Never Forget the Women’s March on Washington

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It’s been a little over two months since Donald Trump was elected the unfortunate 45th president of the United States. Nothing celebratory accompanied his Inauguration. The parade and subsequent balls failed to clear the dark clouds over Washington. The following day, defensive anger streamed from the podium of a new administration dealing with the political reality of being in power.

As the nation swore in this monster, myself and millions of others were planning our descent on the nation’s capital and sister cities. We turned off our televisions and packed ourselves into cars and buses full of like-minded others bent on being heard. We steadied our voices and strapped up our marching boots.

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It’s interesting because we all had our own personal reasons for participating in the Women’s March on Washington. For some, it was about the election. For others, it was about the future. For most, it was about the enduring inequalities and injustices entrenched within the systems of power, but we were unified in the idea that women’s rights are human rights, and that women’s rights affect us all no matter how we identify ourselves.

This is what I hope people remember.

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Of course, the typical vision of a protest march is angry citizens raising their fists and screaming angrily through the streets. This is inaccurate and it is a credit to the organizers of this march for promoting it as a rally rather than an exercise in hostility. Resentment did not cast over this crowd and manifest itself in aggression. Instead, we found comfort in the convergence of a common understanding that this is not normal.

The spirit of community echoed in the streets as marchers and police officers thanked each other for their shared service to our country. Our first amendment rights walked safely beside the protection of our public servants. The city merged beneath our heels and residents shouted out from their windows or blared their car horns in solidarity. We took from Donald Trump what he wanted most.

We the People, brought change to Washington.

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I want people to remember the joy and hope of a million faces. I want my daughters to grow up knowing that we weren’t beaten down by the disappointment of a century. That we believed in a future that exists for them. That we fought for it not through war and violence, but optimism and love. That the gloom this man created didn’t last long enough to break us.

That we empowered ourselves.

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To those that participated, to those that witnessed, to those that will remember, never forget that the day after Donald Trump took office we spoke with one voice to tell him that his plans are not absolute; that his power is limited by the strength in our numbers; that his ability to carry out his backwards agenda will be hampered by our continued presence.

We the People will never stop.

Never.

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Scapegoating Hillary

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Artist: J Lee Hugar

As I type, Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote stands at over 1.7 million votes. Her loss to Donald Trump marks the second time in her career that she’s been forced to concede an election despite having won a plurality of votes. While this is happening, the Democratic Party stands in a state of disarray. There is hand-wringing and regret, confusion and disbelief.

After the election, pundits and political experts in their usual rush to judgment followed a path of least resistance. It was obvious. Hillary Clinton lost because — Hillary. She was a weak candidate that failed to inspire the Obama coalition. Her massive baggage of emails and supposed scandals dragged down her chances. She didn’t campaign hard enough to working-class whites in places like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

The list goes on, but blaming Hillary Clinton for what happened on November 8th is a shortcut to thinking. It filters out the nuance and complexity of 2016 and boils down the results to a single spurious cause.

It’s the easy way out.

Scapegoating women for cultural defects has deep roots. Ever since Eve “tricked” Adam into taking an apple from the Tree of Knowledge, women have taken the blame for problems perpetuated by men. Helen of Troy launched a thousand ships and started a war. Cleopatra drove a wedge between Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. There’s a mythology behind this thinking, and it’s still very present.

If Democrats are ever to get beyond this election, they’ll have to get beyond the myth that it’s all Hillary’s fault. They’ll need to come to grips with the fact that her failings were only exceeded by the divisions and flaws within their own party.

Expectations were unrealistic from the start. There was an immediate demand that Hillary needed to be somebody we already knew she was not: Barack Obama. Barack Obamas, like John Kennedys, only come around once in a generation. Obama in 2012 could barely compete with himself in 2008. Tangible resistance to President Obama’s policies can be traced back to the midterm elections of 2010 when Democrats lost their majority in the House of Representatives.

In 2016, the rise of Isis, Obamacare premium increases, and the natural cycle of elections made a third presidential term for Democrats a steep hill to climb. The president’s comments earlier this week that he won two elections by campaigning everywhere reveals a disconnect between him and the electorate that repudiated his presidency.

It’s a ridiculous assumption that Hillary could have appealed to working-class whites uncomfortable with the demographic changes in America, while simultaneously promoting an inclusive message that addressed the issues of minorities and other disadvantaged Americans. The truth is that she was being held to a standard even the president himself couldn’t achieve under the current state of our politics.

Then there’s Bernie. Within a week, Senator Sanders went from brushing aside suggestions that he would’ve beat Donald Trump to hinting out loud that, “maybe I would have been elected President of the United States.”

Like President Obama, Bernie’s detached from the reality of 2016 politics. The voters in rural America that voted for Trump were heavily conservative, angry at an expansive federal government, concerned with security, highly religious, and hell-bent on repealing Obamacare. The idea that they would’ve broke in large numbers for an apparent irreligious, self-avowed pacifist-socialist promising free college and health care is ludicrous. Add to that Sanders’ lukewarm support from African-Americans and Hispanics uncomfortable with leftist politics that harken back to Latin American dictatorships, and Bernie’s victory is even less plausible.

With a new book out last week, Sanders is likely looking to increase his sales numbers rather than acknowledge his role in creating this mess. Sanders’ assertion that he made her a better candidate is delusional. It was in fact, Sanders and his voters that shaped the false equivalency between Clinton and Trump in the first place.

Trump’s line that Hillary, “lacks the judgment,” to be president originated from the Sanders campaign. Strings of misleading allegations, from corruption in the Clinton Foundation to Hillary’s unwavering support of NAFTA and other trade deals started as social media memes circulated by Sanders’ supporters. Erosion in the African-American community and young women can also be linked to overzealous Sanders’ surrogates holding Hillary responsible for Bill Clinton’s 1994 Crime Bill and sexual assault allegations.

Sanders’ insistence that he carry out the primary even after it became clear he wouldn’t win, and his insinuations that he’d contest the convention kept Democrats divided long after Donald Trump secured the nomination. For two months Hillary had to campaign on two fronts, dealing with internal strife in her own party while responding to attacks from her opponent.

If the internal forces working against Clinton weren’t enough, external forces sealed the deal. Hundreds of thousands of emails were released related to Hillary Clinton, her career at the State Department, and top officials in her campaign. Though the world probably knew more about Hillary than any other candidate in history, the flood of information ended up hurting her more than helping. Nobody ever questioned the fact that only one side of the story was being presented. No one ever demanded a trove of emails be released by either the Sanders or Trump campaign.

Imagine what the internal discussions between Steve Bannon and Kelly Ann Conway may have done to their support had we the benefit of their disclosure.

Instead, we accepted the double-standard as our entitlement to transparency. We allowed Julian Assange and the Russians to divide and conquer Democrats by capitalizing on puerile demands for purity over pragmatism. Fake news stories propagated online, an entrenched patriarchy with a penchant for blatant sexism, and James Comey’s letter to Congress with eleven days left in the election put the final nails in the coffin.

In the end, it was just too much for any political campaign to overcome.

