Mr. T2: Two Elections, One Continuum

There is much talk about continuing the fight following the election of Donald Trump, fighting for what’s right, fighting for minority rights, fighting for health care, fighting climate change. I would like to respectfully suggest that this vocabulary of war feeds the increasingly hostile political discourse in the United States and encroaches on the values and priorities of political systems outside the US.

A year ago, Canadians had the choice of continuing with a Conservative government which, in many ways, mirrored that of the Bush administration or voting for a change. In Canada, the parallel to the electoral college is that a party can find itself with a majority in the House of Commons even though it has received only a minority of the popular vote. This was the case with our previous (and our current) government, which won less than 40% of the popular vote while achieving majority status in parliament. Canadians chose change and did so by strategic voting for the candidate in their riding most likely to defeat the Conservative. Thus, our current Liberal government knows that its majority really stems from the 60% of Canadian voters who voted to change the government with 20% of the vote for change going to other parties.

Our Liberals ran on a platform of inclusion, pledging to enact real climate change legislation, rebuild our own infrastructure, relate to First Nations with respect, and accept scientific research and findings when designing policy. And the rest of us agreed to give them a chance and to hold them accountable to their promises. So far, the track record on both sides is pretty good.

What I respond to in the Liberal approach is that it is not framed in the language of warfare. I have resigned my membership in the provincial NDP (New Democratic Party, the party of my family for three generations) precisely because I can no longer tolerate the war metaphors which reflect an old paradigm understanding of politics. I no longer care about party loyalty to the degree I used to and have focused my financial giving on issue based organizations instead.

I would like to suggest that one response we can all make to the current political situation in the US is to encourage the removal of the language of war from the political discourse. Let’s not talk about battleground states and instead let’s talk about states whose residents are troubled and uncertain about future direction. Let’s not talk about red versus blue and instead let’s talk about how the transition to cleaner energy can be managed so that those whose jobs and often self-esteem depend on fossil fuels can be supported and assisted in making the transition. Let’s be clear that climate change is not a political issue but a human one which transcends competing economic theories.

Most fundamentally, let’s remember what was at the core of Reb Zalman’s world view and of that of Jewish Renewal’s founding generation, that Gaia is alive and conscious, that everything is within the same God, that the only way we will get it together is together. There is no enemy, no right versus wrong (for the most part), there is only us trying to figure out how to live together on this magnificent planet we all call home.

Shabbat Shalom.