Mere moments ago as of this writing, it was officially announced that Donald Trump, business mogul and a supporting player in the 1989 Bo Derek film Ghosts Can’t Do It, is the Republican nominee for President of the United States. I’m not an American, but I’m pretty damn scared.

And that same fear I’m feeling is spreading across my social media feeds, by people in the even scarier position of seeing this happen in their own country. As I scroll through Twitter and Facebook, I see a lot of panic. But I see something even more troubling, too.

“Don’t worry, it’s impossible.”

Already I’ve seen people reassure others and themselves that Trump and his running mate Mike Pence, who I’m beginning to suspect was grown in a vat like in Transmetropolitan, will never reach the White House. There’s no way, right? Never gonna happen. As long as we turn out to vote it’ll be fine.

Bullshit. Of course it can happen. There is, in fact, a very distinct chance of it happening. A Trump/Pence White House is possible, and if you want it to be as impossible as some people on my social media are saying, you’re gonna have to work for it. Hard.

Brexit

Last month, England voted to leave the European Union, a move many similarly dubbed impossible. People were so convinced that Brexit wouldn’t go through that they voted to leave anyway.

Can you even fathom that? That’s so dumb there isn’t even a funny metaphor for it, it’s just ridiculously stupid and short-sighted. People were CONVINCED that Brexit would fail, and yet here we are watching the United Kingdom begin to seemingly crumble while the office of Prime Minister of England becomes one of the most unwanted pieces of office space in Europe.

Were anti-Brexit campaigners lazy or idle, complacent in their ultimate victory? Of course not. Those people worked their asses off. You know where the problem was? People who considered it a non-issue. People who voted without doing the proper research and actually learning what the issue at hand was. People who somehow thought that the outcome of the vote was an inevitability rather than something over which COULD and SHOULD HAVE taken control. People who wrote it off, even idly.

The prospect of a Trump Presidency is scary, even to people outside America. And right now, to all my American friends I say this: Don’t lose that fear. Keep it. Because if you want to overcome the literally terrifying number of people who want to see Trump and Pence take the White House next year. Make that fear the fire under your ass to keep you from getting idle.

Be Afraid

Go to rallies, make your voice heard. If you support Hillary Clinton wholeheartedly, see what you can do to volunteer in even the smallest way. If not, do everything you can to make sure every blunder, every controversy, every racist, sexist, hateful remark by Trump and his people is seen by as many people as possible.

And for the love of all that is good, VOTE. Vote and encourage all your friends to vote. Because treating a Trump presidency as impossible is opening the backdoor to voter apathy, if not from you than for some people. Odds are you know some of those people, and if you can change even one of their minds, you’ve done good.

The prospect of Donald Trump becoming the leader of the free world is NOT impossible. If Brexit proved anything, it’s that nothing is truly impossible.

If you want Trump to fail, you have to MAKE him fail, because he’s not going to do it on his own. Though it looks for all the world like he’s been trying. To people being told not to be afraid, I say be afraid, and turn that fear into proactivity. Your country is at a crossroads, and at the end of one path is a man who read the script for Ghosts Don’t Do It and said “yeah, I’ll be in this.”

We have some very exciting news to report: Bernie Sanders is the winner!

(pause)

The winner of the FTB US Presidential Election Poll.

Honestly, I was thinking of just using the first part as the headline of this post. Misleading? Quite. But if the Associated Press can do it, so can we. However, it could also be a bit of a mean tease to those (like myself) who were hoping for a Sanders victory in California last night.

us election pollNear the beginning of the primaries, we asked our readers to vote for the candidate they wanted to be the next President of the United States with the promise that the winner would receive the official endorsement of FTB readers and a post explaining why they are the best choice. This is that post.

As candidates dropped out, we removed them from the available choices (except for Lincoln Chafe, I still think #feelinchafed will trend). Only Ted Cruz and  John Kaisich had actual votes when we removed them (two apiece).

With 153 votes cast, the Vermont senator and everyone’s surrogate grandpa won the poll with a resounding 48%. Donald Trump was second (one only hopes ironically) with 14%, one vote ahead of “You realize you’re a Canadian site, right?” Hillary Clinton got 7%, narrowly beating out a push for four more years for Barack Obama which tied with None of the Above.

