Shahid Buttar Profile picture
Aug 7, 2018 25 tweets 9 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Thread. A dinner conversation over the weekend with some family members who identify as center-left led us to rehash Bernie vs Clinton. A few nuggets seemed worth sharing. Beyond understanding history in order not to repeat it, these reflections suggest paths forward. /1
Some bemoaned the GOP “discipline,” noting the party’s unification behind its right wing. They blamed progressives and radicals for failing to support nominally better (if hypocritical) alternatives in moderate corporate @thedemocrats. /2
If there is a lesson to draw from GOP gains, however, it’s is that solidarity with a radical wing mobilizes the base. Boldness motivates voters & volunteers—even when the vision motivating it is insane, as Trump demonstrates. /3
A bold progressive vision that proudly declares our ideals—not mealy-mouthed moderation—is the path to defeating Trump and the Nazis he helped unleash. Boldness works for the right wing because the center has lost its legitimacy. Timidity and moderation play into their hands. /4
How can anyone expect people whose lives have been wrecked by bipartisan neo-liberal corporatism (eg anyone who works for a living) to find scarce time to volunteer for barely better candidates? Our sleeping electoral giants are the millions who don’t vote. /5
But less engaged voters only participate when inspired to do so, by candidates who actually address their interests and needs. No one grows excited about compromises, but that’s all corporate @thedemocrats offer. Can I get an amen for #MedicareForAll? /6
We also discussed Dr. MLK, Jr. and his Letter from Birmingham Jail.… First, King was not a #civilrights amusement park feel-good hero but a brilliant and prescient prophet killed for opposing racism AND militarism AND capitalism @BerniceKing /7
Militarism has expanded since King’s era. Racism remains equally violent, and has become more widely unapologetic and even more deeply institutionalized. Finally, the centers of both major political parties support corporate capitalism and runaway resource extraction. /8
In other words, the civil rights movement was righteous—but not successful. King’s concerns about how militarism and capitalism intersect align with those of Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy. Each of them rolls in his grave.… /9
Not only has the military industrial complex fueled relentless war for profit abroad, but our chickens have come home to roost in the form of militarized police.… /10
Beyond routine state violence at the local level, constitutional crimes enjoy bipartisan support in Washington. Surveillance, torture and drone strikes, oh my! Both parties have reinforced executive secrecy, which precludes effective checks & balances.… /11
King was killed before the movement realized his stated aims. Even voting rights—the movement’s only victory beyond (merely formal, and never fully effective) non-discrimination principles—have eroded dramatically.… /12
Dr. King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail is both descriptive and prescriptive. He notes how moderates fail to show solidarity with those most vulnerable, and explains the moral bankruptcy of deferring justice for the sake of expediency. It is a direct rejection of moderation. /13
The radical fringe that King represented then is represented today by our intersectional immigrant rights, labor, environmental, LGBT, peace, and #BlackLivesMatter human rights movement. We make #BeautifulTrouble however we can. /14
The unwillingness of moderate liberals to show solidarity is the reason we’re in this mess. Redeploying privilege to empower others is the essence of liberatory praxis. But @TheDemocrats expect communities to support moderates who abandon them at the drop of a political hat. /15
Moderates rely on fear (eg If you don't back us, then Trump!) But it makes no sense to expect voters disillusioned with corporate consensus to mobilize for simply more of the same. Bogeymen only scare people who are already engaged but a positive vision can motivate anyone. /16
That’s why the bold, unapologetic progressive vision articulated by candidates like @ocasio2018 @shahidforchange @coribush @kanielaing @berniesanders resonates so powerfully. It’s not just about the greater numbers who prefer our vision. /17
The kind of energy we enable across the electorate is transformative beyond any particular candidate or our campaigns. Why? Because political preferences are not static, but fluid. People shift in response to what they hear and learn. /18
Put another way, the “moderate” habit of contriving positions to seek an ephemeral middle by chasing polls resigns the chance to persuade and inspire. Moderation seeks narrow tactical victories that often come at the cost of broad strategic losses. /19
Bill Clinton's legacy—dismantling welfare, expanding mass incarceration, and laying the foundation for the 2008 financial collapse—are all perfect examples. Same as Obama’s co-optation by the banks, the CIA, and the military-industrial-policing-prison-slavery complex. /20
In contrast, even failed efforts to secure transformative goals like #MedicareForAll and #DebtFreeCollege will engage legions of supporters whose independent actions create the chance to shift culture—beyond politics. Culture drives politics inexorably. /21
Historically, the progressivism of the 60s & 70s wasn’t enabled by elected officials, but rather by the artists and activists who created space for political allies. Today @TheDemocrats stand back instead. At most, they try to co-opt movements rather than represent us. /22
A more contemporary example: LGBT marriage equality. When @jasonwest00 performed same-sex marriages in 2004, few Democrats had the spine to stand with us, or their constituents, or human rights. But principle inspired culture, which eventually forced transpartisan consensus. /23
One key difference: real change agents place the movement before our careers. See Muhammad Ali, John Lennon, @Kaepernick7, Judi Bari, MLK, @SenSanders. Centrists who protect their careers by caving on principles reveal their ultimate priorities. /24
TLDR: Stopping fascism will require progressives to first displace moderates who keep ducking into political punches by trying to preserve a dead paradigm that can't last. #ClimateChange, if nothing else, will force radical change. The question is: what sort? It's up to you. /25

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