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I don’t know why I was hopeful last night.

There were no upsets or surprises. Republicans were leading in the polls in every race they won, and they had been leading the entire campaign.

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I don’t have anything positive or reasonable to say about the election because I’m not a journalist — so I don’t have to be objective — and I’m not an optimist — so I don’t have to put a happy face on anything.

I let myself hope yesterday and that’s so not in my character. I don’t even know where it came from! I was actually LESS hopeful during the 2016 election, and when Trump won, I was largely unaffected. I assumed Clinton would win, because all y’all’s polls kept telling me so, but when she didn’t, I said “whelp, that’s just White America being the White America I always knew they were” and I left it at that. I went about my Wednesday after the election like nothing ever happened.

I don’t know where this hope came from last night!

There were no upsets or surprises. Republicans were leading in the polls in every race they won, and they had been leading the entire campaign. At no point did Gillum, O’Rourke, or Abrams have a lead over their Republican competition. At no point did the Senate map look favorable for a Democratic takeover in any way whatsoever.

So I don’t know where this hope came from!

Still, I am absolutely crushed. Even though the election played out exactly the way it was going to from the start, I actually let myself hope for a surprise victory, a referendum on hate and bigotry and Trump that would prove to me that this idea of a better America was attainable. I’m tired of seeing them win, even though I thought I’d grown out of this infantile notion that Good Triumphs Over Evil or the vague universal notion of karma. You don’t reap what you sow, not in the way we’d like to believe. You plant seeds, and either they grow or they don’t, and it has nothing to do with how “good” you are, only how good you are at watering the seeds.

The United States is founded on bad seeds and there is more than enough water for each and every one of them. I wanted a surprise victory the way they got their surprise victory in 2016, but we haven’t planted enough of those seeds to counterbalance the harvest of hate the GOP is currently reaping.

I can’t speak for everyone in my age bracket, but for me, I knew logically that this wasn’t a great country for most of my life. I could see it in the statistics, in the rhetoric, in the “democratic” process, but I became an adult during the Obama administration. I got to vote for a Black man with a Muslim name TWICE and he won TWICE on a platform of hope. I was wearing these rose-colored glasses for my entree into political engagement. 2016 took them off and 2018 stepped on them. I grew up a queer Black atheist in the rural South, so at no point in my life did I ever feel like this country was for me or that I was welcome here. I always felt like I was barely clinging to the American ladder, holding on to one of those lower rungs by my fingertips, but under Obama, I felt like I had a whole palm on it! It was like I too could feel proud to be an American. I didn’t have to be a Straight White Christian to feel comfortable in the US because this Black man with big ears and a Muslim name was the PRESIDENT!! and he got elected twice. Now I’m back to my fingertips, growing out my nails for extra traction so I don’t slip off completely.

We picked up the House seats we knew we would, and we lost the Senate and governors’ races we knew we would, but I wanted America to surprise me. I wanted to know that blatant lies and racism and bigotry and misogyny and VIOLENCE! were all so abhorrent, that people would be so enraged at what’s happening in the country, they’d overcome the voter suppression and misinformation to send a firm message to the Republican party that we refuse to accept this as the new norm. But Conservatives still outvoted us. They said “we like where the country is going” and I don’t know how to process that right now because I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I can’t physically drag people to the polls. If what they’re seeing isn’t enough to get them off the couch, I don’t know what I’m supposed to DO to convince them that the only way to correct course is an enormously massive and unprecedented turnout so we can fix the easy problems immediately and set to work on the big ones. We need to redraw voting districts fairly and a federal voting holiday and automatic registration when you turn 18 and paper printouts of voting confirmation so people have faith in their vote. These are things we can fix immediately if we take control and wield that power the way Republicans have.

But that’s in the future. Today, right now, in this moment, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do in order to feel good about this country or what I’m supposed to say to myself to feel like we have any hope in 2020.

