Sam Husseini is founder of VotePact.org.
It’s become something of a cliché: Many people dread Thanksgiving in part because they have to break bread with friends — and especially relatives — who they adamantly disagree with politically.
One is pro-immigration, the other wants to build a bigger wall, etc.
But what if this apparently annoying encounter was actually a blessing?
I don’t identify as either a Democrat or a Republican, but I recognize that there are millions of people who identify as “Democrats” for some good reason and there are lots of people who identify as “Republican” for good reason.
Thing is, those “good reasons” mostly have to do with how bad the other party is.
And a further rub is that many rank and file Democratic voters and Republican voters agree on certain core issues: They are sick of Wall Street and big business domination. They are skeptical of perpetual wars, etc. This is in spite of the fact that the establishment of both the Democratic and Republican parties are deeply tied to Wall Street and back perpetual wars, occational rhetoric to the contrary.
Indeed, when a somewhat popular figure comes before the base — whether it’s Democratic Obama or Republican Trump — they take the guise of being critical of Wall Street and of war.
But that’s not how they govern.
They back Wall Street.
They back wars, occasionally what speaking against them.
And they get away with it.
Because if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.
Rather than the bases being divided by the establishment of the parties, seemingly hypnotized by the venom spewed by Fox and MSNBC against the other, they need to have honest, and even loving, dialogue to break out of their partisan boxes.
They key may be to engage and turn the discussion in way that what could be an annoyance is blissful food for the soul.
Manna from heaven, even.
That’s what the VotePact strategy is about.
Instead of a disenchanted Democrat and disenchanted Republican (relatives, coworkers, partners, lovers, friends) cancelling out each other — one self-loathingly voting for Biden and the other for Trump at year from now, they could both vote for candidates they deeply believe in.
Imagine if instead of “Trump sucks and everyone who likes him sucks” it’s “Hey, I understand, you think Biden is corrupt. I prefer her to Trump, but I actually agree that he’s corrupt. So, instead of you voting Trump and me voting Biden — let’s both vote for other candidates.” That could be Greens, Libertarians, etc.
Of course, part of the victory of the establishment is that voting for independent or third party candidates seems unthinkable to many right now. That’s because it’s a hate-fueled system.
The establishment wants you to hate and be driven by it.
It doesn’t want you to see that while you are arguing about immigration for example, keeping you in your partisan boxes, the Democratic and Republican party “leaderships” are actually work together on the causes of desperate immigration: Interventions and wars in Latin America and the Mideast, drug polices and trade policies that all fuel desperate migration.
Of course we’re now in primary season. But we need to be thinking along these lines and get other people to be doing so because it frames the debate now.
Consider that Carlos Rojas recently confronted former Vice President Joe Biden about the Obama administration’s record on immigration.
How did Biden respond?
“Well, you should vote for Trump,” Biden said. “You should vote for Trump.”
That’s the mindset of the Democratic — and Republican — establishment: I don’t have to deliver for you. Because the other guys are worse. You’re my prisoner.
But you can break out of the and others can too. As hokey as it sounds, through dialogue and love. That person who annoys you across the Thanksgiving day table can be your salvation. You can both stop being a pawn of the DNC or RNC.
If this isn’t challenged now, then less stablishment candidates like Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard (who merit criticism, but are clearly distinct from Biden and other candidates) will be further marginalized.
We need to be talking about a radical center emerging now. And doing so can help those more anti-establishment candidates.
Thus, the Sanders campaign is wrong when it says there’s “No Middle Ground.”
There should be no middle ground for the establishments.
But there should be a radical middle ground.
A common ground.
Where principled progressives and conscious conservatives can break out of the establishment that has at its heart being an Empire, fueling wars, oppression, exploitation in every community and on a global scale.
It would be most fitting that the turning away from Empire would take a step forward on Thanksgiving Day tables considering the original mythology that spawned the U.S. as Empire centuries ago.