The Primaries Come to the Boonies

This is truly an unusual primary. Usually New York
State conducts its primaries quietly in solitary splendor. In general, the
Empire State does not play a deciding role in selecting a general election
candidate for either party, even though we have a lot of delegates. The New
York primary is so late that the early states have already settled the issue.
So it is really quite bizarre to have the candidates
I have been writing about traipsing around even the most out-of-the-way places
in NY, such as my city (Syracuse), Utica, Rome, Dexter – Dexter!
It started two weeks ago with Hillary. She met her
public in a large roofed shed usually used by crafters at the Farmer’s Market
on summer weekends. I thought I would have to stand in a long line for hours,
and I did stand in a longish line for about half an hour, before I walked
through the metal detector and slid my shoulder bag over to the secret service
so they could pat it down.
I did see Hillary. She looks nice in orange (SU was
in the Final Four) and, when I left, when the concrete floor got too hard to
stand on any longer, I still liked her and wanted to vote for her. I took a few
pictures. One is of Adam (no last name) who was in line by me for a while. He
is in the teacher’s union and had on his AFT tee shirt.

The second person is called Jovan (John to us), an
eighty-four year old man who came to America from Macedonia and still has a
thick accent. (He worked in Bldg. 7 at GE, my Dad was in Bldg. 5.) His children
have done very well, one graduating from an Ivy League school, one a doctor
trained at Johns Hopkins. He wants nothing to do with socialism even if it does
have the word Democratic in front of it. Jovan has boundless confidence. He
wended his way to the very front of the rally.

My third picture is of Hillary and was taken by the
tall man in front of me – the one I had to sway back and forth to see beyond,
taken with my camera. We yipped and cheered and raised our arms in the air and
even did a slightly disorganized wave. No signs were handed out but I don’t
know if the concerns were for security or cost. I bought three Hillary buttons
on my way out.

Since then John Kasich came to town, Bernie Sanders
has been here, then Ted Cruz, then Donald Trump, then Bill Clinton. I don’t
think we have ever, in my lifetime been romanced by so many politicians in any
election season. I did not go to any other rallies – I watched them on TV as if
they were happening somewhere else. There are only so many concrete floors I
will stand on in any two week period. But my spidey sense felt them buzzing
around and I wish I could have hovered comfortably overhead, or been the
proverbial “fly on the wall”. (I have no idea where all these bugs came from.)
It was interesting to see that Ted Cruz held his
Syracuse rally in a northern suburb, Cicero, where a group of locals publish a
newspaper called “The Patriot”, full of some well-known right wing conspiracy
theories from which I culled the phrase “Luciferian Church of the United
Nations”, because Agenda 21 and the UN plan for world domination.
Dexter – Donald Trump went to Dexter – a small rural
town west of Watertown, NY on Ontario Lake, a town full of campers, hunters, fishermen, aging hippies, and
farmers, and these days, very few factories. Fort Drum is nearby though, so
perhaps he attracted a lot of soldiers and their families. That would have to
be fact-checked. I’m sure Dexter is still in shock having rarely been singled
out by such a famous (infamous) personality. It’s been a helluva* two weeks in
the North Country (*also, until recently the name of a local cheese company).
It’s sort of fun feeling like the hot center of America for a while. We can use the
excitement. Primary day is Tuesday, April 19th and then the
entire circus will move on. Most candidates have left already. I think Donald
Trump will be the last one out.
By Nancy Brisson

Who Will End Obstructionism?

