Guest contributors run the gamut, but they all pretty much rock.
*Originally published on 11/14/16*
As an independent California voter currently residing in one of the least politically competitive states in America, I will readily admit that I’ve long had a jaded view of the 2016 Presidential election. The primaries were largely decided before the most populous state could even vote in them, and in the general election, the same state was essentially in the Democratic Party’s electoral tally before a single candidate had even announced an intention to run. The results (while still incoming as of this date) bear witness to that perspective.
Lost amongst the fallout of the strangest Presidential election in modern United States history, some of us may have overlooked decisions simultaneously being made closer to home. With all that in mind, it’s only now that I myself have had a chance to really reflect upon the outcome of the California statewide initiative situation, where a grand total of 17 propositions were on the ballot.
Propositions 63 & 64 were two of them, and it is these two in combination that really stand out as a stunning example of political doublethink. Both of these initiatives were supported and spearheaded by the current California Lieutenant (and doubtlessly future) Governor, Gavin Newsom. Many of you living elsewhere may remember him from his vehement opposition back in 2008 to Proposition 8 as the mayor of San Francisco, an ill-fated voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. Clearly, his left-wing credentials are without question.
On the morning after the election, Newsom took to Facebook to proudly proclaim the passage of his two pet propositions. As you can see from Newsom's post about the matter, he's quite pleased with the fact that a convincing majority of California voters decided to enact both pieces of legislation. With Proposition 63, he's obviously demanding that all California gun owners submit to a regulatory scheme that is entirely regressive in design, includes confiscation of previously purchased, previously grandfathered property, and that acts as yet another poll tax upon the exercise of the 2nd Amendment. However, the fact that Newsom is simultaneously encouraging all California citizens to defy Federal drug law and law enforcement through Proposition 64’s state level legalization of recreational use cannabis is where the true disconnect lies.
It appears that Newsom is savvy enough to recognize that millions of Americans have historically defied and will continue to ignore Federal and state drug law, yet is seemingly oblivious to the reality that millions more will act in parallel in regards to firearm related prohibition. As evidence to precedent, Connecticut and New Yorkboth passed extensive gun control regulations in the aftermath of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, and subsequently experienced a tremendous amount of passive civil disobedience in response to the edicts of those respective legislatures. Perhaps Mr. Newsom is in for a rude awakening with how few Californians completely comply with the latter law. I fully expect it to occur.
We live in interesting times all the same, as millions of Americans appear committed to a continued nullification of the regulations imposed upon their individual freedom of choice, whether it be by elected officials, or the ill-informed voting public.
*Originally published on 11/13/16*
Brad Slager (@MartiniShark)
As a reluctant but stalwart member of the Never Trump faction, I went into the November 8 Presidential election with all the passion of a narcoleptic Ambien abuser. My election night plans involved a select bourbon, and I queued up a horrible Nicolas Cage film (that is to say, a “Nic Cage film”). I did not have a horse running in this dog race, and I had little interest in the ebullient lectures sure to come from our pundit class.
As credits rolled and I got up to rotate my whiskey stones, I flipped over to vote coverage for a few moments, mainly to see how some statewide issues were doing. However, I noticed, curiously, the expected prolix from the talking heads lacked something. There was no subtext of an inevitable Hillary Clinton romp. Knowing our press does not usually employ this level of reserved professionalism, I switched to the national coverage.
At CNN, Van Jones and company were also looking stoic and reserved. They pored over the metrics and analytics without a caffeinated glee. They appeared to be actually studying the figures, and a phrase I didn’t expect was frequently bandied – “still in play.” Okay, you have my attention. By the 9 p.m. hour the vocal tones were filled with import and concern; while the results were far from official the reality was creeping in that Trump was more than performing better than predicted.
I lunged for the remote – I just HAD to go to MSNBC. This was going to be worth seeing. Sure enough, gone were the beatific smiles I’d seen glimpses of earlier in the day. Chris Matthews looked positively dyspeptic. Rachel Maddow had the look of someone shown her new Obamacare premiums. Brian Williams could not even look into the camera (probably reminded of the upset he’d witnessed while covering the Truman/Dewey election). This was delicious!
They refused to call states that had forgone conclusions, their on-air map analyst drew up real time conspiracy theories for a Clinton comeback, and by 11 p.m. Maddow and Matthews began sniping at each other as they grappled with explanations. It was an on-air seppuku, and there was no more deserving a crowd of self-immolation.