So why did the majority of our readership pick Bernie? While I can’t be sure of their reasons, I think the fact that he is a once in a generation candidate probably had something to do with it. Not only is he an inspirational speaker who brought income inequality, money in politics and the need for universal healthcare and a $15/hr minimum wage to the forefront of mainstream political discourse in the US, he also proved that socialism isn’t a dirty word, at least when you couple it with the word democratic.

He is also very consistent in his talking points and has been for thirty years, a unique quality in legitimate POTUS contenders. He didn’t change his views to suit the electorate, the public caught up with him. He then became the figurehead of a movement that started with Occupy.

His ads were not only powerful, but themselves revolutionary in their choice of speaker. Some of them featured people establishment politicians usually avoid associating with, like Black Lives Matter activist Erica Garner and Chris Wilson, a man who turned his life around after spending half of it in prison.

Sanders went from a candidate unknown outside of Vermont (and southern Quebec homes with Vermont and upstate New York affiliate stations) whom very few thought would even come close to being a contender to the man who won 22 states, seriously challenging a household name with an unparalleled political machine behind her. He also met with the Pope. And all of this in just a year.

Unlike politicians who drop out when offered a deal that benefits them personally, he has vowed that the struggle will continue right up to the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia. But the struggle is now more about entrenching the values of social and economic justice in the Democratic Party, a party whose establishment fought hard against a progressive shift in the primaries. With Bernie, it’s about the issues and the movement or revolution. Not about him.

What path Bernie will follow after the convention is unclear, so is the next step for the movement he champions. What is clear is that Bernie has already had a yuuuuge impact on the American political landscape and political progressives around the world.

No wonder so many FTB readers are feelin’ the Bern.

Panelists Der Kosmonaut, Cem Ertekin and Jerry Gabriel discuss the Mayday March protests and the violent police reaction in downtown Montreal, an update on the US Primary elections, Prince leaving us too soon and Peter Sergakis’ lawsuit against Peter McQueen. Plus the Community Calendar and Predictions!

Host: Jason C. McLean
Producer: Hannah Besseau
Production Assistant: Enzo Sabbagha

Panelists

Cem ErtekinFTB Contributor and Managing Editor

Der Kosmonaut: Poet, writer, spoken word artist, DJ and blogger at The Adventures of Der Kosmonaut

Jerry Gabriel: Podcast regular and FTB Contributor

* Reports by Hannah Besseau

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

On Friday night, protesters successfully disrupted a rally for Republican presidential frontrunnner Donald Trump. When the race-baiting businessman realized that anti-Trump activists made up roughly half the crowd, he cancelled the event. Then he went on the offensive. Predictably Twitter moaning about freedom of speech:

First, Trump clearly doesn’t understand, or doesn’t want to understand, that the right to free speech enshrined in the US Constitution (the states doesn’t have hate speech laws like we do in Canada, where Trump could probably be charged) doesn’t work that way. As this civil rights and constitutional lawyer pointed out:

What is really ironic, though, and what would really be tragic if Trump ever ended up in the White House, is that his recent rally rhetoric promotes an attack on the very constitutional right he claims he was denied on Friday.

Trump’s “Good Old Days” Were All About Suppressing Free Speech

Over the past few weeks, Trump has been encouraging his supporters to attack protesters more and more. As Rachel Maddow and others pointed out, this was most likely a deliberate attempt to provoke violence so he could claim he was the victim.

What is the most troubling about his rhetoric are his constant references to the “good old days” where there were “consequences” for protesting and protesters would most likely be “carried out on a stretcher.” To be clear, Trump misses the use of state violence to stifle dissent, to stifle free speech.

While his hypocrisy is palpable, so is the (perhaps willful) ignorance of his supporters. That they can claim to support a right while championing someone who seeks to repress it, most likely in a brutal manner, when in power, is stunning.

It’s About the People Rising Up, Not Politics

By Saturday, Trump had already named a culprit: Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. This was based, at least on the surface, on the fact that some of the protestors inside the event were vocally supportive of the Vermont Senator and completely ignored all the other protestors inside and the thousands in the student-led demo outside.

For his part, Sanders responded the best way he possibly could:

“As is the case virtually every day, Donald Trump is showing the American people that he is a pathological liar. Obviously, while I appreciate that we had supporters at Trump’s rally in Chicago, our campaign did not organize the protests. What caused the protests at Trump’s rally is a candidate that has promoted hatred and division against Latinos, Muslims, women, and people with disabilities, and his birther attacks against the legitimacy of President Obama.”

