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Bernie Sanders Sacramento rally

Today is the California primary, and this is Bernie Sanders’ last stand. It’s the state on which his remaining hopes are resting, and it’s the state that has the chance to take him from “hopeful” to “winner.”

With 475 pledged delegates in play, California is the largest state in the Democratic primary, easily dwarfing the next closest, New York, by 228 delegates, and there are enough delegates for Bernie Sanders to completely eliminate Hillary Clinton’s pledged delegate lead. Secretary Clinton currently leads the Vermont Senator by 291 pledged delegates, and Sanders could theoretically win enough delegates in California to pull ahead, especially with the help of other states voting today.

The trouble is, he won’t. Bernie Sanders will not pass Hillary Clinton in pledged delegates, but he can still become the winner of the Democratic primary tonight. Sure, Clinton plans to declare victory now that she’s secured 2383 total delegates with the help of superdelegates, and she has every right to, but that doesn’t mean Bernie has lost, even if the AP is naming Clinton the presumptive Democratic nominee for President.

And Bernie hasn’t lost. The Sanders campaign is still going, and the candidate himself has stated he plans to take his fight all the way to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this July, where superdelegates officially pledge themselves to one candidate or the other, at which point he could technically pry enough superdelegates away from Clinton to secure the nomination. Unfortunately for Sanders and his supporters, he probably won’t be able to do that.

Bernie Sanders will very likely not be the Democratic nominee for president, and this really makes sense when we stop to think about it. To be able to convince enough superdelegates not to continue backing Hillary Clinton would be a coup of epic proportions for the populist Senator, and it should surprise absolutely no one that Democratic superdelegates, who are quite literally a part of the Democratic establishment, overwhelmingly support Secretary Clinton, who herself is an establishment Democrat. One has to think even Bernie Sanders recognizes this, which he likely does, but by staying in the race he’s winning the war against Clinton and other New Democrats and their neoliberal moderatism.

But the fact that these superdelegates support the former First Lady/Senator from New York/Secretary of State isn’t inherently evil; they’re neoliberals too—just like her and her husband. They’re supporting the candidate they genuinely prefer, the one who holds similar political views and the one who will govern the way the establishment wants. They want Clinton, not Sanders, and it’s unlikely Bernie will be able to convince enough of them, a few hundreds worth, to switch sides between now and July 25, the start of the Democratic Convention.

This doesn’t make those superdelegates the spawn of Satan or undemocratic—though one could argue our entire political system is far less democratic than we’ve all been led to believe—it simply makes them politically moderate, and that’s why they’re backing a moderate candidate. And people are certainly free to be left-leaning moderates, and there are enough left-leaning moderates that the Democratic party is made up of many such folks, and Bernie supporters will just have to reconcile that fact with themselves after the primary contests are officially over and those superdelegates continue backing Clinton.

So, after saying Bernie can win the Democratic primary and then seemingly contradicting myself by saying he won’t be the nominee, we get to the real point of this article. Bernie Sanders, despite what he’s saying publically, likely isn’t staying in the race to be president because he thinks he can win. At this point in time, Sanders is still in the race probably only to shape the Democratic Party’s platform for the next four years, and his supporters should be hella glad he is. And they should hella support him today in California, New Jersey, North Dakota, Montana, New Mexico, and South Dakota, so much so that he wins all of those states by double digits! Okay, that’s not likely to happen, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from voting for Bernie.

The better Sanders does today and the more he wins California by, if he can win it, the more say he’ll get at the convention and the better off these “BernieBro” unicorns will be down the road, who Hillary Clinton so desperately wants to like her. It will also signal a pretty big leftward shift away from neoliberalism, which has rapidly become a derogatory term hurled at a mainstream Democratic ideology that looks more like Nixon Republicanism than it does New Deal democracy.

If Bernie Sanders supporters are smart, which the majority of them are, they will recognize this and then go on to support Sanders and his message up to and past July 25, because if they can’t get the nominee they want, the next best thing is letting the Democrats know that neoliberalism is going to die after a Clinton presidency, and hopefully forcing her further and further away from the political center as much as possible prior to being sworn in.

