. Yeah, Biden gives us more room. Well, so I thought that Jesse Arreguin (Berkeley's Mayor) would give us more room, too, but he also gave BART more room to say they want to have high-income housing on their property.

It's very frustrating. I don't know if there is glee in the African-American community. I don't think so. I don't think people are confused. The reason that there's been an uptick in shootings in Oakland and Berkeley and all these communities is partially because COVID has made things more clear. People who were on the margins are now below the margin. They lost their jobs. There aren't jobs, and we say to the city, "This is what you have to do. Don't provide police. Put some jobs in the community." But this is a fight. It's not that the ears are necessarily deaf, but we have fights and we all have to do that.

I'm glad Trump didn't win. I have no question about that. But it doesn't fill me with great happiness in the sense of that I think, "Oh, well, now I can breathe." I have to breathe a little harder because we do. Now the hill is going to be hard, too. The hill didn't get easier that we have to climb and how you change people to understand these things, and whether it's, as we say, whether it's white racism or white power desire to keep power, I'm glad I can have those distinctions in my head, but I'm not exactly sure how much difference it makes in terms of how you get people to change. We do have to get people to change. We have to get people to see that what's in front of them is not what they keep thinking it is. You can't live better off the backs of other people and not expect to have problems. So anyway, that's where I am.

 

Environmental Issues

Miriam:

I'd like to comment on what I've heard. So Chude, I'll say something about fracking.
["Fracking" refers to a method of extracting oil and gas from petroleum deposits after traditional pumping methods are no longer cost-effective. In the 2020 campaign it was also used as a generic-label for the fossil-fuel industry as a whole (oil, gas, & coal). Environmentalists and voters concerned by global-warming strongly opposed fracking and argued that the use of all fossil fuels had to be reduced and eventually ended. But fracking and fossil-fuels provid a large number of blue-collar jobs in key states like Pennsylvania. Trump enthusiastically supported expansion of the fossil-fuel industry and touted it as a job-creator. To one degree or another, most Democratic candidates supported regulating, reducing, or ending the use of fossil fuels and argued that renewable energy-sources such as wind and solar would create more jobs than fracking and coal.]

Our guy needed Pennsylvania, right? So the smart move was to say he's not opposed to fracking because that's a big issue there, but to say he is in favor of green energy. So once we get to the point where our energy sources don't require fracking, that makes more sense to me than for him to lose the election when he's got a back alley way of getting away from fracking. Does that make sense?

Chude:

It makes sense.

Marion:

I think he had referred to it at some point that he didn't want to say it out loud. I'm talking about Biden. He did say that he is for fracking, but for a period of time. I thought he said that he's relying on renewed energy to take over eventually.

Miriam:

Okay, good. For Cole, I have a comment. I don't know if you've heard of George Lakoff, but he's a retired Cal professor who's talked a lot about the language that's used. He says instead of talking about Trump getting rid of "regulations," we should talk about Trump getting rid of "protections" for the environment. He's spent a lot of time talking about how we should phrase things.

 

"Values" Voters

Miriam:

What Lakoff says about people voting against their interests, which of course they're doing, he says they're voting for their values.

So they're choosing, okay, I'm an evangelic. Evangelist, okay? Well, their value is to support Trump but their interest would be not to support him because of their economic situation. Does that make sense that people were going after their values, not their interests?

Gene:

Which values?

Miriam:

Well, okay, I believe that — I don't even want to say this out loud. If I believed that abortion was killing a child, or killing a human being, if I believe that — Trump put in judges who supported that view. Right?

Chude:

Right.

Miriam:

So that's what I mean by going — People are voting their values, not their interests. Clearly Trump wasn't helping working people. Right?

Gene:

But why isn't providing money to feed children that are born not as valuable as protecting an unborn child?

Miriam:

Okay. That is another discussion.

Gene:

No, but I'm just saying.

Chude:

No, that is the point. That is a legitimate question. I think it has to do with the fact so many are biblical Christians. Fundamentalists. So it has to do with what the Bible says, to some degree.

