A Divided Left?

A Divided Left?

As Philadelphia prepares to host throngs of Democratic Party delegates for the upcoming Democratic National Convention next month, authorities are gearing up for the inevitable ‘Bernie or Bust’ protestors. This wildly loyal cadre of Sanders’ supporters, most of whom are Independents young and old, are eager to voice their displeasure with the internal processes of the Democratic Party, and their vehement dissatisfaction with the manner in which this primary season has been managed.

Yet, there is always a hope and purpose that through the carnival-esque mechanisms of the convention process, the nominee will emerge and successfully unite the party behind their banner. This incredibly tough challenge falls not only to the presumptive nominee, Hilary Clinton, but also to the yolk of the Democratic Party and those pious super delegates. However, the outcome of disunity and a growing chasm of indifference is often the result. Will it be the same this time?

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Sanders said that he will vote for Clinton in November to stop Trump

In short, no! Yesterday, Bernie Sanders stated that he will vote for Hilary Clinton in November in order to stop the meretricious master of tautology, Trump. Though Sanders’ concession to Clinton is long overdue, one cannot help but get the feeling that the political revolution at the foundation of his incredibly successful campaign will endure in some form.

For Sanders and his millions of dedicated supporters who continue to feel the ‘Bern,’ a revision (and in some cases overhaul) of Democratic electoral processes and procedures is desideratum. Following a meeting of the two Democratic primary candidates this week in Washington DC, the task fell to Hilary Clinton to placate the Sanders’ campaign in the interest of uniting the party and securing a larger voter base this coming Autumn. Both campaigns issued similar statements in the wake of the meeting saying that the candidates and their aids spoke constructively about beating their opponent and ‘progressive ideas.’

 It is no surprise that the Vermont senator has called for the ousting of leadership from the convention committee all the way to the upper echelons of the party. He has been especially critical of DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The Floridian Representative, Schultz, was this week replaced by Brandon Davies – a Clinton surrogate. This move likely came as a conciliatory tactic by camp Clinton following comments made by Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, on MSNBC. These overtures were clearly an attempt to placate Sanders’ stoic efforts. Caveat Emptor!

Supporters hold signs and cheer as U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Sanders speaks during a campaign rally at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa
Hordes of Sanders’ supporters hungry for political revolution and reform

In a Washington Post article that Sanders composed this past Thursday, the obstinate senator laid out his 95 theses that, should we be living in the 1500s, he would nail to the doors of both the Wells Fargo Center and the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Sanders consistently and emotively repeats the question, ‘what do we want?’ at the beginning of each new point – appealing to the union and solidarity of his support base. Scansion aside, there is nothing new from Bernie here, yet he makes some incredibly salient points about the flawed criminal justice system and climate change.

If Bernie Sanders can auspiciously carry his brand of revolutionary politics to the convention floor and begin a comprehensive dialogue in a public forum the mollification process may continue. Among the alterations that the senator is lobbying for is the abolition of closed primaries, automatic voter registration, and the monitoring of voting machine software.

Sanders needs to show the Democratic Party that he still holds some of the chips, but will have to temper his approach if he is to garner any substantive gains. On the flip side, Clinton and the Democratic establishment know that the Sanders’ promissory note is a valuable asset and have slowly come around to his $15 an hour minimum wage, ban on fracking, and Wall Street reform. Though, according to a Bloomberg poll published on Wednesday, only 55 percent of Sanders’ supporters said that they would vote for Clinton – proving that the ball is now firmly in the establishment’s court.

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The National Guard were heavily utilised at the DNC in Chicago, 1968

For Democrats, the malaise of the 1968 DNC held in Chicago haunts the party to this very day, as it became a lacerating event that distilled a year of heartbreak, assassinations, riots and a breakdown in law and order. For many American’s, it symbolised the fragility and chaos of the nation. The present environment is equally as delicate and anarchic loaded with pernicious potential. While the issue of unity within the Democratic camp is tenuous, it’s not nearly as tensile as the threads holding the Republican Party together.

Matthew O’Brien

The Divided Right

The Divided Right

The piñata that is the Republican Party has been burst open and every day, new morsels are being discovered by the media. Last Friday, we heard that Mayor Danny Jones of Charleston, West Virginia, had changed his political party status to “unaffiliated” in a growing list of disillusioned conservative officials. That same week, several major companies including Apple pulled their sponsorship from the Republican National Convention. And to cap it all off? The man, the Republican loyalists stood behind (if reluctantly), has lost his momentum.

