Peaceful Protests & Voter Registration, Please

On January 16th, 2017, America celebrated Martin Luther King Day. A day in remembrance of a Civil Rights icon who stood up in the face of everything thrown at him to resist peacfully and change the system in any way he could. A day in remembrance of the struggle Dr. King gave his life for. He believed in the future of this country. He had a dream that we could all live side-by-side with equal rights and protections as Americans. Dr. King endured opposition that today’s protestors will never know in comparison to what the Civil Rights Movement endured, and yet today’s protestors feel a need to act out in violence to change the system.

On January 20th, 2017, we watched Donald J. Trump get sworn into office and protesters turn violent in Washington DC. I agree Trump is not qualified to be the President, but the Civil Rights Movement built itself on the backs of peaceful resistance. Breaking windows of a Starbucks that isn’t the neighborhood one you visit isn’t going to solve anything. You wouldn’t do that to the Starbucks you go to down the street from your house or the bank you cash your checks at in your neighborhood. Your outrage doesn’t make it okay to destroy others’ property or harm people who think differently from you.

Hell, most of the people affected by the damage done during protests are the minimum wage workers that oppose Trump also and are just doing their jobs while you break the window panes of their workplaces in the deepest depths of winter, ushering in freezing winds and scaring innocent people. I find it incredibly distressing that this concept of nonviolent protests needs to be explained to my fellow liberals.

If you claim it is only a few individuals causing violence but you’re standing there witnessing it in person and not speaking out, you are complicit. To any liberals who are passively watching the damage unphased or reveling in joy: it is your duty as a liberal to stand up against violent protests to prevent these acts from damaging your own interests in future elections.

I believe in the future of this country and everything Dr. King stood for. That is why it upsets me that protesters these days have turned to violent means to express their opinions. I think Dr. Martin Luther King would be ashamed at how these protests have turned towards violence instead of using the example he gave us and his life for.

I also believe Dr. King would not only be voicing his opinions but trying to register as many people to vote as he possibly could that agreed with what he was protesting for. He relied heavily on organizations to help him that focused on peaceful resistance and registering voters, with one of the most important being the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee  (SNCC). The SNCC was created in 1960 by Ella Baker with an $800 grant from the Southern Christian Leadership Committee (SCLC) which Dr. King was the first President of.

Dr. King was willing to put himself in harm’s way to deliver a peaceful message to all he could deliver it to, but other groups like the SNCC were crucial to increasing voter turnout and changing the political landscape of the country. The SNCC was responsible for many protests, “Freedom Rides”, and sit-ins. Although they eventually fizzled out of existence by 1970 due to internal struggles, their work was essential to both the Civil Rights and Voting Acts in the 1960’s. They were a driving force behind the Freedom Summer of 1964 and due to organizations like them voter registration increased from below 10% among the black community to over 50% within only a few years in some areas. Naturally, this had a huge impact on elections as communities began to realize the power of their votes after they gained the right to vote.

Protesting is wonderful, but protesting without registering new voters and observing nonviolent strategies in the crucial places lost the 2016 election for Democrats. Occupy Wall Street created the beginning of the recent liberal protests, but they effectively did nothing in the long haul policy-wise. Protesting violently will also do nothing to progress liberal policies, and will only incite more rage in Conservatives and get them to turn up to vote in larger numbers in the future.

In comparison, the Tea Party movement is the root of what gave Donald Trump the ability to win. It grew out of opposition to Democrats and Obama whether it was justified or not. The voters who won the election for Trump in the swing states that went against all the pundits’ predictions are a direct result of the Tea Party movement which grew inside the Republican party. They went out and they got their neighbors to vote, they marched on Washington, they did everything right, and even though I don’t agree with them I admire the tenacity they showed in changing the Republican party from within. The Democrats need to use the Tea Party as a case study without the divisive and sometimes racist elements that came with it.

If Democrats don’t take their surplus of voters in their strongholds like the West Coast and invest serious resources in registering voters in battleground states before the 2020 election then liberals are handing another four years to the Republican party.

