[NOTE: Several people have written to say that they can’t read the names in the photo because they’re too small. Here is a link to the roll call vote of the measure this post is referencing—I recommend scrolling down to “Grouped By Vote Position—NAYs.” Alternately, you can save the photo to your photo library and that should enable you to zoom into a full-resolution version. I hope this helps!]
Above are the 50 United States Senators whose votes allowed Omar Mateen to purchase his weapons legally within the last week.
Above are the 50 United States Senators who stand between all of us and commonsense gun control legislation that would make guns more difficult to access, especially for people like Omar Mateen who, according to the Los Angeles Times, had “been interviewed by the FBI twice and had once been on a terrorist watch list.”
Above are the 50 United States Senators that the NRA has given$27,205,245 to during the course of their respective political careers.
Above are the 50 United Senators who may as well have each individually pulled a trigger on one of the 50 victims of the Orlando massacre.
I know the exact moment I started to find Donald Trump more charming than revolting—sort of like a honey badger: adorable as fuck but not to be trusted. It was during the interview with Chris Matthews in which he said that women who have abortions should be punished. It was a despicable sentiment to be sure, but bear with me a second and take a closer look at what happened.
I recommend watching the entire clip (which I linked to above), but if you don’t have 1:40 to spare all you need to know before watching the short one below is that Chris Matthews has been pressing Trump on the issue. Trump tries to dodge for like about a second, but then this happens:
That is my favorite thing about Donald Trump. That moment or two when he just does the math and spits out the answer with perfect self-assurance. It’s a thing of beauty. He is so convinced of his own brilliance that he can’t see what could go wrong with simply running the logical calculation in his head and spitting out the answer. And he runs the equation like a perfect machine:
Abortion is bad ———> abortion should be illegal ———> women who have abortions would then be criminals ———> criminals must be punished ———> women should be punished for abortion
He is 100% straightforward about what he thinks he is supposed to believe as a Republican candidate for President of the United States. I’m not saying he believes them—I’m saying he casually adopted the basic talking points and then, when pressed, started following them to their logical end points without realizing or caring that those end points are fucking insane.
Donald Trump represents everything that is bad in humankind and he should never be President of the United States or president of anything. Obviously. I know that. But if I’m being honest, I have to admit that I can’t bring myself to loathe him with the sort of visceral anger that I felt toward, say, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz or Carly Fiorina.
Don’t get me wrong…I stand against everything he stands for and I will do everything I can to aid the cause of defeating him in November, but I just don’t feel the hate deep down in my cockles—and it’s a relief to have figured out why that is.
Much has been said about his psychological and emotional development that I won’t rehash here, except to say that his child-like nature is part of what prevents me from truly hating the shit out of him. He really is like a big orange baby man. He just happens to be a big orange baby man who has too much power by virtue of his wealth and is dangerously close to getting even more power by virtue of the inexhaustible supply of ignorance among the American electorate.
It happened again on Sunday when John Dickerson asked whether Trump’s complaints about the Mexican heritage of Judge Alfonso Curiel could be reasonably applied to people of other backgrounds:
I mean, look…you have to respect this more than the kind of artful hackery employed by the vast majority of Republican politicians and pundits. If pathetic phony Paul Ryan, for example, had employed this sort of simple, straightforward logic in deciding whether or not to endorse Trump, he might not have had to call Trump a bad boy the very next day and a textbook racist shortly thereafter.
Donald Trump is giving us an opportunity to hold a more honest election than we’ve had in decades, wherein the rotting, maggot-infested insides of the Republican Party are finally splayed out in all their glory for everyone to see and consider and vote accordingly. This is infinitely better than the normal charade, where some allegedly respectable old white guy pretends not to be the greedy, racist, chauvinistic asshole his policy positions suggest that he is. This year we’ve got a the real deal—a greedy, racist, chauvinistic, old white asshole who is loud and proud about who he is.
The moment I knew that Paul Ryan was a sad fucking loser was back in 2012, when he had just been thrust into the national spotlight as Mitt Romney’s pick for Vice-President and we were treated to endless fawning accolades portraying him as the anti-Sarah Palin.
