Bernie or Hillary: A New "Black Lives Matter" Post
Since yesterday was International Clash Day, I figured that today I would do something very Clash and talk about social justice.
I have been quiet for a bit, but after much watching of debates, I want to say something about choosing a Democratic candidate for President.
I am very idealistic in general, but when it comes down to brass tacks, I am a pragmatist.
In other words, even though I agree with Bernie on virtually all of the issues, I could still easily vote for Hillary.
Well, I could have voted for Hillary until this week, after I watched the Democratic Town Hall in New Hampshire:
TNC Did Not Feel The Bern
I am on board with Ta-Nehisi Coates on the subject of reparations.
I particularly loved this statement from his second article in response to Bernie's claim that reparations would be "divisive":
"So “divisive” was Abraham Lincoln’s embrace of abolition that it got him shot in the head. So “divisive” was Lyndon Johnson’s embrace of civil rights that it fractured the Democratic Party. So “divisive” was Ulysses S. Grant’s defense of black civil rights and war upon the Klan, that American historians spent the better part of a century destroying his reputation. So “divisive” was Martin Luther King Jr. that his own government bugged him, harassed him, and demonized him until he was dead. And now, in our time, politicians tout their proximity to that same King, and dismiss the completion of his work—the full pursuit of equality—as “divisive.” The point is not that reparations is not divisive. The point is that anti-racism is always divisive."
After the first letter, I wrote TNC but did not hear back (no surprise, who the hell am I?) but the second letter clarified things a great deal for me.
Bernie is more responsible for being a radical than is HRC because HRC does not claim to be a revolutionary or a socialist.
She may or may not be a progressive, but she is certainly a moderate progressive (if there is such a thing). She is certainly NOT a revolutionary.
When I say I am a pragmatist I do not mean "go along to get along" I mean I am for whomever is most likely to create meaningful safety for people of color in this country.
All that said, my first concern, as a pragmatist, is the material situation of the poor and of people of color.
And HRC said some things in the town hall meeting that made my decision for me.
Hillary "Continue The War On Drugs" Clinton
I don't do drugs, I have no desire to do drugs, I don't even smoke marijuana. So put what I am about to say in that context.
Bill Clinton was a great President, I loved the guy and love the guy, but he was also very responsible for passing a crime bill that made the War on Drugs even more tailored against people of color and made the racial disparities of imprisonment even more absurd.
I was kind of hoping after his recent mea culpa HRC might also have changed her mind, but unfortunately, at a recent televised town meeting this exchange occurred between Chris Lopez and Hillary (bear with me, it is long): _______________________________________________________________________ CHRIS LOPEZ, WORKS FOR NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS: Hi. Thanks for taking my question.
I see a lot of hypocrisy in this country when I have a really hard time getting the medicine I need and yet it's really easy to get alcohol.
What will you do to decriminalize marijuana
so people - so I and people like me can get the pain and spasm relief that we need?
CLINTON: I will do a lot, Chris, because
we have an opportunity to do much more with respect to research into marijuana
, what it can do to help people with the kinds of conditions you've just briefly described.
I want to move it from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule II so that we can begin to do more research. The NIH and a lot of universities can begin to try to find out. Because I want you to know what we know from science.
But I also want you to be able to use it while we're doing the research.
- And so many states, as you know, have moved to provide legal protection for the use of medical marijuana
I support that. I think that the states are the laboratories of our democracy. We should be learning about what works, what doesn't work. Different states have actually listed the kind of illnesses and conditions that it can be used for. Are they right? We don't know. That's why we have got to do the research.
I also want you to know what dosage is right, what interacts with the other medication you're taking. I want to accelerate this because I have no doubt that there are very real benefits for people.
We know in chemotherapy, we know from other conditions in using the right amount of the right kind of marijuana. I just want to make sure it's the right amount and the right kind. That's why I want to get that research up and going as quickly as possible.
But you said something else which I think is really important. We can't be here in New Hampshire and not talk about the addiction problem in New Hampshire. Not talk about the fact that there have been more deaths by overdoses than car crashes in this state.
Not talk about the lives that are being destroyed, the people that I meet, the grandmothers raising their grandchildren because they've lost their children. I just left a rally in Manchester, and a woman grabbed my hand and she said, I just lost my son to an overdose.
- I have been working
with elected officials like Senator Shaheen, like Governor Hassan, like Governor Shumlin of Vermont, who supports me, to try to figure out how do we put together a new approach,
- a new law enforcement approach so that first-time, low-level drug users are not sent to jail
but instead we have more treatment and recovery programs?
There are 23 million people who need help in our country, both alcohol and drugs. There are 10 percent of the kind of spaces that they need to take care of those people. So we've got to work on law enforcement.
We have to work on doctors to understand better when they prescribe opioids, which is often the first step towards heroin. We have to have every police department equipped with naloxone, which is the antidote to reverse overdose, save lives here in New Hampshire. We've got to put more money into this.
So all of this to me fits together. You deserve answers about marijuana and we deserve more treatment for people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol for other kinds of challenges. So that's what I would like to do.
End of transcript. _______________________________________________________________________ HOLY SHIT, that is her drug policy?
I thought the "who is a real progressive" back and forth between the two of them over the last few weeks was pretty silly, but you have got to be F'n kidding me.
