Unified Leftist Politics: An Ongoing Investigation

In the wake of the Rachel Dolezal controversy and my critique of Identity Politics I feel it necessary to discuss further the importance for revolutionary praxis of breaking away from sectarian politics. If we are to create a political movement to counter the hegemony of Global Capitalism it must be a unified movement. The problem with Identity Politics is that it fractures the Left into an inordinate number of varying identity groups. This form of politics leaves us with conversations about the comparative degrees of oppression faced by transgendered white women versus gay men or women of color. We are repeatedly left to debate whose victimhood is more legitimate, creating a kind of language turf war wherein the battles are fought within the movement itself over placement in the hierarchy of oppression rather than in developing a unified revolutionary praxis for countering the hegemony of Global Capitalism.

The practical, concrete result this ideological formation has on street level political activism is the dominance of Movementism. Movementism is purely a reactionist enterprise. It tends to take the form of political activism in response to a single issue: the war in Iraq, police brutality, abortion restrictions, voter disenfranchisement, etc. As a result of this disorganization and spontaneous formation there is very little that the organizations formed around these issues can actually accomplish. Their disunity from the rest of the goals of the Left is precisely the reason that they generally fail to achieve their aims. They only appear spontaneously in the wake of an immediate crisis, feeding off the energy of the local populace to fill their ranks. Once that energy dissipates, as it always does when people begin returning to their normal lives, the organization falls apart, slipping back into obscurity.

We need to develop a movement across the left on the basis of a shared political line in opposition to Global Capitalism just as the Bourgeoisie united as a single class in opposition to Feudalism. We must take the various forms of oppression which exist under Capitalism and bring them within a unified politics. Instead of arguing over the hierarchy of oppression we must identify the various expressions of oppressions under Capitalism as anachronisms within the context of a better world and should thus be abolished along with their progenitor, Class Society, the modern formation of which is Capitalism. We need political organizations that live within, and recruit from, their communities around the country, devoted to the daily task that is the construction of revolutionary organizations capable of creating and promoting a revolutionary politics and the concrete strategy for its practical application.

The economic crisis that has brought suffering to so many millions of Americans would have been an excellent opportunity for these organizations to begin their practical efforts toward seizing political power through the established channels were these kinds of organizations being built in the preceding decades. However, Capitalism is yet again in crisis and the Left in America remains utterly impotent to do anything about it. This is not to say that the Left should ignore reformist struggles aimed at incremental improvements. Any reformist legislative campaign that is likely to be enacted and thus likely to improve the lives of millions of Americans, like the expansion of insurance and access to Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act, should be supported. But surely that does not mean that reformist struggle should be the only practical political activity of the Left.

The struggle for the overthrow of Capitalism through political revolution should not remain merely an academic, theoretical exercise. We need to develop practical tools for concrete revolutionary praxis all the while incorporating, and focusing, the energy of spontaneous political activism in the wake of crises into our paradigm. When these crises emerge there must exist revolutionary political organizations that the mass of the people can turn to for assistance. And these organizations must exist within and be derived from all the communities, but particularly those communities with the least access to the established avenues of political participation. As Marx correctly concluded the slaves make history, for they have nothing to lose but their chains. Certainly this will be a herculean undertaking.

Nevertheless, if the Left in America wishes to address and solve the many challenges that face not only the country but the planet, with climate change being the most dire, then this sectarianism must not persist. We have spent far too long huddled in our individual corners, fighting our own small, individual battles against attacks on the environment, anti-poverty programs, reproductive rights, voting rights, police brutality, corporate crime, and so on. Without a unified front there can be no long term victory in any of these fights. For there is too much money and power behind the counter-revolutionary forces within our society who desire to see the perpetuation of Class Society in the form of Global Capitalism for it is from the maintenance of the status quo that they benefit. Not to mention those who want to see the achievements of human liberation and progress rolled back. I hope to continue my investigation into this issue by researching the thought of revolutionaries past and present who also struggled with these same concerns.