In response, Trump threatened to send his followers into a Sanders rally and now the story has basically turned into Trump versus Bernie, at least in the mainstream press. While this will help Sanders in the upcoming primaries, especially given Hillary Clinton’s lack of support for the protesters, it distracts from what is really at play here: that a group of protester, mostly people of colour, were able to stop a Donald Trump bigot love-in.

Maybe Trump can’t fathom or admit the truth, so blaming a well-organized political machine is the only way out. I think, though, that admitting it wasn’t a power play but rather a play against power makes it impossible to deny that it is the protesters who are on the side of freedom of speech.

Donald Trump’s rights were not violated Friday night, he was in the power position while seeking a greater power position. But if he becomes President, you can believe he will do his best to eliminate the right of free speech through protest for everyone.

Panelists Ethan Cox, Josh Davidson and Jerry Gabriel discuss student tribunals at Concordia, the US Primary Season and Justin Trudeau’s statement that pipelines will pay for green energy. Plus the Community Calendar and Predictions!

Host: Jason C. McLean
Producer: Hannah Besseau
Production Assistant: Enzo Sabbagha

Panelists

Ethan Cox: Editor at Ricochet

Josh Davidson: FTB Food Columnist

Jerry Gabriel: Podcast regular and FTB contributor

 

* Concordia Tribunals report by Hannah Besseau

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

Feminism is more than burning bras and not shaving your armpits. Being a feminist means demanding equal pay for equal work, taking charge of our bodies, gender freedom, ending domestic violence and rape culture, and crushing the all powerful patriarchy.

No, it does not mean we hate men, in fact many feminists actually are men! Yes, it does mean standing together with our sisters and trans sisters, but it does not mean bullying other women into thinking how we think and pushing our ideals on others.

I was offended when Gloria Steinem, a famous voice of the feminist movement, and Madeline Albright, the first female secretary of the state, said that any woman who doesn’t back Hilary Clinton is not a feminist. They went on to say that girls were just voting for Bernie Sanders because he was popular with men.

Albright said “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.” She has famously used this phrase for other more appropriate situations in the past. “When you’re young, you’re thinking: ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie,’ ” Ms. Steinem said.

In 1996, when Sanders faced Republican Susan Sweetser in a bid for re-election to the House, he found himself up against a female candidate. Then Gloria Steinem went to Vermont to endorse Sanders, saying in jest that she’d come to dub him “an honorary woman.”

Even though Bernie Sanders is a cis gender white male he is more of a feminist than Hilary Clinton. I feel the Bern because I did my homework, not because any boy told me to do so.

Women for Bernie
Feminists for Sanders in the Vermont Vanguard. Will You Vote for…Substance or Image? | Vanguard Press | Nov. 2, 1986

Hilary Clinton responded to the female criticism by saying “I have spent my entire adult life making sure that women are empowered to make their own choices—even if that choice is not to vote for me.” If Hilary does win the democratic nod I will still vote for her over any Republican, I do agree with her on some things and definitely don’t think she is as evil as the other side.

Feeling The Bern is a movement that will improve the lives of women. He supports paid maternity leave, calls on men to join in fighting the gender wage gap, and has always supported gay rights.

She stated that she would have supported the Defense of Marriage Act if she was in power and then only “evolved” to support gay marriage later in her career. I do not agree with her corporate strand of feminism and believe that in order for women or anyone to succeed in this country we need a democratic revolution and socialist overthrow.

Clinton has even accepted donations from countries that treat women terribly, while Sanders is being funded by the everyday people. Ideology is more important to me than gender.

I remember being 18, my first time voting. Candidates in the primary included Hilary Clinton and Barak Obama, a woman and a black man, holy shit. I stood in the booth and cried because I knew what kind of moment this was.

People fought for ME and that there was so much more to be done. Change is still brewing. There was a time where both women and people of color could not even vote let alone run for president. I thought of all the suffragettes and civil rights activists that fought for this basic human right.

Barack Obama got my vote that day just as Bernie Sanders will get my vote this coming election. I will never understand why so many young voters don’t show, every voice counts. We must educate ourselves and join together to take charge of our own future while fighting oppression. You can’t complain if you don’t vote.

Feminist Art
Feminist Art in The Brooklyn Museum

There is no answer to why humans judge others based on the color of their flesh, age, sex, orientation, or presentation. We must accept each other’s differences and appreciate unique beauty. Be the change you want to see and never tolerate ignorance or hate. Strive for peace, acceptance, freedom and above all else love. Sexism infiltrates all parts of life.

