kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

Yes, I meant to not misspell the word 'burn,' because yesterday I Felt The Bern, today I am indeed Feeling The Burn. Sunburn, that is. Yikes.

So yeah, yesterday I took the afternoon off from work and headed to Kissimmee for a stop on Bernie's pre-primary swing through Florida. The basic recap is this: I am glad I went, of course, but if I'd known exactly what was involved I probably wouldn't have. Hindsight being 20/20, if I'd known it was an all-outdoor event with plenty of space, I'd have shown up a lot later and been a lot more prepared to be out in the sun. But as it was, I took literally the phrase 'doors open at noon' (not to mention all the media clips I've see of indoor rallies) and was in line shortly after 11am, only to discover (after waiting in line for some time, of course) that the main event didn't begin until 3pm and the whole thing was taking place outside. But by then I was there and committed, so I stuck with it.

I made some friends in line, and we chatted while we waited. There were campaign volunteers roaming the line as more people arrived and it snaked back and forth. Some were leading little chants (Feel the? BERN! Hey hey, ho ho, corporate greed has got to go!), some were signing up volunteers for phonebanking and canvassing. There were also some capitalists roaming around, selling Bernie shirts and hats and buttons. I was pleased to see quite a diverse crowd--still majority white, but plenty of minorities represented as well, and every imaginable age from infants to seniors. Nice to see. I'd considered bringing one or two of the girls myself, but I'm glad I didn't given all the waiting around--they'd have been miserable.

Once we got into the actual area where the rally was to take place, we staked out a spot to the right of the stage, maybe 75 feet from the podium. And there we waited. Behind us there was a side stage, upon which a few local bands provided pre-show entertainment. Several of them were pretty decent. The first was a jazzy jam band, and I think several of its members stuck around as part of the next act, a band of (what looked to me like) high-school-age kids called The Charter. Then a group of Puerto Rican guys playing percussion and singing traditional Boricua music. And the last band was rather unusual: a 2-man group called Grey Market, consisting of a drummer and a guitarist, both singing and playing along to prerecorded backing tracks in a sort of Muse/Tool vein with a clear old-school-Rush-style sci-fi bent. The music was pretty good, but the singing was.. not. The guitarist tended to sing in a rather terrible falsetto. Maybe it was an off day, I'd be interested in hearing if they have any recorded material. Ah, I see they have an album coming out in May, may have to check it out.

At length Bernie's motorcade arrived, and a great cheer went through the crowd. But we still had a ways to go. A couple locals gave a little speech about supporting Bernie for the Latino community--Kissimmee has a huge Puerto Rican population. Then a lady sang the national anthem and did a pretty fine job of it. Then we waited a bit more. Then a real treat I was not expecting:

Tulsi Gabbard, a US Representative from Hawaii. She's the one who made some minor waves recently by resigning her position on the Democratic National Committee so she could endorse Bernie. Since then I've heard her name mentioned as a potential running mate, should it come to that. I'm not so sure about the idea--she's awesome, but she's so young: she's not even 35 until next month, which is the absolute minimum to serve as VP. And given Bernie's age, his VP choice would be a crucial consideration for a lot of voters. She also happens to be Hindu, and while I would love a completely non-Christian Presidential ticket, it would make the GOP's collective head explode. :) But anyway, not that I had one before, but Tulsi is my new political crush and I am not ashamed to admit it.

Then at last, sporting a UCF ballcap, Bernie took the stage. Having been a fan of his for years, well before he entered this race, I've listened to many of his speeches and of course they contain a lot of the same themes and elements. So not much new there. But I did like how he presented it. I'd call it the 'This Campaign Listens' speech, as that was the device he used to bring up each point. "This campaign listens to young people," before going into his bit on free college tuition and reducing student debt. "This campaign listens to women," before going into the equal pay stuff. "This campaign listens to African-Americans," before talking about poverty and the criminal justice system. You get the idea. It was nicely done, and the crowd was into it. Lots of cheers, boos for the villains, and chants of Ber-nie, Ber-nie! I enjoyed that part quite a bit.