Rachel Dolezal and the Problem of Race

The case of Rachel Dolezal is both amusing and frustrating. Frankly, something about this case feels like a set up. It’s emergence onto the national stage at a time when substantive discussions about race, police brutality, systems of oppression, etc. are finally being engaged is suspicious. Almost as thought some reactionary right winger had this card up his sleeve and was only waiting for the right moment to play it. The fact that the life story of the director of the Spokane, Washington office of the NAACP, an unpaid position for Christ’s sake, would become the top national news story in the country would have seemed preposterous a week ago. Regardless, I do not think that this story is entirely a distraction.

While I am sympathetic to the position that whites have appropriated cultural inventions of the African American community there is an underlying philosophy behind these critiques that is troublesome. The reaction of Identity Politics liberals to this case highlights the methodological inconsistency and cul de sac like quality of Identity Politics. The very people criticizing the likes of Rachel Dolezal are avowed defenders of transgendered people. They argue that gender is a social construction. Thus the gender identifications of trans people, being as they are, in opposition to the socially constructed conceptions of gender identity associated with one’s sexual organs, should be supported. Put simply, because gender is not based in any biological reality there is no reason that a person born with male sex organs cannot gender identify as female. They also argue that race is a social construction with no basis in biology; invented to excuse the oppression of one group by another. But because it is somehow a special kind of social construction. and therefore somehow not equivalent to gender, these advocates of Identity Politics claim that Dolezal should be condemned for attempting to appropriate the black experience, misrepresent her identity, deceive her friends, colleagues, students, etc.

These claims are usually derived from the presupposition that the view transgendered people have of their identity is genuine while Dolezal’s is not because she was forced to go to such extreme lengths to distort her true identity in order to deceive everyone around her into believing she was black. She fashioned her hair like your stereotypical black woman, darkened her skin, changed the way she spoke, lied about her parentage, and so on. How can they claim that race is not a biological reality while also arguing Dolezal is white? They seem so invested in an idea they themselves admit is only real in the sense that human beings have been forced to fabricate it! But because so many people are so greatly invested in this notion of race, because they so fervently and genuinely believe in it’s existence, it is transformed, via a kind of racial prestidigitation, into a concrete reality that is also social construction. Dolezal’s critics are not the only ones committed to this conception of race. She seems equally invested in maintaining it, all the while devoting her life to championing equality based on a shared humanity that stands in opposition to claims that race is biological.

Liberal and progressive critics of Dolezal are not the only ones who make the case for some special category for race in America. This has been one of the most important issues for conservatives and right wingers. One can hear it even today in arguments in defense of Southern heritage, and criticism of the welfare state supposedly disproportionately benefiting minorities, with the implicit understanding being that they are inferior to whites and thus undeserving of the social contract; among a multitude of other arguments! So, not only have these so called liberals and progressives adopted such an intellectually ridiculous approach to these issues, they have made common cause with reactionaries! The very same people who must be fought tooth and nail for every inch of social progress. We must reject these conceptions once and for all. There is no legitimate basis for these arguments. These categories are merely the expression of class power by those who rule against those who are ruled. That is all race and gender have ever been, an ideological means to justify the location of a designated group of people within a particular exploitative social relationship. Listening to the critique of Dolezal from the left is very reminiscent of Benjamin Franklin’s complaints that German immigrants not being white enough.