We need to fund voter registration drives. We need to increase voter registration in the Democratic strongholds of the midwest like Kansas City that get drowned out by the number of conservatives in their states that are registered to vote. We need to pay to relocate people from cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and New York to move to battleground states and work full time registering voters in places like Missouri, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

We need Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren doing voter registration drives in battleground states right now. We need to successfully win an election based on how the election actually works and not the popular vote. We need our Democratic members of Congress and the Senate to spend less time fundraising and more time on when, where, how, and why it is so important if we want to change this country.

We saw the amount of popularity Bernie Sanders gained in only one year of campaigning, imagine if he focused his energy right now on helping with the 2018 and 2020 elections. Only half the eligible voters in this country voted in 2016. We have tons of ground to register more liberal voters and flip swing states in 2-4 years. It isn’t that difficult if we educate people on how to vote and get larger numbers of liberal people to actually show up at the polls in the 2018 midterms and 2020 general election.

Many of the things Dr. King dreamed of are a reality today because of the way he fought for the Civil Rights of all people in this country, and people fighting for civil rights and against oppression today have lost sight of the way he accomplished his dreams even after his death. He built a message and convinced voters who were only white to support his ideas in large enough numbers to change the status quo. We need to do the same thing today in the areas that barely won Donald Trump the 2016 election. It is no secret that a vast majority of white voters voted for Trump, and we need to adapt to that reality and take our message to them so that their opinions might change even just a little.

What do we have to lose as liberals? We don’t have control of any of the branches of the government right now, and it will only get worse if we don’t do something about it sooner rather than later.

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America Can Do Better than Clinton or Trump

We are exactly one week away from Election Day.

I feel bad for young people who are voting for the first time in the 2016 election though. When I first voted in 2008, Obama was running for his first term. The man was a breath of fresh air. He was not a warhawk or Democratic Party icon like Hillary Clinton; he had a great energy about him. He was not a hardened war-veteran or maverick like John McCain; he was an empathetic, cool, calculated man who believed in working together to solve our nation’s biggest problems.

This year, however, the Presidential election choices are nowhere near as respectable as in 2008. The Democrat and Republican candidates are both a damn joke. They quibble like five year-olds on the debate stage instead of talking about actual issues on the national airwaves, and they are both untrustworthy to boot. Is this the best you have to offer us America?

On the Right hand, you have Republicans propping up the orange-tinted, bigoted, misogynistic, 5-time bankrupt businessman and arsehole Donald Trump; on the Left hand, you have Democrats propping up the conniving, shady, morally and ethically bankrupt career flip-flopper Hillary Clinton.

I won’t be voting for either of these two asshats, and you cannot tell me that it is my fault by voting for a third party that either of your candidates loses. It is not my fault that your parties chose such shitty candidates and that I don’t feel comfortable voting for either of them.

This election is the grandest satire ever played upon the American people by the political elites.

Democrats complain that Russia is tampering with the election while turning a blind eye to the elections and regimes Hillary Clinton has tampered with in the past. Even if it were Russia leaking the Clinton emails, how is it Russia’s fault that the emails exist? It shows the true nature of Hillary Clinton and the people she surrounds herself with that they turn a blind eye to corrupt practices if it is Democrat insiders who are benefitting.

Wikileaks has become a tool Republicans are praising because of their vendetta on Hillary Clinton when they made the website out to be the devil reincarnated in only the recent past. Just before Wikileaks released anything about Clinton, Republicans were attacking the website for releasing information they claimed had put US lives in danger. Republicans are a significant part of the reason why Chelsea Manning is in military prison, Edward Snowden is in asylum in Russia, and Julian Assange is in hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in England. That they now cling to the Wikileaks emails makes me laugh.

Both parties had better spend the next two years building up a new candidate to run in 2020 because Clinton will lose against any Republican that is not a racist and bigoted prick, and a bigoted racist prick will lose against any Democratic candidate.

