The Denome’s Advocate: A return to the Dark Ages for Silicon Valley

Downtown Mountain View is covered in them. Walk up the Stevens Creek Trail and you’ll probably notice at least three. Heck, according to the Wall Street Journal, they’ve ended up as far as the Burning Man festival in Nevada.

I’m talking about a Silicon Valley product, but certainly not the one you’d expect. In addition to the 700 million iPhones in circulation, about 1,000 colorful Google Bikes, known as G-bikes, have made their way around Silicon Valley and beyond, according to Fortune.

Google originally produced these bikes and stationed them around Mountain View as a way for their workers to get around, but the approximately 80,000 denizens of the city have taken to using them as well. In the previously cited Wall Street Journal article, one woman spoke about how she and many others use the bikes as a way to commute or simply ride around the city.

On the surface, there’s little reason for Google to do this (in fact, the company is beginning to try and crack down on non-employees who use the bikes). But at the same time, philanthropic actions to host communities by tech companies are increasingly becoming not a boon for the cities or their residents, but for the companies themselves.

In fact, companies have begun to use their mere presence as a way to manipulate hosts in a variety of way. Apple’s humongous new campus in Cupertino, just down Homestead Road, was granted to the company in order to keep it in the city, not necessarily because it would be beneficial to the populace, according to Wired.

This sets a dangerous precedent for the communities in which tech companies reside, especially South Bay cities where the economy is almost exclusively based off the industry. City councils are bending the wills of their communities and giving excessive amounts of power and land to communities, allowing them free reign over entire swaths of municipality.

Such an arrangement isn’t freedom; it’s feudalism, not much different from the kind practiced centuries ago in medieval Europe.

Beyond the G-bikes in Mountain View, Google also has control over an entire district of the city: North Bayshore, wedged between the San Francisco Bay itself and U.S. Highway 101. According to the San Jose Mercury News, Google has plans and permission to build 10,000 homes in the area for its employees.

Short-term, this arrangement seems wonderful, for all three parties involved: the city, the company and its workers. But as time drags on, Google gradually begins to benefit more and more, while the city and employees become less their own parties and instead subjects of the company.

Housing prices will initially drop for Google employees, but nothing will be done to help other struggling families in the area, who don’t work in tech. In fact, simply by giving Google the land to develop, Mountain View has already diverted resources that could otherwise be spent on low-income housing.

And while Google employees no longer have to live in trucks, they’ve become even more dependent on the company than they already have been, between the housing, food and services they receive for free in exchange for their job. They are Google’s serfs by choice, but,  as the company continues to expand, will see their wages drop and eventually become corporate slaves.

In that scenario — albeit the unlikely, worst-case one — current Google employees are the lucky ones. As cities begin to relinquish more control over to tech firms, low-income people and public employees will suddenly find their futures in the hands of private companies rather than the government. Google provides welfare benefits, Google pays you very limited wages in exchange for housing and food, public schools become Google schools.

There’s nothing — government regulations-wise — to stop Google from doing this in Mountain View, or Apple in Cupertino, or Amazon in Seattle. And as long as corporations can buy politicians with donations, there’s very little incentive for government officials to stop it.

The end scenario is that the U.S. becomes the U.C.: United Corporations of America. The average person will wake up every morning in corporate housing, eat three corporate-provided meals a day, use corporate transportation to get to their corporate job and, as payment, receive a certain amount of corporate credit that ultimately goes straight back into the system when they buy breakfast the next morning.

People will become serfs. Bosses will become nobles. CEOs will become kings. The only people this future is enviable for are all in latter groups. The majority will be cogs in a machine.

Thankfully, that’s all the worst case scenario, and quite an unlikely one as well. But it would greatly behoove the more vulnerable citizens of the Silicon Valley, and the rest of America by extension, to ensure certain safeguards are in place to prevent this for occuring.

More affordable housing needs to be built and regulated by cities, not private companies with their own interests. Government regulations allowing smaller companies a chance to compete need to be put in place. And most importantly, local politicians must learn ways to balance satisfying the business community and protecting the citizens of the municipality.

WIth these actions, cities and business in the South Bay can thrive in harmony for years to come. Otherwise, we’ll be bowing at the feet of His Majesties Sundar Pichai and Tim Cook. Here’s hoping that they at least let us keep riding the G-bikes.

Follow Thomas Denome on Twitter at @thomas_denome

The Denome’s Advocate: A picture speaks a thousand words less than a recording

Last week, at a journalism convention in Dallas, I heard in a seminar that a picture speaks a thousand words, but a long article should not necessarily be associated with good writing. At some point over the weekend, I connected this in my head to the current situation with Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and President Trump’s criticism of him.

Franken was last week accused of sexual harassment and groping a radio show host and model in 2006. As proof, the model produced a picture of Franken with his hands over her chest while she was sleeping, with a mischievous smile on his face.

