Do you really care who solves our problems? Beyond the Binary.

I don’t. To me this was the entire point of registering Independent. At the time I thought: “Damn, if the Democratic party can’t get a liberal, Jewish, Canadian queer chick like me to register Democrat, they’re in trouble.”But this point, of focussing on our shared problems and doing things to make them better entirely eludes Stanley Fish, who blogged today Against Independent Voters.In his lofty NYT estimation, Independents don’t really want to stand for anything except avoid politics which we hate. 

Floating independently above the fray and inhabiting the marketplace of ideas as if were a shopping bazaar rather than a battlefield is an unnatural condition. The natural condition is to be political.   

Here’s the rest of his logic, which reminds me of why I’m glad I did not stay in pure academics.  

To be political is to believe something, and to believe something is to believe that those who believe something else are wrong, and after all you don’t want people who believe (and would do) the wrong things running your government. So you organize with other like-minded folks and smite the enemy… You join a party.  

I don’t float above. I live below. In the world where we do things not in order to get power so later, maybe we can move policy to do things a little. I am concerned about doing things now. Talking with people now. Making things now. Being accountable for myself, those around me and my community now. Fish’s reasoning shows us what’s underneath the mindset that is attached to the binary. To two sides. To with us and against us. I don’t doubt how inevitable it all seems to him, the politics as it is. But it is the corruption of the system that I and many other don’t want to accept any longer.As Ghandi showed us, our co-operation is what’s necessary for it to continue. I was as politicized as anyone I know for many years. One of the main feminist organizers on the Yale campus when I was there and then at law school.  We accomplished some. But the more the attention was on drawing up sides, the more it was about the fight. The more the attention was on the problems, the needs, the goals and on meeting them with kindness and creativity the better I felt inside. And the less attached I became to what something was called (sometimes feminism, sometimes not) but what was underneath it, the more was accomplished and the more we connected.The power of connection isn’t just with those who appear to be “like-minded” as Fish looks, but is even greater with those who don’t appear to be like us based on what we call ourselves. If the focus on the parties is on a fight between them, then they are *in the way* of solving our common problems.I do not want to focus on what I am against any longer. This is the limit of some forms of stand-up comedy and the Easy Snark. I do not want to get the laugh only in a way that says, as Jon Stewart does literally, “It’s all fucked up, but what can I do? I’m just a comedian.”This does not limit me from standing up against injustice. That is because I believe in and will work for kindness, equality,  realizing the truth that Everyone Matters. And if Everyone Matters, then that must include the people who are the “enemy” as Fish names them. I believe as Nikki Giovanni’s poetry taught me when I was brought it home from the dining hall at Yale when I was first coming out

“There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well. And while I don’t expect you to save the world I do think it’s not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary and remove from your life those who offer you depression, despair and disrespect.”      

When the parties offer me disrespect. I decline. When anyone or anything (parties included) works towards our needs; greater transparency, building trust and genuine accountability in the political system, enfranchisement, health care, education, respect for all then I am right there with you.But I don’t have to join anything to care about these things. I am centred on what I can do now (in my case creating a way for people with difference to be, converse, goof and enquire together). Perhaps the parties will someday join me.