I was bartending last night and a man came in with two of his grown sons. He said to me early in the conversation ” Are you married?” I said no happily, still smiling, and told him that wasn’t in my cards. He then asked me if I wanted children, I laughed and said NO, “Oh that will change when you find the right man.”

WHAT? The smile was gone. No, I do not need to find the right man to complete my life, I don’t need anyone. I am perfectly happy with my cats and independence.

It was so ignorant for him to assume anything about my sexuality and throw his values on me. He was obviously religious and has money, he mentioned that he had eight children and it was the best thing in his life, especially now being older. I told him that over population was a real thing and I would have no part of it.

A moment later a man playing in the band said to two women sitting at the bar (who were obviously on a date with each other) “Why are these two lovely ladies sitting alone at the bar? Come on men! Take care of these lonely girls!” They looked at each other and said,”No, thank you!”

No woman should ever feel judged or unsafe. Protest the propaganda and spark inspiration and change. Stifle hate with beauty and truth. Be a feminist, a humanist, an informed voter, and a person who stands up for what is just. Make the world a better place to live in by taking an active part in its reconstruction. Choose your candidate based on their history and credentials, not their gender. Of course I want a female president, but it must be the right woman!

* Featured image Meredith Nierman/WGBH

On February 13, 2016 Antonin Scalia, Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) died. He was 79. Instead of reacting with sympathy for Scalia’s family, Republicans began bemoaning the fact that President Obama would most likely choose his replacement before the year is out.

Antonin Scalia was conservative and an influential member of the court. He was anti-abortion, pro death penalty, and against minority rights and affirmative action. His death has resulted in an even four to four ideological split between conservative judges and liberal ones. Obama said that he would soon name Scalia’s successor and the Republicans are having what could only be called a tantrum.

Republicans are demanding that Scalia’s replacement be appointed after the end of Obama’s term in January 2017. Presidential candidate and wealthy racist misogynist Donald Trump has been the most vocal, all but begging the US Senate to “delay, delay, delay”. The fear is that whoever Obama names will be liberal, effectively tipping the ideological leanings of SCOTUS in favor of the Democrats.

Article 2, section 2 of the US Constitution says that the president has the power to appoint judges of the Supreme Court with the advice and consent of the Senate.

The way it works is: the president nominates someone to the Supreme Court, and it’s up to the Senate to confirm the nomination. If a majority votes in favor of the new judge, that judge becomes a member of SCOTUS. If the Senate votes against, the president will have to choose someone else.

Republicans want the Senate to delay the nomination, but the legal foundation for their arguments is a weak one.

Republican Senators are pushing for delays on the basis of the Thurmond Rule.

The Thurmond rule is not actually a law. It’s an informal rule that’s never been entrenched in US law. It originated in the 1960s with segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond who was trying to punish then-President Lyndon B. Johnson for passing the US Civil Rights Act by opposing Johnson’s candidate for SCOTUS. The rule states that a president cannot name a Supreme Court Judge in the last six months of his presidency.

The problem with using this rule is that the Republicans don’t seem to have checked their calendars.

As per the rules regarding term limits, Obama’s presidency ends on January 20, 2017. That means that even if the Thurmond Rule were an enforceable law, it would only apply as of July 20, 2016. Presidential decisions often take a long time but it’s likely that Obama will name a successor before then.

In its entire history the US Supreme Court has never gone more than six months without the full number of judges. Although SCOTUS consists of nine judges, a quorum of six is required to hear a case. Judges are human beings and the court receives between seven and eight thousand applications for appeals each year. An empty seat on a court with such a high case load simply isn’t practical.

