Thoughts on politics, religion, violence, inequality, social control, change, and random other things from an autonomous, analytical, adopted, abolitionist, anarchist who likes the letter A

Archive for the ‘Seeking’

My Two Cents on Getting Involved in Movements and Activism

December 07, 2016 By: Mel Category: Seeking

Photo of sign that says Occupy Everywhere and Never Give it BackEven before Trump was elected, more people were asking me for advice on getting involved in something besides electoral politics. After all the questions and chats, I have a few thoughts to add to my earlier post for the Newly Disillusioned.

Take Care of Yourself

I know it can seem selfish and that advice about “self care” has become eye-rollingly ubiquitous. But if you cannot take care of yourself, then you are no help to anyone. If you drive yourself into the ground and need people to pick you up off the floor, you are taking them away from things they could be doing to make things better. If you are in a constant stream of bad relationships (romantic, friend, colleague, comrade…), then you are sucking energy away from yourself and everyone else. You will hurt more than help if you are overflowing with unexamined rage, prejudices, and privilege. None of us will ever be perfect, or perfectly able to take care of ourselves, but personal responsibility and self awareness are prerequisites to useful action.

Help Those Closest to You

The mindset of just “take care of your own” and screw everyone else is part of how we got into this mess. At the same time, if you cannot be relied on to help the people you love, how can anyone rely on you for anything? Besides, when you know someone well, you are in a better position to understand what they might need. When you “help” people you don’t know, it often goes terribly wrong. (Hello nonprofit industrial complex. I’m talking to you.) All of us will need help and support at some point. All of us will get sick, lose loved ones, and have our hearts broken. Most of us will have times where it is a struggle to just get by. We need to be able to rely on each other so that life’s tragedies don’t derail us completely. The more we can rely on each other, the less people can control us through fear of destitution.

Expand Your Circle

Just make sure that those closest to you are a diverse enough group that you are also supporting some of the most marginalized people in our society. Our society is so stratified and segregated that many people don’t have any relationships outside of their own race, class, age, physical ability, religion…  Poor people tend to know poor people. Professional/managerial class people tend to know other people like themselves. The further down you are on our societal hierarchy, the harder it is to be able to meet your basic needs. If all the college-educated professionals are only helping each other, we have a problem. For those of us who have had it relatively easy, sometimes the best thing we can do is make it possible for someone else to fight the system that is crushing them.

Let People Help You

I have an amazing group of friends who are all loath to “burden” anyone with their problems. I get it. Taking care of yourself is important. There are always people out there who have things worse than you do. Everyone seems to have so much on their plate. How can we possibly ask more of them? The thing is, we cannot succeed without functioning support systems. And we cannot have functioning support systems if the most reliable people are never willing to ask for help when they need it. Mutual aid requires that we all be willing to both give it and receive it.

Work with People You Like and Trust

It is tempting to think that people who show up for the same protest or organizing meeting have the same values you do. It is tempting to think that people who seem to share your principles can be relied on when it really counts. But experience has taught me that is not the case. Sometimes it is the conservative friend, the one who thinks your actions are foolish, who bails you out after. If you get involved in movements and community groups, you will meet all kinds of frustrating people. There will be racist, feminist women and misogynist, anti-racist men. There will be elitist union reps and homophobic environmentalists. There will be people who say lovely things and show up for every protest, but cannot be relied on to do anything that doesn’t come with fame. Take stock of who you know and what they are trying to do in this world. Think long and hard about who you really think would have your back in an emergency. Keep those people close.

Do Things With Joy

I have a tendency to do whatever needs to be done. Agendas? Sure. Meeting notes? Sure. Collecting money? No problem. It isn’t a bad thing. You don’t want to be the person who is never willing to do grunt work. There are far too many of those people already. But if you find no joy in what you are doing, then you will not keep at it long enough for it to make a difference. We are all so busy. We all have to spend so much of our lives on obligations, especially to our paying jobs. The best way to make sure that our extracurriculars are successful is to make sure that they bring us the joy, community, and sense of possibility that we all crave. There are so many things wrong and so many ways to be a part of trying to change them. It may take a while, but you can find something that won’t feel like another job.

