My political autobiography

It has become a truism: every election is the most important of our lives. Is this any more true of the 2020 presidential election? Of course it is! As we approach what is already shaping up to be another prolonged and contentious primary season, I want to offer an autobiographical preamble to my ongoing commentary and campaign involvement. Our political opinions do not arise in a vacuum, as though the product of purely rational reflection on universal human nature. They are steeped in the circumstances of our upbringing, in our dreams and ideals, in our adventures abroad and the calamities that befall us at home, and in the company we keep and that keeps us. I’m sharing my personal story with the hope that it provides context for my perspective on the 2020 election.

In 1996, I was the ten year old child of divorced middle class parents living in Hollywood, Florida. Bob Dole and Bill Clinton were running against one another for the presidency. I remember waiting in the lunch line at elementary school talking with a friend. He asked me who my parents were going to vote for. I said I wasn’t sure. With a look of sympathetic superiority, he informed me that Clinton was one of Satan’s henchmen and that only Dole could help America realize God’s plan (his parents were evangelical Christians). I should warn my parents right away, he said.

Something felt off about my friend’s opinion, but at that point I had little basis upon which to question his perspective. I didn’t warn my parents, who were and remain largely apolitical (my mom’s Christianity is mostly private, and my dad, an agnostic Jew, lost his 60s idealism waiting out the draft in Mexico). They never spoke to me about politics as a kid. My friend’s warning is one of my first explicitly political memories. I can recall earlier memories of CNN’s coverage of Gulf War 1: being impressed by new laser guided bombs accurate enough to fly into exposed air conditioning vents on building rooftops in Bagdad, being frightened about Saddam’s chemical weapons landing in my backyard and poisoning me and my family, and so on. I was only six, but having already watched my fair share of action movies, I had the vague sense that all this war business seemed awfully theatrical and made for TV. It was an early hint of the way the dominant political order was fabricated and maintained.

But it wasn’t until the 2000 Bush vs Gore election that I really began to feel the uniquely American frenzy first described by de Tocqueville that overtakes our nation during election season (“As the election draws near, intrigues multiply and turmoil spreads…The whole nation descends into a feverish state…“). Though I was just entering high school and still wasn’t old enough to vote, the electoral college fiasco, the recount chaos that unfolded just north of me in Palm Beach, and the Supreme Court finally interceding, all left a lasting impression. I watched George W. Bush’s inauguration and wondered if the country could ever unify behind him. Then, 9/11 happened. The images, emotions, and conversations of that day remain etched in my mind with great clarity. War was upon us, this time much closer to home. I was suspicious of how quickly the country lined up to support their commander-in-chief, and of the rush to seek revenge on the “evil doers.” I was especially struck by images of Bush standing on a pile of rubble in NYC, with his arm around a fire fighter and a bullhorn in the other hand through which he shouted promises of revenge over chants of U-S-A U-S-A!! I can’t say I didn’t feel pangs of patriotism in my chest as I watched this. We were under attack, after all. But again, the way the whole thing seemed staged and made for TV kept me from succumbing to these feelings.

It was in the aftermath of these events that my intense interest in politics began. I enrolled in advanced courses in European and American history at school, and at home began reading Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn. The discrepancy between my history textbooks and Zinn’s People’s History was a stronger hint that in politics, neither truth nor power lies on the surface for all to see. I was still too young to vote when I came to the conclusion that our nation’s “democracy” was more of an ideal than a realized state of affairs.

I started offering my political opinions as editorials editor for The Nova Vue, my high school newspaper. Most of my op-eds were standard liberal takes, anti-Bush and anti-war, pro-gay marriage, etc.; nothing too radical. I watched as Bush went after the Taliban in Afghanistan first, a bombing campaign I didn’t cheer but didn’t protest much, either. Then, with some WMD sleight of hand, Bush worked to convince the nation that a full-scale invasion of Iraq was necessary to bring all the evil doers to justice. “Operation Iraqi Freedom” was launched with little protest from anyone in congress or the US press. Having read some of the policy papers from the neoconservative think-tank the Project for a New American Century that propelled Bush into the White House, I knew that the plans to invade Iraq and recolonize the Middle East were put in place long before the 9/11 attacks. I also read about the recent history of the region, how the US installed Saddam Hussein and trained and funded the Taliban and al Qaeda back when they were the enemies of our enemies. I read about the more distant history of British colonial rule and the artificial drawing of the map of Iraq, which somehow was supposed to include Kurds, Sunnis, and Shias within a single national identity. In the run up to war, I began to entertain some of the 9/11 conspiracy theories. I don’t know what really happened that day, but it seems clear enough that the official story is suspect. US history is full of false flags, so why should 9/11 be ruled out? I am not a true believer or “9/11 Truther,” but nor can I dismiss or belittle the folks who are. I simply do not know. What I do know is that Americans have a special talent for ignoring history when forming opinions about the present.