He’s serious! He’s studious! He’s wonky!
We were told that Paul Ryan was something of a philosopher. He used to give out copies of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged to his staff for Christmas. He once said this in a speech to the Atlas Society:
[T]he reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand. And the fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is what a dilettante looks like. Let me tell you the origin story of this silly little limp penis lookalike: Paul Ryan was your typical Young Republican douchebag when some typical older Republican douchebag told him to read Ayn Rand’s very long and very shitty novel because it would philosophically justify everything Republicans of all ages were fighting for. Paul Ryan read that novel and had an almost religious experience because he was stupid enough to think it actually said something meaningful, which it does not.
He didn’t think critically about this so-called philosophy called Objectivism or about whether Rand’s novels actually made a compelling case for that “philosophy.” He just picked up some key smart-sounding words and phrases that he could apply to just about any political situation and come off looking like the genius in a room full of chowderheads who can barely shit their pants without fucking it up.
But then, of course, he had to distance himself from Rand in 2012 because Ayn Rand was an atheist and that just wouldn’t do as a nominee for the Republican Party. So he threw her under the bus:
I reject her philosophy. It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas.
But you see, Ayn Rand’s atheism was the only thing that justified her being such a stone-cold fucking cunt from the shit-crusted taint of the seventh circle of hell. It was Ayn Rand’s atheism that allowed her to hold the kind of political views that Ryan so admired. (To be clear, I am an atheist and I do not hold those views—nor do even a tiny fraction of a single percent of the atheists I know. But only a person who believes nothing could prescribe the sorts of policies advocated by Rand and the Republicans who love her.)
Ryan had apparently never been asked to reconcile his professed Christianity with the other big book he held so dear—and when confronted with the contradiction, he just punted. He didn’t soul search or admit error or even let go of any small piece of either belief system. Instead, he just rejected Ayn Rand the person and continued to pursue policies that would make her proud while still professing to be a Christian.
And so it is no surprise that Paul Ryan put his little cock and balls in a jar and handed them to Donald Trump today while expecting us to still think of him as a man. (Don’t worry Paul, we’ll let you use whichever restroom you want.) He was never going to feel compelled to square past statements on Trump with his endorsement because he’s never seen a need to square any of his mind-bogglingly contradictory beliefs with each other. Also, because they can’t be squared.
Paul Ryan is not serious. Paul Ryan is not intelligent. Paul Ryan is not virtuous—he just thinks he’s those things, which is what makes the whole thing extra pitiful.
Paul Ryan is now the political equivalent of Ted Haggard. He’ll continue to pretend (and maybe even believe) that he’s straight smart and drug-free principled, but after getting caught doing crystal meth with a gay prostitute endorsing Donald Trump, no one will ever believe him again.
I wasted entirely too much time yesterday indulging my need to argue with liberal Clinton haters. These things can quickly become a death spiral for me, so now I need to do this thing where I attempt to wash my hands of it on the totally-false-but-earnestly-made promise that this will be my last word on the matter ever.
First, let me say this: I know that the Bernie-or-Bust movement is probably not something I should be so worked up about. I know that they’re getting more coverage than is warranted because they’re loud and obnoxious and it’s good for ratings. I know that by arguing with them I am only perpetuating a cycle of horsefuckery that doesn’t necessarily help matters.
Having said that, I am incapable of shutting my mouth when people are being stupid fucking douchemonkeys and behaving in a way that has even the remotest potential to lead to very real and very negative consequences for other human beings and I can’t really apologize for that tendency—not in the gun debate, not in the LGBTQ rights debate, not in any other debate. I just can’t. Sorry/notsorry.
In all of these arguments I’ve been having, the favorite thing people like to whip out and slap me with is the assertion that I am—brace yourselves—a Hillary supporter. The super weird implication being that it’s useless to debate the Hillary vs. Bernie issue with someone who stands on one side of that debate. (This was incredibly perplexing until someone explicitly accused me of being paid by her campaign to shill for her, at which point I realized that’s what a lot of these people think—that no one could possibly support Hillary unless they were taking money from, like, Wal-mart or Monsanto or whatever.)
