On The Matter Of My Vote

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I have, as a rule, avoided discussing how I’ll vote because I generally see that as a distraction from much more important things. My vote isn’t going to decide the election, and is itself a less than minuscule factor in the contest.

That said, as anyone who follows my blog already knows, I have a lot of issues with Hillary Clinton that will make casting a vote for her extremely difficult. The DNC collusion (particularly the unethical use of state parties to bypass campaign finance donation limits allegedly to support down-ballot candidates while actually funneling almost all the money to Clinton’s campaign while the DNC was, according to its own bylaws, supposed to be neutral), the swiftboating of Sanders’s civil rights activism, the bullying and rigging that went on right before the cameras in places like Las Vegas, the Clintons illegally (and arrogantly) campaigning in polling stations because they knew their local lackeys wouldn’t prosecute them, ordering poll workers to give the wrong ballots to independent voters in California, the disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of voters in multiple states like New York, the utter disrespect shown to Sanders’s duly elected delegates and volunteers at the convention…

Jesus, I could go on and on, and I haven’t even started on her record or policies. The DNC money laundering/collusion, which is a matter of public record and not just conspiracy theory, is all by itself compelling enough reason not to support Clinton or the Democrats at all. A vote for Clinton sends the message that all of that bullshit was exactly the right thing to do because it gets them what they want. It rewards electoral villainy. And I have some strong issues with doing that.

Should Trump lose? Yes. But my hope remains that Clinton wins by a very tight margin so that she knows she’s going into that office on probationary status, not with the mandate to continue doing as she and the DNC have been doing. I want her to know she cannot just take progressives for granted and treat them like shit and expect to win again. Odds are, she’ll have a more formidable challenger next time and she’s gonna need our votes. If a voter doesn’t vote for her, she’s likely still going to win, but that vote doesn’t add to her mandate. If any voter opts to go that way, I completely grok that. Clinton already has the gift of Donald Trump (though even so, she’s oddly weak against him), so perhaps she doesn’t need that one vote, and perhaps the lack of support contributes to her doing more progressive things in office because it makes her afraid of losing next time.

And the risk that Trump wins? Well, as I’ve pointed out, that risk was just fine for Clinton supporters who were “with her” when they put aside the math which showed that maybe running the least popular Democratic nominee in history might be a bad idea. If she can’t even beat Trump of all people because she was already unpopular and her actions in conspiring with the DNC lost her even more support, that’s on her and the DNC and all her supporters, just as much, or more, than it’ll be on folks who don’t choose to vote for her in November.

The entire case for Hillary Clinton tends to boil down to a handful of words: Woman. Trump. Nader. History. Democrat.

The only one of those words that isn’t entirely a plea to emotion or tribalism is “Trump.” And most of the folks who are tearing their hair out and screaming apocalypse when other folks say they might have to risk Trump because of silly things like “ethics” were more than willing to take the risk of Trump when they determinedly followed the DNC into the electoral pit by choosing the candidate with the demonstrably far worse chance of beating Trump. It was fine for them to risk Trump to get their preferred nominee, but now it’s just crazy to risk Trump for other reasons.

Me, I think it was crazier to bring a Clinton to a Sanders fight. And I’m tired of hearing simplistic hyper-emotional rhetoric and canned spin from the very people who put us in this situation.

My point boils down to: whether I vote for her or not, the election will turn out the way it’s going to turn out. She will win, or she won’t, and it will not be based on my vote. Another reason I won’t say how I’m voting is because by doing so I’m implying at least a bit of endorsement I can’t give, but however I vote, it ain’t coming down to me. In fact, a logical case could be made that my individual vote is of such statistical unimportance that demanding I violate my personal integrity for the sake of what is, effectively, a non-effect is absurd. That aside, again, what’s gonna happen is gonna happen, and if she loses, it will be because she was the worst choice for the fight and because she and hers screwed over a huge segment of leftward voters. If one individual chooses not to vote for her, for whatever reasons, their complicity in her loss will be infinitesimally smaller than her own, or than the DNC’s.

I don’t support Clinton, but I hope Trump loses. That’s all the endorsement she’s earned from me.

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So We’ve Got THAT Going For Us… (A Bit of Good News For Election 2016)

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In June, polling agencies stopped including Bernie Sanders in their questions. At that time, he led Donald Trump by an average of 10.4%. This was the culmination of a campaign which always led Trump (and, indeed, all of the other GOP contenders), every step of the way, usually by double digits. Sanders, one of the most popular politicians in the country, a man drawing tens of thousands of excited voters to his rallies all over America, was the only candidate on either side with net positive favorability ratings.

Hillary Clinton’s numbers were never remotely as good. She often lost to Republican candidates (even John Kasich usually beat her by 8-12%), and Trump was the only candidate she could almost always beat, though always by a very small margin. And she shared with Trump the worst favorability scores of any candidates in history.