If you read between the lines here, Hillary does not even want to make marijuana legal.
Pew research suggests that nearly half of all Americans admit they have tried Marijuana and 18.9 million admit to trying it in the past month.
Why would anyone be okay with people being in prison for something a huge amount of Americans do every day?
Hillary ONLY wants to make marijuana decriminalized for medical uses and only where the research suggests it makes a difference. My goodness, that is just insanity.
She barely wants to change marijuana laws at all. Marijuana.
Which half the country uses all the time (and that is just people who admit using it).
She doesn't want to do anything about the larger War On Drugs.
She wants to maintain the WOD as is (except that if you get caught up in a drug prosecution as a first time offender you will be offered alternatives to incarceration).
So, if you are an addict, and you relapse and get caught, to prison you go. Just like now.
News flash, most people relapse a few times.
Are you F'N kidding me. She even has the balls to call that a "new Law Enforcement Approach."
Let me share a few facts with HRC:
* Most of the disparity in incarceration in this country can be tied to the drug war
* There is ZERO evidence that the drug war has worked at all to reduce drug use, reduce crime, reduce or deter criminality, or most important reduce addiction.
This is usually where some joker will mention some bust or some arrest and say, "well at least _______ (this person or these drugs) are no longer on the street.
* When you seize drugs you increase demand and price creating incentive for more drugs to be imported. Any relief is temporary. It doesn't stop demand so it doesn't stop use.
* Taking kingpins off the street only creates job vacancies (vacancies that are so lucrative they are always filled). Surprise, The new boss is same as the old boss, violent and cruel.
Because drugs are illegal.
HRC you really cannot be this naive.
If you want the best depiction of this ever made, just watch the complete series of the greatest television show ever made HBO's The Wire.
For the record, Wire fans, HRC represents the Baltimore higher ups who decide to squash Bunny Colvin's drug-free zones and go back to drug war as usual.
We don't know why people continue to insist this national tragedy of epic proportions continues, or why smart people like HRC continue to support the WOD.
We know that the drug war has turned poor neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color into war zones for decades.
We know that the drug war has imprisoned millions of people (often of color) as police have been at war with their own people for decades.
We know that the drug war and police enforcement of the drug war is carried out in a racially disparate manner.
And we know that the drug war has done nothing to help addicts (often imprisoning them without treatment or support).
So what should we do?
End the War on Drugs, not tomorrow, not next week, today.
And I believe Bernie will do all he can to make this happen.
Bernie said it in his answer to a similar question in the same Town Hall Meeting:
"For a start, we understand that substance abuse and addiction is a health issue, not a criminal issue."
In other words, Harm Reduction and decriminalization is the ONLY real answer.
And we know Bernie wants to decriminalize drugs and finally end the War On Drugs.
This is the only moral answer.
I would strongly suggest anyone who is unsure read the book Chasing The Scream by Johann Hari (or any of the research).
Anyway, I cannot, in good moral conscience, vote for HRC when I know her and Bernie's positions on the WOD.
I don't care how good TNC's arguments against Bernie are, nothing has a larger daily impact on race in this country than the continuation of the War on Drugs.
Bernie is against it, that is enough for me.
Why This Was A Close Question Prior to the Town Hall
Okay, that is a slam dunk, but prior to that I was kind of conflicted.
Because Bernie has virtually no chance of passing any of his agenda.
I have listened carefully, his only plan for passing his agenda is getting his voters to pressure Congress. He is "starting a revolution" and "we" (meaning him and his voters) are what will move his agenda.
Cool your jets Captain Moonbeam.
I think Obama tried that one already, he even went on tours after State of the Union speeches to get people to call Congress in support of his economic agenda.
And, lets assume it works, which it won't (people are barely willing to vote much less pressure Congress on issues).
Gerrymandering has made many Congresspeople totally immune to this kind of pressure.
Even if Bernie can get some pressure on Congress, he has to prove it is enough to overcome the 60 vote filibuster threshold in the Senate.
Think about an issue like campaign finance reform, how in the world is Bernie going to get the foxes to give up that lucrative hen house. Of course we all want campaign finance reform, but guess who doesn't, the people that benefit from it, you know...the CONGRESS.
Think about every issue on his agenda and put it through this lens.
This is why HRC keeps repeating that she isn't making promises she can't keep - because Bernie is totally full of shit on this stuff - or seriously naive.
So, I believe Bernie can win, I think he is coming from the right place, and I believe most of his agenda will rot on the vine (even with public pressure on Congress - which I think is unlikely at best)
But, he just has to not enforce drug laws. Presidents can accomplish a great deal through executive orders and non-enforcement of laws they don't agree with.
Plus, the only issue on which there seems some bipartisanship is reform of drug laws.
For some reason HRC must not have gotten the memo on that.
So, anyway, that is why I have decided to "feel the Bern" even though I think he is unlikely to succeed on much of his agenda.
I guess that makes me a one-issue voter, the issue is drugs.
If you are for continuing the drug war, I can't be for you.
The drug war has to end in the USA.
Black Lives Matter.
Happy International Clash Day - Here are some books I would recommend!
What are your thoughts on Hillary and Bernie? Who are you voting for or what issues are important to you? I want to hear your opinions, as long as they are civil, leave a comment!