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You might have missed the news, as it was very lightly covered by major media outlets, but Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders has been left off the Washington D.C. ballot for the June 14 presidential primary. With over three months left until the primary, there is absolutely no reason he won’t be included on the ballot.

As reported by Tom Sherwood of NBC’s Washington D.C. affiliate, WRC-TV, Bernie Sanders is currently not slated to be listed on the Washington D.C. ballot, despite the fact that his campaign turned in all requisite paperwork and fees, $2,500 worth to be exact, to the Washington D.C. Democratic Party well before the 7:00pm deadline on March 16. The reason for the exclusion is because the local Democratic Party failed to forward the paperwork to the D.C. Board of Elections until March 17, a day late, allowing citizens to challenge his inclusion on the ballot. All the party had to do was email the information, but apparently that proved too difficult.

The error is, to be clear, entirely the fault of the Democratic Party, as the Sanders campaign met all of the demands and expectations to be listed on the ballot. Interestingly, the party is misleading voters by implying that Sanders’ campaign staff waited until the last minute to file all the paperwork, which is not true.

In a statement to the Washington Times, D.C. Democratic Party Chairwoman Anita Bonds stated that Sanders’ party plan, which includes the paperwork and fees, was completed before the 7:00 pm March 16 deadline, making it sound as if some of the fault lies with Sanders and his campaign for waiting until the last minute. This could not be further from the truth. Sherwood states that both Bernie Sanders and his opponent, Hillary Clinton, met all the requirements to be included “earlier this month”. Really, there is no excuse for the party to have waited until March 17 to pass the information along to the D.C. board of elections.

There are a couple ways to remedy the situation, both of which include jumping through bureaucratic hoops. The first is for the Board of Elections to hold a hearing on the inclusion of Bernie Sanders, possibly as early as next week, though no exact timeframe has been laid out. The alternative is for the D.C. City Council to hold an emergency session to resolve the issue, but again, no dates have been mentioned as possibilities for that to happen. Both bodies have thus far declined to comment on the situation.

Since the DNC failed to do its job, a local schoolteacher by the name of Robert Brannum was able to challenge the inclusion of Bernie on the ballot, and this challenge is currently outstanding. No challenge has been filed against Clinton. We would like to note that Robert Brannum has a long history of working with the local Democratic Party, including being the former elected chairman for the Ward 5 Democratic Committee and its current Sergeant-at-Arms, which is an appointed position.

It also appears that Mr. Brannum is a Hillary Clinton supporter based on several tweets, which may mean everything and nothing all at the same time. Yes, that is the same tweet being sent out four times, just to drive home the point. robert brannum hillary clinton supporter @robert158 washington dc ballot

All of this is bad news for Hillary Clinton, and it will likely hurt her campaign more than it will Bernie’s. Many Bernie supporters point to this as a sign of corruption within the Democratic Party and more signs of election fraud, following the disaster that was the Arizona primary, designed specifically to undermine the Bernie campaign.

Men’s Trait is not willing to go that far, and there is no proof of conspiracy or collusion on all the sketchy events that have seemingly hindered Sanders’ campaign, but it does raise some very interesting points regarding how the voting public feels about American democracy — namely that we have absolutely no faith in it anymore.

We’re nowhere near willing to accuse the Clinton campaign of any wrongdoing, and we’re not hinting that this is some kind of conspiracy to get in the way of the democratic process in the country, but the simple fact that large swaths of the American public could even entertain that idea is damning in its own right. There have been myriad things that have happened this election cycle that tell Americans not to trust the government and the democratic process, from party officials openly admitting that they’re trying to destroy the campaign of a certain candidate, to the consistent media blackout of Bernie Sanders, and this is a huge problem for establishment politicians on both sides of the aisle. You can read more of the accusations being levied against major media outlets and the DNC here, on Salon, and here, from Robert Reich.

This latest snafu that is hurting Bernie’s chance of mounting a fair campaign against Hillary Clinton, who currently holds a comfortable — though shrinking — delegate lead over Bernie, will just continue to alienate voters from the Democratic Party and its leadership. The same is happening with Republicans as well. Republican voters have quickly and decisively dismissed every establishment Republican candidate from their once crowded field of presidential hopefuls, aside from John Kasich, whose campaign is reminiscent of a cockroach that refuses to die. Establishment Republicans are so desperate to block Donald Trump from the nominations that they’re hoping Ted Cruz beats him, a Senator from Texas with very few friends.