Franken soon apologized, accepted responsibility and was humbled for the time being. People on both the right and left have called for his resignation, either for the act itself or to prove Democrats are not hypocrites in the face of the sexual harassment scandal facing Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

And of course, Trump jumped on Franken as well, saying on Twitter, “The Al Frankenstien (sic) picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words.”

Trump is not wrong; the picture has already been damaging to Franken’s career and may have lost the Democrats a solid presidential candidate. But Trump would do well to remember that for all the words the Franken picture figuratively speaks, he actually said this out loud:

And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab ’em by the p—-. You can do anything.”

Any weight that picture may have is lighter than the impact of those 24 words. The picture of Franken was taken while on a comedy tour, before Franken was a senator. Immature and disgusting as it may be, it was meant to be less an act of humiliating or degrading women and more of a joke.

Trump, on the other hand, said the aforementioned remarks in 2005, in conversation with Billy Bush, the host of “Access Hollywood.” Among the other things he spoke of doing on tape were trying to sleep with a married woman. At other points in time, Trump has bragged about entering the locker rooms of teenage girls while they are getting dressed.

Additionally, consider the other allegations against Franken and Trump. On Monday morning, a second woman came forward and said that Franken had groped her at one point in 2010. Conversely, Trump has been accused by 12 different women of some form or another of sexual harassment. One of those claims was that Trump raped a girl when she was a teenager.

And lastly, consider their responses to being accused. Franken apologized within hours of being confronted with the allegations. Trump has still not apologized and has even embraced his sexist image, to some extent. He won the presidential election only a month after his lewd comments surfaced.

I’m not going to defend Franke. In fact, I still believe he should resign; his actions are exactly what Democrats have been trying to say they disavow over the past year. However, Trump should have been gone a long time ago. And while Franken may go back to Minnesota in disgrace, Trump’s new home should be either a federal prison or a Trump Tower penthouse, with his name on the list of nationally recognized sex offenders.

 

Follow Thomas Denome on Twitter at @thomas_denome

(SATIRE) The Denome’s Advocate: Trump announces ambitious “America Seventh” plan

President Trump officially erased any doubt that he was considering no longer putting America first when he unveiled his “America Seventh” Plan on Sunday. The move came only a day after Trump was criticized for supposedly believing the word of Russian President Vladimir Putin over that of American intelligence agencies.

In a statement accompanying the announcement of the plan, Trump both touted the the nationalistic aspects of his vision, while downplaying the fact that the plan walked back on his previous “America First” promise.

“Make no mistake: we will still MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” the statement said. “But as it stands, I’m also beholden to foreign entities and favoring authoritarian leaders, so those guys get priority. However, we will still MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! After we make Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, the Philipines [sic], Norway and Nambia great again, that is.”

Trump was immediately criticized for his list, with reporters pointing out that “the Philippines” was spelled wrong in the statement, Norway was not relevant to anything the president addressed in the plan and Nambia was not a country.

When pressed about the last of those criticisms, Trump responded on Twitter.

“All these haters and losers are saying Nambia is not a country, but they’re wrong! Fine African nation! Great Health Care system! The capital is a beautiful place called Covfefe,” Trump said in the tweet, taking advantage of the increased character limit Twitter implemented last week to use 171 characters instead of the 140 he would have previously been restricted to.

Despite the increased character limit, Trump was still criticized for making another error, with him having again inserting the mysterious non-word “covfefe” into one of his tweets. However, in a press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the mishap was intentional.

“The president has no issues with autocorrect. Their relationship is amazing, much better than the one between Obama and autocorrect,” Huckabee Sanders said.

This reporter performed a Google search and can confirm that “Nambia” is indeed not a country and the city of “Covfefe” does not exist. Trump was likely referring to Namibia, a country in southwest Africa, with the capital Windhoek. Namibia’s health care system is not as good as Trump describes it — the country ranks 168th out of 190 countries on the World Health Organization’s Ranking of World Health Systems — but it has made the Rugby World Cup five times since 1990! That’s something to be proud of!

The release of Trump’s plan came in the middle of a multi-country trip throughout East Asia, where Trump has attempted to reassure American allies of the U.S. commitment to the region and diplomatically isolate North Korea over its continued development of nuclear weapons.

However, Trump changed his tone on the latter issue, saying that he was now willing to be friends with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Trump has previously suggested the two leaders meet, possibly over a meal of hamburgers, but has never opened the door to friendship.

Yet in a statement, North Korea rebuffed any meeting Trump might propose, unless it was in a place the North Koreans found acceptable.

“Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un will not meet Donald Trump at any old McDonald’s. If they are to have a discussion, it will only be at Pyongyang Bistro, the finest eatery on the planet,” the statement read.