No candidate has ever won the presidency with negative favorability scores. This year that will no longer be the case, as both major candidates are enormously unpopular. Recent polls show that a majority of each of their committed voters say they are voting for their chosen candidate primarily to vote against the other candidate.

The standard spin about Sanders’s better polling results was always that he was “untested,” and if he became the nominee then he would be tested and maybe his numbers would drop. But the spinners never seemed to see that their argument also basically acknowledged that Clinton’s numbers were terrible because she had been tested, and failed, and her numbers were therefore unlikely to get any better if she became the nominee.

We were also told that “polls don’t matter this far out.” Only polls after the convention are accurate, only polls closer to election day prone to reflect pertinent trends.

Hillary Clinton currently leads Donald Trump by a paltry 1%. Both continue to have net negative favorability, with 55% of voters disliking her and 57% disliking him.

We have only 47 days till election day.

As Sanders supporters said for months, only to be met with spin and derision from Clintonites and establishment loyalists (I saw one person say that “clinging” to Bernie’s superior poll numbers was, you guessed it, misogynistic), we’d have been better off going to fight with the nominee who at least started with superlative favorability numbers and far better numbers against all GOP possibilities than the nominee whose numbers started in, and would likely remain in, the toilet.

But at least we can say that the Democratic nominee isn’t quite as hated as Donald Trump, one of the most hated men in the world.

So we’ve got that going for us.

Trump People (And The Terrible Moment I Was One Of Them)

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Cliff Caldwell was a splintered twig of a kid, short and gangly, a twitchy scarecrow without enough stuffing. His hair was blond and dirty, but always combed down with a troubling precision. He stared at the world through glasses with big thick frames, and his clothes were ratty and didn’t fit right.

Cliff wasn’t very smart, and he moved from grade to grade largely out of an embarrassing agreement by teachers to pass him rather than actually help him in any meaningful way. Teachers even allowed him to grade his own tests because his handwriting was incomprehensible.

Outside of school, you’d sometimes see Cliff walking along the roadside, stomping swiftly along, his gaze fixed straight ahead as if he were racing obsessively toward some definite goal. He was going where he was going, and he seemed oblivious to everything around him.

I don’t know how old we were when I met Cliff, I just remember him always being around when I was a teenager. He was one of those unfortunate kids who was born broken, who can’t function properly, and who thereby becomes the target of derision and abuse from most of his peers.

The last I heard about Cliff was in 2009, when this happened:

“The holidays can cause stress for all of us. This must particularly apply to those slaving in Santa’s workshop. One case in point: 45 year old William C. Caldwell, III, surely the frontrunner for 2009 Angry Elf of the Year.

“It may come as no surprise to anyone that your local mall Santa receives excellent security training these days. And a good thing, too. On Wednesday evening, the mall Santa on duty at Southlake Mall in Morrow, Georgia came face to face with a potentially explosive situation. The 45 year old Mr. Caldwell, in full elfin attire, wanted his picture taken with Santa. When his turn came, he informed Santa that he had in fact brought some of his own tools from the workshop… specifically, a bag of dynamite.

“It probably should have raised a few eyebrows that a 45 year-old man, dressed as an elf, was standing in line with a bunch of kids waiting to speak with Santa… particularly when he’s got this look in his eyes:

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“…The quick thinking Santa immediately informed the Southlake Mall security team of the potentially dangerous elf. Authorities contacted local police who evacuated the mall, blocked off streets and cordoned off the area. Georgia Bureau of Investigation officers arrived along with the Morrow Police. They completed an exhaustive search of the mall. Three suspicious bags were discovered near Santa, but no explosives. Fear that Caldwell would actually drop an elf bomb subsided after the ‘all clear’ was given at 10 p.m., local time…”

Fortunately, this was at worst a crazy whim of Cliff’s tormented mind, at best an actual cry for help. No one was hurt. I have no idea what happened with Cliff after he was arrested, but I hope he found some badly needed help and some happiness and peace.

The reason I’m telling you about Cliff is that he was instrumental in my learning a lesson about myself that has stuck with me for years, a lesson that makes me all too able to understand some of the dark impulses that drive many of the people who support Donald Trump (and, frankly, the Republicans in general).

I’m already quite familiar with the basic unenlightened and racist mindset we see flying its Confederate flag at Trump rallies. I’m from Georgia and was raised by those people. But the lesson I learned through Cliff Caldwell is about something deeper and more intimate than that, about the very nature of self and how it can turn rotten.

As I said, Cliff was often a target of abuse from our peers, from cruel insults and mockery to outright violence. I remember sitting nearby in one class as a group of popular kids (the oft stereotyped jocks and cheerleaders, acting according to stereotype) clustered around Cliff’s desk alternately teasing him and acting like they were his friends. Everyone would laugh. Why not? It was just Cliff Caldwell.

