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Trump and Clinton Unqualified

Diane M. Francis   |   March 4, 2016   11:37 AM ET

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The Presidency of the United States is not an entry level job which makes Donald Trump thoroughly unsuitable as a candidate.

He is not a political leader, but the CEO of a sole proprietorship who has never had to answer to shareholders, the public or anyone. Trump Enterprises, where he honed his management skills, is the private sector equivalent of a dictatorship. He knows nothing about running a democracy where consensus-gathering and vision, not bullying or half-baked policy ideas, work.

So Donald, you're fired.

Frankly, the same applies to most of the others such as Huckabee the preacher or Carson the surgeon.

Currently, the field contains only two experienced and qualified finalists - Bernie Sanders and John Kasich. This is because they have both completed intensive apprenticeships.

Kasich has held elected office - federally in the House for nine terms then as Governor of Ohio for two terms - since Marco Rubio was 12 years old or in 1983.

Sanders has been in politics - as Mayor of Burlington Vermont then in the House and Senate in Washington for decades as an independent - since Ted Cruz was 10 years old or in 1981. Before that he was a civil rights activist.

By comparison, Hillary Clinton has elected experience but has never been CEO of a government. She was a CEO's spouse for decades until he left office in disgrace. Then she was elected in 2001 as a Senator for eight years and appointed as Secretary of State for four years.

Being a Senator does not prepare anyone to run a government in and of itself. Being a Mayor or a Governor does. That doesn't mean some Senators haven't been good Presidents, but a Senator is really a relatively isolation member of the country's most exclusive debating society and think tank. It can be a great training ground for policy development but leadership is another matter.

Hillary worked hard as a Senator but now she and her "First Lady" Bill Clinton appear to have again skated close to the ethical edges of public life. There's a nasty book about their obscene speech fee incomes and subpoenas over emails. So far this is only smoke no fire but once again their behavior is unacceptable distraction going forward.

By contrast, Kasich and Sanders are not only relatively unblemished but have hands-on experience. Running a municipal or state government involves dealing directly with the public every day, chairing fractious council or legislatures, balancing interests, finding compromises, devising policies and, at the same time, supporting development and employment, then balancing the books. It's about leading people. Lots of them.

This is why both are, compared to the others, less partisan, ideological and narcissistic and more inclusive and pragmatic in their attitudes.

"I cannot do this alone," says Sanders repeatedly during his rallies. He realizes that he is not the candidate but is spearheading an anti-corruption and egalitarian movement that has caught fire and cannot be smothered.

Kasich, on the other hand, refers to experience with his line that his campaign and candidacy "is the little engine that can".

Kasich is supported by two PACs, but has promised to try and remove big money from politics. "I think we ought to go back to small-dollar giving. The idea that people can operate [with huge campaign contributions] this way is wrong," he has said.

Sanders, on the other hand, is blunt. "The campaign system is corrupt and amounts to legalized bribery," he says.

Ironically, Trump is a member of the "billionaire class" and the only one that has dealt the knock-out punch during an August GOP debate. He bragged that he deliberately gave money to politicians so he could later get favors from them. He said his donations to Hillary Clinton gave her "no choice" but to attend his last wedding a few years ago with Bill.

If true, plus more, both Trump and Hillary should be rejected and Sanders or Kasich supported instead. It may be too late for them and that's a tragedy.

THE WILDCATTERS' LOSERS: Post-Super Tuesday Hair of the Dog Primary Prognostications

Keith Gaddie   |   March 3, 2016   12:48 PM ET

So the Ol' Wildcatter pulled out the Little Smart Pill Machine again to give you a preview of next week's Likely Party Primary Losers. The following is strictly for amusement; please, no wagering.

Last week the Little Smart Pill Machine was 17-4 counting the Cruz Morale Loss Win in Texas, with misses in the GOP primaries for Arkansas, Minnesota, and Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma SDP primary. Sometimes the more you know, the harder it is to predict the future. In this presidential primary season, knowledge has almost always been a hindrance rather than a help. (Gaddie isn't allowed to handicap his state of residence for the rest of the season).

Let's get started (with apologies to Leonard Postoasties)!

Saturday, March 5
Louisiana: The Bayou State parties closed their party primaries this year after an experiment in inclusiveness four years ago. The Battle in the Swamp offer the best baseline of the David Duke effect in its natural environment. This is fertile ground for Donald Trump and his merry band of trumpeters. On the Democratic side, African Americans dominate the playing field from 200 miles above Tiger Stadium all the way to the Chalmette battlefield.
WILDCATTERS' LOSER (Democratic Primary): Bernie Sanders
WILDCATTERS' LOSER (Republican Primary): Marco Rubio

Nebraska (Democrats): Cornhuskers caucus and the prospects are replete for a Populist Prairie fire repeat! We've got no data and no idea what might transpire! But that won't keep us from making a prediction because when the electorates are small and the population is nearly 90% white, the SDP wins.
WILDCATTERS' LOSER : Hillary Clinton

Kansas: With all due respect to Thomas Frank, what's not the matter with Kansas these days? The Jayhawks are running their government on Groupon and deposit bottles, so Barack Obama's ancestral homeland cancelled the primary in favor of caucuses, or a Mad Max car rally depending on gas prices. Even though friends don't let friends forecast caucuses, we're venturing out into the deep unknown with no data and no sense of what's going on up there in Oz.
WILDCATTERS' LOSER (Democratic Caucus): The Witch
WILDCATTERS' LOSER (Republican Caucus): The Tin Man

Maine (Republicans): Gov. Paul LePage finds his bromance with Team Drumpf! Hippie ears from Portland to Watertown will burn white hot from the rhetoric.
WILDCATTERS' LOSER: John Kasich

Sunday, March 6
Maine (Democrats): It's New England. Portland. Hippies. Maybe Mike Saxl can jump in as a favorite son and split the vote (j/k Mike), but that's unlikely. Feeling the Bern this Sunday will taste a whole lot like lobster.
WILDCATTERS' LOSER: Hillary Clinton.

Puerto Rico: No tenemos ningún dato buenas, pero hay un montón de veteranos en Puerto Rico, por lo que estamos apostando por Donald Trump. Los puertorriqueños no votan para los cubanos.
WILDCATTERS' LOSERS (Republican Caucus): Rafael y Marco.

March 8
Michigan: The Democratic carnival rolls into Flint as Bernie tries to fracture the Clintons' ties to the large black electorate in Detroit and also play on the tattered remains of the labor movement. It isn't nearly enough because, except for the weather, MeekChicken is basically Alabama in the Democratic primary. On the GOP side, Trump triumphs as Kasich hears again and again why all the trees in Kentucky bend south - because Ohio blows.
WILDCATTERS' LOSER (Democratic Primary): Bernie Sanders
WILDCATTERS' LOSER (Republican Primary): Joe Scarborough's sanity

Mississippi: Remember the Super Tuesday primaries in Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina? Wash, rinse, repeat! On the Republican side, the only question is whether Trump can beat Theodore Bilbo.
WILDCATTERS' LOSER (Democratic Primary): Bernie Sanders
WILDCATTERS' LOSER (Republican Primary): The 20th Century

Hawaii: We've got no data, but Romney 'purt near won a majority here in the '12 caucus. We're banking on June Jones (offensive coordinator, Kapolei High School) to take it all.
WILDCATTERS' LOSER (Republican Caucus): Donald Trump

Idaho: This is 'Murica, by gawd. Trump will stand astride Idaho like a great Orange Julius Caser.
WILDCATTERS' LOSERS (Republican Primary): Ted Cruz & Marco Rubio

Holding Tank: March 12, District of Columbia Republican convention, North Mariana Islands Democratic convention; March 15, North Mariana Islands Republican caucus, Florida primaries, Illinois primaries, North Carolina primaries, Ohio primaries; March 19, Virgin Islands Republican caucus, Rick Pitino's future employment.

Get me out of here Percy!

Dana Liebelson   |   February 29, 2016    5:54 PM ET


WASHINGTON -- Online activists alleged over the weekend that Twitter censored a popular hashtag, #WhichHillary, that called out Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton for flip-flopping on criminal justice reform and other issues. But Twitter says it uses an algorithm to automatically identify and promote trending topics, and remove ones that are no longer trending.


"As elections approach in countries around the world we hear conspiracy theories about political trend manipulation, from activists on the left, the center, and right," a Twitter spokesman told The Huffington Post. "But the actual reason a topic doesn’t trend is because its popularity isn’t as widespread as supporters believe."


Twitter's algorithm -- the internal workings of which are private -- "uses multiple factors, such as the volume of discussion, freshness, and velocity," to pick trending topics, the spokesman explained. The algorithm tailors suggestions based on who a user follows, and where they're located. Users have the option of viewing what's trending elsewhere. Twitter designed the algorithm to promote topics that are newly popular over old ones that are discussed repeatedly by the same people.


The #WhichHillary hashtag exploded after Ashley Williams, a black queer organizer, displayed the message on a sign while protesting a Clinton fundraiser this month. Williams was attacking Clinton's 1996 use of the word "super-predators," a term that was used to paint black teenagers as being programmed to commit violent crimes and has since been debunked and criticized as racist. Clinton, who said last week that she "shouldn't have used those words," is calling for criminal justice reform in 2016. Online activists are using the hashtag to draw attention to other issues where Clinton has appeared to waffle.


On Friday, some activists claimed that Twitter had deliberately removed #WhichHillary, which was reportedly used over 68,100 times in a 14-hour period, from its list of trending topics.