History will treat Hillary Clinton better than we have in the present. The passage of time will give us perspective and allow us to understand that we held her to a higher standard than her male counterparts on both sides of the aisle. As we take the time to examine the evidence related to the opinions leveled against her, we’ll realize that her flaws were overstated and her contributions to America understated. For whatever it’s worth, she may even be respected more as a loser than she ever would have as a winner.

I’m guessing she finds that of little comfort as Donald Trump fills his cabinet with white men embracing archaic views on race, immigration, LGBTQ issues, and women’s rights. Scapegoating Hillary for this loss will have a similar effect; the comfort it provides will only fade once we realize what we’ve unleashed on our country. The odd thing about sexism is that it crosses party lines, and in some cases, even aims its ugly assault at friendly targets. Democrats can point their fingers in any direction they choose, but they may want to save a finger or two for themselves.

Even as I close this post, it’s clear Democrats haven’t learned anything from this election. Bernie’s still running the primary, railing against Wall Street, and scapegoating Hillary.

“It is not good enough for someone to say, ‘I’m a woman! Vote for me!’” He told a reporter yesterday.

I guess it doesn’t matter that Hillary Clinton never uttered those words, or that she said a thousand things that were more important, because that’s apparently what he heard.

And for men like Bernie, that’s all that matters.

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This is not normal.

If there were ever a time I hoped to be wrong, this would’ve been that time. Shortly after the Iowa Caucuses in February, I wrote an article titled, “Here comes the revolution, but it’s not what you think.” In that piece, I warned that exit polling data and turnout numbers for Republicans suggested a highly energized and angry base of voters. The historical markers seemed to be running parallel to Ronald Reagan’s landslide against Jimmy Carter in 1980.

You can read that article here.

Honestly, being right has never felt so awful.

We should all feel awful right now. That’s the truth. If you’re angry, anxious, despondent, depressed, furious, and altogether apprehensive about Donald Trump being president, that’s a normal reaction to have.

Because this isn’t normal, and no one should be pretending that it is.

The good news is that it’s not unprecedented. History tells us something about what just happened in America. Its lessons are filled with stories of unassuming demagogues that seized power by preying on the fears and anxieties of unwitting citizens; men of the people that pointed to rigged systems and failed institutions as the cause of their suffering. “Give me power,” they demanded, “and I will end this nightmare.”

Julius Caesar blamed the Senate.

Napoleon Bonaparte blamed the Directory.

Adolf Hitler blamed the Weimar Republic.

Donald Trump promised to drain the swamp in Washington.

Donald Trump won the presidency by promising to govern as a hardline authoritarian with little regard for the civil protections embodied in our Constitution. Perhaps in a moment of excessive honesty he declared, “I alone can fix it,” at his party’s convention in July. Over the course of his campaign, he suggested he’d jail his political enemies and take punitive measures against the press. He also praised dictators and their ability to execute people at will. He proposed religious tests and registries for Muslims immigrating to America.

That’s how he defeated Hillary Clinton.

What Trump tapped into didn’t happen in an American vacuum. Brexit now seems like a warning shot across the pond, and the rush to appease Putin in light of Crimea appears to be an unmitigated foreign policy disaster. All across Europe far-right movements are gaining traction and taking over the collective consciousness in waves not seen since the anarchists brought us World War One and fascist governments ushered in World War Two.

The historical markers are there. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Communists and Jews, or Muslims and Mexicans. Using fear of the “other” as a scapegoat for working-class problems is a common thread for autocrats. If you believe Trump just said these things to get elected, and is not likely to act on them after he takes office, you should know that the New York Times said the same about Hitler in 1922, writing:

“But, several reliable, well-informed sources confirmed the idea that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was not so genuine or violent as it sounded, and that he was merely using anti-Semitic propaganda as bait to catch messes of followers, and keep them aroused, enthusiastic and in line for the time when his organization is perfected and sufficiently powerful to be employed effectively for political purposes.”

I know people like to dismiss comparisons with Hitler as too far-fetched to be taken seriously, and sometimes that’s a legitimate argument. In this instance, not so much. By elevating Steve Bannon to the position of Chief Strategist, a position held by Karl Rove in the Bush White House, Trump has put white nationalism at the forefront of U.S. policy. Bannon’s resume as a documentary filmmaker and head of Breitbart are reminiscent of Joseph Goebbels. “Make America Great Again” hats have ostensibly replaced swastika armbands as the contemporary branding strategy of white supremacy. Never mind the fact that they’re both red.

How can we not draw direct lines?

So here I am again, screaming at a brick wall and hoping people will listen, because our future isn’t written yet. The great thing about history is that we can learn from it. When we see the historical markers pushing us in the wrong direction, we can correct our course. We can write a different ending, but we have to be willing to accept the worst of possibilities, because history is full of people who thought it couldn’t happen in their country. Just ask Rome, France, and Germany.

The best way to start is to refuse to accept as normal what’s abnormal.

Because what’s happening isn’t normal, and no one should be pretending that it is.

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A Toxic 2016

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9 months ago, I asked a simple question: Can you still be a Moderate in America?

I followed up on that inaugural post by highlighting Clinton’s email issue as a continuous thread in the election, identified The Angry White Electorate, and imagined a Trump revolution. I tangled with Bernie Sanders supporters, volunteered for the Clinton campaign in the New York Primary, and called out Republicans for their support of Donald Trump. Bernie never contested the convention and no, I was never a Correct the Record Clinton Operative. I was always just simply a Moderate with a platform, hoping to find some sanity in an insane election cycle.

After a long 9 months, I still don’t know if it’s possible to be a Moderate in America.

But we’re about to find out.

As of today, the prevailing narrative is that this election is a choice between two equally awful candidates.

It’s not.

While it’s true that from a survey standpoint, both candidates are the most unpopular in polling history, it is not a fact that our choice in this election is parallel. Remove the dirt, the mud, the toxic sludge of the past two months, and what we’re left with is a very clear choice between two different Americas.

One candidate is offering uncertainty. The other, continuity.

One candidate wants to build a wall, ban refugees from entering the country based on their religious beliefs, disengage from decades-old alliances, abandon our trade agreements, and roll back eight years of progress. His campaign revolves around the idea of protective exclusion.

The other candidate has taken the opposite approach by practicing a policy of inclusion. She has embraced every religion, race, ethnicity, and gender. It’s the first campaign in modern history to acknowledge systemic racism as a legitimate cultural norm. She has opened doors to previously ignored segments of the population by putting people with disabilities and the LGBTQ community on equal footing with issues like jobs and national security.

One candidate is promising a reversion to some 1950s mythological utopia that never existed, embodied in a slogan stolen from Ronald Reagan. The other, offers an appreciation of our changing demographics and the difficult challenges we face in an ever-increasingly diverse society.

This election will determine which of these Americas we live in for the foreseeable future.

The historical record will likely paint a different picture of 2016 due to one person: Donald Trump. He alone is responsible for the toxicity of the past nine months. His campaign of insults and immaturity destroyed any possibility of the narrative above being presented to the American people. By poisoning the well of contemporary politics with outlandish stunts and excessive vitriol, he dredged up the worst in our society and provided a platform for the abhorrent racism, sexism, and xenophobia embodied in the Alt-Right movement. Language and rhetoric once unacceptable has been moved into the parlance of this new politics, and it’s deeply disturbing to many, yet completely tolerable to uneducated, angry white, working class Americans.