I was a college freshman at the University of Central Florida when the 2004 primaries wound down and John Kerry emerged as the Democratic nominee. I now had my first opportunity to participate in the civic ritual of voting, an exciting experience that was clouded by an inner conflict I’ve since grown all too familiar with: lesser evilism. Kerry, like Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer and other establishment Democrats, voted to authorize the Iraq war in 2002. I preferred him to Bush, of course, but my heart was with the independent party candidate Ralph Nader. But I knew he could not win and that, practically speaking, a vote for Nader was a vote taken from Kerry and given to Bush. The cynical part of me viewed the whole electoral process as merely symbolic anyway, akin to Catholic transubstantiation: through the miracle known as representation, my vote was supposed to allow me to partake in the democratic selection of my nation’s leader. In reality, my vote was but a tiny drop in a giant lake whose damn was ultimately controlled by the Electoral College and the Supreme Court. I remained conflicted until I walked into the polling place on election day. My heart told me Nader, but I didn’t want to throw my vote away and unintentionally assure the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld war machine another term in the Oval Office. I voted for Kerry.

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The frustration of lesser evilism, not to mention Bush’s re-election victory, squashed my budding political idealism. I was dumbfounded by my country’s decision. The war propaganda machine was too powerful to subvert: prime time coverage of “shock and awe” bombing campaigns followed by Monday Night Football kept the country in line. The faux debates between the puppets of the corporate duopoly were too carefully curated and narrowly defined for genuine democratic self-governance to be possible. I started turning away from politics and corrupt worldly institutions and instead immersed myself in the study of existentialism, depth psychology, and Eastern spirituality. I read Nietzsche, Alan Watts, Carl Jung, Stanislav Grof, and Sri Aurobindo. I became fascinated by the 1960s counterculture, especially Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert/Ram Dass’ experiments with psychedelics. I discovered Terence McKenna’s books and video lectures on YouTube (Leary once called McKenna “the real Tim Leary”). I gave up on the lost cause of American politics and decided to “tune in, turn on, and drop out.”

I became convinced that the real revolution would be an inner one, an evolution of consciousness rather than a revolution of political order. Only when people “woke up”–not “woke” to class or racial identities, but to divine identity–would real democracy be possible. I started thinking seriously about selling my car to fund a one-way trip to India where I hoped to meet my guru and live out my days in an ashram exploring the realms of the human unconscious. Allen Ginsberg’s integration of revolutionary politics and psychedelic spirituality was a helpful corrective to my one-sided otherworldliness during this time, but his bodhisattvic commitment to the suffering of this world was not enough to bring me back into earth orbit, much less down onto the ground.

It would take another few years to lure me back into the political fray. The first important influence occurred in 2005. I was invited by Hillel, a Jewish student organization at my university, to travel to Israel for two weeks as part of a “birthright” trip funded entirely by the Israeli government and Jewish-American philanthropists. It wasn’t quite India, but it fed my hunger for spiritual roots and promised a dangerous adventure that the pages of books and the shopping plazas of suburban Orlando could not match. The trip indeed proved to be spiritually nutritious, particularly a pair of mystical experiences, one at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, and another alone under the stars in the Negev desert. My time in Israel also re-ignited my social and political conscience. I had read enough Chomsky to be critical of Israeli militarism and to sympathize with the plight of the Palestinian people. I was still unprepared for the onslaught of Zionist propaganda that greeted my young tour group at every step of our journey across the tiny but proud nation. They wanted we Americanized Jews to realize that we were part of a sacred tribe, that we belonged in Israel, and that God and history were on our side. The government even offered to help pay for our marriage (to another Jew) and find a house if we moved to the country and accepted citizenship. For anyone under 26, this also meant a year or two of military service in the IDF. The offer stirred a primal desire in me to belong to a people and a place, to feel special, exceptional, chosen. I was tempted, I admit. But the identities of “Jew” and “Israeli” felt too small for me, too fake. And the evils of the occupation weighed too heavily on my heart.

