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  • Writer's picturejeffmcm

Illusory Intersections

How do we stop the rolling disaster of the Republican takeover? If we want to indulge in Marxist fantasies about letting the entire corrupt system fall apart, that may be justified, but don’t pretend that that many people aren’t going to be damaged. For those who are more hopeful (reformists?) it would be helpful if instead of stressing the illusion of “intersectionality” we simply acknowledge the particular audience/family/community an individual might be a part of and have influence on (as it influences them). We are not going to come together and erase the divisions between us, nor are we going to walk in each other’s shoes, no matter how many marches we attend. The divisions in our society are deep and extend back to the founding of our government. We will never fully understand each other, but we share an emergency and so must work as a team. The beast is no longer at the door, but slouching towards the White House, a path smoothed by its own slobber.

When I fell into gay activism in Seattle in the late 1970’s, the more radical folks, many of them coming out of the socialist movement, pushed what they called a united front, a less identity-based version of intersectionality, but spurned any association with the more bourgeois (and overwhelmingly male and white) established gay groups (as established as such a group could be in 1977); they were not to be invited into this united state. A recent college dropout working in a restaurant and focused on dancing, I gravitated to the lefties; younger and sexier. We looked with contempt at this Dorian Group (and that fusty Greek connection) made up of businessmen, lawyers, and the like. Yet ultimately our combined efforts succeeded because we targeted the population we best understood or felt a connection to. Seattle became the first city in the U.S. to turn back an anti-gay referendum, at least in part because, after the initial squabbling over who was “right,” we focused on getting our remarkably similar messages out to multiple, dissimilar communities.

This is what I hope a revivified Democratic party might do, though I fear that many of my colleagues on the left have given up hope on that institution. The party is holding town halls in only 4 cities; shouldn’t there be far more? In the recent election, the party focused on the “markets” they thought they might control, and not on the unregulated bazaar of the U.S. in its entirety. They cannot, we cannot, afford such a strategy again.

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