As a member of the white working class, I’m sympathetic to their struggles with employment, wages and opportunity. I am not however, sympathetic to this reaction. Electing a wealthy demagogue that disavows a minimum wage is not the answer to stagnant paychecks. Scapegoating minorities and undocumented workers is not the answer to the lack of opportunity. Cheering on the foreign entities attempting to manipulate our electoral process is not the answer to your frustrations with our government, and quite frankly, borders on treason.

For their part, the Clinton campaign has fought fire with fire. After watching Donald Trump’s primary opponents get swallowed up in the cesspool by trying to be reasonable, they made a calculated choice to paint Trump as temperamentally unfit to lead by using his own rhetoric against him. In an effort to win this election, they’ve repackaged the toxicity and force-fed it back to us until we’re so repulsed by the tone that we tune out the television. In that way, the Clinton campaign only heightened our sense of disgust. If it turns out that this strategic maneuver led to voter apathy, they’ll share the blame.

But for now, it’s been all Trump. He stirred the pot and seasoned the anger with a mix of blame and resentment. He is the contagion of this election, and we can only hope his brand of politics doesn’t spread.

As it stands right now, tomorrow’s outcome is uncertain. National tracking polls are all over the place, and as is the natural cycle of elections, the race has tightened in its final days. From a historical standpoint, Clinton has an edge. A stable and slowly improving economy, coupled with an unbroken lead in the polls that’s only taken temporary dips favors her for a win. The sophistication behind her ground game and voter targeting has pushed her ahead in the early vote and leaves nothing to chance on Election Day.

Nevertheless, it’s also been a year of unprecedented surprises, so anyone calling this election before the results are in is guessing.

What is certain is that this election will do little to end the civil strife it has brought to the surface. Either way, close to fifty percent of the population will be irritated with the outcome. Because the winds favor Clinton, many supporters of her opponent have vowed to challenge the result. With violence if necessary. Republicans in Congress have already promised endless investigations and even proposed premature impeachment of a yet to be elected candidate. Should Donald Trump win, the other side will likely suggest similar roadblocks to his ability to govern.

That’s the thing about a culture of toxicity. There’s no magic potion that will immediately neutralize its effects on the collective psyche; no antidote can cure the long-term damage it’s done to our emotional well-being as a country. It’ll be a very long time before we’re able to remove the toxins of 2016 from our political bloodstream. On November 9th, we’ll all have to begin the process of decontamination.

Together.

Whether we want to or not.

 

 

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Is the media shaping our opinions? Yes it is.

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“Here’s what I think is going on, and I think we’ll have to do more research and understand it better. I think you’re really on to something. There is a sense of disappointment among young people about politics, and there are a lot of different reasons for it. You know, some take the position that they were for president Obama and he didn’t revolutionize our country. You know, the poor man faced implacable hostility and got a lot done and deserves an enormous amount of credit, but the idea that somehow the Affordable Care Act or saving the economy were not big enough accomplishments is just bewildering to me. Because I know how hard it was, and what a touch and go deal it was.

Some are new to politics completely. They’re children of the Great Recession, and they are living in their parents’ basement. They feel that they got their education and the jobs that are available to them are not at all what they envisioned for themselves. And they don’t see much of a future. I met with a group of young black Millennials today and you know, one of the young women said, ‘You know, none of us feel like we have the job that we should’ve gotten out of college, and we don’t believe that the job market is going to give us much of a chance.’

So, that is a mindset that is really affecting their politics. And so, if you’re feeling that you’re consigned to being a barista, or some other job that doesn’t pay a lot and doesn’t have much of a ladder of opportunity attached to it, then the idea that maybe, just maybe you could be part of a political revolution is pretty appealing.

So, I think we should all be really understanding of that, and we should try to do the best we can not to be a wet blanket on idealism. You want people to be idealistic, you want them to set big goals, but to take what we can achieve now and try to present them as bigger goals.”

That was Hillary Clinton speaking at a fundraiser back in February shortly after losing the New Hampshire primary to Bernie Sanders by 20 points. An audience member asked Clinton what she thought about the politics of young people in 2016.

This is her untouched response.

I want you to take it in, because what follows is a lesson in media manipulation.

Read it again if you have to.

The quote is from newly leaked audio first reported by the Washington Free Beacon. It’s the latest in a long series of hacked email revelations that are sure to continue until Election Day.

It’s fair to point out that the original reporting of the audio from the Washington Free Beacon focused on Clinton’s response to the Obama administration’s nuclear arms policy. In fact, during the forty-nine minute audio clip, Clinton broaches a number of topics from intelligence to her economic policy, to the battles ahead of her in the primary.

You can listen to the full clip here.

But what’s important isn’t so much the content of the audio.

It’s the presentation.

You likely read Clinton’s answer in your own tone as you reacted in real-time to the words on the page. As you were reading, you began forming an opinion based on the way she framed her response, her choice of words, and a multitude of factors relative to you: your age and experience; your political beliefs and ideology; where you live and work; other articles you read during the primary; and maybe your feelings about Monday’s debate at Hofstra.

Generally speaking, this is how people react to what they read.

What I’ve given you is a sterilized version of Clinton’s remarks, unspun and pure. All too often, this is not the case, and what readers are given to consume is a narrative. A mood the media wants to create. Quotes are lifted out of context. Authors add subtext using the power of suggestion.

Nowhere was this more clear than on Friday night when Politico launched a series of Facebook posts linked to an article by Cristiano Lima presenting Clinton’s words in the tenor he chose. The posts speak for themselves.

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The key words here are, “mocked” and “bewildered.” Two words Clinton never used and are presumably meant to characterize her as dismissive and out of touch with young people.

As of today, the corrected headline remains the same, but the lede has changed a third time to directly quote Clinton saying, “Half the people don’t know what that means, but it’s something that they deeply feel.” It’s practically a non-sequitur to the article at this point. An Editor’s note appears at the bottom alerting readers of the changes made to, “better reflect Clinton’s tone.”

Does it matter?

By Saturday morning a number of news outlets had picked up the story, and were running with it.

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Not to be outdone, Fox news seized on the two sentences forming the day’s narrative, and later that night the Trump campaign was releasing prepared remarks painting Clinton as an elitist that refers to Millennials as “basement-dwellers.”

A term she never used.

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On Meet the Press Sunday morning, Clinton Campaign Manager Robby Mook was asked again about the one line in Clinton’s statement forming the unfounded narrative. Jake Tapper dedicated more than half his interview with Bernie Sanders to the clip. Again, taking the comments out of context and hyper-focusing on the pejorative “basement-dwellers.”

I think this bears repeating: A term she never used.

Our purpose here isn’t to single out Mr. Lima or Politico for orchestrating an attack on Hillary Clinton, or to suggest a massive media conspiracy against her. This is the kind of storytelling the media does a thousand times a day, and it is certainly true that every candidate and candidacy deals with some level of media bias. I’ll leave it to history to determine whether or not Hillary Clinton’s treatment has been disproportionate by comparison. Unfortunately, neither Politico nor Mr. Lima responded to my requests for comment, so why they chose to present Clinton’s words as they did is a mystery.