A chart provided by Twitter shows that the volume of tweets with that hashtag dropped off: 

Activists nonetheless pointed to a fundraising event Clinton was scheduled to attend earlier this month with Omid Kordestani, Twitter's executive chairman, to bolster claims the censorship was intentional. Users started using a second hashtag: #WhichHillaryCensored.

"Twitter's decision to censor the trending #WhichHillary hashtag is the latest example of the corporate media's collusion with Hillary Clinton," Rudy Panko wrote in Russia Insider, a website with the tagline "bias bashers."

Clinton's campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Guerrilla Socialists, a group that supports Clinton's competitor, Bernie Sanders, and was pushing the hashtag campaign, claimed that its account was suspended "at the height of the #WhichHillary hashtag trend." The group said it received a notice that its account was accidentally locked because it looked like it was spamming. Signs of spamming that Twitter looks for include a user following or unfollowing a large amount of accounts, tweeting out a lot of links or being blocked by a large number of people.

"We will suspend accounts that violate our spam policies, with zero regard for their political ideology or message," the Twitter spokesman said.

A person who runs the Guerrilla Socialists account (who did not give a name, citing online harassment concerns) denied the account was used for spam, and claimed that beyond the algorithm, Twitter could take down a hashtag by suspending popular accounts. "I can't say for certain what Twitter did to my account," the person told HuffPost. "All I can say for certain is that I clearly did nothing wrong."

This isn't the first time activists have accused Twitter of censorship. The social network has been blamed for blocking hashtags related to Wikileaks, Occupy Wall Street and even Steve Jobs.

"Most of those who have looked at the issue are reassured that Twitter is not in fact censoring these topics," Tarleton Gillespie, a principal researcher at Microsoft Research New England, wrote in 2011. Gilad Lotan, chief data scientist at Betaworks, also wrote that year, "what we’re seeing is an outcome of a purely algorithmic mechanism, with its built in biases, hence not always intuitive or logical."

Twitter promotes itself as a free speech platform, and has faced criticism for not censoring users fast enough -- like those who make racist or sexist threats, or who support the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

With that said, "persistence of the charge of censorship is not surprising at all," Gillespie wrote in 2011. "Advocates of these political efforts want desperately for their topic to gain visibility."

Chloe Angyal   |   February 28, 2016   10:30 AM ET


Fresh off a runaway win in the South Carolina primary, Democrat Hillary Clinton turned her sights to a possible match-up with Republican front-runner Donald Trump in the Nov. 8 presidential election.


Without mentioning Trump's name, the former secretary of state made it clear on Saturday she was already thinking about taking on the real estate mogul whose recent string of victories made him the favorite to be the Republican nominee for the White House race.


Clinton shot down Trump's campaign slogan of "Make America Great Again" and his plans to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border.


"Despite what you hear, we don’t need to make America great again. America has never stopped being great," she told supporters in her victory speech in South Carolina, pausing for applause then adding, "but we do need to make America whole again."


"Instead of building walls, we need to be tearing down barriers," said Clinton, who would be America's first woman president.


Clinton said she was not taking anything for granted after crushing Democratic rival Bernie Sanders on Saturday by 48 points and likely setting herself up for a good "Super Tuesday" night on March 1, a key date in the nomination battle.


But if Clinton and Trump win big on Tuesday as polls suggest, the chance of a general election match up between them increases, adding another twist to a presidential campaign that has defied convention as U.S. voters vent frustration over economic uncertainty, illegal immigration and national security threats.


A Trump-Clinton election would embody the outsider vs. establishment battle in American politics. Trump has never been elected to public office, while the former first lady has been a player in Washington for decades.


South Carolina Democratic voter Teri Faust, 59, said Clinton would be better able to take on Trump than Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont.


"Bernie wouldn't stand a chance against him. Hillary is strong," said Faust, who met Clinton when she came to her church two years ago and again on Clinton's first campaign trip to the state when she held a roundtable for minority women business owners.


SANDERS DOUBTS


South Carolina was Clinton's third victory in the first four Democratic contests, raising more questions about whether democratic socialist Sanders will be able to expand his support beyond his base of predominantly white liberals.


Exit polls showed Clinton winning big in the state with almost every constituency. She won 9 of every 10 black voters, as well as women, men, urban, suburban, rural, very liberal and conservative voters. Sanders was ahead among voters between ages 18 and 29, and among white men.


When asked which candidate they thought “can win in November,” an overwhelming 79 percent said Clinton, with only 21 percent putting their faith in Sanders to defeat the eventual Republican nominee.


Sanders, who has energized the party's liberal wing and brought young people to the polls by attacking income inequality and Wall Street excess, needs a breakthrough win in a key state in the next few weeks to keep his hopes alive.


"He's got to pull off a surprise against Clinton soon or he won't have time to recover," said Phil Noble, a longtime Democratic activist in South Carolina.


He said Sanders' momentum in South Carolina "fell off the table" after Clinton's solid victory in Nevada on Feb. 20.


In the Republican race, Trump and rival Marco Rubio accelerated their political slugfest on Saturday during dueling appearances in Arkansas and Georgia.


"The majority of Republican voters do not want Donald Trump to be our nominee, and ... they are going to support whoever is left standing that is fighting against him to ensure that we do not nominate a con artist," Rubio told reporters in Georgia.


Trump, speaking in front of his private plane in Arkansas, belittled Rubio and accused the first-term U.S. senator from Florida of being fresh.


"I watched this lightweight Rubio, total lightweight, little mouth on him, 'bing, bing, bing' ... and his new attack is he calls me a con artist," Trump said. "The last thing I am is a con man."

Bernie Sanders Is a Faux Socialist and a 'Sheepdog'

Blake Fleetwood   |   February 25, 2016    7:42 PM ET

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Bernie Sanders is a false prophet who is neither genuinely socialist, nor genuinely independent, according an article recently published in the World Socialist Review.

Under the impact of the global economic crisis, the ruling elite has brought forward "left" bourgeois parties to shepherd mass opposition into harmless channels, according to Patrick Martin's article.

Most socialists can't wait for him to lose.

It's no secret. At the unusually well attended Socialism 2015 convention in Chicago last July, Sanders was called the first SINO --- Socialist in Name Only --- in American politics. Most of the participants saw the Sanders campaign as a trick to lure the disenfranchised middle class back into the establishment fold.

What is remarkable about Sanders is how vacuous his radicalism really is, Martin continues. Even in the context of American history, his socialism in domestic policy is far less radical than the Populist Movement, (the anti-Wall Street presidential campaigns of William Jennings Bryan), 100 years ago, and the Farmer-Laborites in 1936. In foreign policy Sanders is indistinguishable from Obama and Hillary Clinton and even attacks them from the right on trade with China, argues Martin.

Although he dresses up his international views in "revolutionary colors" -- giving lip service to Fidel Castro and the Sandinistas -- Sanders is most vilified by socialists for his pro-war and pro-imperialist positions. The When Sanders was asked last year about U.S. military intervention abroad, he replied that he was for "drones, all that and more." Sanders, they claim, bears a share of responsibility for over one million dead from imperialist wars in the Middle East over the last 25 years.

Sanders is a pseudo-left appendage of the ruling elite and its partner the Democratic Party. He is and has been a valuable asset for the "one percenters" by promoting the left cover illusion that the right-wing capitalist Democratic Party is somehow progressive and cares about the middle class.

The problem with Sanders, according to socialists, is that he will surely fail in capturing the nomination, as most political observers expect. And then will proceed to "sheepdog" his supporter's left-wing unhappiness back into the elitist Democratic Party, claims Bruce A. Dixon in the Black Agenda Report:

Bernie Sanders is this election's Democratic sheepdog. The sheepdog is a card the Democratic Party plays when there's no White House Democrat running for re-election. The sheepdog is a presidential candidate running ostensibly to the left of the establishment Democrat to whom the billionaires will award the nomination. Sheepdogs are herders,.... charged with herding activists and voters back into the Democratic fold who might otherwise drift leftward and outside of the Democratic Party, either staying home.

By this logic, the sheepdog candidate in 1968 was Eugene McCarthy. In 1984 and 1988, the candidate was Jesse Jackson. In 1992, it was California governor Jerry Brown. In 2000, the designated sheepdog was Al Sharpton, and in 2004, it was Sharpton and Howard Dean. In 2008, it was Dennis Kucinich. This year, it's Bernie Sanders.

Despite casting millions of votes for the likes of Eugene McCarthy, Jesse Jackson, Jerry Brown, Al Sharpton and other "sheepdogs," those leftish Democrat voters and their issues are always disregarded and ignored when other Democrats actually win.

The sheepdog's job is to divert the enthusiasm of activists early on, and when the sheepdog inevitably folds in the late spring or early summer, before November's election, there's no time left to win ballot access for alternative parties or candidates.

Mistrust of main street politics is an ingrained part of socialist beliefs. Even President Obama is fodder for their scorn and derision. A reason there are still tens of millions still uninsured is Obama's' giveaways to the drug companies, the hospitals and the doctors. Obama's militant use of the military, drones and foreign adventures are examples of his continued American imperialism. And Obama's bailout of the banks, responsible for the Great Recession, is viewed as a sign that he is beholden to the One Percenters.

In 2008, Obama raised more money from the Wall Street financial sector than any candidate in history.

This antipathy toward the Democratic Party goes back to the earliest days of the Socialist Party in America. Woodrow Wilson is seen as a traitor to his left wing base when he brought the U.S. into World War I, torpedoed labor reforms and viciously persecuted Socialist Party leader Eugene V. Debs. One hundred years ago, Wilson's repressive sedition laws forced Debs to run for president from a jail cell.