The press turned a corner in 2016, moving from its position of apparent bias in past elections to outright cheerleading for a Hillary Presidency. I had earlier written details on how the media was in a practice of ostracizing their own if members dared deviate from a pro-Hillary agenda. Dr. Drew, Jimmy Fallon, and a few other journalists had seen their careers threatened when they looked at Hillary objectively or dared be fair towards Donald Trump. Only one position was permitted.
Conversely, those covering Hillary did so with an overly affectionate élan. Look at the beaming faces of the press pool that was on board Air Farce 1. Listen as Mark Halperin early in the campaign told us we should marvel at the majesty of Hillary ordering a burrito. These journalists felt like they were in proximity of history and needed to deify the most quotidian acts by our future queen. This also led to blatant journalistic contradictions.
The examples are legion. Chris Cillizza was one of the ardent defenders against those daring to mention Hillary’s health concerns; he flailed trying to justify himself once it was noted he tried to disqualify John McCain over the exact same concerns. When New York City was the target of numerous explosions the press scorched Trump for referring to them as “Bombs.” At the very same time, Hillary gave a statement, using the term “bombings” in her opening sentence. Not only did she not absorb criticism, the very first question she received from the press fawns asked her to comment on Trump’s irresponsible use of the same term Clinton had just burped out.
This bifurcated standard system was reduced to the most asinine levels. When Melania Trump wore a white gown to the Republican convention its color was described as a problematic symbol of racial division. Without a trace of introspection, mere days later, Hillary was hailed for her fashion choice at the DNC – a white pantsuit. This somehow was said to be emblematic of the suffrage movement. How, you may ask? Damned if I know. I should explain, I am not the sort to explore further when presented with that type of infantile headline.
The media bias was most evident as much in what it doesn’t cover, as much as what it spoon-feeds its audience. Clinton’s health became a growing issue due to obvious evidence, yet the press continued to tell us there was nothing to see. Her email server issues (“The Never-Ending Scandal”) were routinely buried in the backyard. This is largely due to mounting emails revealing media coercion with the Clinton campaign. Glenn Thrush professionally shrugged once revealed he submitted stories for approval to Sydney Blumenthal. Donna Brazile was dismissed from CNN when caught feeding debate questions to her future boss. You can see why this would be under-reported.
So devout was the press that they began to display open disdain for Trump supporters. The press has no means of looking at itself to see how this may have contributed to the upset. Consider the possibility of a two-pronged animosity; voters who had little love for Trump could very well be motivated to vote against his opponent when presented with a barrage of opposition from the media as well. Calling a group of Americans sub-standard will basically tell them they are alienated. The message of “Hillary doesn’t like you, and neither do we” is the polar opposite of voter outreach.
Hilariously the press feigned shock when Donald adroitly began to demonize them in his stump speeches. How dare he, after all the mockery we delivered at his followers! This led to some of my favorite dispatches from the press pool – reports of people being mean to them.
In March a Trump rally in Chicago was canceled due to a violent outbreak at the arena. It was later revealed that Democrat operatives had staged the uprising, designed to disrupt the event. The press treated this as non-news, dismissing the severity of the exposé even while those involved quit their posts. However, when Trump backers began to turn on the media at rallies, these confrontations were fully detailed.
“Here are quotes of the mean things they dared say to us!”
“Here’s a photo of a guy who pointed at us and raised his voice!”
“Look at this shirt with an offensive saying towards the press! The temerity of these serfs!”
Tuesday night became a referendum on all of it. Our media went so far as to lecture and demand obedience towards a candidate, and resistance was met with derision and condemnation. The press clearly chose sides this election. And so did the voters across the country.
Our media, of course, will not look at themselves critically. Do not expect lengthy mea culpas on how they erred this past year. Instead expect reports on how the rubes failed to listen to them. This could be a fun four years after all.
*Originally published on 11/9/16*
If you would have told me that Hillary Clinton would be giving a concession speech today, I would have told you that you were lying. Bottom line: Democrats lost this election because they told over half their voting base that they did not matter. There were the Bernie Progressives, yes. But I’m going to focus on the part of the voting base I feel I fall into. They didn’t bother building a bridge between the old school Democrats and the progressives that have become the loudest voices in the party.