Emma Sulkowicz, Cenk Uygur, and Rape Culture

Emma Sulkowicz is the recent Columbia University graduate who carried a mattress everywhere she went around the university campus, as part of a senior thesis art project, after she brought sexual assault allegations against one of her fellow classmates that resulted in his being found “not responsible” by the University. She is one of six alleged victims of sexual violence allegedly perpetrated by Paul Nungesser, whose name we now know due to its publication by Emma Bolger in The Columbia Spectator after they received an anonymous tip about flyers posted around campus containing the names of four people the anonymous author or authors accused of sexual assault. Sulkowicz decided to file charges with the University after encountering two other alleged victims of Nungesser who in the wake of Sulkowicz’s action also filed charges. The results were the same however, in all three instances Nungesser being found “not responsible”. Prior to this Nungesser was accused by another woman who initially won her case against him. She moved on, graduated college, started her career and when he filed an appeal the woman initially carried on with the case against him. However, after becoming frustrated with the university’s “incompetence”, as demonstrated by routine calls in the middle of the day to her place of work to discuss the details of her sexual assault, and not wanting to lose her job by having to take time off to travel back to the university to testify in an appeal of a conviction on which she was already victorious she withdrew from the process. Without her testimony Nungesser’s conviction in the university system was overturned. Recently, the fifth victim came forward, a man. And again, Nungesser was found “not responsible”. The man is only known by a pseudonym, “Adam”. Apparently the two were discussing relationship problems “Adam” was having with his then girlfriend “Natalie” when Nungesser allegedly molested him. “Natalie” would also go on to file charges against Nungesser.

Now Sulkowicz has released another art project. The piece is entitled “Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol” or in English “This Is Not A Rape”. The piece consists of three parts. First, a page with a trigger warning explaining that the following video depicts consensual acts, and though it is not a reenactment it does makes allusions to rape, but is not a rape. Following the warning is an explanation of the project:

Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol is not about one night in August, 2012. It’s about your decisions, starting now. It’s only a reenactment if you disregard my words. It’s about you, not him. Do not watch this video if your motives would upset me, my desires are unclear to you, or my nuances are indecipherable. You might be wondering why I’ve made myself this vulnerable. Look—I want to change the world, and that begins with you, seeing yourself. If you watch this video without my consent, then I hope you reflect on your reasons for objectifying me and participating in my rape, for, in that case, you were the one who couldn’t resist the urge to make Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol about what you wanted to make it about: rape. Please, don’t participate in my rape. Watch kindly

Following the explanation are a series of questions for reflection:”Are you searching for proof? Proof of what? Are you searching for ways to either hurt or help me? What are you looking for? Do you desire pleasure? Do you desire revulsion? Is this to counteract your unconscious enjoyment? What do you want from this experience? How well do you think you know me? Have we ever met? Do you think I’m the perfect victim or the world’s worst victim? Do you refuse to see me as either a human being or a victim? If so, why? Is it to deny me agency and thus further victimize me? If so, what do you think of the fact that you owe your ability to do so to me, since I’m the one who took a risk and made myself vulnerable in the first place? Do you hate me? If so, how does it feel to hate me?”

After the video is a section for the audience to provide comments. As of this writing there are 3547 comments. Few of them are thoughtful considerations of the artist’s work. Even when excluding the numerous comments devoted to describing how the author used the video to masturbate most of the comments seem to take the form of a disgruntled dog owner berating his pet. The credibility of her claims are repeatedly called into question. She is accused of being a woman scorned on a path of vengeance via crying false rape allegations. She is told that her rape was not real, that she is deranged, a drama queen, an attention seeker who has had her fifteen minutes of fame so she should just shut up already. It does not seem to occur to many of them that the true purpose of the project is not about her or her alleged sexual assault. They fail to realized that their reaction, whatever that reaction is, whether it is sympathetic or derisive and scornful of Emma Sulkowicz, is the purpose. It is a means to eliciting the vulgarity and destructiveness of our society’s reactions to sexual abuse. How we respond, how we interact with the project reveals something about us.