In 2008, there was no Democratic presidential primary election in Florida. If there had been, I probably would have voted for Dennis Kucinich. After watching a few Republican primary debates, I decided to temporarily register Republican so that I could vote for the anti-war candidate Ron Paul. Despite the worsening quagmire in Iraq, Paul, Mike Gravel, and Kucinich were the only true anti-war candidates that year. Gravel and Kucinich were largely ignored, but Paul got some attention because of his fundraising success. US foreign policy and the military-industrial complex were the issues that stirred the most passion in me, so his outspoken opinions about the immorality of the Iraq invasion and the “blow back” theory of terrorism got me fired up. I loved seeing him attack US imperialism on the debate stage next to hawks like McCain, Romney, and Huckabee.

Back in the first decade of the 2000s, social media was just beginning to impact political discourse. But it wasn’t yet the main outlet for debate. By 2007, however, I was posting videos on YouTube about politics (and about philosophy and religion). Ron Paul was the first to inspire this sort of engagement. His battle with the US war machine was short-lived. It didn’t take long for me to grow disenchanted with him due some of the less inspiring aspects of his ideology, including his belief in the magical “invisible hand” of the free market and the taint of racism.

In November 2008, as the global economy convulsed, I was just settling in to San Francisco to attend graduate school. I voted for Obama over McCain, of course. I wasn’t entirely convinced he could bring about real change, but his message was way closer to my ideals. I watched the election in a dive bar on Market Street. When Obama won, everyone spilled out onto the street to celebrate. Cars honked enthusiastically as they slowly weaved through the growing crowds. Strangers high-fived and hugged one another. Obama wasn’t as outspoken about it as Paul, Gravel, or Kucinich, but he was against the war resolution in 2002 and promised to withdraw troops as quickly as possible if elected president. His other progressive positions, including his commitments to campaign finance reform and addressing climate change, excited me. I was truly hopeful when he was elected. I thought the system might change.

Alas, Obama became the president of Wall St. bailouts, drone strikes, domestic spying, and oil production booms. His major accomplishment during his first term was the Affordable Care Act, but despite having control of both houses of congress, the Democrats capitulated to the for-profit insurance industry and didn’t even include a public option in the new law. I will give Obama the benefit of the doubt by saying the White House changed him. I believe he went into office with high ideals and that the office killed them. The weight of the Pentagon, the Federal Reserve, the US intelligence establishment, corporate lobbying, etc., were too much for him to counter. So he went along with what was expected of him. He still talked smart on TV. He showed genuine emotion in tragic moments. He seems like a good guy. But behind the scenes, he continued the corporate sponsored, imperialistic status quo.

In late 2011, the Occupy movement was born. I didn’t live at the San Francisco or Oakland encampments, but I joined in defending them on several occasions, and participated in marches and direct actions, including a general strike that shut down the Oakland port. I also tried to keep some spiritual perspective on the events: “Notes on the Occupation from the Mountaintop.”

Occupy raised my awareness of the extreme economic inequality present in the United States and globally. Alongside American foreign policy and militarism, political economy now became one of the most crucial issues for me. Neoliberal capitalism is a religion, a political theology. Opposing it makes one an iconoclast. (Here’s a taste of how I have come to view the importance of political theology with help from process theologian Catherine Keller.)

Lesser evilism prevailed again in 2012 when I voted for Obama over Romney. I needn’t comment on my reasoning, as it should be obvious. I became even more cynical during Obama’s final term, criticizing his allegiance to the military-industrial complex and his support of neoliberal theology. I began to fall back into the somewhat escapist perspective of my late teens, the idea that progressive politics was pointless because real change could only unfold because of transformed human hearts. Obama was the most progressive president I could imagine winning office, and yet even he continued largely to defend and maintain the same old neoliberalism and militarism.

In mid-2015, I decided to take a chance on Bernie Sanders and hitched myself to his presidential campaign. He carried forward the spirit of the Occupy movement by rejecting the entire neoliberal establishment. It was obvious from the start of the 2016 Democratic primary that Hillary Clinton had already been chosen by Democratic power players. Nobody expected Sanders to make a dent. I made calls for him in state primaries all across the country. These phone conversations taught me how little most Americans kept up with the economic and political issues affecting them. It was discouraging. But I also realized the importance of authenticity to capture the attention of those who’d given up on politics. Even in places I thought would be solidly conservative, like West Virginia, people were open-minded. They were also very kind!

