The Big Tent Problem

The Big Tent Problem

Big Tent Problem

I saw Governor Newsom on MSNBC the other day on Jen Psaki’s show. He was in Alabama talking about how not every democrat needs to agree with each other on everything. For a couple of days that’s been rattling around my head and I thought I would share a story.

In the summer of 2015 three major events happened in roughly the same week. One was Trump going down the escalator and calling Mexicans rapists while announcing he was running for President. The second event was the Supreme Court overturned California’s Prop 8 ban on gay marriage thereby making Gay Marriage legal nationwide. And the third thing that week was that democrats decided that transgender rights were what the next fight would be. Somehow one week in mid June of 2015 set the stage for the next 8 years.

A few weeks later former Assemblymember Cristina Garcia treated her staff and intern (me) to Thai food. And we discussed the future and politics and stuff. Assemblymember Garcia said something like “I can see the politically correct world here begin asking people what their pronouns are which now is a not done normally but probably will become common. So what are your preferred pronouns Dylan?”

To which I replied “I support your freedom of speech to say whatever you need to feel good or better or something.”

Which is an answer. But she persisted after a little laugh and asked again after expressing empathy to a hypothetical transgender person.

To which I replied “so people actually care about how they are referred to by others when they are being talked about behind their back? And these people have preferred pronouns?”

To which the Assemblymember responded “yea something like that. So what are your preferred pronouns.”

To which I replied. “I. I is my preferred pronoun in this hypothetical.”

To which she responded “I is a pronoun but I is me. I can’t refer to you behind your back as I.”

And then I said “yea but I think “i” is a pronoun that people don’t use enough. Isn’t there a psychology around about I statements being a good communication trick? I think I remember reading that at some point. But I get your point, but didn’t How to Win Friends and Influence solve this already? Isn’t “the name is the sweatest sound someone could here” sort of cover referring to people in gossip. Can’t you just say Dylan?”

And then she said “yes, true, I think you’re right, but also no. Because Bob Dylan exists and he’s Dylan.”

So I responded with “I would actually say you can use my initials, but those are D.C. so that won’t work either. Frankly I don’t care you can call me whatever like I said I support your right to free speech”

The Thai food came soon afterward. But I’m sharing this here to make a small point.

The Democratic Party is a Big Tent Party with a whole bunch of different views. One problem is that some things that become normalized within the tent isn’t that normal to people outside of the tent. And sometimes these things just show up. People get exhausted trying to keep up so they just go with whatever flow is happening at the moment.

Here is something that exists.

Judges, Psychiatrists, Scientists have countless different kinds of politics within those groups, each individual has their own politics and there are millions of them. But those professions tend to share at least this one basic principle in common.

They make decisions based on a set criteria or conditions that must be met. Judges follow procedures and decide cases based on law that explain the criteria of right vs wrong. Psychiatrists observe patients behavior and logic to determine if they fit into a diagnosis described in a book, scientists like biologists define life based on a number of different criteria. These professions are a like an endless maze of binary decisions of right vs wrong, good vs bad, yes or no, but based on conditions and criteria established by their profession.

Political correctness sometimes forgets this reality. “Virtues Signaling” such as asking people for their pronouns is kind of like trying to fill a fictional social reputation bank of some kind. And it has with it an underlying acceptance of an unknown criteria fo sorts. For example not asking for someone’s pronouns can be problematic because it can be construed socially as a rejection of a growing social norm. But asking for someone else’s pronouns is as if you accept s social professional norm and meet s criteria of some sort that will hopefully advance your reputation which will result in better job prospects in the future.

That’s basically the psychology of it.

But the problem is that unlike Laws, the DSM, or science books there is no politically correct book of correct criteria. There is no book or author that says something like “If someone engages in the following behaviors in line with this set of political correctness they are to advance within this big tent this way.”

I’m not writing that book. But I think some politically correct person should form a committee to get whatever they want people to do down on paper. It’s like trying to play a sport with a group who is constantly moving the goal posts and changing the rules.

hypothetically let’s say normal voters and democrats show up expecting to watch American football on a hypothetical college campus. But instead they are met with a group of people who can’t get what sport they are supposed to be playing straight and needed to form something like 25 committees to figure out. One group thought it was soccer, but that’s also 3 or 4 soccer teams arguing about fair pay and males and females teams. Another group showed up wanting it to be played as flag football to avoid concussions, another group wants to remove the goal posts entirely and kick around a rugby ball and call it Gaelic football, ofcourse there’s also Aussie Rules Football, there’s probably a lone Canadian who showed up wanting to play Canadian Football.

Meanwhile the voters in the cheap seats are just scratching their heads looking at the mess that’s being played out on the field. It doesn’t take long before they decide to hit up the country music concert on the other side of campus for a change of scenery.

Somewhere in this late night blog post is a working metaphor for American Politics I think both sides could laugh at. At the end of the day if Democrats and Republicans can’t laugh together at least once over something they can’t really run a country together.

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