Every year during the Passover Seder (ceremonial meal celebrating the beginning of Passover) it’s a tradition to dip a finger in your glass of wine and drip ten drops on your plate symbolize the ten plagues that hit the Egyptians. But in my family we also go around the table and each describe a “modern plague.” I’ve decided that this Passover I should prep my picks for modern plagues by doing a list of 10 Plagues in the 2016 election cycle.
Before we start: there are lots of things wrong with politics today, and I didn’t want to write a Debbie Downer textbook here so I am limiting myself to 10 current political problems. And I encourage everyone to share this article and outline your own “10 Political Plagues of 2016”. My list:
This is something I know the Hillary side of my Seder table will bring up. I hope someone denies it is an issue just so I can watch my mother explain to them what’s wrong with their lives (and she’s a Bernie supporter, this cuts across primary lines). According to our last census, 50.8% of our population is Female. But we only have 20 Female Senators in the Senate, 104 in the house, and at 29% this is I believe the highest percentage of Women in the federal government ever. Our state isn’t better, and it’s not just elected positions in government. While our neighbor to the north has a hunky dreamboat head of state answers question about Gender equity in his cabinet like this.UYDWA
Only four of our sixteen cabinet officials are women and even if we expand that to “Cabinet-level” it only rises to seven out of twenty three. Some suggest it’s because we don’t have as many female candidates running, or even asked to run, even though they tend to win by the same rates as men. But when a woman runs for office, how do we talk about her? No matter what you think about Hillary, when a speaker at a Bernie Sanders rally referred to her and the “Whores” of the pharmaceutical industry that “just ain’t right.” . We’ve had a lot of sell outs run for a lot of offices over the years, but very rarely is the word whore used to describe a major candidate for President. Now I’m not saying we can’t criticize female candidates, just don’t be a dick about it. This hits closer to home as well, Akua and Taylor did a great job outlining some of the micro aggressions that unfortunately took place under our own roof.
Money and Corruption
Just as the Hillary side of the table would bring up Sexism, I know the Bernie side would bring up corruption, and they’re right. With the Super PACs of the world today, votes are being literally bought and paid for. This isn’t just in the presidential election. It happens locally as well.
It is the number one thing that alienates people. Now not all of these PACs are bad, a lot of them are good and support causes I know I support. But in a world where dollars equal your freedom of speech, those of us not in the 1% tend to get screwed repeatedly. The exception that proves the rule is Bernie Sanders who has gone so far as to publicly ask the super PACs supporting him (most prominently the National Nurses United for Patient Protections PAC which raised $1.2 million) to stop. So maybe there is hope.
This is obligatory for a post about political plagues, especially since we’re all Young Democrats. I’ve heard several variations of jokes about Brady Walkinshaw (running for WA-7th in the US House) and Cyrus Habib (running for Lt. Governor). Both are in the first 5 years of their public service careers, and both are in their early thirties, and both are running against candidates who have at least a decade of experience and have both asked: what were Brady/Cyrus doing 20 years ago?” The answer to the condescending question is they were in Middle School, and quite frankly I don’t know why you’d care about their middle school career. But one thing I care about is the average age of a congressional freshman has gone up almost every congress since the Baby Boomers became the generational majority, despite our “appeal” to younger voters. In fact between the 107th Congress (2001) and the 114th Congress (2015) there was only one two year period where the youngest member of the US House was a Democrat. It’s time the party establishment understands and works to change that.
I hate rolling Racism, Homophobia, Transphobia, Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism all together, but there’s this overall fear of the “other” that has been an unfortunate undercurrent in our society and is coming to the forefront in this cycle. Take a minute to realize that more people claim to have seen a ghost then a Trans person. Then think about all the bathroom bills in all the state legislatures that regulate who gets to use the restroom. It’s like we’ve moved straight from denial to this unnecessary rage. Even on the left this fear of “other” is way too prevalent as seen by the vitriol that Bill Maher has been spewing about the Islamic community. When our laws and lawmakers treat a faith, ethnicity or gender as disagreeable, it just creates fear and disillusionment with our system. A great solution would be to recruit people from these groups to be in our government, instead of casting them aside.