Supporting Hillary is not something I should feel compelled to defend myself against, but here’s the thing—and I’ve said this before but I really can’t stress it enough—I’m not really a Hillary supporter, at least not in the only way their willfully feeble minds can conceptualize it—i.e. not in the way they are BERNIE SUPPORTERS. (Let me be clear that from here on out I am talking about Bernie-or-Bust people only.)
I’m not sure I know how to articulate this, but I’m going to try…
I am congenitally (maybe pathologically?) averse to joining clubs, by which I mean that I basically have zero allegiance to any entity other than my family, friends and ideals. I don’t have any clothing or paraphernalia bearing the logo of either of the colleges I’ve attended; there’s not a sports team on earth that I give a solitary shit about; I’ve lived in five different metropolitan areas and I don’t feel anything resembling a real hometown-style affinity toward any of them, including my hometown; I am not religious.
And so it makes sense that I don’t get particularly lathered up about particular politicians either. There are no saviors in politics; there’s nothing magical about any one politician. Sure, I was pretty excited about Barack Obama in 2008 (and he has made me proud for eight years), but I would just as easily have gotten behind Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton or Dennis Kucinich. There was never a moment at which it was Barack-or-Bust for me.
As I’ve written before, I was on the Bernie train for about six months. (As of today, it is still true that I have given more money to Bernie Sanders than to Hillary Clinton in this primary.) I got off that train because I did not like the darkening tone of the campaign and the inclination of Sanders’ most ardent supporters to cripple the likely nominee by piggybacking off the attacks of the right wing nutjob machine.
Still, if Bernie Sanders’ had won the Democratic nomination, I would not have been even remotely disappointed. I know there are people who would have been, people who would have lost some sleep, people who would have maybe been nasty about it even, but they would have been wrong and I would not have been one of those people. I would have instantly and enthusiastically thrown my support behind him.
I have absolutely no allegiance to Hillary Clinton the person. None. Zero.
My allegiance is to a basic set of ideals about the direction we should be headed in—and I’ve never been anything less than annoyingly full-throated about what those ideals are. For what it’s worth, here’s where I fall on the Political Compass:
I’ve been ranting and raving about wealth inequality, universal healthcare, LGBTQ rights, civil rights, separation of church and state, abortion rights, and gun control for about 20 years now—and still I don’t have the nerve to think that my opinion or my vote is worth a penny more than someone who just got involved a few months ago when they first went to a Bernie Sanders rally, saw a bird land on a podium, and thought they’d been baptized.
I do, however, think it’s pretty fucking audacious to wade into a debate with me only to dismiss me as a sellout or lackey or political fanboy—or to merely label me a Hillary supporter and drop the mic (and then pick it back up and yell some more incoherent, unsubstantiated shit about fraud and treason).
I am way more than that just a Hillary supporter. But you, BERNIE SUPPORTER, you are merely a fanatic. You can’t imagine what it’s like to think strategically and pragmatically about an election because you are essentially at a tent revival, under the sway of a single charismatic figure who says he can heal you and everyone who comes to him. And those who don’t come to him? Well, they can go straight to the fiery pits of hell, those stupid corporate motherfuckers; they deserve whatever’s coming to them and we can all laugh in their faces when they get it because we are the righteous, we are the anointed ones, we have the ultimate source of knowledge and we will take all that shit and go home and leave them to burn in their devotion to the false ones even if it means we must burn with them bwahahahahahahaha!! Burn, bitch, buuuuuurrrrrnnnnn!!! Beeeeerrrrrrrrn!!!!!
Cool, bro. Meanwhile the rest of us will be over here doing the real work of getting shit done one step at a time, one election at a time, with or without you—because fanatics come and go and can’t be counted on for more than brief paroxysms of excitement and effort after which they retreat to whatever useless shit they were doing before they found a shiny object that made them feel powerful for a hot second.
We are not devoted to a particular person at a particular time. We are devoted to the advancement of ideas about what it means to be a civilized society. We know that this is a long-term proposition that requires perseverance and persistence. We know that we can’t have it all today. Or tomorrow. We know that if we give up after any perceived or real loss or setback we will only be damaging the very things we claim to be fighting for.