The Democratic Party can dismiss the late filing of Bernie’s paperwork as a simple clerical error, but to voters who have a lot of passion for and devotion to the democratic process, it’s a sign that either the party is terribly inept or it’s corrupt beyond even our wildest imaginations. Since Hillary Clinton is the candidate the democratic establishment prefers (which is fair), she’s the one who is going to be paying the price at the polls. And perhaps rightfully so. As the leading candidate to represent the Democrats in the general presidential election, and the party choice, she is the face of the Democrats, and any ineptitude or corruption is hers to account for. Even if nothing sinister is happening, the Democratic Party is rapidly becoming a target for its constituents for poorly handling this election cycle, and Hillary Clinton probably should lose voters over it. If this is going to be her party after President Barack Obama leaves office, then democratic voters absolutely should hold her accountable for the flaws of the party. Nothing urges changes from politicians more than the fear of losing votes, as Hillary Clinton proved on the issue of LGBT rights, trade deals, the War in Iraq, the Wall Street bailout, campaign finance laws, etc.

If this is a sign of corruption and election fraud, it’s the most hamfisted, clumsy effort at it in recent memory. Personally, I do believe corruption and election fraud are both very real and very much a problem in the United States, though I wouldn’t point to this situation as an example. I would, however, add this to the list of coincidences that are fairly inexcusable, and if they keep happening at the same rate and to the detriment of the same candidate, at some point we need to stop making excuses for the DNC and walk away from it.

If the Democratic Party, and Clinton herself, want to put an end to all the corruption and fraud talk, to go along with accusations about how they’re unfairly rigging the election in Clinton’s favor, they really need to get their act together and stop screwing up. Leaving Bernie Sanders off of the Washington D.C. democratic primary ballot reminds us of the time he was left off of the Chicago sample ballot. And the explanations for both of these events are decidedly shady, if not outright undemocratic. Yes, the following exchange is real.

bernie sanders sample chicago ballot

The exclusion of Bernie Sanders from the Washington D.C. democratic primary ballot may not be the sign many have been waiting for that proves the Democratic Party is corrupt and purposely sinking Bernie’s campaign; it’s just yet another example of dubious coincidences that undermine the voters’ faith in American democracy. And if things like this keep happening, Bernie Sanders supporters will continue to hold Hillary Clinton accountable, maybe even into the general election, should she secure the nomination. With each passing day and each new incident, Clinton is sending new recruits to the Bernie of Bust movement. And, frankly, maybe that’s a good thing.

If the Democratic Party can’t even send an email on time, with ample opportunities to do so, then democratic voters would be better served letting the party crumble and building something new in its place. Chances are they’d at least have faith in it.

And, for the sake of full disclosure — something Washington Post opinion columnist Jonathan Capehart seems incapable of — I’d like to mention that I voted for Bernie Sanders in the Tennessee primary, and I have donated to his campaign. With that out of the way, I would also like to mention that Men’s Trait, despite the funny name, does take accountability and integrity seriously, hence why we link to as many corroborating sources as possible. Each of our writers may have their own political preferences, but we also make sure that we support our claims with facts whenever possible. Commentary is ours, but the facts are corroborated by others. If you notice an error, please let us know and we will fix it.

Movies & Television

Should fans care that Deadpool was nominated for a Golden Globe?

Deadpool is the first superhero film to be nominated for Best Picture, and that a superhero movie has been nominated for anything other than its effects.

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deadpool-gallery-03-gallery-image

Image: 20th Century Fox

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) announced Monday night its nominations for the Golden Globes, and amidst the usual gossip of snubs and surprises, the biggest shocker came in the form of nominee for Best Picture – Comedy/Musical, Deadpool. This marks the first time that a superhero movie has been up for Best Picture at the Golden Globes, and honestly one of the few times ever that a superhero movie has been nominated for a major award for anything other than its effects. The question is, should we, as fans, care?

Now first off let’s just say that Deadpool was a hell of a movie. It zipped back and forth between crass and witty in a wonderful comedic ride that stayed true to the heart of the titular character that even the best of superhero films struggle to accomplish. The story of how the film came to be made probably deserves a documentary all it’s own, with the climax, of course, being the moment the test footage was leaked to an adoring public. No one is trying to say that Deadpool didn’t deserve to be nominated as one of the best comedies of the year.

However.

The Golden Globes have been notorious for years as the ultimate “Who Gives a Shit” awards. The Oscars have a voting pool of over 6,000 members, the Emmy’s have more than 18,000 members, and the Screen Actors Guild gives a vote to each of its 165,000 members. And how many people vote on the Golden Globes? 88.