In his opening campaign speech as the party's 1904 presidential candidate, Eugene Debs said:

The Republican and Democratic parties, or, to be more exact, the Republican-Democratic party, represent the capitalist class.... They are the political wings of the capitalist system and such differences ... relate to spoils and not to principles.

As a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sanders does a disservice to Debs' memory by displaying a portrait of Deb in his office. But, Sanders is no Eugene Debs, says Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins, who ran for governor of New York State and won 184,419 votes in 2014.

Sanders is violating the first principle of socialist politics: class independence, writes Hawkins. A lesson socialists learned long ago when the business classes sold out the workers after the 1848 democratic revolutions that swept across Europe.

While often presenting himself as a "socialist" and making an appeal to deep anger over growing social inequality, Sanders has long functioned as a run-of-the-mill Democrat, caucusing with the party in Congress and backing the U.S. military war machine, says Hawkins. (See, "The right-wing political record of Bernie Sanders.")

There are of course plenty of socialist parties: Socialist Equality, Socialist Workers and World Workers, Socialist Party USA, Peace and Freedom, Socialism and Liberation, and the largest, the Green Party.

Some, like the Socialist Alternative, praise Sanders for bringing "socialism" to an audience of millions and treats the Sanders phenomenon as teaching moment. But the party fully anticipates that Sanders will drop out and expects to support the Green Party Presidential Candidate, Jill Stein. The Green party is sending volunteers to every Sanders rally in hopes of wooing potential supporters.

Vermont is strewn with dissatisfied socialists, denouncing Sanders for perceived sins that go back to the '70s, according to an article in the Washington Post by David Fahrenthold.

"When Sanders decided to run as a Democrat," that was the last straw, said Jim Ramey at the meeting of the International Socialist Organization's Burlington branch. "People on the left should not support him."

Leon Trotsky, the co-leader of the 1917 Revolution in Russia, explained in his 1920 book Terrorism and Communism, how the ruling classes manipulate the political system in a democracy.

The capitalist bourgeois calculates... At the right moment It will bring into existence opposition parties, which will disappear tomorrow, but which today accomplish their mission by affording the possibility of the lower middle class expressing their indignation without hurt therefrom for capitalism.'

One of Sanders' more heinous crimes is that he voted in 2001 for the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, the congressional resolution that was the basis of George Bush's invasion of Afghanistan and the launching of the "War on Terror," which is cited by Barack Obama as the legal justification for drone-missile assassinations. Moreover, they say, Sanders refused to vote against military appropriations bills, required to fund the ongoing war in Iraq which Sanders claimed to oppose

Sanders political career took off in 1981, when he abandoned socialist politics, but not the label, and ran as an Independent for mayor of Burlington, Vermont's largest city. Locals said that he hoped to avoid alienating the city's business interests.

Sanders was so successful in achieving a measure of establishment support, he even received the endorsement of the Burlington police union, which supported Reagan in the 1980 elections.

"He seemed to have some new ideas for some of this city's old problems, like juvenile delinquency," union president Joseph Crepeau explained.

After winning the mayoral election, Sanders went out of his way to reassure the city's business community.

"I'm not going to war with the city's financial and business community, and I know that there is little I can do from City Hall to accomplish my dreams for society," he said

Mark Leibovich wrote in the New York Times,

Sanders undertook ambitious downtown revitalization projects and courted evil capitalist entities known as 'businesses.' He balanced budgets. His administration sued the local cable franchise and won reduced rates for customers. He drew a minor-league baseball team to town, the Vermont Reds (named for the Cincinnatis, not the Commies).

Sanders also won praise for his auditing of the city's pension plan for the first time in three decades and initiated a $100 million commercial waterfront redevelopment project, opposed by tenants' organizations in the surrounding poor neighborhood. Under his leadership, Burlington's ailing economy boomed.

When forced to choose between Burlington business interests (and the jobs they created), and radical posturing, Sanders came down firmly on the side of jobs and economic growth. One former supporter, in a letter to socialistworker.org, describes how solidarity activists, the Burlington Peace Coalition, picketed the General Electric plant in Burlington that manufactured the Gatling-guns used in military helicopters against peasant guerrillas.

"I vividly remember Bernie standing arms-folded alongside the right-wing union officials from the factory and the Burlington Police Department as we were being arrested," the former supporter said. "He falsely insinuated that we were 'anti-worker,' and he refused to have any serious political dialogue with us activists."

To Sanders, socialism is nothing more than the pursuit of fairness in a country rigged by the rich, writes David Weigel and David Fehrenthold in the Washington Post.

"He's not a democratic socialist," said William Galston, an expert on domestic politics at the center right Brookings Institution. "He's a social democrat. Seriously."

So far, Sanders has gotten a free ride from the Republican attack machine. They figure he is a loser. But they may come to regret what they wish for. In matchups with the Republican candidates, Sanders beats Trump and Cruz. He ties Rubio according to Real Clear Politics.

Wonder what the socialist's position will be in the unlikely possibility that Sanders wins?

---

Write: jfleetwood@aol.com

Tweet: @blakefleet

Will The Adults On The Left Please Stand Up?

Kelly Wilz   |   February 23, 2016   10:56 AM ET

I am exhausted. I spent the entirety of yesterday with my mother in the emergency room until she was admitted to the hospital, had a breakdown when I got home because it's scary when a parent is in the hospital and you have that moment when you realize your mother isn't immortal. She's going to be ok, but I'm exhausted. Physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted.

I just wanted to take a nap when I got a message from a Clinton supporter friend of mine regarding BernieBros. And I almost lost it.

I made a mistake last week. I tried to engage someone in civil debate on Facebook. I know, I know. I should know better. I know the Internet is horrible. The comments section tends to be particularly horrible. In a piece I wrote recently, I was called a "Disgusting supremacist Nazi." So there's that.

So why did I engage? Because a very large piece of me still believes that people I look up to, people who I deeply respect might behave better than random trolls on Reddit.

Facebook hasn't yet figured out if I'm on Team Sanders or on Team Clinton, so I see posts from friends on both teams. And, idealistically, I assume that these people are rational. That they will engage me in civil conversation. Because they are not random trolls on Reddit. They are people deeply invested in the political realities we face-people who fight for the same things I fight for: gender equality, social justice, and a better and more just world. These are people who do good work every single day.

"Criticize Republicans all you want, but they know the importance of voting. Just look at how many times they've tried to make it more difficult."

So it saddens me to say that when I tried to engage with someone I deeply admire, the experience was so disgusting, it's made me never want to talk politics on social media again. And that's sad. Because I think we're better than that. I really do think we are.

When the media blew up last week at Killer Mike's statements at a Sanders rally, I saw someone who I deeply respected post something that was factually untrue. I don't do well with factually untrue. It was 10 p.m. at night. I almost didn't respond. But a part of me just couldn't let it go. The post read:

Happening right now....

"A uterus doesn't qualify you to be president of the United States," explains sexist pig Killer Mike at a Bernie Sanders rally.

Well, thanks for filling us in.

Some context: The full quote reads like this:

"When people tell us, hold on, wait a while, and that's what the other Democrat is telling you. Hold on Black Lives Matter, just wait a while. Hold on young people in this country, just wait a while. And then she get good, she have your own momma come to you, your momma sit down and say, 'Well, you're a woman.' But I talked to Jane Elliott a few weeks ago and Jane said, 'Michael, a uterus doesn't qualify you to be president of the United States. You have to be, you have to have policy that's reflective of social justice.' Paying women a fair wage is social justice. Making sure that minorities have jobs is social justice.

So, I tried to point out, politely, that Killer Mike didn't actually say this and that he was quoting Jane Elliot. Seriously. Was just trying to clarify that, since this person's post implied that these were Killer Mike's own words.

I also posted the quote in its entirety hoping that that would help add some nuance and context to his words. I also added my observation that there was a lot of ugliness on this thread (i.e. comments like "Where are their Berniebabes? Handcuffed and gagged in the closet??" or "Killer Mike is a disgusting piece of shit.")

Call me crazy, but those comments don't seem very helpful or productive.

The response I received:

"The clip of the speech is posted above. He said what he said."

To which I replied, "Right, but those weren't his own words."

Get ready for pummeling on by thread-goers/her followers:

"But he chose to repeat them."

"Any woman who reduces herself to defending this crap, is getting what she deserves for her vote."

"It's called Stockholm Syndrome."

To which I posted a tweet from reporter Michael King apologizing for mischaracterizing the quote and said:

Fair enough, but is calling Killer Mike a "disgusting piece of shit" helpful? Again you can advocate for your candidate without tearing those on the other side apart. Critique misogyny. I'm not saying you can't. But I worry about the tenor of comments made in both camps. Just calling for civility.

Reply: "Come to join the discussion if you wish. Don't come to lecture. You can leave now."

End scene. I took down my comments realizing this was going nowhere, and went to bed.

The reason I recount this incident is that I feel it is emblematic of the complete lack of civility that is tearing the party apart.

I write this because I feel, in the words of Jake Flores, that "I'm starting to think that this is the last season of America and the writers are just going nuts."

I write this not to defend Killer Mike. Or Sanders' comments on Killer Mike's comments. Or Gloria Steinem's comments. Or Madeleine Albright's.

I write this because I'm seeing people whom I admire and respect engaging in behavior that isn't tolerated in pre-school.

