Democrats and their problematic privilege

By David Boehnke

Last week one Molly Griffard wrote an article called: “Get real: it’s a two party system.” Her argument can be summed up as such—don’t vote for Jesse Mortenson because he might make a difference. He might do real grassroots organizing, for change, not just for winning elections. He might actually use such organizing to pressure those at the capital to re-imagine what’s possible. He might give you an alternative to praying for a party without creativity, conscience, or confidence. He might actually do something other than delay the Republican Party’s stampede that continues to dramatically eliminate pivotal victories of the 60s and 70s. He might change the language surrounding issues to get results.

Why might we expect such things? Because Erin Murphy’s campaign is ceaselessly co-opting Jesse’s language to try to mask how their approaches are the difference between grassroots politics and party machinery. Because Molly Griffard was so worried about Jesse having a chance that she was compelled to write an article telling people how he doesn’t have a
chance.

Beyond this, Molly’s article is a clear and simple affirmation of everything wrong with our political system. From its focus on big money to spin, polling to mass media marketing, Molly affirms the insider crap that keeps us alienated from the political process and is getting us nowhere.

Of course this line of thought is nothing new. It is a trademark of unthinking liberals, who in their privilege make decisions—”pragmatically”—against the interests they supposedly represent. Such naïveté demonstrates a serious ethical failure.

Similar things have shown up in Macalester’s financial decisions: why worry about financial aid, we are cutting people who are not yet here. Why worry about exploding tuition costs, those who do not get in will not speak. Why worry about building an excessively expensive gym when our era of affluence is also a time of the most widespread poverty and stratification of wealth in the history of history?

I haven’t figured out how to deal with the question of privilege. I am working on it. I haven’t figured out how to deal with the question of actually making change. I am organizing for it. I haven’t figured out how to transform the intensely disruptive and peaceful tactics initiated by Gandhi into a series of successful actions in the present day.

But I am not foolish enough to believe that no one will find answers to these questions, and am not cynical enough to believe that enacting change is hopeless.

Nor am I gullible enough to believe that electing people on the principals of big money, vacuity, and cowardice will improve our world.