I will fight for Hillary Clinton right to the end, whenever
that is. I do think women can do as well in the Presidency as men have done. I
am tired of women being expected to wait until some perfect moment which of
course will never arrive. There are no perfect moments. Even Obama’s seemingly
perfect moment was ruined by racism and obstruction. If we get Bernie I will be
fine with that but I have to stay in the fight.
The only question that bugs me is which of these two will be
able to bring back regular order to Congress, to send the “teabaggers” packing
and the Evangelicals out to do good works?
The Conservatives hate Hillary possibly even more than they
loathed the idea of an Obama Presidency. Their hate has become rabid and
personal. Will we have four to eight more years of obstruction and hate speech,
this time against women? Will they just vote over and over to impeach her? There
could be 60+ more votes against the ACA. How many more votes will there be to
defund Planned Parenthood? More of this will not be good for America. It will
not be good for the world, although perhaps it is emotional baggage we must
sort through. Does Hillary have a plan to change things just in case we don’t
win some seats back in the Senate?
Can Bernie defuse and render harmless the Conservative push to
pursue every policy that would be harmful to America? He certainly understands
what is harmful about the right wing agenda and he will hold the line against
any progress toward the Conservative way. But will he also be unable to breach
the obstructive moves of a party that owns 3o state governments, both houses of
Congress and the courts? Will it help that he pushes Republican buttons by
pursuing policies that are far outside their ken? Will he blow them up to
smithereens when he moves to break up the banks and rein in Wall Street? Will
revolutionary zeal be better than the strategies of someone who knows everyone
and knows her way around the politics of DC? Or will there just be two
revolutionary groups in a war of words?
Is there any candidate the Democrats could have put forth who
could “treat with” today’s GOP? If a Democrat wins the Presidency and the
obstruction continues will the people finally get involved? Will we the people
insist that it is not OK to go to Congress if it is your intention to hold the
American government hostage until it does what Republicans want?
It is troubling that we cannot see into the future and know
who would be able to make headway in America right now against the misguided
and unenlightened mess that is today’s GOP. We can, though, and we should
certainly contribute to the movements by the Democrats to change as many seats
in Congress as possible in 2016. Emily’s List tries to get Democratic women
elected. If you contribute to the DNC the dollars get spread around. Even
Hillary donates some of her dollars to down ballot elections and Bernie is
talking about doing that.
The people’s dollars are stretched thin by all the
causes that need our contributions to fight for right, but at this moment
winning the election must be a top priority. You don’t have to contribute much
because small donations grow very big when millions of people contribute, and
there are often richer donors who match or multiply small donations. Think of
it as creating a war chest in case we need it.
By Nancy Brisson

Bernie Sanders Unfair anti-HIllary Tactics

Bernie Sanders is playing a tricky and dishonest
game in his recent political rallies. He is asking Hillary Clinton to run her
campaign according to his rules. Bernie is a “revolutionary”. He’s deliberately
changing the topography of campaigning without the benefit of any changes in
the actual rules of the Democratic Party. He is staging a revolution before he
even wins the election.
Mr. Sanders doesn’t like campaign financing as it
currently operates. He’s not alone. Many of us want less money in politics;
more “we the people” in politics. And he does get kudos for sticking with his
principles. What does not seem fair is to ask Hillary Clinton, who came up
through the ranks and learned campaign fundraising from the “big boys” that
Bill Clinton hung out with, to decide to throw out all that she knows about
campaigning. It is unfair to indict Hillary for not following Bernie’s rules
when he is the only person in modern politics who ever has done all grassroots
fundraising. Bernie, we have not had the revolution yet!
Come the revolution, Bernie believes, super
delegates shall be banished. Here’s another Bernie rule that Hillary is being chastised
for breaking. I understand that putting super delegates between the candidate
and the popular vote is elitist. I am all for less elitism in politics. But
super delegates have not been outlawed, they are actually part of the Democratic
Party primary process. In fact, winning super delegates is still “state of the art”
in Democratic primary voting.
Now Bernie is trying to steal Hillary’s super
delegates, to turn them “Bernie side up”. Since Bernie discovered he could not
win without super delegates he has decided (too late?) to play the Super Delegate
Game. Bernie – Mr. Sanders – the revolution did not happen yet. Hillary Clinton
does not have to play by your rules. If you become President you can work to
change the election process. Meanwhile, you are sounding quite like a
curmudgeon. Cut it out. I assume you knew what the process was like when you
entered the race.
The point you seem to be trying to make is the one
that paints Hillary Clinton as the “establishment” and you as the “anti-establishment”.
She has never been elected to the Congress as anyone who planned to start a
revolution and the times certainly have not been amenable to the kinds of
changes that Bernie Sanders has wanted to bring to American governance.
We are just entering a time when some Americans are,
perhaps, willing to make actual changes to the role money plays in
government and in elections. The times do seem somewhat conducive to legislating
a truer Democracy in our nation.
But there are just as many signs that people who
want to hang on to the traditional politics of elitism and the powerful impact
of money are as dug in as those who want change and they are much more numerous
and better organized than those on Bernie’s side.
You may all fault Hillary Clinton for moving to the
left, but Hillary has shown that she has a sensitivity to the political climate
of different eras and Progressive ideas may be having their moment, so it totally makes
sense that Hillary would move to meet the current needs of the American people.
She is a politician, not an ideologue. Bernie is an ideologue, not a
politician.
By Nancy Brisson