"If you truly care about this election, promote your candidate. We can do so without calling Secretary Clinton 'the devil incarnate'..."

I write this because I'm seeing people I deeply respect on Team Clinton and Team Sanders getting so entrenched in their candidates that they say things like "Unite my ass. I will not unite with anyone for some party." I've seen it on both sides now. Those claiming that they will sit out of this election if their candidate doesn't win the primary. And that scares me to death.

As Propane Jane points out (yes, I realize I'm quoting someone named Propane Jane), "Ever notice how Republican voters, no matter how far to the right and mad they are, never threaten to sit out an election?"

Right. Criticize Republicans all you want, but they know the importance of voting. Just look at how many times they've tried to make it more difficult.

As Robert Reich, a strong Sanders supporter has claimed:

The Democratic race in New Hampshire has become particularly heated, and tempers are running high. I've received a number of intemperate calls and emails from angry supporters of Hillary and of Bernie, each accusing the other camp of dishonest or disrespectful campaigning. Please remember that the differences dividing us are far less than the differences dividing us from the Republicans. At some point over the next six months Bernie supporters and Hillary supporters will have to unite if we are to defeat the right-wing zealots who pose a far greater danger to America and the world.

Right. Remember who is currently leading the polls on the right? Trump, Cruz, Rubio and Kasich. I have heard Clinton supporters compare Sanders to Trump and vice versa. If there is one thing I know for certain, Secretary Clinton is no Donald Trump. To imply so is patently false and insulting.

Allison Hantschel captured this sentiment quite well in this piece claiming:

There was a Democratic debate Thursday night or during the Super Bowl or whenever, and two candidates on stage -- a Jew and a woman, both the first of those groups to win major primaries -- were discussing their responses to systemic racism. Systemic. Racism. They were discussing institutionalized hatred of black people and the dehumanization of them by the government. Yes, later John Lewis and Bernie Sanders supporters snapped at each other on Twitter and yes, Hillary could not get away with having a prominent supporter who goes by 'Killer Mike' because of sexism. But at that debate OUR PARTY HAD A GODDAMN DISCUSSION ABOUT FIXING RACISM. The Republicans, at their debate last night, were fighting over who gets to hold the fire hoses and unleash the German Shepherds. And not for nothing, but a few weeks ago we had a sitting U.S. Goddamn President name of Barack Hussein Obama who spoke not tentatively, not neutrally, not cautiously but ADMIRINGLY of the courage of young gay men and women living their lives as full citizens of the United States. He PRAISED THEM. As role models not just to other gay people but to everybody, in front of a joint session of Congress, behind a fucking podium with a seal on it, to thunderous applause. Later, at the Republican debate, a bunch of guys talked about if we could put Don't Ask Don't Tell back into effect somehow and make everybody forget if Gunny Highway likes dudes and stack the Supreme Court with people who will go around forcibly divorcing every gay married couple on earth. The differences between Bernie and Hillary are real (see Kissinger, Henry and Dead, Why Isn't He Yet) and explanations of them are welcome and necessary. But the constant online whining about behavior of campaign supporters towards one another and the over-identification with the candidates personally* is starting to feel like therapy for the comfortable commentator class. Maybe we're forgetting that BEN CARSON DOESN'T KNOW WHAT THE DEBT CEILING IS.

I quote this piece in length because it serves as an important reminder of, once again, what this election is really about.

For those of you who "Feel the Bern," will you rally behind Secretary Clinton if she wins the nomination? And conversely, will Clinton supporters knock doors and fundraise for Senator Sanders if he wins?

Because while we're talking about Killer Mike or debating about what transpired at a Nevada caucus, children in Flint are dying.

While we're online berating each other, we forget that there are college students living out of their cars or in abandoned buildings because we lack social programs to help these homeless students.

While we tear each other apart fighting for our teams, women who become pregnant are self-terminating due to TRAP laws and abortion restrictions.

I could go on. But I'm exhausted. And I am privileged to be exhausted and to be able to write about these things because I'm not homeless. I'm not dying of lead poisoning or watching my children die in front of my eyes.

So please. I beg of my dear progressive friends: Stop. Please. Stop.

This ugliness will not help get our nominee elected. It further divides us. And if you truly care about this election, promote your candidate. Laud their efforts, background, and experience. Fight for your team. We can do so without calling Secretary Clinton "the devil incarnate" or a "stupid c**t." And we can do so without belittling each other in the process.

Chloe Angyal   |   February 21, 2016    2:44 PM ET

Before the New Hampshire primary earlier this month, it was assumed that the Nevada caucus was going to be a victory for Hillary Clinton. 

Where the Candidates Stand on Offshore Oil

David Helvarg   |   February 18, 2016    6:01 PM ET

Today's arguments being made by the Offshore Oil Industry about proposed new exploration and drilling leases off the Atlantic coast remind me of the Bill Murray movie 'Groundhog Day' where everything keeps repeating itself. Their insistence about safer new drilling technologies, tens of thousands of local jobs and how oil is compatible with environmental protection, tourism, fishing and other coastal activities sounds like the exact echo of the arguments we heard in California in the 1980s, the last time the Feds tried to open up large swaths of coastal waters to drilling. Of course these 'get rich quick at no cost' claims are as fallacious today as they were 30 years ago. Like the happy ending of Groundhog Day however the growing opposition to proposed lease sales up and down the Atlantic coast also reminds me of the popular uprising that defeated the Reagan Administration's attempt to drill off the West Coast. It's all about the love, of the existing beaches and coastlines where people live, work and play.

In just the last few weeks this new wave of opposition has grown even larger, from protests in New Jersey led by the state's two U.S. Senators, to the number of coastal towns and cities where resolutions against offshore drilling have passed (over 100). Following up on last May's Blue Vision Summit Hill Day where delegations from 24 states lobbied Congress against any new offshore drilling, the marine conservation group Oceana held a coastal summit and lobby in D.C. in January with several hundred East Coast activists, outspoken mayors and celebrities like Ted Danson and Kate Walsh. Last week was the Surfrider Foundation's turn, with a third round of citizen lobbying against oil drilling that included recreational ocean users and a surfboard signed by 1,000 beachfront businesses. Earlier this month Environment America, 350.Org and other groups presented the White House with a petition signed by 2 million people calling on the Obama administration to pull the plug on offshore drilling when it releases its latest iteration of it's 5-year leasing plan some time in March.

Still, the decision on whether it's finally time to end fossil fuel development in U.S. waters will likely be up to the next president. Will the 2016 candidates address offshore oil drilling? It seems that anti-drilling forces are making them do just that as reported in a January 21st McCatchy story on the upcoming South Carolina primary.
Based on this and other sources we've compiled the following updated list on where the remaining Presidential Candidates stand:

DEMOCRATS

Hillary Clinton: In a December interview said she's "very skeptical about the need or the desire for us to pursue offshore drilling off the coast of South Carolina'' or other Southeastern states.
At a campaign event on February 9 asked if she would "stop oil drilling in the Arctic, the Atlantic, and the Gulf?" she replied, "I've already said that I will stop it in the Arctic and the Atlantic."
• Clinton's position appears to have gotten firmer against offshore drilling (Grist reported in February)

Bernie Sanders: Sanders has said he would block all offshore oil and gas development.
• Sanders' position appears to have not changed

REPUBLICANS

Jeb Bush: Bush supports offshore drilling, but as Florida governor he fought to keep it off his state's coast. Then a few years later, he supported a bill that would open much more of the Gulf including off of Florida, while providing a 125-mile buffer. His record could cause problems on the campaign trail.
• Bush's position appears to have not changed

Dr. Ben Carson: Asked his position on new offshore drilling in the Arctic and off the Atlantic Dr. Carson responded:
"As we intelligently tap our own resources, we must doggedly pursue other energy sources."
• Carson's position is unclear

Ted Cruz: Cruz introduced recent legislation that would give "deference" to coastal states to determine whether to approve drilling. "He proposes to allow increased drilling," said a spokesman.
• Cruz's position appears to have not changed

John Kasich: He has said, "I'm definitely not opposed to it, but you've gotta do it the right way."
• Kasich's position appears to have not changed

Marco Rubio: Rubio would permit more offshore oil and gas drilling, which President Obama has already expanded.
• Rubio's position appears to have not changed

Donald Trump: Trump's campaign has not taken an official position on the issue. However, his previous statements indicate he would support expanded offshore drilling. Then in a Feb. 13 interview Trump said "It would be a little bit of a shame (to expand drilling closer to Florida), because there's so much fracking, and there's so much oil that we have now that we never thought possible. That's an issue I'd absolutely study and do the right thing."
• Trump's position appears to have changed slightly

For all the latest on the continuing battles to stop offshore oil drilling and related climate and pollution stories check out the Sea Party 2016 Facebook page with it's daily breaking news as Sea Party citizen activists aim to educate the public this election year to vote the coast and restore the blue in our red, white and blue.

Clinton vs. Sanders: The Gloves Come Off

David Edmund Moody   |   February 12, 2016    5:40 PM ET

Hillary beat Bernie on points in Thursday night's debate. She was sharper, more aggressive, more present. So Bernie lost this battle, but even so, he is winning the war.

Clinton used the most political of ploys to score points in the debate. Wrapping herself in the mantle of Obama is not a strategy for leadership. It is derivative and superficial. It puts the focus on personalities, not on a vision for the future.

Sanders remains true to his insistence on not scoring cheap debating points or running on negative images of his opponent. He was bloodied but not bowed.