Trump refused to even entertain the idea of eating outside America however. On Twitter, he made a jab at Pyongyang Bistro while also suggesting a venue of his own for the meeting.

“Pyongyang Bistro is horrible. A friend of mine said to never eat there ever! Disgusting! But Trump Grill has 5 stars on Yelp!” Trump said.

Trump Grill has two stars on Yelp. A recent review of the establishment described the food as “just like a sad Applebee’s level of quality.”

Follow Thomas Denome on Twitter at @thomas_denome

(Perspective) The Denome’s Advocate: How gun violence hurts us all

By nature, I’m a funny person, or at least try to be one. Whenever I see a piece of news, my first thought is, “How can I make this hilarious?” And so, the hardest things for me to write about are tragedies, like the mass shooting America endured on Sunday.

I’ll admit, I got really angry when I first saw the news that a gunman had killed 26 people just outside San Antonio. Considering that the massacre that happened a few weeks ago in Las Vegas was still in the back of my political mind, I wasn’t quite ready to process another mass shooting. As common as mass shootings are, there haven’t been two within 90 days of each other since long before the infamous Sandy Hook massacre in 2012.

Originally, I had another satirical piece planned for this week, this time making fun of President Trump’s Twitter having been deactivated for a short while. I had a headline (“Trump deactivated by White House staffer in last day on the job”) and even a first paragraph written. But I put my humorous side on hold for a day.

Today isn’t a day for jokes, especially not from me. It’s hard to keep a smile on my face all the time, but there are some points where it’s necessary to loosen up and be the guy to make everybody’s day a little brighter. However, violence hits close to home with me, and not just gun violence. Any kind of violence.

I wear my pacifism on my sleeve loud and proud. Since I adopted the practice last summer, I have not done anything or called for actions toward someone or something with the intent to injure. Violence, no matter what it’s in the name of, is morally wrong. And I wish every single other person in the world had that same thought with me.

I could stand up on a soapbox and call for stricter gun laws, or even for banning handguns altogether. I already went on a Twitter rant about both. But for once, I agree with Republicans who claim that it’s not the time to discuss gun control or any sort of gun policy whatsoever.

We need to have a deeper discussion about why violence exists at all in the world.

People hurt other people all the time for the most petty of reasons. Poor neighborhoods all over inner-city America are plagued with gang violence. Radical religious zealots in countries the world over justify persecution and murder with their twisted view of otherwise peaceful institutions. Husbands beat wives, bullies beat other children, the powerful beat the weak; it’s an epidemic. No human has ever gone their life without a violent thought.

I don’t want to say we’re hopeless as a species, because we are not. Humanity has survived in spite of its faults for millennia and there’s no sign that anything will change for centuries to come. But if we meet our collective demise, it’s not going to be because we all came together in one giant group hug and then suddenly dropped dead. Short of mass-extinction events, the only other plausible scenario where humanity meets its end is at the hands of one another, via a massive nuclear conflict that makes the planet uninhabitable.

That may appear to be far removed from a comparatively small-scale tragedy like a mass shooting or even just a fistfight, but violence adds up. Justifying one form of violence as “normal” will only become a gateway for making more things normal. Mass shootings are quite common in America and the media covers them nonstop; if the same thing were to happen with racial genocides in other countries, we wouldn’t be shocked when one group begins to wipe out another. We’d get used to it and turn a blind eye.

It’s an extremely slippery slope that doesn’t start with someone else. It starts with every single one of us. As we normalize violence more and more, we care less and less about the consequences. If you advocate for war, or any form of violence against other people, consider that.

I’m not going to ask you to consider gun control right now. If you disagree with me on the need to regulate guns, another mass shooting probably won’t change your mind. But make sure this latest mass shooting, which you very well may otherwise forget about by 2018, sticks to you. Even if we can’t solve guns, we can start to solve violence. Together. Because suffering doesn’t care about race, gender, religion or political affiliation.

Suffering only wants to break us down and ruin us. But I have confidence that we as humans are stronger than that. Harmony with one another is 100 percent achievable. And it starts with you.

Follow Thomas Denome on Twitter at @thomas_denome

The Denome’s Advocate: Privilege is the problem

If I had to describe Harvey Weinstein in two words, I’d call him a privileged synonym for donkey. If I had to describe Donald Trump in two words, I’d call him a privileged synonym for donkey. If I had to describe any man who sexually demeans women in any way shape or form, I would call them a privileged synonym for donkey.

I don’t get why I or any other man should have to say this to our peers, but it is not okay to insult, inappropriately touch, harass, bother or intimidate women. WIth that being said, I can clearly pinpoint exactly why a sexual harassment epidemic exists: the privilege of being male.

Males have been traditionally dominant in human society since its inception, and remain so to this day. There’s a reason that there’s a women’s movement to this day and not a men’s movement: women have been ignored for millennia and are only now being given the platform they rightfully deserve as equal members of society.