If Trump wins this election, I know you’ll probably take a full minute and a half break from your video games to masturbate in the self-satisfied glory of the delusional belief that you were right, but I want you to know that I will never, not for one second, regret having told you and your walking messiah complex of a candidate to fuck right off to Fucktown.
Imagine for a moment what you’d be saying right now if the media had not relentlessly covered the spectacle of a frontrunner for the Republican nomination for President of the United States saying batshit crazy things, picking up endorsements from batshit crazy people, and otherwise demonstrating his manifest unfitness for the job with every breath, shrug, insult, dodged question and tweet.
You’d be saying “WHY WASN’T ANYONE PAYING ATTENTION TO THIS BATSHIT CRAZINESS BEFORE IT WAS TOO LATE?!” You’d be blaming the media, alleging dereliction of duty, wondering how they let a dangerous crypto-fascist go uncovered when all it would have taken to crush him would have been to turn a camera and a microphone on him and let him speak. “Surely that would have been his undoing with Republican primary voters!” you’d chastise.
You might, of course, argue that he would never have been the frontrunner if not for the media coverage, but a) we can’t know what would have happened/not happened if the media had somehow conspired and colluded to ignore a Republican presidential candidate calling Mexican rapists, calling for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., mocking the capture of a former PoW/sitting Senator, etc. and b) well, this just doesn’t pass the smell test. Trump jumped out to an early lead within six weeks of having launched his campaign:
Once Trump was the clear leader of the pack, it was incumbent upon the media to cover him as such—and, frankly, even more so with every ludicrous, hateful, ignorant, and/or bigoted bit of bile he uttered. The very same thought process that led to the repeated humiliation of a thousand pundits—i.e. “Surely this statement will end his campaign,” “Clearly he will suffer from his performance in that debate”—would lead any rational person to conclude that they should let the camera roll every minute of every day in the interest of allowing the public to see what a fucking lunatic he is.
It’s much, much simpler than any attempt to blame the media: as Jonathan Chait pointed out yesterday, “The Republican Party turns out to be filled with idiots.” The voters chose this man despite having been given ample opportunity to watch and listen to his deranged, reality-TV circus act…by the media.
The Republican electorate is full of greedy, racist, ignorant fucking slobs who think Trump is awesome and who voted for him in overwhelming numbers in primaries and caucuses all over this great nation in spite of having been presented, by the media, with a mountain of evidence suggesting that he might very well be the worst possible man for the job.
And let’s not forget: Republican politicians, officials, pundits and candidates stayed basically silent while Trump rocketed to the top and stayed there. The same media people would now like to blame for his rise would have been more than happy, I am quite sure, to have given unlimited airtime to Republican statesmen and women who wanted to denounce Trump. And they did give them this airtime when a handful of cowards finally started limping out of the woodwork at the 11th hour to meekly proclaim that they maybe probably wouldn’t like to see Trump become President of the United States but must beat Hillary and so help us please what have we done #neverHillary #neverTrump help us god forgive us. Help.
So don’t blame the media, lazy idiots. It’s not that I think they need to be defended or that they covered Trump for high-minded reasons, it’s just that scapegoating them is the worst kind of moral and intellectual laziness at this point. Yes, wall-to-wall coverage of Trump is what the worst imaginable media landscape would look like, but it’s also what the best imaginable media landscape would look like.
[This post originally appeared one week ago, but bears re-sharing tonight. My apologies if you’ve been dragged here for a second time.]
Wherever you fall on the left-hand side of the aisle, whether you’re happy about Hillary or blue over Bernie, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind everyone of something that we might have lost sight of as we allowed intramural squabbling to temporarily distract us from the prize. It is something glorious that should fill us with the purest form of joy and hope for the future. It is better than puppies and rainbows and yes, it is even better than baby sloths. Here it is:
The Republican Party is collapsing like a prolapsed asshole into a noxious cesspool of its own diseased fecal matter.
You guys…Donald Trump is almost certainly going to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States. I know a contested convention would have been fun times and all, but at the end of the day there is simply nothing more apocalyptically humiliating than finding that you spent the last fifty years building a party whose voters went to primaries and caucuses all over the nation in 2016 and chose Donald J. Trump as their nominee.