Hillary could make history as the first woman president, and she could also make history as the first female president to lose a re-election bid. Her ego needs the presidency and she is lucky that it only came down to fighting against Trump this time or she may never have realized that dream for herself assuming she wins. Since her ego will be fed by victory and making history, why doesn’t she do what she can in four years and then retire? She knows that she will be facing an uphill battle again if she needs to run as the incumbent in 2020, so why should she waste the last year and a half to two years of her presidency campaigning when she could pass the baton to someone who is not disliked by over half the nation?

All it will honestly take for the Republicans to win is running a fiscal conservative that leans towards liberal social values to beat her in 2020. That’s what Hillary is already, which explains why some Republicans are able to vote for her even though they know they’ve spent their lives vilifying her. The Republicans will just need to point out the racists and bigots who lost them 2016 election and chastise them for what they are. If Republicans have an epiphany and suddenly supported marriage equality, higher minimum wage, and believed in separation of church and state they would crush Hillary when she runs as an incumbent.

You might be wondering why I dislike Hillary Clinton so much, and I will tell you a few things off the top of my head:

  • Voted for the Iraq war which led to Iraq becoming a failed state
  • Honduras fiasco which led to human and ecological rights activists being murdered
  • Instrumental in failed Libyan regime-change which led to Libya becoming a failed state
  • Supports a Syrian no-fly zone that will lead to civilian deaths and possible war/failed state
  • Cozy to wall street who has paid her mightily
  • Collusion with the DNC against Bernie Sanders
  • Arms deals increases to Clinton foundation donors
  • Only supports certain positions when they are politically expedient or needs votes
    • Gay marriage, higher minimum wage, BLM, anti-TPP but still pro-TPP
  • Has a public position and a private position, also known as being two-faced

Donald Trump could make history as the first Cheeto president, and just to be fair to all you Clinton supporters, I’ll make a list of what I dislike about him as well:

  • Has promoted sexual assault whether or not it was privately or for show
  • He is a misogynist, a racist, and a bigot, among other things
  • Terrible businessman
  • Tax evader and welfare queen

I won’t be voting for either of your shitty candidates Democrats and Republicans. I will be voting Gary Johnson for President, Kamala Harris for California Senate, and on many other issues, but I will not vote for either of your terrible candidates.

I will also not sit idly by for four years if Hillary is elected and accept her presidency without criticism. She is disliked for a good reason, and she is nearly losing to a life-sized cheddar cheese mold because she is a shitty candidate, as is Donald Trump. You can do better America, so do better in 2020 and give us less shitty candidates.

The Independent Case for Gary Johnson in 2016

I was a hardcore Bernie Sanders supporter but he is not in the race anymore and writing his name in or voting Jill Stein is mathematically ignorant. If you do not want Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump as President of the United States of America, Gary Johnson is the only viable candidate considering all of the options.

A few months ago I was so impassioned by Bernie Sanders’ energy I wrote a lengthy post on why I couldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump and would vote for Sanders anyway. Despite my previous reservations to write Bernie in on my ballot this year though, I have decided to vote for Gary Johnson.

Why?

The views of American voters can be placed on a spectrum ranging from far-Left to the far-Right and I am going to summarize the spectrum simply and briefly only considering the major parties involved in this election. On the far-Left you have the Green party and Progressives, who dislike the Democratic Party because they are not liberal enough. This is where Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein are. I consider myself to be in this general area on many issues. Moving to the right is the Democratic Party, which occupies the largest portion of the Left side of the political spectrum. In the center you have Libertarians as well as many other independent voters. On the Right side of the center, you have the Republican party. There are two general views among Republicans: “compassionate” conservatives and the Tea-Party conservatives who are what could be considered more far-Right than the general conservative viewpoint. If we were to put the distribution of voters on a line it would look similar to a double-bell curve.

