Having a midsummer issue is, in one respect, a great excuse to have an issue “dated” on Bastille Day. If you thought you knew it all about the iconic and seismic revolutionary event that day represents, we invite you to take in Kurt Stand’s reconsideration at the head of our offerings this issue.
But saying “midsummer,” of course, always triggers our dreams. That indelible tale of the queen whose ensorcelment with the trappings of power leads her to break the rules (with the connivance of an underemployed spouse) and fall for a donkey (who, also ensorceled, falls for her); the couples rent asunder by magical delusions, mixed and matched by magical interventions and then knit together again by a puckish fellow whose apparently deviant behavior is the engine of reconciliation, the sometimes oafish “rude mechanicals” (working stiffs) whose clumsy attempts at a nostalgic Golden Age tale of heroism and lost love turn out to be the driving narrative of that crazy juncture of the real and the more-than-real – the temptations to seek echoes of today are all too obvious but the parallels begin to break down as soon as we think about them in the harsh light of waking day. But it’s midsummer, and the dreams are often more fun than the everyday reality. Puck assures us at the denouement that “naught shall go ill,” and wouldn’t it be pretty to think so, at least for a summer reverie?
That contrast with our disappointment of just a few days ago (at this writing) as the Sanders campaign throws in the towel and endorses Hillary Clinton is sharp and bitter, nearly too much so for some of our comrades. We console ourselves that although the presidency is, in essence, a post-monarchist device of capitalists to keep our eyes on the single celebrity as opposed to the gremlins behind the curtain, there is in fact a difference between a Democratic and Republican administration and executive agencies, one that offers radical progressives in turn considerably different levels of leverage in the (increasingly narrow) interval between elections. It can make the difference between constantly having to play defense and being able to be on offense a significant portion of the time. Those with memories of the Reagan years can testify that playing defense all the time has a noble feel to it but causes all too many comrades to tire and retire from the fray.
Whatever enthusiasm Sanders and his surrogates can muster for the Clinton effort, the Vermont senator has already signaled his material interest in pushing success in the down-ballot arena. For some of the more impacted regions of the nation that means trying to oust Republicans with so-so Democrats. It has also manifested itself, outside the Old Confederacy, in some genuine progressives with decent shots at Congress, state legislatures and major urban governing bodies. None of these are speculative; Sanders and his campaign have named many and said they will back them. This is a significant opportunity to continue the political revolution, if we take it.
So the dreams of midsummer, intersecting with reality, appear to have yielded an altered reality despite our candidate’s closely-contested loss. That matters, and offers momentum we can amplify by our continued efforts. A writer recently exhumed a wonderful quote from Tocqueville, repeated by Leon Aron among others, that suggests what the effect of a democratic socialist major-party candidate has been: “Patiently endured so long as it seemed beyond redress, a grievance comes to appear intolerable once the possibility of removing it crosses men’s minds.”
We hope you enjoy the rest of the summer. The next issue of the Washington Socialist will be published on Labor Day, Sept. 5, unless events intervene.
The Washington Socialist encourages submissions on topics that relate to current issues or historical topics. Authors are asked to keep their submissions to 2,000 words (or less) and to respect the perspectives of democratic socialism, as articulated by the national Democratic Socialists of America. Send submissions to email@example.com.
Our readers are our best writers. Join that group and submit an article about activism you are doing or someone else is doing; reviews of important books you have read; think-pieces contributing to the left’s perennial search for a better way to explain our crisis to its victims. You are part of this conversation. Submit contributions to The Washington Socialist at a number of levels — send us nominee for “Good Reads” (they should be available online so send links); send news and notices of activism; submit articles. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About The Washington Socialist
.The Washington Socialist is Metro DC DSA's monthly e-newsletter. Focusing on our local's events, socialist analyses of current events and book reviews, among other topics, The Washington Socialist is a great way to stay on top of the progressive goings-on in DC, Maryland and northern Virginia. We also encourage our readers to submit their own articles! Contact Editor Woody Woodruff for more info at email@example.com.
Get the Washington Socialist delivered directly to your inbox every month!
Past issues of The Washington Socialist from 2012-June 2016 are available for viewing on our archive page.