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I seem inca­pable of writing inten­sive, care­fully-rea­soned long­form essays these days. I have there­fore decided to lift my long silence, com­pro­mise my most sacro­sanct self-imposed stan­dards, and offer a simple, shallow, inco­herent, and ram­bling bullet-list of my con­trarian mus­ings and mind-mum­blings each Monday evening. Some people watch football.

This evening’s topic is the —

Democratic No-Nuthin’ Convention

The Demo­c­ratic National Con­ven­tion is presently shaking the chan­de­liers sixty miles south-south-east of my home in the Hon­or­able (loy­alist scum) William Allen’s town, Pennsylvania.

The DNC com­mis­sioned the most shock­ingly orig­inal design for their Philadel­phia con­ven­tion logo this year, clev­erly using the iconic Lib­erty Bell in place of the zero in 2016. It towers over their big cock­tail party in the Cradle of Amer­ican Democ­racy with a cer­tain je né sais quoi. Some designer some­where mustn’t have got paid, “F — k it, here’s a generic icon — plop — from Pix­abay. And here’s some blasé, shit­tily kerned sans-ser­ifed cap­i­tals. Oh, and stars. ’Murica.”

In an elec­tion cycle dis­tin­guished by fierce crit­i­cism of the finan­cial industry and its out­sized polit­ical influ­ence, Democ­rats chose the erst­while CoreStates Bank branded arena, which became First Union Center after a 1998 bank merger, which became Wachovia Center after a 2003 merger, which became Wells Fargo Center after the last and most recent 2010 über merger.

Wells Fargo cap­i­tal­ized quite suc­cess­fully on the col­lapse of the finan­cial industry post-2008, which is really to say, they cap­i­tal­ized on the mis­for­tune of working class Americans.

In a year of unprece­dented mass ani­mosity toward Wall Street and Big Banks, Democ­rats had no problem with this loca­tion, because recently they have proven to be com­plete idiots about public rela­tions optics.

At least they don’t appear to have taken a $10 mil­lion line of credit guar­an­teed and later for­given by a Big Coal energy cor­po­ra­tion this time.

The blind­ness of easily seduc­tive panic is total­izing. One would think that a plague were being vis­ited upon us based on the pal­pable anx­iety and tan­gible unreason of people who insist they are more rational, more fac­tual, and more sane than their opposition.

None of that is true, of course.

If you haven’t read Alain De Botton’s The News: A User’s Manual (2014), please do. It is an essen­tial treat­ment of every­thing that is wrong with how we are influ­enced by the news:

In its stoking of our fears, the news cru­elly exploits our weak hold on a sense of perspective.

With per­spec­tive in mind, we soon realize that — con­trary to what the news sug­gests — hardly any­thing is totally novel, few things are truly amazing and very little is absolutely ter­rible. The rev­o­lu­tion will not mean the end of his­tory; it will just change a lot of things in many dif­ferent small and com­pli­cated ways. The eco­nomic indices are grim, but we have weath­ered com­pa­rable drops many times over the last cen­tury and even the worst sce­narios only pre­dict that we will return to a stan­dard of living we had a few decades ago, when life was still pos­sible. Rome fell, but 600 years later every­thing was almost back to normal again.

[I]f we sup­pose that most things nor­mally turn out to be slightly dis­ap­pointing (but that this is OK); that change occurs slowly (but that life is long); that most people are nei­ther ter­ribly good nor very wicked (and this includes us); that humanity has faced crisis after crisis (yet mud­dled through) — if we are able to keep these entirely obvious but highly fugi­tive thoughts alive in our minds, then we stand to be less easily seduced into panic.

A rel­a­tively slim majority — pos­sibly a tad slimmer if “force and fraud” are fac­tored in — is con­sid­ered by the car­riers of an elec­tion as license to sup­press the voices of the slim minority. In a country of 320 mil­lion cit­i­zens, the dif­fer­ence between 16 mil­lion people and 13 mil­lion people is infinitesimal.

13 mil­lion may have lost the nom­i­na­tion by three mil­lion votes, but they are still mem­bers of a siz­able, essen­tial base. As Baron Acton wrote in The His­tory of Freedom in Antiq­uity (1877),

The one per­vading evil of democ­racy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather of that party, not always the majority, that suc­ceeds, by force or fraud, in car­rying elections.

Dig­ni­fied behavior or jus­ti­fi­able protest is so highly sub­jec­tive as for the cat­e­gories to be meaningless.

It is easier for Democ­rats to crit­i­cize behav­iors if they mis­char­ac­terize the actors as uni­ver­sally white and male, despite notable diver­sity. #berniemade­me­white #berniemade­memale

Many Democ­rats, espe­cially affluent, socially-insu­lated mem­bers of the pro­fes­sional class — doc­tors, lawyers, clergy, engi­neers, aca­d­e­mics, middle man­agers, finan­cial plan­ners, com­puter pro­gram­mers, &c. — have extremely fragile sen­si­bil­i­ties and are averse to even mild unrest.

This fifth of the pop­u­la­tion seem unaware of their enti­tle­ment, priv­i­lege, and self-seg­re­ga­tion from reality.

