Dear Progressives, Now What?

(This was my essay right after the November 2016 US Presidential Elections)

What should have been a significant moment in America’s history turned out to be a nightmare coming to life.

We lost, and it hurts deeply.

It hurts to see a woman who has dedicated her career to public service lose to a person with a history of sexual assault, racial discrimination, and who revels in paranoia, hatred, and bigotry.

More so, it hurts that what could have been an easy victory was made impossible by the media’s false equivalencies and focus on non-issues. What about her emails? What’s the color of her pantsuit? Is her voice too shrill? What’s in her Wall St. speeches? Is she healthy enough? Why isn’t she trustworthy? But what the hell is in her emails?

Never mind that her opponent hasn’t paid any taxes for years or that he’s been sued for child rape. He’s operated a scam university, sued for racial discrimination, and filed for bankruptcy many times. Never mind those.

I guess the media has a collective distaste for strong women. This isn’t their first blunder though. Princess Diana dealt with a similar nuisance and suffered a more horrific outcome.

Seeing Hillary’s concession speech, it seemed that it was a turning point in her political career. Like many women, her best efforts weren’t enough. Reaching for that high glass ceiling is made twice as difficult when there’s a sexist, macho culture holding you back.

But it is her choice to make if she decides to leave politics. After everything that she’s done, she deserves a time for herself and her grandkids. It is not waving a white flag of surrender. It’s more of a giant middle finger to the idiots who voted against her who will have their healthcare coverage dismantled.

A role model to me and millions of people around the world, Hillary will go down in history as one of the strongest advocates of female equality. And I’m honored to have known her in my lifetime. To the legitimate 45th leader of the Free World, thank you very much.

I can understand why many non-Americans cannot relate to this election, and who probably think that whoever was elected would not affect their lives. Others who like to talk about international politics are even dismissed as elitists. But at a time when trade spans thousands of miles and crosses different borders, the political climate in one country adversely affects the others. Political decisions have to be made with full consideration of their global effects.

Lots of questions circled my head as I was grappling with Trump’s victory. How the hell did this happen? Why were all the polls wrong? What if he starts a nuclear war with North Korea? Who will protect America’s minorities? Will NATO break down? Generally, what will happen to the progressive movement?

I thought about all the wonderful people I’ve met online who benefited so much from the last 8 years. Gay marriage, abortion rights, equal pay for equal work, DACA, the Dreamer Act, literally all of those issues and thousands more, will turn rightwards. And with a majority in both chambers and the Supreme Court having three possible vacancies, America is about to enter an age of conservative realignment. No checks and balances.

Nothing. No one will be there to stop them.

What I expected to be an age of renewed New Deal fervor became a conservative curse. There will be four years of the most regressive conservative policies ever implemented since the New Deal. Abortion rights will be attacked. Don’t ask, Don’t tell will be reinstated. Trans-women will be arrested for using the female bathroom. Undocumented immigrants who were born in the US will be deported. Social security will be privatized and Obamacare will be thrown into the ash heap of history. Less regulations on carbon and more black people will be kept from the voting booths. Overnight, issues that took decades to win hung in the balance. On November 8, America spat on the graves of Martin Luther King, Franklin Roosevelt, JFK, LBJ, and Susan B. Anthony.

Wanton selfishness and utter cruelty are at the core of any conservative ideology, which is why I have a personal dislike for people who advocate for a free, unregulated market. Deep-down, this desire for economic freedom is driven by nothing but pure corporate greed, and a worldview that is detached from reality. Of course, there’s also the religious wackos and their sheer stupidity on every issue. Combine the two and you get the Republican party. They used to be a fringe party but now they’re infesting the entire planet starting with the most powerful countries.

Many more global issues are at stake in 2017 with the rise of the Neo-fascists. Will the Syrian War ever end with the dangerous alliance between Donald Trump, Putin, and Assad? Will the Baltic states be attacked by Russia over the next four years? Will Germany and France elect far-right leaders? Will NATO survive? Will Putin use Trump to rebuild the Soviet Union? Will Iran be a friend or foe ?

