Twisting The Ballot Box Screw

When I got into the conversation with my boss recently about Clinton vs. Sanders, the thing that hit me the most as I pondered it afterwards as how firmly and repeatedly he was trying to give me the message that I needed to get in line, that all of Sanders supporters needed to get in line. Repeatedly he said things like ‘if there was a better candidate, I’d vote for them in a heartbeat’ about Hillary, and instead of telling me why I should vote for Clinton, he spent his time telling me why Bernie didn’t deserve the vote. These are not the ways to get someone to vote for your candidate. This is how Kerry lost to Bush — No one wanted to vote for Kerry, they wanted to vote against Bush, and that’s not how you convince the swing voters. This election cycle is looking to shape up the same, there are a lot of people who aren’t supporting Clinton because they want her, they’re supporting her because they don’t want Trump.

Part of the reason why so many of the Sanders supporters are still holding out, why so many of us are still voting for him or planning to vote for him in the remaining primaries, is because we believe in his message. We know that not all the things he’s talking about are going to actually happen, especially if we don’t also get progressives to fill the house and the senate to back him, and even if we give him a happy majority in both it will be an uphill battle. Regardless of how much of what he’s trying for he can actually achieve, we believe he will give it a good try and his goals are the things that we as a country need. We believe in him and his message, and most of us are voting for him, not against Trump, Clinton, or anyone else.

I can accept and even respect someone who actually supports Hillary because they’ve considered her position on things, even if I disagree with them, because while I dislike a lot of things about Hillary, I don’t believe that the things that they’re aligning with her ideologically about make them horrible people, and they’re actually selecting a candidate they agree with. The people who are just saying ‘Sanders has lost, we just need to accept Hillary is our only hope’ when they don’t actually agree with what she stands for are going to be the weakness in the campaign. Yes, we are subject to First Past The Post voting, so in order to get the candidate that most agrees with us we need to strategically vote, but that shouldn’t mean that Hillary’s campaign and supporters should use fear to convince us. They need to tell us what’s good about her.

As an aside, if you’re not familiar with the term First Past The Post Voting (also sometimes known as Winner Takes All voting), or if you don’t know why it’s bad for pretty much everyone except for the powerful minority, please take the time to watch this video. Also check out more videos by C. G. P. Grey to follow up on this subject: talking about alternatives to FPTP such as Alternative Vote (also known as Instant Run Off voting) and how Gerrymandering works. I highly recommend them because it breaks them down into really easy to follow examples, which are great if you’re trying to get the point across effectively.

The other experience I had recently was I was having a twitter conversation with someone I follow. She’d been expressing her dismay at how there’s a type of Clinton supporter than accuses women who are supporting Bernie of not being Feminists, and I starting talking about my boss mentioned above. She and I were pretty much on the same page, and then a Clinton supporter @ mentions both of us, telling us they don’t understand us. Now, instead of doing the logical thing that one would do when you don’t understand, you know, asking questions so that maybe you can, she instead links us to a blog post that was trying to insist that Sanders isn’t a feminist. Pretty sure that the definition of Feminist is still striving for equality between the genders, and things like raising the minimum wage to a living wage, affordable health care, affordable education, and reproductive freedom all further gender equality. Particularly when the majority of minimum wage earners are adult women, and the way to pull themselves up from minimum wage jobs involve being able to maintain one’s health, further their education, and be able to make informed, safe, and healthy choices about when and how they reproduce.

So, how about this Clinton supporters? If you want my vote, tell me why I should vote for Hillary. Stop shouting doom and gloom about Trump being elected. Stop telling us we’re not feminists because Bernie’s an old white man. Stop telling us we’re young and stupid, entitled and delusional. Woo us, tell us what’s great about Hillary. And if you can’t? Why don’t you try to affect change and hold her to task. Quit starting negotiations at the middle ground because you think you can’t do any better, aim high so that when you have to compromise you end up closer to where you want to be.

The Pen And The Sword

One thing I hear a lot of people comment on is my choice to use colorful metaphor so frequently. The word fuck is not foreign to me, actually it’s probably one of the most comfortable to slide from my tongue because it’s so versatile — whole comedy routines have been written how multi-talented the word fuck is. And the number one thing that will stop me in my tracks and make me lose respect for someone? When they call me out on my use of these colorful metaphor because of my gender. While I’ll disagree if they just try to tell me that I should watch my language, as long as there’s no indication it has anything to do with my gender I will make a good faith effort to respect their beliefs up to the point I respect the person who believes them. But the moment anything indicates they find it okay to curse and swear, as long as there aren’t women present, my respect for that person just dries right up; sometimes I even find myself cursing in their presence more simply because I am so offended by their sexism.

I’ve been lectured that it makes me seem base and crass, and that I should respect myself more than that. I’ve been told to my face that the person speaking to me knows that I’m intelligent, but because I choose to use more base language that I come across as stupid. My experience has been, anyone who can’t hear what I’m actually saying because I pepper my sentences with fuck when I’m angry is actually saying more about themselves than they are me. Words have the power we give them, the meaning we wrap them in with the sentences we construct for them… so why does a simple little four letter word like fuck have the power to just overshadow everything that surrounds it? Simply because we as a society choose to give it that power.

A genius of a man, George Carlin, had a lot to say on these sorts of words. He had a delightful routine that discussed these sorts of words in detail known to most as the seven dirty words. If you’ve never had the pleasure, or if it’s been a while, I certainly recommend you take the time. This clip of it is a little over fifteen minutes, but well worth it.

Comedians are the ones allowed to poke at society where society says no one is allowed to poke. They soften the blow by wrapping it in a metaphor or provoking a laugh, but the best ones have a lot to say under their jokes. That’s part of the reason why Jon Stewart was so successful with his run on the Daily Show, because under all that humor there is a man who is very knowledgeable about politics, who has a sharp mind with opinions to share, and he did it in a way that a large chunk of society enjoyed watching it. He said things that a lot of us agreed with, and some of what he did created waves and got attention on things that might have otherwise been ignored.

Anyhow, back to my original thread: how did we reach a point where one little word with four letters has become so powerful that it can stop everything and everyone around it like it’s a freeze ray or a magic spell? It’s the language equivalent of a flash bang for so many, where they hear it and suddenly their ability to take in anything else just is gone. I recognize that language is a collaborative construct to help clarify meaning in communication, that words are given meaning by what everyone agrees upon… I just don’t understand how one word so small has been given so much power.

Really, why do we even given a fuck?