Small is Big

When something newsworthy happens, there is an immediate effort to start identifying the charismatic, (usually) male leader who supposedly brought it into being.  When we hear about the bus boycott, we hear about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. We don’t hear about all the people who worked at their job, took care of their family, and then put in just a little extra driving carpools or knocking on their neighbor’s door. We don’t hear about the thousands of people who really make things happen in small ways. Heroic figures can be inspirational, but they can also be paralyzing. If you think any effort needs to be fame-worthy or it is worthless, then you won’t do anything. Besides, the fame seekers are often motivated more by ego and savior complexes than anything else. Don’t undervalue the little things. The little things are more important than they might seem.

In Short

There is no end to the struggle for justice. It isn’t as though, if you can just get through a few hundred sleepless nights, we will arrive at utopia. If you really want to work for a more just world, then you just signed on for a lifetime job. We don’t need more people who make speeches all day and leave the child rearing and cooking to someone else. We don’t need more people who burn themselves out after six months and contribute to the constant churn in our organizations. We need strong, grounded people who take care of themselves and others. We need collaborative, organized communities that provide foundation and protection. So just start where you are at, find good people, keep your ego in check, and try a little something.

Dipping a Toe Back In

October 16, 2016 By: Mel Category: Seeking

toe-in-water-772773_1280You may have noticed that I haven’t been writing much lately. It has been hard to prioritize. It isn’t just the full-time job or that I am prioritizing framily and community over the solitude needed to write – though those things play a huge role. It is also because I started to wonder why I was writing.

What I love about writing is how it helps me think things through. It forces clarity and brings up questions I didn’t even realize I had. And I like thinking things through publicly on this blog…sometimes. When it was good, people helped me to see things that I had not thought of. I found a lot of kindred spirits, some of whom became friends that I cherish.

But sometimes I let myself get sucked into debate with people who were not trying to grow or build anything. Sometimes I found myself wasting time being the female opinion for dudes who weren’t really capable of even attempting to see things outside of their own experience. Sometimes I wasted precious time on haters and trolls who just liked to stir up shit. It is so easy to get caught up in other people’s agendas –  to wake up and realize you just spent days, weeks, or months being responsive to everything except the things you most want and most value.

I want to write again, but I’m going to be careful to use this blog for the good parts – finding like-minded people, finding people who want to work on similar things, opening a conduit for information about the areas I’m working on, and having genuine discussions with people who have different experiences.

To that end, I thought I would share some of the things I’m working on (or planning to in the very near future).

  • A book on Grand Juries
  • A creative/community space that is child friendly
  • A DMV (District, Maryland, Virginia) media project
  • Making things (I’m painting again!)
  • Starting a Diaspora pod (or some other alternative to Facebook/Twitter that isn’t for profit)

The grand jury book is the first priority. If any of you know folks who have served on grand juries or have some expertise in that area, please ask them to get in touch with me at mel (at)

So what have you all been up to?


Some Thoughts on Voting for the Newly Disillusioned

August 03, 2016 By: Mel Category: Core, Seeking

I’m seeing quite a few people in my Facebook and Twitter feeds who have just now realized that the political system is not the path to what they are looking for. They are feeling angry, cynical, and lost.

I get it. I’ve been there.

I was crushed when Bill Clinton gave us welfare “reform,” NAFTA, and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I was one of those people everyone blames for the 2000 election because they voted for Nader. And, even though I had long before become cynical, I really hoped that Obama at least kinda meant all that stuff he said about civil liberties. Other people maybe picked Howard Dean or Ron Paul, but many of us have had at least one moment of political hope followed by inevitable disappointment.

Of course we have. We have been trained our entire lives to focus our attention on the shiny circus of Big P Politics, especially presidential elections. We are taught it was LBJ and FDR that made things better. It is as if all the people who went door to door, marched, organized strikes, wrote, exposed corruption, and took direct action did not even exist.

The good news is that now you are free. There are millions of things you can do and millions of people who also think things suck. Now that you have safely eliminated presidential politics from your arsenal of tactics that work, you can put your energies towards better things.

I’ve spent a lot of the last decade reading about social movements – from the kids involved in the civil rights movement to the anarchists in Barcelona. And I’ve spent a bit of time, though not nearly enough, participating in them. I don’t have a magic formula for you, but I do have a basic path that has started to form in my head. It goes something like this.