There are essentially four options in this election for President: Jill Stein on the far-Left, Hillary Clinton on the Left, Gary Johnson in the center, and Donald Trump on the Right but leaning on the very far-Right. I will not vote Clinton or Trump, so that leaves Stein and Johnson.

Jill Stein may be more aligned with Bernie Sanders’ views, but she cannot pull votes from all areas of the political spectrum and stands zero chance to win. She sits on the far-left end of the double-bell curve which is the American political spectrum. Gary Johnson is pulling voters in from his chief base of Libertarians and Independent voters in addition to the Democratic and Republican parties. His base is scattered across the political spectrum, whereas Jill Stein’s voters are all stuck solely on the far-left side. Gary Johnson is polling at 9.2% nationally compared to Jill Stein’s 2.7% according to RealClearPolitics.com at the time I am writing this post (9/14/16). With two months to go, Jill Stein has about the same chance of winning the election as a toaster.

On top of this, Jill Stein has only ever been a candidate for a major elected office and has never held a job in major public office. She has run for five state-level elections losing four times, and has never broken the 25% mark in share of votes in any election she has competed in. The single election she has won was a 16-way contest for SEVEN seats and she won her position with under 600 votes. This win netted her a spot as a town hall representative for Lexington, Massachusetts, which I can’t imagine to be comparable to running a city, state, or nation.

Jill Stein has no experience dealing with the amount and range of responsibilities Johnson has had to deal with as a two-term Governor in the history New Mexico. Stein is not even on the ballot in all fifty states to boot which should show enough about her lack of political organization. We are not voting only in protest as independent voters, we are still voting towards our future and a leader of this country, and Gary Johnson is the only candidate outside the two parties who has a chance and relevant government experience to govern this country.

I have heard that I shouldn’t try convincing Stein supporters to vote for Johnson based on math because it is the same argument Clinton supporters have used to get Berners to vote for her. However, it is not quite the same argument and is an argument Clinton was using to bolster support for the two-party system in saying that we must vote for her to avoid Trump. Clinton assumed she could rally Sanders voters because she thought they agreed with her on enough issues to suck it up and “vote blue”. She underestimated how much Sanders voters despised her past and history of hawkish policies and corruption and many Berners still aren’t voting for her.

My argument is one that acknowledges all four parties impacting this election. Even if you don’t agree with Johnson on most issues, Jill Stein has no mathematical chance to win and your support could still help a candidate who has a chance to win and who does not support war and does support some key liberal social issues. The argument I am making is an attempt to put the largest independent party into the presidency to break the two-party system garnering the help of one of the much smaller independent parties and progressive voters.

We Berners and Progressives do not belong in the Democratic Party as was clearly evidenced in the collusion against Bernie’s revolution by the DNC. We are not the Libertarians’ base either. We want to topple the two parties. Our best chance to do that this election is with Gary Johnson. Stein supporters say they want to break the system, but they are only working to keep the two-party system from breaking, and Stein and the Green will do the same again in four more years.

Though I do agree with the Green party’s political views more than the Libertarian party’s views, they do not stand a chance in November. If you want to cast a vote for her as a protest it is your right, but if you won’t vote for Gary Johnson because he doesn’t support all of your issues you will continue to perpetuate the current system our country suffers under. We do not get everything we want when we vote for public offices but we can at least attempt to elect someone who is not a war-hawk, supports equal rights, abortion, legalization of marijuana, and is not a racist in Gary Johnson.

If the Democrats hadn’t flipped Bernie the bird and denied the populist wave he was riding we might not be worried about finding someone else to vote for, but they did and Johnson is the only candidate on the ballot in all fifty states that stands a chance. Vote Johnson and help break the two-party system, or fragment the independent vote and get more of the same.

…and don’t accuse me of being paid by the Johnson campaign because I wish I was getting paid to write this.

Bernie Sanders for Write-In Candidate 2016

If Bernie Sanders doesn’t win the Democratic primary I cannot conscionably vote for Hillary Clinton, and no way in hell would I ever support Trump. I have yet to cast my primary vote in California and am hoping for a miracle that Bernie wins the Democratic nomination, but if he does not, I will be writing his name in on my ballot in November and supporting my local candidates who I agree with.

