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The Clash of American Civilizations: Two Old Friends Talk Politics

Ahem: Charles Deemer (CD), the noted Portland playwright, blogger and retired Portland State University educator, is a friend as well as an author I’ve frequently published at my Round Bend Press Books imprint. CD and I have a difference of opinion about U.S. politics these days, a not uncommon occurrence to be sure among bosom buddies and divergent radicals as the 2016 presidential primary season winds down. The question is can we remain civil in our hours of discontent? FWIW, here is a microcosm of the divide America is presently experiencing.

Deemer says he is a Stein supporter now; I’m trending that direction, unless I vote Trump for the hell of it.

The problem I have with Deemer–and it’s frequently the case with CD’s rants about Sanders–is that he usually offer nothing about the issues or what will make Hillary Clinton a better president than her primary foe; it’s all personality-based, all a rejection of Bernie Sanders because he won’t quit and just shut the fuck up. Or because CD is upset with the man’s campaigning style.

He’s all about pragmatism.

Maybe CD doesn’t think Clinton is classy either–it’s hard to tell. He seldom mentions her.

He isn’t bound to, of course, but I wish he would. Be nice to know what the critic actually believes.

CD’s basic rant goes like this: BS is too loud and abrasive; he’s not calm and skilled like Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, two favorites out of CD’s historical past. It’s always about Sanders’ stupid kids, or Sanders’ uneducated rabble.

I’m sorry but this stuff comes off like the author is an implicit Clinton supporter who would rather bash Madam’s foe than talk about the woman’s supposed virtues.

Hey, even Ali finally admitted Foreman was a good dude, maybe CD will one day give BS credit.

But again I wonder if this is even the point. Does CD care who wins? A lot of what he says indicates he may well not care. His disgust for Sanders is the important thing to keep in mind as you read his criticism.

There is nothing there that either attempts to validate HC’s worldview in CD’s eyes or takes BS to task for anything other than his campaign style.

I can only assume that CD is on board with everything HC says if he’s not going to express areas of concern about her. While focusing on what has admittedly been an at times shoddy Sanders’ effort, it all sounds somewhat politically unhinged.

Here is another thing; you can claim to be a progressive and say that others don’t “understand American politics” just because you disagree with them, but it doesn’t resonate or even ring true.

Clinton went into this thing like she had it won without lifting a finger. That is her arrogant nature, a major reason she had to wait so long to officially close out her delegate count.

Personally, I think her arrogance makes Sanders’ look like a field mouse. I want to see some leather flying in Philly.

You can call millions of Sandernistas stupid because they don’t understand American politics in the same fashion as you do, but simply dismissing them out of hand is short-sighted, and actually somewhat anti-intellectual. In fact, there is a lot to be learned from what occurred this election.

While CD doesn’t seem to think there’ll be a carry-over of “leftist” energy after Clinton’s inauguration, I suspect otherwise. I think Sanders’ showing has made a mark.

It certainly seems to have pissed off my esteemed friend, and it is very good from my prospective to see a little giddy-up in the process.

Clinton has as many or more blind followers as does Sanders, but I wouldn’t presume CD believes that, either.

I don’t like Clinton with a similar passion that CD has for Sanders, but one thing I’ll always be sure to do in my critiques of her is talk about issues, foreign and domestic policy, the real nuts and bolts of democracy–not just a critique of style. Style can get you there, can even make you popular–look at Obama–but it is hardly substantive.

I just don’t understand the energy that it must take to continue beating down a candidate whose core principles I might have imagined would appeal to CD more than they evidently do.

CD has every right to disengage from debates about income inequality, foreign policy, educational policy, etc., but I say such a tactic makes for flaccid politics. It’s TV stuff.

A major problem with American politics is that people don’t bother with issues; but curiously, the increasing distinction between the Democratic candidates sort of gave that truism a rest this year.

My defense of BS when he started–and I too wished he’d run as an Independent or switched to the Greens–was based on his willingness to take on income inequality and a host of other issues HC is unwilling to confront.

Believe me, I’d vote for Hillary Clinton–if she wasn’t Hillary. Perhaps CD is pissed that the whole enterprise has been a waste of time and will come down to Sanders formally turning his back on his kids and declaring for Hillary.

I think there is more to what has happened than that, but on that morbid day when he calls Uncle! I’ll cuss BS out as thoroughly as the next guy.

Maybe I’ve underrated my patience all of these years. Rather than seeing all of this as an opportunity to shout back at Sanders, I’ve rather enjoyed watching it play out. It brought some rare excitement–as tame as it is–to this election.

See how it is going? These are indeed divided times.

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Terry Simons is the founder of Round Bend Press Books in Portland, Oregon.  This story is excerpted from his memoir of growing up in Oregon, A Marvelous Paranoia.

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