It’d be interesting to know if they considered other headlines, such as:

Hacked audio from Clinton fundraiser reveals her sympathy for struggling Millennials

In illegally obtained audio Clinton urges “understanding” for Millennials frustrated with politics

Clinton believes in idealism and wants people to set big goals

But they didn’t, and apparently it never crossed anyone’s mind in the media that they were using a non-contextual statement to paint Clinton negatively. Or worse . . .

. . . they didn’t care.

What’s also apparent is that other media sources are running with the, “living in their parents’ basement,” narrative, and creating misleading trends on social media.

This is how easily the populace can be manipulated into making assumptions based on click-bait headlines and overtly biased reporting. As citizens we need to understand this, and we need to do a better job of looking deeper into the headlines delivered rapid fire to our newsfeed scrolling sites. We need to read the article and follow its sources to the origin. We need to seek out the context of sound bites and judge the candidates’ words for ourselves.

We need to take caution when we consume media in the same way we read labels when we do our grocery shopping. Because at the end of the day, if all we’ve consumed is garbage, then that’s exactly how we’re going to feel about our politics, our government, and our country.

Is the media shaping our opinions?

Yes.

Yes it is, but it’s up to us to cut through the noise and draw our own conclusions.

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Understanding White Privilege: A Guide For White People

By J Lee Hugar

On a cool sun-filled day sixteen years ago, I casually drove my work van through a bluster of city streets with the windows rolled down and Eminem blasting through the speakers. I’m not entirely sure why I rolled through that stop sign on Nottingham Terrace, and I am sure that I’d probably rolled through a hundred others before. This time though, a cop car trailed behind me.

I didn’t even see him.

Now, let me be clear. I’m white.

This is significant, because what happened next is a patent example of how white privilege works in America.

Like any number of twenty-somethings in the early 2000s, I enjoyed the occasional joint from time to time. Also like many twenty-somethings of any era, I wasn’t very bright. As the police officer stepped out of his vehicle and walked to my door, I remembered the tightly rolled joint resting against my insurance and registration in the glove box.

I started to sweat.

My heart pounded.

My knuckles turned white on the wheel.

The cop said something, but I couldn’t hear him. My thoughts raced with scenario after scenario that always ended with me losing my job, my apartment, my cozy little carefree life. Mom and Dad weren’t gonna be happy when I showed up back home with a pile of clothes and crappy furniture.

‘What the hell is happening?’ I thought.

Roaring white noise played ping-pong between my ears, ending in a rush when the officer tapped me on the shoulder. I blinked in his direction to let him know I didn’t hear him.

“I said, do you know why I pulled you over?”

“Uh yeah. I rolled through that stop sign,” I replied, while trying to steady my voice.

“Do you have your license? Insurance, registration?”

“Yessir.”

I did my best to calm down, but my brain focused on the fact that two of the three requested items were being propped up by an EZ Wider stuffed with weed. When I handed him my license, I hoped he’d forget about the registration and insurance card.

He didn’t.

“Do you have your insurance and registration?”

“Um yeah, I think so. I’m not sure.”

What happened next, I’ll never forget. At some point during my initial panic attack, two other officers pulled up and walked to the other side of my van. When I reached for the glove compartment, everyone started screaming.

“PUT YOUR HANDS ON THE WHEEL!” “DON’T REACH!” “PUT YOUR HANDS ON THE WHEEL!” “DON’T MOVE!” “STOP!” “DON’T MOVE!” “PUT YOUR HANDS ON THE WHEEL!”

I can’t completely explain what came over me in that moment, but I’ll try.

The sudden outburst and conflicting commands, caused a rush of adrenaline to send every hair on its end. That part of your brain that reminds you, you want to live a long, full life shut down completely. While the police closed in on my vehicle from all sides with their guns drawn, my hand kept moving towards the glove compartment. Some mysterious force convinced my hand that it knew better than my survival instinct.

Three guns aimed at my chest, and for some reason, I couldn’t stop.

Just before I grabbed the handle, something clicked, and I put my hands back on the wheel, but not before I came within a second of being shot.

With my brain functioning normally again, I manufactured a lie about leaving my registration and insurance at the office. They could call my employer for the information, but it wasn’t in the van. He directed his colleagues to call it in while he engaged me in polite conversation. Nobody attempted to search my vehicle, or even bothered to ask what I was reaching for.

“Yeah. You should never reach for anything. Not good,” he said, smiling.

I nodded.

“So is this what you want to do with your life? Are you in school?”

I shrugged.

After a brief motivational speech about my future, the police left me sweating on the side of the road with a simple warning. There is not a doubt in my mind that the reason I’m still alive today has everything to do with the color of my skin.

I’m reminded of this event every time I see a young black man gunned down in the street at the hands of the police. You see, for these young black men, there are no second chances, no motivational speeches, no understanding of the circumstances that may cause them to make the stupid mistakes young people make. For many of them, their only mistake was living in America and being black.

There is not a doubt in my mind that the reason my life wasn’t significantly altered by that event has everything to do with the color of my skin. I kept my job, because I’m white. I kept my apartment, because I’m white.

I didn’t go to jail that day, because I’m white. Any other person of a different color would have been pulled from the car, questioned, frisked, and thrown into a cell, undoubtedly forever changing the arc of their existence.

It’s a sad reality and it needs to stop.

This is how whites can come to an understanding about white privilege. White privilege isn’t about apologizing for the color of your skin, or feeling guilty for having advantages in a society that favors white people. White privilege doesn’t mean that whites don’t struggle, face challenges, or are sometimes the victims of discrimination.

Understanding white privilege is recognizing how much more those struggles, challenges and discrimination would affect your life if you weren’t white. Understanding white privilege is, at a minimum, acknowledging it exists and recognizing its pervasive nature in every aspect of our lives. In reality, white privilege encompasses so much more than this nifty little anecdote, from employment, to education, housing, quality of life, and so on. In Flint, Michigan they know exactly how white privilege works and how its effects can cross generations.

Maybe if we can admit our advantages, if we can recognize our privilege through our experiences, we can come together with African-Americans rather than remaining defensive against the charges of benefitting from a racist society. Our current crisis of race-relations implores us to do better. We’ve come so far in this country, and yet, still have so far to go. Racism isn’t just a black problem that whites can dismiss as outdated. It’s an American problem that exists whether we want to admit it or not.

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Following Orlando, Trump Tweets — About Trump

It took less than twelve hours for Donald Trump to take to Twitter with an opinion on the massacre in Orlando. While most of us were still trying to digest what happened, the presumptive Republican nominee spent the day tweeting his thoughts in a stream of careless consciousness.

I personally think limiting your reaction to a tragedy to 140 characters is inappropriate, but I also recognize that communication in 2016 hinges on immediacy. Unfortunately, Donald Trump is a perfect example of our fast-food society and the fracturing of semantic competence.

The measure of his words following the deaths of 49 Americans tells us a lot about how he’d handle a crisis as president.