And then they're being played. The main thing is they're being played, and it is on that level, the power stuff that you — Their pastors and, of course, the higher classes that they're being played by and their fear. I just think fear is big.

 

Insane?

Chude:

In those fundamentalist Christian religions, the big issue is you're going to hell if you don't do what you're told. I know not all voted for Trump, but if you had a so-called "reasonable" Republican who was against abortion, they might. They believe in hellfire and brimstone. Suffering for the rest of eternity. That's why I think people are crazy. I don't see that as healthy.

Bruce:

I think what Cole said, and Gene and others about caste is a good way to look at it. But I don't think that people who value their caste superiority over someone else are crazy or insane. They're morally wrong. They're wrong in terms of the quality of their life. But it is a rational decision, it seems to me, to value being superior and empowered over others of a different race, or religion, or caste, as more important to them than having a better standard of living, cleaner environment, quality education for their children, and so on. So I don't think it's crazy. I think they are simply deciding that it's more important to them that they can look down on a Dalit [in India] or an Eta [in Japan] or a Brown or Black person in America, or however caste is defined for them. To feel and be superior to an even lower group, even though they're poor as shit, even though they don't have medical care — it's stupid, it's cruel, it's evil, but I don't think it's insane.

 

Socialism?

Bruce:

Marion raised "Would Bernie Sanders have won?" My first choice was Warren. When she dropped out I became a Sanders supporter. But I've got to say, I think Marion makes a valid point. Sanders very well might not have won because generations of demonization has defined "socialism" as something terrible, evil, bad, horrible. And, let's be honest, the economic failures and political atrocities of governments and ruling parties around the world who self-proclaimed themselves as "Socialist" contributed greatly to the negative associations that label suffers from. To the point that in America, "Socialism" has become a kind of hate-word — all negative emotion without any factual basis.

Republicans and conservative Democrats define "socialism" as anything even slightly left of political dead center — anything they oppose. Or more accurately, they smear ideas they disagree with by using "socialism" as a hate-word.

When I was in Selma, I was arrested by Sheriff Jim Clark. As he was throwing me into the cop car and he called me a "communist." Being young, brash, and stupid, I challenged him. I said, "Communist? What's a communist?" He told me right straight. He said, "A communist is any New York kike what thinks our nigrahs should be allowed to vote." Well, except for the fact that I'm from L.A., he had me dead to rights. To him, that was communism because — 

We're intellectuals, by that I mean we're interested in and pay attention to the details of ideas and theories. For us, terms like "Communism" and "Socialism" have a political-economic definition and concept. But to most of America, "Communist" is a hate word. "Socialism" is a hate word. It's not a word that has any literal meaning. It just means "We and all other decent Americans hate that." It means, "We oppose that." I don't think Sanders would have won against that broad mindset.

I agree with Cole about not trying to appeal to people who are motivated by their white-supremacy, their caste privilege, their sense of inherent superiority over others. It's a waste of time and energy to tailor our politics and beliefs to appeal to a that tiny sliver of those people that maybe we could win over. Because the number who will change is small and when we tack to the right we alienate the people we need to turnout. So I think our goal has to be to build a new electorate, to literally create a counter — To literally create a counter electorate, out organize them, outnumber them, and beat them.

Cole:

Amen.

Bruce:

I also agree with Chude about Biden. I am very uneasy that Biden will be willing to hold to principle rather than appeasing the Republicans. I feel that where the Democratic party — All right, going back to the '60s, I've never been a great fan of the Democratic leadership. I mean, they screwed us, and stabbed us in the back, betrayed the MFDP, all the way through Atlantic city and beyond.

That was nothing new for them, but where they really went off the rails in terms of their own long-term self-interest was when Bill Clinton adopted the Triangulation Strategy of keeping the Democratic party's social policies in regards to issues like abortion, gay rights, overt racism, and so on, but adopted the Republican pro-corporate, pro-globalization, corporate-profits- above-all, economic policies. Which led directly to NAFTA, globalization, and all the hollowing out of not just the white working class but the entire working class. Half the working class is not white. The Clinton globalization policies economically hurt the non-white working class too.