I did not watch the video. I did not watch it because one is not supposed to watch it without Sulkowicz’s consent. And because I did not want to continue to participate in the further sexualization of a crime as perpetuated by the media outlets who drew me to the website with their spurious analysis of her art project. One can easily find vivid descriptions of the content online. Though I did not read those either. It is sufficient to know that the play performed in the video begins as consensual and suddenly turns violent once the woman withdraws consent. In many of the news articles I read concerning this project there is very little discussion of the text that precedes the video, which does not surprise me. Most articles only discuss the video, playing up the sexual sensationalism of a famous, young, female, artist who accused a classmate of sexual abuse and has now created and released a video of a sexual assault as an art project. When reading those articles I found myself disturbed by the content of the project. But once I went to the actual webpage and discovered the seemingly forgotten text the purpose of the project became clear, and though I was still conflicted about the nature of the project I at least understood it’s purpose. Again, it is not surprising that the text was ignored in the press. Few seemed to care about Sulkowicz as a person with agency when the sexual assault charges made it into the national media. It is unlikely that the press would care much about presenting this project in the manner originally intended by the artist. But this did not only apply to outlets from whom one would expect this kind of behavior.

The Young Turks, a daily online broadcast of news and commentary also fell into this trap. A panel of four people discuss the project in the video, available on Youtube. At the outset of the discussion two quotes from the actual webpage of Sulkowicz’s project are provided, but they are provided out of context. The quotes come from the first and third paragraphs on the actual webpage. Hannah Cranston, who reads the quotes, fails to mention that the first quote is from a “trigger warning” provided to alert sexual abuse survivors of the potential problems the video may cause for them. She also fails to provide the text surrounding the second quote that explains the entire purpose of the project as I did earlier in this article. Nor does she, or anyone else on the panel, explain that without Sulkowicz’s consent to watch the video one is not supposed to watch the video. But, however, if one persists in viewing it one is supposed to reflect on the questions she provides. After the initially description of the project the discussion follows. Cenk Uygur, Ben Mankiewicz and Cara Santa Maria constitute the rest of the panel. The two women, unsurprisingly, are the most sympathetic to Sulkowicz, though Mankiewicz hardly says anything; when he does he speaks solely to reinforce Cenk Uygur’s point concerning the negative impact this art project has, and may have, on the credibility of Sulkowicz’s claims of sexual abuse, and the credibility of claims of sexual abuse by women everywhere.

The main problem here is Cenk Uygur. Throughout the video he argues that this project cements in his mind the idea that Sulkowicz is merely seeking attention. Apparently, he already had doubts as to the veracity of her claims when she began carrying the mattress around campus, and because of the manner in which she came to understand what happened to her as an instance of sexual abuse after discussing the encounter with two other women who shared similar stories about their sexual interactions with Paul Nungesser. He argues that he now believes her claims are “bullshit”, and that because of her behavior and her art projects men around the country are now going to be even more skeptical of claims by women of sexual assault. What seems to escape Uygur’s understanding is how he is one of those men he appears to be criticizing. For him, the reality of what happened between Nungesser and Sulkowicz was adjudicated within the university system and because Nungesser was found “not responsible” Sulkowicz should leave the entire issue alone. For Uygur, Nungesser is the victim in this story because he was outed as a rapist by Sulkowicz (Though I have not been able to find any evidence of his claims it would not shock me to discover that Sulkowicz was behind the anonymous fliers posed on campus listing Nungesser as one of the four rapists on campus). I suppose the fact that he has been accused of sexual abuse six times, in each case ultimately being found “not responsible”, is not evidence of a flawed university system, but is, instead, evidence of…of what exactly? His innocence? A conspiracy to punish a man his false victims believe has escaped punishment? Cenk Uygur does not tell us.

