Sunday, November 20, 2016

Yeah, You Did This: A Reflection on the Supporters of Hillary Clinton

Let’s be clear about something.

Nominating Hillary Clinton was never pragmatic. It was never strategic, rational, or more “grown up.”

It was the opposite of all those things.

Several months ago, the polls were clear: Bernie Sanders was vastly outperforming Clinton in match-ups against Trump.


For months and months during the primary cycle we knew this.

A real pragmatist would have looked at that situation and said, “Bernie Sanders is clearly a safer bet against Donald Trump.”

But that’s not all.

We also knew, for months, that much of Bernie’s base was being drawn out of the proverbial woodwork. I’m talking about young people—and people in general—who might normally vote Green or not vote at all. These particular voters, who supported Bernie Sanders in large numbers, were not quiet about their disdain for Hillary Clinton. They told us they wouldn’t be Trump-scared into voting squarely against their values, principles, and political interests for a candidate—a party—that does not represent them. Say what you will about the ethics of that position, you knew the Democratic Party would lose those voters with Hillary Clinton as the nominee.

A real rational mind would have looked at that situation and said, “Wow, with Bernie, the Democratic Party will have these independent voters in November. With Hillary, the party will not.”

And oh, right, Hillary Clinton has been under investigation by the FBI for almost the entirety of our election cycle.

A real “grown up,” maybe would have looked at that matter and said, “What a huge liability.”

And let’s not forget that demanding way less than what you actually want is not an effective political strategy in the US. The US conservative movement has been running the show for decades because they understand how the system works. You fight for exactly what you want, tooth-and-nail. You don’t make concessions before reaching the bargaining table. You don’t reach across the aisle.

A real strategist would have looked at our political system and said, “This isn’t a fucking Kumbaya campfire singalong. You don’t embrace half-measures like Hillary Clinton.” (And really, she wasn't even a half-measure; she was just a right-wing candidate running as a Democrat.)

The punchline: Hillary Clinton supporters paved the way for a Trump presidency, yes—but for what?

Taking a gamble during the primary cycle might have been justified with someone like Bernie Sanders. He was talking a big game about serious change, about undertaking an overhaul of our society and political system. That, understandably, might lure someone to play the odds a bit.

But Hillary? She is the establishment, the status-quo. She is corporate governance, drone wars, military coups, for-profit health care, human rights violations, and growing wealth inequality incarnate.

So, why? Why the risk?

Was it worth it?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Some Thoughts on the US Conservative Movement

The US conservative movement claims to value bravery and bravado. Yet its members live in constant irrational fear of people, cultures, and religions that they perceive as "other." The fear is so intense that it often manifests in threats or acts of violence against innocents—cowardice in, perhaps, its purest form.

The US conservative movement claims itself a bastion of logic, reason, and realism. Yet, the movement's flagship policies are anything but logical or reasonable. Murderous imperial wars; for-profit health care; corporate welfare; gutting social programs; gifting billions of dollars to foreign authoritarian regimes; denigrating and persecuting immigrants and Muslim people; etc, etc, etc. These policies—most often justified with bizarre fictions—destroy lives, deplete our resources, and put our society in increasing danger by fueling desperation and inchoate rage across the world. Logic, reason, and realism be damned.

The US conservative movement claims to support deregulated capitalist markets. Yet, its working members shriek and moan when their wages and benefits decline—sans protections or unions, per their insistence—and they are replaced by those willing to work harder for less.

The US conservative movement claims to cherish freedom and liberty. Yet, it perennially endorses and defends police-state politics, mass incarceration, and even goes so far as to attempt to justify the history of slavery in the US—one of human history's greatest affronts to freedom and liberty.

The US conservative movement claims to stand for small government and fiscal responsibility. Yet, time and time again, it backs leaders and officials who expand government while spending trillions of dollars on imperial wars and corporate welfare policies.

The US conservative movement claims to support veterans. Yet, time and time again, it backs leaders and officials who slash funding for veteran benefits and care.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Wither Reality: How Trumpism Alters the World Around Us

Reality is on the decline.