For a year now, the accepted narrative has been that Trump stands no chance against Clinton. Despite mass coverage and the GOP nomination, many remained undeterred. It seems their faith has been rewarded however as his latest hurdle has resulted in a parting of ways with his campaign manager, Emperor Palpatine… I mean, Corey Lewandowski. The poll numbers are no longer looking so good for the man who once promised “so much winning” for America and in the wake of this great cataclysm of popularity, lies the remains of the fractured right-wing. So what happened? Why? And what’s next?

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Trump and Lewandowski (left) kicking up a storm.

 

Since the shining light of Reagan descended upon America, the GOP has adopted an increasingly conservative and radical stance in the political system. This culminated most recently in the refusal to work with the Obama administration on almost every initiative, leading to a Government shutdown on Obamacare. With the culture wars wagging their tails every now and again, the great beliefs of the usually strongly united right became that America was losing its identity. Even the vaguest idea of making it “great” again was so appealing that a man like Trump, strange though he may seem, at least had to be considered. And in their desperation for this fabled era of prosperity, the fractures which set a part fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, tea-party members and cowboys, widened so much so that the GOP abandoned whatever shred of dignity they still held.

Since securing the nomination, a tenuous effort has been made to cobble this mess back together and create something sufficient, lest the Wicked Witch of New York, gain power. The problem is however that it all seems so forced. Even Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, a man who should really have a pivotal role to play in this, has a hard time vocalising just what he wants. He think Trump is a racist and bigot and should not be encouraged by any means. He also believes Hillary is not the “answer” and therefore Trump must win. His role however, he asserts, is not to tell delegates what to do. It’s the kind of stuff you could imagine seeing on Saturday Night Live but alas, Ryan is presently a tortured soul. It therefore seems the pieces will have to be picked up by Trump himself, who will undoubtedly face the least reserved GOP convention in history next month.

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Paul Ryan’s the kind of guy who holds up the drive through with his indecisiveness.

 

It’s hard to imagine exactly where this party will go next. They could simply reform if Trump loses, pretend as if 2016 never happened and go after Hillary, the way they have done with Obama. After all, remembering things accurately has never been a top priority (remember, Reagan raising taxes, anyone?). They could also have a long look in the mirror, smash it, and treat the likes of Trump as icons of a prevailing radical right, in stark contrast to the rising Left. Lastly, they could not smash the mirror and realise their party can only redeem itself by returning to the principles which once held it in high esteem. Fiscal conservatism, a lower-taxed market, and small government are not necessarily bad ideas if executed with a degree of rationale.  They just need to be checked with compromise where compromise is needed and common sense where alternatives yield better results. Richard Nixon understood this when he proposed an ambitious health care plan, alienating himself from many members of his party. George H.W. Bush, too, understood this when he abandoned his pledge and raised taxes to help stimulate the economy. Perhaps, 2016 can mark the beginning of the end for modern conservative practises and a return to form.

Andrew Carolan

Is Hillary Still A Woman?

Is Hillary Still A Woman?

Is Hillary still a woman? No, I don’t mean in the old hick “look out, she’s going into the wrong bathroom” kind of way, but rather in the context of this entertaining election. As the primaries draw to a close and Donald Trump begins to scour Facebook for any trace of a scandal linked to the Clinton camp, it can’t helped but be wondered whether the question of gender politics is playing the pivotal role it once did in America. At first, I simply thought “no.” Whereas in 2008, the prospect of a first Black or first Female president was so alluring, today it seems like more of a tangent to a larger debate. Upon inspection and analysis of this race, the political commentary and debate however, the question opened up a great deal. So whilst this main point will be addressed further, it’s certainly worth exploring the recent history of women in politics before the related question of why people dislike this woman/politician so much.

Thatchers in America

It’s still difficult to be anything but stern and tough if you want to be a respected female politician in many countries. In the 1980s, many figured this philosophy with the draconian measures of Ms. Thatcher (depending on your viewpoint) and while there’s been progress since then, the gameplay isn’t exactly equivocal between men and women. This might, in some respects, justify the pompous, disingenuous image Clinton has cultivated over the years – a means to survival. It may also just be a theory. In the debate on gender politics and feminism, there can be a lot of conjecture on hand.

Women, of course, have not been fairly represented in US political history. They were only given the vote in 1920. They only saw their first elected Senate representative in 1932 with Hattie Caraway and since then there have only been a further 45 women anointed to that chamber of Congress (and through staggered junctions). In fact, even as recently as 1992, the ‘year of the woman’ (because a staggering five female senators got the job-and all from one party), that divide was evident.

