2016 was a wild election to say the least, and I’m not just referencing the general election. Both primaries were odd in their own respective ways. On the Democratic side the two front-runners were Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Clinton was by far the expected winner of the nomination in 2016 but things got a little shaken up when Bernie made a push and tightened the race. The DNC had a clear favorite in the establishment candidate, Hillary Clinton, but few knew what was going on until after the election. Following her defeat it was released that Clinton was not only given the debate questions a few times, but she was also handed over some operational control by the DNC that was unethical. Ah yes, and how could we forget the lovely superdelegates. A group of Democratic elites who used to have a portion of the say in primaries up until after the last presidential election. Believe it or not this did cost Sanders some states, not to say he would have won the primary but worth concern. Without getting in to the past too much, we turn to this next presidential election.
Tulsi Gabbard is one of the Democratic candidates running for President of the United States. She is a Congresswoman from the great state of Hawaii. Gabbard endorsed Sanders in 2016 and is known to have very liberal policies. However, Gabbard’s experience spans past the floor of Congress. Gabbard has previously served and is still an active member of the Hawaii Army National Guard. She has served tours in the middle east and uses this as insight for her foreign policy. Unlike Sanders, Gabbard is clearly more focused on issues over seas and uses her stance to support many domestic policies as well. She is very anti-interventionist, and has been an outspoken critic of the many regime-change efforts by the United States. She has served on many different foreign affairs committees and emphasizes the amount of money and resources wasted in pointless wars.
Gabbard has absolutely shined in the first two democratic debates. Following both debates she was the most searched candidate on Google displaying sparked interest by the audience. Both times she debated, she had arguably the most stand-out moments in each debate. In the first debate she caught Tim Ryan slipping up on who we went to war with, and she capitalized big time. She corrected him and immediately used it to segway into her knowledge of foreign policies and the wasteful war. This moment was a hit in the debate and is likely the reason she had people interested. While this was a big win for her, it was expected that if a candidate was going to slip up on foreign policy Gabbard would be the one to pounce. The more surprising moment came in the second debate against Kamala Harris. Gabbard went after Harris due to her record as a prosecutor. She pointed out the continuation of mass incarceration by Harris, mentioned her laughing about smoking marijuana though she locked many people up for the same thing, and basically called her a hypocrite for supposedly supporting colored Americans when statistics show she was not generous with them in her home state. Many candidates like to talk about what they have done in their current position and how they can apply it to bettering America; Tulsi, on the other hand, used this against Kamala stating that she used a position of power in a corrupt way that goes against her supposed values. This exchange was undoubtedly the zinger of the night and won Gabbard the second debate. She was the most searched candidate and appeared on numerous media outlets following the debate to discuss the exchange. So with two of the most defining moments of the first two debates what can we expect from Tulsi in the third debate?… Nothing, she will be watching them from the sidelines.
The rules to qualify for the next debate are a threshold of 130,000 individual donors and at least 2% polling in 4 “recognized polls”. Gabbard smashed through the individual donors long ago, but there was some troubles with the polling. Gabbard exceeded 2% in many national and early state polls, but the DNC claims many of these polls are not “recognized”. This despite some of the polls coming from very significant data including the economist poll and an early Iowa poll. This raising a huge concern about the transparency of the DNC and how they made the decisions on what polls are recognizable. RealClearPolitics does an average of the polling data collected to date and in those averages Gabbard ranks 9th among candidates. (RealClearPolitics, https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2020/president/us/2020_democratic_presidential_nomination-6730.html) As you may know, 10 candidates made the upcoming debate, meaning there is something off with the data gathering. Gabbard has explained her frustrations with this process and I don’t blame her. As a candidate who reached the individual donor amount long ago, is clearly a top ten candidate, and has done extremely well in the debates- she got hosed.
DNC, Your Move
The DNC has shown clear bias towards establishment candidates the last two elections and frankly, it’s getting annoying. While this time around it is hard to shun the popularity of a Bernie Sanders, the DNC is showing no love to candidates such as Gabbard or Andrew Yang who are both valid candidates. There is no need to show bias and it actually hurts the process because it gives a bad look to the DNC and party in general. You cannot claim to be the party of the people and so clearly try to let the elites of your party have so much influence on who gets in to office. Silencing the opinions of so many people will only push them away from the party and in search of a new answer. With changing demographics the future looks bright for the democratic party, but if they choose to lead this path it could end up coming back to bite them. After facing some backlash both elections it will be interesting to see how the act moving forward.