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The first tweet seems innocuous. Trump recognizes the victims and characterizes the “incident” as “horrific.” Reasonable reactions to what happened at the Pulse nightclub.

However, the question that Trump asks next reveals how he’ll manipulate this “incident” over the course of the next few hours. His rhetorical device implies that we’re the opposite of “tough, smart, & vigilant.” America must be weak, dumb, and complacent to terrorism. This couldn’t possibly have been an inexplicable act committed by a person of no conscience or regard for human life.

Instead, we’ve failed as a country. Someone needs to be blamed. Not the perpetrator of the crime, mind you, but someone else. Trump has his scapegoat at the ready, but before he can point a finger, he needs to pat himself on the back.

A couple of times.

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An hour later, Trump is at it again. In a moment of faux modesty, he claims to renounce recognition for being “right.” Of course, the question then becomes: Why mention it?

Remember. He’s not reacting in real time on television. He’s not in the middle of a press conference. If people are congratulating Trump for being “right” about anything, the only person that knows this is Trump. He doesn’t have to tell us. He wants to tell us.

He repeats his calls for “toughness & vigilance.” Trump exclaims, “We must be smart!” without any indication of how our limited capacity for intelligence led to this massacre.

But Trump was “right.” He will save us. Trump will save us from our stupid selves.

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About twenty minutes pass before Donald can’t take it anymore. He’s already managed to stroke his own ego and put the focus on himself. Now he needs to politicize the event through populist scapegoating. He takes aim at the president.

Always an authority on language, Trump suggests that if the president doesn’t characterize the incident using the words, “radical Islamic terrorism,” he should lose his job.

Because that’s entirely reasonable.

Trump really does think he’s on a reality show. He might as well just have pointed at the screen and said, “You’re fired.”

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This is classic Trump. Now we’re getting into the psychology of a master manipulator.

The tweet above was actually copy/pasted from another account belonging to a man named Sebastian Gorka. The idea that the killer shouted “Allah hu Akbar” has no basis in fact. No media outlet, law enforcement official, or witness to the event has substantiated this claim.

In a moment flagrant plagiarism, Donald has stoked the fears and prejudices of his followers and connected unconnected events. The man arrested in Los Angeles had no ties to Islam, and the perpetrator in Orlando’s relationship to ISIS is speculative.

These facts are of little importance to Trump. He’s building a case of circumstantial evidence against “radical Islamic terrorism.” How can he be right if this tragedy is anything but connected to Islam?

So logically, he pollutes his followers’ minds by disseminating and encouraging the spread of misinformation for political gain.

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In case you needed to be reminded that this is an election cycle, and that Trump is in a race against Hillary Clinton, Donald is more than happy to refresh your memory.

Less than 24 hours after 49 people were slaughtered.

While 53 more people lay wounded in the hospital.

While the victims’ family members still don’t know whether or not their loved ones are dead or alive, or in the hospital.

Trump decides this is the perfect time to quote a supporter’s plea for a Trump presidency.

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“I called it.”

Never mind that the killer in Orlando was born in America, and forget that his parents moved here from Afghanistan 30 years ago. Even though a ban on Muslim immigration wouldn’t have stopped this mass shooting from happening, or any mass shooting for that matter, Donald “called it,” by proposing a ban on Muslim immigrants.

Again, getting the credit or “congrats,” and turning tragedy into an opportunity for personal gain is what’s important to Donald Trump.

Just to make sure he doesn’t squander political capital from this “horrific incident,” he employs one last ominous threat to the masses: “What has happened in Orlando is just the beginning,” he states.

Trump’s right. This is about leadership.

Donald Trump isn’t just temperamentally unfit to be president, he lacks the leadership skills and moral compass to handle a national crisis. The fact that a large portion of the country continues to flirt with his possible presence in the Oval Office is appalling.

Forget partisanship, forget politics.

This is a question of simple judgment.

Anyone that reacts to the mass murder of 49 Americans with bravado and self-congratulations should be automatically rejected by the citizenry. A hyperbolic call for the president to resign unless he says what Donald wants him to say is an exercise in neurosis. Pushing fear and hatred, dividing the country by religion isn’t borderline psychotic. It’s a sign of psychopathic behavior without any regard for the safety and well-being of the 3 million innocent Muslims in America today.

Not to mention his total disregard for the effects of this tragedy on the LGBTQ community targeted by the attacker. Considering all of the conjecture and speculation Trump accepted as truth, his reluctance to immediately extend his sympathy to LGBTQ Americans is flat out insulting.

Leaders lead through unity, not division.

Donald instead leads through the devices of a dictator with all the attention span of a common squirrel. Nothing in his stream of tweets can convince anyone that he’s capable of the coherent, consistent governance that the presidency requires.

He has no filter.

No instinct for decorum.

He’s impulsive and ignorant of the context of his surroundings.

He’s like a toddler that really wants a cookie at exactly the same time grandma is revealing her cancer diagnosis.

His leadership style reminds me of that time George Costanza smelled smoke.

 

Should America find itself in crisis and under a Trump presidency, I just pray we don’t get in his way.

Posted in Current Events, Election2016 | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Republicans Need to Start Acting (r)epublican

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Note: This article uses a small (r) to differentiate between the Republican Party and (r)epublican representative government.

I wasn’t surprised four months ago when Chris Collins became the first Republican in Congress to endorse Donald Trump. As a longtime resident of Collins’s district, I can confirm the oddly rural redneck attitudes that encapsulate the Western New York suburbs.

Less than a mile from my house, pickup trucks line the local gun range and Confederate flags are still a frequent sight 350 miles from the Mason-Dixon Line. In the small town where I grew up, a bitter three year battle rages over a “Redskin” high school mascot. We’re also the small corner of New York that manifested gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino.

To put it bluntly, I’m in liberal hell. Lucky for me, I’m more of a libertarian than a true-dyed-blue bleeding heart.

So yeah, Collins’s endorsement was more of a “Go figure,” than it was an, “Are you serious?” A business man himself, Collins managed to benefit from the idea that successful entrepreneurs somehow make great statesmen.

Because you know, when I need my roof replaced, I usually call a plumber.

Anyway, given the logic that put him to office, it seemed to fit that Collins would endorse Trump. I made the obligatory phone call to express my displeasure, promised his secretary that he lost my vote, and tried to move on.

Collins was an anomaly. Surely, the more experienced members of the Republican Party knew better. Supporting Trump would be electoral suicide.

That’s what I thought.

Even when Rubio, Cruz, and Kasich promised to back a possible Trump nomination, I still believed that it was lip service to the primary process. They were saying what they needed to say in a mirage of party unity.

Now that Trump has amassed the necessary delegates, it’s become clear this is no longer lip service. It’s a disturbing development that warrants a serious discussion. I won’t waste your time enumerating the Republican politicians that have made an about face over the past few weeks, but Rolling Stone identified eight so far. More are sure to follow, and according to a recent poll by the New York Times and CBS, eight out of ten registered Republican voters believe the party should unite behind Trump.

My Cassandra Complex is reaching critical mass. What the hell is happening to our country?

I try not to engage in hyperbole if at all possible, but it’s looking more and more like the, “end of the republic,” Obama joked about at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner last month.

