Project Wonderful

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush Got In a Twitter Fight

Usually when I'm basically just sharing a link to an article with you guys, I'm at least un-lazy enough to come up with a more creative title, but Mashable pretty much hit the nail on the head.

God help me, I loved this. If these tweets were being crafted by the candidates themselves that would be a very sad waste of time, but we all know that wasn't the case. Instead I envision their tech teams having a fun day at the office, spurring each other on in a way that is almost akin to jocular camaraderie and it warms my heart. Yes, I know this happened on August 10th, but I liked it so much I had to share.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Let's Have a Little Chat About Identity Politics

A lot of (mostly male, mostly older, exclusively white) people have accused me of engaging in identity politics lately. First of all, like "liberal," "Feminist," and "sorority girl" the accusation that I am aware of the interplay of power and identity in our political system is one that is intended as provocative or pejorative but that I am proud to own. Second, the term "identity politics" refers to a broad range of movements from social to cultural to political, a very small slice of which is referenced by the fact that I am supporting a woman for President. So let's talk about that.

When it comes to women's political representation (or that of any marginalized group), we generally consider the topic in two ways: descriptive and substantive. Descriptive representation refers to the number of women in elected office. When people accuse me of "identity politics" or voting for Hillary "just because she's a woman" they are really accusing me of disproportionately valuing descriptive representation. Descriptive representation is important because women carry a different set of life experiences and perspectives than men do. American women have faced social, economic and physical oppression for decades and there is value in electing leaders who cannot just sympathize, but empathize. When we are talking about deliberative bodies, studies have shown that diversity of opinion leads to a better outcome. And I needn't explain to you the importance of having a woman in the room when we debate issues like abortion access and equal pay. For more on the merits of descriptive representation, click here. In general, I believe that being a member of any marginalized group brings with it an understanding of the nature of power and privilege that the vast majority of our traditionally cis straight white male politicians (ahem, Bernie Sanders) are without. Of course, descriptive representation is not without its limitations. Identity does not exist in a silo and one size does not fit all. If that were the case I would be equally jazzed about Carly Fiorina's candidacy as Hillary Clinton's.

Substantive representation refers to politicians advocating on behalf of women. Representative and substantive often coincide but not always. A male politician can fight for access to birth control, stronger protections for victims of domestic violence (shout out to Joe Biden), or paid parental leave. Based on their actions and statements so far, Hillary Clinton blows Bernie Sanders out of the water in this category as well. As legislators, they voted pretty much the same, but as executives it is clear to me that Hillary will be a fiercer advocate for and more likely to prioritize women's equality. Substantive AND descriptive.

I hope that helps provide a vocabulary so that we can more accurately discuss the role that a candidate's race, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, etc plays in his or her candidacy.

One final point: the vast majority of elections in this country have consisted primarily of white men voting for white men and that was no coincidence. Before you claim that you don't participate in identity politics, consider that you probably already have and white men are so the default for elected leadership that you haven't even realized it.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Dude With No Money and No Endorsements Wins Mississippi Gubernatorial Primary

From the Clarion-Ledger:

State Democratic Party leaders and politicos on Wednesday were still trying to figure out what the !@#$ happened Tuesday night, when an unknown candidate with no financial or political backing won the party’s nomination for governor, handily dousing the assumed frontrunner.

They’re also wondering what it means for the party — already flagging as the state turns more red — in the long term and for down-ticket candidates this year in the short term.

“I’m calling every political consultant, anthropologist and witch doctor in the Southeast to help me understand what happened yesterday,” said Brandon Jones, director of the Mississippi Democratic Trust. “… Anybody who offers a clear-cut formula for yesterday is probably a little ahead of their skis right now.”

Political science professor and longtime observer of state politics Marty Wiseman said, “It’s the freakiest thing I’ve ever seen. … It’s a low point for the Democratic Party, which doesn’t need any more low points. You’d like to think it’s a perfectly pulled off conspiracy by the Republicans, but that’s too far a stretch.”

Terry truck driver and first-time candidate Robert Gray, who goes by “Silent Knight” as his CB handle, carried 79 of 82 counties in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. He pulled more than 147,000 votes, or 51 percent, to presumed frontrunner Vicki Slater’s 87,000 votes, or 30 percent, in a three-way race.

Slater, a politically active attorney, raised more than $235,000 for her campaign and pumped in thousands of her own money. Gray raised and spent zero. He bought no advertising. No yard signs. He made only a couple of public appearances. His own family didn’t know he was running, and he didn’t vote for himself.

Let me get the obvious joke out of the way and point out that Gray won having purchased no yard signs. It probably did not help Vicki Slater that the other woman in the race had a similarish name (Valerie Short) nor that Gray's name was listed first. Nor did it help that no one is expecting a Democrat to win the general election, although Slater was the best candidate they've had in years. From that perspective, this is a real shame. The Mississippi Democratic Party is never going to be able to improve its standing without some real national investment.

“You hear people talk about low-information voters or elections,” Cole [Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman] said. “I think this may have been one of those.”

Oh Mississippi Democratic Party, bless your hearts.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Republicans make asses out of themselves in order to qualify to make asses of themselves

I don't know how you're reading my blog if you don't know, but the Republican debate is tonight. Because only the top 10 candidates make it to the "big kids table" the candidates did some pretty goofy things to boost their name recognition and pander to the their base. Donald Trump was Donald Trump.

Ted Cruz did this:

and Rand Paul did this:

So now you get to do this: First Republican debate drinking game.

Happy Watching!