Which Way?

When Gandalf asks Frodo to lead the way to Mordor, Frodo hesitates at the gate. Right or left? he asks. Left is the reply. And some of us smile. Left, we think. That’s always the right way. Others will remind us that left is the way to Mordor, but we know who wins the day. And so our fellowship heads left.

According to this recent piece in The Atlantic (and in contrast to contrary assumptions), our fellowship is expanding. Given the current crop on the right, we can only hope.

To tell the truth, Peter Beinart quickly lost me in the spaces between Occupy, Black Lives Matter, disillusion with Obama, backlashes from both sides and down the middle, all pointing to another Clinton presidency slanted considerably further to the left than the first one.

At the moment, I’m being inundated with pleas to Feel the Bern, the latest of which declares flatly that “everyone else is in the pockets of the Billionaires and Wall Street.” I don’t know how it’s all going to turn out. I’d like to see Donald Trump tumble into the fires of Mount Doom, clutching a fool’s gold plated Great Seal in his hand and murmuring “my precious,” while Hillary and Bernie help each other to the safety of Plymouth Rock telling each other they couldn’t have done it alone, while a formation of American Eagles flies to their rescue.

Got a little carried away with that image, didn’t I?

And yet – I don’t see how it could be otherwise. Donald Trump bears more than a passing resemblance to that giant methane spill in Los Angeles. You might not be able to see it, but it stinks and, like the fires of Barad Dur, it’s poisoning everything it touches.

I’m voting for Hillary, because I like her. I think she’s smart and capable and will do the best job in the office that she can, given whatever she might have to work with. But if Bernie pulls through, I will vote for him. I will walk my precinct for him. I will donate to him. I’ll do everything in my limited power to see him elected. I can’t think of a single reason why anybody would do otherwise – or why they would not do the same for Hillary, should that be the outcome. She’s not the worst choice. She’s not my second choice. And if she is nominated, she will be our only choice.

It may be true, as Beinart claims, that Occupy and BLM have both served their purpose in pulling the Democrats to the left, to the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, where Howard Dean so bravely placed himself in 2004. But I still maintain that there is at least one important thing that Occupy didn’t do and doesn’t have. It didn’t run candidates in 2012 or 2014 and so far not in 2016 either. And there is no Occupy Caucus in the United States Congress. There should be.

As I’ve said before in these pages, taking it to the streets gets things started, gets things off the ground, but until you get up the nerve to commit yourself to a life of meetings and compromise and doing the due do, it’s the Tea Party Caucus that will determine whether we turn right or left out of that gate. If Legolas and Gimli can ride out together, so can the Bernie and Hillary folks. We’re all going the same direction, after all.