And these are 88 people with some of the most tenuous of credentials possible. To become part of the voting bloc, an applicant must first be sponsored by two people who are already a part of the HFPA, but after that, all they must do is produce four published articles a year. This combination of nepotism-based admission and one of the lowest bars imaginable to maintain membership has always marred the Golden Globes and kept them from being truly respected as an award. Thus, them nominating anything for anything has very little meaning to it.

However.

As we said earlier, Deadpool‘s nomination marks the first time a superhero film has been up for Best Picture. In a way, it is a huge accomplishment for a genre that has always been viewed as merely action spectacles with little substance. Every year superhero films have managed to take a few steps closer towards wide-spread critical legitimacy with recent films beginning to take on serious topics and truly explore the emotional complexities of its characters.

When viewed from that light, Deadpool‘s nomination for Best Picture, even if only for a Golden Globe, could, in an incredibly optimistic, best-case scenario, serve as a precedent for future superhero films to earn awards beyond Best Visual Effects.

Which brings us back to the original question, should fans of superhero films care that Deadpool was nominated for a Golden Globe?

Sadly, no. While Deadpool is no doubt deserving of the honor, even should it win the award – it won’t, it’s going to go to La La Land, we’re calling it now – the Golden Globes simply aren’t respected enough for their opinions to sway any of the other award communities.

If you are one day hoping to see all of the Avengers (or the Justice League . . . I guess) on stage accepting the Academy Award for Best Picture, then please, don’t hold your breath.

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News

Reasons to take a news break over the holidays

I am determined to have a Trump-free holiday. I wanna focus on the warmth and fuzziness of family and friend togetherness instead. It will be a total and complete news break.

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donald trump doesn't like this picture
donald trump doesn't like this picture

Image: Twitter

Donald Trump has taken up residence in my brain and is making himself at home. And he’s invited Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions, and all his other white nationalist friends over too. They’re even tickling my brain and invading my dreams. Well, as the holidays approach, I say “NO MORE!”

That’s right. I am determined to take a “Trumpcation” (A portmanteau of “Trump” and “vacation”) during the forthcoming holidays. Chanukah and Christmas overlap and, as a Jew who celebrates both, that means that my Trumpcation will last for a full eight days. That means no reading about him, no talking about him, no going out of my way to check his Twitter to see the latest gaseous explosion that spurted up out of his mind. Now the man is so ubiquitous right now that it’s impossible to completely avoid him, so if he comes up in a conversation or happens to be on TV, that’s fine. But other than that, I am determined to have a Trump-free holiday. I wanna focus on the warmth and fuzziness of family and friend togetherness instead. It will be a total and complete news break.

Of course, that is what I said two days before Thanksgiving. I planned to spend the entire weekend in a Trump-free bubble. I thought I had prepared by blocking his Twitter feed and yet the Twitter feed did not block me. Facebook friends posted screen caps of his latest bilious Tweets. Relatives and friends brought him up in nearly every conversation. His orange visage glowed forth from every TV I passed. And, of course, once somebody brings him up, I’ll be knee-deep in an endless conversation about our rage, our sadness, and our fear. Because I am a hopeless news junkie and I maybe have a masochistic streak where I fill my head up with the scariest news stories I can.

Intellectually, I know that it is high time for a Trump break. Writer Martijn Schrip, of the site High Existence, makes the argument that taking a news break is good for the brain.  He states that too much Facebook checking for the latest horrible newsworthy event makes us neglect the issues in our own lives in favor of the bigger problems facing the world. In addition, too much reliance on news makes us “junkies” looking for our next fix of information. People go to the restroom solely to check Facebook and whip out their phones whenever they see someone else on their phone, as if it’s a Pavlovian response. For me, it gets rough because one of my first acts when I wake up is to check Facebook. Since I have so many friends ( ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)) and am following so many pages, my brain gets inundated with a typhoon of information, think pieces, rants, and listicles. And since Trump is everywhere, he is usually the first thing I see every morning. Talk about a great start to my day….

It’s rough, guys. My way of coping with my intense fear of what’s coming is to constantly see what Trump is up to. His Twitter feed gives me a weird feeling of control. I know I don’t actually know what he’s doing but, since he Tweets so often, I trick my brain into feeling like I’m keeping tabs on him. I’m obsessed with seeing what new policies he is adopting or which old ones he’s backing away from. That’s how I cope. I enmesh myself deeply in Trumpism so I don’t forget that he’s out there.

But this may have the complete opposite effect, unfortunately. For all of my posting the hashtag #ThisIsNotNormal, I feel as if my constant obsession with the latest outrage is normalizing him in my mind. And that is not okay because this may lead to me passively accepting whatever horrible thing ends up happening.