I won’t re-hash here what I’ve already written about the 2016 primaries as they unfolded (“Hillary v. Bernie and the Future of American Democracy,” “Democratic Socialism or Corporate Cronyism,” “In defense of other possibilities“). I will just say that it was clear enough to me as the primaries wound down that Clinton was the weaker candidate against Trump. The country was in the midst of a populist uprising and there was no way another (particularly unpopular) neoliberal corporate-funded centrist was going to win. Sanders spoke to the pain of the poor and working class people who didn’t trust Clinton. His authentic populist firebrand was the only antidote to Trumpism.

As recent events in France make clear, the populist uprising continues to unfold. Bernie is older and by no means the perfect candidate. But I have not seen anyone else yet who I believe can (a) win an election against Trump (or a more articulate right wing populist should Mueller’s investigation bring Trump down) and (b) at least begin the political revolution necessary to achieve the economic, social, racial, and ecological justice that this country and the world so desperately needs. Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard, and Kamala Harris are possibilities, but I have nagging questions about each of them (Warren has voted for Trump’s military budgets, Gabbard seems to have a homophobia problem, and Harris hasn’t yet proven she is willing to follow through on crucial policies like Medicare for All and a Green New Deal).

Democratic Socialism or Corporate Cronyism

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It’s mid-April, and the 74-year-old democratic socialist senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders is not only still in the race for the Democratic nomination, he is in the midst of a spring surge to overtake the most inevitable candidate in modern political history. On Wednesday (April 13th), Bernie held a rally in Washington Square Park in NYC that drew somewhere in the neighborhood of 27,000 people. That’s a few thousand more than Barrack Obama at the same location in 2008.

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Earlier this week, thousands of people marched on the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. protesting capitalism’s takeover of democracy. More than 400 people were arrested for refusing to vacate the area. According to Rolling Stone, “close observers of Washington activism say it may have been the largest [mass arrest at the Capitol] since the Vietnam War.” Tomorrow, only three days before Tuesday’s all-important primary, #Occupy Wall St. will reboot to march through NYC’s financial district in support of Bernie’s campaign. As of today the march’s FaceBook event page lists 12,500 as attending and 25,000 more as interested. I hope the march is yuuuge.


I must admit, I’m a bit disappointed by Bernie’s performance in the debate last night. He was nervous in the first several minutes of the contest, letting Hillary policy-bite her way to sounding like the policy expert on Dodd-Frank and breaking up the banks. For those who lean toward Bernie, it is becoming increasingly obvious that Hillary is leaning way further left today than when she started this race, no doubt in a thinly veiled attempt to attract actual progressives to her neoliberal cause.

On gun control, Bernie’s responses were also underwhelming. I am rather confused as to why he doesn’t rebut Clinton’s accusations by pointing out what every Bernie supporter (including me) was screaming at their TV at this point during the debate:

Hillary Clinton is the biggest international arms dealer in modern history.

According to the International Business Times:

Under Clinton’s leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation, according to an IBTimes analysis of State Department and foundation data. That figure — derived from the three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as Secretary of State (from October 2010 to September 2012) — represented nearly double the value of American arms sales made to the those countries and approved by the State Department during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term.

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A big chunk of that $165 billion in arms went to Saudi Arabia in the form of Boeing F-15 Strike Eagle fighter jets. Not long before Hillary became Secretary of State and approved the deal, Saudi Arabia donated $10 million to the Clinton Foundation. Boeing donated $900,000. After Obama appointed Hillary in 2009, the Clintons reluctantly agreed that their Foundation would not accept money from foreign governments while she was serving as Secretary of State. Apparently they feel no need to avoid the perception of undue influence now that she is running for president, since the ban on accepting money from foreign leaders was lifted the moment she stepped down from the State Department. Will the ban be re-imposed if she takes office as president? I wonder whether Hillary would be for legislation allowing Boeing and other defense contractors to be sued for civilian deaths caused by their weapons overseas?

