Elizabeth Warren’s Mistake In 2016

I acknowledge that in 2016 I came very intensely after Elizabeth Warren. Like many of Bernie’s 2016 supporters I was hurt by her endorsement of Hillary Clinton. I think Warren has since almost made up for the error by coming forward with genuinely radical and necessary policy platforms in her presidential campaign, policies that remind us that she was once a people’s hero in the fight against Wall Street and can be once again.

Her plan to cancel student debt is as pivotal as Bernie’s Medicare for All or prisoner voting rights platforms. Her open challenges to Joe Biden on his ties to the credit card companies is commendable and so is the work she has put into protecting consumers for this entire decade. She deserves credit where credit is due.

With all of that said, I am still a little bitter about what happened in 2016. I realize it is somewhat trivial to complain about what could or should have been, but damn it I am genuinely convicned that if she had not played the 2016 primary as cautiously as she had we would not have a Trump presidency.

Here is what I mean, because Warren waited to endorse whoever won the nomination instead of endorsing Bernie from the beginning of his candidacy she hurt his campaign, a campaign that would have easily defeated Trump in the general election. Yes, I am still a “Bernie would have won,” kind of person and truth be told I probably always will be.

It is understandable why she waited to endorse the definite front runner instead of taking a stand early on. At the time it made sense as the politically cautious move to stand for a united Democratic party against Trump. However that caution came at a price. It hurt Bernie’s ability to develop the klout needed to counter harmful talking points spewed by the Hillary people.

When Warren endorsed Clinton she went from being a darling of the Occupy alumni to another mouth piece for neoliberals, at least in the eyes of Bernie supporters who also supported her. One of the reasons that Bernie, and Warren for that matter, have stayed so popular is that several of us who came out of the Occupy movement remember them as the only public servants to demonstrate admiration and respect for the movement and its sentiments.

So Warren did not only hurt Bernie by endorsing Hillary late in the election, she hurt herself. By endorsing Clinton and by endorsing her as close to the end of the primary as she did, she synonymized her name and platform with the vomit inducing identity politics of Hillary’s campaign. Instead of having her working class values and background tied to Bernie’s pro working class platform, she attached her identity as a woman to Clinton and by doing so she helped enable the “only sexists vote for Bernie” talking point of Hillary supporters, a talking point which erases and hurts all of the non male supporters of Bernie.

Had Warren endorsed Bernie from the get go, the myth of the “Bernie bro” would have been squashed and would have had no foundation to grow. Also, with her endorsement would have come her very extensive and supportive base, but now that base is arguably very much in the establishment camp because of her hesitancy to get involved with the primary until a front runner was decided. Warren is now synonymous with supporting establishment capitalist democrats like Hillary, which is folly because Warren’s policies are arguably much closer to Bernie’s than they ever were to people like Clinton, Harris, Biden, or Booker.

I want to make it clear, I do understand why Warren didn’t endorse Sanders, but I think it was a mistake that inevitably cost Bernie the primary and damaged Warren’s reputation as a challenger of big money capitalism, which in-turn gave us the shitty general election that birthed the Trump presidency.

But what hurt Warren the most is the fact that despite her policy and platform being much more in line with Bernie’s she endorsed someone with completely opposite values to her. Warren has much more incommon policy wise with Bernie than she ever will with the Clintons and Bidens of the world. The fact she did not make that clear in 2016 not only hurt Bernie but it hurt her, because now there are leftists like myself, who do remember her public challenges to Wall Street and her bold demands for consumer protections and market regulations. Now it is hard for me to get excited about her candidacy because I still view the Clinton 2016 endorsement as an act of political cowardice. I used to think it was straight up betrayal, but after getting involved with politics as an activist and as an organizer I’m willing to say I understand why she did what she did in 2016. However let us always remember that understanding an action is not the same as supporting it.

Will Liz Warren make the same mistakes this time? It is very possible that she will. Warren clearly is a politician who acts with caution. I do not fault her for being tactical but I will fault her if that tactic comes with compromising her values. However I can say that if she remains consistent with her demands for canceling student debt and if she does not backtrack support for Medicare for all then I would be genuinely happy with a Sanders/Warren or Warren/Sanders 2020 ticket. However I would be thrilled by the idea even more if she stepped up and admited that not endorsing Bernie in 2016 at the beginning of the primary was a mistake.

