TagHillary Clinton

Voting for a Racist is the New Normal

“America is already great because America is good”
– Hillary Clinton

Two weeks ago, that statement was dealt a severe blow as Donald Trump became President-Elect of the United States. Just like many others in my circle, it landed like a hard blow and made me question my beliefs and assumptions about this country. I’ve lived here for little over 16 years now or rather in two Bush terms and two Obama terms and never have I felt more despair in terms of this country’s future and ideals. To be honest, I’ve not yet completely recovered much less heed to any advice of being open to the “other side”. It’s almost like America woke up suddenly and said, it’s a white country and you just live in it.

The more I read about this election especially after a grueling and anger-inducing 16 months of campaigning, the more I believe that white America stood up and stamped its authority over this country of immigrants. We often ask each other that how could anyone vote for Trump after what he said and has done throughout the course of his campaign and his earlier life? He and his supporters offended Mexicans and other immigrants, African Americans and other minorities, Jews, disabled people, and even women. He was caught on tape bragging about sexually assaulting women and a dozen women came forward confirming that he indeed had. He called Mexicans rapists and criminals and implied black neighborhoods have an infestation of crime. He mocked disabled reporters.

Well, maybe…just maybe they voted for him just because of those things and not in spite of them. Perhaps he was so generous in his hatred of various sections of the society that people focused on the things they hated too and ignored the rest. This may just be a form of cognitive deafness if you may. A Muslim woman who hates Mexicans, or a feminist who hates Muslim, or a Latino who is sexist, or, well, you get the picture.

Pundits are already spinning narratives on why Clinton lost but don’t pay heed to those. The race angle only makes sense. I don’t say this lightly since I do (still) believe America tries the most in attempting to address the scourge of supremacy of one race or religion over the other. Except in this election, Republicans actively sought to support the candidate who dispensed with the dog whistle and actively courted white supremacists and anti-Semites.

The Republican base had been clamoring for a more overtly radical and less politically-correct candidate since the GOP chose to nominate moderates like McCain and Romney. Instead this time when the base won out and they got the brash loud-mouthed lout, they came out in droves to support the nominee. Data shows Trump won a lot more Romney voters in red counties or at least enough to counter the increased Latino voters in Democratic counties. In my opinion, Clinton’s only electoral folly was that she appealed to the better angels of the GOP’s nature only to find out that there were none. The moderate and #NeverTrump-ers either went back to the Republican fold or simply were too few to matter. A majority of whites, whether they were college educated or not, voted for Trump.

The Rust Belt is not evolving as rapidly as the other parts of the country in coming to terms with the new economy. Resentment against declining job opportunities and resistance to training for the newer jobs [1] was redirected to the presence of immigrants. Fear in those parts worked much better than hope. People did not vote for Trump in spite of his despicable views but because of it. He forced them to dig up their primal fears and baser instincts of resentment and victimhood based on a false sense of racial superiority. Other moderates hadn’t made those fears explicit yet.

Subtle hints didn’t work, obvious hints didn’t work; ultimately you just had to say it out loud and repeatedly for those people to get it. No amount of talking to them about ‘economic anxieties’ is going to matter. I’ve lived for 8 years in one of the more conservative towns in the country where college-educated white conservatives consider a space space under a Republican administration and a Democrat administration. The fear is real. No one was talking about reaching across to the liberals once Obama got elected in a far bigger mandate. They just got down to work and decided to beat liberals and in 2010, they laid the groundwork of doing just that.

However, to end on a slightly positive note, it turns out that just over 100,000 voters in three Rust Belt states (Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) decided the election in which 130 million people voted in a country that has more than 320 million people. Of course, it was the Democrats much vaunted blue wall that cracked; however the signs have been there for a while now. So if there’s any reason to hope it’s that the majority of this country doesn’t subscribe to those views. As votes are still being counted, Clinton continues to increase her lead in the popular vote and may end up with at least 2 million votes or around a 2% margin. That’s a point and a half over Al Gore who also won the popular vote while losing the presidency. That’s progress; rest is just electoral college reality.