The current trend towards authoritarianism is alarming everyone, even survivors of the Holocaust and veterans from World War 2. This is unprecedented. The Western Alliance remains uncertain with the US being led by a Russian puppet. The West virtually relies on Angela Merkel now to make the most important decisions. She must take the most cautious approach with Trump, given his relations to Putin.

American liberals were caught off guard and Germany and France should learn from this huge mistake if they want to contain the spread of the hateful rhetoric of the far-right. No one deserves blame, save for the non-voters. This should have been our election. Our victory. They were divided, we weren’t. Their nominee was hated by many sane politicians, ours wasn’t. We focused on issues, they focused on the emails. Still, they managed to breach the blue, liberal firewall. It’s like that scene from Lord of the Rings. They thought the wall was safe but it broke down when the Orcs bombed the culvert underneath. Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania weren’t supposed to turn red. Not by a mile. Not one poll ever said that. But they did.

It is up to the progressive movement now to quickly reorganize. Use that frustration towards building a forceful coalition. AFL-CIO must fight back union suppression by one of the most anti-worker president in US history, Planned Parenthood must push harder to protect women’s rights to make personal reproductive decisions, NAACP should challenge all forms of voter suppression in court and ACLU must protect the civil liberties of every minority who is discriminated by Trump and his supporters.

At this dark point of our history, the progressive movement has no other option. Either we blame one another or we fight back. Trump will never be a legitimate American president. Not now, not ever. The progressive movement has had many setbacks since the slave trade, but we fought back and won. Every chance he has of implementing his disastrous policies, Democrats must step in and obstruct. This is not someone to be taken lightly. This is a vengeful man who is already drunk with power.Democrats must bring back the 50-state strategy to get a veto-proof Senate supermajority in 2018, and nominate a more radical progressive for the presidency in 2020.

It is time to set aside our differences with the far-left. As Martin Niemoller poetically argued,

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

The global progressive movement does not end with this painful defeat.

We will stand our ground and fight back.


Hillary Clinton’s Best 2016 Photos

#FeelTheBern? It’s Probably Chlamydia

The rise of Bernie Sanders brings to mind a legendary character from my childhood : The Pied Piper. He saved a town in Germany from rat infestation by playing his magical instrument. He was successful, yes. All the rats followed him until they drowned in the river. But the town refused to pay him and later on, the kids, too, got enamored by his music that they began leaving their houses as the vindictive character led them to his secret lair. He harvested their kidneys and sold them to the Nigerian prince.
I made up that part about the organs of course. But the kids were never to be seen and the town regretted not paying the piper his dues.

This whole story sounds all-too familiar once we hear of Senator Sanders popularity in white, college towns. His pie-in-the-sky proposals of free college tuition attracted naive students who are now behaving like cultists on social media. If you have a great job, it’s easy to say that you’d be comfortable with higher taxes in exchange for free education and healthcare. But what about middle-class college graduates who start with lower wages? Soon, they will refuse to pay for his 18-trillion dollar agenda (which can’t be paid by taxing billionaires alone), and it will end up negating the gains during the Obama presidency.

There’s a standard rule in politics that gets buried by an avalanche of rhetoric, which is that politicians will say whatever voters want to hear. Even Clinton and Obama do that. You wouldn’t want to talk to them about the things they’re uncomfortable with. That won’t win you the national elections.

As a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton, I started with this basic premise and analyzed both their views and ways of thinking. There have been nine Democratic debates. I’ve watched all of them and I can unequivocally say that Clinton is a far better candidate than Bernie Sanders. Even considering the hypothetical situation that Sanders also became Secretary of State, I can say that Clinton will still be leagues ahead of Sanders in terms of rationality and proper judgment.

I know Sanders no longer has the chance to be the Democratic nominee. But his supporters don’t understand math and logic and I believe I can say the same about their candidate based on his proposals. So to make it easier for them to swallow, I think rhetorical questions will suit them better.

Bernie Sanders,

1.) You have ZERO experience in foreign policy. And you have showed ZERO interest in understanding the complexity of the conflicts around the world, by diverting every foreign policy question to your vote in Iraq. This is 2016. A vote in 2002 is not a vote to defeat ISIL. How can you be an effective commander-in-chief given your non-interest in foreign affairs?