One day, in tenth or eleventh grade, a group of bullies started pushing Cliff around in the locker room, shouting in his face, yanking at his clothes, shoving him into the wall. Laughing at him. To my lifelong shame, I joined them.

Why did I do that? I was a kindhearted kid, a gentle kid, a smart kid who had somehow never absorbed the racism or bigotry I’d been raised in. I had not only always treated Cliff with kindness, I’d stood up for him at times. And here I was,  clawing at his arm, laughing in his face.

It was because, as strong as my sense of self was, as deep my compassion, I was broken too. I was horribly abused at home, so depressed I came close to suicide several times, and of uncertain social value among my peers. I felt small. I felt threatened. And on another day, it might have been me under attack instead of Cliff, though I was at least able to fight. Cliff wasn’t.

I joined that hateful little mob because I desperately wanted to belong. I desperately wanted to be one of the popular kids. And I wanted them to know I was one of them, not a pitiful wimpy target like Cliff, so they would leave me alone.

I thought I was showing strength. But I was really showing the depths of my own despair and weakness.

Then, I really lost it and did something that degraded me far more than it degraded Cliff.

I spat on him.

I actually fucking spat on him.

And this other kid, I can’t remember his name, looked me right in the face with such a look of disgust that it burned me to the quick. “You spit on him?” he shouted, and pulled me back.

And that, my friends, was the moment of epiphany. Through that guy’s eyes, I saw what a craven piece of shit I had allowed myself to become in my desire to belong and to be on top.

I lashed out because I was weak and afraid, and I went too far. I’m pretty sure I’d have walked away ashamed of myself anyway because, as I said, I was a good kid. This was an aberration. But good kid or not, it was me attacking and spitting on a kid whose only sin was that he couldn’t function in the world, a kid fighting his own battles who didn’t need me adding to them.

That other kid, that hero, didn’t become a part of the mob, didn’t give in to those dark petty drives. And he jerked me back into the right, painfully and swiftly, and I am forever in his debt. His disgust with me taught me this necessary lesson much more powerfully than I’d have learned it on my own. I had allowed myself to be drawn into terrible dark waters, and he helped me back to shore.

Trump people swim in those dark waters. They ignore the shore. They thrive out there, making themselves feel strong by tearing others down. The poor, the lost, the weak, the Others…all targets of chthonic rage that can’t find a healthy outlet because the members of the mob don’t bother looking for one. They scream at the light because, like that hero kid’s eyes on me, it makes them see themselves. But they never learn the lesson I learned in that horrible moment.

They are more comfortable in the dark, with their own kind.

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Hillary’s Lying: The Truth About Bernie Sanders & Women’s Issues

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In the very week that she complained about Bernie Sanders’s campaign’s “tone” and its attack ads against her (existence of which her campaign subsequently was unable to prove), Hillary Clinton has reached…well, not a new low, because she’s gone just as low before, but another despicable low. She is using a carefully chosen segment of video from Rachel Maddow’s interview with him this week to portray Bernie Sanders as dismissive of women’s issues.

At a campaign stop yesterday, she said:

“Last night, Sen. Sanders agreed Donald Trump’s comments were shameful, but then he said they were a distraction from the, and I quote, ‘serious discussion about serious issues facing America.’ To me, this is a serious issue, and it is a serious discussion. We need a president who is passionate about this, seeing it as a top priority because women’s health is under assault.”

Bullshit. Clinton is shamelessly smearing Bernie again, misrepresenting a man with perfect 100% lifetime scores with Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America regarding support for women’s issues, a man who has always voted the right way to help American women and who has himself championed legislation on these issues.

Not shown in the video they’re circulating was this exchange:

MADDOW: “After, uh, the word spread that Donald Trump had made those remarks today about abortion, that a woman needs to be punished, uh, if she seeks an abortion and abortion should be banned, you said today that was shameful. What is shameful about it?”

SANDERS: “Well, I think it is — shameful is probably understating that position. First of all, to me, and I think to most Americans, women have the right to control their own bodies and they have the right to make those personal decisions themselves. But to punish a woman for having an abortion is beyond comprehension. I — I just — you know, one would say what is in Donald Trump’s mind except we’re tired of saying that? I don’t know what world this person lives in. So obviously, from my perspective, and if elected president, I will do everybody that I can to allow women to make that choice and have access to clinics all over this country so that if they choose to have an abortion, they will be able to do so. The idea of punishing a woman, that is just, you know, beyond comprehension.”

Bernie said that in the very interview Hillary is trying to cite as evidence that  he’s dismissive of the issue.

What Bernie was actually dismissive of was anything said by Donald Trump. He, correctly, pointed out that the media drools over every stupid thing Trump says and he said rather than spending so much time talking about whatever stupid things Trump said on any particular day, the media should consider covering issues that matter. All of which he said after first very clearly making the statements I quote above in unequivocal support of women’s abortion rights.

