• Spartan Considerations

Punching Out

As I approach a milestone birthday, I have been thinking quite a bit about time management.

Frankly, the past 20 months have provided ample opportunities for reflections on life and how we can best spend our days. Loss can, and should, remind us of impermanence as well as grant us a heightened ability to appreciate what we had and what we have.

It is through this lens that I have come to realize that I need to get smarter on how to use the game clock. I have long since passed the stage in life where hubris, snark, and a middling talent for expressing myself via written word are enough. Granted, I am a white male, so I could probably coast on fumes for another decade. But, in my heart of hearts, I would know that I could do better. And as I continue this “aging” thing, I would like to look into a mirror when I am in my 50s and 60s with an ounce of respect for the person gazing back at me.

It is with that introduction that I am announcing two things.

First, I am stepping aside as a co-host of Forward Maryland. I would like to thank my good friend Bill Woodcock for allowing me the opportunity to join the podcast. I hope the listeners and viewers enjoyed the content we jointly created since the “Before Times” of 2019.

That said, I still don’t trust my mood swings to cooperate; and in a hot medium such as a podcast, which is either live or (most often) recorded “live-to-tape” with no or minimal editing, this is just asking for trouble. Guests are not coming on the show to be grilled; yet my tolerance for hogwash and a lack of critical thinking have been exhausted. Also, bourgeois sensibilities and political stances are to me, at best, boring and at worst corrosive to the cause of expanding democracy, in our politics and in the workplace.

And I remain, by nature, a solo act. Related to that, I work best when I can edit my own work at my own pace. This often requires time for research, reflection, and finding not just “good words” but the perfect ones. Which leads me to the second point:

I am wrapping up the Spartan Considerations blog. I know I have, at times, gone on extended hiatuses. Sometimes I have teased (usually in jest) plans to launch a Spinal Tap-esque rebirth of the site. The reality is that I simply don’t enjoy writing a strictly “local” political blog. I have always enjoyed reading about and analyzing international and national politics and public affairs. However, the numbers tell me you don’t want that sort of content from that site. The analytics also inform me that while you decry negative campaigning, you LOVE my candidate-centric critiques. Oh, our dirty little secrets and hypocrisies.

I write for myself, but I would like an audience to consume my work. Otherwise, I am keeping an open-air diary. Again, time being precious and with our “democratic republic” at another tipping point, I would rather spend my energies writing and pitching articles for publication in various Left media outlets.

Finally, just as President Eisenhower warned us regarding the potential for a growing influence of the military-industrial complex in his Farewell Address, I want to highlight some unfortunate, and even dangerous, local political developments:

· A nascent and highly disturbing “Red-Brown” alliance (note: I am referring to ideologies and their associated colors) over issues such as housing and the role of developers. It is unnerving to see folks – many of whom have never personally experienced housing insecurity and who belong to what could be called the “privileged white left” – allying themselves with hard right interests because some capitalists in an inherently exploitative capitalist economy will make a few bucks building homes for people. They are focused on the chess pieces and not changing the game.

· Progressives who, rather than work to enact polices that extract the most money possible out of developer pockets for community investment purposes, instead accept their campaign contributions and/or partner with them in transparency-impaired projects. It calls into question the true loyalties of such progressives. Are they in it to bring affordable housing to Howard County, or to pursue a narrow self-interest related to, for example, political influence or financial compensation in one form or another?

· “Democratic” activists who demand that the party veer right and abandon their principles every time a Democrat, somewhere, loses an election. Terry McAuliffe has been a New Democrat tool for decades, an Efferdent-besotted fossil, and a tired retread in a purple state in a non-presidential election year. You were expecting a D blowout? You must be asinine, an amateur, and/or an a—hat to believe that McAuliffe was going to pirouette his way back into the Virginia Executive Mansion for another four years.

· Liberals who constantly go after those on the Left and Leftists who reserve their fury for liberals. Can liberals be annoying, naïve, bought off, controlled opposition, “diet deregulators,” and neoliberals with a friendly face? Yes. Can Leftists be dogmatic, schismatic, holier-than-thou moralists who spend too much time in their history books and debating societies and not enough time organizing or popularizing their ideas? Also, yes. That said, I remain a big believer in the promise of the Popular Front. During times of crisis in western democracies – particularly in the 20th Century, we have seen what happens when the Left (e.g., socialists of varying stripes, communists) and liberals (e.g., liberals, social democrats) cannot find their way to work together to fight against our common enemy: fascists.

· Class-first-and-only obsessed socialists who do not understand, or choose to ignore, the histories, needs, interests, and struggles of other groups based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, religion, and other attributes which help define tens of millions of Americans. Or self-proclaimed “moderates” who express similar sentiments regarding so-called “identity politics.” Both can sound like MAGA-ists and they drive people away from the Left and the Democratic Party.

So that wraps up those two big items. Look for me to provide shorter written commentaries via Twitter and other platforms from time to time. Until then, In Solidarity!

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