To Save Democracy, Lock Em Both Up

by Keaton Weiss

The recent raid – ahem, pardon me – execution of a search warrant – on Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate was an escalation of the Cold Civil War that’s been raging beneath the surface these past several years. Remember the second Presidential debate of 2016 when Trump threatened to prosecute Hillary Clinton for her mishandling of classified information if he won the White House, and the press gasped in collective horror? Well as it turns out, it was Democratic Attorney General Merrick Garland who ended up authorizing such a severe and unprecedented act against Trump himself – a move that, justified or not, is likely to further destabilize our already volatile political ecosystem.

America is a tinder box of bitterness and resentment liable to blow at any minute. Whether or not this all started with Trump vs. Clinton is above my pay grade to determine, but there’s no doubt that 2016 was the most divisive election in modern American history, and we’ve been at each other’s throats ever since.

During the campaign, Trump’s base was convinced that Hillary Clinton should have been indicted, tried, convicted, and imprisoned for her mishandling of classified information on a private email server. Now, Trump is being investigated for similar actions just as the 2024 campaign season is about to begin. Clinton herself responded to news of the raid by peddling sarcastically designed “But Her Emails” merch on her website, while Marjorie Taylor Greene began hawking “Defund the FBI” shirts and caps in her official campaign store.

That these Espionage Swag Wars are as profitable as they are should tell you something about the state of our politics. We’re as divided as we’ve been since 1861, with no signs of reconciliation in sight. Liberals are chomping at the bit to see Trump in an orange jumpsuit, and conservatives are convinced that Trump is being singled out for persecution while Hillary was allowed to skate.

Fortunately, the solution to this problem is staring us right in the face. We should, to heal the nation and save our democracy, jail both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

They’re Both Guilty

Clinton used email servers, Trump used cardboard boxes (this itself is a fitting metaphor for Democrats’ neo-feudal tech nightmare and Republicans’ nostalgia for analog primitiveness). But the essence of their offenses is more or less the same. In both instances, Clinton and Trump mishandled sensitive information.

Much ado is being made of “nuclear” documents being stored in Trump’s basement, as if nothing was stopping Rudy Giuliani from pounding a kettle of Dewar’s and unilaterally deciding that San Francisco’s public schools had crowned their last non-binary prom queen. Similar hyperbolic speculation ran amok in 2016 – could Hillary have deleted the emails containing the password for Comet Pizza’s secret “event space” before turning her materials over to the authorities? In both cases, people’s imaginations seem to have run a bit wild.

But also in both cases, it seems Trump and Clinton likely violated the Espionage Act. The FBI decided against indicting Clinton because they felt they couldn’t prove intent, and they were nervous about interfering in a Presidential election already underway. Prosecuting Trump would probably be difficult for these same reasons, especially given the aforementioned precedent. But any appearance of preferential treatment for Hillary could be dispelled by simply prosecuting her alongside him.

We all know they’re both guilty, and so why not just call it even for the sake of keeping the peace? It would restore peoples’ faith in America as a level playing field in which both entrenched establishment neoliberal vampires and renegade grease-painted neofascist killer clowns can be made to stare down the same system of justice. After all, nO oNe iS aBoVe tHe lAw.

Hate Trumps Love

Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign was the worst in history in just about every way, including its choice of slogans. We all remember “I’m With Her,” which accomplished the practically impossible feat of being more narcissistic than anything Donald Trump could have thought up. Then there was “Stronger Together,” a phrase that broke the forgettability meter by being so generic as to be notable for its particular banality. But there was a third popular saying that, though never an official slogan, became an oft-repeated rallying cry of the Clinton campaign: Love Trumps Hate.

Really? Love trumps hate? Since when? Tell that to Martin Luther King, Mohandas Ghandi, John Lennon, and Jesus Christ. Hatred has always been a more potent political motivator than love. And now, in the age of cable news and social media, negative partisanship is clearly the force which drives our politics more than anything else.