This is simply dirty politics at its worst, and Hillary Clinton should be ashamed of herself. This is as bad as the time in 2008 her campaign released an image of Barack Obama in traditional African wear including a turban (taken while he was visiting his father’s homeland in 2006, the clothes proffered to him as a gift) so that it would scare white voters into thinking Obama was a Muslim. That whole “Birther” thing, where stupid people think Obama’s a Muslim from Kenya? Clinton started that. The Republicans just took the ball and ran with it.

Beyond the objective facts of his previous record, the truth is that during this campaign Bernie has been even more supportive of  abortion rights than Hillary. After several debates in which the issue was never raised, the candidates were finally asked about it by Bret Baier at the Fox News debate in March. As Mother Jones reported, “Bernie Sanders opposes all abortion restrictions. Hillary Clinton’s stance is murkier.”

BAIER: “Can you name a single circumstance at any point in a pregnancy in which you would be okay with abortion being illegal?”

SANDERS: “It’s not a question of me being okay. Let me be very clear about it. I know not everybody here will agree with me. I happen to believe that it is wrong for the government to be telling a woman what to do with her own body. I think, I believe, and I understand there are honest people. I mean, I have a lot of friends, some supporters, some disagree. They hold a different point of view, and I respect that. But that is my view.

“I’ll tell you something which I don’t like in this debate. There are a whole lot of people out there who tell me the government is terrible, government is awful, get government off our backs. My Republican friends want to cut Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, education. But somehow on this issue, they want to tell every woman in America what she should do with her body.”

BAIER: “I guess the genesis of the question is that there are some Democrats who say after five months, with the exception of the life of the mother or the health of the baby, that perhaps that’s something to look at. You’re saying no.”

SANDERS: “I am very strongly pro-choice. That is a decision to be made by the woman, her physician and her family. That’s my view.”

So, no ifs, ands, or buts. No equivocation. Bernie Sanders supports a woman’s right to choose absolutely.

How about Hillary Clinton?

BAIER: “Do you think a child should have any legal rights or protections before it’s born? Or do you think there should not be any restrictions on any abortions at any stage in a pregnancy?”

CLINTON: “…Under Roe v. Wade, which is rooted in the Constitution, women have this right to make this highly personal decision with their family in accordance with their faith, with their doctor. It’s not much of a right if it is totally limited and constrained. So I think we have to continue to stand up for a woman’s right to make these decisions…”

BAIER: “Just to be clear, there’s no — without any exceptions?”

CLINTON: “No. I have been on record in favor of a late pregnancy regulation that would have exceptions for the life and health of the mother. I object to the recent effort in Congress to pass a law saying after 20 weeks, you know, no such exceptions, because although these are rare, Bret, they sometimes arise in the most complex, difficult medical situation…And so I think it is — under Roe v. Wade, it is appropriate to say, in these circumstances [we can have exceptions], so long as there’s an exception for the life and health of the mother.”

So, while Bernie stands against any restrictions to a woman’s right to choose, Clinton is open to late-term restrictions as long as exceptions are allowed if the woman’s health or life are endangered. That’s consistent with the stance she stated last September on MSNBC:

“I am where I have been, which is that if there’s a way to structure some kind of constitutional restriction that takes into account the life of the mother and her health, then I’m open to that. But I have yet to see the Republicans willing to actually do that, and that would be an area, where if they included health, you could see constitutional action.”

Constitutional actionConstitutional restriction. So, basically, if the Republicans are willing to allow some abortions in cases where the mother is endangered, she is willing to restrict, at least somewhat, women’s right to choose. And whether you agree with her on that or not, she certainly is in no position to claim the high ground over Sanders on this issue, and she is simply lying to the American people when she disparages him in this way.

You know how much of a warrior for women’s rights Bernie Sanders is? You know how much a warrior for all of our peoples’ rights Bernie Sanders is? Read this account about how domestic violence issues and legal entanglements on Native American reservations inspired him to fight for legislation that would help these women:

“The Native struggle also owes its marginalization to the complexity of the laws that govern it. For example, the tangled web of tribal and federal law nominally gives tribes the right to govern themselves. However, until recently, tribes had no authority to prosecute violent crimes that happen within their reservation boundaries. For years, whites could commit violent crimes on reservations and remain untouchable to tribal police.

“This legal nightmare extended even over marriage. It prevented Diane Millich, an Ute woman living on a southern Colorado reservation, from seeking any protection against her white husband, who beat her regularly. The Southern Ute Tribal Police could not arrest him and, because the couple lived on the Ute reservation, the husband resided outside the jurisdiction of the La Plata County sheriff. Millich went to the federal authorities for help and received none. In fact, Millich’s domestic nightmare would likely have continued had her husband not shown up to her office one day and shot her co-worker.