We live increasingly in a world shaped, by force, to fit the contours of depraved right-wing fantasies and delusions.

Facts, logic, reason, empiricism—these things matter very little anymore.

At every turn, we face more lies and self-contradictions from the US right-wing movement. Falsified histories, plagiarized speeches, racist sentiments, and calls for violence.

None of it matters though.

The movement simply deflects, justifies, or ignores outright, and marches forward unfazed—or perhaps even stronger.

This movement is beyond fact-checking and appeals to reason, decency, or integrity.

These people are liquid. Whatever is thrown at them, they will evade or bypass with the fluidity of moving water.

Basic accountability has proven impossible, whether we're talking about Donald Trump or his supporters.

Reality is made irrelevant as we fail to hold them accountable for their grotesque defiances of what is known to be true.

Reality is reforged—or replaced—when they influence policies and alter the material conditions of the world.

This movement is not to be taken lightly.

Whether you realize it or not, we're increasingly drifting away from the world as it actually is, and into one constructed atop hateful fictions and wild unreason.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Lives More Valuable? What Celebrity Deaths Tell Us About Our Society and Its Values

Yes, Prince's artistic and cultural contributions have been important to our society. My intent isn't to call any of that into question. I do, however, want to point out that this recurrent celebrity e-grieving process reflects the ways in which we assign catastrophically uneven amounts of value to lives in this world. The disproportionate levels of grief accurately reflect disparities in well-being found between people in this society. David Bowie gets a mansion; kids in Flint get lead-poisoned water. Prince gets a private jet; tens of thousands get to die of treatable illnesses each year in the US. Bowie and Prince get days of mass grieving upon their deaths; most people are forgotten immediately. Most never have a chance to be something. We sign off on all of this with our wallets and our unquestioning worship. With our excessive grieving and eulogizing, we bolster the sense that it's acceptable, that it's justified.
To be clear, there are certainly artists who've touched my life in profound ways. That said, I truly believe that they do not deserve catastrophically disproportionate wealth and well-being. They do not deserve private jets at the expense of other people's safety and health. They do not deserve lives deemed "more valuable." They do not deserve our grieving to the point of absurdity while most lives pass virtually unnoticed. E-grieving the deaths of the rich and superfamous is something I just can't get into or even fathom really. Every single time, it strikes me as a weird, cultish spectacle—a grotesque and seemingly-perfunctory ritual. In a world where so many lives are unjustly denigrated, damaged, and snuffed each day—where suppression of human potential is the rule, not the exception—I just don't have it in me to mourn, digitally or otherwise, for those who had it all. Excess riches. Excess freedom. Fame and mass adoration. The rare privilege of a lifetime spent on one's passions. I just can't. I guarantee something worth grieving over is happening right now, but this ain't it.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Liberals, Is This Just a Game to You?

Liberals and milquetoast progressives, i
t’s impossible to take you even the slightest bit seriously anymore.

Again and again, you rally behind and defend officials who not only won’t go up to bat for your purported values and demands—who not only will concede everything that you seek politically before even reaching the proverbial bargaining table—but will straight up defy your interests at every turn, with vigor.

The mind reels watching you run to these people’s defense—and even back them with enthusiasm—at every turn, every betrayal of your stated principles, every catastrophic trespass against humanity.


How do you do it?

Perhaps it’s all a game to you? Maybe you’re just picking officials like roulette numbers and backing them unconditionally? Beyond that, I haven’t the slightest clue about how you come crawling back, time and time again, to policymakers who fail to achieve any desirable outcomes—no, wait—who actively shit all over everything you claim to hold dear politically.

To any extent that these officials are sincere, their compromise-and-concede-everything oriented strategies do not work, and they are ineffective as leaders.

To any extent they are simply duplicitous, they’re essentially right-wing criminals on par with the likes of Nixon, Kissinger, and Bush Jr.

There is no reason to back these people anymore. They’ve either let us down, or they’re monsters. Maybe it's a mix of the two.

Either way, what the hell are you doing anymore?