However, it seems as though older generations of men still have sexist beliefs ingrained within them, largely due to the privilege they have long enjoyed as the “superior” sex. Look at Trump or Weinstein; their history as sexual predators has roots in their history as powerful men who figuratively tower over weaker women.

The problems go much deeper than that, however. In most interactions between men from the silent generation and women, there are subtle and not-so-subtle hints of sexism in the man’s actions. Even Trump’s antithesis, Bernie Sanders, isn’t immune to this: frequently, during presidential debates last year, he would interrupt and talk over Hillary Clinton.

And when older men, many of whom are the idols of new generations, display sexist tendencies, it trickles down. A millennial who is infatuated with Trump (rare as they may be) isn’t going to be disgusted with the president calling a news anchor an offensive name; he’s going to reject the narrative that sexual harassment is bad and grow into a creep, a domestic abuser or a rapist.

Worse yet, there’s also a stigma against males who want to change this culture and actually show respect to women. The idea that a man can be a feminist is disgusting to conservatives, many of whom are the same people who turn around and provoke a harassment lawsuit.

In reality, males are some of the most important feminists (rather ironic considering the feminist movement isn’t about men at all). Sexist culture will only end if men of newer generations are able to stand up and recognize the privilege they’ve inherited, then reject it. There is nothing that makes a man in any way more qualified than a female, save for some situations where men are simply more physically able through evolution.

And so, I proudly identify as a “femanist,” as all other young men should. Those who don’t are part of the problem; they are the reason sexism will remain alive and well in America.

(SATIRE) The Denome’s Advocate: Trump attacks gold stars, outrages kindergarten community

Secondary school classrooms around the nation have a lot to worry about right now, from a rise in the number of sexual assaults in schools and funding and staffing shortfalls to the rising number of bear attacks since January. However, kindergarten classrooms have mostly been forgotten in the chaos, as the nation has apparently decided that any child born after No Child Left Behind should be left behind.

Last week, President Trump made sure to bring primary school back into the national conversation when he levied attacks against gold stars. Many teachers in kindergarten and first grade have traditionally relied on gold stars as a way of rewarding students for good behavior in the classroom.

Despite the positivity of the gold star program, Trump reportedly had harsh words for it when talking to a kindergarten teacher last week. According to Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), who overheard the remarks, Trump said that it wasn’t fair that teachers gave out gold stars to some kids and not others, and that the kids who didn’t receive them “thought that’s what they signed up for.”

Trump also personally attacked the congressman on Twitter.

“Frederica Wilson didn’t get half as many gold stars as me in kindergarten!” Trump said.

The White House backed Trump’s statement up in a press briefing on Friday.

“It’s highly inappropriate to question four-star presidents,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, alluding to a release by Trump’s kindergarten class noting that he had received four gold stars when he was five.

Wilson fired back, however, noting that she and others had received far more gold stars than Trump in kindergarten.

“I’m personally very proud of all the gold stars I recieved,” Wilson said, removing the cowboy hat she routinely wears. Out from under the hat fell several hundred gold stars.

The Department of Education later confirmed that Trump’s four gold stars were, in fact, well below the national average for kindergarteners.

“If he had been in Alabama or Louisiana, he would have been a regular genius compared to the rest of his classmates,” a Department spokesman said. “But compared to the majority of the nation, he’s well behind on his gold star numbers.”

Teachers were further outraged by Trump’s comments, as some saw Trump’s comments as demeaning to the practice of gold star-giving.

“What does he mean, ‘it’s not fair that some get gold stars and some don’t?’” one California teacher said. “I make sure to give gold stars to every student in my class. What with the $12,500 we spend on education per student, there’s enough to make sure every child receives a high-quality public gold star!”

Trump’s comments also drew subtle criticism from his predecessor as well. While campaigning on behalf of a candidate in New Jersey’s governor race, former President Barack Obama made sure to note that he had received several thousand stars from his teachers in kindergarten.

The crowd responded approvingly. As Obama left the stage, chants of “four more stars!” could be heard.

(SATIRE) The Denome’s Advocate: Reality admits to having a liberal bias

Stephen Colbert’s 2006 claim has finally been validated, as Reality, the famous State of Things, officially confirmed last week that they has a liberal bias. Various factors pressured Reality into going public with the announcement, most notably President Trump and his allies claiming that Trump’s sabotage of the Affordable Care Act would lower health care costs, rather than increase them.

“That really pissed me off, hearing that,” Reality said. “I wanted to call him out on it, but I couldn’t really do that and keep looking objective. So I basically decided I’d throw any confusion over whether or not I’m impartial out the window.”

Reality’s leftist leanings have been developing for much longer than just a few years, they said.