Facebook has recently banned numerous users from their platform- mainly Conservative voices who have been known for faulty conspiracies or “hate speech”. Some notable names banned where Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Watson, and many more. To be immediately clear, I disagree with all of these individuals in just about every way possible and think that most of the ideas they promote are nonsense. Beyond that I believe that some of these ideas have deeply hurt other families such as those impacted by the shooting at Sandy Hook, in which for a long time Alex Jones called a conspiracy theory and attacked those families. That’s not cool and it is completely uncalled for. For this reason, it makes the banning of these people a topic in which it is easy to agree with Facebook’s decision. They are widely unpopular figures and their ideas are toxic, so what is wrong with axing them from the platform right? Now, in a case in which a Facebook user is posting something which is against the law or threatening violent action I completely agree it is necessary to remove that person. The question is: When does this censorship stop and is Facebook taking responsibility for their content?
I understand that Facebook is a private company and thus has the end say of what gets to be on their platform. My argument is less geared towards what Facebook is able to legally do and more so what they should do as a platform in which anyone is able to join.
Conspiracies, Ideas, Facts
Here is the first thing that troubles me about this ban- the concept of something being either a conspiracy, an idea, or a fact can often be misconstrued depending on who is interpreting the information at hand. There are often topics that are claimed to be conspiracies in which the majority of people understand they are not real and there is factual evidence to back whatever given event. On the other hand, many ideas have been labeled as conspiracies that are very cloudy and I believe that these ideas need to be talked about. Some people have been labeled as conspiracy theorists who have exposed US war crimes and inhumane actions taken on foreign land, but these people are potentially communicating something that is extremely important and worthy of discussion at the very least. So does this provide the means to censor these people on social media based on the “conspiracy theorist” label given to them. You walk a very fine line when you deem yourself the person or organization responsible for deciding what discussions get to be had. Many major news organizations supported different explanations for going to war in the Middle-East and a lot of these explanations have been proven to not have factual backing. This ended up costing money, resources, and most importantly American soldiers. Do we then cut major news media for being conspiracy theorists and putting harmful information in to the minds of American people? No, because it is all part of a discussion that needs to be had. Compare this to Facebook which any given person, regardless of their background or education level, can participate. Obviously people believe and post ideas that are clearly not true and have no evidence to back them, but that does not mean that they need to be censored from the wider discussion. I understand freedom of speech is not directly the issue at hand based on the circumstances and legal argument… but in a way it really is. When a platform which claims to be tolerant of all people and ideologies starts censoring what gets to be talked about, the overall discussion becomes very shady and a lack of trust begins to develop. Now, here’s what I’m getting at…
If you look at news corporations such as MSNBC, Fox News, or Dailywire- these news platforms all have a variety of publishers and editors that work for them in which the corporations take responsibility for the content posted on their behalf. That is why with each of these companies you see a specific ideology being displayed, because the corporations own the content and are able to edit stories published. Now, I am not saying that Facebook is in exactly the same situation as these corporations, but statistics show that people today are turning to social media much more as their source of news. On top of this it is known that Facebook has tried to incorporate news and business in to their platform. Therefore, it is as if Facebook is acting as an editor of news but the premise on which they remove or flag content is not entirely clear. This poses a very peculiar situation in which a lot of political voices are worried about the future of doing business and spreading news on Facebook. There was an observation made that Facebook may be intentionally putting news on the feed the object the views of the given user in order to increase dialogue and usage of the app. None of this poses any apparent legal problems but it is troubling given the amount of people who turn to Facebook as a source of news. If one of those prior companies posts something that is factually incorrect it will likely be made public and they could face legal consequences based on what the situation creates.