But yeah, getting to that part was a minor ordeal, and today I am paying the price for 5 hours in the sun. Ugh. I wore a red shirt to work in hopes that it would match my face better. Luckily I can mostly stay in my office with the lights dimmed and the door shut. :)

And that was my Sanders rally experience. Definitely glad I can say I did it. And I am not at all eager to do it again. Though maybe I would, if he manages to win the nomination. There's still a hope, though much of that hope depends on how my own state goes next Tuesday. I've done my part!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Okay, I feel a bit of a braindump coming on, because I'm in need of a little written-word therapy.

Even though the victim isn't dead yet, let alone the corpse grown cold, I can tell my brain is already trying to work through the grief process. I was sad yesterday, angry this morning, and somehow moving towards acceptance. I am of course talking about the devastation of Sanders' loss in the South Carolina primary, and what it portends for tomorrow's Super Tuesday contests and beyond. As the punditry is gleefully tripping over itself to proclaim, it's not good.

And yes, I realize it was pretty much the foregone conclusion from the start. What were the odds, really, that Sanders could pull off such an upset given the present state of the system? The presumed inevitability of Hillary from the day after the 2012 elections, her broad and deep establishment support, DNC shenanigans, the effective months-long media blackout of his campaign. But THEN. Then he started getting some attention, and drawing huge crowds, and setting fundraising records. Then Iowa with essentially a tie, and domination in New Hampshire, and polls with narrowing gaps. For a while in there, I felt good. I felt hopeful. Nevada was something of a cloud because it should have been closer, and now the disappointing blowout in SC. Part of me says it had to be that way, sooner or later. But so much of me wished otherwise, you know?

So we'll see what happens tomorrow, and regardless I am voting for him in our primary because it might be my only chance to do so. I will cast my vote proudly, and know that I did what I could from the start. But it's bitter nonetheless, if things go as expected from here on out. I expect him to stay in the race until the math is clearly impossible, and I hope he continues fighting the good fight until then, and beyond. The fact that he's a fighter and an idealist is exactly what I've always respected about him, after all, so anything less would be out of character. I hope he still manages to have some effect on the outcome of the race, and on the course the Democratic party tacks going forward. I hope the disappointment his supporters feel--many of them young, and interested in politics for the first time--doesn't make them jaded and angry, and tuned-out just as the powers-that-be prefer them. And I hope that even if this wasn't the year for revolution after all, that its time is yet not far off. Because we still sorely need it.

So now, to my shame, I am thinking about November and the prospect of voting for Hillary. I don't want to. I really don't want to. Democrat or not, she is just about everything I despise in a politician. I won't go into that here. But I know it will be a struggle to cast my vote for her, even if she is the lesser of two evils--exactly the choice I DIDN'T want to have to make this time around.

And maybe it's the grief talking, but there's some small voice in my head that says to vote for the GOP nominee instead. After all, what the US needs more than anything is an intervention, and that means it has to hit rock-bottom first, right? It has to acknowledge that it has a problem. And what better way than to put Drumpf or Cruz or Rubio in the White House? Hell, give the GOP the whole works, Congress too. Let them do everything they've promised to do in the past few years. Admittedly, we may not collectively survive the experience. But if that doesn't make it clear that they're wrong about damn near everything, what will?

In short, if in failing to nominate Bernie we've failed to steer the car away from the cliff, why not just mash the accelerator and get it over with?

I think I need some chocolate.
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
So as the few of you who are friends with me on Facebook are all-too-well aware, that's my venue for the vast majority of my politickin'. And if by some unlikely chance you read this post and want in on similar action over on FB, drop me a message here and I'll link/add you. But of course FB is better suited for sharing links and short blurbs, rather than meaty substance. And with the 2016 campaign season upon us, I've been meaning to write up a sort of issue-by-issue summary of where I stand, and who my druthers lead me to support in the 2016 contest. Really, it's something I think it behooves us all to undertake as informed citizens--articulate what you believe and why, and see who that leads you to support. You might be surprised, in some ways, or spot areas where you should do a little more homework. This survey is a pretty awesome way to see who you share beliefs with, great place to start (just make sure you expand all the 'Other stances' options to get a better view of the field).

