1. Poverty. Earlier today, on Twitter, Jessica noted her frustration that there was precious little meaningful discussion about poverty at the Democratic National Convention. Yes, of course, lots of lipservice to uplifting people, and vague references to "people in need," and all that, but there isn't anyone really talking about poverty, no one who's really angry about it, an overwhelming absence of the details and nuances of poverty—the food insecurity, the housing insecurity, the chronic unwellness, the incredible stress on families, how goddamn hard it can be just to get a bath.
These are things that people are experiencing in the richest country in the world.
Of course the Republicans are not going to talk about poverty. But the Democrats aren't, either. And if they don't, who will?
I said to Jess that the main reason I supported John Edwards (whoops!) was because he spoke eloquently about poverty. He's a d-bag and a half, a real piece of shit who lectured me over the phone about the morality of using naughty words while he was cheating on his wife, but his rhetoric about the Two Americas was everything. He did a lot of unforgivable things, and among them was failing to fulfill the promise of being a much-needed leader on poverty/class.
No one has stepped in to fill the void he left.
Or, rather, no one who speaks as passionately on poverty/class has been invited to say it onstage during DNC primetime.
And the Democrats don't seem all that bothered by the absence. Which is a problem of the Democrats having increasingly adopted corporate-friendly strategies to compete with Republicans, who have long been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Corporate America.
It's impossible to talk about the real sources and real solutions of entrenched poverty in the US without offending corporate sponsors.
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2. Reproductive Rights. Does the DNC know that reproductive rights matter to people other than white women? I'm not sure they do.
Also! Here's a thing about inclusivity: Women shouldn't only be invited to speak about "women's issues." The Democrats have started to get that. But! Women also shouldn't be the only ones speaking about "women's issues." The Democrats still haven't seemed to figure that one out yet.
This DNC still has the appearance of outsourcing "women's issues" to women, as if they are "specialty" issues, as if reproductive rights (which, hello, affect fertile cis men who fuck people who can get pregnant, too) are some sort of "identity politics." (Eww! Grody!) It's appalling that the majority of men who are vocally and visibly engaged in the reproductive rights debate are anti-choice.
The President's speech is tonight. I truly hope he has finally considered the many ways in which treating the feminist/womanist fight for reproductive rights as "woman's work" is some fucked-up irony, and is fixing to be a vocal ally to pro-choice people tonight.
I would like to hear him affirm his personal support for the idea that my body is my own.
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3. Higher education. This is something both Eastsidekate and I have written about before, but I feel obliged to reiterate my dismay about the focus on "getting a college degree," especially within the frame that a degree is some sort of magical pass into a stable full-time job with benefits and a livable wage.
Fifty percent (!!!) of young college graduates in the US are either un- or underemployed. Many of them leave college with crushing debt acquired while funding that education. And yet, at the DNC (and also at the RNC), there are no qualifications about urging young people (and unemployed people) to pursue education as the surest pathway to professional success.
Please don't misunderstand: I firmly believe that everyone who wants to go to university, or trade school, should be able to do so, affordably. Access to higher education should not be determined by privilege.
I am simply taking issue with the idea that we need to keep talking about (extremely expensive) higher education as some sort of solution to US employment problems while diligently ignoring that our economy is a house of cards, the population has gone lopsided as Baby Boomers age, there just aren't enough jobs anymore, and there's a cavernous class divide facilitated by middle class-destroying economic policies that are promoted by politicians in both parties even as they propose individual solutions on how to get and stay in the middle class.
Individual solutions to systemic problems don't work, and telling young people to get an education at any cost, when the cost demonstrably includes for many of them fucking their adult lives before they've even started, is an individual solution to a systemic problem that's about trade policies, taxation, demographics, domestic spending priorities, and a whole host of other lumbering national issues over which an entire generation of young people has no control, no less any one individual young person.
I expect the Republicans to elide these realities. But the Democrats really ought to do better. The "buy yourself an education" narrative is quickly becoming as vacuous and implicitly victim-blaming as "pull yourself up by the bootstraps." Boo.