2.) You said North Korea is a far more dangerous threat even though it is Russia that invaded Ukraine, challenged NATO, supported Assad, and threatened to attack the Baltic states in the future. How can you stand up to Vladimir Putin if you can’t even see him as a top threat to the Western alliance?

3.) Why do you keep bringing up Clinton’s Iraq War vote when you yourself voted to fund that war?

4.) Why do you say you are against regime change when you supported the American intervention in Afghanistan?

5.) The Syrian people have fled their country and are threatening the economies of Turkey, Germany, Italy, etc. You do not support overthrowing Assad now because you say it will have unintended consequences. You said you want to defeat ISIS first and then throw out Assad later on. This strategy accepts the fact that millions will continue to die while Assad is in power. On the other hand Clinton’s proposal has the risk of leaving a vacuum that will invite HYPOTHETICAL terrorist organizations (assuming ISIS is gone) which might kill the Syrian people. Why do you think your incremental plan of defeating ISIS now and throwing Assad later will save more lives than Clinton’s plan of simultaneously defeating ISIS and Assad?

6.) You admitted to New York Daily News that you don’t know whether Obama is doing the right thing in Syria. Shouldn’t a presidential candidate be watchful and critical of the current administration’s foreign policy?

7.) Your supporters are one of the most hateful people on social media who will share anything that attacks Clinton despite them being lies made by the Republicans. As the Democratic nominee, how can you unite the party if you’re inspiring hatred for fellow Democrats among your base? How can you form a diverse coalition when you are so dismissive of moderates and anyone who is less liberal than yourself?

8.) You said there has to be a very rapid response to climate change, even though it would put workers in the oil and gas industry jobless. Even businesses depend on oil for their daily operations. Your plans will close down companies that cannot afford solar panels and it will create monopolies in many industries (because only large businesses can afford solar energy). Inflation will go up as a result. It’s been months since the campaigns began and you have not released any plans of dealing with them. Are you seriously going to risk collapsing the economy in exchange for your reckless activism?

9.) Caucuses are one of the most undemocratic ways of voting because they disenfranchise older voters who cannot wait for long hours standing in a gymnasium. Given that you have depended on caucuses for most of your victories, do you believe that the DNC should eliminate caucuses?

10.) Clinton won by large margins in the Deep South. Yet you dismissed them because they are ‘conservative’ and will most likely go to the Republicans. Some of your supporters said that Hillary won the Confederacy. Many of these Democratic voters in the South, however, are African-American, which was responsible for Obama’s victory in 2008. How can you win this voting bloc if you don’t value their votes? How can you win their trust if you say they’re too conservative for them?

11.) You’ve been attacking the Democrats since the ’80s. You called them ‘no different from the Republicans’, you felt ‘nauseated’ with JFK, and you called for a primary challenger to Barack Obama in 2012. You raised ZERO dollars for the DNC and you even sued them to distract attention from your robbery of Clinton’s campaign data. That’s a clear indication that you do not agree with the views of the party. Are you simply using the party as a fundraising tool or do you honestly believe that its views align with yours?

12.) When asked about your loyalty to the party, you say, in defense, that you have caucused with the Democrats since 2006. Why, then, did you run as an Independent senator in 2012? If you accuse HRC of flip-flopping on many issues, in what area did you flip-flop that made you want to join the Democratic Party now?

13.) As a democratic socialist, shouldn’t you be running for the nomination of socialist parties and not the Democratic Party?

14.) You’ve criticized Clinton for being friends with Henry Kissinger. Yet you yourself have a cozy relationship with dictators in Latin America like Fidel Castro and the leaders of the Sandinistas. You attacked the Cubans for hating Fidel Castro because they ‘forgot he gave them healthcare’ as though it was the only thing that mattered to them. You evaded the question when asked if you would revoke your previous statements. Why would the Latinos trust you if you can’t condemn the very person who oppressed their grandparents?

15.) You’ve been calling to break up the big banks since the start of your campaign. But when asked by NYDN about the details, you couldn’t answer them. Is your campaign really offering workable solutions or are you simply using your campaign for rhetoric?

