Tag Archives: election

I’m Afraid of Americans

quote-i-m-afraid-of-americans-david-bowie-50-69-47

We’re about to see a Presidential Cabinet where every single member will be a racist, sexist, climate-change denying, adulterous, felonious, lying old white man. Every decision they make will be based on a deadly combination of fear, ignorance, and arrogance. We will be one rash decision away from a nuclear holocaust.

All of the platitudes about “giving him a chance” and “working together” ignore the hostile reception that met our last President and the past eight years of obstructionism. All of the advice about organizing for the next election ignores the people who will have their marriages invalidated, who will lose their healthcare, who will be harassed and attacked, who will be separated from their families and deported, who will be forced to bear the children of their rapists, and who will die in the interim. Your white privilege is showing.

I live in the bluest state and it feels like another country entirely. I cannot relate to the issues of the great red middle of America, nor can the people there appreciate mine. While their political choices may make sense for them, I can only see the despair and death they bring to others. I cannot help but despise them for it.

Everything I was raised to believe about human decency, about truth-telling and ethical behavior, has been rendered idealistic rubble. I cannot see a way to re-enter my classroom with the optimism that carried me through my first fifty years of life. I cannot look my students in the eyes and tell them anymore that I believe in America.

Sorry, guys.

What are we worried about?

calm-down

I haven’t paid much attention to the primary season. It’s all a forgone conclusion, as far as I’m concerned. That’s because I’m aware of some basic facts:

  1. The media prioritize profits over truth. Let’s face it: That’s called capitalism. It’s the logical outcome of our entire system. Public figures can say absolutely anything without being challenged by journalists. We may have their previous, contradictory remarks on tape, but it’s as if they never occurred. Reporters are loath to call out politicians on their lies for fear of losing access to them. If you don’t land the interview, then you don’t get the viewers and the network starts losing money.
  2. Rallies don’t mean much. Who attends them? Students, young people, and hard core supporters with the time and energy to devote to them. Most working people (the majority of voters) are too tired, too busy, and too disinterested to attend, especially if they have children at home.
  3. Open primaries are undemocratic and unrepresentative. Letting people who don’t belong to a party select the person who will lead that party is akin to inviting the French to vote in American elections. They will vote their own interests, which have nothing to do with ours. If you want to vote in America, you have to move here and become a citizen. Similarly, if you’d like to vote in a closed primary, you need to establish residency in that state; it makes sense that you should have to join the party, too. I can think of no other organization that allows outsiders to vote for its leadership.
  4. Most voters don’t vote in primaries. According to Pew Research, as of March, only 17.3% of registered voters had been turning out to vote in Republican primaries. Even fewer of them – 11.7% – had so far voted in Democratic primaries. Meanwhile, Gallup says over 40% of registered voters are Independents who can’t vote at all in closed primary states. Since they don’t care much for either party, this strikes me as fair. Still, they’ll take a side in the end. But while media outlets discuss Democrats and Republicans exclusively, the fact is that both parties together represent just over half (about 55%) of registered voters.
  5. Demographics are destiny. In 2012, 7 million more white women than men showed up at the polls on election day; they represented about 43% of the total vote. White men made up about 38%. That means that you can’t win a Presidential election by appealing exclusively to white men. You need to pull votes from women and people of color. It’s really that simple.

So yes, I’m confident about who’ll be our next President. In the meantime, enjoy the bread and circus.

It’s time for President Badass!

President Obama strikes a boxing stance

Well, Mr. President, you did it. Much to the surprise of your opponent and his backing billionaires, you triumphed.  So now that your second term is secured, I’d like to speak to you on behalf of your liberal voters.

Many of us who voted for you the first time did so with the knowledge that your actions would be constrained by the requirements of your seeking re-election. In other words, we knew better than to expect big things from you during your first term. We figured the payoff would come during the second.

Needless to say, you accomplished a hell of a lot anyway, especially considering the fact of complete Congressional obstruction; for that we are grateful. Now, however, is the time for a change in strategy.

