On Top of the World – The Continental Divide
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On Top of the World – The Continental Divide

by Jacqueline Salit on July 26, 2016

Last night I watched fragments of the Democratic Convention from Pagosa Springs, Colorado, in the Rocky Mountains, just a handful of miles from the Continental Divide, where on one side the North American watershed runs West to the Pacific, and on the other East, to the Gulf of Mexico. This natural divide is a thing of beauty and wonder, a spot at over 11,000 feet of altitude, made all the more magnetic in contrast to the crass political divide depicted on the first night of America’s second national party convention.

Well, enough commentary on the contrast between man and nature. I have virtually no standing on that score, city girl that I am. Here are some thoughts on the events of last evening.

I love Michelle Obama, and I thought her speech last night was well crafted and touching. But, I thought she missed a real opportunity to “go high” when others “go low”. If I had written that speech, I would have included a paragraph about Donald Trump’s children, who are of course adults (except one) and who were the face of the GOP presentation, other than Trump. I would have extended a recognition of them as intelligent and caring  people, I would have given them that. Without that, I thought her speech projected exactly what so many Americans can’t stand about the Democratic Party, namely that it arrogantly assumes that it has the lock on morality and what it means to care about others. Do we only care about children who are Democrats?

Frankly, this omission made me sad. Yes, the headlines will be about how she said she wakes up every morning in a house built by slaves, which is true, and it is good to remind America of that sordid and irrevocable history. But saddening, to me at least, when that history is used to elevate a party that has betrayed Black America time and again, and a candidate whose family brand going back to the 90’s is to tell the black people to stand down from its struggle so (white) Democrats can get elected.

I am not a fan of Elizabeth Warren. Let me put it bluntly. If you are going to be the official spokesperson for ending income inequality and the power of the big banks, then have the guts to be a socialist.

And then there was Bernie. I was happy that he received a 3 minute standing ovation. He deserved it, and more. The guy had guts to make the run. Period. I thought his remarks about what the election is about, in contrast to what the media says it is about, were on point and I had to laugh watching the post-speech commentators (at least on CNN) unable to speak about that. Self reflexivity is not their strong suit.
But, the Achilles heel of the American left is that everything reduces to “platform”.

And his recitations of the Democrats’ platform, of what he negotiated for and got on TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership), etc, reduced his movement to nothing more than a left insurgency inside the Democratic Party. But the Democratic Party is not the country, even though the Democrats would like us to believe that. Forgive my “speechwriter” lens, but if I had written his speech, I would have included the fact that in his campaign, not only did he receive 13 million votes, and receive 1800 plus delegates, but that millions of Americans who were not members of the Democratic Party – who were independents- voted for him. Why is this important? Because progressives
need to be focused on creating a new majoritarian electoral coalition that is not entrenched in partisanship and sectarian Democratic Party self-absorption, and of all the leadership in the Democratic Party, he is the person who has proved capable of doing that. But he did not. That, in my opinion, is the source of his power for the future, but only if he uses it.

Off to the Continental Divide now, for a hike “on top of the world”, as the brochure says.Continental Divde hike JS

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