It’s All About Tone: A Conversation With A Hillary Clinton Voter

LIAR

“Bernie and his supporters are sexists. They’re misogynists! Did you see the way he interrupted her that time she was interrupting him? Hateful! And he mostly gets white voters because he’s a racist, and that one time, when he wasn’t even there, apparently one of his followers shouted ‘English only!’ at a Hispanic icon and even though there was a video showing it didn’t really happen it totally did! So obviously he and his followers hate Latinos. And even though there’s all that documentary evidence and eyewitness accounts of Bernie’s personal civil rights activism, that don’t count because he’s clearly racist against black people, like that woman he was chained to when he was arrested fighting for her rights. And he supported the Minute Men vigilantes who hunt Mexicans along the border, because that totally makes sense! He’s an egotist and just running for his own aggrandizement and doesn’t give a damn about anybody but himself. And ALL his followers are just loutish twenty-year-old frat boy Bernie Bros and every single one of them is an abusive asshole online. Oh, okay, yeah, there are a few women, but they’re just in it for the boys, and they’re too naive to understand what they’re doing. He’s not even a Democrat and his supporters are traitors to the party. And he’s a communist! And he loves guns and is totally in the pocket of the NRA! And he doesn’t understand how government works and he’s never accomplished anything in all his years in public service! And the fact that he hasn’t had to evolve over the years from having stances that are despicable or did great damage to the country and the world doesn’t mean he’s almost always been on the right side because of his character, it means he’s inflexible and resistant to change! He’s an unrealistic idealogue and he’s as bad as Trump! And it’s just awful the way he and his supporters tear poor Hillary down, they shouldn’t be so negative! We need to think about November!”

babybernie

When Bernie Sanders Throws His Mighty Shield…

 

CapnBernie3

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!

bernon

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

I’m Not Your Dummy — And Neither Is Joss Whedon (Part 2 of 2) (UPDATED 10/2017)

Art by Cliff Chiang

[Read Part 1, “I’m Not Your Dummy — Why No One Should Have To Be “The Right Kind of Ally,” here.]

Joss Whedon is a feminist.

He claims the term as a central pillar of his identity. He exerts a great deal of his creative energy on crafting narratives which focus on complex, strong female characters, and behind the scenes he goes out of his way to create opportunities for female creatives. He is a persistent activist in feminist causes like Equality Now, and has been an outspoken supporter of feminist targets of misogynistic harassment like (the awesome) Anita Sarkeesian.

But Joss is not the “right kind of ally.”

Last week, after Avengers: Age of Ultron opened (the film from my dream in part 1), there was a vicious shitstorm of online invective against him because of his treatment of the Black Widow in the film. He also left Twitter, without saying why, and many assumed it was because of the abuse. Or, as one blogger derisively put it, “Feminist and female writers take issue with black widow depiction. A lot of them do. Joss gets saddy pants and leaves Twitter.”

That same blogger was full of scorn for Joss and admiration for “what these intelligent and brilliant women wrote about their concerns with avengers 2…” And what sort of intelligent, brilliant commentary did we see?

Continue reading

I’m Not Your Dummy — Why No One Should Have To Be “The Right Kind of Ally” (Part 1 of 2)

So I woke up one morning way too fucking early, with a dream dying in my head…

I’m at a huge theater with my girlfriend and my son, waiting to see the first showing of the new Avengers movie, and a nasty racial brawl is about to break out over a stupid misunderstanding. Something annoying was said, someone replied with annoyance, and several others took that as deliberate insult. A spark of irritation falls toward a volatile pool of abiding resentment. Huge violence is about to happen.

I just want to watch the movie, but am also naturally concerned about the fact that we’re smack in the middle of a crowd about to run riot. So I foolishly interject, redirecting the ringleader’s anger my way, focusing the conflict down to me and him rather than everybody. He rushes me and I back away, drawing him from the group. I don’t fight him, I don’t submit to his violence, I try to placate him, to calm him, to help him see that I was just trying to get his attention and there’s no reason to fight. This being a dream, it works. We laugh awkwardly and return to our seats. Everybody gets to see the movie, nobody’s going to bleed or die.

And I awoke. It was still dark, and I’d gotten maybe four or five hours sleep, but I was wide awake. I found myself ruminating about a recent blog post I wrote, and about the reaction it got (and didn’t get). Only after I gave in to the inevitable and got up, while I steeped some hot tea, did I make the connection between that rumination and the dream which preceded it. Continue reading