Footnotes:
  1. We see this as part of our professional jobs []

Math of the Democratic Primary

Finally, our long national nightmare is over. Yesterday, the last of the states voted in the Democratic Primary. Although Washington D.C will vote on the 14th, no one cares about them because, one, it will vote overwhelmingly for Clinton and two, because taxation without representation still holds true for the nation’s capital ironically. Anyway, to summarize the results of the primary:

Hillary Clinton now has:

  • Won a majority of the popular vote count
  • Won the most states
  • Won the most primaries/contests [1]
  • Won the most closed primaries
  • Won a majority of the pledged delegates

Bernie Sanders has:

  • Won a majority of caucuses

Ergo ‘super delegates’ will and most already have pledged support for Hillary Clinton (571 to Sanders’ 48) pushing her over the edge for securing the Democratic nomination quite comfortably.

Caucuses versus Primaries

As Five Thirty Eight projects, if the caucuses were primaries instead i.e. voters cast a ballot instead of spending time debating for a few hours before casting their vote, Hillary Clinton would end up winning a majority of those as well. A grand total of 10,000 people caucused in Alaska. If it was a primary, an estimated 57,000 would cast their ballot.

But why estimate when Washinghton State provides the perfect experiement. It held an official caucus that awarded the delegates on March 26. Bernie Sanders won 73% of the vote compared to Clinton’s 27%. Nearly 237,000 votes were cast in this caucus. The state also held a primary on May 24. This time, however, Hillary Clinton won 54% of the vote compared to Sander’s 46%, and even though these results wouldn’t matter and it was purely a symbolic primary, more than 800,000 votes were cast in this primary. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which method gives the opportunity to the most people to exercise their choice.

Even though Clinton won most of the open primaries i.e. open to non-Democrats, I would argue that all primaries should be closed. If you want to elect a nominee for the Democratic Party, you should be a member of the Democratic Party. It’s that simple. If you want to claim youself as an Independent, you’ll have to wait until the General Election to cast your vote. There are umpteen third-party candidates in the fray if you are not satisfied with the two major party candidates.

On to the General

However, remember that, given the structure of the country’s winner-take-all Electoral College, unless your third-party wins the majority of the electoral votes, your vote will benefit the eventual winner from the two major parties. This year, such votes will help elect Trump. You can still exercise your choice but that’s the unintended consequence whether you like it or not and nope, this is not being passive-agressive. It’s just the way things play out.

there is a chance

This Democratic Primary wasn’t really close although it went through to June. But that was mostly because California hadn’t voted hence giving the person who was behind a probable although very unlikely chance. If California had voted on Super Tuesday, we wouldn’t be having this conversation today.

Congratulations to Hillary Clinton. Now onward to beating Trump in the general.

Footnotes:
  1. includes territories that vote in primaries but not in the general. A total of 57 geographic contests were held this year []

A Third-Party Run for Sanders?

By now, Bernie Sanders has all but exhausted his options for winning the Democratic nomination. Even after his win in West Virginia today that had its inordinate share of idiosyncratic voters [1], he trails Hillary Clinton by 285 pledged delegates. He would’ve to get three-fourths of the votes in California to even get tantalizingly close.

However, the super delegates who often vote in favor of the candidate who wins the majority of the pledged delegates, will put Hillary over the top and some more. After dissing the super-delegates as undemocratic and as ‘the establishment’, he cannot count on their support especially if it is to countermand the majority of voters’ wishes [2]. So what’s the next step for Bernie Sanders?