I didn’t vote for Hillary in 2008 and I chose to vote for Obama because I didn’t agree with her foreign policy record then. Her foreign policy record now seems to be even worse. She has a history of supporting regime change and policies that have a history of backfiring on our country. She may backtrack and say she made a mistake back when she made her decisions, but Sanders has a better track record on not supporting hawkish policies from the git-go.

I realize when I critique her foreign policy that she was part of Obama’s administration and I am critiquing him as well. The fact is, I don’t think Obama was the best president, especially in his first term with Clinton as Secretary of State. He capitulated too much to Republicans. We could have passed single-payer healthcare which could have saved Americans money and brought us on par with most first-world countries, but we didn’t because we didn’t want to hurt the GOP’s feelings. I actually agree with Bernie Sanders that Obama needed a challenger in 2012 to bring him to the left because he had compromised too much with Republicans and we the people have only been screwed policy-wise because of it. Hillary uses Sanders’ statements to claim he doesn’t stand with Obama while she will continue his legacy. Eight years ago she only talked of Obama’s inexperience and lack of political clout, but now she praises him. She obviously got something wrong in her judgement of Obama and unsurprisingly has changed her opinion on him now that she wants to be President again.

One of Hillary’s campaign mantras seems to be that it is her turn. But this isn’t a line for Space Mountain. You don’t just wait in line until it is your turn to be President, even though Hillary has been given a FastPass to the front of the Democratic ticket. It is hard to even consider the Democratic primary an election rather than a coronation.

The Democratic nomination process is a joke. Superdelegates favor Clinton to Sanders 520 to 39 according to Google at the time I am writing this, and the pledged delegates are at 1682 and 1361 respectively. This gives Sanders 44.7% of the peoples’ votes and only 7% of the party insiders’ votes (though these votes have not been cast definitively yet). Sanders is polling evenly nationwide as of late and has won by “yooge” margins in the Western US and held it close nationwide, so it makes you wonder how he doesn’t have even 25% of the superdelegates. Does that seem Democratic to you?

The Democratic party presidential nomination is rigged and if the party insiders won’t take independent candidates seriously like the DNC is doing with Bernie, we wont be supporting your party for much longer. The likelihood Republicans take over after a Hillary Clinton first term following the shenanigans in the Democratic party is also a pretty glaring outcome if Republicans can regroup by 2020 with an unpopular incumbent. She is one of the most disliked presidential candidates in American history, and if the DNC doesn’t open their primaries by 2020 then a Tea Party-esque fracture of the Democratic party is a real possibility.

We who registered to vote as Democrats despite being independents to partake in the elections want our voices heard. If our voices won’t be heard by the DNC, it may be time to form a truly progressive party. We have sided with and voted for Democrats for years because they have similar views to us, but we will not have any faith that our voice will ever truly be heard in the closed primaries held by your party. And that’s what it is: your party, not the citizens’ you represent.

I’m more afraid of a Clinton presidency than a Trump presidency, because the GOP is already fractured and giving way to more Democratic friendly environments for legislation but we can put it all down the toilet if she makes Democrats regret they elected her. I will not be coerced into voting for a candidate I vehemently disagree with because I am afraid of Trump. I do not believe Trump has any chance of winning the presidency, especially now with Ted Cruz out of the race and Republicans supporting the true conservative candidate in this election: Hillary Clinton. She is a Republican in Democratic clothing on everything but social issues. If she loses the election I will feel no blame as the DNC ignored the candidate that had the best chance to win the election.

Hillary Clinton is the only candidate that can destroy the progress the Democratic party has made since 2008, and with her voting record it is not hard to see it becoming reality. You might say a vote for Bernie in November is a vote for Trump, but you’d also be a bit daft if you said that. A vote for Hillary is a vote for neo-conservatism and I will be casting my vote for progressivism in November.