This is the tagline of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, but as the nastiest presidential election in collective memories of every American alive today grinds to a close, the few of us that proudly remain on America’s left need to ask if it makes any sense to even consider common cause with our fellow citizens.
For over 30 years, since Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural, the right has been on an unrelenting campaign to turn America’s progressives and liberals into demons—and oh how they have succeeded. Even the Democrats, who might be expected to provide cover for liberals, broke with them during Bill Clinton’s campaign, and cast us off as relics impeding the party’s ability to win elections. And so, lacking any champion at the national level, we were branded as libtards, feminazis, and traitors. The blowback has even reached the center-right Democrats represented by Clinton, as unhinged racists openly talk about revolution, assassinating the former Secretary of State before she can assume office, and rounding up the leftists preparatory to stripping them of their citizenship and deporting them. (That last, by the way, is unconstitutional, but that hardly matters to your average Trump supporter who cheers their candidate’s promises to lock up his opponent till she rots.)
So here’s the thing… Evangelicals lament America’s drift toward immorality. They claim that America has abandoned them and their way of life. Southerners, 150 years after the Civil War’s end, lament the loss of separate identity and curse the nation that took them back. Citizens in the rust belt lament lost industries and the jobs that went with them. White males lament a lost patriarchy and curse the crushing political blow that they are about to receive. But in this festival of loss not one of these constituencies conceptualizes that, through each political or economic spasm, the coasts with their liberal politics, inclusive values, and vibrant multi-cultural populations have continued to keep America chugging along. These states and regions are the ones that put $2 into federal coffers while taking back $1. These states and regions are the ones that provide the innovation that brings the country back from massive financial misdeeds and might provide a way forward.
We didn’t abandon the evangelicals. They chose to abandon us, branded us as immoral “others”. We didn’t force Southerners to chose separation. They chose it for themselves. We did not take coal jobs from Appalachia, automotive jobs from Detroit, or steel jobs from the midwest, but once those jobs were gone we tried our damnedest to provide the money for training and retooling. We can’t help white males who feel threatened. Being forced to compete on equal terms with women, other races, other creeds, and other orientations is the imperative of our Constitution.
There is no longer any reason to reach out, no reason to compromise.
Clinton has it wrong. We are not stronger together.