Now that you’ve gotten this far, go read some balanced reporting about how difficult it is to flip the House when the economy is strong (we did that), about the number of women joining Congress, about Ohio and Michigan and what those races say about Trump’s (possibly diminishing) strength in the Midwest, about felons in Florida getting the right the vote, about subpoenas and investigations into this administration, about potential prospects for 2020 now that the race has basically kicked off, about energized young people all over the country ready to buckle down and do even better next time.  Go read all those things because giving up is obviously not an option.

(If you wanna take a couple of weeks off that’s fine though. I’ma finally bust through some of this Netflix queue I’ve stacked up.)

 

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economy

Joe Manchin doesn’t want to give money to people who need money.

Conservatives are so intent on giving money to people who already have it.

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When you’re rich, you see money as a reward as opposed to a necessity to live. Joe Manchin is worth over seven million dollars so he has no frame of reference for what a $300 credit is to someone with a child. To him, $300 is pocket change you get as a thank you, not the difference between cooking healthy meals or going to McDonald’s.

Millions of children are set to be lifted out of poverty this year because the Democrats temporarily beefed up the child tax credit in the last coronavirus relief package.

Extending the enhanced credit is included in Democrats’ massive social spending bill. But Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia — whose support is needed to pass the legislation — has said he wants to once again require parents to work in order to qualify for the credit, a shift that could exclude millions of the nation’s poorest families.

(cont. CNN)

The impact this would have on children isn’t up for debate. The monthly payments that started in July have kept 3.5 million children out of poverty. Child poverty is expected to be cut in half by the end of the year and low income families with children have seen a 25% decrease in food instability. (x)

But a credit for parents isn’t just about being able to buy food for your children. Almost half of the recipients used some of the money to buy groceries, but others paid bills, which also allows you to provide food for your family.

Poor people know that any money coming from anywhere that goes to anything helps you put better food on the table. If you work two jobs to make ends meet, you don’t always have time to cook. You go to McDonald’s on the way home because that’s the only way you can feed your family. Cutting one job down to two, or even cutting some hours from your second job, gives you more time to feed your family with better food.

Poor people who live or have lived in food deserts also know what that extra money can mean to your family. I’ve lived in a food desert in Bed-Stuy and in Harlem. I’m young, able-bodied, and childless. If I have to walk half a mile to the nearest grocery store with fresh vegetables, I’m able to do that. There are so many low income families who do not have that option. Extra money means a used car so you can get to a grocery store or even just a Lyft once a week so you can stock your refrigerator.

Money gives you options and choices. It gives you ways to be a better parent and provider. So what’s the problem? How could you possibly have an argument against helping parents be better parents?

Once again, rich people are concerned that poor people will get something they didn’t work for. Let’s be clear about Joe Manchin: he did not work for $7 million. He’s been an elected official for the past 40 years. That is his job and you do not amass $7 million on the salary of a public servant. He founded a coal brokerage firm and gave it to his son, but the company still pays him dividends as he stops clean energy bills from passing. That’s where Joe Manchin gets his money, from coal trading that he doesn’t even do. He has $7 million dollars from not working.

So it is absolutely enraging that a rich person who does not work wants to keep $300 from reaching parents who desperately need it because some of them may take it as an incentive to not work, or to work less. To that I say: so what if they don’t work? If $300 a month is enough money to keep you out of the job market, then the job you were doing was grossly underpaying you in the first place. It was probably demeaning work for pennies, and if you can save a bit of your self worth thanks to the federal government, that is a good thing. That is a happier American citizen. That is a better parent raising the next generation.

But that’s just giving Manchin’s position a level of truth it doesn’t deserve anyway. Of the people who have received child credits, only 5% of them decided to work less. Joe Manchin, like so many other Conservatives, will screw the majority just to make sure a minority isn’t “getting one over” on him. Instead, his rationale is to give a credit to people who already have jobs. Joe Manchin, like every other Conservative, wants to give money to people who already have money because, in America, having money means you are morally better than someone who does not have money. It all goes back to the foundation of American Christian Prosperity Gospel Capitalism: rich people are rich because they are good people who deserve it and poor people are poor because of their own moral failures. You can extrapolate that principle out to a host of social policies Conservatives refuse to support.