You know all things being equal, we are getting better in promoting diversity. Particularly in a few races you can point to in our state. But what really grinds my gears is these very diverse well-spoken candidates have supporters who support their candidate by tearing apart their opposition based on that candidate’s identity. For example, the aforementioned critiques on our endorsement in the 7th Congressional Race. But it wasn’t just towards Pramila. I’ve heard people who claim to support her, question if Brady, is really is a person of color, and when I brought up to one of them that he would only be the 2nd gay man of color in the history of congress they said “We have Gay men and we have Latinos, I don’t see why we need both”. I don’t feel the need to elaborate on why that perspective is wrong. In elections like this we should be proud of the fact that we have a diverse pallet of candidates. I mean even in that race if we forget Brady and Pramila, electing Joe McDermott wouldn’t even guarantee we have 10 LGBTQ members of congress, and when we look outside of those 3 to the 3 other candidates running, two of them (Arun Jhaveri, an immigrant from India and the first mayor of Burien, and Donovan Rivers a lifelong activist for Seattle’s communities of color) would also be a change from the status quo. There’s no need to rip each other’s identity apart when we should be building each other up. We should be proud of the diversity not just in that race, but in races like Lieutenant Governor where we’re either going to have our first female Lt. Governor, our first Lt. Governor of color, our first Lt. Governor of Color with disabilities, or our first gay Lt. Governor, as long as we stick together and vote Democratic, which brings us to our next plague…
Do you know if just 15% more of Bernie Sander’s supporters had voted down ballot, Wisconsin would’ve had its first Progressive majority supreme court in years. There are lot’s people we know who are “Feeling the Bern” or “With Her” who don’t know who their state representative is. The irony to that is the further you get down the ballot, the more the candidates or initiatives will make decisions that affect your day to day life. Even if you get the president you want, if the Republican majorities in the Senate and House maintain they can’t do anything, and if the Republican majorities in most of our state legislatures continue to grow they’ll get to make it easier for the Republican majorities in congress to grow. If you don’t know who to vote for it’s easy, most counties will send out voter guides for you to educate yourself, and your chapter will probably have an endorsements process for local races. There are also cool websites like Ballotpedia and Our Campaigns.
It’s not just the Bernie Bros, it didn’t even start with the Bernie Bros. But we all see it: people who go Facebook, say something and when someone challenges them, instead of taking a moment to breathe think and respond and potentially learn, they double down. People learn from a good debate and challenging of ideas, but the keyboard warriors of today aren’t interested in learning and growing. If you want to teach someone something, you should probably be open to learning yourself.
Game Fixing/Voter Obstruction
Presidential politics aside. There’s something wrong with our system. We’re supposed to be in a world where voting is quick, easy, and everyone gets to. But we’re not. The other side of the aisle is putting in blatantly racist laws that make it harder for communities of color and other disadvantaged groups to vote, and politicians are using things like gerrymandering to pick who votes for them. Even in our state where redistricting is “bipartisan” and supposedly one of the fairest in the country, the obsession politicians have with determining who votes has created seats that go from Auburn to Wenatchee, or from Redmond to Ferndale. Sure there are Democrats in those places and Republicans in those places. But there’s more to them then their party affiliation. Our party only talks about this when it affects our votes and not as a rule of thumb. But in reality we should be the party that when people win, and they’re represented effectively they’re represented by Democrats.
I probably don’t need to explain how annoying this is. So I’m not, but members of the Jewish caucus would probably appreciate some likely unsuccessful pandering to us.
My least favorite thing about politics. Sure everyone wants to win. But it wasn’t too long ago that whenever people spoke about the Democratic Presidential primary, they’d talk about our two qualified candidates debating the issues versus the clown car of extremist jokers on the other side. That descended quickly into chaos. We’re all on the same side here and if we can’t come together to make sure our side gets elected, what are we really? A party exists as a forum to find the best strategy, and once we’ve picked the strategy best for our brand we should support it, because we believe that it is better for our country than the other side, and even if the other side wins; if we have to deal with a President Cruz or a President-Lord Trump, I don’t want the country to fail. I hope we can come together to get some good done. If not, we can show our disapproval in the following midterms, and by making the winner a one term President.
That’s my Seder Sermon. What do you think the 10 Political Plagues of 2016 are? Share this post and list your own.