The road to the nomination is long and arduous. Many more rounds remain to be fought. Much more will emerge that we cannot yet anticipate.

Clinton is the "I" candidate, the eternal resume. She is running on a platform named "Hillary". Sanders is the issues candidate, running on a platform named "Change the System". In the short run, Clinton can make herself look good, but in the long run, the issues will have their day.

So Bernie will keep up the good fight, as will his many supporters. He, and they, will find strength in adversity. The future is still up for grabs.

Scrambling for Delegates? Remember 3 Lessons From Scrabble for Politics

Christine Pelosi   |   February 10, 2016    7:22 PM ET

There comes a time in every cycle when we the people prepare to elect our president, only to peer into the rulebook and ask "what is this hodgepodge?" I love Scrabble and play it daily as a release from politics and law. As the race for Barack Obama's successor heats up, herewith three lessons from Scrabble for politics: knowledge, vision, and flexibility.

1. Knowledge: Learn the rules and stipulate to them ahead of time.

Scrabble has a lot of rule variations -- nine tiles, seven tiles, word scoring, bingos, time limits and a variety of potential dictionaries. Whatever they are, the key to a civil match is to stipulate before you begin.

Similarly, the Democratic and Republican party committees require states to present Convention Delegate Selection Plans and advertise them before the voting starts. Go to Democrats.org or RNC website and that of your state party to learn the charter, bylaws, call to convention and delegate rules. Not on election night -- now. Be assured that Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and all candidates for President of the United States have done so and understand the undertaking. Democratic delegates are pledged to a candidate. A candidate can release their delegates to vote for someone else. Sometimes those released delegates stick with their original candidate; more often they move -- as when Hillary Clinton released her delegates to Barack Obama in 2008 -- but the choice is theirs. That's in the rules and something the candidates know.

2. Vision: Build your board.

Scrabble has all sorts of words that you've never heard of except in, well, Scrabble. The more you learn, the better you will do. Experience counts.

Presidential campaigns have caucuses and primaries and superdelegates -- some like me elected to four years of service on the Democratic National Committee, others like elected officials who serve the four days of convention. Some caucuses have vote by mail; others do not. Each primary is a statewide vote conducted by a variety of voting methods, from hanging chads to algorithmic machines, with varying degrees of voter empowerment. Volunteers and staff must learn how people vote before calling into a state or a county within a state and urging people to vote.

When it comes to the superdelegates, as I said here on Huffington Post in 2008, our purpose is to serve the grassroots who elect us for four years. We are part of the 'board" -- a network of enthusiastic servant leaders who put in the time to engage and mobilize. We get "discovered" every four years, but actually we are there week in and week out advocating for democratic candidates and causes. Presidential candidates must earn our votes -- Hillary Clinton earned mine two years ago -- and activists should know that many of us have deep roots in our communities and fond relationships with volunteers on all sides of a primary. Other superdelegates are elected officials -- designed to have convention votes so that our party leaders are running with not from the nominee. You can say that having us at the convention is unfair to your candidate because you prefer we did not have a role in the party -- but do not presume that we would "deny" the very democracy to which we dedicate our public service.

3. Flexibility: Give up the bingo -- be nimble, creative and opportunistic.

Scrabblers love going for the BINGO -- using all our tiles and getting extra points. Good players know the rules, build their board, can identify a potential bingo -- but must be ready to give it up if the letters don't come n.

Likewise, presidential campaigns have to know when to give up the bingo and be "nimble, creative, and opportunistic" in the words of the late Larry Scanlon, AFSCME's political director with whom I ran Congressional Candidate boot camps for many years. Larry's point was that campaigns have to adjust. Sometimes you're winning big in a state; other times you're going to have to hold on til the next round. With several caucuses and primaries coming fast and furious in March 2016, there will be plenty of places where campaigns have to give up the bingo and stretch themselves.

Of course Scrabble is a game and presidential politics is real life -- all the more reason for activists to engage with knowledge, vision, and flexibility to make sure that we've brought our best. We are always looking to make the process more fair -- so activism beyond the convention to change the rules is also essential ion keeping the process honest and accessible. Our ultimate goal is to elect a person who can bring the party together and the country forward toward a more perfect union. If we engage with the higher goals in mind, we can reach higher ground together.

Sorting Out Fact From Fiction About Hillary's Iraq War Vote

Earl Ofari Hutchinson   |   February 9, 2016    4:43 PM ET

The then Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama, in 2008 hammered her for it. 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders repeatedly hammers her for it. Even some have held up Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump opposition to the Iraq war to hammer her for it. The "it" is then New York Senator Hillary Clinton's vote for the 2002 Iraq War resolution. That's the one issue above all others that has driven Bernie Sanders' supporters, and even some liberal Democrats, to rail at Clinton as a hopelessly, hardened war hawk, and vow not to vote for her if she gets the nomination.

But Clinton's record on the resolution and the Iraq war is stuffed with as much fiction as fact. Start with the resolution. It did not explicitly call for waging war against Iraq. It demanded that Saddam Hussein permit UN inspectors back into Iraq to determine whether he was indeed ramping up his alleged stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. It gave a hard deadline for him to agree to inspection and failing that authorized military action. It hedged the war call further by emphasizing that the U.S. must continue to push for "further diplomatic or other peaceful means" to get Hussein to comply. It hedged things further by mandating that Bush before waging war tell Congress why a military assault was necessary.

Clinton didn't take Bush's statements on Iraq totally at face value. Bush national security advisor Condoleezza Rice swore to her before she voted that the resolution was intended to get inspections going again and not just as a cover to start a war.

We now know that Bush shamelessly lied about the weapons, and Hussein's aim to make and use them. However, though it was widely suspected that it was all a tissue of lies, given Hussein's hideous and bloody record of invasion, intimidation, and gross human rights violations, there was just enough doubt to make it seem that Hussein was a real threat to blow up the region. This was enough to sell the resolution to 28 other Senate Democrats who along with Clinton voted for it.

One of those Democrats could well have been the Democrat who progressives universally hail for having the guts to stand up to the Bush war machine, and parlayed that adulation into a big hit piece on Clinton during the 2008 campaign. That Democrat is, of course, President Obama. Things, though, were not as cut and dry as the adulation for his opposition makes it seem. He did oppose the war. But he did it not as a sitting senator but as a member of the Illinois state legislature. When he was asked what he might have done if he had been in the Senate then, he said he wasn't totally sure and added that he wasn't "privy" to Senate intelligence reports. He emphasized that as an outsider looking in Bush didn't make the case for a possible war. That's a far cry from an unabashed ringing trounce of Bush's war declaration if he had been a Senator then.

Once Obama was in the Senate it was a different story. Both he and Clinton did not press Bush to scale down the war effort, threaten to cut off funds, or demand a deadline or even a timetable for withdrawal. In fact, in 2004 Obama said that he thought maybe even more troops should be sent in to insure stability. Two years later both he and Clinton opposed an amendment by then Senator John Kerry to start the troop withdrawal from the country.

Clinton and Obama voted and acted no different than legions of other Democratic senators who once they backed the Iraq war resolution said or did virtually nothing to stop the death machine once it started rolling and kept rolling during the subsequent years. In time that would change, and as Bush sunk in the polls, and the outrage over the war grew war, the Democrats that caved to Bush on the war became tigers in knocking him and the war.

By then Clinton began to openly express doubt about where the war was going and why we were there. She demanded timetables to get out and told supporters and critics that she never intended to vote for a war but for inspections, negotiations and political pressure on Hussein. She pulled no punches in lambasting the Bush administration for "misusing" the resolution to wage war. The fact then is that Clinton voted for the Iraq war resolution based on distortions, deceptions and flat out lies. The fiction is that she voted for a full-blown military assault on Iraq. This makes Clinton at best and worst a willing, naïve and misinformed accomplice along with many other Democrats to Bush's hideous deception on Iraq. This does not make her an Iraq war hawk. But that's the noisy refrain she'll have to endlessly hear through the campaign.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His latest book is Trump and the GOP: Race Baiting to the White House (Amazon Kindle) He is a frequent MSNBC contributor. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network

Press Mute For Gun Control In New Hampshire

Nora Dunn   |   February 9, 2016    4:36 PM ET

Why are Iowa and New Hampshire litmus tests for the nomination? Neither of these states represents the diversity of America, nor shares many of the concerns of states with big urban centers.

People in New Hampshire are not only lining up at the polls, they are lining up to learn how too fire guns. More women are taking gun classes in New Hampshire than ever before. Of course, they are learning to shoot at targets and that's different than shooting at people in a high stress situation, but they are learning. A poster of President Obama is posted at many gun ranges, as he is the enemy of the Second Amendment. The people of New Hampshire who are taking up guns say the reasons are drug violence and terrorism.

No one in Paris could have defended themselves against the recent terrorist attack there with a gun. In over 33 years no civilian has stopped a terrorist attack with a gun, including the one in San Bernardino. Now, maybe we should all openly carry assault weapons at the mall. I don't know. Maybe people would be more polite to each other. But the facts are that states with conceal and carry and openly carry gun laws have more incidents of gun violence during road rage and other public incidents of rage, and more murders committed with guns than those that don't. When people have guns, they tend to use them.

Those facts, however, are ignored. Facts are our enemy.

If you have a gun in your home because you want to protect yourself, you need to have it loaded and close. That means next to your bed which means it's next to your brain. Sweet dreams? Maybe for some folks, especially in a rural community where the police can't get to you in a few minutes, or even in a city where often there aren't as many officers as needed. But you have to surprise a burglar with your gun. You have to wake up, get your gun in the dark, calm yourself, and "take out" the intruder. Even national news people are using the term "take out" now for the word kill, by the way. Gun lingo is cool.