Let’s look quickly at some of the most likely candidates for Scalia’s replacement:

  • Sri Srinavasan, age 49, is an Indian born circuit judge for the US Court of Appeals. A graduate of Stanford law school, he’s an ex clerk for former Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor and the first appellate court judge to swear his oath on the Baghavad Gita, a fact that will most likely bother Bible thumping Republicans. He was named to his current position by Obama in 2013 and was confirmed 97-0 by the largely Republican Senate.
  • Patricia Ann Millet, age 52, is also a US Court of Appeals judge. A graduate of Harvard Law School Magna Cum Laude, she was appointed to her current position by Obama in 2013. As a lawyer she argued 32 cases before SCOTUS. She is also an occasional blogger for SCOTUS’ blog and an advocate for military families, something that could endear her to Republicans.
  • Jacqueline Hong-Ngoc Nguyen, age 50, is a Vietnamese born US Court of Appeals judge. Her father was a major in the South Vietnamese army who helped the Americans during the Vietnam War. She graduated with a Juris Doctor from UCLA and during her years in private practice worked mainly on commercial disputes, intellectual property, and construction defect cases. She was recommended for the appeals court by Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein and was appointed by Obama in 2009. Her nomination was also confirmed by the Senate 97-0.
  • Paul J Watford, age 49 is an African American US Court of Appeals judge. A graduate of UCLA law school, he is a former clerk for SCOTUS justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. He was appointed to his current position by the Senate 61-34. On SCOTUS’ blog, US appellate advocate Tom Goldstein named Watford as the most likely replacement for Scalia because he’d be a more moderate counterpoint to conservative justice Clarence Thomas.
  • David Jeremiah Barron, age 48, is a first circuit judge and one of the only white males named by the experts as a possible replacement for Scalia. He is also one of the most controversial due to a legal memo he wrote justifying lethal drone strikes against American citizens suspected of terrorism.

Though nominations to any court should be about ability and dedication to the law, it is unfortunately politics that rules the day. The debate surrounding Scalia’s replacement has done nothing but highlight how much Republican legal philosophy is rooted in fear.

Scalia was their hero, a die-hard defender of the law in its purest, most literal form, even if judicial interpretation came at the expense of women, blacks, Hispanics, and LGBT people. His replacement might not be so ignorant of modern realities that require judges to interpret the law in a way that reflects society’s evolution and progress.

This includes the recognition that a rule is not a law unless it is voted on and passed by Congress and that the Senate is as bound by the law as anyone else.

As the news set in over Iowa yesterday, flashbacks of Monday night’s Democratic and Republican primaries were playing on loop on every TV screen in the state. The most amazing development, that made its way to every morning talk-show throughout the nation, is that Socialism and Social-Democratic ideals have taken center stage in a Democratic Primary for the first time since probably Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal agenda.

As Noam Chomsky said last week, Bernie Sanders is far from being a Marxist-Leninst in any way, unfortunately for the red-baiting  Clintonites and Republicans who would love to mark him as such, but his showing in Iowa is nothing short of revolutionary and it says a lot about the current shift within American society. This is manifest in the exhilarating progression of Sanders’ claim on the Democratic nomination and the way he went about opening up an avenue to victory.

From the day Bernie Sanders launched his presidential bid, it seemed by current standards he was doomed to run within an unequal playing field without any of the perks of the American political system such as private financing and Super PACs. But Bernie’s unorthodox take on politics went well beyond just political financing when faced with and compared to the “Trump insurgency” in the Republican camp.

Bernie took a completely divergent path. For every outlandish xenophobic comment Donald Trump made, the Sanders camp refocused their message on the profound class divisions that divide America and it seemed to hit a nerve.

Despite what some of Clinton’s most vocal supporters have stated in the past few weeks, Bernie is in fact the anti-Trump movement. Anti because he succeeds where Trump fails in giving a voice to the preoccupations of the American working-class, precarious youth, impoverished racialized communities throughout the United States and large swathes of marginalized Americans.

This is evident when you compare Trump and Sanders’ speeches last night. Trump’s was all form, no content. Sanders’ was a vision to channel frustration, to build on the anger, to convert it into hope. Where Trump’s populism is merely an orgy of  self-fulling masturbatory rage, Bernie converts the righteous indignation of his supporters over a rigged system and a broken economy into the energy that has fueled his rise. Where Trump’s support evaporates, Bernie’s support solidifies.

The foundation of the Bernie Sanders phenomenon resides in the fact that he has quite skillfully crafted a new gravitational center within the Democratic Party with new political reference points and mobilized a different political rhetoric using the symbols that had resonated with American during the Occupy Movement.

Bernie Sanders, like his Spanish counterparts in Podemos, understands that with left-wing populism rooted in concepts and mottos like the 99% versus the 1% and the have-alls versus have-nots, properly framing a new paradigm is essential to hatching a viable anti-establishment movement.

