24 April 2016

No, Mr. President, We Do Not Need to Learn How to Compromise

At a youth town hall in London, England on Saturday, April 23, 2016, President Obama said that activists—specifically Black Lives Matter activists—need to be willing to compromise. He also claimed that the tone of some activism can turn people off to its message.

"You have a responsibility to prepare an agenda that is achievable," Obama told the crowd.

But achievable by whom, and in whose eyes?

People wonder why I'm no fan of this POTUS. Where would the Marriage Equality movement be in this country if we in the struggle to achieve marriage equality in all 50 states "learned to compromise"? Some may recall the amicus curiae brief Obama's DOJ filed in Windsor v. United States, which advocated for a ruling in favor of Edie Windsor but limiting the scope to that particular plaintiff—a breadcrumb, if you will.

That brief further argued that each state should make up its own mind on the issue of marriage equality. Indeed, had the Supreme Court followed that line of thought, we'd be battling it out in the states for the next fifty or so years—or more—a piecemeal approach, to be certain.

Anyone who has studied progressive social justice movements knows that "compromise" is a way for the power elite and the establishment to maintain their power and to prevent real reform from reshaping the power structure. It's a means for those in power to remain in power, giving people just barely enough to keep them from launching a full-on revolt.

Real change, real reform, real progress, on the other hand (you know, that thing that Bernie Sanders is fighting for in calling for a political revolution), requires unyielding and unrelenting demand. In fact, that's what happened with the marriage equality movement. Grassroots activists responded to the establishment's offering, through Obama, with a demand for full marriage equality in all 50 states—and they won!

In fact, it wasn't the establishment that supported a 50-state marriage equality strategy. And it certainly wasn't the Gay, Inc. organizations like the Human Rights Campaign—they opposed taking marriage equality cases to the SCOTUS as they didn't believe we could achieve a favorable ruling. It was activists at organizations like Marriage Equality (Cathy Marino-Thomas, Ron Zacchi, Brian Silva, Esq., Hon. Michael Sabatino & Robert Voorheis), the ACLU (Anthony D. Romero, Esq., James D. Esseks, Esq., et al.), and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (Kate Kendall, Esq.), along with private attorneys (Roberta Kaplan, Esq., et al.)—all at the grassroots—who organized, organized, and organized...and then organized some more.

These grassroots leaders brought people together, and together they stood up to demand full federal equality for marriage. I was there for those struggles. I saw how Gay, Inc. jumped on board only after the winning decision was handed down in Edie Windsor's case. I saw how HRC rushed to pass out their branded merchandise at the rally held at the renowned Stonewall Inn just after the announcement was made, and not beforehand.

We truly owe our victory in marriage equality to these grassroots leaders and the efforts they undertook. Perhaps an acknowledgement in a footnote somewhere to Gay, Inc. for jumping on board the full marriage equality train once they saw it steamrolling into Victory Station is due but I digress, if ever so slightly....

As Bernie Sanders reminds us in many of his speeches, the only time real change has taken place is when people are brought together, rise up, and demand it.

Compromise is what Bernie Sanders's opponent (and the political establishment) wants us to do. If we compromise, they'll throw us a breadcrumb every decade or so. And if we wait a few centuries, we might just be thrown enough breadcrumbs to garner an entire mouthful of bread.

Bernie Sanders is bringing people together to rise up against this system, the status quo, the establishment, and to effect real change in our nation and world. He doesn't fight for glory, ego, honor, or any of those intangibles. And he certainly doesn't fight for the political and economic establishment or wealthy campaign donors. Rather, he fights for US.

There was one bit of advice Obama gave during his appearance that I can agree with, "I think it is so important for all the young people here to seek out people who don't agree with you." He rightfully pointed out that those who only spend time in the company of others who agree with them become even further entrenched in their positions (a practice in which many supporters of Bernie Sanders's opponent engage—e.g., many friends I have known for years chose to block me on Facebook rather than engage in respectful dialogue or debate).

We must be willing to hold discussions with those on the other side of our issues. We should listen to their views and try to see things from their perspective. And perhaps doing so will alter not the end result but the road that leads us there.

There are anywhere from one to three steps to the process of change, depending on how effective one is: the first is to demand, and if demands aren't met then the second step is to negotiate. The third step takes place only if one cannot achieve one's goals through the first two, and that is to compromise.

We have got to change the political culture in America. We need a political revolution.
Taking advice from a President who incorporates compromise at the beginning of the process—even before negotiating or demanding—results in half-assed so-called accomplishments such as the Affordable Care Act healthcare quagmire we now have, instead of a Medicare-for-all universal healthcare single-payer system.

So no, Mr. President, we will not yield, we will not waver, and we will falter. Fuck that compromise bullshit feeding us breadcrumbs to placate us approach, especially as has been proven time and time again that we can have the whole loaf (and ladies can have their whole damned dollar, as well). And fuck that whole working within the system crap. The system is corrupt and rigged; there is no working within such systems, especially when implementing real change. President Obama must have forgotten his 2008 self, when the Democratic Party called for real change at his behest.

Jared Rice, a member of the New Rochelle City Council, says it best:
"The word compromise should not be used as a one-size-fits-all solution to all of today's issues. While there are times that we may need to compromise, there are certain instances of having an injustice so great that compromise can not be an option."
Give us the real change our nation—and our world—needs, NOW! Support Bernie Sanders and the political revolution he is leading for us, to make OUR lives better. It doesn't have to be the way things are now. We can—and will—create a better future for us all.

Support US, because WE deserve better! Vive la révolution! #StillSanders #NotMeUs #FeelTheBern #TPUWNBD

Disclaimer: The author is a strong supporter and unpaid volunteer of the presidential campaign for US Senator Bernie Sanders, which is calling for a political revolution.