States like New Hampshire and Iowa are rural, nature type states, and people hunt and many homes are isolated. The same can be said for Vermont and Maine. Nobody, even the arch enemy of gun lovers, President Obama, has suggested they not be allowed weapons in their homes. But federal gun control legislation is meant to make the nation safer, so should the states who don't have big cities and have less people be spoilers for the rest of us? And Newton, Connecticut and Charleston, South Carolina are not big cities. Why does anyone need an assault style weapon or a cache of magazines in their basement, the kind that make many bullets fly in seconds?

Although Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly campaigned for gun legislation on Hilary's behalf in Iowa, and they have endorsed her for president, in New Hampshire gun legislation is not high on any candidate's list. I think many democrats there will vote for Sen Sanders because he has been accused of being soft on guns and they like that. His recent votes reflect perhaps a different view than his past votes reveal. He was not on the side of what I think were important bills that could have stemmed the tide of guns back when that was possible. In the late 90's Sanders voted against mandatory background checks at gun shows, against the trigger lock amendment, and against The Brady Bill twice. He voted for the firearms manufacturer protections bill in 2005. He voted to allow loaded guns in national parks. Why aren't these votes haunting him, while Hilary's hedge-her-bet vote on Iraq is her albatross? Although he has voted for recent bills that regulate guns, and he voted for President Clinton's ban on assault weapons in 1994, where is our bill to ban assault weapons now?

Hilary Clinton, with far more passionate statements than Sanders regarding guns, has gone all but silent in her gun rhetoric in New Hampshire.

This is a fear driven electorate, and fear is not always our enemy. I keep in touch with my fear and I respect it, but I know where it's coming from. Mostly common sense. Do I stroll alone on a deserted urban beach at night? No. Would I do that on a Caribbean Island? No again. Because I fear I might get raped or mugged or murdered. And I wouldn't enjoy strolling with a loaded magnum at the ready. That ruins the ambiance for me. I used to hike up in the hills in California with my dogs, who might protect me, but I also carried pepper spray and I mostly hiked when the trails were populated with other hikers and their dogs. I don't walk down deserted city streets either. My mother told me that if I found myself walking where there was no sidewalk traffic to keep a lit cigarette in my hand. Burning a would be predator would at least give me the chance to run and scream. She never advocated that I actually smoke the cigarette.

What gun advocates don't understand, I think, is themselves. Statistics show that most people who get shot by a gun get shot by accident, and that people are more likely to use a gun against themselves or a spouse than an intruder. These are facts. When schoolmarm Jean Harris went to confront her lover, Scarsdale Diet author, Herman Tarnower, she took her pistol. She testified later that she did not intent to kill him, but rather confront him. In her state of rage, however, she murdered her lover and the mistress he was cheating on her with. If only she had confronted him unarmed she wouldn't have spent her life in prison. I believe she honestly thought she couldn't kill, and she believed that even while she was killing.

Guns, and only guns, can put a bullet in a brain. What they fire turns insults hurled during a passionate rage into something we can't take back. None of us believe we can pull the trigger, and those of us who haven't done it don't know how easy it is.

We have a right to bear arms and that's a fact. The Constitution says we can a form militia to defend against a tyrannical government, but the other fact is that civilian gun possession has local and federal governments out-armed by nearly 80%. Nothing in the constitution says we can bear cannons and stock cannonballs in our cellars, so why can we now stock automatic magazines for assault weapons? The Constitution doesn't specify what kind of weapons should be available to citizens.

But all this talk seems as old as Sanders and Clinton combined. It's history until the next mass killing and we will then hear more talk. Gun violence is not a key issue New Hampshire, a litmus test state. Maybe if deer could vote there'd be a discussion. The focus instead is on who is the real progressive. Trump called Cruz a pussy and Christy claimed he will kick Clinton in her "rear end". Can Christy really lift his leg that high? We are in the middle of primary season. Americans are strong in the area of fear, but weak in the area of facts and memory. In fact, the NRA lobby has been able to craft laws that cut spending on gun research, so facts will go out with our lead-laden bathwater. And who will remember the poisoning of Flint anyway, apart from the people who were poisoned?

Money Matters (in Presidential Elections)

Kirby Goidel   |   February 8, 2016    4:38 PM ET

One of the observations currently being made about the 2016 presidential elections involves the ineffectiveness of money as a campaign resource. Anecdotally, there appears to be good reason for such skepticism. Raising large sums in mostly small increments, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has raised over $74 million, enough money to compete with the Clinton fundraising machine. Sanders has been successful enough raising money that he has opted out of the public financing system that, at least in theory, he supports. Perhaps ironically, Sanders fundraising success against Clinton might be the best argument against his own campaign platform. If the campaign finance system is broken by Wall Street influence, how has a self-described "democratic socialist" raised more money in individual contributions than any single candidate in the Republican field, and more small donor contributions than any candidate in history?
2016-02-08-1454966397-4506335-Money12.png

On the other side of the aisle, Jeb Bush and his affiliated Super PACs have raised over $150 million to barely register as a blip in the national polls or in the Iowa caucuses. There may be previous candidates who have won fewer votes with more resources and organizational support, but it is hard to think of them. While it is possible that Jeb will emerge Lazarus-like in New Hampshire or South Carolina or beyond, it seems increasingly unlikely. In this campaign cycle, voters don't seem inclined to buy what he is selling no matter how hard he is peddling it. The lesson for campaign finance is relatively straightforward, money can't fix a weak campaign or a struggling candidate.

For at least some observers of the campaign, such anecdotes serve as evidence that money matters far less than we imagine. The campaign so far, however, is fairly consistent with what we understand about the effects of money on the electoral process. That is, money is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for winning an election. Candidates who can't raise money necessarily lose, but raising (or spending) the most money is no guarantee of victory. How the money is spent, the effectiveness of candidate messaging, and the overall political mood set boundaries around the effectiveness of campaign spending in any given electoral context. From the standpoint of democratic theory, this is mostly (though not entirely) good news: Voters aren't malleable balls of clay who can easily be molded by candidates with unlimited resources.

At the same time, however, it is a mistake to underestimate the importance of money in the political process. Money matters in all sorts of ways, some obvious, some more subtle, but its effects are pervasive and far-reaching. Here, we can draw several conclusions from the 2016 presidential race.

1. Candidates who drop out of an election typically do so because their funding sources dry up. Funding sources dry up when donors start to believe the chances of victory are near zero. Unable to show any momentum during the 2016 presidential campaign, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, and Martin O'Malley saw their financial support dwindle and were subsequently forced out of the race. Other candidates, especially candidates with little cash on hand, will follow after New Hampshire (February 9) and South Carolina (February 20). Jeb Bush has raised enough money to hang around for a while, but if he looks increasingly unlikely his financial supporters will migrate to other candidates.

2016-02-08-1454966455-7314247-Money22.png

There is another less visible effect of money on candidates. Candidates who aren't perceived as viable are typically never able to raise enough money to mount a credible campaign. This is particularly important in races below the presidential level where candidates challenging incumbent office-holders find it difficult to raise enough money to mount a competitive campaign. If we think of campaign finance as market-based, it is a decidedly risk-averse, preferring likely winners and incumbents over challengers.

2. Thanks to Citizen's United and the ease of creating and funding Super PACs, more candidates cannot only run for president but can stay in the race much longer. Traditional candidate campaign committees face significant limits in the amount of money they can raise from individuals, parties, and groups. Individual contributions to campaign committees, for example, are limited to $2,700 per cycle. Because Super PACs can accept unlimited contributions, they can be funded by a handful of large donors.

One unintended consequence is that more candidates are running and running longer this election cycle because they can rely on designated Super PACs to support their campaigns. The free-for-all for the Republican nomination is at least partly the result of the availability of campaign funding for a diverse range of candidates - many outside the mainstream of the Republican Party. To date, however, we have yet to see much evidence that being able to stick around has helped struggling candidates become more competitive. Where the Super PAC is primarily the financial tool of a single benefactor (or a limited number of benefactors), the money dries up slowly, allowing candidates to continue to spend money on flailing campaigns. The reality is that much Super PAC spending is wasted on candidates who can't (or won't) win.

3. The exponential growth of campaign spending over the past several election cycles has led some observers to worry that billionaires would buy the 2016 elections. This turned out to be wrong not because the billionaires weren't trying but because they preferred different candidates. The idea that billionaires, united in their preferences, could control election outcomes by controlling the flow of money to candidates only works if they mostly agree on who the best candidates are and the direction of the country. At least in 2016, there is little or no agreement among the donor class about the "best" candidates.

4. Super PACs are often confused with "dark money" groups that hide the identity of major donors. There is good reason for the confusion. While Super PACs must disclose their donors, donations can be filtered through 501(c)(4) which hide the identity of contributors In most cases, however, Super PACs can easily to be tied to a single large contributor or a limited number of contributors. These donors contribute directly to the Super PAC and their contributions are disclosed because they want their influence to be recognized. If you want to be a king-maker or want to reap later policy benefits, you typically don't hide the shadows.

5. Small dollar contributions are not necessarily more democratic or better for the political system. Perhaps the biggest surprise this electoral cycle has been the fundraising success of democratic socialist Bernie Sanders who raked in a record number of small contributions (>$200). While the overall amounts are staggering, Sanders' success in raising small contributions reflects one of the truisms about campaign fundraising. Ideological and issue-based candidates tend to attract small individual contributions. The modern conservative movement, for example, was built on small contributions solicited through innovative uses of direct mail fundraising during the 1970s and 1980s.