Since this is bound to be superlong, I will cut for those who can't be bothered, of course. :)
Read on? )

So all that said--and whew, if you managed to read all that you are awesome--who do I like for 2016? Should be pretty obvious, since pretty much everything I said is what he says, but my guy is Bernie Sanders. I've been a HUGE fan of his ever since I came to political awareness and heard the things he was saying, which are really the same things he's been saying for his entire 40 years of public service. The man is awesome, authentic, unpolished, truthful, and principled--everything most politicians these days are not. And he not only doesn't rely on huge donations from billionaires and special interests, he disdains them and wants nothing more than to kill that pay-to-play system. And frankly, even if the rest of his ideas end up being non-starters, if he can get into office and just push through a fair politics amendment, I will regard him as a success and a hero. So if you haven't checked him out, I encourage you to do so, and to spread the word. In my view, a vote for anyone else is a vote for the status quo, when big changes are what we sorely need. #FeelTheBern!

Any questions? :)
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
So the family reunion this past weekend was okay, not nearly as bad as I'd feared it might be. Pretty early on, my uncle very wisely tossed out a ground rule about no political discussion, and for the most part everyone stuck to it. There were a few despicable comments here and there, but I don't think I heard Obama mentioned once, and that in itself is damn near miraculous. We also took our leave for a couple side-trips to parks in the area, which was fun. Except for the one state park where we took a hike and discovered the place was party central for Lone Star ticks. Ugh. At least that species is not known as a carrier for Lyme disease, that stuff is bad news.

I'm at work today--I'd planned to take the day off for a Disney trip, but we already have a tropical system brewing up off the east coast (almost a month prior to the start of hurricane season, which may be a bad sign) making the weather iffy this afternoon, so I figured I may as well bank the vacation time and come to the office. Tomorrow is when our NYC trip was supposed to start, sigh. Ah well, October will be lovely, I hope.

In other political news, I have found myself unduly excited by Bernie Sanders' announcement that he is seeking the Democratic nomination for President. I've admired the man for some time, as I think he's one of the very, very few people in Washington who have refused to sell out to the monied interests, and remained steadfast to their convictions and truly fought for the interests of their constituency. Certainly my initial thought when he announced was, "Well, there's no way in hell he could ever win, but maybe he can at least move the dialogue more to the left, since Hillary has never shown herself to be anything but a centrist, fully-engaged in the world of corporate establishment politics." But you know what? No. Fuck that.

I mean, really. For decades the mantra has been that a vote for a third-party candidate, or even a dark horse candidate within the two-party system, is a wasted vote. And historically that's been true--but how much of it is merely a self-fulfilling prophecy, foisted on us by those who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo? If everyone believes it, and votes accordingly because they believe it, then isn't that exactly WHY things are so? And exactly why we all hate being locked into the inevitable choice between two evils, yet convinced that no one can break that stranglehold?

So what if? What if people can become convinced that they don't have to vote only for the person who they think has the best chance of winning? What if they also put their money where their mouth is, and chip in a few bucks to help spread the word about a candidate they can actually support without holding their nose? Why the hell not?

So I'm telling that little voice in my head to shut up. I'm telling it that Bernie could actually have a shot here, if his message gets heard widely. If enough people like me feel strongly about the need for change, and spread the word that this is the guy who can speak to that change, and maybe get the media to change from the default of "guy's a no-hoper" to "you know, maybe he can actually pull something off here," maybe it could really be so. Idealistic? Naïve? Definitely. But otherwise nothing changes, and I loathe that idea.

So, proudly, I am a contributor to Bernie's campaign, and I'll do it again. I hope he continues to build momentum and shift the dialogue. I like what I see so far, and I want more of it. Give 'em hell, Bernie.

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