If everything plays out as expected, with Hillary Clinton becoming the Democratic nominee for president, the decision for Sanders supporters to either vote or not vote for Clinton is up to them, and this article will in no way try to convince them to do one or the other—though I do feel the #BernieOrBust movement is justified and actually a good thing. But, if Sandernistas want to really effect political change, if they really want a political revolution, they’ll use Bernie’s success through California for all it’s worth, and they will continue holding their votes hostage against Clinton and her party.

Winning California, especially while the majority of media outlets are already declaring Clinton the nominee, would give Sanders and his ideals more political clout than they’ve had at almost any other point this election, and it will give his supporters all the justification they need for not handing their votes to Clinton. Sanders wins the primary tonight if he wins California, even if he won’t win the nomination, because it will allow his voters to demand even more progressivism from Clinton and other Democrats running for office in this country, but only if they hold their votes tight to their chests until such a time that Clinton and the Democrats incorporate more of Bernie’s ideas and policy stances into the official party platform.

Should Hillary Clinton and Democrats begin drifting to the political center after the primary is over, as they’ve done since the early 90s with the rise of New Democrats, Bernie supporters have the option to use their votes elsewhere, and they’d be very justified in doing so. Winning California and finishing close to Clinton in pledged delegates nationally would give Bernie’s ideas immediate credibility on the national stage, making the expected rightward shift from Clinton almost comically tonedeaf—and it would also make Bernie an even bigger winner.

If Clinton moves to the right after Sanders goes toe-to-toe with her on the national stage, his supporters should consider voting for a third party candidate if they value their long-term political power, even if it results in a Trump presidency. By winning California and essentially splitting the pledged delegate vote with Clinton nationally, Bernie can let the establishment know that his ideas and principles are the future, but that only happens if those who think like Sanders don’t give in to moderate politics and the I’m-voting-for-the-lesser-of-two-evils mindset, otherwise it’s all for naught.

Winning California means winning the primary season for Bernie Sanders, but it’s an even bigger deal for his supporters and young liberals tired of neoliberalism and capitalistic democracy. By taking the fight all the way to the convention, and by winning nearly half of all pledged delegates, and by winning the largest state in the Democratic primary, Sanders will be sending a message to American liberals that his ideas and ideals aren’t farfetched, extreme, or fringe. He’ll prove they’re very much as real and credible as moderatism, and his voters will carry that credibility with them to the polls on November 8th, where they will be able to choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump—and a whole slew of third party candidates.

All this clout and power rests in the hands of Bernie Sanders supporters, and when Clinton is named the nominee for the Democrats, that power increases, because she’ll need those BernieBros in November. It’s this needing of Sanders supporters from the Clinton campaign that should keep her left of her political comfort zone and what will ultimately make Sanders a winner from this primary season—with one huge caveat.

The only way Bernie Sanders wins, and the only way his campaign meant anything after July 25, is if his supporters stick by their principles, because conceding defeat and voting for the lesser of two evils undoes everything Sanders accomplished and shifts all the power right back to the establishment and their corporate donors. Right now the Democrats and Hillary Clinton want Bernie’s votes, and Bernie supporters can either hand themselves over willingly because Donald Trump is an asshole and a schmuck, or they can make the Democratic establishment earn them by actually being progressive. If Clinton positions herself as a moderate, failing to follow through on her progressive talk, and Bernie supporters vote for her anyway, Sanders loses. The general election is a game of chicken between neoliberal Democrats and the progressive wing of the party, and whoever blinks first loses. If Sanders supporters don’t want the Democratic Party to remain moderate and beholden to corporate interests, then getting in line and voting for Clinton is the wrong thing to do. If Clinton positions herself as a moderate and BernieBros don’t vote for her anyway, instead opting for a more (or real) liberal candidate like Jill Stein—who is remarkably more liberal than Sanders on many issues—and it costs Clinton the election, then Sanders’ ideas will have won, because all of the sudden the Democratic party will have to spend the next four years moving back to the left to recruit the Sanders wing of the party.

Bernie Sanders may not be the Democrat’s presidential nominee, but that doesn’t mean he’s lost. He’ll have won if his supporters and the weight of his movement continues to pressure Clinton and her party to keep moving to the left and away from corporate politics, creating a new standard for American progressivism. Or they can just vote for her anyways, and then Bernie will have truly lost the war against big money in politics. It’s ultimately up to them whether Bernie Sanders wins or loses now.

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

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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