Quote of the Week: “Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.” – Allen Ginsberg
Ginsberg was certainly not afraid to live by these words, leading the beat generation and counterculture, expressing his homosexuality openly, confronting the government on drug policies and on war issues, and creating poetry anew in his own image. However, as a political writer (and an avid watcher of the political horse-race, elections) I am somewhat intimidated by these words. I do not live, and also do not write, as if I were Ginsberg, or a follower of him (which I am not, much as I am inspired by some of his work). I write as a liberal, but one trying to converse politely with the Right; in case they happen to stop by. But most, or all, of my readership thus far seems to be on my side of the spectrum. I began my blog under the tagline “Fomenting a Political Conversation,” and that remains for the moment my mission – to get people talking if I can, not just with their individual echo chambers, but with people on the opposite sides of the aisle.
In that spirit, I often tone down my language. I edit out some of my anger at the injustices of the world, at what I think are not just wrong but stupid positions or arguments. I hide the madness, and stray from my inner moonlight in pursuit of what is likely a futile goal. And I expect the politicians on center stage to do the same.
As a liberal, I love the stances and proposals of both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. I have been a follower of both for years, and have been a past contributor to Clinton’s 2008 campaign, and to Sanders’ involvement in the Democratic Socialists of America. Still, when Sanders shouts like the angry old man on the porch (in effect, living Ginsberg’s advice in ways that I cannot), I cringe. I see Sanders as the great legislator (giving a voice to Congress that even as a Senator, Clinton never could); and Clinton as the great executive with deep personal experience and relationships with the leaders of the world. But I also see Clinton as reserved (like myself) in ways that Sanders is not. What would she promote as a candidate if she followed her own inner moonlight? She was a leftist in 2008, before Sanders was there to push her; so that does not just come from the current dynamic. Is Clinton “realistic” and Sanders “radical”? Is Clinton “political” and Sanders “real”? In part, I hope to answer these questions through this blog as I investigate these actors in greater detail. For now, I find myself torn – between the “moonlight and madness” of Sanders’s more “revolutionary” proposals (which energize my instinctive leftism), and the “moderation” of Clinton, and her “establishment” positions (which I internalize as reasonable compromises). And I am torn as a political writer, between writing my fury and delivering fiery oratory; and my desire to talk to the other side in a way that welcomes dialogue.