Admitting Mistakes


While participating on a panel at an book-release party decades ago, Van Jones said, “We need to be more confessional and less pro-fessional.” That comment stuck with me because activists rarely speak openly about self-improvement, though the need is urgent.

Being able and willing to admit mistakes while in the heat of battle is not easy. It requires a delicate degree of detachment. As a friend’s grandmother advised him, “Never go to sleep angry.”

Unfortunately, criticisms are often muted by blaming others. “Yes, but….” and the speaker elaborates on why the mistake was made.

At the Nevada convention last weekend, Bernie’s supporters were not disciplined. Whether or not any chairs were thrown or flipped, they employed far too much verbal violence. But Bernie has not criticized their lack of civility. Rather, he’s focused his fire on the Party. That decision is unfortunate.

At its 1964 convention, the Democratic Party offered the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) a weak, insulting compromise. Dr. King accepted the offer, but the MFDP angrily rejected it. Many of us activists were furious at the Democrats and Dr. King.

That moment was a key turning point. Thereafter the Movement became characterized by anger and violence.

By 1968, the American people hated the anti-war movement even more than they hated the war and Richard Nixon was President. Not long after, Ronald Reagan was in the White House and the “conservative” movement was ascendant.

Donald Trump is even more dangerous. Here’s hoping Bernie and his people don’t serve him the election on a silver platter.

Hillary and the Party leadership can help avoid that disaster by acknowledging their own mistakes.

We need more humble, honest introspection all around.


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