Uygur’s arguments are the products of a rape culture he has taken countless hours on his media platform condemning. No sexual abuse survivor owes anyone anything. They do not owe anyone a certain standard of behavior to ensure the credibility of their claims. They do not owe anyone a report to the police of their abuse, nor do they owe anyone their suffering through the meat grinder that is the American justice system to hope against hope that this one predator might somehow, someway, maybe, possibly, end up in prison, and thus be prevented from preying on another innocent person ever again. Perhaps the argument is different in the case of a sexual abuse victim who becomes an activist against sexual assault. Emma Sulkowicz is not, however, a traditional activist. She is an artist. And in either case I would still argue that they she is not, nor is anyone else, responsible for conforming to some imaginary “perfect victim” standard conjured in the minds of the Cenk Uygur’s of the world in order for them to find it easier to believe their claims of abuse. Blaming Emma Sulkowicz for the beliefs of men around the country, who after seeing her latest project, are now less likely to believe the claims of the abused is a most pernicious example of rape culture. Blaming alleged victims of sexual abuse, regardless of whether one believes their claims, for something over which they have absolutely no control is despicable. We might as well blame prejudice against blacks, or gays, or Jews, or Muslims when their beliefs or behavior fail to conform to the desired preferences of bigots because by failing to live up to those standards they are providing ammunition for discrediting the very claims of discrimination and hatred they are attempting to dislodge from society. So, I say this: Fuck you, Cenk Uygur. In this case YOU are part of the problem.

While I have no special insight into your psychology, your highly defensive reaction to this art project seems an indication of an underlying reactionary character that very rarely finds expression in your work. This does not surprise me. Even the best among us have this tendency. The culture in which we have been socialized is highly racist, sexist, otherwise bigoted, prejudiced and patriarchal. To grow up within it and not be in some way affected, particularly on an unconscious level wherein we have less active control, is impossible. However, those of us invested in the progressive improvement of our society must search inside ourselves for our reactionary tendencies and find a means of expelling them so that they do not cloud our judgement about important issues. In some cases this is easy, in others it may be more difficult. From where your reactionary tendency with regard to this issue emanates I can only speculate. Of course, given your repeated references to your past life as a man largely ignored by women, incapable of earning their sexual trust and consent, one can only imagine that your unconscious, and thus unresolved, conflicts regarding this self-conception is the most likely explanation. I have little reason to expect that you will re-evaluate your perspective on this issue. However, if you do I will be elated to admit my error.

Sources:
1. http://www.cecinestpasunviol.com
2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5a4wtscImc
3. http://columbiaspectator.com/news/2014/05/16/frustrated-columbias-inaction-student-reports-sexual-assault-police
4. http://columbiaspectator.com/spectrum/2015/05/21/paul-nungesser-found-not-responsible-alleged-sexual-assault-male-student

Izabel Laxaman and the Usefulness of Public Shaming and Other Forms of Abuse

Izabel Laxaman was a thirteen year old girl from Tacoma, Washington who recently died by suicide. A video of what appears to be Izabel responding to her father’s questions subsequent to his cutting off much of her hair was speculated by many media outlets to be directly related to her death. Apparently, the action was meant to punish Izabel for sending an inappropriate photo of herself to a young boy, something it seems logical to deduce from the available evidence, she was repeatedly told not to do; though we cannot be certain. In the video a seemingly despondent Izabel is addressed by a man off-screen after first filming a pile of long, black hair on the floor: “The consequences of getting messed up, man: you lost all your beautiful hair. Was it worth it?”. Izabel replies with a perfunctory “No”, to which the man responds, “How many times did I warn you?”. “A lot”, replies Izabel. Initially, it was reported that her father had posted the video online in an attempt to publicly shame, and thus supposedly rehabilitate his daughter. Only that turned out not to be true. According to the most recent reports, the father made the video for Izabel to hold onto herself, only it was acquired by a third party and posted online. Police say Izabel shared it with her friends though they did not say who put it online. Several suicide notes were left behind on an iPod she gave to a classmate in the hours immediately preceding her death. In the notes she tells her family that she did some things that she thought would be embarrassing and feared doing harm to the family name. She also assured her family that they were not to blame. Friends of Izabel have told the local news channel in Tacoma that she was also coping with bullying and not being permitted to participate in student government due to lacking her family’s permission. The school claims they provided Izabel with counseling after they became aware of the video’s existence and made a report to Child Protective Services. They also claim that they were unaware of any student to student harassment.