Donald Trump has emerged, apparently to everyone’s immense surprise, from a decades-long ratcheting up of anti-intellectualism in America—instigated and promulgated almost entirely through the conduit of talk radio and Fox “News” and then steeped in an increasingly segmented social media environment where this antipathy has been amplified and weaponized. The congenitally stupid were expertly exploited while those who should have known better were either successfully dumbed down or asked to turn a blind eye in the name of economic gain.
It all began the moment it became clear that, politically speaking, increasing knowledge was inextricably linked with increasing tolerance, increasing civility, and (most horrifyingly) increasing equality. It is tempting and intuitive to conclude that some unseen cadre of evil, cigar smoking, men that look and sound like Max von Sydow decided that something had to be done to fight this death march toward a faggoty multicultural nightmare, but that is not what happened. What happened is that craven political opportunists subconsciously saw a market to be exploited: the fatally insecure psyche of the straight, aging white man.
No greater market has ever been drilled, tapped, and milked with such efficiency, save perhaps for the American slave trade two hundred years earlier. The angry, old white man’s prostate was expertly finessed by the long, indignation-lubricated finger of right-wing demagoguery until it ejaculated an ocean of selfishness, bigotry, jingoism, and all other manner of bile that inseminated an open wound in the Republican party which subsequently gave birth to the dumpster baby that is Donald J. Trump.
While establishment Republicans are melodramatically scratching their heads and either pretending to be serious or genuinely self-deluded enough to actually be serious when they ask “How did this happen?!” I find myself slack jawed at just how fucking predictable this all was. It’s almost banal. Of course Donald Trump is who Republican voters have chosen. The only surprise is that it took this long for him to (almost) lock it up.
And so here we are. We have been presented with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to hit the reset button. All we have to do is seize this moment and start to paint the map blue again. Anyone who wants to someday elect someone in the mold of Bernie Sanders must play an active role in starting to reverse the following trends:
This is it, folks. We will not see another moment like this in our lifetimes. The GOP chickens have come home to shit all over the dining room table during Sunday dinner. I am no longer concerned that Donald Trump will win. He won’t. But it would be nearly as tragic if we failed to take full advantage of this opportunity to…well, to make America great again.
It is probably not terribly productive or vital to make further arguments against Bernie Sanders’ candidacy now that he appears to have started looking for the exit, but I’ve just had a revelation about the roots of my frustration with him that feels important enough to get off my chest.
For some time now, I’ve thought of my professed support for Hillary Clinton as a necessary, pragmatic abdication of my deeply progressive tendencies. I haven’t exactly been embarrassed by my choice, but I have felt a constant, nagging tension between the camp it feels like I’m supposed to be in and the camp I’ve decided to be in. And yet I’ve never considered turning back, which is weird because I’m generally very comfortable changing course if I think it’s the right thing to do. I did it once already this election season.
So it stands to reason that there would be something more than just simple bet hedging lurking beneath the surface—I just wasn’t able to put my finger on what it was until today. It came to me after I saw and spent some time thinking about this meme:
It’s true, according to the Washington Post. The Sanders fundraising model essentially starves down ballot Democrats (including many progressives) of the funds they need to get elected or re-elected. (Yes, as the Washington post points out, this is what Obama did with Organizing for America, but that’s sort of the point: how exactly will Sanders fulfill the implicit promise that he’ll get more done than Obama if he’s working from the very model that led to the Republican obstructionism that prevented Obama from getting more done?)
Sanders pretty clearly doesn’t give much of a shit about Democrats up, down or across the ballot. (Just ask John Fetterman.) After all, they’re mostly a bunch of establishment hacks, right? Sure, he can assume that most Democrats would work with him on his signature issues, but first they’d have to get elected and even then they wouldn’t have much power if they remained in the minority or lacked a filibuster-proof majority.