After losing the congressional election in 1988, largely as a result of his support for an assault weapons ban, in 1990, Bernie had to make a deal with the gun lobby in Vermont to become the first socialist elected to congress in decades. He didn’t try to hide this fact during the debate. He continues to stick to his guns. He refuses to apologize or pander on the issue. But why has he let Hillary win the moral high ground on this issue when her private business ventures and State Department decisions (is there a difference for her?) have so obviously contributed more to world-wide gun violence than all the other presidential candidates and currently serving congresspeople combined? It’s as if Bernie’s been told by the party bosses that the transnational military-industrial complex is off limits during the primary campaign. He’s not allowed to mention it in earshot of any of the major media networks. At least, not as long as he wants to remain a member of the Democratic party.


USA_2009._Percent_of_adult_males_incarcerated_by_race_and_ethnicity.pngBernie and Hillary agree that many of our nation’s public and private institutions bear the scars of a racist past. Where they differ is in their prescriptions. Hillary offers platitudes. When challenged, she remains defensive and dismissive. Bernie’s response to the mass incarceration of 2.2 million Americans is universal public education from K through college and a thorough cultural overhaul and demilitarization of the criminal justice system.


On the ecological crisis (mentioned for the first time an hour into the debate and discussed for about 10 minutes), Hillary is arguing that fracking is part of the “bridge” to renewables. She’s refusing to take swift and decisive action to disempower the fossil fuel industry on behalf of future generations.

Bernie is offering the only adequate federal level policy response to climate change. He is the only candidate who is openly recognizing the “unprecedented urgency” of the crisis. He is the only candidate calling for a carbon tax. He is the only candidate with a $1 trillion infrastructure bill to rebuild the American energy grid to run on renewable energy in 10 years. Bernie quoted Pope Francis during the debate, who has described the industrial growth economy of global capitalism as “a suicide course.”


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Some Hillary supporters have been decrying the sarcasm they detect in Bernie and his supporters. Sarcasm is one of the only authentic responses to the sort of condescension the Clintons are directing at young people. We are the next in line who are going to have to deal with the inaction, negligence, and impropriety of the present generation of leaders. Excuse us for not being patient enough for your austerity incrementalism or trusting enough in your crony capitalism, Hillary.

 

Hillary v. Bernie and the Future of American Democracy

I’ve been meaning to write about the primaries for a while now, but administrative duties at CIIS, finishing my dissertation and other writing projects, and online teaching has taken up all my time and energy. Lack of time hasn’t stopped me from rushing off a ton of tweets and FaceBook posts in support of Bernie Sanders’ campaign, but the 140 character limit makes nuance difficult. So, finally, I’ll try to provide that nuance now.

Many Americans are forced to put in way more time at work than I am. And many of them (about half) make less than I do. Many also have kids or aging parents to take care of. Being so overworked makes it tough for Americans to participate fully in the political process. Being jobless or homeless makes it even tougher. Doing the research to understand the history and the policy proposals of the presidential candidates takes a lot of time, energy, and education. All the Super PAC money being pumped into shaping our opinions for us doesn’t help. It’s so much easier to parrot op-eds written by pundits paid by the campaigns or their Super PACs than it is to battle through the ideological posturing to forge an informed perspective.

I’m not alone in being extremely concerned about the future of democracy in this country. Moderates may think continuing to compromise with oligarchs will eventually right the ship. But if there is one thing that reactionary conservatives and revolutionary progressives both agree on it’s that a fundamental transformation in the way the federal government operates is necessary. The people of this country are tired of establishment politicians. Of course I am terrified of Trump or Cruz becoming president. They represent the worst of our nation’s hubristic and self-centered shadow. Hillary would prevent many of the evils of a Republican president. But at least while we are still in the primaries, I refuse to jettison my idealism to support the lesser of two evils.

I’m well aware that with today’s congress, a President Sanders would be unable to get any of his proposals passed. But the reason I support him is that his campaign is not about him. It is about the people. He has been quite frank on the campaign trail that his proposals will not succeed unless the 99% rise up to take their democracy back from the 1%. His whole campaign is geared toward generating a groundswell of democratic energy to follow him into office to make sure sitting members of congress know their seats are at stake in 2018 if they don’t support what the majority of Americans want (like universal health care and free public higher education).