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Footnotes:
  1. Registered Democrats who are in fact Republicans and have been for a long time []
  2. Hillary Clinton currently has nearly 3 million votes more than Bernie Sanders []

A Zero Sum Voting Game

I love Glenn Greenwald and his work. He is one of the more honest journalists out there and heck, I even agree with most of his Clinton criticisms although these days he’s a tad too obsessed. In the tweet above, he’s correct, criticism of Clinton doesn’t equate support for Trump but when it comes down to voting, if you don’t vote for Clinton, it’s effectively a vote for Trump. In most multi-party democracies, that wouldn’t be true but in a republic like America where there’s effectively a duopoly, that’s an unfortunate side effect.

As much as Bernie or Trump supporters would say, it’s not exactly a conspiracy by the Republicans and the Democrats to maintain their stranglehold. The main culprit is the winner-take-all electoral system in the general election. Given this system, voters align themselves strategically and you eventually end up with just two main options. Even if it may seem that the parties themselves have at least two factions, eventually both factions vote for the party nominee and the election boils down to the few battleground states with the small number of undecided swing voters. It’s not easy to change the system since it depends on each individual states to do so. Right now, only Maine & Nebraska divvy up their electoral votes. If any large states especially battleground states like Ohio or Florida choose to do so without others following suit, they would instantly lose their importance. It can only be done if all states do it which seems highly improbable.

The Democratic primary is a proportional system and that’s why Bernie is still in the race because theoretically although highly improbable, he can still win. If the Democratic primaries were also winner-take-all, Hillary would be the nominee after New York. I made the following tweet just before New York primary and New York has 29 electoral votes [1].

The Republicans have a mishmash of proportional allocation, winner-take-most, and winner-take-all. This was done primarily after 2012 when Romney couldn’t lock down the nomination but now it has come back to bite them in the ass coz it’s helping Trump. The race would be wide open if it was proportional allocation.

Getting back to Greenwald’s tweet, this general election, it’s going to come down to Hillary or Trump. Either you vote for one of these candidates or you’re effectively risking seeing the other person winning even if you choose to stay at home. It all boils down to which candidate you do not want to win and how bad and not really about whom you want to see as President. This time the stakes are that high.

This Quora answer makes a great case on whether voting for someone because they’re the lesser of two evils is a good reason and the author says that, “it’s not just “a good reason”. It’s the only reason“; mostly because whether you vote or not, someone among the two is going to be President. So if you along with your purist friends don’t vote while waiting for the perfect candidate, you may end up with a candidate who is the greater of the two evils. In that case, you along with others suffer the consequences for a long time [2]. There is no perfect candidate and even if there is, unless you’ve the majority of people thinking that, you’ve to make hard choices and go with the pragmatic choice. If you don’t show up to vote, you’re part of the problem and would’ve no legitimate reason to complain later.

In this election, it’s more than clear on who is the lesser of the two evils although I don’t think she’s in the same ballpark to even compare. Hillary Clinton would still be better than any generic Republican candidate in today’s era. That said, if you still find faults with here, there is no reason to stop criticizing Clinton even after she is sworn in as President. But vote you must.

Footnotes:
  1. She’s at 315 right now []
  2. The next President may nominate as many as four Supreme Court Justices thus leaving a legacy for more than a generation []

Running to Not Win

Bernie Sanders has performed admirably. That’s a fact. He has given Hillary Clinton, the presumptive nominee before the primaries began a figurative and even a literal run for the money. But I’ve always believed that he was never in it to win. Going back to his “I’ve to get back to work, let’s get this over with” announcement for the candidacy of the Democratic Party, his half-hearted campaigning until the primaries began never gave me any inclination that he wanted to be the Democratic nominee much less the President. We were given confirmation in this NY Times article that used quotes from within his campaign staff.

Competing aggressively against Mrs. Clinton in 2015 was not part of the Sanders strategy when he announced his candidacy last April. Rather, in early campaign planning meetings, Mr. Sanders made it clear that he was focused on bringing his liberal message to cities and towns across America while also fulfilling his duties in the Senate. Advisers said they warned him about the travel demands that a serious presidential bid would entail. They noted that Mrs. Clinton, who had left the State Department, would be working around the clock to campaign, raise money, nail down endorsements and develop policy plans.