The nature of the immediate outrage over the method of punishment allegedly used by the father, and its potential causal relationship to her death, as well as how the press and the police corrected the record relative to the relationship between the video and the girl’s death is strange. The press and the police seem eager to exculpate the father, specifically, and the family, more generally, of any wrongdoing. Especially since we now know that the video was posted, not by the father, but by an unknown third party who police seem to implying acquired it from Izabel. It seems like both an attempt to calm the outrage festering online throughout the world as well as an attempt to shift blame from the father to the young girl. In comments to the New York Daily News the police are quoted criticizing Izabel as “a 13-year-old that made some poor choices, meaning that she didn’t have to kill herself”. Certainly, any mental health expert will responsibly and reasonably argue that determining cause and effect in the case of a suicide is difficult. Many potential factors exist, such as mental illness, drug use, brain damage, cultural, social, and family values, as well as genetics, and socioeconomic issues like unemployment, homelessness, or discrimination.

What ultimately caused Izabel Laxaman to die by suicide is unknown. In some sense it seems as though the responsible choice would be to take her notes at face value. Respecting her agency as a person it would be legitimate to accept the reasons she offered, whatever they might be, and not blame her father or her family. However, one cannot ignore what we do know of the content of her suicide notes in which she says that she did some things that were embarrassing and feared damaging her family name. Regardless of whether or not the video itself was a trigger shame seems to be an integral part of Izabel’s psychology. In the final analysis, whatever role the video played in her death the true relevance this story has to the broader public is the role that public shaming plays in how people attempt to change other people’s future behavior.

Publicly shaming or otherwise abusing someone is a common form of punishment at all levels of society, not just at the level of parenting. Even judges have taken to shaming convicted criminals by making them wear signs stating their intolerant bullies or are violent felons. Last year, on her third day at a new high school, a young girl named Miranda Larkin was forced to wear an enormous neon yellow t-shirt with red shorts. Text was emblazoned on the shirt reading, “Dress code violation”, when the girl wore a black skirt one teacher claimed was too short. Recently, while driving to an appointment, I was listening to a local right wing radio station. The two hosts were discussing a couple news stories, one about the torture of Majid Khan, and an ACLU lawsuit against Baltimore’s jails. The hosts argued that the attempted drowning go Khan in a bathtub filled with ice water was akin to a football player soaking in an ice bath after a game, thus making the case that he was not actually tortured. Then they argued that the squalor in which the prisoners of Baltimore’s jails were forced to live was a useful means of rehabilitating them. Make prison so horrible that no convicted criminal would ever want to return. Arguments such as these call to mind the penalties for what are today considers non-capital offenses like theft that used to result in executions throughout the western world; or the imprisonment, or forced military conscription, or indentured servitude of the poor or indebted.

No amount of abuse will ever inspire a person to behave more decently or otherwise exhibit whatever behavior the abuser wishes to see the abused perform. Abuse only perpetuates trauma and further abuse. Abuse is learned and because it is learned it is passed on from one person to another, from one generation to another.

Bernie Sanders and the Media

Now that Bernie Sanders has officially initiated his presidential campaign for the nomination of the Democratic Party his marginalization by the media is underway. Recently Sanders gave a speech, in which he said,

“If 99 percent of all the new income goes to the top 1 percent, you could triple it, it wouldn’t matter much to the average middle class person. The whole size of the economy and the GDP doesn’t matter if people continue to work longer hours for low wages and you have 45 million people living in poverty. You can’t just continue growth for the sake of growth in a world in which we are struggling with climate change and all kinds of environmental problems. All right? You don’t necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country”.