Clinton and the Democratic Leadership Council who ran the party for a long time implemented those Triangulation policies. Obama pretty much did too. And Biden supported them as Vice President. We'll have to see what Biden does now. He says he wants unity, and bipartisanship, and compromise. Does compromise mean that the first priority in everything must be protecting corporate profits and the wealth and power of the big-donors as it was for Bill Clinton? That once corporate profits and corporate power are protected, then we might get some reforms that help people, so long as the rich are happy? I don't know. I hope not.

Of course, the Republicans are opposed to helping anyone but the rich — ever. Even if they could do it without reducing corporate power or profits. So I think we have a huge fight ahead us. And if we don't control the Senate, then that struggle is going to be even harder. Unfortunately it looks like the odds of winning those two Georgia elections are against us. That's part of why I am so apprehensive. Anyway, I'm sorry for ranting, but I'm in a ranting mood.

 

Party Loyalties

Miriam:

I'd like to say something. I have never in my entire life voted for a Republican, not one. Never. And so I can try to understand how a Republican would have great problems voting for a Democrat. I don't think you have to be racist or a number of terrible things to vote Republican. If you live in a community where your family and your neighbors are all Republicans, I don't necessarily think you're a bad person or a hateful person if you vote Republican.

Chude:

Well, I think you are right. But I think from my perspective — you remember I come from a Republican family. Eisenhower-Republican, but still anti-communist and pro-business and all that stuff. Because what you're talking about, Miriam, are there people there who could change? Change, no matter what change, in situations like that — if you live in a situation where your family and everybody you know does one thing and somehow you're a little bit different, say you go to college, say you move outside the community. What does it cost? It costs huge.

And in terms of organizing, I think we need to be respectful of that. You think about that white family in McComb MS that just had a couple of white Freedom Summer volunteers come over for dinner and he lost his business, they were driven out of the county. And his daughter was Miss Mississippi. And she went to live with her fiance's family. She essentially repudiated them. And the other daughter was for what they were doing, but she was going to college in the North — but it was a cost.

They drove that family out. I'm thinking a lot about that. What is the... how do we support white people for making change when in some situations it will cost them their families? And it makes more sense when they already don't fit in. They're lesbian or gay, or they fall in love with a person of color. There's something else that is there. In my case, I came from a liberal community so I did get support, but even in '64, there were some whites who went South who where basically told "Don't come home." Right?

 

Community

Chude:

And then what happens? Black separatism happens. And here are people that have lost their homes and their base. And now they've also lost the Beloved Community" of the Movement. Its heavy duty. In the little bit of time I have left, that's where I want to focus. That's how do we find, how did I find grounding to stand on? And how could that be of any use to somebody else who is trying to break out of this older, white male dominated situation and try for something new when they may find themselves completely alone.

Bruce:

That's so right. I think that after the Freedom Movement, one of the things we have really been shitty at ever since is building community. I think one of the things we — we progressives or leftists or whatever we call ourselves in this modern era — we have been really bad at building community.

That is one of the biggest weaknesses of Indivisible. It's not building solidarity and community, a sense of community, a sense of belonging the way we had in the Freedom Movement. The Freedom Movement was wonderful at building community, at least until it stumbled in the late '60s. But leftists, progressives, are intellectual in terms of analysis, but they are shit-poor in terms of building a sense of community and belonging and support and emotional solidarity. The right-wing, not just the evangelicals but the whole thing, they are very good at that. And I think that's a pillar of their strength. And a place of our great weakness.

Marion:

Are we talking about, are you talking about education or community? Maybe there's a — 

Bruce:

A sense of emotional community with the other people who you are working with and agreeing with and spending your time with.

Marion:

Yeah, I hear it. I hear the word support then. And I hear Chude and Miriam talking about — Are we talking about ignorance or stereotypes or complacency or what?