While the research on this point is not entirely conclusive, there is significant evidence that money from small contributions contributes to political polarization. As Florida Democratic Representative Chris Murphy (as quoted by Ezra Klein) observed: "We have to admit that everybody who is giving is giving for a reason. Some of them are your friends and family and they care about you. But most of the time they care about an issue, whether they're a corporation or an individual. We draw these arbitrary lines, but corporations want things from the government, and so do individuals." If large contributions are corrupting, Klein concludes, small contributions are polarizing because small donors value partisanship.

6. Within this context, only a small percentage of Americans contribute any money in any campaign cycle. According to the American National Election Studies (ANES), only 12 percent of Americans contributed to a campaign during 2012. Campaign contributors are notably older, wealthier, and better educated than the general population. An even small percent (0.23 percent according to Open Secrets) contribute $200 or more. Campaign contributors - small or large - are not the huddled masses. They aren't even the median voter. While online fundraising makes raising small contributions easier, it by no means changes this basic reality. Contributors do not resemble the great majority of Americans who do not contribute to political campaigns.

7. Candidates don't have Super PACs. By definition, Super PACs may align with candidates but are officially run independently from the campaign. This means the PACs associated with various candidates are not supposed to coordinate expenditures though enforcement is minimal and the lines are thin and blurred. When Bernie Sanders says he doesn't have a Super PAC what he really means is that no one has organized a Super PAC specifically with the goal of electing him president. There are Super PACs, however, spending on his behalf. National Nurses United has spent over $500,000 on his behalf, and Communication Workers of America has agreed to "use all legal and possible resources to get him elected."

One might argue union-based Super PACs are less concerning from a perspective of democratic theory but they are Super PACs nonetheless. More generally, political scientists have long argued that money in politics is like water flowing downhill, it will find a way into the political system. A candidate like Sanders might reject Super PACs but that doesn't mean he can control the flow of money supporting (or opposing) him during this campaign.

If you want to get rid of Super PACs, the simplest mechanism for doing so may be by removing the contribution limits to campaign committees. That won't change the influence of money over the political process but it would assure that the money is directed through, rather than around, candidate campaign committees.

Overall, campaign finance continues to play a critical, if not defining, role in the 2016 presidential campaign. It affects not only who decides to run, it also affects their ability to compete in early primaries and their ability to stay in the race. As in the corporate world, unlimited campaign spending can't make voters buy into candidates or ideas they don't want, but no candidate can compete without continuing and sustained financial support. Candidates like Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump may challenge the system by raising money in smaller increments or by self-financing much of their campaigns, but they aren't altering the basic equation of American politics whereby money is a critical ingredient to electoral success. Money might not buy elections but without it, you aren't even in the running.

A Feminist's Guide To Critiquing Hillary Clinton

Kelly Wilz   |   February 8, 2016    3:52 PM ET

Fair warning: This blog is not going to be angry. It will not be written in all caps. There will be no vulgarity. And it probably won't go viral. I don't care.

What I do care about is the fact I've read over 70-plus articles in the past two weeks alone discussing the 2016 election and what I see is a total lack of nuance and a lot of critiques that overgeneralize or underplay the very real role gender plays when people talk about Clinton and/or any other women who dare to step into positions that for so long have only been held by men.

What I do care about is how on my Facebook feed and elsewhere, I see well-meaning folks called out as sexist jerks for simply offering legitimate critiques of Clinton and what a Clinton presidency might look like.

I like nuance. I like messy. I don't like soundbites and simplicity.

So, let's play the nuance game.

For folks who love Clinton, realize that not every critique poised against her is based in sexism. For those who love Sanders, realize that sexism is very alive in 2016, and that you can love your candidate and embrace the reality that politicking while female is still an incredibly difficult thing to do. Imagine that. Both/and. For those who haven't yet made up their minds, or don't fall into either of these categories, this is for you, too.

"For folks who love Clinton, realize that not every critique poised against her is based in sexism."

So, here is my attempt to create a list of productive ways to critique Hillary Clinton without being a sexist jerk.

Do not talk about her voice. Really. Just don't.

Last week (and pretty much throughout Clinton's existence), we've seen pundits and others criticize her shrillness, her voice, and her "masculine" speaking style. Soraya Chemaly argues, "Anger in a man doesn't make the world wonder out loud if his hormones have taken over his brain and rendered him an incoherent idiot who can't be trusted with Important Things. How many words for 'angry' men are there? Ones that have the powerful and controlling cultural resonance of yelling, and shouting, b-tch, nag? Or, yep, shrill."

Karlyn Kohrs Campbell wrote an incredibly thoughtful piece discussing how our culture has negatively responded to Clinton's inability to fit within the parameters set in terms of how one should act and speak as a woman in the political sphere. She says:

[Clinton] symbolizes the problems of public women writ large, the continuing demand that women who play public roles or function in the public sphere discursively enact their femininity, and that women who do not or who do so to only a limited degree, women whose training and personal history fit them for the roles of rhetor, lawyer, expert, and advocate, roles that are gender coded masculine, will arouse the intensely hostile responses that seem so baffling.

Overall, what Campbell is arguing is that women in the political sphere, in order to be taken seriously, must enact just the right amount of femininity and masculinity, and that Clinton's failure to be "appropriately feminine" has hindered her for decades.

She continues to thoughtfully lay out a "masculine" and "feminine" rhetorical style of speaking and discusses what that sounds like:

In rhetorical terms, performing or enacting femininity has meant adopting a personal or self-disclosing tone (signifying nurturance, intimacy, and domesticity) and assuming a feminine persona, e.g., mother, or an ungendered persona, e.g., mediator or prophet, while speaking. It has meant preferring anecdotal evidence (reflecting women's experiential learning in contrast to men's expertise), developing ideas inductively (so the audience thinks that it, not this presumptuous woman, drew the conclusions), and appropriating strategies associated with women -- such as domestic metaphors, emotional appeals to motherhood, and the like -- and avoiding such 'macho' strategies as tough language, confrontation or direct refutation, and any appearance of debating one's opponents. Note, however, that feminine style does not preclude substantive depth and argumentative cogency.

Presidents Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton use/used a "feminine" rhetorical style of speaking-something which men can do and not be criticized for. Reagan was the great communicator. Both Clinton and Obama have been called some of the greatest orators in American history.

Hillary Clinton cannot "perform" femininity and her inability to play into this script Campbell argues reveals *our deficiencies*-not Clinton's. Campbell states:

Our failure to appreciate the highly developed argumentative skills of an expert advocate, when the advocate is female, reveals our deficiencies, not hers. Legislation attendant on the second wave of feminism opened doors for able women who seek to exercise their skills in all areas of life, including the formation of public policy. If we reject all of those who lack the feminizing skills of Elizabeth Dole, we shall deprive ourselves of a vast array of talent.

Please don't talk about her "likeability."

As with the sound of her voice and her rhetorical speaking style, her "likeability" should have nothing to do with whether or not she would make a qualified president. Yes, I realize all candidates have to somewhat pass the likeability test, but for Clinton, because of the years long Hillary hating stemming from her time as first lady, this issue is in fact gendered, and to criticize her for not being likable reeks of sexism.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. argues, "Hillary hating has become one of those national past times that unite the elite and the lumpen." Gary Wills notes:

Hillary Hate is a large-scale psychic phenomenon. At the Republican convention there was a dismemberment doll on sale. For twenty dollars you could buy a rag-doll Hillary with arms and legs made to tear off and throw on the floor. ... Talk shows are full of speculation about Hillary's purported lesbianism and drug use. Fine conspiratorial reasoning sifts whether she was Vince Foster's mistress or murderer or both. The Don Imus show plays a version of the song 'The Lady is a Tramp' with new lyrics about the way the lady 'fornicates' and 'menstruates' and 'urinates,' concluding, 'That's why the First Lady is a tramp.'

As Nico Lang points out:

She was a working woman and full political partner with (gasp) feminist tendencies. Among would-be first ladies in the early 1990s, these were exotic qualities. Clinton has continued to occupy that same space for the better part of three decades now, a one-woman culture war who plays the political game the same way the men around her do. But unlike those men, Clinton is chided for being 'disingenuous' and a 'political insider.' Everyone else just gets to do their job. There are real reasons to have reservations about a Clinton presidency -- including her oft-cited ties to Wall Street and her hawkish foreign policy -- but how often are they the central force of the criticism lodged against her campaign? In an August poll, Quinnipac found that while political respondents felt that Hillary Clinton was 'strong' and a candidate with 'experience,' the words they most associated with her are 'liar,' 'dishonest,' and 'untrustworthy.' These designations appear to be motivated by her Emailgate scandal and the ongoing questions about Benghazi -- but none of the myriad investigations into either have turned up anything close to a smoking gun.
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Rebecca Traister also notes:

Recall the days following the 2008 Iowa caucus, when the media took advantage of Clinton's defeat to let loose with their resentment and animosity toward her. That was when conservative Marc Rudov told Fox News that Clinton lost because 'When Barack Obama speaks, men hear 'Take off for the future!' When Hillary Clinton speaks, men hear 'Take out the garbage!' It was in the days after Iowa that Clinton infamously got asked about how voters believed her to be 'the most experienced and the most electable' candidate but 'are hesitating on the likability issue.' In late January, columnist Mike Barnicle told a laughing all-male panel on Morning Joe that Clinton's challenge was that she looks 'like everyone's first wife standing outside of probate court.'" In Diana B. Carlin and Kelly L. Winfrey's analysis of the various ways Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton were portrayed during the 2008 campaign, they note, "Women who exhibited too many masculine traits are often ridiculed and lose trust because they are going against type or play into male political stereotypes that voters are rejecting.