We have seen you reach your hand “across the aisle” to achieve bipartisan consensus, only to have it spat upon by opponents who despise you more than they actually disagree with you. We have seen you embrace their ideas, contrary to the desires of your base, only to have them disavowed by their proponents. We have seen you give ground at the beginning of negotiations, fully expectant of reciprocal concessions which were never forthcoming. It’s time to stop trying to meet them in the middle, because they are far to distant from it.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that the Republicans are suddenly going to become cooperative. They will never do anything that threatens to make you look good.  They hate you.

We know that you are a good man in a difficult time who is sincerely doing his best to do right by his country. We know that your are playing what has always been a white man’s game and are amazed at and proud of your ascent. You make us proud of our country. You more than make up for the embarrassment caused us by your predecessor.

Sir, we require no more convincing. We know that you tried, we know that your opposition is intractable, and now we just want you to go back there and haul out President Badass. It’s time to start dominating.

Fear of a Black President

Sarah Palin

Palin accuses president of ‘shuck and jive’ on Libya – Erik Wemple – The Washington Post.

Excuse me, “shuck and jive”? WTF, Sarah Palin? Who uses that kind of language these days? Are your bedsheets doing double duty at KKK rallies?

Let’s just call this the racism that it is: the racism of Sarah Palin’s America.

We heard the McCain-Palin campaign blowing the dog-whistles of racial hatred during the last election, when a huge and ignorant swath of the American public convinced itself that then-Senator Obama was a Kenyan Muslim. We heard it even in the so-called compliments paid him: He was so “articulate” for a – well, you finish the sentence. We hear now it in Newt Gingrich’s characterization of Obama as the “Food Stamp President.” By that logic, we ought to christen Reagan the “Crackhead President.”

The level of hatred directed at this President is unprecedented. I have looked and cannot find any campaign imagery comparable to the 2008 posters of Obama in white-face, Obama as The Joker, Obama as Hitler. I can’t recall anyone putting a Hitler mustache on George W. Bush.*

I have looked and cannot find a previous Congress so specifically dedicated to denying a President a second term, such that it votes against its own ideas to avoid making him look good. Even Bill Clinton had greater cooperation from the opposition.

It’s only been about fifty years since the official end of Jim Crow, when African Americans were fully enfranchised as voters. There are plenty of white folks still around who remember the days of segregation fondly, when they didn’t have to compete with non-whites for jobs or college admissions. There are lots of people who have never worked or socialized with African Americans and who would be happy to keep it that way. They are simply not comfortable with people who are not like themselves. They never have been, going back through the generations. There are plenty of white folks who resent the handouts of welfare without knowing that they are its primary beneficiaries.

When you live in the Northeast or on the West coast of the U.S. – the blue states, yes – you tend to see the world a certain way. Your point of view is inflected by the diversity of the population. You grow up with Americans whose families have come from all over the world, with people of all faiths and colors, and this to you is normal. It’s true, to a large extent, of any port city or point of entry for immigrants; they often remain where they land.

When you live in middle America, however – in the red states, yes – you are more likely to spend your entire life in a small town surrounded by people who are a lot like you. You are rarely exposed to a point of view that differs from your own and when you are, your peer group shoots it down.

If we held an election where the popular vote alone determined the outcome, the result would always skew to the political left. That’s because the great majority of the population lives in cities, which provide employment and transportation and which therefore attract outsiders.  These places are always necessarily more diverse and more progressive. The fact is, we could hold the election exclusively in America’s largest cities and obtain a representative vote.

Rural middle America has too much say. It is numerically over-represented in the Senate (2 Senators per state, regardless of population) so it has disproportionate power over policy. Relative to urban America, rural America is less diverse, less progressive, and less comfortable with the 21st century global culture that city dwellers deal with every day. Rural America has barely come to grips with the 20th century.

Mitt Romney is counting on two types of voters to make him President: People who believe he’ll be a better leader than our current one, and people who will vote for anyone but a black man. I believe there are far more Romney voters in the latter category – and so does Sarah Palin.

* While I have recently been corrected by a reader and directed to some photos of Bush with a Hitler ‘stache (see Comments), I stand confidently by the rest of this essay.