In “Art of War,” Sun Tzu wrote that constant distraction of the enemy provides opportunity. These may be the same tactics driving the left-vs.-right political paradigm — and Mark Meckler hopes to circumvent that.
“Most of (the divide in politics) is fake,” said the American activist and attorney. “It’s used to make people hate each other, because that is what most benefits the ruling elite in this country.
“It’s so that they can do what they do so well — live prosperously at our expense, pick our pockets and take our liberties away.”
Locals will have the chance to hear first-hand from Meckler, as he will be sharing his philosophy in a talk from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at The Avid Reader, 617 Second St. in downtown Davis. The event is free and open to the public.
Meckler himself was once a political leader — a co-founder of Tea Party Patriots. He has since left the group due to its drift into the political mainstream, he explained, and away from it being a grassroots movement.
In 2009, he founded the Citizens for Self Governance, which broadened the movement’s goals and did away with partisan affiliations. The vision is to return governmental power to the people, and reach across the political spectrum to do so.
Meckler has taken his message of seeking common ground on a speaking tour across the country. On Saturday, Seattle’s Citizen University hosted a conference featuring Meckler and Joan Blades, co-founder of the liberal political group MoveOn.org.
The duo are now working on Living Room Conversations, a project that seeks to foster civil discourse in a respectful manner.
“We’re an unlikely pair,” Meckler said, “and there’s a lot of things that divide us issue by issue politically, but we’ve seen eye to eye on some things after working together.
“The most important thing that people can do is have conversations with each other that don’t start from a posture of combat.”
Meckler is the first in the The Avid Reader’s “Solutions” speaker series, which is tied together by an emphasis on having the community solve issues. It’s sponsored by “We the People-Davis,” a local women’s group that responds to current events.
Freddie Oakley, Yolo County clerk/recorder, is next to participate in “Solutions.” Her talk on April 10 — occurring at the same time, in the same venue — will focus on the election process, voter integrity and citizen involvement.
As for Thursday’s talk, Meckler is hoping that attendees — those who hail from both ends of the political spectrum — will engage in a conversation about uniting to find solutions, and avoiding the inconsequential arguments.
“What they’re going to find is that they’re not that different,” he said. “There’s the reason why I’ve been invited to speak at Citizen University, Harvard or any other progressive institution. … There’s not all that much a divide.”
— Reach Brett Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett