This is real: Bern-ers take their marbles and go home

A list — see if it makes sense:

  • 2000 — a muzzled Clinton/Ralph Nader
  • 2008 — Obama
  • 2012 — Obama
  • 2016 — Sanders
  • 2020 — Sanders

Two observations, and a prediction:

  • a Democratic presidential candidate cannot — and rightfully cannot — win a general election without the support of African Americans;
  • millennial Sanders supporters, having constructed purity politics/cancel culture, will invalidate the African American vote by declaring the election rigged;
  • Trump will win re-election.

A question:

Do those pushing Sanders realize that the reason Trump won is because the Democratic vote was essentially split between realists and purists? Just as it was for George Bush Sr. in 1992 (Ross Perot)? As it was for Al Gore (Ralph Nader taking more than enough votes from Gore in Florida to make a recount necessary)? As it was in 2016, when Sanders’ supporters ignored his feeble attempt at pacification and “decided not to participate”?

My answer? Sadly, no. They’ll just keep yelling “Establishment!” because they think it means something more than the MY WAY! purity temper-tantrum it is. They have seen the light — and if they can’t have their light, it’s game over. Who cares if African American voters — the single-most important voting demographic in American politics — are lining up behind Biden. “Establishment!” Who cares if Biden is drawing support from troops-on-the-ground in battleground states. “It’s rigged!”

Bern-ers — Sanders’ most Trump-like supporters — are attracted to him because he resembles them in a very important way: he will not compromise. He’s pure. The RealDeal. He sees, the world be damned. It doesn’t matter that “Medicare for All” is DOA for Senior Citizens who will (rightfully) see in the expansion of benefits a danger to their own. It doesn’t matter that Fidel Castro quarantined HIV/AIDS patients or created conditions so dire that Cubans would rather take their chances on the open ocean than remain in Cuba. Center-left Democrats and Republicans who see in Biden someone they could vote for, someone of measured authority? So what. Sanders and his supporters see the world the way they see the world, and nothing — no argument, no Florida Democrat upheaval, no appeal to the raised voices of Others — can change that perspective.

This sort of ideological purity is usually seen in parents looking at their newborn, cooing that their offspring is the pinnacle of human potential. Their myopia is understandable, and easily forgiven. Nobody expects a parent (at least in the first two years) to admit their child is, say, ugly. Or not-quite-the-brightest. It’s probably why we’ve survived as a species, this sort of blind adoration. Sadly, however, some (many?) millennials believed their parents — and only their parents — and continue to see themselves as flawless arbiters of the good and the right. Their purity, their blessedness, has deep roots in those planned communities of which they are a part, in social and educational arrogance; having little experience with being wrong, Bern-ers — here, mainly white millennials — cannot admit opposing thought because, first, few have had to actually encounter a world beyond their control (play-dates, anyone?), and second, why should they? They are, after all, paragons of virtue and intelligence, far above those low-lifes who would “compromise” their principles for electoral victory.

The consequence of such intellectual elitism/real-world ignorance is, of course, a massive blind spot: a sort of infantile fascism, founded (just like in history) on the twin pillars of innocence and arrogance, that can’t recognize itself as fascism because, well, “we’re for universal health care”…as they declare “the process” political and cancel American democracy-in-action — or anything else they don’t agree with.

Get ready for Four More Years. One way or another, Bern-ers will cancel the African American vote — which, again, is essential to a Democratic win — regardless of what happens in the primaries. The predicted landscape: another conservative Supreme Court Justice; the ending of the ACA (just watch — this is the reason the deficit is being fueled: soon, a call for “fiscal responsibility” will overtake the call for affordable care); and the further erosion of the important line between church and state. Oh, and reproductive choice? Are you kidding?

Not quite the kind of Bern I’d like.

(A caveat: we could always hope for a recession. Then Democrats could run Jill Stein — another Green Party purists — and win.)


Some interesting reading:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/03/04/these-myths-died-super-tuesday/

Art vs. entertainment. Finally.

First, something from Gertrude Stein:

Then commenced the long period which Max Jacobs has called the Heroic Age of Cubism, and it was an heroic age. All ages are heroic, that is to say there are heroes in all ages who do things because they cannot do otherwise and neither they nor the others understand how and why these things happen. One does not ever understand, before they are completely created, what is happening and one does not at all understand what one has done until the moment when it is all done. Picasso said once that he who created a thing is forced to make it ugly. In the effort to create the intensity and the struggle to create this intensity, the result always produces a certain ugliness, those who follow can make of this thing a beautiful thing because they know what they are doing, the thing having already been invented, but the inventor because he does not know what he is going to invent inevitably the thing he makes must have its ugliness.