What this means is that Americans generally hate their political opponents more than they love their political allies. Hillary Stans hate Trump more than they love Hillary, and MAGA Chuds hate Hillary more than they worship Trump. This means that when push comes to shove, each of these cults would likely sacrifice their own leader in order to bring down their opponents’. This makes prosecuting both Trump and Clinton a queen trade on the political chess board. For both players, it stings a bit, but it’s ultimately worth it in the end for each of them.

Own for an Own

Because our government is so corrupt that legislation which serves up billions of dollars and millions of acres in giveaways to fossil fuel companies can be touted with a straight face as a “climate bill,” the most satisfying reward one can hope to earn though political engagement is the endorphin rush that comes with “owning” your opponent. An own is a political bitcoin: intrinsically worthless, but coveted nonetheless for reasons we can’t rationally explain. We’re all chasing owns, and though we can’t see them or touch them, we can feel it when we get one. In a world where hate trumps love, owns reign supreme.

And let’s face it: jailing Trump is the Golden Own for Democrats, as jailing Clinton is for MAGA world. Awarding each side such a revelatory, orgasmic own would usher in the kind of quiet and still refractory period this country needs right now, and might be just what the doctor ordered to avert the next Civil War.

Might one side be slightly more worthy of their own than the other? Sure. But as a leftist, I believe in the redistribution of owns from those who have them to those who need them for the sake of maintaining social stability.

And let’s not forget, Trump and Clinton are both widely and rightfully despised figures foisted upon the independent majority by crazed partisan lunatics called Democratic and Republican primary voters. Most Americans won’t shed a tear for either of them, and those who do will also take solace in the knowledge that their nemesis is also languishing behind bars. Therein lies the genius of this proposal in which the owned are at once the owners, bringing balance to all things.

So there you have it – my prescription to pull America back from the brink. They both deserve it. To quibble over who deserves it more is to miss the forest for the trees at a time where we need to be thinking big picture. Jailing both Trump and Clinton is the only way to truly unite the country at this point. It’s the only way to give everyone around us the apology we all know is owed them. It’s the only way to hug it out and let bygones be bygones. We all fucked up big time, and deep down, we all know it. Let’s just admit it to ourselves and each other. To save democracy, lock em both up.

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An Open Letter to Bitter Hillary Voters on Bernie Bros, Susan Sarandon, and Roe v. Wade

by Keaton Weiss

Dear Nasty Woman,

I know you’re angry right now. So am I. I’m a firm believer in a woman’s right to choose, and so the leaked SCOTUS opinion which shows them poised to overturn Roe v. Wade is a cataclysmic, and yes, terrifying development. (Luckily, Democrats have the Presidency, the House, and the Senate, and they could move quickly to codify abortion rights in federal law if they wanted to. Unfortunately though, they’re not willing to suspend the filibuster in order to do so – what a surprise.)

Whenever an abortion-related court ruling goes the wrong way, Susan Sarandon trends on Twitter within minutes. Hillary supporters rage at both the famous Sanders surrogate turned Jill Stein supporter, and the Bernie Bros who sat out the 2016 general election in protest.

According to you guys, this is all our fault. Had we been conscientious and mature enough to vote for Hillary that November instead of selfishly deciding not to, President Clinton would have filled the three seats on the Court that were instead appointed by the Orange Man, and Roe v. Wade would have been safe for at least the next generation.

For the sake of this argument – and not rehashing old ones about who’s most responsible for Clinton’s unlikely defeat – I’ll fully accept your premise that disaffected Bernie Bros and the likes of Susan Sarandon blew the 2016 election for Hillary and therefore endangered reproductive rights for millions of American women.

As I stated from the outset, I’m staunchly pro-choice. Without getting into the graphic details, I’m probably even to your left on the issue. But I believe with equal conviction that a woman’s right to a safe, legal, and free abortion is no more sacred than anyone’s right to any other medical procedure. In 2016, millions of Democrats supported Bernie Sanders largely because he felt the same way: that ALL HEALTHCARE IS A RIGHT OF ALL PEOPLE, and that it’s long past time the United States implement a single-payer universal healthcare system – the only way to translate that belief into reality.