Take a Position
Facebook needs to decide whether they will treat political discussion as an open public discussion, or if they wish to participate as an editor of their content. News corporations are responsible for the content posted on their behalf and I do not think this is the position Facebook wants to be in. Why? Because in a time of “fake news” it is important to know what they actual fake news is. Mainstream media putting their certain take on a story or reporting factual information with a clear bias is not fake news. There is a portion of the population who view the mainstream media as a spreader of completely inaccurate events, statistics, or reports. This is not the truth as all of these corporations must abide by certain rules in order to have credibility among people and the political community. I have many criticisms for the mainstream media such as that they have poor takes on certain things, choose to not cover some important information, and have inconsistencies in their reporting. However, the one thing they do not do is share factually incorrect information- without facing consequences of some sort. If you want to know where fake news is being spread each and every day at an incredible pace, turn to Facebook. The amount of accounts and people who completely make stories up in order to fire up a certain political base, or post a click-bait article that is often shared without even being read is out of control. I can speak from a personal standpoint on this issue. On an average day I will scroll through my feed and typically see anywhere from 3 to upwards of 15 political posts that are simply garbage. They are pages or people looking to get attention from a certain people. Some of these posts make certain individuals or groups of people look extremely bad. Does Facebook really want to take ownership of all of these posts as an editor? To think that, even with their technologies and employees, Facebook could act as an editor is asinine. I do not think that they intend to do this nor do I think it is wise to. Given that, they should leave Facebook as a public platform where all discussions can be had as long as they are within the law and do not promote direct evils. When you give a company that has the power that Facebook possesses the ability to dictate what conversations get to be had there is a serious problem at hand. Like I said before, I do not agree with any of the people they banned and I think the majority of people can agree racism, sexism, xenophobic comments, harmful conspiracies, etc… are not okay and have no place in American society. My point is that nobody is entirely clear of what dictates being banned given the recent events, so this could have a negative effect in the future. There are important discussions that need to be had and social media is a place this can take place. However, when you have a group of tech wizards that frankly live in a secluded bubble from normal society deciding what gets to be talked about, some conversations that need to be had get axed. As previously stated, it is easy to agree with this ban now since it is people who are widely regarded as negative people. But once the ball gets rolling who knows where it is going to stop. Say someone wants to post a rant about how they are upset about the amount of corporate power in politics and want to clean up elections and public policy… What if Facebook decides this is attacking big corporations such as theirs and remove the post? That is an important conversation that with some choice words and opinions could dictate “hate” and get a post or person removed. Going back to the example before there are some very dark facts that can be spread about events in wars that the US participates in that could trigger a ban- even though they might be true. Or political conversations that can get really personal and aggressive? These conversations need to be had in order to make progress on policy and sharpen the ideas of others, but this is hard to do if conversations are not being allowed. I have a clear ideology and set of policy ideas, but I strongly believe that those ideas in opposition to mine need to have just as much of a platform. Debate and conversation are good in the world of politics, and on a website that has so much political discussion and is seen as a public space to interact, the company should not dictate what gets to be discussed. I understand Facebook has a terms of service and guidelines to be followed in order to use their platform, but these recent bans show more of a ban on ideology than they do on content. I hope that Facebook does not keep moving in the direction of censoring voices, and I hope that Facebook remains a place for open discussions. People who wish to spread the news that mainstream media refuses to cover need a larger platform and Facebook has shown that it can be this. However, it is a slippery slope that they will have to go down if they start to demonstrate an ideology of their own and I do not believe that it benefits either side to take this course.
Sounds bizarre, doesn’t it? How in the world can you compare beloved Beto to Donald Trump? Let me clarify immediately- this is not a comparison of policy, personality, or history. I intend to offer an insight in to how Beto’s campaign poses similarities in situation and style to that of Donald Trump in 2016.
For starters, it is important that I clear up that I am aware Beto O’ Rourke is an obvious upgrade from Donald Trump and if the decision was between the two I would undoubtedly vote Beto. However, people are focused too much on the appealing speaker Beto is, and the idea that he presented a legitimate challenge to Senator Ted Cruz in Texas during the midterm elections of 2018. I get it. I found myself becoming very excited with the idea of a proclaimed progressive supposedly running a competitive grassroots campaign against Ted Cruz as well. He’s hip, well-spoken, and knows how to connect with the everyday individual. Without question, Beto made a giant splash in national politics during this run and built a fan base across the states that accumulated a lot of energy. Some statements I saw on social media that stuck in my head following his defeat included: “The last person to lose such an election and come back to win the presidency was the late-great Abraham Lincoln! Considered by many as the best president in US history.” or “He lost by a slim margin to a Republican incumbent in Texas for God’s sake! If he ran for president imagine the nationwide support he would have.” The latter of those two statements may in fact be true, and this may not be in the best interest of progressives.
Why not Beto?