When Paul Krugman wrote his igno­rantly obliv­ious op-ed It Takes A Party, he pre­sumed a degree of party unity that not only didn’t exist but almost imme­di­ately exploded beneath the bomb­shells of Sanders and Trump, and to a lesser degree Cruz.

Notable throughout was the rise in polit­ical inde­pen­dents, which is dif­ferent from polit­ical inde­pen­dence in our duop­o­listic party structure.

Also, the dearth of self-aware­ness made the pro­fes­sional class, the tech­noc­racy, look like far­cical fools.

The now growing pop­u­larity of third-party can­di­dates Jill Stein and Gary Johnson threatens to erode both the Repub­lican and Demo­c­ratic vote. How­ever, Democ­rats have failed over and over again to address the fail­ures of neolib­eral eco­nomics and iden­tity politics.

Party unity seems less about legit­i­mate com­pro­mise and more about sup­pres­sion of dis­sent. Estab­lish­ment loy­al­ists don’t seem to under­stand that trussing up their pro­gres­sive wing by insisting that com­pro­mise is the same thing as agree­ment is rip­ping the party in two by mis­un­der­standing the very nature of compromise.

John Morley wrote in On Com­pro­mise (1874),

It is legit­i­mate com­pro­mise to say: ‘I do not expect you to exe­cute this improve­ment or sur­render that prej­u­dice, in my time. But at any rate it shall not be my fault if the improve­ment remains unknown or rejected. There shall be one man at least who has sur­ren­dered the prej­u­dice, and who does not hide the fact.’ It is ille­git­i­mate com­pro­mise to say: ‘I cannot per­suade you to accept my truth; there­fore I will pre­tend to accept your falsehood.’

Keeping that in mind, the most legit­i­mate act of com­pro­mise without threat­ening his integrity was Bernie Sanders’ endorse­ment of Hillary Clinton, proving that of all the players only he main­tained integrity of promise and prin­ciple, despite rev­e­la­tory doc­u­ment leaks and resulting protests pres­suring him to turn his back on the party that asked him to deliver his voters but had betrayed him at every turn, tar­nishing the elec­toral process and fur­ther inval­i­dating public trust.

This move­ment of ours — this polit­ical rev­o­lu­tion — must con­tinue. We cannot let all of the momentum we have achieved in the fight to trans­form America be lost. We will never stop fighting for what is right.

It is true that in terms of win­ning the Demo­c­ratic nom­i­na­tion, we did come up short. But this elec­tion was never about me or any can­di­date. It was about the pow­erful coming together of mil­lions of people to take their country back from the bil­lion­aire class.

Today, I endorsed Hillary Clinton to be our next pres­i­dent. I know that some of you will be dis­ap­pointed with that deci­sion. But I believe that, at this moment, our country, our values, and our common vision for a trans­formed America, are best served by the defeat of Donald T_____.

And yet, the New York Times pub­lished what epit­o­mized main­stream reportage post-endorse­ment, a coun­ter­in­tu­itively divi­sive op-ed by Andrew Rosen­thal, Bernie’s Unin­spiring Endorse­ment. The con­tempt was drip­ping and utterly inappropriate.

Sanders avoided sub­jects like war and for­eign affairs, since he and Clinton dis­agree vio­lently on those things. He harped on his suc­cesses, which was under­stand­able, but it was passing strange when he claimed that he and his backers showed the world that we could run a suc­cessful national cam­paign based on small indi­vidual contributions.

Yes, if you define suc­cessful as losing.

As I wrote before, Sanders lost 13 mil­lion to 16 mil­lion, hardly a rep­re­sen­ta­tive majority. In fact, he lost nothing but the nom­i­na­tion, win­ning what could very well be an enduring and influ­en­tial polit­ical move­ment that con­tinues to place pres­sure on a party all too com­fort­able in its stasis. In fact, he showed that a cam­paign could be suc­cess­fully funded — in spite of Citizen’s United — with small grass­roots donations.

He proved that integrity and prin­ci­pled resolve have clout with voters who were for­merly dis­pos­sessed. He opened the doors of a shrinking, aging, out-of-touch Demo­c­ratic Party to pas­sionate young people and long-time polit­ical inde­pen­dents. He suc­ceeded in exposing the fail­ures of our nom­i­nating process and the elec­toral priv­i­lege of an inces­tuous do-nothing establishment.

Most of all, he demon­strated that a pol­i­tics of the people, by the people, and for the people could be wrought in sol­i­darity not divisiveness.

The Demo­c­ratic estab­lish­ment has done every­thing in its power to stu­pidly squander those gains. Sanders and many of his sup­porters can at least say in accor­dance with Morley, “At any rate it shall not be my fault if the improve­ment remains unknown or rejected.

F — k Debbie Wasserman Schultz. F — k Vladamir Putin. F — k ersatz nos­talgia for the Cold War — thanks, Chris, for that line. F — king f — k the f — k out of this bullshit!

First, it’s 2016. Second, it’s 2016. Third, it’s two-thou­sand‑f — king-six­teen! Email can be hacked, it can be inter­cepted, it can be under­mined. The Demo­c­ratic Party lit­er­ally opened itself up to another f — king email scandal and I can’t even.