And you remember how you responded, don’t you? Do the dismissive words “free stuff” ring a bell? How about “pie in the sky,” “fairyduster,” or “my way or the highway?” Remember when Hillary herself proclaimed on a rally stage that Medicare for All would “never, ever come to pass?” Remember the thunderous applause from you guys after she said that? I think you do.

So just to recap: millions of Bernie supporters asserted that, as is the case in every other developed country on Earth, all medical care – chemotherapy, brain surgery, and yes, abortion services as well – should be enshrined as a human right available to all Americans regardless of their ability to pay. And your camp reacted with nothing but derision and contempt. You insisted that another national debate over healthcare wasn’t worth the trouble, even as in the Obamacare era, tens of thousands of Americans continue to die each year because they can’t afford medical treatment.

And then, in the general election, you expected these same people – many of whom depended on the implementation of M4A in order to stay alive – to show up on your behalf to vote for your candidate to protect your right to reproductive care. After you dismissed, for example, type 1 diabetics’ pleas for free insulin as “theoretical better ideas” that would never be realized, you demanded that they go to bat for you that November so that your rights would be secured. Now ask yourself, who were the truly “selfish” ones in this situation?

With all due respect for our founding documents, “rights” are not inalienable, and they don’t come from our creator. Rather, rights are won by humans through human struggle, and are protected through human solidarity. In that most fateful election of 2016, the Hillary faithful expressed no support whatsoever for what we in the Bernie camp, along with every other major country on the planet, viewed as the fundamental human right to healthcare and medicine.

In fact, as you well remember, you told us all to go fuck ourselves. And in November, many of us returned the sentiment. We didn’t owe you any more than that then, and we certainly don’t owe you an apology for it now. So even if we are most to blame for Trump’s election and its consequences, I maintain we had no obligation to stand up for your rights when you clearly had no interest in standing up for ours.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, if you really want to secure reproductive rights in this country, now would be the time to give your beloved Democratic politicians an ultimatum: use your power to abolish the filibuster and codify federal protections for abortion access, or we’re never voting to give you that power again. And if you want to avoid these crises in the future, join the struggle for single-payer healthcare, the only way to codify all forms of healthcare as basic human rights, no more or less sacred than any others.

The ball’s in your court. Choose wisely for a change.

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Image: Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Would Christopher Hitchens Have Been a Trumper, a Bernie Bro, or a Resistance Liberal?

Ben Burgis, our most recent podcast guest, chose the late Christopher Hitchens as the topic for his latest book entitled Christopher Hitchens: What He Got Right, How He Went Wrong, and Why He Still MattersIn it, he examines the ideas and influence of one of the most enigmatic and entertaining public intellectuals of our time.

A lifelong socialist turned Bush-aligned neocon later in life, Hitchens’ politics defied conventional labels, to put it mildly. For example, he’s one of the few people you’d ever encounter who was both vehemently pro-Iraq War and ruthlessly critical of the state of Israel. He never fully disavowed his commitment to Leftist politics, though by the end of his life someone discovering him for the first time would have been hard-pressed to find any evidence he ever supported the Left in the first place.

Hitchens died on December 15, 2011, at age 62, of esophageal cancer. Burgis begins his book by speculating how Hitchens may have responded to the Trump era, which began during the 2016 Presidential primaries. Because Hitchens’ politics were as difficult to predict as they are to categorize, it’s not quite clear where he’d have come down as Trump was trouncing the Republican field and Bernie and Hillary were duking it out on the Democratic side.

There are those who believe that Hitchens, a self-proclaimed contrarian, would have supported Trump. Burgis rightly rejects this idea, citing Hitchens’ lifelong contempt for nationalism and nativism. Hitchens also, in 2008, said that no responsible person could support the McCain campaign because of Sarah Palin. Palin is widely considered a harbinger of the Trump phenomenon, and so it stands to reason Hitchens would have felt that Trump was simply not a serious choice.