  1. Imagine how you want your life to be and what is standing in your way. Figure out what you want your world to look like. It doesn’t have to be precise or perfect, but you do need something to reach for.
  1. Find other people who want the same things that you do. Build communities of trust and support. (That trust and support part is crucial.)
  1. Plan direct actions. Ideally they should provide for immediate needs and disrupt the systems of oppression.
  1. Identify the obstacles that you will face and prepare for them, figure out how you will defend yourselves.
  1. Act
  1. Review the action. Figure out what went well and what didn’t. Reassess. Adjust. Make sure all your people are taken care of.
  1. Rinse and repeat.

That doesn’t mean that voting can never, ever be a part of what you are doing.

“If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” – Emma Goldman

All due respect to Emma (and I love her), her statement is kind of a case for voting. After all, it has been and still is prohibited for a whole lot of people (former felons, for instance). And it is not true that voting never matters at all. Voting for someone who is less likely to mow you down in the street is a totally reasonable defense strategy. Voting a terrible prosecutor out of office is a legitimate tactic. If two dudes are running for town sheriff and one is a sociopath, we might consider voting for the other guy.

But then we should go right back to working on ending the position of sheriff or prosecutor entirely. We should learn how to build community for ourselves rather than constituencies for people with their own agenda. We should learn how to resolve conflict ourselves, not empower violent authorities to run systems of oppression and retribution.

It is a lot harder to do those things than to stump for a candidate and vote every couple years. But we can only get out from under these people if we take responsibility and represent ourselves. I screw up every damn day in every way imaginable. But that is why it is called a struggle. And it is so much better to be struggling – to be a better person, to build alternate systems, against oppressive structures, with my community –  than to be looking for some kind of savior to come along and make it better.

Now that you are free of the constraints of electoral politics, what are you going to do?

Guest Post at Womanist Musings

April 02, 2010 By: Mel Category: Conflict, Seeking, Stratification

One of the blogs I follow religiously is Womanist Musings.  Renee always makes me think.  This week she had a guest post by Kola Boof that set off a bit of a kerfuffle.  Renee then challenged her readers to respond with their own post, which I did.

Below are links to all the posts (and comment streams), the last being my guest post.

With a couple rare exceptions, all the comments on here have been respectful.  But I still want to take a moment to request that, should any of you decide to jump in, please be constructive.  Don’t be like the nasty person who actually made a death threat.  (I mean for fuck’s sake.)

Dishonesty About Race – An American Social Reflex

The Third Eye Report: Israel vs. Palestine

Re: Kola Boof

On When to Speak

Step One – Understanding

March 08, 2010 By: Mel Category: Seeking

On Saturday night, I went to a friends birthday party.  The party was at a club in Temple Hills, Maryland.  Temple Hills is 85% African American.  It took the bfriend and I three tries before we found a cab willing to take us there.  (FYI – It is just outside DC and an easy 10 mile drive.)  When we finally did find one, the cabbie spent the whole drive telling us what a dangerous place it was.

On Sunday, I attended A Continuing Talk on Race (A.C.T.O.R.) at Busboys and Poets.  Ironically, this month’s guest was Rawn James, Jr.   He was there to discuss his new book, Root and Branch: Charles Hamilton Houston, Thurgood Marshall, and the Struggle to End Segregation.  The group discussion centered around exactly the kind of de facto segregation in 85% black Temple Hills or 79% white Santa Cruz (where I lived the six years before moving to DC).

And on Sunday night, I listened to Womanist Musings on blog talk radio.  The subject was bridging the divide between women of color and white feminists.  Renee asked, as she has been asking for some time, how we can more effectively work together.

Divisions, and how to work across them, have been on my mind a lot lately.  Two recent posts have been about collaborating across the divide and focusing issue by issue.  But I think I may have gotten ahead of myself, because we are unlikely to work together successfully without first understanding one another.  And in order to understand one another, we have to listen to each other.  Too often, we aren’t even putting ourselves in the same room, much less having conversations.

I’m not talking just about racial divides.  Political affiliation, economics, geography, religion, food, education, philosophy, music, clothes, cars, books, heroes, villains…  We seem to have a nasty tendency to let small differences (and not so small differences) become impassible chasms.  Sometimes the divides are rooted in prejudice and fear.  Sometimes, like one participant on Sunday admitted, it is just the ease of being with people you know and understand.