Chude:

Yesterday I was interviewed by two students and I found myself saying I wanted to talk about one of the differences between now and in the 60s. And it was the people being together. And I was describing the mass meetings and all of a sudden it struck me, it just struck me again, but really strongly, we don't have that now. Of course, we have COVID, I'm not talking about that. I think that may be true that in some situations we have different ways that we find that grouping and support, but the profoundness of how we went to a demonstration after we'd been together or we went to whatever action was after we'd been together, after we had built through the singing and the speeches and the being together a sense of togetherness, then we went out.

So not only did the Southern Freedom Movement in terms of nonviolence, believe in leadership and self discipline but there was also that cohesiveness, which is not the same if you go to the demonstration and you're not already connected with people, it's a different dynamic. And I just all of a sudden really subjectively thought, Wow! Yes.

And of course it's been mentioned here and Gene, you're a little different because you are in the music, but the lack of music, lack of singing so that even people who can't carry a tune like Bruce and me, we're out there belting it out. Right? Nobody says you can't sing because you're no good, they're saying, " Sing, join us. Let's all be one." And we have a few Bernice Reagon's, or whoever, with those really great voices trying to help us stay on key. But the point isn't the performance. It's not a performance. It's a togetherness. And that for me is one of the things that's missing.

Marion:

Also, at that period we had Pete Seeger, we had Peter, Paul and Mary, we had Joan Baez. We had all these people who were part of it, the singing, and for some reason we don't have that now.

Gene:

I don't really agree. I'm feeling on the other side of this discussion. I mean, you can go to places where there are young people who know the words, they sing songs together there. I'm not talking about political stuff necessarily, but where somebody will start singing a song, you see those pictures of a million people standing with their cigarette lighters or their phones, singing the words to the songs, going to hear Beyonce and singing all the words. They know all the words. We don't know all the words, we're not in that culture anymore. And so I don't think it's a lack of, I think there are communities.

I don't agree that leftist don't work towards the communities and their own intellectuals. I don't accept that. I know that the leftists I'm working with, we're building communities, we have community dinners, we would be meeting more if it wasn't for COVID right now, we've been doing this for five years. So it's not like something new.

Certainly there are people who are working, families, parties, talking about that, how they are doing those kinds of things, building community and trying to do that. I don't think that's outside of leftist notions. I think the fight back is terribly hard too. Labor unions had communities, they were defeated. It wasn't that they didn't have a sense of community. They had community, they had singing groups, they had all those things. The capitalists really did a job on them and they worked the government to help them do it. And they infiltrated snitches to destroy it. I don't think it's exactly that people didn't try to organize that way. The same thing in the South. I think the segregation in the South made it more possible.

Maybe that you couldn't have too many infiltrators from the other side, everybody would know. But I sort of feel like people have tried these things. I've lived in this community where I am now since 1972, we built an organization back in 1972. We would celebrate out on the street. We would celebrate July 4th. People at that time went to marches together. Did all those things, the weight of the society, the other side fights back against it. They try to destroy it. We built communities here, the developers came in and made the cost of living too high for half the people to live here. They destroyed the community. It's not like that wasn't our philosophy. The other side's really strong and if we forget about that, I don't know, I think we have to think about how we go at that community.

We're fighting about that, about housing now. Here we have public land that BART [Bay Area Rapid Transit] owns. BART wants to turn it over to high-price developers. We're trying to hold on to it so people in the community can live there, but it's not because we don't get people together or to talk about these things. They're really strong, they have the money, they have the way to do it — they own. I think we do have to get better at doing it, but I don't think it's because we don't believe in it. I think we have to do some of the things somewhat better.

I think we have to know they're going to fight back just like the police do. When you start challenging the police in their budgets, they let it be known. "Oh, well if you get rid of us there's going to be more violence in the community." And remember back in the 80s the crack epidemic didn't just appear because people in the community weren't thinking, the police were bringing drugs into the community. They were allowing them in. They were cooperating. I don't think this is, well, we should have been better at it. There are powerful forces.

Bruce:

I think we're coming out of different experiences. It sounds like the work you're doing is trying is building community. That's not the case in my experience over the last decade. Very much not the case.