I wish it were possible to be on Facebook for even a day and not run across his scowling face. Before Thanksgiving, my thinking was that I can avoid him for a few days and know that he would unfortunately be there when I got back. But, alas, this was not to be. But I am determined to actually do it for the eight days of Christmakkah (A portmanteau of “Christmas” and…oh you get it). If I run across his name or face on social media, I will quickly scroll past. I’ll change the channel if he’s on TV. It’s going to be tough but I think it’s important to try. I need to keep my brain sharp and ready to fight.

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Opinion

Real talk about identity politics

This piece is a quick and dirty run down of what identity politics is and what it’s about.

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Image: oneinchpunch / Shutterstock

The term identity politics inhabits a similar space that political correctness did in the 90s when some people were like, “Oh shit! Words matter!” and other people were like, “I am confused and resistant to change.” This piece is a quick and dirty run down of what identity politics is and what it’s about.

First of all, while the rise of the term “Identity Politics” in popular discourse is relatively recent, the idea that groups of people will have shared perspectives and experiences based on aspects of their identity, which will then affect their political goals and positions, is pretty old. The Civil Rights Movement, suffragettes, even the Huguenots incorporated aspects of identity politics. Of course, this is also true of the Nazis, the Cultural Revolution in China, and the KKK. However, most of the time you will see the term used is in regards to those who are marginalized in some way: minorities, people with disabilities, LGBTQ people, women, and more.

To understand how identity politics function, you need to understand what I mean by marginalization. Marginalization doesn’t mean that the people in these groups are never wildly successful, never assholes, or don’t contribute to oppressing others. Indeed, many suffragettes were racist AF and the Civil Rights Movement had issues with sexism. What marginalization means is that it is culturally acceptable in large and small ways, consciously and unconsciously, to limit how certain people interact with the world. This can mean fewer opportunities, curtailing of civil rights, the threat of violence, or discounting and/or appropriating their contributions.

Another factor of marginalization and how identity politics function is that individual achievement alone does not erase problems with marginalization. Female Olympic athletes are still picked apart for not being properly made-up or skinny enough, despite exemplifying physical prowess. President Obama still faces racism as one of the most powerful men on earth. Yes, gaining power, wealth, PhDs, sponsorships, etc. may lessen the ways an individual is affected, but they do not make a systematic problem go away.

So if you are a marginalized person who is ignored, not taken seriously, or threatened, you can find people with similar backgrounds and views to organize and create coalitions. You figure out how to best get your interests taken care of, whether it’s through piecemeal legislation, all out protests, lawsuits, awareness campaigns, etc. Several people whose individual concerns were deemed unimportant become a larger political entity that demands attention and creates change.

Sometimes people take action organically without a ton of planning, and sometimes they are highly organized. That doesn’t mean everything always goes smoothly, of course, because shared perspectives do not translate into everyone in a group having the same beliefs. People will have different ideas about how to get things done; the classic example in the U.S. is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. vs. Malcolm X. People within a group will also have their own prejudices, which can limit their effectiveness and cause further conflict.

If it sounds like identity politics is flawed, messy, and uncomfortable that’s because it is. There are also people who consider it the purview of the frivolous, overly sensitive, and divisive. So why bother with identity politics? Especially when they apparently need a whole article to explain the basics without a single gif or picture?

via GIPHY

For one, people engage in identity politics all the time; it’s just usually considered less controversial if they say, “as a parent,” or “as a small business owner” when explaining their perspectives, indeed if they note their identity at all. We may as well talk about our politics accurately instead of pretending some people are objective and neutral while others who have different views are advocates of special interests or worse, maliciously divisive.

This brings me to my second point. Those who believe that talking about marginalization causes societal fractures are usually those who haven’t had to deal with it. The fractures were already there; it’s just that these people weren’t aware of them. No amount of playing nice, conforming, or achievement protects you. Think of the sexual harassment of female Fox News anchors, or the treatment of Tim Scott, the only black GOP senator. Having an education, good job, and loving family did not save Sandra Bland.

To assume that party politics and platform building is neutral or more serious when they do not include different perspectives is disingenuous at best and bigoted at its worst. (Think of Gov. Mike Pence’s policies targeting the LGBTQ community and punishing women who have abortions.)

Identity politics isn’t some kind of silver bullet against every ism or injustice. Like I said in the beginning, identity politics are also at play in hate groups and dangerous nationalism. Who you are and what’s important to you shouldn’t overtake the rights and liberties of others. But identity politics can help us recognize and address problems even when they don’t directly affect us, and help us make an impact in our own society.

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