The old school Democrats (not necessarily by age, but by their views on work, traditional values, higher education, et. al.) have been slowly turning red for the better part of eight years now. Many of us saw this coming. And instead of Democrats looking to those voters, their concerns about Medicaid/Social Security (that retirees paid into their whole lives), Higher Taxes, Jobs, Crime/Violence – they were pushed aside in favor of more preaching and promoting sweeping social change.
I’ve said many times that I lean conservative on a lot of issues for a Democrat and even I (a gay, black man) personally felt marginalized and ostracized by the progressive majority for simply stating opinions on policy. Taking away what I now know about Benghazi (which is what did Clinton in for me last year), I was basically made to feel like I needed a new party. If I felt that way, can you imagine how others in the party felt?
I also feel like these old school Democrats were told that their opinions, their voices, their concerns did not matter because they don’t have a college education or anything past a bachelor's degree. They were told what they had to believe in versus being allowed to be part of the party and still separate themselves from certain things they reject. And I also believe more people of color and LGBTQ people voted for Trump than we are being led to believe. Part of it has to do with their personal beliefs. But, above all else, they want jobs, national security, control over their money and their lives after they leave work.
The media covered the fracture between the Republicans (The #NeverTrump Movement), but didn’t bother covering the issue that was clearly boiling over: the fractures in the Democratic Party. Hillary thought she should have had this handed to her, and the voting bases she needed the most rejected her.
The Democratic Party is split between three factions: blind loyalists who will vote Democrat out of loyalty and fear, progressives who are tired of crony capitalism/bank bailouts/pollution, and those conservative Democrats who are tired of being talked down to and/or having Washington DC liberal beliefs forced upon them.
I don’t know how we, as Democrats, fix this. But we don’t fix it by unfriending/unfollowing those who did not vote for Hillary. We don’t fix it by furthering the divide we claim Donald Trump created in this election. We don’t reject our fellow Americans. We’re in for a long, bumpy ride with President Trump (or probably President Pence). We need to come together, build up our communities, build each other up, build up ourselves.
Don’t be the sore losers you would have ostracized if Hillary had won. Use this to put fire in your belly to inspire change. And if she truly cares about immigration, working families, the LGBTQ community, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, I hope Hillary Clinton takes up the initiatives she had in her platform and utilizes them in work for the Clinton Foundation or another nonprofit.
Prove your supporters right and prove your detractors wrong by putting your own money where your mouth is. #OnTo2020
*Originally published on 10/29/16*
MAGA, #NeverTrump; Welcome to America! Now, compromise or be governed!
“I do not share your view, but I respect it.”
This is a simple principle, yet so easy to get wrong.
Why has it come to the result where we must agree on every last point in an ideological platform to be political allies?
What has become of the Republican Big Tent?
It would be easy to write this essay in a manner that hands out blame. There is certainly more than enough to go around. Instead, maybe we should think about this new (or maybe not new) overbearing need to force or shame or cajole everyone into thinking the exact same way before we can move on and be countrymen or *gasp* “friends”?
Consider for a moment the how media informs us, what we take away from it, and the sheer volume we are fed. In an era where one can order a pizza by text message, the virtues of patience and compassion lose some of their meaning. Such a world is probably not conducive to a very polite society.
We want what we want – when we want it – and if we don’t get it, expect to see Tumblr posts!
Human Beings, as social creatures, strive to conform. In doing so we become tribal and, resources being inherently limited, territorial. It’s not difficult to see what happens when the domains of Human Nature cross with those mass-social media platforms that are driven by user-contributed content.
Everyone with an idea is free to shout at the clouds and claim s/he’s right about everything.
“If I’m right, then you must be wrong.”
“If I’m -X- and you don’t agree on <random principle> then you must be -Y- with all its Republic-Threatening vices. I must, therefore, shame you into seeing the rightness of being -X- about <random principle> before there is anything else to discuss. #Block.”
This ties into current events in that, almost half the population in this country have become so focused on being Not Obama, that it is the only area of agreement. Moreover isn’t this the type of ideological fascism that makes the idea of being Progressive insufferable? Isn’t it what rubs conservatives the wrong way the most? Why, on Earth, are we victimizing ourselves and one another over this simple fallacy?!
Conservatives/Republicans have locked themselves out of the Office of The Presidency for the foreseeable future over this kind of weak thinking. They have become so fixated on not compromising with Democrats, that the word “compromise” has become an allergen, and so much so, they have lost the ability to compromise with one another.