Gene:

That's too bad. We've been trying, I mean, really-

Marion:

Could the present four years have anything to do with that? That the feeling of not being able to get the self-determination, what we're trying to build is not possible because or it's harder to do because of income. I feel like the white-supremacy culture is so galvanized the last four years and encourage to be out there throughout the entire system of our operating system in our lives that, I don't know. I don't know if that has something to do with it or not.

Gene:

I think — certainly.

Bruce:

What I'm talking about way predates Trump. I'm looking back over the years — longer.

Chude:

And in some parts of the left, you make a little mistake and you are now pushed out, treated like you are the single worst enemy in the world. There is no sense of working together to bridge differences. That's been there, that one wing of the left has become, is just a bunch of bullies. There's a lot of bullying —

Like you say something like, for example, I don't think that these two groups are the same. And coming from the bullying wing of the Trans group will be, "get rid of this person out of the..." And be blasted. And somebody in the labor movement got pushed out at S.F. State University, I hear she was totally active because she hadn't even promoted something. She just said, "We might want to look at this article and think about it" and for that reason she was pushed out. That's been there since at least the '70s, that one wing of the left has become, it's just a bunch of — There's a lot of bullying — 

Bruce:

Self-righteousness.

Chude:

Yeah. And so when I think about it in terms of what Miriam is saying, are there within this group that voted for Trump... this is the only world they know. They need to find a context where they can still be confused and ambivalent. Are they going to go in now and just join this other group that says we're absolutely right and everybody else is wrong? And I think that's what, Miriam, you were raising. Is there this group that possibly has the ability to think differently but they have to like the alternatives? They have to want to be willing to give up what they're going to give up, to go to the alternatives.

And the other thing I'd say again is the fear thing. I could be wrong but I am convinced that in some of those patriarchal homes, everybody sat at the table and everybody was told what to do. And you didn't say no to daddy. I could be wrong, but just from what I've heard of how some people grew up, I don't think I am wrong.

I think what Miriam is saying, everybody in the family votes Republican, they don't know anybody that never did. Certainly, I think that was true the last time around in 2016. And maybe it was true today but I also think some of — if the pastor wrote people, if there really were letters where the pastor said to the men, "You be sure your wives vote appropriately." You can be sure that they did.

Gene:

But is there a way to break through that or not?

Chude:

I think it starts with the ones that don't quite fit and don't quite feel comfortable, but they have to be able to come into some other community. Reading books help. I think if they go to college, it helps. I have a friend who has taught in the community colleges, first at Laney College [in Oakland] and now she's in Florida, but she made the point to me that for many of those students, it's the first time they've been outside the environment of their own families and community and church. The first time they are being offered new ideas.

But if their only alternative is to go back because they don't have a place to — you know what I'm saying. I think it's a hard question. I remember in Union Wage we'd get somebody new into a meeting and of course this is before answering machines, much less cell phones, but we'd be all busy dealing with business, not dealing with the new person who came in and helping her to feel really welcome and wanted. We had to become conscious of that.

Marion:

I understand that there are families that watch nothing but Fox News and that's their whole world. And they really believe that that's the God-given truth, the Fox world and church. Between those two that's their whole world.

But there's some other things that I was thinking about also towards the end of the '60s, I experienced Black Power, red power, yellow power, white power. And I thought okay, that's good because we need our own identity. But then all of a sudden what happens after that? And I think we needed that and I still think we need that. But after we have entrenched that in universities for example there are, I don't think we have another alternative after that to come back to diversity to embrace the differences or to exchange what we've learned about ourselves.

And it makes me think about separatism makes me think about self-righteousness, that's good, but then how far do you go with it? And where do you go after that? Because that need not be the end goal. And I don't know whether there's a lack of leadership after that or something didn't go far enough about that. I mean, that just sort of came to my mind when we talked about what happened.

Miriam:

I just want to go back to my point. My point is that these 70 million people who voted for Trump are not all bad people.

Marion:

Mm-hmm (affirmative) Yeah, I think you're right.

Chude:

Good point.

Marion:

Yeah. I agree. But it's hard to get to know what they're like, what are you thinking? But I think there's a lot of truth to that.