Marx, in the 19th century, spoke of the revolutionary subject, a concept that would influence Marxist and critical theory for decades. For Marx, writing from the deepest bowels of the European Industrial Revolution, the revolutionary subject of his age, on which all of his theory revolves, was the nascent European working-class. One of the most amazing developments yesterday, beyond the fact that a self proclaimed democratic socialist got 49.6% of the vote in an Iowan democratic primary, is the proof that the conceptualization of a new revolutionary subject in North American advanced capitalism isn’t a far-fetched idea.

The coalitions that led SYRIZA to victory last year in Greece and Podemos to victory in Spain, the political coalition that brought Evo Morales to power and the Venezuelan social movement at the backbone of the Bolivarian revolution, although existing within very distinctive sociopolitical environments, have striking parallels. Youth, urban poor and precarious minimum wage workers were at the forefront of these diverse movements.

What pushed the SYRIZA, Podemos and Latin American movements to seize power was that they broadened their horizons and political constellations. That will be the Bernie Sanders phenomenon’s ultimate test. Can this movement pick-up stream in South Carolina among African-American voters? Among Latino voters in Nevada?

Bernie needs to break the Clinton hegemony in these groups and truly integrate questions of racial justice and speak to the issues that affect women and women of colour in particular. He must tackle the hypocritical idea that a candidate financed by America’s biggest financial institutions, those which maintain a corporate patriarchal system with obscene levels of pay inequality and back up the prison-industrial complex, is somehow more apt to speak on issues of gender and race inequality.

While the shockwaves Bernie sent right through the spine of the Democratic National Committee are marvelous for us left of center spectators, the real landmark accomplishment is that a whole generation of Iowa caucus goers identified a self-proclaimed socialist as their champion. For the political left in Canada, Bernie’s showing in Iowa and his campaign in general is a call for us to re-think our strategy.

A while back, after SYRIZA’s victory in Greece, the Tyee featured an article that begged the question: “Is a Canadian SYRIZA possible?” I don’t know if it is, or even if that’s what we should want, knowing what happened to them. A Bernie Sanders-type movement, however is possible in Canada.

The success of Bernie’s brand of nominal Socialism is reason for some on the Canadian left to reconsider their so-called third-way-ism, but beyond that Bernie’s tackling of Clinton can give us ideas on how to tackle the fluffy progressiveness of the Liberals. Also, his polarization of the political debate can teach us how redefine the political debate here in Canada, allowing the emergence of a true left-wing, right-wing divide.

We have a lot learn from Bernie’s emergence within the saturated American political spectrum.

A luta continua

The other day I saw people sharing an article with the headline: Southern Poverty Law Center Lists Donald Trump and his Campaign, Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. as a Hate Group. I didn’t open it right away and believed it was real for almost a day, eventually discovering the source was a parody site.

Honestly, I was disappointed to find that out. There is no reason why the Trump Campaign shouldn’t be classified as a hate group, because, well, they are.

Donald Trump himself, I still believe, is nothing more than an opportunist. A billionaire without a conscience who will say absolutely anything to become President. When he said that he would deny all Muslims entry into the US, he did so because he knew that everyone in the media would be talking about it.

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks at his South Carolina campaign kickoff rally in Bluffton, S.C., Tuesday, July 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks at his South Carolina campaign kickoff rally in Bluffton, S.C., Tuesday, July 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

His plan worked. He was on all the morning shows the next day. Defending the indefensible and even using the fact that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was responsible for Japanese internment camps and is still celebrated as justification.

FDR is still celebrated in spite of the internment camps, not because of it. They are probably the second biggest domestic policy blight in the history of the United States, following, of course, treatment of natives.

While that may not be lost on Trump the person, who is, by all accounts intelligent, it is lost on Trump the candidate. Bringing up a dark chapter in American history and using it to justify an unthinkably racist and at the same time pointless position is just par for the course for this candidate.

Hate-Filled Followers

What was once a joke candidacy stopped being funny a while ago. While I feel that Trump personally does not believe more than half of what he says, the truly frightening thing is that quite a few people do.

Racists and other ignorant people had been restricted to trolling and operating in secret for decades. Now, thanks to Trump, they are able to take part in a national political debate. They’re not afraid to say the crazy shit out loud anymore, either.

Prohibiting all people who practice the world’s second largest religion from entering a country because a few adherents committed violent acts in said country is the sort of nonsensical idea you would expect to hear from some loner with no concept of how the world works and a serious axe to grind. Now we’re getting it from a front-runner in a major political party.