It must stop. Instead of shunning compromise, it would be better to try and win agreements.
There are two main parties in the United States. That is our political system. Our Founders, in their wisdom (or folly), saw the dangers of factionalized politics. Those systems devolve into either the chaos of a Failed State or the tyranny that is the inevitable result of over-correcting the causes of said failure. And we are already witnessing whiffs of these sorts in Government overreach into our personal lives. When before 2009 were you required to buy something to be an American Citizen? When before 2012 were you required to provide a service that was against your religion?
Do not say “it can’t happen here!”
Democrats learned ten years ago that American politics is a team game. Despite record minorities in Congress they have embedded most of the Democrat agenda. They did it by sticking together. Having a leader they could unite behind was a key factor.
The mistake Republicans have made is to become so focused on finding that uniting figure that they forgot about the actual “uniting” part.
It’s time to compromise with one another with what’s available. This election or the next and all the ones after.
You may not agree that Donald Trump is that figure. (I don’t think he is either.) But I have many other well-considered reasons for voting for him that are external to his being the GOP’s nominee. I’ve made peace with trying to unite with others voting for him, flawed as he is.
You may not agree with my reasons. I accept that and still wish to remain your compatriot.
I don’t share your view, but I respect it.
I will not blame you for the loss, should Trump lose.
I ask instead that you let this simple principle of respect for another person’s viewpoints be the seed that blooms into the compromises we must make the next time we meet to decide our politics.
The risk of a One-Party State is elevated, and this is the only way to prevent it from becoming imminent.
*Originally published on 7/24/16*
This is hard for me to write. I have avoided engaging too much with this election since my trend-reading and predictions skewed very wrong for half of the nominees. I have been able to predict political trends well previously, and was just completely wrong in my underestimation of a candidate. Then again, so was Nate Silver, so perhaps I am in good company. I was also wrong by overestimating the kindness of the country. That overestimation, of decency, love, and understanding, is the reason I am writing this.
Let me get this out of the way; I am using a pseudonym. I have a family that I wish to protect and cannot speak my mind safely on the Internet in light of recent events. That being said, I am an Asian woman who was adopted into a white, middle class family in a suburban area from infancy. I am Asian only in genetics, and have marginal connections to any Asian culture or heritage, but respect that it is very much a part of who I am. I am American. I am a citizen. I care about this country. I want good things to happen for America and Americans. I have a Masters degree, a career, and am raising a family. Some people would call me whatever the new term is for millennial yuppies. I am everything the middle class of America is, and for the first time, I am scared of what the future holds for my family.
My daughter, not yet a pre-schooler, could inherit a dangerous world. Let me speak about race. I am concerned that since she is mixed race, and a female, that the rhetoric of the country will not be kind. I see it turning slowly, between the way Twitter users can turn on former friends, the way race is a political game, and the way the country has people gaining media attention that spout crude and derogatory phrases casually and frequently. The Internet is quick to label people by whatever is convenient to the narrative, the most sensational, or the most inflammatory. People will speak about and to others online in ways you would never expect or hope to hear. Hateful speech is now mainstreamed, and the era of decency seems to have passed us by. We must change this now before it becomes worse. Silently accepting this is not a choice anymore. This is not an Asian or a mixed race problem, but it is a decency problem that is leaching into the lives of many citizens. Whenever anyone does not match the selected vision of the American citizen, they can become a target.
As a result of being mixed race, my daughter will face struggles from two different perspectives. One because she is not one hundred percent white, thereby reducing her entirely to being of Asian descent and negating her personality or experiences. The other being the dreaded “other” box on forms, forcing her to accept the non-normalized mixed race status of otherdom or picking the side she would rather be. I worry that she will be forced to face racism, something that I rarely had to do growing up, sexism, as is still too often the case, and the worst – the intersection of the two. I am afraid for what my daughter will face if we normalize this rhetoric and behavior, and I am afraid for our family.
I have always believed in America and its citizens’ kindness towards others, and I have to believe that we can change the trajectory of this election. We need to in order to move forward and accept the people who are Americans. We cannot be mired in cruelty or we breed fear in citizens, nor can we just silently and passively accept this as normal. I have hope that this election is a referendum on more than just branding. However, until a change happens, that seed of fear and doubt will linger as I raise my daughter.