 

What the Data Showed

Bruce:

I'm tracking the data for the Indivisible group I work with. I've created a simple spreadsheet that you can check and posted an analysis on our website (The Big Spin).

What the data shows is that in this election Latinos voted for Biden either 63% or 65% depending on which poll you swallow, compared to 66% for Clinton in 2016. That's essentially a margin of error no-difference — yet the pundits are all chattering about some mythical decline in Latino support for Democrats due to "socialism" or "defund the police" or some such. The data don't show it. Yes, in Dade_Miami the Cubans & Venezuelans may have gone more for Trump this time than in 2016, and there may have been a noticeable slippage in a Texas county. But nationally, two-thirds of Latinos voted Democratic which is what they've been doing for the past four elections.

Those same pundits are saying that Black men deserted Biden for some reason. But the figures don't show that either. Again, depending on which poll you use, Black men voted either 79% or 87% for Biden compared to the 81% that voted for Clinton. That's either no-change or an increase.

Cole:

There's maybe a percentage, but in real numbers, it could be [crosstalk] — 

Bruce:

The real numbers, more Black folk and more Latinos turned out to vote than in 2016 — no question. And the inclusion of a great many voters who didn't vote in 2016 may have had some small influence in the percentage for Biden versus the percent for Trump.

But so far as I can tell, almost 20 million more people voted this year than in 2016. But when you remove the third-party candidates and just look at Democrat vs Republican, Biden got 52% of the vote compared to Clinton's 51%. But he totaled 14 million more votes than she did in 2016. Trump got 49% in 2016 and and 48% this time. But he totalled 11 million more votes this year than in 2016. So the turnout difference between them was 3 million. It was turnout that swung the election to Biden rather than significant changing of voter minds.

Gene:

Do these correlate to increases or decreases in the amount of people who vote?

Bruce:

The total vote for each was way up, but the ratio, the percentage, voted for each was essentially unchanged. Biden's turnout beat Trump's by 3 million votes. That plus his percentage margin of 52% vs Trump's 48% is what made the difference.

 

Reflections

Chude:

So Cole, do you consider the men's group you work with as a community and as building community?

Cole:

Yeah, that's the goal. I mean, if I came into that meeting this morning and said, "Hell, it's a problem because Trump is losing." I probably would have to leave that community. So King had something that probably Bruce knows by heart about good people and evil people. It's not the people who do evil, but the people who stand by something like that. What's the quote?

Bruce:

[For evil to succeed, all it needs is for good men to do nothing.]

Cole:

The scene that Wilkerson describes in her book about Hitler. This is after they destroyed France and he's coming down with his motorcade and thousands of people in your higher this and higher that, now these are people who knew what he'd done in France. These are people who knew Jews who disappeared and weren't coming back. But they were all in. He couldn't have done that by himself. Just couldn't have done it now. I don't know if they were all Nazis. I doubt it.

I think that's Trump's little subset. Those 70 million people think it's all right to kill Black people. And the response to the way they kill us is so — And she gets into the book about it's all back here, this subconscious stuff, white folks and Black folks. Birth of a Nation or just every TV show, every cop show, Law and Order and all of that stuff, Chicago PD, they are justifying the brutalization of people who are "other" and we get this whole thing. It's like doses of it. And so, because I've kind of wondered why the hell would a cop just start shooting and shoot a guy seven times for nothing. This is an emotional reaction.

Now my job is easier than yours. My job, besides going to talk to some 10th graders in Daly city, it is to see how much community we can build. We'll see how much community we can build among Black folks. When the data comes out, it'll be interesting. We know what happened with South Carolina with Biden and getting the nominations. Right? That was Black people.

[Biden's decisive win over Sanders in the South Carolina primary put him on the path to win the Democratic Party nomination. It was overwhelming support among Black voters that gave him the victory in that race.]

There are Black people in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Detroit Hispanic people down there in Maricopa County, that made the difference [in the general election]. Now, Biden lost the Cuban vote because Marco Rubio, — I think he's Cuban — but there are about three politicians down there. Governor Scott. For months, , they've been feeding the Cuban community in South Florida that Biden was a "communist." And they have this whole reaction from that whole thing they went through.

