I’m not a huge fan of scary movies, but I’ve seen enough to know that when a group decides it’s time to split up, somebody is most likely going to die.
So, when I look at the Democratic Party, which is largely unrecognizable from the party it was just ten years ago, I wonder if every member might need to be subjected to a horror movie marathon. Like the stereotypical misguided group of teenagers in a haunted house, what was once the Democratic Party has fractured itself into a thousand different groups that can’t understand why they’re getting beat to a pulp.
The Democratic platform is actually pretty awesome—support the middle class, fight for equality, protect the environment, make sure people have access to good educations and health care, support the troops both abroad and at home. Those are all pretty laudable goals. So why aren’t people rallying behind it in large cohesive groups?
The problem, in my opinion, is the fragmentation and in-fighting created by identity politics. Before you get too angry, I think the valuation of personal identity is critical to our future. We are a wonderful mix of races, religions, class, abilities, sexual orientations and so much more. Diversity makes us stronger because combines a wealth of experiences and ideas that can lead us to a better place, a place we couldn’t go if everyone was the same. Also, I absolutely think it’s important to see areas of discrimination that exist, to point those out and make the world a better place for everyone to live.
However, when we come together, we are no longer coming together as one voice supporting a platform. We are now that really awkward kind of party where everyone pairs off into tiny groups and judges the other groups with loud whispers. We wait for one of the other groups to say something that can be construed as offensive to our group and then we shun them. We ask them to stop talking. It’s not that people shouldn’t have conversations about what’s offensive, it’s the way in which it’s done.
Even as a socially conscious person with the very best intentions and a love for people, when I’m talking to folks on the left side of the lane—my side of the lane—I often feel like I’m tip-toeing through a lake of angry crocodiles that are hoping I stick a toe in so they can bite me. I don’t want to be bit. I don’t want to be told that I should talk less and listen more, because when I do talk, it’s after I’ve listened a lot, and I do it with the full knowledge that I may be completely wrong. So, let me talk and then tell me I’m wrong. Maybe I have something interesting to say? Maybe not? It’s about fifty/fifty with me.
If the Democratic Party wants to continue to be a force of positive change in the world, then we need to establish some trust between ourselves, some respect and some civility. Yes, we need to look at things that worked before. Yes, we need to look at new things. But let’s try to do it together and with a united platform. I believe we are on the precipice of becoming the party fueled by reactive anger rather than led by heartfelt principles and that goes against the core values of the party. And personally I don’t want to be part of the angry party.
Amber Lee is a writer, mother, marketing consultant, blogger and pet-wrangler, among her other duties. She was a journalist, then legislative aide, early in her career. Currently she consultants on marketing and public relations projects for a variety of Alaska businesses and organizations. She resides in Anchorage.