It is this absurd and dangerous state of affairs that led Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to co-sponsor the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, which expanded tribal governments’ jurisdiction over domestic violence crimes and provided funds for tribal criminal justice systems and victim services.

“It is Sen. Sanders’ recognition of the deplorable conditions on tribal reservations that has led him to become the first presidential candidate to actively involve Native Americans in his campaign. The most promising sign of that involvement arrived on February 22, when Sanders appointed Tara Houska, an attorney and member of Couchiching First Nation, as the Native American advisor to his campaign.”

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Bernie Sanders with Native elders before his rally in Seattle

Bernie Sanders cares deeply for women. He cares deeply for children. He cares so deeply for all of us that he even reaches out to those who are traditionally mostly ignored by our government and our politicians on the campaign trail. Bernie’s the first candidate to EVER actively involve Native Americans and their issues in his campaign. In addition to appointing Tara Houska as his campaign’s Native American advisor, this was reported in February:

“[Sanders advisor] Nicole Willis announced that presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders was creating a policy advisory committee on Native American issues. She said the committee’s membership will be announced soon.

“She said Sanders has already announced that he will continue President Obama’s tribal nations conference, keep a senior Native American advisor on staff at the White House, and work to restore tribal jurisdiction to improve local decision-making. He also pledged to expand the Violence Against Women Act and find additional funding for the Generation Indigenous initiative.

“Willis said that Sen. Sanders pledged to have a climate change summit within the first 100 days of his administration and that tribes would be included as full participants…”

And if you need more evidence, watch this short video from when Bernie went to speak at evangelical Liberty University and was asked about abortion. He not only addresses the extremely conservative crowd with respect, he earns their respect in turn though they disagree, and even gets some cheers. And throughout, he stands firm in his dedication to the right to choose.

Don’t let Hillary Clinton lie to you: Bernie Sanders fights for women, and he always has.

Please share this post. Let’s keep the lies from taking root.

 

When Bernie Sanders Throws His Mighty Shield…

 

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I just returned from visiting Nydia,  my amazing inamorata, in Brazil for a couple of months where, among other more psychologically healthy activities, we spent a great deal of time tracking the American election. Last week, as we sat eating airport food, drearily counting the minutes before I had to depart, I noticed the latest of many Captain America t-shirts I’d seen worn by Brazilians during the visit.

I told Nyd I was heartened to see the shirts, and the popularity of the character, who I see as a true symbol of the American ideal, not the jingoistic symbol of American imperialism seen by some. And I credited that popularity to the Marvel films, and Chris Evans’s very human, very decent, very noble portrayal of Steve Rogers. Captain America isn’t propagandistic, he’s aspirational.

“Captain America is Bernie Sanders,” I told her. “They’re both old guys from Brooklyn with superhuman stamina, dedicated to New Deal policies, still fighting to protect the weak from the powerful, unflinching in their belief in the American dream.”

Later, back home in the states, I saw author Catherynne Valente tweet, “Clinton is Black Widow (troubled past, does the right thing eventually) Sanders is Hulk, always angry, no one is Cap.” I have a lot of respect for Ms. Valente, but I disagree.

First off, Clinton ain’t much like the Black Widow. She lacks the Widow’s metaphorical agility as a campaigner, and when she takes aim at her opponent, her shots almost always miss or ricochet back and hit her. I’ll grant she has a “troubled past,” if you really want to undersell the problems with Clinton’s record, but that very record shows she actually doesn’t really do the right thing eventually unless it’s politically expedient or she has to because she’s forced to “walk back” a stance or action because of political damage. She does have a great deal of “red in her ledger,” blood on her hands, in places like Haiti and Iraq and Libya and Honduras, places that have suffered terribly because of Hillary (and Bill) Clinton’s ruthless political calculus. But the Widow owns up to her acts, and, in The Winter Soldier, even released the transcripts records to the internet, taking full responsibility for her misdeeds and working to redeem herself for them.

Hillary won’t even share the content of a few speeches she made to Wall Street, much less acknowledge the terrible human impact of her decisions over the years.

And Bernie as the Hulk? No. The Hulk’s anger is unreasoning, destructive rage. Bernie is angry, yes, as he should be, but he is not destructive. He is protective, nurturing, and constructive. And he is anything but unreasoning; just watch the video of him speaking to the students at evangelical Liberty University, where he engages them with respect and gets respect in return though their philosophies are radically opposed.

I’d say Donald Trump is the Hulk, but he lacks the Hulk’s dignity and compassion. Hell, he lacks the Hulk’s intellect.

But no, Bernie is definitely Captain America.