And by the time Biden, his people got in the field, the goose was cooked. Now, they did carry the Puerto Ricans because, believe me, Puerto Rican's have got an ax to grind with Trump. Down there in the Rio Grande in a county 80% Hispanic, Biden didn't do that well. He might've carried it, but not by much, not as much as Clinton.

Latinos are not a monolith. I don't know about our brothers who think they can get — they probably just greedy. Some men of all races are drawn to this male-dominant thing. I've got some issues, but if we can turn out our community in greater numbers, particularly in Georgia, you may have a shot at winning a Senate majority.

I mean, it just gets down to that. As Bruce said, organizing people and vote the suckers out. I don't know if that's which you said. Maybe it was Gene, because they're enjoying privilege. I mean, people will vote for raising taxes to pay for their kids' school, but not for other people's schools. That's just greed. No, there's no empathy. There's none of that stuff. So — 

Bruce:

Right, no empathy for anyone other than themselves and those they see as their tribe on the part of Trump voters.

Cole:

It's just a fight. I mean, you can't expect people — in terms of voting against your own self interest. You can't expect people to give up their privilege, their ability to make money off of your misery. It could be prison guards to run a bail operation. Businesses to provide food and clothing for jails. They don't want less people in prison, they want more because it's tied directly to their economic interests. It's just not simple.

But I think the first thing for me, is that our people, I'm talking about Black people or whoever else is alive with us, have to understand what I didn't understand in 1964. This stuff is built into the constitution. It's built into every law.

And if you want affirm under this stuff, you've got to have to get up every morning and do something, and then make a difference. Whatever that is, nurse, garbage man, doctor, lawyer, student, every day. You just have to be about it because you cannot expect that people will give you what is called "freedom." It's not happening

Bruce:

I thought Miriam made a valid point — that not all the people who voted for Trump are evil and racist. The question for us is, is it worth us trying to appeal to them by us becoming more conservative? That's what I'm opposing.

But what about people who are locked into a community as Chude and Miriam both said, and who can't vote against that community? On one hand, does it make them evil? Their motivation may not be personal greed or some other evil, but on the other hand their action has evil results. So, it's six of one, half dozen of the other. I'm just saying that for us, I think trying to appeal to them by moving politically to the right, is the wrong way to address that because the ones who are right-wing out of racism or greed, they ain't going to change and those who are voting because that's what they community is doing won't be swayed by changes in Democratic policies.

Cole:

Well, I think it means that we have to keep our foot on Biden's, butt — 

Many:

 — Yeah. Yes for sure.

Cole:

Because I don't think we put our foot in Obama's butt because we were mesmerized and we thought that he could do it. Now we know now that doesn't work that way. That the right-wing, or whoever else you want to call them, are going to ratchet it up. They're not going to like this.

And we won Biden and Harris, she's a hell of a prosecutor. She's thrown a lot of people in jail. Knew it was wrong. And we have to keep pressure on him. And we have to work at a local elections in particularly. This whole reapportionment thing that's happening. We lost a lot of state houses, I think, or some state houses, and they're going to reapportion their things for the next 10 years. This is a year that ends in zero. So that's one.

I think we have to continue to study to try to understand how this works and make sure that as much as we can with the time we have left, that everybody around us, everybody could be coming in contact with, has some understanding of how this thing is working. That is, why the system is set up the way it is. And who does it privilege? I think I'll stop up there.

 

How Do We Talk to People?

Gene:

I also think we have to — I guess what I was feeling Miriam, when you talked about that we have to recognize that you can't call these people evil, or that they are good people. I don't exactly think that's the question. I mean, I do think we have to figure out how to speak to people. How it is we raise the issues.

I mean, and when I said before the thing about the abortion question versus the how you — Whether you feed children or not, I think that's a serious issue. I think that while I certainly don't believe in killing. And I also don't really think personally that abortion has anything to do with killing. And I have to recognize that there are some people who do see it that way. I also think that I am concerned with the living, and why a person can be both against abortion and against funding services for children that needs to be raised.

