Sunday Op-Ed


I’ve been reading here and there about changing hearts and minds, about reaching out to those on the other side of the divide, communicating with our “allies” in the Democratic Party and on the liberal blogs.  The thought goes something like this, “You are not helping your cause by this tone, you’re only reaching those who already agree with you.”

There’s a big difference, I believe, between reaching out and caving in.

Particularly when it comes to the liberal blogs, I find it strange that folks act as though we are politicians who must compromise our values in order to effectively communicate for our causes.

I don’t have to worry about getting elected or re-elected.  I have no lobbyists threatening to cut off my funding.  I don’t have Rahm Emmanuel breathing down my neck and threatening me to take a particular political position or lose the support of the powers in the party.

I am an individual and a citizen of the United States with all the powers that affords me.  I not only have the right and the obligation to petition my government with my concerns but the freedom to state those concerns in the form of staunch advocacy and solidarity with those who I believe are suffering from injustice.

The only real communication that can take place between human beings is on the ground of equality.  As Activist Guy commented so eloquently in my essay When the debate is over:

Common ground can only be found

after ground has been taken and held.  Common ground can only be found between equals, and since one side in any issue is the side of hegemony, they start out holding all the ground.  Some of their ground must be taken and held, and shown to be beyond recapture, before hegemony will negotiate honestly as an equal.

Defenders of the status quo are the side of hegemony.  Whenever I hear folks use Obama as a means of defending the status quo, this is the thought that comes to mind.  And whenever I hear folks tell me or others that we won’t “reach” our “allies” with harsh condemnations and polemics, I think of taking and holding ground and sense the fear in those folks, the fear of losing their own privilege the fear of actually having to acknowledge we will not cave to their not-so-subtle demands that their ground be acknowledged and respected before what we say will even be heard.

This is not common ground between equals.  This is telling us to ask for favors.  I am not asking President Obama or any of our elected representatives for favors.  I am exercising my power as an individual citizen to speak out against wrong-doing and injustice and demand redress of these grievances.  That is not negotiable.

It also becomes evident over time that these so-called “allies” would never be allies no matter how much I changed my tone or “reached out.”  Common ground can only be found between equals.  If we are not acknowledged as equals then it’s simply charity that we are urged to humbly request.  Favors from those with power who have no intention, ever, of giving up that power and privilege.

Finally, I think many of our so-called “allies” don’t understand that many of us write not to reach the hearts and minds of those who have no intention of being receptive to begin with, but to act and speak in solidarity with those who are already in the struggle, to give them the nourishment of knowing none of us stand alone in this fight, that we will not cave in or ask for favors, that we are more than willing to communicate and find common ground when we are treated as equals.  And that false common ground is worse than none at all.


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  1. … if Maureen Dowd can write op eds, anyone can.  

    • Alma on June 28, 2009 at 18:20

    And I think you nailed it with:

    but to act and speak in solidarity with those who are already in the struggle, to give them the nourishment of knowing none of us stand alone in this fight,

    I can’t count the times I’ve felt like giving up, but then I’ll read something here or there and it will buck me up again.

  2. it gets so overwhelming and discouraging… thank you for the lift up, with this piece.

    • Edger on June 28, 2009 at 21:42

    another Arlen Specter or Joe Lieberman again with talk like that.

    And Lindsey Graham is just itching to be reached out to and compromised with, I think.

    You know? 😉

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