I haven't posted anything for about 6 months, so I figured I'd start again with something that I don't feel anxious about not researching. Here are some uninformed opinions thoughts I have had recently about the United States political climate. I've organized them a little bit, but not much. All the thoughts will be bullet points in long, rambling almost-sentences coagulated into sections to give the effect of a hastily-prepared class powerpoint presentation. If you think I need correcting please do so below or on Facebook; I reserve the right to change my opinion capriciously and endlessly.
I start with Democrats because the adherents of this party at least pretend to care about some issues I think are important.
Most Important Thoughts
- The most exciting thing about Sanders as a president is that I assume he would pick more progressive people as political appointments. I cannot stress this enough. Clinton's appointments would probably be similar to Obama's. Think of the possibilities! Fewer business leaders and neocons, and more wacko lefties! At least, a person can dream. Seriously, a shakeup of the departments that enact policy is probably the biggest thing the president can do inside the country.
- Henry Kissenger is a complex figure in US politics. His leadership led to the US Airforce killing hundreds of thousands of people in Southeast Asia and he, like his predecessors, encouraged large US interference in other sovereignties. He also was one of the most effective negotiators the US has ever had, and his cabal of underlings have gone on to be highly successful and influential across the US government.
- I guess there should be three because only two seems like I haven't thought this through.
- We cannot allow the candidacy of Sanders to pretend that we as a nation have addressed systemic oppression, especially racism.
- Many Sanders supporters seem too connected to the candidate himself and less to the policies he supports. Politics is about policy, what affects people. If Clinton wins the presidency and adopts the platform of Sanders, that would be victory, no? Unlikely, but remember why one would support a political candidate.
- They're ok I guess: I prefer the policies and mentality of Sanders over Clinton, but I'd like to see more radical proposals from him. And given that he labels himself a radical and a socialist, it's reasonable to measure him against those weighty labels.
- Reparations - why don't he and Clinton think it's appropriate? Class consciousness without intersectionality is limited and tepid.
- Systemic Racism: in public speeches and the debates, go into detail. Not just on the campaign website. To believe it, people have to hear it from Sanders' mouth.
- Immigration: Be more vocal about the refugee crisis the US has helped create in Central America.
- Welfare: Is there a plan? I have trouble finding one on his website. And I see nothing about changing the massively unfair regulations around EBT (food stamps) and public housing.
- Nothing about American empire? No plan to scale back our military presence around the world.
- Sanders isn't a socialist, really. He's a social democrat, and that's fine. I appreciate that socialist is a powerful label and I admire him for taking it up consistently.
- Sanders isn't a very good speaker even compared to Clinton and Cruz (in a field of bad orators, Cruz is probably the best). Perhaps he should take more coaching and vary his speech based on his audience. That's not pandering, it's just good sense.
- Sanders' main proposals are not politically radical. Breaking up the largest banks, taxing the rich more, and expelling massive campaign donations from elections have majority support around the country. This highlights an interesting and continuing divide between what policy is popular and what policy is considered reasonable in US politics.
- I don't think many of us understand how odd, how weird, how unusual it is in this country to have a presidential race where the front-runner is a woman with the implicit endorsement of the incumbent, the nation's first black president. Assuming Clinton wins the Democratic Party nomination this realization will re-enter the zeitgeist and media, but at the moment this blip in political history is mostly passed over in the midst of the primaries.
- The Spanish language sections of both Sanders' and Clinton's websites are significantly smaller than the English versions. Don't they have enough money to pay people to keep up full Spanish sites?
- Sanders' website has some of his stances on the Spanish version, but not all that are on the English version.
- The Spanish version of Clinton's website doesn't seem to have any links to her political stances. It looks like the campaign forgot to finish it.
- Both campaigns are doubtless planning to distribute their literature in many media forms for all languages they choose to use, but to leave their Spanish-language versions skimpy seems foolish and taking voters who prefer Spanish communication for granted.
- Hell, neither campaign has their error messages for donating in Spanish (ie "This is a required box") and the Sanders Spanish website doesn't even have the donation instructions in Spanish! Who is running these websites?
- Clinton is an incredibly intelligent, ambitious, accomplished, politically skilled woman. For that I respect her. I do not agree with her on many things.
- I like many of the policies Sanders proposes and some that Clinton proposes. However...
- Clinton's proposals are, frankly, disappointing. Many have called them realistic and practical. I see them as unambitious.
- The number of Sanders supporters who express hatred of Clinton is disquieting. It gives the impression that they view politics as a collection of intractable teams playing a zero-sum game. Criticism of Sanders includes the ability for the campaign to react positively and embrace broader conversation. People criticizing Sanders do not necessarily support Clinton
- The Clinton bashing is toxic and I don't want to be associated with it. Is it helpful to you to be that angry at one person?
I have more to say about Sanders than about Clinton. Part of that is me reacting to friends and acquaintances who are rightly excited about Sanders' campaign. I didn't really do a deep dive into his platform; I may later. The way that many online Sanders supporters dismiss any criticism is seriously troubling. Sanders claims his goal is to unite people. If you are a Sanders supporter, how will you connect with other people who think different issues are important? Showing empathy is difficult, my white male friends.
Real people feel that Republican candidates best address their issues. It is unwise to dismiss that.
Most Important Thinks
- For those of us on the left, our task is to understand and empathize with those we disagree with. That's harder than belittling, mocking, and believing ourselves to be better people.
- Trump is probably the most moderate candidate in the Republican selection. He will undoubtedly swing to the middle as the year rolls on.
- Why do Republican primary voters feel the need to be scared by Muslims and undocumented workers? What is the larger fear behind that? That insecurity is something the country needs to address. People are feeling insecure about their jobs and about their rung on the racial and social hierarchy of the country.
- I think Trump's campaign is much better run than many people to the political left of him would like to admit, and I think it is canny and will change tactics many times.
- More Trump: Nobody actually knows what he would do as president because everyone assumes he's just saying whatever it takes to keep momentum and media attention. His website is exceedingly spare on his political stances. Hilariously, his tax plan is much more detailed and easier to understand than anything proposed by any of the other candidates except Cruz, including Sanders and Clinton.
- Looking at Cruz's tax plan, it's not clear that he thinks government money from taxes goes into the economy at all.
- None of the candidates are really moderates or plausibly cast as moderates. Hell, the media has to offer Kasich as one. His plan for Ohio looks like he modeled it on Kansas.
- I really, really do not want any of them to win. All of them would seriously hurt historically oppressed people and continue war and empire apace.
- I'd love to see a national discussion about what jobs are actually for, and why we as a nation need almost everyone to work. What are we producing from this work? It certainly won't happen this election cycle but at some point the existential issue of why we need jobs will, hopefully, become media fodder.
So those are some thoughts. If you disagree, think I'm being unfair, or want give me Nobel prizes for political commentary, please engage with me in the comments below or on Facebook. And please, if you are about to blow up at Clinton or Black Lives Matter, contact me instead. You can blow up at me instead of spreading toxicity and violence in your community. I'll listen and try and help you through it.