And if you can get rich by doing absolutely no work at all, kindly forget that you did nothing. Just pretend you worked super hard and the Money Jesus smiled upon all of your endeavors.

 

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Vote or Don’t Vote for Charles Graham…but know why.

A good ad does not a good candidate make.

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Earlier this week, NC State Rep. Charles Graham announced his run for the US House of Representatives, hoping to unseat Republican incumbent Dan Bishop in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. And he came in guns blazing with this campaign ad featuring the KKK…

I’ve never seen a campaign ad for a Congressional race go viral on social media so quickly, but less than a day after it was released, it was all over Twitter. I reposted it too. And then I found out Charles Graham was the only Democrat in the NC House to vote in favor of NC’s HB-2, the state’s infamous transgender bathroom bill.

Back in 2017, Republican state lawmakers wrote a bill that required people to use the public restroom in accordance with the gender they were assigned at birth. Republicans cited their false intention to protect women and children from predators (a thoroughly debunked premise that I don’t need to spend time on), and Charles Graham was the only Democrat to vote in favor of it.

I deleted my Retweet immediately.

Later, I did more reading, and Charles Graham had issued an apology for his vote, and as far as political backtracking goes, this is one of the more sincere and believable ones I’ve come across.

————————————————————–

Text of the above screengrab from Charles Graham’s website reads:

I believe human dignity is a human right. It’s a value I hold dear – but five years ago I failed to uphold my own value when I voted for HB2, and it was a mistake. It was a bill written and voted on within 24 hours, with the conversation surrounding protecting children and women, but I should have done more research to completely understand the impact of the bill. After the hurried vote, I spent the following days talking with colleagues and transgender-rights activists about the impacts of the bill – I became a full supporter of recalling the bill and worked across the aisle to fully repeal it. To the LGBTQ+ community, and specifically to the transgender community who suffered real pain from this bill and the rhetoric that surrounded it, I am sorry.

I have always tried to do what is right, but I am not perfect. I’m running for Congress to stand up against hatred and ignorance, and I expect to be held accountable when I fail to live up to my own principles.

————————————————————–

I believe him. That said, you don’t have to. There are people making the case that if he were truly apologetic, he would have released this apology at any point between 2017 and now, that if he were truly in favor of trans rights, he wouldn’t have waited until his campaign ad went viral and his voting record on the issue was called into question. I don’t disagree, however, he admitted that he didn’t really have a full grasp of the issue when he voted, and once he had a greater understanding, he worked to repeal the bill. That to me is more than just lip-service — that’s action to undue something you did.

So. I decided to post his ad again, but I took a beat. I’d already made the mistake of supporting a candidate (from afar) based on one campaign ad without really looking into his record or what he supports, so I did my due diligence and it’s not great.

NC-9 has been very dramatic these past few years. In 2016, a US District Court ruled the gerrymandering in North Carolina was so heavily and obviously prejudiced toward Republican candidates, the state had to redraw the lines. Before 2016, NC-9 looked like this.

Democrats still argue that the partisan lean toward Republicans continues to be out of sync with the actual population of the state so they’re looking to have the lines drawn even more equitably, but for now, this is NC-9.

Before the lines were redrawn, incumbent Robert Pittinger won that slivery snake of a district with 94% of the vote. He lost his primary bid in the election following the restructuring of his district and Reverend Mark Harris won the Republican nomination. His Democratic opponent, Dan McCready, is a successful businessman with a solar clean energy fund called Double Time Capital. Far from the forgone conclusion of the 94% win by Pittinger, the race between Harris and McCready went down to the wire (I wonder why…) and Harris came out on top with roughly 900 more votes than McCready.