All in all, I do want to like Elizabeth Warren, I do miss the days where she and Bernie both were patron saints of the 99%. But until we address what happened in 2016 I will always have misgivings about her. I do not think Warren is bad, at least not as much as I used to, I do think she has to answer for 2016.

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What I Mean When I Say “Bernie isn’t perfect”

We have all heard it. Every Bernie supporter has said it at some point. Whether it be about his vote for FOFSTA or his near sighted comments about the border, every Berner has had to say these words at least once. “Bernie isn’t perfect.”

However something needs to be made clear, I am not giving Bernie a free pass on his shortcomings when I say that. Some of my fellow Bernie supporters are but that is a folly in my opinion. When I say “Bernie isn’t perfect” I am not saying we should ignore where Bernie needs improvement.

What I am saying is that his shortcomings are where we as a base need to build our own popular power. We can count on Bernie for certain material gains, but we can not count on him to solve all of our problems. It is not he who will change everything, it is us, the sullied and ignored masses. Bernie’s short comings are where we must organize the most, where we can strike where the iron is hottest.

I do not think Bernie is a saint, he has made several comments over the years that can only be responded to with a Captain Picard face palm meme. Nor do I think he is the patron saint of socialism, Bernie is definitely more of a social democrat than a democratic socialist. However I do think that his candidacy increases the odds we can answer some of the most immediate material needs of the modern day working class, the biggest being our need for healthcare. I think it can be said without much debate that Bernie has been solid on the medicare for all part of his platform as well as an increase in social services, meaning a Bernie presidency can be a catalyst for ending privatization. Yet there are several other issues such as his reinforcement of an imperialist dialogue and his lackluster stance on sex work.

Bernie’s comments on Venezuela and open borders are disappointing to say the least and his votes in favor of Sosta and Fofsta were genuinely damaging to the lives of sex workers. However, as Bernie himself states, this momentum that is becoming a genuinely left movement in the country is about us, not just him. Where Bernie falls short is where we, the socialists and the organizers, must step up.

Bernie’s stance on social services is solid, but his stance on sex work is vapid, it is therefore the duty of the left to assist the organization of sex works. I am not suggesting we step into their lives with a savior complex, no, we must build an environment where sex workers can organize themselves. It is the duty of leftists and labor organizers to foster self determination and democracy, and that can be achieved through genuine bottom up organization that we know will be forsaken by Bernie, not because of a lack of concern but because of alack of attention on his part. I do not think Bernie hates sex workers but I do think that he is focusing his energy where he knows he is most capable. The fact is no matter how much Bernie can help us make gains he cannot fix everything, no single person is able to do everything, period. While Bernie focuses on one avenue of material gains, so shall we focus our efforts wherever he falls short or wherever we cannot count on electoralism to give us a material win. It is there we will build communities and help others to build theirs. This is the ultimate truth of the inside/outside strategy. We must put equal energy to both the in and the out.

Another example of where we can build a genuine base is through international solidarity. I do not think we can count on an inherently imperialist office, I.E. the U.S. presidency, to be an agent of ending imperialism.

I do think that having a president like Bernie can increase the odds that our over blown military budgets will stop, but will he bring justice to the Indigenous? Will he account for our contributions to colonization? And how will he approach Venezuela, DPRK, or Cuba as president?

I have no doubt that Bernie will continue to disappoint with his international stance but I do think 1. His presidency would reduce the odds we will carry out constant, devastating interventionism and 2. His presidency would allow us to redirect the excessive funds received by the military into the social programs he wants to enact. Yet when it comes to solidarity, true solidarity with the working class in nations such as Syria, Palestine, or Venezuela, it is our duty to elevate the voices of those organizing for liberation.

Cliche though it is, I do agree with the sentiment that where there is crisis there is also opportunity. There are harsh realities to deal with when taking about Bernie’s candidacy. I acknowledge that FOFSTA and SESTA are not just policy talking points, we are talking about peoples lives. The same goes for the effects of American interventionism, this is not just a policy talking point, lives have been destroyed in Iraq, Libya, Palestine, Venezuela, and too many other nations to list.

We can depend on Bernie for increasing our odds of serious material gains, especially when it comes to healthcare, but we must still and always depend on ourselves to be the true agents of community and organization. Those efforts of community and organization must be directed where Bernie or public servants like Bernie fall short.

