Alison Breen / Gavel Media

Creating a More Productive Dialogue in the Democratic Party

Over the past few months, some of Bernie Sanders’ biggest supporters have made some sour accusations. They claim that the DNC is committed to sabotaging the Sanders campaign because they believe that another round of Trump would be preferable to Bernie’s cabinet. Many have also resorted to attacking Bernie’s age, questionable health conditions, and mental capability. I can attest that the distaste for Bernie and the “taboo” state of his trademark is tangible in digital America. It feels uncomfortable for many Americans to call themselves Democratic-Socialists. One feels that they must avoid crossing the line and voicing an opinion that appears too communistic. There appears to be a toxic undercurrent in our political climate which asks, “What true American would want an old, emotional socialist in the Oval Office?” It has been frustrating to watch debates and see Biden and others tiptoe around potent questions of universal basic healthcare. In my daily conversations, I cannot praise Bernie for too long before I fear my conversation partner’s judgment of my love of country. It is tense moments like these that contain undertones of wider societal turmoil and confusion, thoughts that keep me up at night. Where is our country going? Who is controlling our political narrative? And who is causing all of us to think the way we do? Such thought-spurring warrants some healthy reflection. I believe that this reflection should be done collectively, on the part of the disunified Democratic party.

Understanding the relative position and strength of United States liberalism on the world scale is a helpful place to begin. When viewed in terms of the national priorities of northern European countries, such as guaranteed universal healthcare, America’s most “radical” Democratic proposed policies pale in “left character.” The political narrative in our country is quite distorted, and, in my view, corrupted. There appears to be such fear and stigma around socialism and anything which emits tones of it. It is as if there is an invisible hand that is preventing the paradigm from shifting too far left. It is unnerving that the Democratic party, one that is supposed to stand for inclusion, room for cooperative voice, and progress, may in fact be puppeteered such as to remain at the “midline.” One’s understanding of this issue can be accomplished through reading and personal reflection. After going through some reflection myself, I clarified that, to me, Bernie is indeed the best option America has for a left candidate on the world arena.

It is then important to consider one’s unique meaning of liberalism. After all, political opinion is a spectrum that requires a multi-faceted approach. Each individual has their own passion for unique issues. For instance, I would feel more comfortable advocating for gun control than I would for abortion rights, despite the fact that I still have an opinion about and care for both. In addition, each person has an ideal “position” in terms of liberalism or conservatism in our country. For example, while we are both Democrats, my egalitarian ideal is more progressive than that of my friends’ parents who outrank me in age by almost 40 years. Despite these differences, I would argue that, for the majority of Democrats, the “ideal country” or fruition of ideas will actually fall somewhere beyond, or “farther left” than, the standard moderate-liberal mindset by today’s standards. This may be a tough pill to swallow for many Americans, particularly those whose views hail from an “original” Democratic party make-up of two to four decades past. I think that a contributor to these views is the historically controlled “centralized” narrative. For example, the basic right to healthcare is something that most would fundamentally support. The same goes for a “fair” opportunity for employment, and for safety around guns and weapons of war. Of course, we must also remain consistent critical analysts of our society’s main issues. There are no finely cut answers or solutions to anything, from climate change to wealth taxes to reproductive freedom.

As such, intersectional approaches are needed, and they will require a strong and holistic understanding of a problem. I believe that we are capable of being such keen and intelligent observers and absorbers of the world around us. I also think that opening our minds to the possibility of larger visions than previously imagined is important. That is, the thoughts that are “too liberal,” “too distant,” or “too soft” should be considered. Admitting some conflicting and disagreeing thoughts with traditional Democratic ones, too, can be a healthy way to create space for rethinking and organic opinion-forming. Question-forming is an essential part of the discernment process and can invent some important and constructive forward steps. An individual-motivated exercise like this one would hopefully be able to reorient Democrats and create more productive dialogue, notwithstanding personal interests and agendas.

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Daniel Pacella