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1992: Year of the Woman- the same year Bill Clinton was elected to office.

 

In terms of the presidency then, one can imagine there’s been far less representation. As of 2016, seventeen women have managed recognisable attempts for the coveted position (going by popular vote accounts) and two of them are Hillary Clinton for 2008 and this year (the rest would be relatively unknown to most.)

There are now 20 women in the Senate and Hillary is the likely frontrunner for the Democratic Party. In the 1950s, less than half the US population would have voted for a female presidential candidate. Today, over eighty percent would. Whether this politically correct culture has had an affect on how people present their views is also worth considering but for the most part, through all the folds and exceptions, there has been progress.

Haters Gonna Hate, Hate, Hate…

Taylor Swift has a knack for melody but it’s not enough to just say “haters are going to hate.” That’s moronic. People do strongly dislike Hillary though and some of their reasons may be unjustified. For example, in March, the Ms. Magazine blog posted an article on three ways “to tell if your distaste for Hillary Clinton is sexist.” These included a) taking umbrage with the problems of the Clinton years but liking old Slick Willy, b) deciding you hate her first then collecting substantive reasons, and c) holding things against her for which you have forgiven others. Aversive sexism is undoubtedly an issue in modern society and a genuine concern could be that people will preach one thing and act on another (reverting to conservative instincts in the polling booth) by giving Trump the thumbs up. Likewise however, the Guardian also found that many women consider Trump just “creepy.” That said, he has referred to menstruation as being the cause for Megyn Kelly’s “outrageous” questions so it’s hardly balanced.

One of the most useful platforms for finding the unedited, unreasoned thoughts of the public is of course the YouTube comments’ section. I took to this to see if there was some element of truth to the idea of averse hate (even if not sexist). Among misspelled links to bands’ channels and escalating arguments, I found a lot of this, e.g. “I hate that smirk she has every time she finishes a sentence.” Compared to many Fox hosts’ smirks, Clinton’s is far from the worse though I found the majority of discouragement of her to be associated with policy and general dislike, rather than sexism. Granted, most of the commenters appeared to be young men but a lot of anonymous people speak in ways they never would in person.

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That smirk from an ABC interview- granted she will have to do something about her laugh.

 

Many people recognise the fear of being labelled sexist too. Just as these YouTube commenters resolve to knock down Clinton, many of her supporters in return react with unqualified claims of bigotry- the PC police.  Articles such as the Huffington Post’s “I Despise Hillary Clinton, And It Has Nothing To Do With Her Gender” convey this level of heightened social awareness. Other articles have attempted in the meantime to contextualise and separate this issue altogether. For example, a New York Magazine opinion piece earlier this year stated; “[there} is no Big Feminism anymore, and no agreed upon figureheads – at least no one to rival Steinem’s fame and iconic status. Today feminism is more about personal identity.” That’s not unreasonable. Many liberals despise Clinton for only her stances, as evidenced by their love of Senator Elizabeth Warren.

So what are these stances? What are her flaws? This hardly needs to be touched upon in detail, considering the feed of commenters out there but for the most part, Clinton’s detractors find her politically motivated and malleable to trends. Her once against-now for stance on Gay Marriage, comes to mind, as one instance of this. Her own compromised marriage too, is drawn upon by many as an exemplification of the calculated moves she has taken this far. Then, there’s the series of scandals that have dogged her career from Whitewater to her Iraq vote, Benghazi, the e-mail scandal and whatever’s next. Against Sanders, these shortcomings have been especially  magnified which lends credence to the argument that Clinton’s detractors have just cause for their outrage.

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For us, it’s just another manic Monday. For Hillary, another Benghazi.

 

As It Is – This Election

Leaving aside the historical context of female political leadership and Clinton’s own facets however, how has the gender card been played out in this election specifically? Naturally, Trump has fudged up his alliance with any suffragette movement by acting the classic 80s’ masochist douche, leaving Clinton with a hefty advantage in that vote. While younger women (18 to 29) have generally preferred Sanders, this margin has played  out in her favour for the most part with 70% women’s support in the Mississippi primary, 63% in Alabama’s and 42% in Texas’. Sanders too, that beacon of dignity, even came under fire from her camp when in response to asserting that “shouting” wouldn’t do anything about America’s gun problem, Clinton replied that it’s never “shouting” when it’s a man. Ouch. Was there justification for this or could it be argued that Clinton was playing the gender card herself? “If [she] were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5% of the vote” opined Trump in April for the Washington Post. Well, that is Trump but many might yet agree.