As both of those things can be good. I mean, it's not whether the people are good or evil, the people — Why do they lose? I mean, it's sort of what Cole said about looking at those people and saying, "It doesn't bother them when Black people are killed." Well, it doesn't bother them when Black children starve, and it doesn't bother them when children are locked up on the border, and it doesn't bother them when children are sent back to Mexico, even though they don't come from there and are living in tent camps. Now, I don't know whether that makes a person evil or not, but I sure think that it has nothing to do with being good if you can accept that. And I would like to understand how to present that in a way that's recognizable.

I think I've said this before, I was talking to my grandson about how you use, how Twitter and Instagram are used for campaigns and things like that. So I was talking to him and he said, "Well, you know, you have to get yourself a brand. You have to get yourself some colors that identify you. And then you have to figure out how to put your message together in small bits, so that you can send out a different part of your message on each successive day. Because once you start a campaign, people only, they want a continuous campaign and they want their information in small sizes." And I find that terribly hard to do. And so, he's taking some stuff I write and he's editing it to do that with, but it's a whole different way of communicating that a whole lot of people use.

And I don't necessarily think it's the best way to do it, but if people can be, if their minds can be open to some things, by us, or by it being able to be presented that way, maybe we have to learn how to do that. Just in the same way that, maybe we have to learn how to talk to some of those people who, like you were saying, Chude, they're ready to come away from their family or the way their family functions. How do you make it possible?

Well, Miriam, you tell the story of — No, Chude, I guess you're about going to see that girl, going to have a meal with the family of the girl in Mississippi, and they're terrified of you. You represent, even though you're there doing things that they like, you represent something that's horrifying, it's losing their child to something else.

And how did you manage that? I mean, how did you manage, did they end up loving you afterwards? I don't know, but certainly their fear is legitimate, but it's also legitimate for us to try and figure out, well, how do we draw those people away? How do we make, and maybe community is part of it. But also I think the value of some of the ideas — I'm reading, Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye. I never read that before. And it's like, she has this way of talking about a community that I just haven't felt in the same way.

And it made me wonder how people respond to that. How do people in the Black community feel like it's a wonderful exploration or a wonderful definition of how people are, or are they a little shocked? I mean, I also wondered how Jews view — they like to say, "Fiddler On the Roof," is a wonderful thing about their culture, but I think a lot of Jews were embarrassed by it too. I think a lot of Jews didn't like to remember that they were poverty-stricken and they lived that way. I think that when people write — I wasn't comfortable certainly with Jewish comedians telling about the Jewish community in ways that I thought were, I don't know if they were true or not. It wasn't my experience. And so, I wonder about how do we raise those issues in ways so that people say, "Ah, that's some way I have to think about it." How do we do that?

I think, and I say this dealing with this around the police. I didn't immediately say when this question, I thought, well, this family really wants to know what the police are doing to find out who killed their daughter. And somebody else said to me, you better be careful about opening up that conversation because they may be terrified because if they find out, if they start identifying themselves as having these concerns, the people who killed the daughter may come after them. Well, I'm not thinking about that.

And so I think, well, I have to better understand what this family is going through in the community and their relationships with other people in the community before I put my foot in it. I have to be open to hearing what they have to say, what is important to them, and how you do that? Well, maybe we have to do that with all these people. What are those important things and how do we communicate with them on how we see them differently?

Marion:

I wish that we had some answers, these are all really wonderful thought-provoking questions. It's really a good feeling. Much intrigued I am with, how can I approach one of these families that voted for Trump or for generations? How do I have some connection because it's frightening. But then at the same time, it's something that I think is necessary to bridge. To see there are some families that they are possible to talk to. It's like what Chude was talking about, Al-Anon kind of place. It's not that I want to walk into a room full of Trump supporters, but I don't mind peeking in and see what they're all about, and have a few words to say, maybe Gene and I can walk into the fire so — 

[End Transcript]

 

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