So what I discovered today is that when it gets right down to it, Bernie Sanders irks me not in spite of my deep progressivism but rather because of it. His campaign’s raison d’être rests on the implication that this one election for this one office will solve the very problems that many of us have been ranting and raving about and working to address for years. He writes off geographic and demographic constituencies that have been the backbone and the greatest beneficiaries of Democratic Party policies. He pretends that voter suppression and low-voter turnout among poor people are somehow new issues that haven’t bedeviled liberal candidates for decades. He suggests, in word and in action, that he will realize the progressive vision for America by fiat; just keep those $27 donations rolling in.
In other words, Bernie Sanders trivializes the blood, sweat and tears that have been involved in making slow but crucial progress over time. If only we’d had the balls and the brains to elect someone like him before instead of wasting our time on a bunch of Democratic whores, everything would be just great.
Well, that’s all well and good except that there aren’t many like him because the vast majority of the American electorate is still, at best, just left of center and there aren’t too many places where a Democratic Socialist can get elected [yet]; In fact, there’s quite a few places where they’d get soundly trounced. He’s talking as though he has convinced the nation that far left-wing policies are the way to go when, in fact, he hasn’t even convinced a majority of Democrats.
So in the meantime, those of us who were not prepared to fall on our swords insisting on ideological purity on one or two issues have been working our asses off toward a generally bluer nation, knowing that incremental change for the better is vastly preferable to no change or change in the wrong direction.
You can imagine, then, the frustration someone like me might feel when a candidate—one who ostensibly shares my loftiest ideals, no less—sees fit to rather nonchalantly dismiss the time, effort and money I have devoted over the years as insufficient, if not detrimental to the cause of progress.
Make no mistake, this is what Bernie Sanders has done. This largely explains why so many of his superfans are young and/or newly interested in politics—they have no track record of activism or even peripheral attention to politics and thus can’t be offended by the premise of his campaign. They have the blissfully ignorant luxury of being able to judge the rest of us for not joining them on their newly discovered moral high ground.
And so today I’ve crossed over from merely preferring Hillary to actively disliking Bernie Sanders and the movement he represents. In many ways, he is our Trump, exploiting skin-deep, knee-jerk impulses that have no place in the serious project of making real progress.
Fortunately, there is one way to prove me wrong and I hope Bernie’s most ardent supporters will take every opportunity to make me to eat crow. First of all, you have to vote. Vote for Jill Stein if you want, but vote. Failing to vote would only confirm that you are the immature dilettante some of us suspect you of being. Then you have to show up from here on out, regardless of what happens to Bernie. Get involved in other campaigns, vote in every marginally significant little local election, work to change whatever parts of the process you think holds true progressives back, run for office.
Unseat the establishment, which is to say become the new establishment. The establishment exists because someone has to run shit while you’re not paying attention. Pay attention and the next thing you know, you’ll have an establishment candidate of your own.
If the Sanders campaign follows through with a strategy even remotely resembling the one laid out by Jeff Weaver on MSNBC tonight, they will be doing so on the coattails of Donald J. Trump. (Before I go on, let me hopefully predict that they won’t do that—that they will, in fact, begin to wind down the campaign tomorrow.)
The openly stated premise of Ted Cruz and John Kasich’s continued presence in the race is that Donald Trump is so uniquely terrible, so patently inconceivable as a general election candidate for the presidency, so cataclysmically embarrassing as the nominee of the Republican Party, that all bets are off—i.e. he must be stopped at any cost. Cruz can only win by “stealing” the nomination at an open convention; Kasich has stayed in despite having a 0% chance of being even the second-place finisher in the delegate count.
Sanders’ campaign is attempting to capitalize not so much on any real schism in the Democratic party (there isn’t one) as on this chaos. They are benefitting from a Trump-induced sense that primaries are all-out warfare where the victor is simply the last man standing, regardless of how he got there.
This of course, is utterly contrary to the arguments Sanders and his supporters were making just weeks ago when they couldn’t stop bitching and whining about superdelegates. Hillary Clinton, of course, has never even needed superdelegates to secure the nomination. Her pledged delegate lead makes them as irrelevant as Sanders wanted them to be.
Oh but wait now he wants them to tip the election to him.
The only way to make that argument is to not-so-subtly insinuate that Hillary Clinton is every bit as horrifying a prospective POTUS as Donald Trump. And that’s where I stop listening because only a very unserious and/or ideologically deranged person would suggest such a thing. This is when you go from being a charmingly idiosyncratic old crank with important things to say to being a delusional, Naderish fishwife with the potential to actively hurt the very people you purport to be fighting for.