On the Democratic side, Hitchens’ hatred for Bill and Hillary Clinton was widely known. His 1999 book, No One Left to Lie To: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton, was published in paperback the following year with a new title. This time, the cover read No One Left to Lie To: The Values of the Worst Family, and included Hillary on the cover.

Because Hitchens spent much of his life as a socialist, Bernie Sanders might have seemed like a logical choice. But of course, his political evolution into a full-throated war hawk would have made Bernie’s candidacy a difficult one for him to fully endorse.

Would he have lent his support to the Bernie movement despite these reservations? Would Hillary’s aggressive foreign policy led him to begrudgingly support her instead? Or would he have shocked his peers and his readers once again and backed Trump?

We discussed this question with Ben Burgis on our podcast. We also delved into what could have been the cause for Hitchens’ mysterious transformation from a “Trotskyist popinjay” as George Galloway described him into an unapologetic advocate for the United States’ post-9/11 regime change wars. Given Ben recently wrote an article in The Daily Beast about the Joe Rogan/Spotify affair, we touched on that as well in the latter portion of the conversation.

Listen to our full discussion by clicking the player below, and Listen below, and subscribe to our podcast on any major podcast player.

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Liberals Chose to Forfeit the Working Class in 2016, Yet Still Blame The Left for Their Loss

The Supreme Court recently voted 5-4 not to intervene and block the implementation of Texas’ anti-abortion law SB8, which bans all abortions past six weeks and offers monetary incentives for citizens who report anyone “aiding and abetting” an abortion.

Predictably, liberals took to Twitter and expressed their frustration at anyone whose support they feel Hillary Clinton was entitled to in 2016, and once again blamed Jill Stein voters and ‘Bernie or Busters’ for the current conservative majority on the Supreme Court.

The only thing more tiresome than listening to these complaints is responding to them, but it is worth reminding everyone that the Democrats ran exactly the campaign they wanted to in 2016. They knowingly and willingly shunned the working class, and instead attempted to woo moderate Republican suburbanites into Hillary’s camp. This strategy was articulated out loud and on camera by Chuck Schumer, who proclaimed with great confidence that “for every blue collar Democrat we will lose in Western PA, we will pick up two, three moderate Republicans in the suburbs of Philadelphia.”

What this means is that the Democrats consciously chose to give up on blue collar voters, because they thought they could replace them with upper-middle class suburban whites (President Obama spending his final weeks in office pushing the TPP is a perfect encapsulation of their plan in action). Swapping out the working class for their professional managerial class counterparts was of course particularly tempting for centrist Democrats, because the latter group’s policy priorities are much more compatible with the party’s elite donor base.

And so, the Democratic Party deliberately alienated the Left in 2016. They never liked them much to begin with, and they saw that election as a golden opportunity to replace them with moderate Republicans, a more natural constituency for their neoliberal agenda. It was their calculation, their gamble, and ultimately, their mistake.

That high profile liberals pile on the Left every time a SCOTUS decision goes against them only exposes the contradiction within the Democratic Party that makes true “party unity” impossible. Centrist liberals want to welcome these moderate conservatives into their coalition, but still feel entitled to the votes of Leftists and working class voters who aren’t interested in sharing a political party with comfy suburbanites who are indifferent to their plight.

This is a circle that can’t be squared, which is part of why Democrats have trouble winning elections in the first place, and also why the party proves itself so impotent in its efforts to combat the Right. The only answer to laws like SB 8 is a united Left in which all of its siloed factions (reproductive rights advocates, climate advocates, labor advocates, etc) agree upon one platform that satisfies the needs and demands of everyone involved.

Without a mass movement based on true solidarity and empathy, the Right will win every time. Relitigating 2016 won’t change this basic truth.

We discuss the Texas anti-abortion law, the liberals’ blame game, and what’s needed for a viable Left response, in episode 119 of the Due Dissidence podcast. Click the player below to hear our full conversation, and subscribe to the Due Dissidence podcast on Apple, StitcherSpotifyCastbox, Google Podcasts, or any major podcast player.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons