2016 Election, Uncategorized

Why Bernie Sanders Continues to Vex Me

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Ahead of the Iowa Caucuses, the New Hampshire Primary, and the Illinois Primary in March, I am finally ready to make my endorsement for President of the United States. Before I say who I support, though, I feel it is important for people to understand why I came to the decision I did. I did not come to my position lightly. I have weighed the options, watched the debates, engaged with supporters on every side of the aisle and switched my opinion many times in my own mind. I am, first and foremost, a radical thinker. I do not believe in the office of the Presidency as it is currently understood or practiced.

I do not believe in our capitalist system or in our electoral system. We are not a democracy. We have never been a democracy. We should be, but we have never been one. We are a society steeped in racism, sexism, steeped in privilege, economic, social, class based and otherwise (oh so so much otherwise besides). Half of our existence we have been a slave based nation & the other half we have been, to varying degrees, an apartheid state. We must recognize this fact about ourselves if we ever hope to change.

There has been much talk about “transformational” Presidencies, turning points in American history which pivot on the leadership of one man (and it has been a man, always…always a man unfortunately). I am done with this paradigm. History has shown us that change does not, CANNOT in fact, come from above. Indeed, it is dangerous, anti-democratic, and destructive to ideals of human rights, decency, and radical justice to state otherwise. When we displace our radical nature, our radical thoughts and ideas and hopes, and put them onto the shoulders of one human who can “fix the system” or “lead a revolution” we are in fact betraying ourselves and our potential.

As Ta-Nehisi Coates, who I am beginning to see as the radical conscious of my American generation, said: “Radicals expand the political imagination and, hopefully, prevent incrementalism from becoming a virtue.” It is not imaginative to say “this fellow will fix it” or “this fellow will save us” or “this fellow will lead the revolution”. That is a closing of the radical mind, it is a distraction, a dangerous one, a fatal one, one that leads us down the road to politics as personality. We abdicate our responsibilities as human beings, as potential radicals who strive for change, when we put our collective energy and focus into a drive for power over a system instead of a striving to DESTROY the system that is destroying us.

Bernie Sanders said that the idea of reparations for the half a millennium of abuses the U.S. has committed against black people is “divisive” and could never pass through Congress. He has not said the same about his promises to the white middle and working classes regarding College, tax, and healthcare reform. And it is a largely white audience that these ideas are addressed to…black audiences have much more important things to worry about, much more pressing and immediate and life or death concerns. They don’t have the privilege to think saving the welfare state is the top priority for this nation. Our reforms have never reached ALL Americans, they have never benefited black and white equally because none of these reforms EVER addressed the central problem of this nation: black and white people are not, never HAVE BEEN treated equally. If we won’t even admit there is a problem, then no solution, no matter how high minded and liberal seeming, will address the root of our pain. It was when he said that one word, “divisive” that Sen. Sanders lost me.

Having said all that I will declare that I support former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for President. In the end, she knows the game. She knows the struggle of being someone who is constantly being underestimated and insulted for who she is. She is a woman in America, and the fact that she is so powerful and privileged by measures of wealth and class and she STILL is seen as an alien element in the system because of her gender, and yet STILL strives for power and influence in our system is something that I cannot help but respect and admire. She knows the ins and outs, she does not lie and pretend she is a radical. She is cynical, calculating, a shill, and has friends in high places…but that is what our system needs in a leader. We have yet to let a woman have the reigns of power over our system, as corrupted as it is, and we cannot claim to have tried everything within the confines of that system until we allow a representative of that half of humanity that has been perpetually disenfranchised to have a go at running it all.

Radical change cannot come from above, but stability and predictability can, and for us radicals a stable and predictable system, a bit of breathing space, is just what we need in the coming months and years in order for us to gather our strength for REAL change and a REAL program of protest and revolution. Sanders is a dead end, he is a salve for our wounds and a boost to our ego. He is not he change we are looking for, and if we stop looking with him, or if we seek change THROUGH him, we are betraying our potential. Let Clinton have the White House, let her have the power. We should not concern ourselves with such trivial things. I will vote for Clinton because I believe that with her in office it will free us from worrying about the mundane and profane issues of power politics and look to RADICAL solutions, not from above, but from the bottom up.

The problem, to paraphrase Shakespeare, is not in our system or in our leadership but IN OURSELVES and our inaction and cynicism. We don’t need Bernie Sanders. We don’t need the White House. We need our heads clear and our eyes looking forward to NEW and RADICAL solutions to our problems. I do not like Hillary Clinton personally, I do not like her connections, but I can say, deep down, that I can trust her with the White House and with that power. The Sanders moment has shown us that we thirst for real change. Let us not stop with Sanders, let us not waste our time with him. Let’s try for something more. We deserve more than Sanders. Our system, such as it is, deserves Hillary Clinton. She is made for it. Let her have a chance.