Skele­tons do not remain in closets in the age of Anony­mous, Wik­ileaks, Reddit, and Twitter. Repeat, ad infinitum.

Don’t store skele­tons in closets. Closets are for pant-suits.

This is what Snapchat is for, Wasserman Schultz and com­pany, not just bozos sending unso­licited dick pics. If you want to do some­thing dirty, make sure its with a destruc­tible medium.

Or, don’t do some­thing dirty. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

We do not yet have con­fir­ma­tion of Russia’s involve­ment, what­ever Robby Mook says and what­ever rumors are cir­cu­lating about the FBI. Putin may very well be involved. Guc­cifer 2.0 may also merely be a Russian national, a rene­gade hacker. We don’t yet know. Stop being Rus­so­phobic f — kheads.

Even if Russia is spying on us and trying to influ­ence our elec­tion in favor of T_​_​_​_​, use your brains: Denying that this is an issue or trying to dis­tract away from it only helps cement it as an issue.

The United States spies and string-pulls in other nations all the time, including bipar­tisan com­mit­ments to a for­eign policy that sup­plies arms to geno­cidal dic­ta­tors and insti­gates dis­as­trous régime change for some neb­u­lous set of realpolitik “inter­ests.” Let’s be a little less out­raged at faults which are as much ours as theirs.

Deal with your dirty laundry when people dis­cover it hanging on the line. Forth­rightly. No hem­ming. No hawing. Issue explicit apolo­gies. Offer imme­diate plans for reform. Do not use lawyerly smarm and couch your state­ments with so many qual­i­fiers as to be mean­ing­less. Dis­miss wrong­doers. Do not ease wrong­doers out of office by awarding them honors. Penalize them appro­pri­ately for wrongdoing.

There was little sur­prising in the DNC email dump. Nev­er­the­less, we need to deal with the sub­stance and the optics of what it is and what it sug­gests to the public about a deeply dis­trusted polit­ical machine.

Alas, par­tiality for a can­di­date in breach of the party’s by-laws, will­ing­ness to trade access for dona­tions, col­lu­sion with reporters in clear vio­la­tion of jour­nal­istic ethics, col­lu­sion with a nominee’s cam­paign directly or through a coōr­di­nating inter­me­diary such as a Super PAC, and con­tinual public denial of all of the above carry only sym­bolic cul­pa­bility and penalty, fur­ther eroding public trust, because we appar­ently are naked con­se­quen­tial­ists ever jus­ti­fying the means to our ends.

We for­give every sin except non-con­for­mity, dis­sent, and dis­rup­tion. De Toc­queville was not wrong about the majori­tar­i­anism under­girding our con­sti­tu­tional right’s arbi­trary limits in De La Démoc­ratie en Amérique (Trans. Reeve, 1835),

In America the majority raises for­mi­dable bar­riers around the lib­erty of opinion; within these bar­riers an author may write what he pleases, but woe to him if he goes beyond them.

Reli­able polling shows that 9 in 10 of Sanders’ sup­porters will vote for Clinton. Period. Unless Clinton and com­pany f — k their own chance from now until November. Until then, get over your­selves, shut up, and be grateful. That does not mean that they will sit idly by and forget their cause. They will con­tinue to protest. We enter an era of renewed polit­ical activism. Get used to it. Cel­e­brate it, maybe. Join it, even. Change some­thing for the better.

Finally, even though there are a thou­sand other nuggets of barely con­nected and dis­or­ga­nized thinks I could fling at you:

Vote for Hillary Clinton. Just let the dynast have her damn diadem.

Again, vote for Hillary Clinton. Nathan J. Robinson makes the case with Halle and Chomsky very well,

Voting for a lesser evil is often seen as sac­ri­ficing “prin­ciple” for the sake of “prag­ma­tism.” But actu­ally, it’s not sac­ri­ficing prin­ciple at all. It’s a very prin­ci­pled deci­sion to think in terms of moral con­se­quences. So long as you don’t con­sider voting as an impor­tant part of your iden­tity (and why would it be?), you don’t com­pro­mise any­thing what­so­ever through the exer­cise of strategic deci­sion-making. Voting lesser-evil is morally accept­able not because Hillary is good (she’s hor­ren­dous), but because voting doesn’t have any moral con­tent out­side of its direct consequences.

Four more years of unal­tered, pre­dictable neolib­eral pro­grams and intractable par­tisan grid­lock will not undo us, the alter­na­tive very well might. We have no idea. That’s the problem. So, let’s try to keep the four horsemen at bay and the seven seals intact.

That’s admit­tedly a face­tious car­i­ca­ture of what would likely happen and I refuse to be cat­a­pulted into undue apoc­a­lyptic panic over T____.

How­ever, his unpre­pared­ness and unpre­dictability should raise alarm. T_​_​_​_​is at a min­imum a risk we cannot afford take, espe­cially for the sake of those most vul­ner­able to this demagogue’s true believers.


Header by Adam Bond. Inline illus­tra­tions by Daniel Hammer.