Donald Trump could actually become president of the United States.

When it comes to voters, I get it. You’re fed up, mad as hell, and you’re looking to make a point. You’ll have to ask yourselves if this is worth it? Will putting an erratic, off the cuff lunatic in the Oval Office really bring about the changes in government you’re seeking?

The truth is, it won’t. A Donald Trump presidency will only throw the country into an unpredictable era of volatility. Deep down, I think you know this. I think everyone knows this, because Trump doesn’t hide the fact that he has all the equilibrium of a Tilt-a-Whirl. He’s turned his impulsivity into a stump speech.

Which makes the parade of fools marching down this road that much more infuriating.

Nevertheless, I expect the electorate to make bad choices. If democracy has one disadvantage, it’s in its ability to cultivate chaos. James Madison knew this when he wrote Federalist 10.

For those that don’t know, the Federalist Papers were a series of documents written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay defending the newly written Constitution in 1787-1788. The most famous of these is Federalist 10.

Federalist 10 has been interpreted in a variety of ways, but at its heart is Madison’s argument of why a republic works better than a democracy. Madison and the framers believed democracy’s main weakness lied in its ability to allow majority opinions to throw governments into disarray.

Madison wrote:

“A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

In short, people are the problem, and the more people, the bigger the problem.

Instead, it’s up to our elected representatives to do what’s right rather than following the popular will at any given moment. Their purpose is to provide the necessary stability in times of temporary political turmoil. Madison again provided insight. This time by showing us the key difference between democracy and (r)epublican government.

“The effect of the first difference is, on the one hand, to refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations.”

Madison knew that disaffected citizens could easily be manipulated; their problems scapegoated; their anger and frustration harnessed; their “common passion” exploited by the “obnoxious individual” into populist movements that cater to civil unrest. He argued that representatives would safeguard against these fleeting emotions by being the steady hands of justice, allowing the measure of their judgement to cautiously steer the country back on track.

Unfortunately, the party that claims to be the standard-bearer of what the founders intended has decided to ignore Madison’s 18th Century guideline to (r)epublican government. Instead of putting the good of the country over their own interests, Republicans are lining up behind Trump to save their political futures. They’ve chosen populist democracy over (r)epublican government in an effort to maximize their chances of winning their own elections in November.

Presidential elections cycles bring out more than the average number of voters. The difference between turnout in midterm elections and presidential elections has been about 40 million votes since 2000. Republican incumbents stand to lose millions of possible voters if they refuse to back their democratically elected nominee.

A nominee that debates his political opponents by calling them names and spreading rumors like some deranged high school bully.

A nominee that objectifies women and engages in misogyny.

A nominee that threatens and criticizes the media while disseminating factually inaccurate information to his misguided supporters.

A nominee that has advocated for the deportation of millions, a government-sponsored religious test, and the torture and killing of suspected terrorists and their families.

A nominee that believes in the worldwide proliferation of nuclear weapons, and keeping the option of dropping nuclear weapons on Europe open.

These aren’t “suggestions” or “negotiations” as Trump claims. This is what he’s selling to voters. These are his policies and plans for America, and it should concern every single elected representative in Congress. The purpose of our representatives, as Madison defined it, is to protect the republic from a phenomenon like Donald Trump.

For anyone assuming it’s all bluster, I’d direct you to a New York Times article from 1922, courtesy of the Daily Kos:

“But, several reliable, well-informed sources confirmed the idea that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was not so genuine or violent as it sounded, and that he was merely using anti-Semitic propaganda as bait to catch messes of followers, and keep them aroused, enthusiastic and in line for the time when his organization is perfected and sufficiently powerful to be employed effectively for political purposes.

A sophisticated politician credited Hitler with peculiar political cleverness for laying emphasis and over emphasis on anti-Semitism, saying: ‘You can’t expect the masses to understand or appreciate your finer real aims. You must feed the masses with cruder morsels and ideas like anti-Semitism. It would be politically all wrong to tell them the truth about where you really are leading them.’”

Sound familiar?

Our own sophisticated politicians are trying to downplay Trump’s rhetoric. They’re “coming around” or “warming up,” to Donald Trump by making the same arguments that were made for Hitler in 1922 Germany. By doing so, they’re putting the entire country at risk. They’re choosing the same type of populist democracy that brought us the nationalist rise of fascist dictators in early 20th Century Europe.

The only way to stop Donald Trump is for Republicans to start acting (r)epublican. They need to put America ahead of their electoral battles in November. Years of using coded language for all the things Trump flagrantly says without so much as a blush have brought us to this moment. They’ve catered to the worst fears and prejudices of their electorate, and their presumptive nominee is their reward.

What happens next is up to the Republican Party. In Federalist 10, Madison warned that the impulse of faction is, “sown in the nature of man.” He went on to say, “So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts.”

So, instead of trying to change human nature, Madison and the framers of the Constitution built a (r)epublican government designed to protect against the people’s proclivity to unite behind bad ideas, risky policies, and volatile politicians. They envisioned a body of enlightened representatives courageous enough to stand against a cataclysmic popular will.

Republicans need to start acting (r)epublican and withdraw their support for Donald Trump. They need to summon their “patriotism and love of justice” to speak out against the hateful, scapegoat rhetoric of a demagogue manipulating the populace. Nothing less is expected of our elected officials. It’s what Madison and the founders intended and it’s the right thing to do.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

No. I am not a Correct the Record Clinton Operative.

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I’m still trying to figure out what’s more laughable: The idea that someone would pay me to make comments on Facebook? Or the fact that I’m doing it for free?

Truth be told, I do engage in political discussions on social media. Like a chocolate covered caramel peanut cluster dipped in fudge and topped with whipped cream, I know it’s bad for me, but sometimes I can’t help myself. I like the debate. I like hearing another person’s point of view, and then ripping it to shreds until they have no way to respond.

It’s a petty personal trait that I’m comfortable with. Nobody’s changing anybody’s mind on social media anyway. If they were, Bernie Sanders would be winning by a landslide.

A little background.

As you may or may not know, Hillary Clinton is the devil, and she has SuperPacs that support her candidacy. Correct the Record is one of two Pacs run by a man named David Brock. Brock is a former Republican turned Democrat who has dedicated his life to being a political attack dog. For whatever reason, he’s a huge Clinton supporter and founder of the left-leaning media website Media Matters. I honestly don’t know that much about him.

I’ve heard his name mentioned a handful of times. In early January, Correct the Record decided that it might be a good idea to run television ads questioning the health of Bernie Sanders relative to his age. To which Clinton campaign chair John Podesta replied via Tweet, “Chill out. We’re fighting on who would make a better president, not on who has a better physical fitness test.”

Because of this nifty little exchange, I am currently following John Podesta on Twitter, not David Brock.

Flash forward.

I pretty much forgot about Correct the Record after that, but over the course of the past month, a number of people have charged me with being on the company payroll. So I Googled it and go figure, David Brock and his SuperPac launched a social media campaign designed to bolster the image of Hillary Clinton.