All those decisions stemmed in part from Mr. Sanders’s outlook on the race. He was originally skeptical that he could beat Mrs. Clinton, and his mission in 2015 was to spread his political message about a rigged America rather than do whatever it took to win the nomination. By the time he caught fire with voters this winter and personally began to believe he could defeat Mrs. Clinton, she was already on her way to building an all but insurmountable delegate lead.

Without getting into the minutiae of Clinton’s and Sander’s policy positions although there are plenty of differences (in the means rather than the ends), the first and foremost criteria of any Presidential run is that you should want it bad enough to let it dominate every aspect of your life for at least 2 years. If there is any other motive for running for President then chances are that you’re not going to be President. Trump may be similar in that sense that he too never expected to catch on fire like he has within the GOP but the very things that made him popular amongst the GOP are the reasons he’ll never win the Presidency. If Sanders has succeeded then it is in pulling Hillary to the left, which ironically was the intent he began with. Considering the delegate math, by the time he realized that he wanted to win, it was too late. He pats himself on the back by saying he took on the Clinton machine and got nearly as popular. But if 2008 was any indication, it showed us that it was possible not only to take on the Clinton machine but also beat it. In that sense, he fell short. Difference is that Barack Obama wanted to win as soon as he stood on the steps of the courthouse in Springfield. You can probably become Speaker of the House if you don’t even want to, like Paul Ryan has, but running for being the President is a different beast and given the intricacies and arcane rules of the process, you better plan ahead.

Otherwise, you’ll be spent explaining away your losses by saying that you lost because you never campaigned there. Sure, I didn’t win the World Cup coz I never competed. The first rule may be is to show up but the qualifying rule is to want it really bad. I like Bernie Sanders, like most Clinton supporters but the man hasn’t given much thought to how he would govern if he won. That’s probably because he never expected or even wanted to win.

Cling to your self-righteousness all you want, but be very clear that only some people can afford this kind of sacrifice.

Although I don’t think these people will make much of a difference but the holier-than-thou attitudes of people cited are infuriating none the less. I’m a realist and I’m rooting for Hillary Clinton in this election.

The Need for the Perfect Candidate

February 8th, 2016 - Hudson, New Hampshire

Increasingly, voters in America, more so for the Democrats than for Republicans, are asking for the perfect candidate in terms of what they say and what they promise to do when elected. At times, what they promise to do may not even be realistically possible but I’ve already tweeted about that. This is more about demanding something from the candidate that he or she isn’t.

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Look for America – Bernie Sanders Campaign Ad

A lovely ad by the Bernie Sanders campaign. Such a stark contrast to the sky-is-falling Republican ads. I like Bernie but I don’t think he’s going to win against Hillary Clinton. Hillary is not perfect. I had supported Obama against her in 2008 but compared to the GOP field, she’s the best we’ve got.

The Presumptive Democratic Nominee

Finally after a 50-state primary, the Democrats have a presumptive nominee. Presumptive because the nomination will be endorsed only in the Democratic Convention in Denver in August. Heck, even previously ignored territories like Puerto Rico and Guam joined in the nomination party with cable news network actually paying attention to polling. Even though the networks spent an inordinate amount of time talking about the historic moment, for once they may not be overreaching. For Barack Obama to be the first African-American to be nominated as a Presidential nominee is indeed a major achievement for the United States. This blog probably was bold enough to make a prediction way back in 2004. Also, the fact that Obama didn’t run this campaign as an African-American candidate and received wide support not only from black-dominated states like South/North Carolina and the South but also from the whitest of the states like Iowa, Wisconsin, and Oregon. He didn’t win the nomination because he was black but in spite of it; that makes it noteworthy. The path wasn’t easy and it took fighting off a stubborn,  uncompromising, and at times obdurate establishment candidate. But the fact that the establishment candidate was a woman also a first for America bodes well for the political future of this country. America is definitely better off in the eyes of the world after this election. Given the country’s reputation, no one would have thought the country would have voted for an individual whose last name is one letter different from its foremost enemy and shares a middle name with another favorite and recently-deposed enemy. That in itself is a major victory for the United States already. Also, within the country never before was such a disparate electorate so enthused for an election and the fact that the interest was sustained over a long primary period stretching over 16 months showed that it was no mere passing fad.