I’ve been rather harsh in my criticisms of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. It has been suggested that this is because I’m sexist. Hillary’s supporters are growing increasingly anxious about the rise of Bernie’s underdog candidacy (and his 3.2 million small contributions from individual donors who keep on giving), so I’m not surprised they are resorting to such desperate tactics. I cannot deny that some of her detractors on the right and, yes, even on the left, are indeed sexist, and I agree that it is much harder for Hillary as a woman to survive in a patriarchal political arena. But this isn’t about Hillary Clinton’s struggle to become president. It’s about the future of our democracy. One of the main reasons I criticize her is because of who is funding her campaign: four of her top five funders live on Wall St., and the other is a transnational law firm that helps corporations avoid paying taxes. The other is her hawkish foreign policy and over-zealous interventionism abroad. She is way too quick to advocate for military action, and has done so in Libya and Honduras to topple regimes when no threat existed to Americans. As she herself admits, she sways back and forth from moderate to progressive depending on who is asking. I am convinced that her more recent left-leaning rhetoric is just that–talk–since once in office she will be beholden to her corporate funders to continue the same old 90s Clinton-style neoliberal capitalism. There have been several waves of feminism, and Hillary seems largely second-wave. As many have argued, her form of feminism has largely functioned to support the neoliberal agenda. The critical theorist Nancy Fraser wrote an illuminating article for The Guardian about this a few years back that is well worth a read. The French professor of American Studies Pierre Guerlain followed up Fraser’s article by tying it specifically to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential run:

Electing an African-American president was a strong symbol. Yet, as Cornell West and others have pointed out, the lives of most African-Americans have not been improved by this potent symbol. In New York, the gender or sex-orientation issue was deemed secondary by Democratic primary voters who preferred De Blasio to Quinn (before New Yorkers in general confirmed this choice). The Ready for Hillary supporters might be trying to play the gender card, but it would be risky and politically problematic. If I were American, I would prefer a candidate like Elizabeth Warren, but I also know her left-liberal anti-plutocratic positions make her almost unelectable as president. Warren would not survive the money or hidden primary.

Hillary Clinton constantly has moved toward the center of US politics. And when the center migrated rightward, she migrated with it. She might be more electable now – not because she is a woman, but rather because she is a friend of the Money Power and willing to compromise on the issues that matter to it. Feminism in this context is just a gimmick to attract some voters who place gender above any other issue. Respecting the rules of the Money Power during a campaign means toeing the line of oligarchy while in power. Neither men nor women benefit from this. Clinton and her neoliberal allies are hijacking feminism and the rhetoric of diversity.

This was written back in 2013, when Sanders was basically unknown and Warren seemed like the progressive movement’s best hope. I, too, would readily have voted for Warren had she decided to run. The big surprise now that we are in early 2016 is that Bernie is not only surviving but thriving despite not having a Super PAC, a well-oiled political machine, or much positive media coverage. The CEO of Goldman Sachs Lloyd Blankfein (a major contributor to Hillary) even acknowledged just a few days ago that the success of Bernie’s campaign represents “a dangerous moment” for oligarchs like him.

Now, just for added nuance, let me be clear that I’m not a fanatic and there are some issues I do not agree with Bernie on. I think he should reconsider the issue of reparations that was recently magnified by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I don’t know if it is ultimately politically feasible to institute reparations, but the moral case for them is hard to deny. Regardless, there has been a bill sitting in the house for years (HR 40, put forward by John Conyers) to at least study the issue. Undertaking such a study would initiate a long overdue national conversation about the lasting effects of slavery and inequality in this country. I think Bernie’s supporters should push him to advocate for congressman Conyers’ bill. In the end, I think racial inequality should always be considered right alongside class inequality. Separating these intersecting issues by fighting about which is more fundamental only prevents us from getting at the root of the issue which is inequality as such.

The main factor motivating my political involvement is the ever-expanding power of capital in human life. Domains like criminal justice, healthcare, education, and politics are no place for the profit-motive. Hillary has flip-flopped on her support for universal healthcare because of pressure from the insurance industry and has taken huge sums of money from Wall St., the private prison industry, and other transnational corporations. Bernie has been a consistent opponent of capitalism’s influence on these domains and hasn’t taken a single dollar from the oligarchs. I have no reason to believe Hillary will take office to work for the American people. She may try to do what is best for 99% of us, but she owes too much to her funders to put us first. Bernie, on the other hand, owes his campaign to the millions of small donors who still believe democracy has a future in America.

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