One of the best pieces I’ve ever read on Captain America is by Steven Attewell, and in it he addresses Steve Rogers’s political identity:

“Steve Rogers isn’t a jingoistic conservative asshole…Unlike many other patriotic characters who derive their virtues from the American heartlands, Steve Rogers grew up in the cosmopolitan multi-cultural world of New York City. He came of age in New York City at a time when the New Deal was in full swing, Fiorello LaGuardia was mayor, the American Labor Party was a major force in city politics, labor unions were on the move, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade was organizing to fight fascism in Spain in the name of the Popular Front, and a militant anti-racist movement was growing that equated segregation at home with Nazism abroad that will eventually feed into the ‘Double V’ campaign.

“Then he became a fine arts student. To be an artist in New York City in the 1930s was to be surrounded by the ‘Cultural Front.’ We’re talking the WPA Arts and Theater Projects, Diego Rivera painting socialist murals in Rockefeller Center, Orson Welles turning Julius Caesar into an anti-fascist play and running an all-black Macbeth and ‘The Cradle Will Rock,’ Paul Robeson was a major star, and so on. You couldn’t really be an artist and have escaped left-wing politics. And if a poor kid like Steve Rogers was going to college as a fine arts student, odds are very good that he was going to the City College of New York at a time when an 80% Jewish student body is organizing student trade unions, anti-fascist rallies, and the ‘New York Intellectuals’ were busily debating Trotskyism vs. Stalinism vs. Norman Thomas Socialism vs. the New Deal in the dining halls and study carrels.

“And this Steve Rogers, who’s been exposed to all of what New York City has to offer, becomes an explicit anti-fascist. In the fall of 1940, over a year before Pearl Harbor, he first volunteers to join the army to fight the Nazis specifically. This isn’t an apolitical patriotism forged out of a sense that the U.S has been attacked; rather, Steve Rogers had come to believe that Nazism posed an existential threat to the America he believed in. New Deal America.

“Captain America didn’t ‘share 40’s values’ – a reductive label assuming that everyone alive in 1940 was either a racial bigot, a misogynist, a homophobe, and an unthinking militarist, and handily ignores the people of color, women, gays, and left-wing activists who were hard at work to change American society for the better – he exemplified from the beginning the ideal that America could be. Thus Steve Rogers led the Invaders (a multispecies and multinational Allied superhero force) into Europe to fight fascism, he fought with Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos, a racially integrated fighting force from the beginning, and fought with the French Resistance rather than snidely repeating anachronistic cheese-eating surrender monkey jokes.

“Thus when Captain America is unfrozen in the 1960s, he’s not freaked out by the changes in racial progress – instead, he forms an instant partnership with one of the first black superheroes, the Falcon, who movie audiences just met for the first time, and the two of them go toe to toe against an insane imposter Captain America who’s obsessed about communists under the bed. The analogy cannot be more pointed: the real Captain America stands for racial equality and civil liberties, the Captain America who believes that the government needs to ‘smash’ reds by any means necessary is a fraud. In the 1980s, Steve Rogers runs into a childhood friend, Arnold Roth, who happens to be gay – and Steve Rogers defends his friend from bigoted violence, because Steve Rogers is a good man.

“In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, when Steve Rogers is unfrozen in the ice in 2011, he’s not here to be startled by our progressive values. He’s here to judge us for falling short of his – and that’s the entire crux of the plot of Winter Soldier. When Steve Rogers wakes up in post ‘New York’ America and sees SHIELD preparing a giant fleet of sniper drones that’s going to be used to cull the human race based on meta-data that supposedly predicts the bad things people might do in the future, he immediately calls this out as inherently incompatible with the Constitution and the ideals that Steve Rogers fought and essentially died for. He puts his faith on ordinary soldiers and rank-and-file officers to do what’s right, not the corrupt or blinded authorities personified respectively by Robert Redford and Samuel L. Jackson. And his solution to SHIELD/HYDRA’s plan for world domination through mass murder is not only to sacrifice himself to save the world (again), but also to release all of SHIELD’s secrets to the world.”

Did I say that Bernie Sanders is Captain America? Bernie Sanders is Captain America.

 

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A few years ago, writer J. Michael Straczynski put these words in Steve Rogers’s dialogue balloon:

“Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world: No, YOU move.”

That is exactly what Bernie Sanders is doing. He’s telling the Democratic establishment and the GOP and the media and the big money special interests, No, YOU move.

And the people of America are hearing him. And they’re starting to plant their feet as well.

(NOTE: A while back, I had a really interesting discussion about Captain America and his place in America’s political psyche. I posted it here.)

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Art by Danny Kelly

Dear Progressives, It’s Time To Stand Up!

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Dear progressives,

Time to put your money where your mouth is. Bernie can’t rely on Wall Street and Walmart; he needs us.

When he entered the race, only political junkies knew who he was. Even in the fall, nearly half of Democrats polled didn’t really know who he was. Now he’s tied one primary so tightly you’d need a quantum microscope to see the actual result, lost one by a handful of points, and won one by the largest numbers in history, all against a candidate who started the race as one of the most recognized politicians on the planet, a candidate with the full force of not only her own family’s political machine behind her but the Democratic establishment as well.

