Friday, April 22, 2016

Prince, of course

This blog post is going to be a mess; you might as well stop reading now.

To be honest I didn't listen to a lot of Prince or David Bowie. Bowie was in my circle of influence; the people I looked up to liked him and the musicians I loved are clearly artistic progeny of his. Prince less so. But something about him made it feel like he was everywhere. Was he the ether itself? Given my distance from Prince I was a little shocked at how impacted I felt about his death. Perhaps I just took him for granted. Yesterday the word "institution" kept popping into my head. Institution, rock and roll, and cool.

His everywhereness makes it acceptable to leave him a good-bye song that I love even though he neither wrote nor performed it:

Tori doesn't mention him, but I can't listen to it without thinking of Purple Rain (check about minute three if you don't get how I make the connection). Today the song is touched with an extra bit of somber--it's a new farewell. May you rest in peace on some purple Jupiterian moon, Prince.

But there's more. I also had the expected ponderings about mortality, but it was pretty ambiguous. I waffled between "I need to hurry up and get shit done before I die" and "does any of the shit I think I need to get done really matter?" Anyway, thanks Prince.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Bernie or Bust!

This isn't a post about whether one should or shouldn't Bernie or Bust, but rather it's a post about culpability.

I've been presented with an argument that has been making me think the past few days. It goes like this: assuming one thinks a Donald Trump presidency would be worse than a Hillary Clinton presidency, who is culpable if Hillary is nominated and she loses to Trump ever so marginally? The popular answer is the Bernie or Busters. The less considered answer is that those who voted for Hillary knowing that the Bernie or Busters wouldn't vote for her are at least equally as culpable.

My gut reaction is to place more blame on the Bernie or Busters. But we can't really trust my gut (after all it loves Cup of Noodle Soup). So I've been forcing my brain to give it a more thorough analysis, and in the end it too reaches the same conclusion.

In simplest terms it comes down to probabilities. There is no guarantee that if I were to vote for Bernie rather than Hillary in the primaries--and he were to win the nomination--then Bernie would beat Trump (or whomever). It is very hard to see a guaranteed path from me voting for Bernie to Trump losing that is significantly more likely to happen than if I were to vote for Hillary. So you're asking me to be held culpable for a very unsure future regardless of which choice I make, you're faulting me for not having an effective crystal ball. If you are of the opinion that it's absolutely obvious that Hillary will lose to Trump and Sanders would beat him, then you still might want to blame me but I will feel no responsibility if Hillary is nominated and loses because I don't know that Bernie would have done any better. It's literally impossible for me to know that fact, even in retrospect, much less before hand.

On the other hand, if there are only two viable candidates up for election, Trump and Hillary, and a large enough contingent of Bernie or Busters keep their word and waste their vote, and Trump wins, then we'll be able to see very easily what caused the Democrat loss. There will be a number of votes cast for Trump, a number cast for Hillary, and a number cast for Bernie. We'll be able to examine them and see how they would have or would have not made a difference. And even before you cast that vote you know you are in no way helping stop a Trump presidency. Again, this assumes you believe a Hillary presidency would be better than a Trump one. If you don't then the question is rather moot (though I still might be obligated to question your sanity).

A few factors come into play that lead me to believe that I can't make a valid estimate of the Bernie or Bust effect at this point in time.
  1. Polls this early in the game about the general election are nearly useless. So it doesn't really matter who beats whom by how much right now.
  2. While there are Bernie or Busters out there now who say they will vote for him no matter what, there is still a chance Bernie himself after losing the nomination (if he loses) will endorse Hillary. I don't know all the Bernie or Busters so I can't count too much on their mental make up, but I feel like I can depend somewhat on Bernie's. I fully expect, if he's true to his word about caring about income inequality and over turning Citizens United, Bernie will see that the most likely way that is going to happen is to have a Democrat in the White House. If that matters more to him than the glory of being the President then I fully expect he'll back Hillary eventually if she wins the nomination. At that point the Bernie or Bust movement should lose a lot of steam.
  3. While I don't know the Bernie or Busters well they seem to be compassionate (and passionate) people. I just can't imagine as the specter of a Trump presidency looms large before them their hearts won't be turned and they'll vote in the least harmful manner possible, pledges to bust be damned.
  4. Time. There are three to four months between the DNC convention and election day. If Bernie isn't in the game anymore, and isn't on the news all the time, I imagine some people will let that busting be done by others once their flames of passion have been cooled for a few months.
  5. Exaggerated Numbers. Bernie or Busters are loving the Internet. The Internet might lead you to believe there are a lot of them out there. My suspicion is they are actually a relatively small number of the people voting for Bernie.
That all being said, I think it's a good strategy from the Bernie voters to insist on busting. It could change some Hillary voter's minds before the DNC convention. It could swing things their direction. I don't fault them for using it; I just don't expect many of them will follow through with it come election day. But if they do and we lose the day, then I'll feel sadness but not guilt; I don't know how they'll be able to say the same.