By Rev. Donald L. Perryman, Ph.D.
The Truth Contributor
To get to the next level…leaders must shut down yesteryear’s good ideas, strategies, or involvements in order to have the resources and focus to take their organizations to tomorrow.
– Henry Cloud
A few years ago, while fishing in the waters of Nanoose Bay, British Columbia, a passing fisherman rescued an eagle who had nearly drowned.
Although a masterful fisher and skillful hunter, the eagle had latched its talons deeply into a colossal salmon and couldn’t entirely lift it out of the water. Instead, the eagle was tragically pulled under the surface because it lacked the capacity to let go of the giant fish.
Sadly, the Democratic Party, unable to relinquish some of its old failing methods, strategies and practices, faces the same dilemma.
The Supreme Court’s recent stunning decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization allowed states to snatch away women’s bodily autonomy and eliminate their right to choose.
Justice Clarence Thomas, though, warned that the court wouldn’t merely stop at rescinding abortion rights. The SCOTUS also plans to come after other freedoms such as contraception and LGBTQ rights, including same-sex relationships and marriage equality.
Control of Congress is at stake in November’s midterm elections, which many see as a referendum on the eradication of these liberties and the loss of access to reproductive healthcare, in particular.
Nevertheless, several critical issues hang in the balance. Among them are long-delayed actions on police reform, gun violence and safety, voting rights, open war on diversity and accurate teaching of history, gerrymandering, and now a flurry of election interference legislation with the power to overturn elections in several states. The list becomes daunting when other important unresolved matters such as climate change and the widest income and wealth disparities since the gilded age are added in.
Are these issues, collectively, too massive for the Democrats to address without pulling the Party and its agenda dangerously underwater?
Yes, probably so, unless the Democrats change their traditional way of handling their business.
It has always been the grand strategy of the elites to divide and conquer by creating strong resentment among movement participants. Yet, the internal squabbles continue between progressive vs. mainline candidates and among the rank and file members operating in silos championing their preferred concern but not supporting other Party issues.
In the words of activist John Pavlovitz, the consequence is, “The Left has a purity problem, and if we don’t get over it, it’s going to destroy us.”
With the Midterm elections rapidly approaching, it is critical for the Dems to “coalesce around its collective values and rise up together” to survive.
Rising together requires Democrats to prioritize the issues to address so that adequate resources can be marshaled to those most critical right now. Other traditional, less important, or less timely matters may need tabling for another day.
What concerns should be prioritized?
The Supreme Court’s denial of access to reproductive health care disproportionately affects Black and Brown women and families. The decision in Dobbs v. Jackson is a direct assault on the freedom, dignity, and equality of women and pregnant people. Therefore, ensuring reproductive health care access is an issue the Dems should prioritize.
Many, rightfully, have called on President Biden to take steps to ensure access to abortion medication and emergency contraception. However, local government in this solidly Democratic area of Ohio also has the power to convene, strategize and determine ways to resist the overturning of Roe vs. Wade.
There are many things both City and County governments can do.
Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates’ pledging not to charge people would and should have been a big first step. I don’t anticipate her prosecuting anyone for getting an abortion, but she’s not yet comfortable with making a public announcement on that approach.
The City of Toledo and Lucas County can also ensure that their employee health plans cover abortions in the states that still allow it. ARPA funds are also a potential source to provide support, money, and assistance to women who might have to travel out of state for reproductive health services.
The essential thing to remember is that the November Midterm election is larger than our siloed interests. And the Supreme Court’s recent moves to take away our long-held rights are bigger than progressive, moderate, or ambivalent democrats.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
Therefore, in this perilous moment in history, we must let some things go, including ambivalence, attitudes, silos, and old ways of doing things that give rise to conflict, and learn to work together so that all can survive and thrive together.
Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, PhD, at firstname.lastname@example.org