We are all (to some degree) uninformed, misinformed, bigoted, suspicious, petty, defensive, and closed-minded.  It may be easier to live in a neighborhood where everyone looks the same or to only get news from people who think like you.  It’s easier to shut out the things that challenge or offend.  It is easier to stay within your comfort zone than to risk exposing your ignorance or exposing yourself to other people’s ignorance.

But we can’t always just do what is easy.  And insulating ourselves only ensures that we stay uninformed, misinformed, bigoted, suspicious, petty, defensive, and closed-minded.

To be clear, we all need safe spaces.  We all need friends, family, and neighbors that we feel comfortable with.  We need people who know us well enough to overlook a bad day or a stupid statement.  We need places where we don’t have to navigate the daily minefields inherent in a society that is so separate and oppressive.  And the more a person feels the weight of those minefields on a daily basis, the more they need that space.

But we also need safe spaces for crossing the divides, because those minefields will not disappear on their own.

So expose yourself to different people and different ways of thinking.  If you are liberal, follow some conservative or libertarian blogs.  If you are white, follow some black blogs.  If you are a man, follow some women’s blogs.  Don’t be a troll.  Don’t read people just to find fault with them.  Don’t look only for opportunities to debate.  Look for opportunities to find common ground.

Get out there and make yourself uncomfortable.  Talk to people that you don’t normally talk to.  If you live in New York, spend time in Oklahoma.  If you live in Minnesota, spend some time in Miami.  If you’ve never left your country, do it now.  And I don’t mean go stay in a resort where they make sure you are not exposed to anything even mildly jarring.

If you look, you will find other people who are willing to put themselves out there, even when it is uncomfortable.  You will find people who will take the time to understand where other people are coming from and to explain where they are coming from.  You will find people willing to be open and honest no matter what kind of abuse or ridicule they suffer for it.  You will find people who create safe spaces, virtual and physical, that make the conversations possible.

Thank those people.

Cherish those people.

Be those people.

I strongly suspect that, if we focus on understanding each other, collaboration will follow.

Issue by Issue

February 15, 2010 By: Mel Category: Politics, Seeking, Stratification

Political parties and broad categorizations have warped the way we think about issues and problem solving.

We may think that we cannot work with a conservative on anything.  But which conservative do we mean – the Christian conservative from Focus on the Family or the follower of Buckley?  We may think we cannot work with a liberal on anything.  But which liberal do we mean – the liberal, gay man who wants low taxes and small government (but also wants to marry his partner) or the liberal, homophobic union member who thinks larger government can protect him from his boss?

People attach themselves to a certain label based on what they perceive that label to mean.  But that is often not going to be what you think it means.  Pro-life is a good example.  A recent survey found that 51% of people identified as pro-life.  Now to me, that means anti-abortion.  When I hear pro-life, my first thoughts are of rape and incest and putting women’s lives at risk.

But closer inspection of that poll reveals that only about 22% of respondents thought abortion should be illegal in all cases.  So the label pro-life tells you that a person thinks that some abortions performed are wrong.  And while 42% of those surveyed identified as pro-choice, only about half of those think abortion should be legal in all cases.  So the label pro-choice also likely means that the person thinks some abortions performed are wrong.

Not only does our political system encourage us to focus laser-like on those issues that are most divisive.  It discourages any meaningful conversation about what those labels actually mean to the people who embrace them.  And that is just one more thing that keeps us from being able to work together on those issues that we do agree on.

People are understandably skeptical when I speak of working together with “the other side.”  Self-described liberals or progressives, for example, usually bring up white supremacists or Christian extremists or just the people who still think Dubya was a good president.  But they miss the point.

We need to stop looking at the entirety of people’s beliefs and start focusing on the issues – one issue at a time.

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) has done an exemplary job of this.  Ethan Nadelmann found that his fellow liberals were not always his best allies in the fight against drug prohibition.  So he has gone about building a coalition of liberals, conservatives, and libertarians who all think the drug war is a bad idea.  Nadelmann will appear at the CATO institute on one day and the NAACP on another.  And DPA is happy to show that even many seemingly ideological enemies agree with them.

DPA’s “big tent” is one of the reasons why there is such movement right now in the area of drug policy reform, especially regarding marijuana.  And they show us that people on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum can work on an issue without compromising their ethics and with a lot of success.

