Newsweek’s intrepid Kurt Eichenwald tweeted that “Our hatred, based on the arrogance of ignorance and tribal mindsets, has destroyed us” which is why “the American Era is over.” His words were painful, but he’s got a point. MSNBC host Chris Matthews once brayed that, ‘People don’t watch my show to learn something, they watch to have their opinions reinforced.’ Likewise, Beltway news media’s constant hawking of click-bait reeks not only of sensationalism but tribalism. The more we divvy up into our respective echo chambers, the easier it is to buy into faux news, to hate “the other,” to stay angry and keep clicking. This ensures that self-interested politicians and a corporate driven media stoke our fears to fill their coffers, blocking attempts at common ground or effective leadership.
The disease is everywhere, from The New York Times to Breitbart. Is it any wonder Huffington Post reported that Bernie Sanders’ supporters believed horrid smear and fake news about his primary opponent Hillary Clinton. Or why fake news on Facebook (originating from Macedonia) found purchase with voters? Right wing radio host Alex Jones finally apologized for concocting the lethal #Pizzagate scandal out of whole cloth, accusing Hillary Clinton and John Podesta of running a pedophilia ring out of the Washington D.C. pizzeria, Comet Ping Pong. Jones’ fear of being sued for defamation has apparently made him embrace his inner truthiness.
Social media is a lethal double-edged sword that at once promotes community while permitting, and providing a protective shield for, anonymous violent vulgarity. Faux news thrives as much as truth. How do we know the difference? Congregating in our safe zones, the vulgarity of “the other” often makes us less willing to venture outside them. The news is less trusted. We are therefore less likely to have an accurate picture of the world.
Remember Mitt Romney’s presidential candidacy getting zoomed in 2012 by FOX News’ touting allegedly “unskewed polls” that made him think he would cruise to victory? Russian interference and trolling in the 2016 election is yet another sore reminder of how otherwise decent, likeminded people were turned against one another, and how those at the margins (however one might characterize them otherwise) made destructive voting decisions.
To this end, one of the most important articles of 2016 was from Buzzfeed’s Ruby Cramer and her in-depth profile piece entitled: Hillary Clinton Wants To Talk To You About Love And Kindness.
“[T]hat personal connection,” [Clinton] says, “is what gets me the level of loyal support that I have, because people do believe that I will do exactly what I’ve told them. I can’t promise a specific result, but I can promise my best efforts.”
Clinton, who humbly admitted speechifying is not her strong suit but doing the job is (she’s right), gets a bad rap as a boring incrementalist. Bullshit. She’s a visionary. Here’s two of a hundred reasons why: All last year, not only did she try to warn everyone about the crooked, unfit, erratic “Putin puppet” Donald Trump (turns out she was right about that, too), she was also prescient in addressing what Mr. Eichenwald discussed – a desperate need to get past tribalism and practice more outreach.
Per Ms. Cramer:
“[Hillary Clinton] is still bringing it up. She’s still trying to talk about it. She’s still asking simply and plainly for love and kindness. The integrated life, she says, is something you strive for, not achieve. “I am not sure anybody ever gets there. But recognizing the path and being willing to keep moving forward — and trying to do better to be a coherent person with a coherent set of beliefs, and a value placed on what’s most important in your life, and maybe life in general — is what I continue to strive for.”
Hillary Clinton also still believes in American exceptionalism. Ironically, her detailed policy prescriptions and progressive, inclusive campaign were exactly what 62% of white men and 53% of white women voted against. Tribalism won, despite the fact that many of those who were so sure of their hate, voted against their own self-interest. They voted against the one person who was prepared to do more than call everything a “disaster.”
As the razor-sharp Melissa McEwan (Shakesville) put it in The Lessons We Won’t Learn:
“…Trump (and Sanders) got lots of credit and gushing admiration for “telling it like it is,” but when it was a woman who was legitimately telling it like it is, and crafting policy to address those realities instead of making promises that no president could possibly keep, the response was FUCK YOU, LADY.”
“Really, it just comes down to the fact that “Hillary Clinton was the only one running for president rather than dictator. She knew she’d have to work with Congress and a divided public, not just wave a scepter and command the defense budget be reallocated to the Department of Free Shit.” [emphasis mine]
…[T]hey eagerly preferred to listen to men who told them what they wanted to hear than a woman who told them the truth.”
Telling the truth means not just shaking your fist in the air and cursing the other guy (or gal), but educating yourself to another’s position and problems – and then having the know how to craft policy to get past mere bluster.
Clinton campaigned on the kind of outreach, knowledge and compassion which will enable us to move past tribalism. She has a long record of reaching across the aisle in working to fix our problems, unlike Trump and his current Congressional cabal who curse what they don’t like but clearly have no solutions, as evidenced by the humiliating defeat of their AHCA “healthcare repeal and replace” bill. GOP leadership had seven years to come up with a better plan than the Affordable Care Act they daily trashed. Instead of crafting policy that looked like they gave a damn about the American people, Trump, Speaker Ryan and company offered a cruel, hasty stew that, as stated elsewhere, had the forethought of something scrawled “on the back of cocktail napkins.”
But no matter how challenging our current situation, with a White House under FBI investigation, the fact is that people on the left and right stood up at town halls around the country to protest and stop this AHCA debacle from being signed into law.
While it’s heartbreaking to me and to many of us that our rightful president is not in office, we can continue Hillary Clinton’s legacy regardless. This woman never gives up the fight. Her resolute conduct reminds all of us that we can continue to seek “love and kindness” by sharing the facts while seeking common ground anywhere and everywhere possible. This means even if you’re furious at the way someone voted, don’t give up trying to talk with them (I say this to myself as much as to anyone).
Until we make greater efforts at outreach and stop allowing ourselves to be made angry by our respective faction leaders, the American era will be over – and I don’t want to settle for Mr. Eichenwald’s verdict, no matter how apt it feels at the moment.
People’s willingness to remain captive their own (sexist) bias made them believe negative nonsense about Hillary Clinton, narrowly costing her the election. But her spirit of fighting on no matter what was clearly in evidence from left and right, both at town halls and burning up Congressional phone lines around the nation. Such outspokenness and participation has already succeeded in stopping Trump’s unconstitutional “Muslim ban” and, at least for the moment, defeating the #AHCA.
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
— Stephen R. Covey
America is an idea based on an entrepreneurial and welcoming spirit. As soon as we believe otherwise, we poison ourselves and our great country. Don’t let anyone talk you into the small “build the wall” path.
Today was a victory for all Americans. pic.twitter.com/LX6lzQXtBR
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 24, 2017
Let’s not be distracted. Let’s continue to stand up, organize, resist, put forth good ideas to improve the existing system & peoples’ lives.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 24, 2017