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Politics, Uncategorized

Why I Am Not “Feeling The Bern”

Ok, it’s been a LONG ASS TIME since I have posted anything on here, so of course I have to break my radio silence by posting something that will most likely make 75% of my readers hate me forever…but I don’t care so enjoy!
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I will say, up front, that what I am writing is from my OWN perspective. I am not writing this as someone who thinks he understand “the black point of view” because A. I do not, and B. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A UNIFIED BLACK PERSPECTIVE ON ANYTHING, just like there is no unified woman, LGBTQ or even white male perspective. We are all shaped by our experiences to one degree or another, and no community is a monolith. That being said, let’s get into this thing:
I have been told by my liberal friends, liberal sparring partners, liberal family members etc etc that I MUST vote for and support Bernie Sanders for president of the US. The reasons why are myriad: he is the “only one” who gets “it” (whatever IT means), he is the only one who can beat Trump (I doubt Trump even makes it to the general, but I digress…), that he alone can bring about a “political revolution” in the U.S. just by being elected (didn’t we go through this before, in ’08?) and that not voting for him is tantamount to personally ushering a Republican into the Oval Office.
 
Enough is enough. I will vote for Bernie Sanders for one reason, and one reason only: he is not Trump, Ted Cruz, or Hillary Clinton. That is it. I am not impressed by Sanders having “marched w/ MLK”, especially not the way that this fact has been used by my fellows on the left to shame anyone, especially black folks, who DARE to question whether or not he is the best thing to happen to Civil Rights since the aforementioned Rev. Dr. King, Jr. Anyone can march, anyone can stage a sit in or hold a sign. Sanders is a well meaning, old, civil rights era liberal, he is not some sort of revolutionary racial savior. And to tell our fellow Americans, who happen to be black, that they should “know who their friends are” or “stop making trouble” is to show that we are still quite racist in our attitudes. Sanders boggled his first response to BLM, though he has engaged them since then, and he continues to put his foot in his mouth when it comes to issues of racial justice. Just the other day he said he did not believe that reparations for slavery was a viable option for making the US a more fair and just place because the issue would be “divisive” and have a hard time “getting through Congress”. As Ta-Nehisi Coates puts it in his piece analyzing this very issue (and which I link to at the bottom of this piece):
“The spectacle of a socialist candidate opposing reparations as “divisive” (there are few political labels more divisive in the minds of Americans than socialist) is only rivaled by the implausibility of Sanders posing as a pragmatist”. I find his sudden concern for Congressional feasibility rich given that most of his platform has no chance in hell of passing through anything less than a Democratic Super Majority in both Houses of Congress. Why is it that issues that matter the most to black people and that could have a real impact on the lives of black folks and strike a real blow against institutional racism are always considered “divisive” or “not proper” or “a non-starter”? Sanders seems to think that a blanket approach to economic injustice i.e. a few basic tweaks and overhauls to the economic and regulatory systems, would have in the end benefit all Americans, regardless of race. This, to put it politely, is complete and utter bullshit.
Again, as Ta-Nehisi Coates has showed, many times and in much more beautiful language than I can ever muster, that the best liberal programs in the world will do nothing to lessen the burden on African Americans if it is not coupled with an understanding that every system in the US is tainted, corrupted, by racism. Housing aid after WWII, Welfare Reform in the 90s, the New Deal in the 30s, all these things were meant to lift “the masses” out of poverty, but were designed, intentionally and not, to exclude or to marginalize black folks. Unless Sanders wakes up to the fact that you must first attack the ROOTS of racism in this country, inequality at ALL levels of civil society, then his policy pledges and kind words mean nothing. It also bothers me, as someone who has took the time to study and read up on the issues, that Sanders and his supporters INSIST that the Senator is a “democratic socialist”. This is not true. A democratic socialist would be in favor of the workers taking control of the means of production, abolishing wage labor, and allowing for direct democratic control over all aspects of the economy and government. I see nothing of the sort suggested by the Sanders camp. He pays lip service to true revolutionary ideas and to the radical streak in many young people, but he does not have policies to back up his very strong assertions. His platform does nothing to undermine capitalism, to attack the imperialist tendencies of our government systems, or to remove our military from the many bases we have all over the world imposing our will and whims on everyone else.
He is a New Deal/War On Poverty style liberal Democrat, which is, I admit, better than the Democrats have put forward for years, but a socialist this does not make. Do I think that Bernie Sanders is some sort of closet racist? Absolutely not. Do I think he is an old white man who thinks he has the answers to why black people are suffering? Abso-fucking-lutely. He is no different than many other “liberal white saviors” who seem to come and go with such frequency in American Democratic Party Politics. I even wrote about this issue once before on this blog
So, to sum up, yes, I will be voting for Sanders, NO, I do not think he is the most “revolutionary political figure” in recent U.S. political history, and no, he is NOT a Democratic Socialist, or any kind of socialist. He is a white liberal Democrat from the east coast running for President, the same sort the Democrats have been putting forward for a generation or more. Nothing more, nothing less. And one more thing about those white liberal Bernie Sanders supports who like to lecture everyone about everything race, radicalism, or revolutionary: shut up, now. As my brilliantly political minded wife put it to me, they come off less like Che Guevara and more like Brian Griffin from Family Guy. 
Ta-Nehisi Coates’ piece on Sen. Sanders and Reparations: Why Precisely is Bernie Sanders Against Reparations?
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