However! (Drama!) The bi-partisan state election board declined to certify the results because campaign operatives for Harris committed fraud on multiple occasions (which included tricking elderly Black voters in rural areas into filling out absentee ballots for Harris). The election was voided and Dan Harris was not the Republican nominee the second time around. State Senator Dan Bishop won the Republican primary and went on to defeat McCready by two percentage points. In the last cycle, Bishop won re-election by a larger margin against Cynthia Wallace, the first Black chairperson of NC-9’s Democratic Party, in a lackluster race that didn’t garner much attention.

This backstory is necessary to understand why the Democratic Party should put its weight behind someone other than Charles Graham. Charles Graham is a Conservative. He’s absolutely the kind of person/politician who is aligned with the Democratic Party not because he agrees with most of the platform but because he disagrees with the other side, and that’s an important distinction. Because we have a two party system, we have a lot of people who belong to to the Democratic Party by default, not by choice. If you’re a politician who hates Donald Trump and supports funding for education, you’re not allowed a voice in the Republican Party. Even if you take issue with some of the Democratic platform, you’re still allowed a place in our Big Tent, and that’s who Charles Graham is.

…critics began pointing out Graham’s more conservative voting record in the General Assembly, including his support for some abortion restrictions, in favor of allowing firearms on school grounds, and opposing a statewide mask mandate — all votes largely in keeping with the prevailing sentiment in his conservative district, which has begun trending more Republican as rural voters sour on Democrats due to culture-war issues.

(cont. MetroWeekly)

Firearms on school grounds and abortion restrictions and no mask mandates are the positions of a Republican. We don’t need another “Democrat” of this kind in Congress, so reflect back on the recent history of NC-9. If this were the snakelike sliver of the past where 94% of the vote went to a Republican and we suddenly had a chance to flip the seat, it might make more sense to focus on a Conservative Democrat. In a district where one Republican had to cheat to win, and still only won by a few hundred votes, you don’t need to run a Conservative Democrat. In that same district where the the election was voided and the next Republican won by 2% partly because of his alignment with Donald Trump, you don’t need to run a Conservative Democrat.  In that same district where Donald Trump won the state for reelection and a Black woman still managed to grab 45% of the vote, you don’t need to run a Conservative Democrat. A clean energy businessman narrowly lost while Trump was in office and a Black woman grabbed a huge share while Trump was winning the electoral votes. You can run the same kind of candidates against that Trump-supporter again and win if you mobilize the people to vote.

Look at this way: People who voted for Republican Dan Bishop because they like Dan Bishop are going to vote for Dan Bishop again. They are not going to suddenly vote for a slightly more liberal version of Dan Bishop just because that version has a good backstory about fighting the KKK and taught special ed. Your goal is to grab the people who don’t like Dan Bishop, so why would you run Dan Bishop-lite? Run an actual alternative who can grab the people who didn’t vote for him while also catching the attention of the people who didn’t vote at all. Nobody who voted for Dan McCready a few years ago or Cynthia Wallace last year is suddenly itching to vote for a Democrat In Name Only. Charles Graham caught a couple of headlines with a good campaign ad, but that’s about as much attention as he deserves from national politics going forward. Save your donations for his primary opponents.

(Sidenote: I do believe Charles Graham evolved quickly on trans issues and his statement was genuine. I believe it because he has not apologized for his votes on abortion. He probably believes in his heart that women do not have the right to choose, so he has nothing to apologize for. If he were an opportunist, he would just apologize for that too and keep it moving.)

 

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Politics

Rolling Stone: Rudy Giuliani Whines About Fox News Ban to Steve Bannon

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Rudy Giuliani was reportedly “really hurt” that Fox News banned him from appearing on the network. He turned to Steve Bannon to elaborate on Friday, telling the former White House adviser that the ban is “outrageous.”

(cont.)

Fox News is perfectly fine with peddling lies and booking commentators who peddle lies, but they’re not okay with losing money. When Dominion Voting Systems filed suit against Giuliani *and* sued Fox News for $1.6 billion partly because Giuliani kept going on air to say Dominion was part of the rigged system to give Biden the election, Giuliani’s relationship with Fox News was suddenly in jeopardy.

You can lie all you want to destroy our democracy, but don’t you dare cost us any money.

 

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