So instead of trying to find the overarching category or political party that you perceive to be closest to your set of beliefs, why not focus your energies on an issue?  Or two issues or ten issues.  A web of groups, each focused on a clear issue with clear goals, has a much better chance of success than large groups of people who have to spend all their energies trying to be all things to all people.

And there is no telling what unexpected benefits we might realize from these kinds of issue based coalitions.  Perhaps the interactions might change some participants views on other issues.  Maybe nobody would change their ideas at all, but would walk away with a deeper understanding of what “the other side” really thinks.  People who work together toward a common goal, even those who don’t like each other, will often develop a mutual respect.  And mutual respect would be a very good start.

Collaborating Across the Divide

February 11, 2010 By: Mel Category: Seeking

Here’s a hypothetical situation.

You work in a town with one factory.  You need your job.  Moving to another town, starting your own business, or getting some other means of survival is not an option at the moment.

One of your coworkers (let’s call him Bob) is a racist, sexist, homophobic SOB.  You are a black lesbian (let’s call you Michelle) who, for obvious reasons, does not get along with Bob.

You and Bob have found yourself in a situation.  Your employer (let’s call him Dick) is planning on cutting your salaries in half and doubling your work load.  Dick is counting on the animosity between you and Bob preventing any collaboration to thwart his plan.  Dick has his eye on a lovely yacht that he will be buying with your recouped wages.

What do you do here?  Take the cut in pay?  Move into your car?  Live on Ramen noodles?  Or do you find a way to work with Bob to fight Dick?

I make up this hypothetical situation because I think this is where we are stuck.  This is why, even when the majority of Americans want the wars to end or a public option or whatever else, we can never get what we want.  Yes, there is a lot of money and power blocking our way.  But that money and power would be no match for an organized and united population.

The other day on twitter, one of the people I follow retweeted the following:

Jane Hamsher on MSNBC just endorsed certain aspects of Tea Party.  I for one want nothing 2 do w/teabaggers or firebaggers.

So I asked my twitter-friend, “If the libertarian wing of the teabaggers got behind a massive anti-war movement (which they are talking about), you wouldn’t consider working together?”

The rest of the conversation went like this:

Him: No.  Just because ppl who want to undermine us support 1 thing I do is no reason to break bread with them

Me:  So you would rather have war continue and people die?

Him:  No, id rather the war end and not enable ppl who want the countrys destruction

Me:  You are stereotyping a whole lot of ppl you don’t know based on impressions from TV.  Really think you can trust TV impressions?

Him: Stereotyping, no, just listen to what they say

Me:  U mean that you have talked to them 1:1 or you listen to the ppl the tv likes to quote?

He never answered my last question.

I understand where he is coming from.  The tea party movement is, at best, blind to the racism underlying their movement.  And the movement has undoubtedly attracted many white supremacists and Christian conservatives whose views of the world are everything I would die in opposition to.


I do not believe that every person who is skeptical of government or resentful of government’s power over our lives is a neo-nazi.  And I definitely don’t believe that I can trust the media’s portrayals of who is at those gatherings.

I know that when thousands of average-looking people gather for a liberal anti-war demonstration, the media will find the one group of naked hippies with “Fuck the Gap” spray painted on their asses and present them as representative.  I know that thousands of preppy families could show up for a gay rights march and the news will find the two guys in bondage gear and present them as representative.  And so I must assume that they do that with everyone.

I don’t believe, as a Jew, I could ever work with a neo-nazi.  I don’t think, as a woman, I could ever work with a misogynist who believes he should have the right to beat his wife.  So I understand that there are some people that a person could not work with because of their extreme views.

However, I believe that people are called “extremists” for a reason.  And if we decide that we cannot work with anyone who is ignorant, fearful, distrustful, prejudiced, or angry – who would we work with?  Aren’t all of us struggling with those things to some extent?  Isn’t that part of being human?

The entirety of U.S. history is the story of elites fueling our prejudices and playing us against one another to their advantage.  If we have any hope of making things better, everything needs to be seen through that lens.

Over-Reliance on the Law

February 08, 2010 By: Mel Category: Seeking

Over the weekend, a friend of mine posted a video (below) about a Fox news report that was squashed.

Several years ago, Fox reporters were working on a story about Monsanto and rBGH.  Monsanto, upon getting wind of the story, had their attorneys send Fox a letter threatening to sue.  Fox wanted to squash the story, but were afraid the reporters would tell the world.  So instead, Fox management beat the story into a form that Monsanto would like better.