Stein, Picasso

I suppose it’s appropriate, and perhaps even artful, that the clearest expositions of artistic process is found in one of the most poorly punctuated essays I’ve read outside a high-school English class. Stein loved commas, but didn’t seem to know where to place them. I love poetry, but don’t know what I’m doing.

We’re both struggling. A perfect relationship.

What Stein is getting at — having had a front-row seat to the cubist drama — is the difference between that which comes first (which is art), and that which follows (which is entertainment). Or, put differently, Stein believes creation is distinct from understanding in the same way that inspiration is distinct from monetization. Her Picasso lived in the space of heroic vision, not in the sense that he believed he had something extraordinary to communicate, but instead something that was indelibly his — something that flowed through him rather than being produced by him.

This Picasso did not want to draw what everybody already saw; he wanted to express what he saw, almost how he saw. That vision, before it became an -ism, looked strange. Dark lines appeared on very warped faces. Nudity was not often ….provocative. While others competed in the realm of representational art, learning their crafts in structures which either applauded or denigrated fidelity to the aesthetics of the time, Picasso created. Not a movement. Something else, something Stein intimates he did not understand.

He put down, as clearly as he could, his focus, and kept moving forward. Later, his vision would be codified. Viewers now, having been trained to see what is suspiciously similar to a two-dimensional representation of (newly emergent) quantum physics, can finally see something more than what had been seen. But only after the artist created a path to a place he couldn’t describe until he got there.

Photo by Julia Joppien on Unsplash

That is, I think, the difference between art and entertainment — and by “entertainment,” I also mean much of academic discourse. Music. Stories. Anything that can be sold. Or claims to have a handle on a world that is constantly moving, but is really a progressively more polished (and boring) version of what is already understood. We read, or watch, or listen to the professionals, those who have perfected the technique of storytelling, or moviemaking, or songs. But — and this is important — we are not really reading, etc., in these mimes anything but ourselves. We’re not really seeing anything but what we’ve already seen.

This is entertainment. And it is fine, good, wonderful. I need to be comforted, every once in a while, by something that confirms my worldview. I can’t be challenged all the time. But it is also comforting, for me, to read that perhaps the value of art likes not in its perfection, but in its ugliness; that the first few sentences we strung together as children were not structurally perfect, but still beautiful to those listening; that I get a thrill out of listening to bands that are finding their way much more often than I do when listening to those that have become masters of their trade; and my best poems, like my best stories, are not the ones that I “techniqued” into perfection (like lectures I’d given a hundred times), but those off-the-cuff moments of honesty that seem ugly and imperfect even as they move.

The truth: I really did enjoy being infuriated at Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs more than applauding Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood. And perhaps like Stein, I find more value in one ugly-but-unsettling sketch than I do in a reproduction that has been purified for public consumption. Which is why I love the fact that Stein is more concerned with content than punctuation. She’s repetitive, somewhat unstructured, a little dictatorial. But then she has to be. She creating a new view and all. Hers.


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Reflections in a window

Converse shoes to light-brown hair over sunned muscular calves to dull grey shorts to adventurous glutes to dull grey tank top to moderately formed shoulders to fleshy upper arms to selfie of useful face.

He stands.  Throws his cup away in the correct Starbucks recycling receptacle (there’s a guide on top of the barrel;  it’s confusing). Moves outside, glances at me through the window as he passes. Stands by dull grey Prius.  Lifts tank top before reflecting window. Deep-cut, not just abdominals but chiseled muscle groups flexing against taught skin.  Gets in car. Drives into the world.

I think:  he has to lift his shirt every time he wants to show his assets.

And then:  most people are trying to monetize their lives, commodify their bodies, sell their wares.  

Whether it’s a skill or a feature doesn’t matter;  like auctioneers we shout ourselves before buyers who are themselves sellers, bartering what we have for what we want, trying to transform what was given or worked for (again, doesn’t matter) into currency that is then used to purchase from others what we need.

Our bodies become goods, paraded and traded by pimp-parasites whose property-claims ignore the ubiquity of dirt. We do to our-selves what we do to our-world, assert dominion over arms and legs, trees on a mountainside, flowers in a field, each captured by a brutal interloper that proclaims ownership over what it did not create, sells it, and moves on.

The pimp did look at me.  

But then, deciding that I had nothing to offer, continued to hawk his meat to a hungry, depleted species. 

Gloria in excelsis Deo.
unsplash-logocharles gaudreault