This is our duty no matter who is running or who is president. Where there are needs to be met, leftists must be there to foster community and organization and work to elevate the voices in the midst of the hardest part of that work. Sex work and internationalism are simply two places where we as leftists have a duty to work, as we have a duty to get medicare for all and college for all. When I say Bernie is not perfect, I am not saying we must forgive him or ignore those imperfections, I am saying that these shortcomings are arenas for genuine base building. When I say Bernie is not perfect, what I am really saying is, “We must never stop organizing.”

Cruel Reality, a poem for our times

Cruel Reality

A classic song screams out through my radio,

“We won’t get fooled again!”

Unless we don’t pay attention in history class,

Or worse, when we don’t bother to ask any questions.

Yet soft,

Do not let your words enable “deconstruction.”

Fight on weirdos, fight on freaks,

Fight on.

Stanza 2, the part where the poet keeps rambling,

Not this time.

My poems are no longer mine,

No longer for me,

No longer needing to be justified or validated.

Poetry itself is justified.

Does the president get it?

Of course not,

Evil is as evil does.

Evil has no humanity,

Do not appeal to where there is no court.

Why do so many legitimize evil

by doing nothing?

Denial, easy to do

when ICE or the B.I.A isn’t kidnapping your child

and beating up your grandmother.

Brainless professional bootlicks

and we give them badges and parades.

If they failed at high school football

why trust them with the law?

Cruel reality, not everyone is on your side.

Cruel reality, our lenses can be skewed

and skew our view.

Cruel reality, people are not always what they seem.

I could go on for days about this world’s cruel reality.

And I will.

I need to.

Cruel reality, an idea is an idea in of itself.

It’s all inane, but it’s all very interesting to.

Both?

Yes, and neither.

Confused yet?

Good. That’s step one.

The next is controlling

channelling

the inevitable frustrations.

Your microwave will kill you

faster than a diseased box

and the cops are bloodthirsty.

Long live reality T.V.

Max Headroom was no metaphor,

Tangent words begin again

reps and senators

Hot sex live 24/7

And the millionaires whine more about it than we do.

That’s nice but please sir,

Please master,

May I have some more?

No, well, can I have my life back?

No?

Can I at least live?

No.

Why are the puppies begging eyes

only effective when they are blue,

not brown?

Enjoy cable?

iPhones? Wifi?

And all the other masturbation aides?

Well, congrats jerks,

While you were hate tweeting about whatever it is,

Tyrone got shot,

Maria was deported,

And Mohamed is stuck in LAX.

Good luck replacing all three.

Flags make good cum catchers,

And even our soldiers are tired of being props,

Sick of being human flag poles.

Don’t use the used to justify you.

Facts to suit theories not theories to suit facts.

Have I limited myself?

Is grammar so important?

What do order and style

have anything to do with truth?

When did “MAGA” become “Zig HEIL!”?

It always was.

A big, round planet

that no empire could ever keep covered.

Caligula had to come sometime

but a horse in the senate would be fitting

since it is already full of jackasses.

Thank you good night!

You’ve been a great crowd!

Don’t forget to harass the waitress on your way out.

Cruel reality,

Integrity can fall short,

And supremacy hinders the so called “supreme.”

Cruel reality,

Proustian memories triggered not by a cookie, but a beer,

A familiar scene, my local pub and brew.

A dad trying,

A bored teen,

A hungry young sister,

Convinced she “isn’t hungry daddy!”

It is her standing rock, she will not be moved.

A sweet scene, tainted by the world it exists in.

Cruel reality,

Not everyone on the same side

is actually on the same side.

Cruel reality,

One man can destroy democracy.

One can always interfere,

But one can never stand in the way of truth.

Cruel reality for them,

The truth is always there,

And will always haunt them.

Cruel reality,

We can never be free from the haunt of memory.

Nation captive to nation,

The profit in pain.

Cruel reality,

Kids don’t care about the carbon-dated world

of colas and silver screen stars.

Should they?

A question for the philosophers, not the poets.

Cruel reality for the enemy,

Is that the game is a state of mind.

But the game ain’t saying nothing.

Today the masses say it,

Cruel reality for the enemy,

The eye of integrity,

Karma and big brother

Are on them like never before.

Cruel reality for the enemy, but we all got game.

Cruel reality, what is happening here

Is perfectly clear

And it always has been.

Cruel reality,

Racism is not just for the racists,

But even the “good” people.

Cruel reality for me,

Though frustration is real

The tedium of this world,

The pain and suffering

Is more real than ever today.