This is when a sense of shame should act as the antidote that turns the zombified BernBros back into rational human beings.
I’m not going to waste time making the case that Hillary Clinton is not the Democrats’ Donald Trump. If you can’t see that without squinting hard, you’re well beyond my ability to persuade. If you can see it, now’s the time to get some perspective and start working to prevent the unthinkable.
Continue to support Bernie, by all means. Continue to talk about issues that need to be talked about. But do it with the full knowledge that the race is over and Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for president and that any elbow grease you put into tearing her down will be an in-kind donation to the Trump campaign.
[I’m catching my breath now that my 15 minutes are up. As you may have noticed, the whole thing caught me a little off-guard. I’ll definitely have more to say in the coming weeks about issues directly related to the petition, but for now I need to just get back to writing whatever the hell I want on any given day. To that end, here is my first post-petition post.]
First, a little background…
Despite what has been written about me in recent days, I have striven, not always successfully, to remain more-or-less neutral in the matter of Hillary vs. Bernie. I donated $25/month to Sanders last July thru December out of a sincere fondness for the direction in which he seemed to be nudging the Democratic Party.
As 2016 rolled around, I became concerned about the tone emanating from some segments of the Bernie fan club—concerned enough that I was uncomfortable being associated with it. His odds of securing the nomination were roughly as remote then as they are today and it felt important to support the likely nominee. Fortunately, this involved no real compromise on my part.
Even then I harbored no particular ambivalence toward Bernie Sanders himself. I like what he stands for. I like the political-demographic shift he appears to be a harbinger of. I would like to live in a country that might someday elect a candidate like Bernie Sanders. I just don’t think we’re there yet, in part because of voters whose attitude toward our sort of-Democratic process amounts to “give me what I want or I’m taking my toys and going home.”
Politics is incremental and if you don’t or won’t understand that you’re probably part of the problems you’re railing against.
The chief complaint lodged by Sanders’ most annoying supporters against Hillary Clinton is one that I am superficially sympathetic to, namely that she gets lots of cash from lots of corporate backers. Believe me, I get it. I am no great fan of our capitalist overlords and the stench of their grimy money is as foul to me as that of Chris Christie’s underboob sweat. Here’s the problem: I live in the real world and do not have the luxury of indulging in dilettantish ideological purity just because I saw a shiny thing and maybe can get laid at a rally if I tattoo “Feel the Bern” on my dick.
Pragmatism aside, what we’re really talking about when we talk about political donations is, first and foremost, the political speech being exercised by donors. Sure, we can talk about the deliverables they expect to receive in return from the beneficiaries of those donations, but that is ultimately a secondary issue that cannot be turned into an attack without impugning unknowable motives (beyond the motivation to win an election—an essential motive for all would-be officeholders). I don’t see how we fix the problem by focusing on candidates who are locked in a financial arms race wherein unilateral disarmament would spell electoral doom.
But here’s the crucial bit of nuance I really wanted to get at: without being naive about it, I don’t think it’s a stretch to presume that the majority of corporate donors have ROI expectations that diverge drastically depending upon which party they donate to. Overgeneralizing and idealizing only slightly, I would argue that corporate givers likely donate to Republicans specifically to get them elected, knowing they’ll have a firm ally, while they donate to Democrats to soften the blow and ensure they have a seat at the table.
In other words, if Wall Street could write a check and make it so, Republicans would likely hold every elected office in the land. Recognizing that they can’t quite accomplish this, the money men endeavor to cultivate positive working relationships with Democrats.
Yes, even a generous reading of this analysis implies that Democrats have an incentive to take their foot off the gas on any number of economic issues, but if given the choice between a) taking too long to get somewhere I want to be, b) not getting there at all, or c) driving in reverse, i’ll take eventually getting there every time.
Painting Clinton as just another puppet of the oligarchs ignores this distinction. It also pretends that Sanders would not have had corporate backers if he had wanted/accepted them. And that is the real problem. Only regulating the supply will curb this particular behavior.