“Ever since the late 80s, when Reagan really started pushing this trickle-down economics crap, I’ve slowly been showing off more and more that conservatism doesn’t really work and liberalism does,” Reality said. “It became pretty obvious during the Clinton administration, but for all the people who haven’t quite yet noticed, I felt like I should go ahead and just confirm for everyone that I am indeed a registered Democrat.”

In addition to confirming their bias, Reality announced a new book in their long-running series of essays on current affairs. The book, to be published in 2018, will be Reality’s attempt to detail a darker time period in the history of the world in a lighter tone and will be titled “Unfortunately, You Aren’t Dreaming.”

Among the topics the book will cover are the state of American politics in the era of nationalism and the unfairness of current world economic system, among other things. Reality also will include a short personal chapter, revolving around how people have taken to distorting the truth and resorting to deceit just to promote their rhetoric.

“Unfortunately, there are always going to be greedy people in the world who can’t understand that sometimes, the other side is right,” Reality said. “People lie and that’s something I can’t change. What I can do is try to make sure people understand that the only way to preserve truthfulness in the world is to remain vigilant and stand up not for what they believe is right, but what they know is right.”

Another portion of the book will be spent acknowledging the role Reality’s main rival, Fiction, has played in shaping the world over the past several years. Fiction has taken an increasingly powerful hold on the minds of some, partially through the way people have weaponized it to toy with the beliefs of others.

While they are unhappy with the current situation, Fiction said they also are aware that the power they have will not always be used for good.

“Typically, falsehoods and fantasies are something for a dystopian novel, not life as we know it,” Fiction said. “While I love the fact that I’m so popular, things like fake news and propaganda have gotten so out of hand that it’s starting to seriously impact the way people see Reality.”

Reality concurred that weaponizing Fiction is a problem, then went on to note that Fiction typically seems to be a more conservative than liberal problem.

“All this drama about fake news and election hacking, it’s always perpetuated  by the Republicans, or the Russians, or some other group that helped get Trump elected,” Reality said. “Maybe it’s just my bias talking, but I don’t really think it’s good for anyone, not even Republicans, if they’re deceiving others and others just to try and further their agenda. As a liberal, it’s hard to watch the country and world go down this path.”

Reality reassured their fellow liberals, however, that things would improve over time and confirmed their belief that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

“To any liberals who are struggling with this out there, cheer up,” Reality said. “Hopefully in late 2020, you can stop pretending I’m something else.”

Follow Thomas Denome on Twitter at @thomas_denome

The Denome’s Advocate: The media has a gender problem too

Think of five or six famous journalists off the top of your head. You might come up with names like Jake Tapper, Robert Costa, Megyn Kelly, Walter Winchell or Maggie Haberman. Regardless of who you think of, your list will likely skew much more white and male.

Then consider the Editorial Board of The Epitaph. While we may be an extreme example, the editors here are in a 12:2 female to male ratio. In my entire tenure with this publication, there have been almost three times as many females on Editorial Board as there have been males. Overall, females make up 75 percent of student enrolled in journalism schools, according to USA Today.

But in professional journalism, the numbers are flipped. According to the American Society of News Editors, only about one-third of newsroom employees are female. Even fewer are ethinic minorities of either gender.

Of course, this begs the question of why there’s such a gap. Am I automatically more qualified for any journalism position than my colleagues just because of my chromosomes? Or do I and all other males in journalism suddenly bloom into clones of Bob Woodward the minute we graduate from college?

That’s obviously not the case. My, nor any other person’s, gender has no bearing on how good of a reporter one is. Rather, disparities in the newsroom merely show a worrying trend, not just in how reporters treat each other, but in how the public treats female reporters.

A famous example would be when former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson was fired three years ago, partially because of her brash personality and tendency to make unilateral decisions, Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said in an interview with Vanity Fair. But imagine a male in her position. A male having a hard shell and making decisions without or against the input of others is not an anomaly; it’s a TV drama stereotype.

I can’t and won’t speak for my male colleagues in journalism, neither those I know on The Epitaph nor professionals whom I have never met. But at this point, it’s overwhelmingly common for a “pushy” woman to be hated, or described with words I’m not allowed to use here. Newsrooms are apparently no exception.

And obviously, the blame falls on more people than just those in the newsroom. The general public is already hostile to journalists at record levels; according to Pew Research Center, only around 30 percent of Americans trust their local media. The number is even lower for the national, mainstream media.

However, female journalists go through worse than the mere impact of public distrust. Look no further than President Trump and his comments about Megyn Kelly in 2015, when he called her a “bimbo” and implied she was menstruating while moderating a presidential debate. Or take Clay Travis, a Fox Sports host who said in an interview with a female CNN host that he only believes in “the First Amendment and boobs.”

After hearing this, it’s a wonder that so many females apply to journalism schools in the first place. Less surprising is that they leave the profession after college; campuses are already a hotbed for sexual harassment, and being a reporter probably doesn’t provide any reprieve.