Cruel reality, that isn’t too cruel when you think about it,

But the time, the chance, to step back,

And give others a space, a time, a home.

Cruel reality, pretty blond pornstars

Have gone political,

And trust me when I say

It isn’t pretty.

Cruel reality.

Cruel reality.

Cruel reality.

Won’t someone pass me a pill

Since joints are a sin?

Pass me a pill so that I may sink

So that I can forget

So that I can ignore these days,

This era,

So that I can ignore

our cruel reality.

The Poet as The Revolutionary

The Poet as the Revolutionary

The poet as a revolutionary

is an all too common trope.

So what happened?

Where did they all go?

Where are the poets and lyrics

and bards who can spark the imagination

of a generation

to end the segregation

and the era of hate.

The poet as revolutionary,

A common but missing motif,

We have minds running for office

all of a generation inspired.

So dare does a poet

question their purpose?

Even now,

Even in a time of awakening,

Where conscious privilege cannot be forsaken?

The poet as revolutionary,

and the leaderless movement of leaders.

Poetry has its politics,

its stake,

its place in the revolution

and it always will.

The poet as revolutionary,

the romantics

and the voices of their days.

Chelsea Clinton, Islamophobia and the White Supremacy of American Liberals

Yesterday a confrontation at a vigil between Chelsea Clinton and a Muslim woman who was in mourning over the Chirstchurch massacre went viral. The video shows that the woman stood up to Clinton for being present at the vigil after Clinton’s comments about Ilan Omar opened up a massive wave of islamophobic attacks against Omar. Clinton never apologized to Omar.

Clinton can be seen in the video listening to the women, but it is clear she is not actually registering the woman’s objections to her presence, or she is actively ignoring them. Clinton simply nods and gives a “non apology” that would make her parents proud.

Clinton replies to the woman’s complaints with, “I’m sorry you feel that way,” repeatedly. At one point in the video a comrade of the Muslim woman angrily asks Clinton, “What does that even mean?” To which Clinton gave no answer.

My dear reader, as a white male with a middle class background, please trust me when I say that I know what “I’m sorry you feel that way” means.

“I’m sorry you feel that way,” is, to be frank, a backhanded white people way of avoiding an actual apology. The objective of using those specific words is intentional, the purpose is to make someone think you apologized to them without actually apologizing for anything. It is annoying and backhanded, I have seen people in my white family do it all the time and it is one of the whitest things a person of privilege such as Clinton could do.

When someone says “I’m sorry you feel that way,” instead of just, “I’m genuinely sorry,” they are not apologizing for their actions but making it seem that you are the one who should be apologetic for yours. I can vouch on good authority that “I’m sorry you feel that way,” is Clinton’s passive aggressive way of saying “I did nothing wrong, you should stop bothering me.” There is a word for this, gaslighting.

Of course Clinton’s followers leap to her defense while ignoring the reality that defending a white woman who upset a Muslim in mourning just after a mosque shooting is in of itself an act of white supremacy and Islamophobia.

I got into several twitter debates already about this. Many said that the woman’s attack on Clinton, “wasn’t graceful.” This is the same kind of argument you hear from city council members or local politicians who get shouted down or cussed out by Black Lives Matter supporters when there is a police involved murder of a black life. Mayors and city councils are faster to get upset at a black person for saying “Bitch stop killing us!” because swearing in city council chambers “violates decorum.” Instead of focusing on the message, which is the “stop killing us” part of that sentence, these selective solidarity liberals focus only on the method.

Instead of focusing on the message of this woman, which was “your comments about Ilan Omar perpetuate this kind of slaughter and you have yet to apologize for it,” she is blatantly ignored because the woman spoke to Clinton with intensity and anger. Anger that was completely justified, especially since Clinton and the liberals who left Omar vulnerable to islamophobic attacks have yet to apologize.

To be in a position where you are more concerned with an oppressed person’s delivery of their message rather than with their actual message is the epitome of white privilege and Clinton and her supporters fail to see that.

Aside from saying that the woman was “not graceful” other’s have said that her rebuking of Clinton was a staged act because the woman was wearing a Bernie Sander’s “College for all, Medicare for all” t-shirt. Some tweets even read “Who wears a political shirt to a vigil? It was clearly staged.” Once again we see an act of white supremacy here. To tell a Muslim woman, or anyone for that matter, what they should wear in their time of mourning is not only bad optics, it is belittling and dehumanizing. This is not about her wearing a Bernie shirt, it is about the fact that she felt used and ignored and vulnerable, a vulnerability which Clinton enabled with her rhetoric. Does any of that matter to liberals? No, because they don’t like what she was wearing when she did it.