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As it is, the poll data is showing that there is no state where women don’t make up 54% of Democratic voters. The gender card, in this sense, is a crucial one which can’t be ignored, even if its utility is immoral. When it comes to the general election then, assuming Clinton’s candidacy (based on today’s results), it is likely that Trump will need a different strategy (given the percentage of population he’s alienating). That said, one of Clinton’s greatest flaws (regardless of any gender politics) has been in her underestimation of the electorate. Sanders already proved her victory was not secure when one year ago her success was inevitable. Female voters too,  though faced with the alternative of Trump, will not vote for Hillary just because she is a woman. Years ago, many would have assailed against the notion of a female president. Today though, they also assail against Hillary Clinton.

Andrew Carolan

Who Will Be The Donald’s VP?

Who Will Be The Donald’s VP?

Since he announced his candidacy one year ago, Donald Trump has been drawing consistent headlines for his outlandish remarks, wildfire debate performances, and of course, the odd lapse in logic. It seems by this point that there is no way he can truly surprise us but just like Game of Thrones, he manages to reel you in every week to see if that threat beyond the wall is indeed serious or just a way to waste some time. And guess what? We are only a month and a half off from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio where he’ll presumably hold his hand up with another’s and bark sentiments of making America great again. So who’s hand will it be? Will it be a hook?

First, let’s consider the factors that go into choosing a running mate. In 1960, JFK chose LBJ to compensate for his lack of support in the South. Obama got Biden on board so that he could add experience to his cabinet’s credentials. Similar concerns will no doubt be dogging the otherwise muddled minds of Trump’s camp. As it is, he’s doing well across the country with many speculative polls tying him with Clinton but women and Hispanics aren’t flocking to his side. Having some insiders would also be a good measure as his business acumen will not compensate for political naivety. So without further ado, let’s take a look at a cluster of depressing possibilities.

Chris Christie

The New Jersey governor was one of the first Republican candidates to sell his soul to the Devil. We all remember that moment in March when he stood behind the Donald at a rally, conveying all the confidence of a Cosby apologist. Despite this, his loyalty has been noted by the Republican candidate in several interviews.

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Newt Gingrich

You may remember him as the crazed Speaker of the House from the mid 1990s but did you know Newt attempted a Presidential bid in 2012? He has ambitions still. As a stalwart of the GOP, Gingrich could help Trump solidify the party’s base, although that may not prove an issue considering how easy it’s been for him already in building that momentum.

Ben Carson

The former neurosurgeon and bat-shit crazy candidate was at one point last year, the gravest threat to Donald’s victory. He’s another person Trump has said he “respects” and his help could sway those easily fooled by the race card. And in terms of image too, he projects a level of calmness lacking from the frothing jowls of Trump.

Sarah Palin

It was the death nail for McCain eight years ago but it says a lot about America that the wacky Sarah Palin still has a part to play in the party that pretty much disowned her a couple years ago. Some folk have speculated that Trump has just given up courting the female vote but if he has a woman as his running mate, he can’t be sexist, right? Sneaky stuff, Don but this would definitely be the worst bet.

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Joni Ernst

Another female Republican but one who has been critical of Trump’s sexist comments, many feel Ernst could be the perfect counterweight to Trump. She’s an able communicator and can help Trump with the Midwestern vote. She’s a bit less colourful of course than the others though which may not go down well with the man who paints himself orange.

Ted Cruz

Cruz’ exit surprised me somewhat considering the fact that he himself had chosen a running mate in Carly Fiorina just before. Trump has repeatedly called Cruz a slime-ball and launched personal attacks, even against his wife. The senator’s exit may have been a calculated move for a greater cause however. This would seem a hypocritical move but many pundits are nonetheless intrigued as Cruz has a large following. After all, they don’t have to like each other (JFK and LBJ certainly didn’t).

A Member of his Family

This seems like a ridiculous prospect but not an unpopular one. Ivanka, in particular, seems to be drawing a lot of attention. They’ve had gainful employment in his business ventures so clearly he has no qualms with nepotism.

A Mountain Bear?

Why not? It’s not as if making sense is high on Trump’s agenda. The mountain bear, or any bear in fact, would sure up the support of those who enjoyed either this year’s The Revenant or The Jungle Book. They also convey a level of toughness that even Putin would flinch at.

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Nothing is of course yet finalised though we expect to hear an announcement in the coming weeks as Donald continues to rail assaults against Hillary and that wild husband of hers. Whoever he picks, it can be assured that there will be a lot of “winning.”