By Michael J. Dumas
Jul 28, 2016
I think we need to find common ground for dialogue amongst those who believe we must vote for Clinton (as the lesser of two evils in order to stop Trump) and those who believe that a vote for Clinton is a capitulation to capital, antiblackness, settler colonialism, and the tragic fallacies of liberalism and nationalism.
I think that common ground begins with a recognition that both Trump and Clinton represent forces of evil, even if we disagree on the extent or degree of each candidate's complicity or intent. If we can't agree on that, we probably shouldn't talk. At least not on this level.
We should also agree that both candidates lie, and lie easily and often. And part of the lie is the spectacle of the conventions and the photo ops and the pandering to various constituencies. It's all a lie. Again, if we cannot find common ground on that, we will not get very far in the dialogue.
Next, let us agree that there are over 3 months until the election. There is no rush to compel or guilt anyone into a given position this week. Chill. We got time before November 8.
So now, the work of common ground involves genuinely and fully engaging the questions of what each of us will do should Trump win and should Clinton win. In either case, we should be able to articulate specific actions we will take, including financial and time commitments, and risks to body and social status, that we are willing to be accountable for.
Here is truth: both Trump and Hillary will advocate policies that kill, both here and around the globe. Thus, it is not enough to merely vote and advocate that others vote in 2016. We need to know what we will be doing in 2017, 2018, 2019. And if the truth is that we really aren't going to do anything differently than we have been doing in the past 8 years, we should be honest about that, so others can decide whether they care about our opinion on the matter of voting.
Of course, I want to acknowledge that common ground is not always possible or even advisable. Some things need to be fought out, or just sit as incommensurable visions, because our class interests, our ideological commitments, our political projects are not simply different; sometimes they are in opposition to each other. We should do our best to understand others' perspectives, but sometimes we need to stop talking and just go do what we believe we gotta do. No more explanation needed. Assume people know why they believe what they believe, and have already considered the arguments you are about to make and have rejected them, or at least, believe more in their own understanding of politics and power.
And this is why I am not having any more of these conversations at the simplistic "you need to do x because y" level. If you can't come deeper than that, there is no common ground, no space for a deeper deliberation. Time is better spent doing the work, and engaging those who want to wrestle with these ideas in a more thoughtful way.