Two headlines had themselves a nasty little car accident in my mind yesterday. “Pro-Sanders Group Rebranding Into ‘Pragmatic Progressives’” blew through a stoplight and t-boned “‘The War Has Changed’: Internal CDC Document Urges New Messaging, Warns Delta Infections Likely More Severe,” right there in the intersection of my prefrontal lobe. Shattered safety glass everywhere, air bags sagging over steering wheels, a side-view mirror in the gutter like a lost shoe… it was ugly.
“The delta variant of the coronavirus appears to cause more severe illness than earlier variants and spreads as easily as chickenpox,” reads the grim tide of words under the second headline, from the Washington Post. “The [Centers for Disease Control] document strikes an urgent note, revealing the agency knows it must revamp its public messaging to emphasize vaccination as the best defense against a variant so contagious that it acts almost like a different novel virus, leaping from target to target more swiftly than Ebola or the common cold.”
Of course, I have absolutely had it with the “Because Trump” brigade and their Bellagio fountain of self-interested bullshit when it comes to getting the shot (among a great many other things, but we’ll leave that for later). Those who refuse to be masked and/or vaccinated as they cling to right-wing conspiracy theories have become petri dishes for the variants that are stealing more and more lives and putting all of us at grave risk.
“Pro-Sanders Group Rebranding Into ‘Pragmatic Progressives,’” however, is the jerk that ran the light. “Rather than insisting on ‘Medicare for All’ — Sanders’ trademark universal, government-funded health care plan — or the climate-change-fighting Green New Deal, Our Revolution is focusing on the more modest alternatives endorsed by President Joe Biden,” reports the Associated Press.
Check me here, because I could very well be off-base: In a time when drastic measures are shriekingly necessary to stave off a whole cavalcade of calamities, an advocacy group founded on the principles of lifelong advocate Bernie Sanders is downshifting from progressive advocacy to some sort of milquetoast cuddling with the conservative Democrat in the White House? The guy who got one quarter of what he asked for in his first infrastructure try and dared to call it a triumph after the Republicans ate his (and our) lunch.
“The senator didn’t comment for this story,” reads the report, and Christ on crutches, I hope that means Sanders doesn’t endorse this move. Progressive advocacy groups are not supposed to get along with the conservatives they’re advocating against. Activists on our side seldom get what they came for, and are usually struggling against terrible odds — and that is the fugging point. We seldom get what we want, but we always push for what everyone needs.
We never stop, and 20 years later, we look behind us and maybe say with dim surprise, “Damn, we got some stuff done.” The view is foreshortened when your shoulder is to the wheel, and sometimes we don’t recognize progress when it happens. But what we cannot do is trade in our shovels for some spats and a snazzy seat on the rubber chicken circuit. Shame upon you, “Our Revolution.” Your revolution isn’t just over; you surrendered.
God save us from our “friends.”
There were 71,621 new COVID infections yesterday, a two-week increase of 151 percent. The president and the media are going back and forth about “messaging” while nihilist Republicans do everything they can to kill off their own voter base (and everyone else) with lies and galling distractions. The Delta variant gains steam, and Democrats haggle over what to cut from vital legislation, with the cool hand of “Our Revolution” pressed fondly against their backs.
We are embarked upon dark waters, again. It will be worse in two weeks, because this is COVID, and it’s always worse in two weeks when the virus trends as it does today. This is no time for advocates to seek the low road; it’s already underwater, and no half-assed infrastructure bill can fix it.
“Stout hearts” is all I have to offer. I am holding on to mine with both hands, but as Stephen Crane wrote, it is bitter — bitter… “But I like it because it is bitter, and because it is my heart.”