Before I get in to scary similarities in Beto O’ Rourke and Donald Trump’s presidential campaigns it is necessary that I explain why progressives should not be sold on Beto as their best option. As President of the United States, one should be held responsible for pushing specific policies and agendas while also being a respected leader on both the national and international level. President Trump has received a fair deal of well-deserved criticism for not knowing how to behave in different international communities; whether this be walking in front of the Queen of England, being the laughing stock at UN meetings, giving outrageous competitive handshakes- you get the idea. On this front, I believe that Beto would represent the country well and be able to not only handle himself properly in these situations but do the necessary research in order to inform himself on how to behave in concerns to certain world leaders. Thus, I would have full-faith in having Beto O’ Rourke representing the United States as the head of state, but within our political system the president is also the head of government.
Here is where I am not sold on Beto…
After listening to a numerous speeches and rallies held by Beto O’ Rourke I pose the question: How much are you hearing about specific policies to move America forward? His speeches are full of great soundbites exclaiming how we need to push for equality, break the divide in America, and bring power to the people. Sounds great, right? The difficult part of this job is you cannot just speak these things in to existence, you have to set out policies that creates a path to achieving this. For some time O’Rourke did not have policies outlined on his website, and even now there are very few policies on there. Of the policies that are listed on his website it is often observed that the policy is not really a policy, but rather a suggestion on an idea of policy. What I mean by this is the statements are a bunch of word soup, sort of like his speeches, full of promising words and phrases but no specifics. Look for example at Bernie Sanders platform, or long-shot candidate Andrew Yang, you can find just about every policy you can think of with specific approaches on how to get there. With Sanders you can find a majority of this information on his websites, but he has posted so many podcasts, debates, news interviews, etc… that it is very clear where he stands and his proposals to achieve his goals. As for Andrew Yang, just about every policy one could ever imagine is outlined with a goal and proposed solution on his website. I mention these two examples because I believe that they are the two best demonstrations of what it means to be a transparent candidate driven by uncovering the solutions to the US’s problems. This takes us to the reason I got your attention in the first place- how Beto O’Rourke’s campaign is so similar to that of Donald Trump’s.
Like I Said- Word Soup and Sound Bites
There are a wide variety of theories as to how Donald Trump won the presidency, without going in to these theories there are few similarities in most theories that pose a similar path for O’Rourke. The first of these is the number of candidates running, and how they align politically. In the Republican primary leading up to the 2016 election there were a large amount of candidates who qualified for the debates and had serious campaigns. Of these candidates there was some diversity in backgrounds, but many of the candidates held the same positions and came off as the traditional politician. Many of these candidates were splitting votes and loyalty from the traditional Republicans and conservative voting individuals. Insert Donald Trump. Wealthy businessman with a background in real-estate and Hollywood drama. While other Republicans running on similar platforms were splitting votes Donald Trump was firing up a base of conservatives and even swing voters that felt this was the answer to their prayers getting traditional, corrupt politicians out of office. He did this by making absurd promises, bizarre claims that had never been heard, and quite honestly not speaking like an intelligent, elite individual. No doubt this hit home for a certain group of people who felt that they had gone unrepresented by politicians for far too many years. As time went on in the primary this base held such loyal support that the other Republicans who were splitting conservative voters fell much too far behind. Before anyone could blink, Donald Trump had knocked off every other competitor in the Primary and was the Republican nominee for president. Statements such as “Build the wall!”, “Drain the swamp!”, “Get ’em the hell out of here!” and most evident “We will make America great again!” provided many voters with a candidate who was going to shake things up in Washington. Whether or not he meant to, Donald Trump may have had the most genius strategy in taking down a large Republican field. From there it came down to defeating one of the least popular candidates of all time- Hillary Clinton. Without going in to detail on how he won the election and who the key voters were I will turn back to Beto. Remember the statements Trump was making that hit home with many conservative-leaning voters? Imagine what those statements would be coming out of a liberal candidate. You would expect phrases like: “We must come together as one”/”We can no longer be a divided nation”, “We must promote equality”, “We must build a nation that works for everyone, not just some”. Well, insert Beto O’Rourke. This is the exact type of monologue you can expect in every one of his speeches. Let me clarify, there is nothing wrong with these statements or the message behind them, but if they are not followed up by substance and policy outlines how can the American people know what to expect? How do we know Beto is not just spewing BS to get elected similar to the Trump approach. If we look at the behavior of Trump when he gave specific policy proposals he lied or did the opposite on many of them. Remember when Mexico was going to pay for the border wall(which was somehow believed