And thus, it doesn’t just fall to me, a male reporter, to respect my female colleagues who do work just as or more important as mine. Instead, it’s up to consumers and subjects of media interest like Trump to consider their biases and understand when they are saying something out of line.

I, meanwhile, will continue to applaud all the women, including my own co-reporters and editors, who still do incredible work in the face of misogyny. Because, unlike some other males in this world, I believe in the First Amendment and nothing more.

Follow Thomas Denome on Twitter at @thomas_denome

The Denome’s Advocate: America needs to turn red – but not Republican

For the past few decades, America’s favorite punching bag has been socialism and its twisted younger brother, communism. The McCarthyist tide in the 1950s, during which fearful Americans reported their neighbors as communists, was only the start of a larger trend of bashing state-run economies and fighting unnecessary wars to remove them.

The fear of socialism continues today. In 2015, a poll by Gallup showed that only 47 percent of Americans would vote for a socialist for president, compared with 50 percent who wouldn’t.

Yet in the 2016 election, socialist candidate Bernie Sanders, nearly won the Democratic Party nomination. Later, his opponent, Hillary Clinton, ran on a leftist platform influenced by Sanders and won almost 4 million more votes in the general election than her opponent.

Clinton is far from being a socialist. But it’s becoming clearer with every wave of elections that socialism is no longer quite the dirty word is once was.

Now, full disclosure: I am a dues-paying member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and supported Sanders in the primaries. With that being said, there is every reason for American voters to reconsider their thoughts on socialism and its role in American government.

Currently, American politics follow a very worrying trend. Consistently, both Republicans and Democrats, while with differing methods, put profit over the good of the people. That’s simply how capitalist society works. Even mainstream Democrats, members of the party of liberal social and economic policies, still reject ideas like a single-payer health care system, on the grounds that it would simply not work with America’s economy. Hillary Clinton herself said that single-payer health care “will never, ever happen.”

Well, Clinton will never, ever be president. Maybe she should reconsider prioritizing the profit of private hospitals and insurance companies over the well-being of millions of low-income Americans and seniors.

Single-payer health care, the idea that taxes collected by the government will fund coverage for every citizen in a nation, is a shining example of the war between socialism and capitalism. In our current system, companies literally profit off life or death scenarios. As an extreme example, cancer drugs can cost over $10,000 a month. In single-payer, however, people are not just the material inserted into a figurative machine that produces dollars; they are the sole reason the entire system exists.

This people vs. profit mindset is slowly coming to light more and more in America. Health care is far from the only issue with a socialist solution. Student loan debt is the direct result a system where colleges prey on American students. Universal free public college would remove profit from and reinsert people into the equation. Climate change, described by Sanders as “the single greatest threat facing our planet,” is fueled by for-profit oil companies having free rein over large swaths of the environment. An energy economy that’s run for the good of the people and not so Rex Tillerson and his pals can buy another yacht will save millions of lives.

That’s what Americans say they won’t vote for. Policies that stop the powerful from steamrolling the poor and instead provide for the general welfare of the population. Anyone who argues against socialism because it “costs too much” or “stomps on our liberties” is indirectly responsible for more suffering. You cannot put a price on anyone, not even a single human.

Americans may just willfully be living in ignorance. Some may understand this situation  and still disagree. While that is aggravating, it is also the right of the people to their own opinions. However, understanding how capitalism has caused problems in America, acknowledging the need for change and then proceeding to do nothing is not going to solve anything. Someone like that is not a socialist, but a neoliberal.

After all, for the amount of attention given to the splitting of the Republican Party, Democrats also have their own factional war going on. There are two sides; one composed of progressives, who either have socialist sympathies or outright socialist policy. Senators like Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who supported Sanders’ single-payer plan from last month, or Brian Schatz (D-HI), who has his own similar proposal that allows anyone to buy into Medicaid, fall under this category.

The other side are the neoliberals. Nobody symbolizes this role better than House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who did not support Sanders’ plan or a similar effort in the House. It’s important to note, however, that Pelosi is from San Francisco and her supporting leftist policy like universal health care would win her votes, not lose them.

Pelosi underscores everything wrong with moderate Democrats. They argue for liberal economics and social liberty, but stop short of actually addressing the root problem. In what may or may not (it’s may) correlate to this moderate Democrats like Clinton often have their campaign coffers filled by big banks, big insurance, big oil and of coursebig tech. According to OpenSecrets, Clinton herself raised about a fourth of her total money from outside contributions, via dark-money organizations like her SuperPAC. Sanders, by comparison, funded his entire campaign with small donations.

Is a party split likely? Not very. Even though reactionaries on the right are itching to separate from the mainstream Republicans, they fear a Democratic supermajority arising from a divided right. Socialists likely have the same fears. In an ironic fashion, the powerful are yet again stomping on the weak in America.

