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  • Neil Hartbarger

So, Where Does That Leave Us?


I have zero confidence in the capability of our political parties to solve any of the crucial problems facing our nation and our world, including culturally and politically embedded racial violence and looming climate catastrophe, among many other troubles. These are existential issues for our culture, our country, and human life, and they are made more intractable by citizens’ disillusion, distrust, or even rejection of democracy’s processes and fundamental principles.


As the political parties and legislative bodies stagnate (and even make things worse), the hot topic of “reimagining policing” has become Last Year’s Problem even to many on the left. Income inequality continues to climb. And most of us now find ourselves bunkered—and blinkered—with only the likeminded. Millions cling to “The Big Lie” in the face of all evidence that demonstrates we conducted one of the best-run, fairest elections in U.S. history.


So where does this litany of woe leave us? Well, coming from “deep left field,” my faith is in community, in our ability, one human to another, to work toward something better. It may seem odd given my somewhat anarchist leanings that I’m actually a huge fan of big government, because that’s the “organ” through which the community can act. Unfortunately, organizing and acting through our constitutionally constructed bodies, nationally and locally, can be glacially slow. We don’t have time for glacial. None of the problems we face are amenable to patiently waiting.


So again, where does that leave us?

  • The long game is, of course, to continue doing what we’re doing, contacting our national leadership about our concerns and working to elect people who actively make the world better.

  • Medium-termand this is where liberal small-d democrats have failed to show up over the past four or so decades—we need to work in our local communities, learning how things have gone so far off track, voting up and down the ballot for candidates who believe in inclusive democracy, and working with our neighbors to make it better, little by little.

  • The immediate response, though, is direct action—showing up, whether marching or through actual civil disobedience. For example, if 500 or a couple thousand folks get arrested handing out water at a Georgia polling station, it might make an impression.


As Frantz Fanon said, “By any means necessary.” I say, by all means.


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