The reporters were eventually fired for not being willing to lie in their news report.  The Fox station attorney sent them a letter confirming that is why they were fired.  The reporters understood this to be a retaliation claim.  They believed they would be protected under the whistleblower statute.  But the courts ruled that a news show lying on the air was not illegal and therefore there was no whistle to blow.  Ergo, no protection for the reporters.

All of us discussing the post agreed that it was appalling.  The poster suggested that we start a campaign to make lying by the news stations illegal.  It was an instinct I understood, but all I could think of were the potentially disastrous consequences.

If we want to see what happens when it is easier to sue a news organization, look no further than the United Kingdom.  Libel laws there are much different than in the United States.  And corporations are taking advantage of those laws to sue newspapers and bloggers.

News organizations afraid that they are going to be sued are likely to self censor.  In fact, this very Monsanto incident is the perfect example of the kind of self censorship that news organizations are practicing.  Monsanto threatened to sue them, presumably for libel.  And rather than risk the expense of a court battle, Fox’s response was to cave to the threat of a lawsuit.

While this Monsanto case is disgusting, how would yet more laws that people can be sued under help rather than cause even more self censorship?  And even if there was no danger from self censorship, how could we be sure that honest mistakes were not prosecuted?

This is not just an issue of a free press or of free speech.  It is about how we are handling all of our society’s problems.  Our first instinct is – We must do something!  We must pass a law!  It has gotten to the point where we can’t walk out of our house without breaking a law.

Every time we try to resolve a problem by passing a law, we give up that much more of our power.  And we tip the scales that much further in the direction of the wealthy and specially educated.

Access to the justice system, and results from the justice system, are dependent on how much money you have and how much understanding you have of legal codes, precedents, rules of procedure and a million other pieces of specialized knowledge that most of us do not have access to.

When we turn everything into a law, we turn everything into something that requires an attorney and a judge.  We empower those people at the expense of our own power.  If every solution proposed requires a law, then availing yourself of that solution requires an attorney.  Can you afford an attorney?  I can’t.

This post isn’t about bagging on attorneys.  I worked for attorneys for a decade.  And some of the attorneys I worked for were fighting the good fight.  They worked on civil rights cases and sexual harassment cases.  (I’m talking quid pro quo – you can keep your job if you suck my dick kind of cases, not ooh I don’t like the bikini calendar cases.)  I even did a millisecond internship with the ACLU.  But even the attorneys fighting the good fight cannot deny that the courts, for all the publicity that those few breakthrough civil rights cases get, are all too often on the wrong side of history.

There is no way to craft laws that can only be used for good, that cannot be exploited by those with the power and money to exploit.  The solution does not lie in empowering more attorneys and judges.  It lies in addressing those inequities of power and money directly.  It lies in taking back our own power.  It lies in coming up with solutions and problem solving mechanisms accessible to all of us.

Howard Zinn Will Be Missed

January 27, 2010 By: Mel Category: Anarchism, Seeking

I feel very lucky that I had the opportunity to see Howard Zinn at Busboys and Poets last year.  I wish I had a recording of his talk.  The gist of it was that no politician is going to bring us the change we need.  We have to make the change happen.  Here is an amazing interview (and critique of voting) with Walter Mosley (who I also love).

Are Cynic and Optimist Mutually Exclusive?

January 22, 2010 By: Mel Category: Seeking

People often complain that I’m cynical and pessimistic.  I’m always looking for the catch, the ulterior motive, the dark side.  Every new plan, from health care to tax reform, I am immediately poking holes in.  Many of my friends are liberal, nonprofit types who are very attached to these plans.  And they get pretty frustrated with me.

And maybe I am cynical.  Certainly, I question people’s motives.  But I prefer to see it as being honest.  I see what happens with each of those grand plans and new policies.  I see how putting our future in other people’s hands leaves us feeling lost and powerless.  I see every person who gets power abusing it.  I see the “solutions” to problems causing more problems than they solve.

Willful blindness isn’t going to make those problems go away.  It isn’t optimistic to put all your faith in a charismatic leader and cross your fingers.  It isn’t optimistic to ignore the hypocrisy, backroom deals, corporate giveaways, ethical compromises, obstructionism, and usual screwing of the public.

On the contrary, the pessimists are those people who think that is the best we can do.  I think we can do better.