by Colin McGrath
I am troubled. Pretty deeply, actually. There is a great hate emerging in this country. Yes, the Nazis in Charlottesville were abhorrent and the recent Anti-Islamic rant and vandalism done here in my home state of Arizona by a mother and her two young children were especially troubling. I could go on and on finger pointing at the vulgarity emboldened in the last year by this administration that has emerged from the shadows where it lived for so long. However, that’s not what truly frightens me. The larger and more disparaging hurdle we have to overcome is the much more insidious, hidden, and unfortunately common hate.
That is the quieter, low-grade disdain that drives the right-wing machine. The anti-immigrant propaganda machine that diverts the blame away from the scavenger corporatists that saddle your workplace in debt, sell off assets while you work your shift, then quietly lock the doors on a random Tuesday morning. The hate that is consuming this once proud nation is the kind that emerges when you say, “Well I’m socially liberal… I love gay people! I’m just fiscally conservative. Cause that’s the sensible thing to do!” It’s this oblivious hate that that doesn’t even realize that the economic policies of ALEC shrink the middle class, grow the racially skewed prison for profit industry, pay for corporate tax breaks with funds siphoned from public education, and, because of your support, perhaps unwittingly, renders you the least ‘socially liberal’ person in the room.
So, in this strange new era, how do we battle this beast? Trumpism is a hard demon to exercise. However, progressives are emerging in droves expressing enthusiastically in unison that it is high time to do it. But how? All one needs is a Facebook account to realize that arguing with conservatives about the damage being done to our country only seems to embolden them.
The answer lies in a policy strategy surrendered long ago by the Democratic party, flirted with a skosh, but quickly abandoned at the first sign of adversity. It’s a simple philosophy, and it might just save us all. It’s called the politics of compassion.
You see, right-wing policy wonks like Paul Ryan love to take the podium and rattle off numbers (frequently demonstrably false) of the deleterious effects of Medicare and the cost of public education, all the while realizing that the Democrats in Congress are too scared to take the podium afterwards and expose him for being cruel. They are convinced that the only defense is a fervent prattle involving GDP percentage, CBO scores, and the numerically quantifiable aspect of human suffering. Well, Congress may well still be mired in the age old false trap of meeting them on their own battlefield, but the people are steadily waking up.
All over this country newly emerging progressive candidates are starting to say that they were inspired to run on the politics of compassion. The wealthiest country in the world should not have the poverty rates we do. Do we drive this issue to November on statistical analysis alone? No. We love our fellow Americans. We have enough resources to feed our poor. We have enough resources for every child to have a quality public education, we have enough resources for every person to have healthcare as a basic human right and we shouldn’t have to wave around a five-hundred page report from the Brookings Institute just to say it. Compassion for our fellow Americans is justification enough. Compassion is becoming more and more politically safe for candidates the more we talk in open space about the importance it holds for us all.
The olden age of being labelled a ‘hippy’ and not taken seriously as a candidate if you believe in ‘legislating with compassion’ is thankfully starting to wane. A new time is emerging where ‘I believe in the politics of compassion!’ can be worn as a shiny purple button on your gaudy convention vest.
We are starting to care less about where a person stands on the last obscure senate bill, and more about what kind of person you are. I want to know, when you are writing legislation, are you trying to focus your efforts on helping the most people you possibly can, or do you have another motive? We should not be taken aback, but rather, comforted to know that those that lead us embrace compassion first, and all else second. But, bear in mind, that notion was enough, just a few short years ago, to laugh you out of electability. Well, we say, NO MORE.
The politics of compassion is good politics. ‘Love one another’ is not only how we should live, it’s how we should legislate. Love will create healthcare for those previously denied access. Love will ensure that the poorest little child of color in rural America has access to the same high quality public education as any child in any city anywhere. Love will crush partisan gerrymandering and racial voter suppression. Love will bring us clean energy and it’s long overdue.
Is this really true? If we all start acting like a bunch of softies we’re going to lose in November, right? WRONG. The majority of our nation is gravitating towards this shift. The signs are everywhere. All other political maneuverings have heretofore failed. Compassion, as a political stance, is gaining steam. No more are we afraid of ‘looking weak’. Love can be as strong as a wild animal. Love is unity and unwavering. Love is infectious. Love brings people around in a way that divisive debate fails. Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” He is as correct in the era of Donald Trump as he was in the era of Jim Crow. Indeed, only love can do that. Love is the reason we are all here. We should run on it.
Colin McGrath is a Firefighter, Registered Nurse, and married father of two. He is Founder & CEO of a progressive non-profit called Change4aFive that acts as a platform to promote progressive candidates and values. He is currently seeking crowdfunding to support this mission. Learn more at www.change4afive.org