There’s nothing in the SuperPac’s description of this Internet project that suggests they’ll be paying anyone to make Facebook comments. According to the Correct the Record, this is all about defending Clinton supporters and being amicable to persecuted superdelegates:

“In response to these attacks on supporters and superdelegates, Correct The Record is launching the Barrier Breakers 2016 digital task force. While Hillary Clinton fights to break down barriers and bring America together, the Barrier Breakers 2016 digital task force will serve as a resource for supporters looking for positive content and push-back to share with their online progressive communities, as well as thanking prominent supporters and committed superdelegates on social media.”

So far, the “positive content” that Correct the Record is referring to is a couple of JPEGs and link to thank superdelegates. Given the poorly designed website and impossible navigation, I’m just going to assume Brock is secretly a 75 year old lady that purchased a domain name using her AOL account from 1997.

Simply put, it’s weird. Not the work of an evil genius.

There goes my paycheck.

Of course, that doesn’t stop the conspiracy theories.

Conspiracies have been everywhere this election cycle. I swear to god, it’s like living in a political X-File: Polling conspiracies, debate conspiracies, media conspiracies that are carefully coordinated with the Democratic National Committee, Facebook and Twitter conspiracies, coin tosses that lead to voter suppression, Bill Clinton at the polls, the purging of voter registrations, rigged primaries and ugh, superdelegates.

Seriously people, we’re running out of tinfoil hats.

On April 25th the mysterious disappearance of multiple Facebook groups prompted an uproar when Sanders supporters lost access to such gems as the Bernie Believers and Bernie Sanders is My Hero. The groups immediately made a connection between Correct the Record’s social media campaign and the destruction of their right to assemble in Facebook groups with crappy names.

Tim Robbins even got in on the action with a strongly worded Tweet.

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Honestly, watching The Shawshank Redemption will never be the same.

Making matters worse, a Facebook user and member of Bros4Hillary (No, seriously. There’s actually a group named Bros4Hillary), was caught bragging on social media that he managed to accomplish this task all on his own.

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This of course, made the Bernie people lose their minds, set their hair on fire, and run around the Internet shrieking. This is how the conspiracy played out according to The Bern Report:

“This flag attack was particularly nasty because of the method used. Here’s the likeliest scenario. A Clinton supporter asks to become a member of a group, in fact several of them, days or weeks before the attack is scheduled. They lurk and wait in the wings until given the green light to proceed. Last night’s attack was brought on by these lurkers who posted inappropriate content in the groups, then before an admin had a chance to remove the post they rallied the #MillionDollarTrolls to visit each post and ‘flag’ it.”

Just imagine the power of an army of Facebook users posting inappropriate content. Oh what power they would yield. They could start a political revolution.

Oh, wait.

Snopes debunked all of this nonsense a day later. As it turns out, a Facebook glitch caused a number of groups to be blocked, not just groups backing Bernie Sanders. And it definitely wasn’t triggered by a 23 year old living in his mom’s basement colluding with David Brock and screaming, “UNLEASH THE PORN!!!!”

It’s actually not hard to believe. Last week, Facebook awarded a 10 year old $10,000 for finding a bug on Instagram.

Unpaid internships are for suckers.

J Lee the Corporate Shill

You can’t make this stuff up. I’ve been at my wits end this election cycle, and I’m honestly at the point where nothing surprises me anymore. No matter what happens in November, we can’t come back from the nonsense that permeates every facet of our current political atmosphere. We’re forever stained, like a Motel 6 comforter under a black light.

But I digress.

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I am not a paid troll for Correct the Record.

In the interest of full disclosure, I did vote for Hillary Clinton in the New York. If she wins the nomination, I’ll vote for her again. If that makes me a supporter, then I’m guilty as charged. I even volunteered for her campaign as a glorified telemarketer. However, I did not and will not contribute to her campaign financially. There’s something about giving money to politicians that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Kind of like the taste you get from being homeless and starving on the street. So rather than paying for your County Court Judge’s lawn sign, any extra money I happen to have goes to charities that participate in helping people that have less than I do.

As far as this blog is concerned, let me clear the air. First of all, this is a blog. It’s my personal blog, and I can do whatever I want. Neener, neener, neener. I am under no obligation to be ethical or “fair and balanced,” or any of that other garbage you hear from other “legitimate” news organizations. 95% of what I write is opinion. If you don’t like it, don’t read it.

Everything is biased.

Grow up.

If you want to read something unbiased, I heard Frigidaire makes a killer microwave manual.

Second, I will continue to write articles that are favorable to Hillary Clinton. To do otherwise would just add me to the list of countless people attacking her every day. In my opinion, a large part of what will make her a good president is that fact that she’s still able to wake up in the morning and spend 17 hours a day listening to people tell her what a horrible person she is.

I’m pretty sure that covers at least 50% of the job.

Finally, if anyone ever offers to pay me to write about politics, I will sell out quicker than flammable crosses at a Donald Trump rally. Just leave your email address in the comment section below.

But for now, sadly no. No one is paying me to make comments on Facebook, and I am not a Correct the Record Clinton Operative.

Posted in Election2016, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Solutions for a Revolution: How Bernie Sanders Supporters Can Save the Movement

BernieI’ve been exceptionally hard on Bernie Sanders and his supporters this election cycle. Anyone that reads this blog can tell you that the majority of my posts are critical of the senator and his so-called “revolution.”

Truthfully though, there’s a lot I admire about this new generation of activists and their interest in reforming the government to work better for ordinary people. I appreciate their idealism and willingness to be involved. They dove straight in and never looked back. They’re not asking the government for a voice, they’re demanding to be heard.

Of course, that sort of brash energy has its weaknesses. Demands and ultimatums are usually rejected in the end. Notwithstanding his recent win in Indiana, and presumptive future wins in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oregon, it is a mathematical improbability and statistical impossibility for Bernie Sanders to be the Democratic Party’s nominee. No matter what Bernie’s saying publicly, this contest will end on June 7th.

That’s okay.

Sometimes you lose.

What’s important is that you understand why you lost, because if you know that, you can avoid making the same mistakes down the road.

Problem: 2008 is not 2016.

Cycles are important to politics, because timing is everything. What’s been proven this year is that you can have the strongest, most likable, politically pure candidate ever, and still be at the mercy of historical patterns.

In early 2008, America found itself at the tail end of a two-term Republican presidency that had questions surrounding its legitimacy from the beginning. After eight years of George W. Bush, America hungered for change; ripe timing for a young, inspirational one-term senator from Illinois to capture the imagination of the electorate.

2008 was a change cycle for Democrats much in the same way that 2016 is a change cycle for Republicans. GOP voters are starving for a candidate that breaks with the traditions of the old era; a symbol of the future for the party. Whether you like him or not, Donald Trump is on the right side of the historical model for Republicans.

For Democrats, 2016 is more about staying the course than it is about “change.” The gains made by president Obama are seen as sacrosanct by members of the party and lifelong Democratic voters. Protecting and continuing the president’s legacy stands above all other priorities.

The Sanders campaign could’ve messaged their candidate closer to the current president’s policies by ditching the free college and health care. Adopting a more level-headed platform would’ve pulled in the more moderate voters Sanders needed to win, rather than the anti-establishment independents making up large portions of his electorate.

