I haven’t posted much on the current election, but I really enjoyed these comments from the civil rights advocate and writer, Michelle Alexander. This is an excerpt from a longer recent Facebook post, but this was the part that resonated the most with me:
The conversation that I most want to have right now doesn’t have to do with Bernie or Hillary [or this election]. What I most want to talk about is this: What kind of revolution do we think we want and need? And what, exactly, are we willing to do to bring it to life?
I am grateful that Bernie Sanders has called for a political revolution, and that millions are responding with energy, enthusiasm and a genuine desire to build a movement that will give our nation a chance at having a real democracy where people actually count more than corporate dollars. But the truth is that the political revolution did not begin with Bernie Sanders and it certainly will not end with him — whether or not he is elected. And it’s also true that we need much more than a political revolution; we also need a moral, cultural, and spiritual revolution — an awakening to the dignity and value of each and every one of us no matter who we are, where we came from, or what we’ve done.
We saw this revolutionary spirit on the streets of Ferguson, Baltimore and beyond when signs were held high saying “Black Lives Matter” even as tear gas flowed. We saw this revolutionary spirit when undocumented students literally risked everything by coming out of the shadows to protest mass deportation. We saw this revolutionary spirit when thousands flooded the streets in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, calling for an end to corporate exploitation and greed — greed that not only caused a global economic crisis but that is driving climate change and threatening life on the planet itself.
It is this revolutionary spirit — a revolutionary love for all people and for life itself — that will ultimately determine our collective fate. The work of defining and building this revolution will remain exactly the same no matter who is elected president. This is not to say the election doesn’t matter. It matters a great deal. But whether or not a bold and beautiful revolution is born has nothing to do with Bernie, Hillary, Trump or any other candidate. It has everything to do with us — whether we, as a people, decide that we will no longer play politics as usual and will dare to imagine that we can make America what it must become. The odds are against us, for sure, but we are destined to lose in the long run if we never muster the courage to stand up for what we truly believe and build a multi-racial, multi-ethnic nonviolent army of artists, activists, teachers, health care workers, formerly incarcerated people, currently incarcerated people, parents, students, elderly people, academics, hourly workers, health care workers, and everyone of conscience who is willing to bring an end to the politics of punitiveness and division, and birth a new America.
What do you think? Is there enough energy to stop playing politics as usual? Can real change happen regardless of the games politicians keep playing? I certainly hope so.
Michelle Alexander is an associate professor of law at Ohio State University, a civil rights advocate and writer. She is best known for her 2010 book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.