Politicians cannot be relied on to combat the epidemic of hatred and bigotry. There is simply no mainstream political party in the U.S. devoted to protecting the interests of the underprivileged.
The U.S. has a long history of bigoted policies. Recently, many people have been surprised that the common euphemisms used in defending these policies such as “states’ rights” and “jobs issues” are disappearing in favor of more direct appeals to nationalism, racism, classism, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia.
A lot of people are optimistic about the election of more liberal representatives. They believe this will help to protect against discriminatory policies. For those people, this is an exciting time.
It’s important to remember the distance between the groups being targeted and the representatives promising to protect them. The Democratic party’s history of progress is, at best, modest and extremely gradual. The policies they create are usually appeals to public image rather than to constituents. They intend to stop riots by restoring some people’s faith in the system and shrinking the number of radicals.
Activists have put themselves at extreme risk and used tremendous amounts of energy to fight against the political system before every one of these rulings, only to be met with partial solutions.
When policies allow for those seeking asylum to be deported and killed by foreign powers, prisons to enslave people, stripping them of their rights and forcing them to work for free and murderers to use “gay and trans panic” defenses in 47 states to avoid charges, there is no room for compromise. These laws must be overturned outright as soon as possible, because lives are at stake.
Most Democratic politicians are still devoted to slow compromise, a goal which few Republican lawmakers seem to share. The day following the midterm elections, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was already calling to meet conservatives halfway.
“We will strive for bipartisanship. We believe that we have a responsibility to seek common ground where we can,” Pelosi said.
This reflects a similar attitude to former President Barack Obama’s remarks to Howard University in 2016.
“If you think that the only way forward is to be as uncompromising as possible, you will feel good about yourself, you will enjoy a certain moral purity, but you’re not going to get what you want,” Obama said.
When contrasted with the attitude of political opposition, the problem is clear. The far right is not interested in compromise and will not ask permission to violate people’s rights. They are more interested in winning.
As President Trump stated, “We’re gonna win so much, you may even get tired of winning, and you’ll say ‘[...] Mr. President, it’s too much!” and I’ll say ‘No, it isn’t. We have to keep winning. We have to win more.’”
Meeting fascists and racists halfway does more harm than good. Enabling the spread of hate speech only hurts groups targeted by hatred. When people are asked to sacrifice their rights, they have nothing to negotiate. The only choice is to fight back.
The good news is that ordinary citizens can still change things for the better, but only through direct action. Call out bigotry wherever you see it. You don’t have to debate, but let people know their hate is not welcome. Refuse to compromise or tolerate hateful behavior. Disrupt, protest, and if possible, seek legal action. Remember how many lives are at stake.
If fewer spaces welcome hateful ideology, fewer people will accept it. Ordinary people must look out for each other at all costs, because nobody else will.