For African-Americans who lived through the tumultous 60s and had to fight for civil rights wouldn’t have believed if you told them that a black person would have a realistic chance of winning the White House. The Internet is rife with nostalgic stories of people remembering those days and remarking at the amazing distance the country has come since then. But of course, as primaries in West Virginia and Kentucky showed, racism is not entirely wiped off and probably will never be. Pockets of old school thinking and sense of entitlement remain but such beliefs are definitely waning. This generation post-Vietnam post-Cold War had never had any feeling of accomplishment or anything challenging to look forward to. This White House administration in fact managed to do what it had promised to do in 2000; uniting America although it did so against the establishment akin to sticking it to the man. Anyone noticing the constrast between McCain and Obama speeches on Tuesday (not just in speech making) knows that Republicans have an uphill task this year.

The final hurdle in uniting Democrats, Hillary Clinton’s continued run for the nomination in spite of dwindling chances of achieving it, will fall this Saturday. Her email to prominent supporters and media makes it amply clear that she will formally drop out of the race and endorse Obama this Saturday although I will believe it only when I hear it from her on live television. Her speech on Tuesday post-completion of all primaries left much to be desired and she lost the opportunity to go out on a high note after winning South Dakota. Even her staunch supporters like PA Guv Ed Rendell criticized her for trying to negotiate with a Presidential candidate for the Veep spot. The treatment of her 17-million voters as her personal bargaining chip did not go down well with anyone and has in fact strengthened Obama’s position on not picking her as his Veep. Although it can be a political decision at times (Kennedy-Johnson), picking a vice-president is considered a personal preference best left to the nominee since it is the highest office in the land that is not subject to a direct election. Picking a Veep this season is already a tough decision so any attempt by Clinton to blackmail Obama doesn’t go down well with the party and Obama’s campaign.

Come this Saturday, we’ll hopefully see the end of an interesting primary season and the launch of one of the most significant general election in recent times given the implications for the rest of the world. Let the games begin.

Clinton’s Point and Wave

All candidates have their patent campaign moves. For Hillary Clinton, it is the point and wave. You know you are no longer the press’s darling when they expose your secret (popat kiya in Bombay lingo) as Dana Milbank did in Washington Post today:

2:57 p.m., Yeager Airport, Charleston, W.Va.: A steep descent brings Clinton’s plane to Charleston’s hilltop airport.After an appropriate wait, she steps from the plane and pretends to wave to a crowd of supporters; in fact, she is waving to 10 photographers underneath the airplane’s wing. She pretends to spot an old friend in the crowd, points and gives another wave; in fact, she is waving at an aide she had been talking with on the plane minutes earlier.

Ouch!

Hillary Impersonation

Not to pick on the poor girl or anything but if you’ve seen Hillary speak on the campaign trail, then this impersonation is spot on. Reminds me of Colbert’s parody of her point point clap clap mannerism. Too bad ThatHillaryShow will not have more material to work on when she drops out.

The Real Petraeus Questioning

I always thought SNL loved Hillary but obviously in this introductory sketch on the Petraeus questioning this past week, McCain and Clinton get the brunt of the attack. As for Obama, well, you can’t make fun of a guy who opposed the war right from the start unlike those people who claim to. Obviously cursory knowledge of the current affairs of the United States is important in understanding the humor. For those who like to claim they ‘hate politics’, please move on.