As a result, all the racists, Islamophobes and other assorted bigots feel free to express their prejudice openly and sometimes violently. It’s hard to forget that just a few weeks ago, Trump supporters physically attacked a Black Lives Matter protester during a rally.

Republicans Distancing Themselves

Amidst all the petitions to remove Trump branding from buildings and bar the billionaire from entering cities and countries (like the UK and Canada, we’re seeing something new. Several prominent Republicans are distancing themselves from Trump.

People like Paul Ryan and even Dick Cheney are publicly speaking out against The Donald. Yes, the same people who built careers partially on the support of bigots are now turning on bigotry.

It’s clear why they’re doing it, too. Using divisive issues to mobilize voters is one thing. Actually speaking the language of racists from the top to do it is very different.

The Trump Campaign doesn’t use coded language for the base while sounding moderate to moderates. Instead, the hood is off. They are a hate group and if Trump gets the nomination, the Republican Party will be one, too.

A Hate Group by Definition

The Trump Campaign isn’t a hate group because of satirical comparisons to The Emperor in Star Wars. Though accurate, they are pretty common with far-right politicians:

It isn’t because of comparisons to Hitler, either. While also pretty common and usually a reach, taking a look at their respective campaign tactics side by side, the comparison seems to ring true this time:

FB_IMG_1449857942831

But that’s still not why.

No, the Trump Campaign is a hate group by definition:

“A hate group is an organized group or movement that advocates and practices hatred, hostility, or violence towards members of a race, ethnicity, nation, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or any other designated sector of society.”

Let’s see: Organized group? Check. Advocates hostility? Barring entry to a country based exclusively on religion is definitely hostile, so check. Advocating violence? Well, supporters physically attacked Black Lives Matter protesters and Trump defended the attackers, so check as well.

These are but a few reasons why the Trump Campaign is a hate group by definition. There are more.

This is frightening. We shouldn’t treat the Donald Trump Campaign as a joke, or a legit political force. We should treat it as a hate group because that’s exactly what it is.

Did you catch the Democratic US Presidential Debate, or #DemDebate as Twitter chose to call it? I did. As a Canadian drowning in niqabs and other manufactured scandals pouring out of our current federal election, I have to admit I’m a little bit jealous.

Yes, by and large, American politics is unabashedly a circus. Presidential debates, especially those which happen before the primaries, remind me of WWE wrestling: cheering crowds, commercial breaks and people verbally bashing each other over the head with the steel chair of scandal.

The Republican debates this year have been just that. Ridiculous displays of soundbite-based one-upmanship. And that’s even before you factor in Trump.

What I witnessed from the Democrats, though, was a horse of a different colour. Sure, there were the commercial breaks and the cheering crowds, but the discourse, for the most part, was civil and issue-based.

The candidates genuinely seemed to be arguing their case and sticking to topics which mattered. A sharp contrast not only to the GOP but to our recent Federal Leaders’ Debates here in Canada.

The most beautiful moment, for me, was when Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton were discussing, not arguing, discussing, the benefits of democratic socialism versus those of capitalism:

While politicians here are afraid of the word socialism (just as American politicians were, well, up until Tuesday), we see it being discussed rationally as an opposition to the dominant economic theory on prime-time American TV in front of millions.

Wow, just wow. The times they are a changing, I guess. Just didn’t thing that ‘Murica would be leading the way. Anyways, back to the debate and my thoughts on it:

The Winner: Bernie Sanders

I’ll admit, I’m a little biased towards the lovably progressive democratic socialist Vermont Senator, but in my honest opinion, he really did win this debate. His best moment came not at the expense of, but in defense of, Hillary Clinton.

When moderator Anderson Cooper asked the former Secretary of State about the so-called Email Scandal, she responded that she was going to testify as she had nothing to hide, but felt the whole thing was a little too partisan and a distraction. While her defense was good, it was nothing like what Sanders had to offer on the subject. Enjoy:

Taking his opponent’s side in such a way may not have been “good politics” in the traditional sense, but it worked great for him politically. He came across as genuine and passionately concerned about real issues even if it meant destroying criticism of a political rival.

Another strong moment came when all the candidates were asked the simple question “black lives matter or all lives matter?” Cooper called on Sanders first and he responded by saying simply and clearly “black lives matter” before explaining his plans to combat racial injustice. When it was Clinton’s turn, she spoke about racial inequality but never answered the question that was posed.