Racism and Hillary Clinton

If it wasn’t
for seven years of the blatant resurgence of racism in America then we might
not need Hillary Clinton. Sadly Obama’s presence in the Oval Office allowed
racial meanness to rise to the surface in Washington, DC and outside our nation’s
capital. When we should have felt proud of America on the 50th
Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, when we should have been celebrating, we
were instead seeing the festering remains of racism being exposed in far too many
areas of American society.
The Supreme
Court struck a huge blow when it said that certain southern states were no
longer subject to clearance before they could change their voting laws. The GOP
shamelessly began passing restrictions on voting in those same southern states
where clearance had been used to guarantee racial fairness in voting. They
justified their actions as necessary to circumvent voter fraud, which turned out
to be almost nonexistent. They said they were not being anti-Black, they were just
making it harder for Democrats to vote, but they knew, all the time, how
important the Black vote was to Democrats. They got two licks in for the price
of one.
We have seen
all too many unarmed Black folks shot under suspicious circumstances by policemen.
It begins to seem as if certain individuals join the police force to
deliberately wipe out Black people, a sort of vigilante routine. I don’t know
if there is a group that has planned this or if this is just lone racists
acting on their own and I admit I may be seeing a trend where there is really
only a series of terrible accidents, but we should not have racists on our
police forces and if there is any way to root them out we should do it.
We have
allowed Black folks to languish in poverty in our inner cities – and I don’t
mean languish in a nice way – I mean it in a hopeless way. We have not found
strategies to entice all young African-Americans into the schools and that is
what we need to do. We also need to learn how to make school relevant enough
that they will stay and go “all the way” through. We need to stop concentrating
poor black, brown, and Asian people in our center cities and find ways, perhaps
through real estate options, to intersperse poor Americans in more affluent
neighborhoods where people can afford to help lift them up.
Yes, we have
finally been made aware of how over-zealously and unequally the War on Drugs
was conducted. We have been shocked by the staggering numbers of Americans of
African Descent incarcerated for minor drug offenses and the role unaffordable
cash bails have played in this. This was one of those cases where a program
that folks thought would help solve a problem, exacerbated the problem and
created new ones. I’m not sure it was intended as a “racist” policy, it was
supposed to “scare people straight” in dangerous inner city neighborhoods, but,
in retrospect, we can see that the enforcement of this program affected
Africans-Americans far more than white Americans and either the program and/or
the enforcement of the program was racist in the way it was implemented in the
lives of real people. In this case a flawed answer intended to solve a social
problem has produced terrible consequences and most of these consequences were
visited upon Black people. If may take decades to turn around the effects of
over-incarceration and inappropriately harsh sentencing.
We have also
seen how we have allowed the South to revere the defeated Confederacy and to turn
the white folks in Southern states into martyrs and heroes in a Civil War we
should never have had to fight. We see how this has become another way to keep
racial hatred alive – to remind Black folks of their “shameful” roots in our
nation and to insure they don’t get “uppity”. How any of this shame accrues to
Black folks is impossible to even imagine, unless you grew up in the South I
guess.
Americans of
African Descent have been here longer than most Americans, although not by
choice. If they did not have black or brown skin they would have blended in
long ago. Why can’t we get over this idea that the more pigment one has the
less human one is? We have to all get past this. What will happen if we are
confronted with a truly alien species?
Because the
GOP has shown itself to be especially prone to letting “racial” traits and
their own fears inform their behavior (or misinform it) we cannot elect a
President from among the Republicans. If you consider all of the candidates for
the 2016 election Hillary has shown the best understanding of what America needs
to do to address fairness, equality, and opportunity for Americans of African
Descent. I don’t think Bernie is any more racist than any of us, but I do think
he believes his policies will lift all boats and perhaps doesn’t understand the
unique obstacles Black Americans face.
I think it
might be true that we are nicer when we feel more affluent, when our economy is
humming along; but how long must these Americans, who have been here since our
beginnings, be kept from the freedoms that should be theirs as well as ours.
Clearly this particularly stubborn issue of “racism” did not disappear in more
prosperous times, but there was a more generous spirit and it looked, for a
while, like things might have turned a corner.
If the existence
of all this hate and inequality and separation had not bubbled up from the
depths it had been stuffed into, up into the light of day – that would be a bad
thing. Let’s not try to contain it away from view of white eyes once again. Let’s
try to solve this and heal America once and for all. At the risk of sounding
corny perhaps that is what Hillary means when she talks about making America “whole”.
By Nancy
Brisson