16.) How can you get a Democratic Congress if you don’t even raise money for members of Congress and you dismiss them as part of the establishment?

17.) Which Senators and Congressmen who have endorsed Clinton are not part of the establishment? If Elizabeth Warren endorsed Clinton tomorrow, will she be part of the establishment too? Are Brian Schatz, Sherrod Brown, and Ron Wyden (3 of the most liberal senators) establishment Senators?

18.) You say you don’t want to eliminate Obamacare. But under your proposal, that is what would legally happen. A single-payer system must be enacted by a NEW law and not by building on the Affordable Care Act. You should know quite well that it was very difficult to convince some Democrats to vote for the ACA. How can you convince them to vote for your new system? People who work for private insurance companies will lose their jobs. Where will you transfer them?

19.) The United States has a very large influence on countries around the world, especially on its trading partners. By rejecting free trade, these countries will lose jobs and their economies will decline. Isn’t it ironic that you want rich people to pay higher taxes, but now that we’re talking of transferring wealth from the richest country to the poorer ones, suddenly you’re protective?

20.) Both you and Secretary Clinton have worked with the same people in Congress. Some of them said that you alienate your natural allies. Why would the DNC nominate a divisive legislator like you?

21.) You called Trump’s abortion comments a ‘distraction’. Why should women trust you if you don’t prioritize their right to get an abortion and make their own reproductive choices?

22.) You received money from the DNC, which partly comes from Wall Street and donations from wealthy people. You said it yourself that people who do that are corrupt. Which part of your voting record was influenced by big money? How many millions did you receive from the NRA in the 90s when you were running for congressman and when you repealed the Brady bill FIVE times?

23.) Clinton consistently points to the shadow banking industry which are not part of the big banks. You don’t have a plan to hold them accountable. How will you ensure that the next crash won’t happen if you keep ignoring the recommendations of Paul Krugman, a guy you said you would appoint to your Cabinet?

24.) Most of the states you won are white states. You lost by big margins in swing states like Ohio, Floria, Georgia, Missouri, Nevada, and Arizona, which will determine the next POTUS. Do you have a realistic strategy that can defeat Donald Trump in these states?

25.) You say you want to save the environment and that you are a friend to Latinos but you dumped nuclear waste from Vermont in a poor Latino community in Texas. How can they trust that you will fight for their rights as minorities?

26.) Why would you want Saudi Arabia and Iran to work together militarily to defeat ISIS in Syria when the presence of Iran near Israel threatens its national security and when these two countries have been responsible for the proxy wars happening in the region?

27.) You said immigrants take away jobs from citizens when you voted against H-1B visas and Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2007. Now you’re saying that deportations will not be your policy. Is this a flip-flop or is that title reserved for your opponent?

28.) You’ve been working in Congress for more than 20 years, yet the only bill that you authored was one that renamed a post office. With that awful record, how will you work with other Democrats to enact your proposals?

29.) It’s fairly easy to get your tax returns. Why would you release only your 2014 returns? How come that you have been the poorest candidate in Congress when your wife was president of a university and you have been in Congress for 20+ years? You obviously have investments in corporations for your retirement. Which corporations are you invested in and do those companies have any issues with unions and shipping jobs overseas?

30.) You entered the Democratic race knowing that superdelegates are part of the 2384 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. Why would you run as a Democrat if you don’t agree with its nomination policies? Shouldn’t you run for DNC Chair if you want to end the superdelegate system?

31.) Lastly, you said in the Brooklyn debate that you would replace Merrick Garland with a justice who would be clear that he/she would overturn Citizens United. Except, that’s not how you evaluate justices in the Senate. You don’t ask them directly about their decision on cases. If it were, all the Republicans and Democrats could ask them about his vote on current issues and then rob him of the nomination if they don’t agree ideologically.
Sorry Senator Sanders, you are a holier-than-thou crook and liar whose popularity rests on promising free things you can’t accomplish. You’re just like any other politician, minus the anger. You don’t have a platform, you have a wish list. And you are in no way qualified to be the Democratic nominee.

(Credits to Plante, Tulsa World for the photo)