Nevada was a speedbump. The actual delegate numbers are what counts, and in that the race continues to be a dead heat with Clinton only a single delegate ahead. Nationally, Bernie polls either within single percentage points of her or (in the latest national polls) actually ahead of her by as much as 6% (a milestone he reached earlier than Obama did).

While the media and the establishment tell you that Bernie Sanders is “slipping” in the delegate race (as the NYT put it a few days ago) and his campaign is floundering, this is the actual situation.

They will show you delegate totals which put Hillary Clinton hundreds of delegates ahead of Sanders, and which don’t even give you the actual numbers for the pledged delegates gained through each primary in which they are almost tied with 52 and 51 respectively. Those extra delegates are superdelegates who have said that they will vote a certain way, but who will not vote until the end of July and can change their minds at any time. Those votes DO NOT COUNT until they are cast, and by that time they will amount to a very small segment of the total. Unless the race is still a tight one at that time, their impact won’t even matter.

Also, again: they can change their minds, and that is what usually happens as the race shifts. Most superdelegates will honor the popular vote out of some sense of decorum and honor and utter democracy. So if Bernie Sanders manages to outpace Hillary Clinton in the long fight — which he stands a very good chance of doing, if the voters don’t allow themselves to be disheartened and disillusioned by a media that is actively providing them inaccurate information on behalf of the establishment candidate — many of those superdelegates will actually vote for him.

At this point in 2008, Hillary Clinton also allegedly had more superdelegate votes than Barack Obama. How’d that work out for her?

As people learn more about Bernie Sanders, they start to support him. His likeability and trustworthiness scores in the polls are in the 80-90% range, while Hillary Clinton’s hover down around 10%.

Ten. Percent.

People don’t trust her, even many people who are voting for her because “I love Bernie, but she has a better chance of winning.” And do you really think a candidate who 90% of the population doesn’t think they can trust is going to do well in the general? The polls indicate no: according to the latest polls, Bernie Sanders beats all possible GOP opponents by a much safer margin than Hillary Clinton does, and she actually loses to some of them.

And you know what? Clinton won Iowa and Nevada in a couple of disastrously sloppy caucuses, and the caucus system provided her her narrow victories. But the actual popular vote in all three states so far, the actual number of voters voting one way or the other, broke 55% for Bernie to 45% for Hillary. The caucus system, anti-democratic by nature, hides the fact that more people actually voted for Sanders so far in this race.

Simply put, Bernie is our best chance to win in November by every current objective metric. Our best chance against the theocracy and rampant greed and fascism offered up by the entire Republican party.

So stay in the fight. Spread the word. Feel the freakin’ Bern. VOTE, for fuck’s sake. And contribute. I just donated again, for the fifth time.

David is facing the Wall Street Goliath, and stones for his sling are damned expensive.

Bernieguthrie

How The Democrats Can Give Us A Republican President

trump

We hear a lot of nonsense spin about not voting for Bernie Sanders because he’s “not electable.”

When you point out that in pretty much all the polls, for months, Sanders has outperformed Clinton (often by a large margin) when matched up against any specific GOP candidate, the data is handwavingly dismissed because “Hillary has low numbers because she’s been under attack for decades, but Sanders is untested.”

Other than the fact that the entire corporate power structure of the Democratic party is trying to squash him, of course.

And never mind the fact that in the past year, as both candidates have shown the people who they are and what they stand for, Sanders’s favorability numbers have soared from the low 30s to nearly 90% while Clinton’s have plummeted from the mid-70s to 39%. It can literally be said that most voters, whether they support him or not, genuinely like Bernie Sanders. The same is not true of Hillary Clinton.

All the same, while the polls consistently show Sanders beating GOP candidates by a larger margin than her, they do (usually) also show Clinton beating them. So if things continue along this track, it appears that either of them is actually electable, though Bernie would be the more certain bet.

Part of Bernie’s strength is that he has enormous blocs of voters who are incredibly passionate about his candidacy. Within the Democratic party, he has a two-to-one edge over Hillary among all voters under 45. Let me say that again: ALL DEMOCRATS UNDER 45 prefer Bernie by a two-to-one margin. And anyone who tells you that young people won’t turn out to vote hasn’t been paying attention to the tens of thousands of people who show up to see Bernie speak, or who spontaneously marched in support of him in cities coast to coast recently. The young people will be there for Bernie. He doesn’t do as well among older, longtime Democrats, though he still has a lot of support; even a third of Baby Boomer women, Hillary’s core demographic, support Bernie.

And many polls don’t even count independent voters, most of whom support Bernie, or the surprising number of crossover Republican voters who can’t stand their own candidates but see in Bernie a man of integrity they can get behind.