Solution: Knowing the pattern of election cycles puts you in a better position to win and allows a candidate to strategize his or her message around the political Zeitgeist. The timing may be off in the presidency, but after six years of Republican gridlock and approval ratings in the toilet, Congress looks primed for some new blood.

Problem: Inappropriate venue.

Choosing the presidency as an avenue to reshape the Democratic Party and change the face of electoral politics was problematic from the beginning. The president has very little control over legislation from a Constitutional standpoint. In fact, there’s nothing in the Constitution that even remotely suggests that crafting legislation falls into the presidents purview. It is true, of course, that presidents have had influence over legislation, but that doesn’t change the fact that the best possible path to writing and passing legislation falls under the control of Congress.

Look no further than our current president for proof. Obama’s major legislative accomplishments occurred under Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress in his first term. Since then, he’s been held down under the thumbs of an opposition determined to stifle his legislative agenda.

Sanders attempt to jump directly into the White House for the purposes of rectifying income inequality and reforming a corrupt campaign finance system diminishes the complexities of the presidency, and displays a firm lack of procedural understanding. In an interview with NY Daily News, even Sanders couldn’t explain how the executive branch of government could accomplish these goals. When asked again, Sanders said that he would use the “bully pulpit in an unprecedented way to rally the American people to demand that the Congress listens to their needs . . .”

Not only does this statement fly in the face of every major speech our current president’s given over the past eight years, but it also overstates the power of the bully pulpit. If Bernie Sanders wasn’t able to rally enough support for his policies as a candidate, it’s doubtful much would change under his presidency.

Solution: To make the changes that Sanders is seeking, the movement will need to begin and end with Congress. Make a plan to change the composition of Congress over the next four to six years. Start by identifying seats in the Senate and the House you’re most likely to win. Then, organize to win Congressional majorities by identifying and running strong candidates sympathetic to your cause.

Problem: Most Americans don’t want a revolution.

While finding hard data about the demographics of Sanders’ support is problematic, we can accurately assume that young people under the age of 25 make up a large portion of his electorate. According to exit polls, Sanders has been winning young people by impressive margins since Iowa.

Because young people are at the heart of his campaign, it’s not a surprise that Sanders’ message of a “political revolution” resonates. College students with limited responsibilities have little to lose in the political turmoil a revolution would create. But therein lies the problem.

First, the age group that identifies with Sanders’ rhetoric includes a very small portion of the population. The most recent U.S. Census data show that the population of people aged 18-24 is about 31 million; 25-44 – 83 million; 45-64 – 83 million; 65 and beyond – around 50 million. Even if we assume some support for Sanders in the 25 – 44 age demographic, the numbers aren’t high enough to reach a majority.

Second, revolutions can be very violent and hard on regular people. Try convincing a middle-aged family of four living in the center of America that the next four years need to look like France in 1789, Russia in 1917, Cuba in 1959, or Egypt and Syria in the Middle East today, and you’re not likely to find a groundswell of support.

Solution: Language and rhetoric are important. Drop the revolutionary tone. Instead, focus on the “movement.” A movement is more palatable than a revolution, and it brings to mind the more positive progressive changes in civil rights over the past 150 years. You’ll draw more people in, and gain more support without the firebrand oratory.

Problem: The Internet isn’t real.

Over-represented and fervent online, support for Sanders spread through social media like wildfire. I wrote a lengthy post about the Sanders Hive in February, so I’ll spare you the redundancy, but we can’t ignore the fact that BernieBot behavior turned people off. Bullying Clinton supporters and harassing superdelegates are exercises in exclusion. If you want to win, you have to find a way to be as inclusive as possible.

Also, let’s dispel with the notion that you can change the world with Facebook and Twitter. Hastags don’t win elections and you can’t conduct a revolution in the comments section of a Facebook post. It is absolutely ridiculous to think otherwise.

Now that being said, we can’t ignore social media and the Internet’s tremendous organizing capabilities. It is possible to coordinate and communicate across large swaths of the country using the digital environment. People can be brought together and charged for action in ways that were impossible a generation earlier.

Solution: Toss the crappy attitudes and be inclusive. It is also crucial that the movement transition from online activism to real-world results by finding bridges between digital and analog space. America is a republican representative democracy, so treat it like one and ditch the broad strategy. Go local. Use the Internet to break large groups of likeminded individuals into smaller groups that share a zip code, county, or congressional district. The root of activism is “active,” so put down the smartphone and get moving.

Problem: A candidate of contradictions.

Partly a language problem, partly a policy issue, the Sanders paradox went a little something like this: I am an anti-establishment candidate taking on the establishment by using the establishment’s resources to build a bigger establishment. The contradiction inherent in Bernie’s message followed a circular logic that ended up not making very much sense. Running as Democrat while disparaging the party and making vague criticisms of the president didn’t help either.

Another inconvenient truth that surfaced over the primary season was the fact that the candidates spending the most money weren’t winning. Jeb Bush spent $150 million, only to drop out shortly after the voting ended in South Carolina. Marco Rubio outspent his opponents in Florida by large sums only to lose a state he was favored to win. Sanders spent more than Clinton in the last seven primaries, only to win marginal victories in Rhode Island and Indiana. When this ends, he’ll have a hard time explaining how the influence of money in politics is so detrimental to democracy that a revolution is needed to rectify its influence.

Solution: Embrace the establishment. Believe it or not, Democrats will support your cause if you stop calling them the enemy. If you need proof, look no further than the leader of the revolution’s insistence that he’ll stay a Democrat after the election is over. At some point, the movement will have to decide what’s more important: pointing fingers, or making progress?

It’s time to grow up.

What these problems reveal is an adolescence within the movement, a political immaturity that will only be resolved with some self-reflection and humility. If your knee-jerk reaction to this statement is dismissive anger, that’s my point. I’m not being smug or condescending, I’m telling you and every other Sanders supporter what needs to be heard. If you’re planning on writing in Bernie in November, or voting for Jill Stein, this post is directed at you. Grow up and let it go. Don’t throw away an opportunity at progress in favor of making a point.

It won’t work.

It never does.

Just ask anyone that voted Perot in 1992, or Nader in 2000.

You may not like Clinton, but she’s supportive of your cause. Whether you like her or not, you’re going to need some new friends.

And no matter what Susan Sarandon says, a Trump presidency will seal the movement’s fate quicker than a New York Minute.

Sanders supporters that understand the reality of what’s happening have already started to mobilize. A two-day People’s Summit is being planned by People for Bernie to coincide with the end of the Democratic Primary. Other members of the movement have begun to concede the presidency, and instead focus on building something that lasts past this election cycle. These are positive developments that need to be replicated nationwide.

And if you need help, I’m available.

Perhaps the president said it best. Speaking to a group of activists about Black Lives Matter in London, the president addressed the role of protest in our democratic system. He said, “The value of social movements and activism is to get you at the table, get you in the room, and then to start trying to figure out how is this problem going to be solved.”

It’s that simple. The movement Bernie Sanders started got you in the room.

The question is, do you still want to overturn the table, or would you rather sit down and solve the problem?

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