Thus, we are at an impasse as of right now. A third party is not viable. Americans are in need of an education on the socialist system. Until then, the strong will continue to destroy the weak, one unpayable debt at a time.

Think of that as a call to action. https://dsausa.nationbuilder.com/join

 

Follow Thomas Denome on Twitter at @thomas_denome

The Denome’s Advocate: Pay attention to Alabama

Contrary to what many people thought after June 20, special election season is not over quite yet. Come Dec. 12, Alabama will elect a senator to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who vacated the junior seat in the upper chamber of Congress.

This contest is a not a question of whether the Democrats will pull off an incredible upset, as many politicos had predicted them doing in other congressional special elections in Georgia and Montana. Alabama, long a deep red state, is still solidly Republican territory. The Democrat in the current race, Doug Jones, is essentially irrelevant.

It would even be fair to say that Alabama’s next senator will be decided on Tuesday rather than two and a half months from now. Tomorrow, Alabama Republicans will chose their candidate for the seat in a runoff, between either Luther Strange, who currently occupies the seat as an interim senator, and Roy Moore, the former Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court.

Even though the real race is between two Republicans, the result will still have a major impact on Congress and the balance of the Senate caucus. The contest has come down to a question of “establishment vs. outsider.”

Strange could be considered the very embodiment of the former. He has held the Senate seat for only seven months, but already seems to have gotten himself on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) good side. McConnell has endorsed Strange, and PACs aligned with establishment Republicans have poured millions into the race. Arguably more importantly, Strange has the endorsement of President Trump, who has a 28 point net approval rating in the state, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Moore, however, is currently leading in the polls, almost certainly because of his history of strong support for conservative social policy. Among Moore’s most infamous moments include his removal from the judicial bench when he refused to get rid of a monument of the Ten Commandments he had installed at the Supreme Court of Alabama, and when he called for the impeachment of judges who support LGBTQ rights.

After winning the open primary for the seat back in August, Moore has widened his lead further heading into the runoff against Strange, with a poll by Decision Desk HQ showing a majority of voters supporting him.

As Strange and Moore go head to head, much more than just policy is at stake. Many are viewing this contest as crucial to the future of Republicans and their ability to pass legislation.

Strange votes almost in lockstep with McConnell, with their records only diverging over a fiscal appropriations bill, according to FiveThirtyEight. Moore, however, is an unknown quantity. Should he win, the Republican caucus will be forced to deal with yet another faction in their party, this one representing the disruptive, non-establishment wing of conservatism that McConnell has had to spar with in the past.

In effect, this makes the Republican majority in the Senate more theoretical than anything else. Appeasing all sides of the party is already near impossible for McConnell to do; the Republican attempts to reform health care show this. Adding an unpredictable, reactionary senator to the mix would be catastrophic for Republicans, especially if Moore makes voting with the party an exception and not a rule.

Thus, Alabama has become excruciatingly important to not just the Republican caucus, but to the future of the country in general. Not only will a Moore win have major legislative implications, but it will show that even Trump’s own base is willing to buck him for someone they deem more reactionary.

Knowing Trump, however, he won’t care all that much. Why rip into politics when he could complain about the NFL some more?

Follow Thomas Denome on Twitter at @thomas_denome

The Denome’s Advocate: Hillary Clinton can shut up now

W

ithout having read her new book, I can already assure you that Hillary Clinton is wrong about why she lost last year’s presidential election.

2016 was a historically bad year for candidates of both major parties. Clinton and Donald Trump were among the most unpopular presidential nominees ever. It’s pretty obvious why Trump, with his brash attitude and inability to understand that not everybody is a rich, old white guy, was consistently under water in his approval numbers.

Clinton is a little more difficult to diagnose, however. She was the popular First Lady of Arkansas for some time, before graduating to become an equally adored First Lady of America. She spent eight years in the Senate, including a reelection, four years as Secretary of State under President Obama and nearly was the Democratic nominee for president in 2008. Actually winning the top job was the logical next step.

And then, she proceeded to lose. Some projections from both HuffPost and the New York Times had her winning north of 350 electoral votes in November. So it’s fair that Clinton does indeed ask “What Happened?”

I have an answer. Republicans have been preparing for this since Clinton’s husband was president. They spent years on a smear campaign that worked perfectly. The blame falls squarely on the Democratic establishment, and Clinton herself by extension, for not realizing just how much said smear campaign would damage the former Secretary of State.
And just as former President Barrack Obama stepped aside when his time was up, Clinton needs to move along now too. Not just from elections, but from politics in general.

Clinton’s campaign was a perfect testament to everything wrong with neoliberalism, as well as exposed the gaping flaws of being a moderate in today’s political climate. Every move she made seemed predictable and weak; she took very few steps that actually surprised people and generally failed to excite an electorate that was obviously open to leftist policies.