When Cooper asked Sanders about how an admitted democratic socialist could possibly become president given a poll that said 50% of Americans would never vote for a socialist, the senator said it was by explaining to the public just what democratic socialism was. He then did just that, using talking points from his campaign which didn’t sound too different from much of what the American left has been saying for the past few years.

Sanders’ one weak point in the Democratic primaries will be his record on guns. That became quite apparent at the debate.

Explaining that he was a senator from a largely rural state, he defended some of his previous votes against various forms of gun control in a way that may appease some of the Democratic base, but not all of it. However, for those thinking strategically, if he becomes the nominee, his gun record may help him win over some Republicans and independents in a general election.

Close Runner Up: Hillary Clinton

The presumptive Democratic nominee since a few days after Obama won his second term in late 2012, Hillary Clinton didn’t disappoint. She was confident and sharp and relied on her experience.

Most of the mainstream media declared Clinton the victor and CNN even prepared this video of her best moments:

She was also dismissive when she needed to be. Following the exchange between Clinton and Sanders on the so-called Email Scandal, Cooper called on Lincoln Chafee who had made this issue one of his talking points. Chafee reiterated his views that it was a sign of poor judgement on her part and Cooper asked Clinton if she wanted to respond. She simply said “no” to raucous applause.

Clinton did well, but her biggest drawback may be her record. This came up quite a few times in the debate. Unlike Sanders who was criticized for one issue alone, guns, Clinton had to answer for her vote in favour of the Iraq war which she now says was a mistake, her previous support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership which she now opposes and more.

She handled it well, citing one-time opponent and critic of her Iraq war vote President Barack Obama’s confidence in her judgement demonstrated by appointing her Secretary of State. She also argued that everyone on the stage had changed positions on something.

Now that she is positioning herself as a progressive candidate, will that be enough when Bernie Sanders has a better record on most progressive issues? Time will tell.

The Losers: The Three Other Guys on the Stage

Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb, and Lincoln Chafee, this was your one chance to come out of obscurity (I had to Google your names even after watching the debate) and have an impact on the campaign and you all blew it. For the most part, you seemed likeable and doing this for the right reasons and helped keep the debate cordial, but it’s not enough.

I’m a champion of the underdogs, but in this case, none of you three warrants championing. I’m not sure if the nominee will be Sanders or Clinton, but I am sure it will either be Sanders or Clinton. Even if Vice President Joe Biden enters the race, he will only help one of those two and hurt the other.

I’m sure people are now thinking about the prospect of a Democratic ticket with the two frontrunners on it. The only question being whose name will be on top.

The only question for me is when will Canadian debates catch up.

Donald Trump is in the news once again, and this time, he’s gone a little too far. Since the first Republican Debate, the business mogul has been criticized for his rude behavior on television.

It all began when Fox reporter Megyn Kelly, who hosted the debate a couple of weeks ago, was verbally attacked by Trump after she questioned him over several remarks he made about women. He said: “she had blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” Whatever that means!

Furthermore, he also retweeted a message that referred to the journalist as a bimbo. How mature of a political candidate who wants to run the country!

His most recent clash with reporter Jorge Ramos is just plain rude. During a press conference, Mr. Trump had the journalist escorted out of the room, after he was trying to ask the candidate questions about his recent call to deport millions of illegal immigrants and build a wall between the US and Mexican border (brilliant idea!).

Donald Trump insisted he had to wait his turn to submit a question. He kept telling the anchor: “You haven’t been called, go back to Univision.” Univision is the American Spanish television network which refused to air the Miss USA pageant, which Trump co-owns, due to his racist remarks. As security approached Ramos, he said: “I am a reporter. I have a right to ask the question.”

While in the hallway, a Trump supporter approchaed the journalist and told him that what he did was rude and that he should go back to his country. For the record, Ramos is a U.S. citizen; go back where exactly? That’s what I call being rude and racist!

He was later welcomed back to the press room and was given the chance to ask his question, even though Trump answered in a non-friendly manner.

Even after all of this, I am still puzzled as to how and why this man is still leading the polls. Not only does this person insult people from the media on live television, he also has the nerve to throw his nasty, racist comments too?!

Why give him this much exposure anyway? And as for votes, doesn’t he realize that most voters are Mexican AND women? I really don’t understand why anyone would vote for him. Let’s just hope he doesn’t win the election.