Excuses for Defeat

Caucus states, the former first lady says, are undemocratic and cater only to party activists. Southern states, like Louisiana, have “a very strong and very proud African-American electorate,” naturally predisposed to favor a black candidate.And so-called “red” states like North Dakota, Idaho and Kansas — all of which Obama won on Super Tuesday — will never choose a Democrat in the general election anyway [source].

The excuses are flowing in thick and fast from the Clinton camp after yesterday’s sweep of the Chesapeake primaries by Barak Obama. By that logic, as the above linked MSNBC article states, the only states that matter are the ones that Clinton has won. If caucuses are undemocratic because they cater only to party activists, isn’t relying on super delegates even more undemocratic as they comprise of the elite of the party? And if black-dominant candidates are predisposed to black candidates, isn’t Hillary Clinton also basking in the support of woman voters? Isn’t she also courting Latino voters more now that black voters seem to vote overwhelmingly for Obama? Don’t get me started on ignoring the red states because Hillary must be told that the country is in fact purple and there are democratic voters inside even the reddest of the states and you can only ignore them at your peril. After all, doesn’t Obama say that we are not fighting for a Democratic America or a Republican America but in fact for a United States of America?

Hillary may win the Democratic nomination still but as they said, adversity doesn’t build character but only reveals it. She might be a highly capable campaigner and leader but she definitely cannot handle setbacks. That doesn’t bode well for a President who must attempt to heal partisanship in today’s America.

Useless Debate Questions

The primary season is still months away and we are already watching the third Presidential debate. Yesterday eight presidential candidates from the Democratic party indulged in their linguistic battles on CNN. I will neither dwell too much on the technical incompetency on part of CNN (malfunctioning microphones, jerky camera work, etc.) in organizing the debate nor will ask why the heck they couldn’t find anyone better than Wolf ‘Situation Room’ Blitzer.

The questions were quite lacking in their depth and importance. Comparatively, MSNBC and Fox News asked better questions. One of the questions irked me no end. Mike Gravel, a long-shot candidate was asked, how would he make use of Bill Clinton if he was elected President. Later on, Wolf Blitzer passed on the question to other candidates including Hillary. Almost all candidates had a similar answer – some kind of roving worldwide ambassador. If that happens, I say put a red light on top of him and he’ll clear traffic on Indian roads in no time.

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Will Sanjaya Malakar be Hillary Clinton’s running mate?

Sanjaya Malakar is now the topic of Presidential campaigns:

During a radio call-in on WOKQ-FM, Sen. Hillary Clinton was asked what the United States can do about Malakar, the Fox television show’s underdog candidate who critics say lacks any shred of talent.”That’s the best question I’ve been asked in a long time,” Clinton said. “Well, you know, people can vote for whomever they want. That’s true in my election, and it’s true on ‘American Idol’ “[source].

Well, of course I hope she is joking although I would love to see Hillary in a mohawk. As Uber Desi notes, Sanjaya definitely has more name recognition than any of the presidential candidates. Not surprisingly for a country that gets more riled about about voting on American Idol than the national polls. But in case, Sanjay is pondering life after American Idol, he will be interested in this Cafepress Store. Sanjaya, better protect his trademark before people cash in on his name. He will not be winning any elections with the above poster at least not in America. With his Spanish rendition of whatever he sang last week, he might still make it in South America :)

Update: Incidentally, Sanjaya was named as ‘Today’s Girl’ [April 17th] by Maxim Online:

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: You’ve no one but the Devil’s lawyer to blame for this androgynous American Idol stowaway, who, despite being detested by the judges, somehow remains in the hunt for the show’s coveted prize as this year’s top 40 footnote. We stopped watching after the auditions (the only digestible part of the show), but it’s our understanding that we have Sanjina to thank for the “ponyhawk,” a hair-novation destined to tickle your underarm as you noogie hordes of copycat hipsters.

Ouch! That must have hurt. Now only if they put him on the cover of Maxim. Wait! I take that back.

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