To anyone with half a brain it is quite clear what he is talking about. He is positing the illusion of choice so many of us experience when we walk into a grocery store, or a pharmacy. Instead of having a real choice as to the economic security of their own lives the 45 million people living in poverty are given innumerable choices in the kind of deodorant, perfume, toothpaste, shoes, shirts, and other consumer goods they can buy; if they can afford to buy them at all. What good is an economy that only provides economic growth to those who are already awash in money? Certainly the absolute standard of living may be increasing due to the incredible amount of total growth and wealth accumulation. In fact, it could theoretically double in size. But when the share of that wealth accessed and controlled by the average working American shrinks, though they might be in an absolute sense increasingly, materially well off, they are also, in a relative sense, increasingly subservient to the ruling class.

The real choice we need is in the economic organization of our society, not just in the distribution of its social surplus, nor in the variety of its consumer goods. But if you are Jim Tankersly of The Washington Post what Bernie Sanders is saying is apparently, “The literal implication of that last sentence is that there some kind of a national trade-off between antiperspirant/Air Jordan variety and food for children. This makes sense if you believe that the government should be allocating the resources in the economy — in this case, directing fewer of them to personal hygiene and footwear and more to child nutrition”.

Issues such as these are so rarely discussed at a national level that it is not too surprising that someone like Tankersly has no idea what Sanders is saying. And of course to Conservatives it really does sound to them like he is trying to take away your liberty by arguing that we don’t need a thousand different versions of armpit perfume. To them he is a socialist simply for making that argument. Of course, like most anything else with the Beltway media and Conservatives, it does not matter if it is true. They will make the argument anyway.

Bernie Sanders is not a socialist. In one of a dozen European countries he is a social democrat, well within the margins of mainstream political and economic orthodoxy. He believes in expanding the welfare state and reigning in capitalism through the strict regulatory management of monopoly capitalism; breaking big companies down into smaller ones, raising wages, raising taxes on the wealthy, etc. A socialist does not want to regulate or reform capitalism, a socialist wants to overthrow capitalism by giving working people control over the means of production and thus control over the distribution of the social surplus.

For simply expressing ideas that are anything but radical in pretty much every country on the European continent Sanders is not credible to many in the establishment media. Plus, the fact that Sanders is not operating a PAC, nor is he going around the country begging billionaires for cash, cash, cash is evidence of his un-electability. Not to mention his Brooklyn accent and his hair, reminiscent of Ernie from Sesame Street. The one context in which much of the press corp. seems comfortable talking about Sanders is in relation to Hilary Clinton; how his campaign will affect Clinton’s, will it push her further to the left, etc.

An amusing tidbit from the New York Times: “Judging from Mr. Sanders’s trip [to Iowa] last week, there is real support for his message — though some Democrats also simply want to send a warning shot to Mrs. Clinton to get her to visit here more”. Yes, your average Democratic Primary voter in Iowa is interested only in attending a Bernie Sanders rally rather than taking their children to the movies, the park, or in some other way spending enjoyable time with their family, for the sake of sending a message to Hilary Clinton about visiting their town more often. The fact that such text can even appear in a paper as supposedly credible as the NYT is evidence of just how awful journalism is anymore.

In the same NYT article a political science professor named Steffen Schmidt from Iowa State University argues that in the wake of Sanders events in Iowa which drew large crowds, sometimes bubbling over in people that some hundred observers or so were forced to watch a rally from outside a local brewery, Clinton should be worried. She should be worried because Iowa Democrats feel neglected and despise Clinton’s listening tour campaign wherein she offers little in the way of policy prescription, but instead hears voters out. Yes, heaven forbid a political candidate offer people an opportunity to express themselves. Yes, I’m sure they feel neglected because Clinton is not making stump speeches to rally the troops. It likely has little to nothing to do with the economic depression through which tens of millions of Americans are currently suffering. But this is par for the course when it comes to political analysis in modern America.

Sources:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/05/26/sorry-bernie-sanders-deodorant-isnt-starving-americas-children/

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/01/us/politics/challenging-hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders-gains-momentum-in-iowa.html?_r=1