Other defenders of Clinton have argued that “she was an invited guest,” and she didn’t “deserve” to be called out because she “came to the vigil in good faith.” First of all, the Clintons, or any capitalist for that matter, has never done anything in “good faith.” There is always an ulterior motive to anything the capitalist class does. Clinton was not there to mourn with muslims, she was there to be seen mourning with muslims.

It should also be noted that there is nothing to be suprised about here. The Clinton’s have a long record for both enabling white supremacy and using the optics of black or brown people’s issues to make themselves look good. Clinton being present at the vigil is similar to her father going on Arseno Hall or her mother moving to Harlem, it is a chance to be seen amongst an oppressed group without actually doing anything to help them. Let us also not forget that Hillary bragged about having slaves at the Arkansas governor’s mansion (prison labor was in fact used during their entire stay) or her infamous “superpredators” comment. Nor should we forget the crime bill signed into law by her husband which has perpetuated the modern day Jim Crow of prison labor to increase exponentially. Clinton being at that vigil was an attempt to use non white people for optics, period.

There is no excuse to defend Clinton on this one, yet of course liberals will do it because liberals will do anything to protect their identities as the progressive and understanding ones, even though their desire to carve out a progressive identity is coming at the cost of black and brown lives and is inevitably perpetuating the very forms of hatred they claim to be against.

To suggest that this act was staged because the woman was wearing a Bernie shirt is belittling and reductionist to her sense of mourning. To give the woman instructions on how she “should have” approached Clinton is an act of white supremacy. To defend a white woman who perpetuated Islamophobia with her rhetoric instead of listening to a Muslim woman’s righteous outrage is in of itself further perpetuating Islamophobia and therefore is an act of perpetuating white supremacy. This shows that liberals only express solidarity when their capitalist narrative is agreed with. Liberals claim they want to stand in solidarity with muslims, but clearly it has to be the right kind of muslims I.E. not ones who support Bernie Sanders or criticize Israel.

This whole situation sums up why we must abandon liberalism and why we must embrace socialism and communism, however we must do it from a place that actively rejects Islamophobia and all other forms of hatred. If socialists are to be the the active agents against white supremacy that we claim to be then we must also actively work to reject Islamophobia. This means we must not fall into the liberal trap of being selective with our solidarity. We must stand with muslims whether or not their stories or perspectives agree with our narrative. We should actively be incorporating their perspectives into our narrative and dialectic. A failure to do so would in-turn perpetuate white supremacy. We also must not reduce our Muslim comrades to just being victims in need of our help. The woman in the video is clearly not someone who needs a patronizing helping hand, but rather she is clearly an active agent in resisting the oppression that is Islamophobia as are most of the muslims in places such as Palestine who are actively fighting against their oppression.

The woman in the video had every right to confront Chelsea Clinton and Clinton clearly has no remorse for what she said and did to Ilan Omar and she refuses to see how that affected not just Omar but muslims as a whole. Those leaping to Clinton’s defense are actively defending white supremacy and are either being belittling or selective in their solidarity. Socialists must show support for muslims but that does not just mean attacking Clinton or supporting muslims who fit our narrative. It must mean that we elevate the narratives of Islamophobia’s greatest victims. To over come white supremacy we must be actively incorporating all of the realities of oppression into our analysis. To forsake Islamophobia or perpetuate it is to perpetuate the same white supremacy that prevents black families from getting justice and is splitting child and parent at the border.

Clinton had no business being at that vigil, liberals have no business defending her presence, and socialists must make it our business to be active agents in ending all dimensions of white supremacy, we can forsake nothing if we are to be active agents against oppression. If you disagree with me, well then, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Link to video on twitter

People Can Be Products, A Socialist Poem

People Can Be Products

Who are we but products?

Products of our time

and place?

Dare what questions are such to be asked?

Asked and then asked again!

Trivial though it be,

meaning is always the goal,

the objective,

the end.

Are we just products?

Products of anger,

reaction,

of hate,

Or are we something more?

Who are we but products?

Products of our time

and place?

We are the artists, the thinkers,

the doers, and the workers,

And in fact we are still much more