Even though she won the popular vote by three million votes, Clinton was not a winning candidate. Her campaign was, as moderate liberal rhetoric still is, entirely based off the fact that she was not a racist, misogynistic liar. And as much as what I just described sounds unelectable, Trump’s rhetoric won in the end because unfortunately, large swaths of America are still filled with racist, misogynistic people.

So, Secretary Clinton, even if you’re still confused about why you lost, I can tell you exactly what happened. You were the right candidate at the wrong time. A qualified, experienced veteran of the political world who just so happens to have a second X-chromosome. But instead of making that a non-factor, your campaign made the issue of misogyny a defining part of the fight against Trump. You only riled up the most backward parts of America more.

You almost certainly lost in part because of Russian interference. However, keep in mind you won the Democratic primary in no small part because of similar dirty tricks from the DNC. You can’t have it both ways.

You lost not because Bernie Sanders made you a weaker candidate, but because you didn’t become stronger in the face of him. Even as he pulled you to the left, a necessary step in a time when the Democratic establishment is borderline conservative, you refused to embrace things like universal health care, and offered only lukewarm support to other things, like rolling back the Trans-Pacific Partnership. That 12 percent of Bernie voters that voted for Trump didn’t vote for him because he appealed to them, but because you never even tried to win their favor.

And most importantly, you lost because it’s becoming clearer by the day that Americans are tired of establishment politics. You didn’t reject the status quo, even by being a woman; instead you embodied it. And that was the fatal blow to your campaign. Promising change while refusing to acknowledge that which was already going on around you.

So there you are, Secretary Clinton. No matter what you may believe, about a year after the election, this is exactly “what happened.”

The Denome’s Advocate: A spark of hope – and uncertainty – in the Senate

When historians write books about Trump’s presidency and America during the tenure of number 45, various themes of Trump’s time in office will be mentioned throughout. Distrust. Fear. Abnormality. And most importantly, division.

Bipartisanship is reaching an all-time low, despite how often senators love to throw around claims of how much they work with the other side, or how open they are to negotiations. Americans are getting into brawls with each other, like the recent violence in Charlottesville, and lives have been lost. Factions are even forming inside of parties, to the point where we have what amounts to two separate factions inside of the two major parties.

Thus, when President Trump and Senate Democrats agreed to work together this week on a deal to eliminate future congressional fights over increasing America’s borrowing limit, eyebrows, along the with the debt ceiling, raised.
I was shocked, for one thing. Trump is one to hold grudges, and Senate Democrats, most notably Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), have been far from friendly to the president. Not to mention, a week ago Trump was calling for a government shutdown unless he got funding for the border wall, and yet now he’s arguing against that very tactic.

Nonetheless, Trump’s actions here are at least slightly reassuring, in that he’s not negotiating with threats on Twitter but rather with actual cordial talks with the other side. However, we need to ask ourselves an important question: where does the Senate go from here?

Effectively, Trump is no longer a modern Republican. Ever since the Gingrich Revolution, where a wave election put a new generation of Republicans in Congress, those on the right have been increasingly unwilling to compromise, even with themselves. Take Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell when he said in 2010 that the ultimate goal of Republicans was “to make President Obama a one-term president” in an interview with National Journal.

The logical result of this is the divisions in America today. Senate Republicans and Democrats are allergic to working together. Trump and his partisan ambiguity are almost a blessing for compromise, considering the pressure he puts on Republicans to either appease him or watch him walk to the left.

The problem still rests mainly in Trump’s agenda, however. A Republican party that realizes the necessity of Trump’s electorate will be one that is increasingly likely to  bow to his every demand. Should Trump immediately go back to dealing with Republicans, simply because they cave to his racist base, the country will head right back off of the path toward steadiness that Democrats and Trump have recently started America on.

Democrats, while having won here, are still playing with a losing hand. They must hope for a 2018 midterm election where they sweep through the House, or for the Republican caucus to realize how dangerous Trump really is.

Unfortunately, Republicans have toppled over for Trump before and they will almost certainly do so again. In the House, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has voted with Trump literally 100 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight. Ryan has almost become a running joke to left-leaning politicos, who love to point out how often he criticizes the president, only to vote with him on everything.

On the bright side for Democrats, Ryan only has a 5 percent lead in the 2018 election over a credible and popular challenger. As much as Republicans have given into the weight Trump has on the party, they still have only been marginally successful, if you can even call it that, in both special elections and projections for the midterms next year, such as when Democrats nearly won seats in ruby-red districts in Montana and Georgia.
From here on out, Democrats must present themselves as the party of not just diversity, but also of compromise and improvement. As the president and the actions get more erratic, Americans would love to see at least one major party remain stable in this turbulent time.

Follow Thomas Denome on Twitter at @thomas_denome