by many)? Remember when Trump said there would be no cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security? He has proposed cuts to all of the following at some point. Remember when Trump said it was a priority to get every American health care? He has done the opposite of that if anything. How about the sweeping infrastructure plan to rebuild the roads, bridges, and buildings of our nation? Haven’t seen that. Oh, and bringing jobs back to America? Companies are still outsourcing at great rates and the one example he was so proud of, Carrier, was discovered to have happened due to incentive money offered to the company to stay in the US… And they have still outsourced jobs to Mexico since and the workers are not confident that the plant will stay afloat in Indianapolis. So why should anyone believe that Beto will follow through on all of his unspecific promises? Or even the policies he has been a little more specific on? He supposedly is 100% grassroots but we know this is not true. His debates were underwhelming to any policy-junkie. With these in mind, he is pouring out a message that centrist Democrats and the mainstream news media love to push. It is one without much understanding or substance; rather, one that sounds good off the tongue and could get votes. To connect the train of thought, Beto is basically using a liberal version of the Donald Trump strategy, and that should be troubling to progressives concerned with the advancement of their agenda. Another similarity between the campaigns is the number of candidates announced and where they stand ideologically. On one hand you have the centrist-corporate Democrats like Joe Biden, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris that will be battling to win a specific crowd of Democrats. On the other you have the more progressive and transparent candidates such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Tulsi Gabbard who have similar ideologies and do not accept corporate PAC and superPAC money. These candidates will likely split up the votes among more liberal voting people. And then there’s Beto- a proclaimed progressive who tends to behave along the lines of centrist sell-out. Beto is not polling as one of the top candidates currently, but neither was Trump at this time. O’Rourke undoubtedly has a large chunk of voters locked up that will vote for him and this will likely push him late in to the primaries where it is entirely possible that, as candidates begin to drop out, Beto will pick up their supporters. He will pick up liberal voters who fall for the word soup performances, as well as centrist voters who are against the Democratic party moving further left. Many polls are suggesting that Bernie seems to be an obvious favorite to make it through the primaries, but if he faces Beto it could be dangerous for Sanders. Beto will have his loyal voters, a small portion of progressives, and the majority of the centrists. It will be interesting if there are three close candidates towards the end of the primaries, and I think this is a legitimate possibility given the division of the party and the popularity of Beto.
To wrap this up, let’s connect all the dots. The 2020 Democratic field is very similar to the 2016 Republican field in terms of the number of candidates and the blocks of similar ideologies within the party. This creates a path for someone who does not necessarily fit in either group to gain traction and end up in the late rounds like Trump did. The troubling concept here is how the previous election turned out- Trump had too much momentum going in to the later portion of the primaries and no candidate could catch up, it was too late. If Bernie performs well early on, which I believe he will, Beto is a scary opponent to be up against. It is fair to say that the Democratic party is pretty split on the idea of going further left with candidates even though people tend to favor more liberal policies. I am not sold on O’Rourke due to his voting record and history of not being transparent with the real issues and policies. It’s wonderful that he talks a good game and presents himself well, but I do not believe he is fit to govern as the President, nor do I think his overall message combats Trump most effectively. Donald Trump will not be beat by inspirational speeches, Donald Trump will be beat by a ruthless steamrolling on policy and details- it’s where he is vulnerable. As previously stated, I am well aware that Beto is not a top-polling candidate at the time but do not rule him out. The pattern observed between his campaign and Donald Trump’s campaign is extremely similar, and for this reason Beto is a true threat to make a run. If you’re a progressive voting individual it is crucial to keep this lack of transparency in mind. Focus on the policy and the positions. America needs a President who has goals and plans to meet the peoples needs, not another President whose personality is the focus of their presidency.
“Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.”
“I’m open for possibilities. I’m open for choices. I always welcome new ideas. I’m always eager to learn. I’m never going to close my mind from learning.”
Greetings! I have made the long-debated decision to start a blog sharing my thoughts and ideas pertaining to political discussions within our society. I am extremely excited to begin this journey and look forward to the interactions and connections to be made. A brief background on myself: I am a junior attending Valparaiso University majoring in Political Science with a minor in Business Administration. My hometown is Gilbert, AZ- I place I love and hold true to. I do not expect everybody to agree with my posts and opinions, but I believe one of the most wonderful aspects of politics is the discussions and peaceful debates to be had. I am passionate about the issues I will post on but open to discussion and different ideas. As previously stated, I am very optimistic about this experience and think that the spread of knowledge is a magnificent concept. Stay updated!
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”