So much for the “electability” nonsense.

We also often see folks saying “whoever you support in the primaries, just be sure to support the winner in the general election.” And that’s a reasonable and rational request. There’s not a man or woman who has stood on a Republican debate stage who is qualified for the presidency, and some of them (the frontrunners, naturally) are simply monstrous and would be total disasters for our country and the world. Most sapient people would prefer either Clinton or Sanders to any of the snarling buffoons of the GOP, so the principle of supporting whoever ultimately winds up opposing them is obvious. And most people will do exactly that.

Except…

Except, young voters are pretty notorious for their lack of participation, and while many of those now fired up about Bernie Sanders will remain engaged even if he loses the nomination, the unfortunate likelihood is that many of them won’t. There will be anger, yes, but I don’t think that’s what will lead them to stay away on election day. I think it will be the nihilistic feeling that their vote doesn’t count after all. Bernie will have given them hope that an establishment they see as hidebound and corrupt could be successfully challenged and changed, and that hope will have been crushed. To a demographic that is already tragically, even stupidly, disengaged, that loss of hope will prove enough to keep many from bothering to cast a vote for anybody.

I’m not supporting that attitude even a little bit. But I do recognize it as a political reality. Many more people will turn out to vote if Bernie Sanders is the nominee, and they will support the Democratic candidates in other races when they do. If Hillary Clinton is the nominee, she, and all the other Dems on the ballots, will lose those disillusioned young voters.

That, in itself, may not be enough to tilt the election to Trump or whichever other malignant pustule the Republicans nominate. Hopefully not. But let me tell you what almost certainly will:

If Bernie Sanders wins the nomination by popular vote but Hillary Clinton and the Democratic establishment steal it from him, and buck the will of the majority of voters, through process maneuvers.

As someone commented today on Facebook, “If there’s a cabal of Democratic Party insiders who will choose the candidate no matter who the Democratic voters want, then I am not a Democrat. If the majority of voters go with Clinton, then I’ll vote Clinton. If more of them want Sanders and the party chooses Clinton anyway then I will do everything I can to turn the Democratic Party into an irrelevant third party.”

Today’s the day of the Iowa caucus, and it’s being reported that the Clinton camp has been training their supporters to game the caucus results wherever possible to keep Martin O’Malley’s delegates from going to Bernie Sanders. The fact that this is possible is one of many terrible things about the caucusing system (and the primary system in general, and our electoral system at large), and the fact that Clinton is falling back on it shows just how desperate, and ruthless, she is. Though she can game the caucuses, the fact that she will is troubling, especially after months of obvious unethical favoritism shown her by the Democratic National Committee and its unfortunate head, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

At the same time, while Bernie endures an avalanche of attacks from the establishment media and pundits and Democratic party insiders, much of it disingenuous and a lot of it verging on character assassination (compare Chris Cuomo’s loaded questions to Sanders to the fanboy bootlicking he gave Clinton) Nancy Pelosi herself is making a point of saying that many of the great things Bernie Sanders wants to do for the American people will not happen, not because of Republican intransigence but because her Democrats won’t work with him to make needed change. That’s right: Nancy Fucking Pelosi, the absolute mascot of the Democratic corporate establishment, basically just threatened to stamp her feet and pull a Mitch McConnell if Democratic voters don’t choose the candidate that she wants them to.

How dare the voters think they have the right to decide who wins an election?

And then, ahead, we have the existential threat to democracy that is the superdelegates. Another of the bugs in our electoral system, the superdelegates are the very essence of the establishment looking out for the establishment:

A “superdelegate” or an “unpledged delegate” is a delegate to the Democratic National Convention or Republican National Convention that is seated automatically, based on their status as current (Republican and Democratic) or former (Democratic only) party leader or elected official. (From Wikipedia)

Superdelegates are unelected, they have significant power (especially in a close election like this one), and they are the political party’s way of saying “No, no, never mind, we’ve got this” to the voters.

For months, hundreds of superdelegates have been already pledged to vote for Hillary Clinton. Why wait to see what the people want? The establishment has chosen, after all.

So, what happens if Bernie Sanders wins the primaries according to the will of the Democratic voters, but then the party sics the superdelegates on him and manages to give the nomination to Hillary Clinton? I’ll tell you:

All those Bernie Sanders voters get really, really fucking pissed.

Then, you know, voters are human, and voters are emotional, and voters don’t always do the “reasonable” thing. I think, combined with the lower turnout among younger voters, the backlash among angry voters who actually won the vote for the nomination only to have it stolen from them could well sink what is otherwise a very good chance for the next president to be a Democrat.

Bernie’s supporters will almost all vote for Hillary if she wins the nomination fair and square. But if she, and her longtime cronies and pals, insist on stealing it?

Get ready for President The Donald, or something just as bad.