More recently, Sady Doyle argues that:

This plays out on the level of personal expression, too: Women are supposedly over-emotional, whereas men make stern, logical, intelligent judgments. So, if Hillary raises her voice, gets angry, cries, or (apparently) even makes a sarcastic joke at a man's expense, she will be seen as bitchy, crazy, cruel and dangerous. (Remember the 'NO WONDER BILL'S AFRAID' headlines after she raised her voice at a Benghazi hearing; remember the mass freak-out over her 'emotional meltdown' when someone thought she might be crying during a concession speech.) She absolutely cannot express negative emotion in public. But people have emotions, and women are supposed to have more of them than men, so if Hillary avoids them - if she speaks strictly in calm, logical, detached terms, to avoid being seen as crazy - we find her 'cold,' call her 'robotic' and 'calculating,' and wonder why she doesn't express her 'feminine side.' Again, she's going to be faulted for feminine weakness or lack of femininity, and both are damaging. Okay, so she can never be sad, angry, or impatient. That's not a ban on all emotion, right? You'd think the one clear path to avoiding the 'bitchy' or 'cold' descriptors would be to put on a happy face, and admit to emotions only when they are positive. You'd think that, and you'd be wrong: It turns out, people hate it when Hillary Clinton smiles or laughs in public. Hillary Clinton's laugh gets played in attack ads; it has routinely been called 'a cackle' (like a witch, right? Because she's old, and female, like a witch); frozen stills of Hillary laughing are routinely used to make her look 'crazy' in conservative media. She can't be sad or angry, but she also can't be happy or amused, and she also can't refrain from expressing any of those emotions. There is literally no way out of this one. Anything she does is wrong.

Given these constraints, Doyle argues it is impossible for Clinton to be likeable.

Look at how she's tried to address this issue. Dancing like a fool, talking about fashion, laughing more. What has it gotten her? Nothing but backlash.

Dave Holmes writes in Esquire, "You're not fun. Stop trying to pretend you're fun." The Onion writes an entire faux op-ed from Clinton entitled "I am Fun" painting her attempt at being "fun" as insincere and manufactured.

"I don't care if my president knows how to dance or even knows how to dress well. And you shouldn't either."

In the eyes of the American public, Hillary Clinton will never be fun. Or likeable. Or someone you'd want to have a beer with. And it shouldn't matter. Period. So quit it with the likeability stuff, already. It's stupid and petty. I don't care if my president knows how to dance or even knows how to dress well. And you shouldn't either.

Do criticize her on substantive issues.

As Kevin Young and Diana C. Sierra Becerra argue, "Clinton is the embodiment of corporate feminism." In their piece, they cite many areas where Clinton could have been and could still be a better advocate for women's rights. It's a fair critique but one that falls under the radar when we're so concerned with her voice, appearance, and dance skills.

Know your history, do some research and when criticizing, be fair.

One of the claims I often hear as to why some don't trust Clinton, or why some feel she's untrustworthy is because she sat on the board of Walmart. Ok. But let's dig a little deeper.

Ann Klefstad notes:

Not to take anything away from Bernie and Jane, but think what an advantage this is: to build a career in a location of your choosing, with the strong support of a highly qualified and intelligent person who is unconditionally loyal to you. This was also Bill Clinton's situation  --  after Yale, finding Hillary, heading home to Arkansas, and building a brilliant career in politics. But hey  --  what about Hillary? After getting a law degree from Yale (an all-male institution a few years previously) she meets Bill. She dumps her career as a congressional aide to move to Arkansas with Bill. I can imagine her dilemma.

This was the 1970s. If she wanted to be with Bill, she would be riding on the ship he was captain of. There were consequences to that. She would be a partner in creating a political career that would accomplish many of the goals she wanted to accomplish. Bill very much admired her superb intellect and political skills as well. So they embarked.

They're in Arkansas. Vermont politics have a pretty clean record. Arkansas? Not so much. You do make your own choices, but the context you're in, well, it matters. The Arkansas economy was in the toilet. The only bright star was the Walton family and Walmart, which was on track to become the biggest retailer in the world. They provided (in Arkansas) an expanding number of well-paid jobs. Bill was governor.

Should Hillary have dumped his political career for a chance to spit in Sam Walton's eye? Well, that wasn't going to happen. She sat on the Walmart board and did what she could to both ensure the prosperity of the state of which her husband was governor and to do the right thing. She has almost always chosen the path (sometimes not the one you'd pick -- ) that would enable her to accomplish some good actions, rather than the pure path that tends to lead to inaction, or to exile from the power than enables you to make change.

Still don't like the fact she sat on the board? Fine. Don't like her stances on foreign policy? Totally ok. But understand the choices Clinton made in the context in which she lived-not in a vacuum. This goes for all of her political choices. Never assume anything about any candidate without doing a little research first. It's amazing how much you can find out on this magical thing called the interwebs.

Don't assume critiques against Clinton are automatically rooted in sexism.

And when calling out someone for critiquing Clinton, don't assume they, are in fact, sexist either. Take the #BernieBro label, for example. According to Glenn Greenwald:

Have pro-Clinton journalists and pundits been subjected to some vile, abusive, and misogynistic rhetoric from random, anonymous internet supporters of Sanders who are angry over their Clinton support? Of course they have. Does that reflect in any way on the Sanders campaign or which candidate should win the Democratic primary? Of course it does not. The reason pro-Clinton journalists are targeted with vile abuse online has nothing specifically to do with the Sanders campaign or its supporters. It has everything to do with the internet.

There are literally no polarizing views one can advocate online -- including criticizing Democratic Party leaders such as Clinton or Barack Obama -- that will not subject one to a torrent of intense anger and vile abuse. It's not remotely unique to supporting Hillary Clinton: Ask Megyn Kelly about that, or the Sanders-supporting Susan Sarandon and Cornel West, or anyone with a Twitter account or blog. I've seen online TV and film critics get hauled before vicious internet mobs for expressing unpopular views about a TV program or a movie.

Amanda Hess pushes further arguing:

...as soon as the Bernie Bro materialized, the conversation around it deteriorated. As the meme gained momentum, some popularizers stopped bothering to marshal any kind of evidence that Sanders supporters were sexist ... This is a familiar online phenomenon. Just as mansplaining 'morphed from a useful descriptor of a real problem in contemporary gender dynamics to an increasingly vague catchall expression,' as Salon's Benjamin Hart put it in 2014, the Bernie Bro argument has been stretched beyond recognition by both its champions and its critics. What began as a necessary critique of leftist sexism has been replaced by a pair of straw men waving their arms in the wind.

If the label applies, absolutely use it. Call out sexism and misogyny -- especially if it's coming from someone who claims to be progressive. However, I worry the label is being thrown around loosely and being applied to many well-meaning, non-sexist male critics of Clinton. And that only silences debate. I don't want anyone to feel as though they cannot legitimately critique Clinton for fear of being called sexist, a Bernie Bro or other names.

"Call out sexism and misogyny -- especially if it's coming from someone who claims to be progressive. However, I worry the label is being thrown around loosely..."

Overall, as with most of my writing, this piece was for me. Every time I read an article about Clinton or Sanders or sexism or the fight for the soul of the Democratic Party, I find myself wishing for more nuance, less click-bait, and sound and civil discourse. I'm tired of seeing the same soundbites repeated on my Facebook wall, seeing good friends of mine unfriend each other or worse because they're on Team Sanders or Team Clinton and can't find common ground to have a legitimate debate about what this election is really about.

In the words of my good friend Greg Wright:

If you can imagine a better opportunity to demand the world we want, I'd like to hear when you think it will come. When will better circumstances reveal themselves again? What political climate are you relying on to thrust the most unlikely candidate into the realm of possible? You want to know what will make this all the more likely to happen again? Demanding that it happen now.

We are at a historic moment in American history, not unlike the second wave feminist movement. Gloria Steinem once said of Betty Friedan: "I believe that she was looking to join society as it existed, and the slightly younger parts of the movement were trying to transform society. And those were kind of two different goals."

Like Friedan, I would argue that Clinton wants to work within the structure we have, while Sanders wants to transform society. He wants a revolution. In the words of Robert Reich:

I've known Hillary Clinton since she was 19 years old, and have nothing but respect for her. In my view, she's the most qualified candidate for president of the political system we now have. But Bernie Sanders is the most qualified candidate to create the political system we should have, because he's leading a political movement for change.

Sexism is real, and I love the fact that we are even talking about the ugly face of sexism in politics. However, we must be able to criticize a female candidate without resorting to sexist tactics, or be called sexist for critiquing her in the first place.

Overall, as many have pointed out, both Sanders and Clinton would be undeniably better as our next commander in chief than anyone currently running in the Republican arena. So I would caution democrats to get too entrenched within their teams that they refuse to see the bigger picture of the need to elect a Democrat in this next election.

There are ways to disagree with one another that don't need to devolve into name-calling or soundbite repeating. On Facebook and elsewhere, engage with those on either side in mindful and productive ways. This is an incredibly important election for so many reasons, but that doesn't mean we can't have thoughtful debates.

So keep reading. Keep posting. Keep fighting for your team. Just don't embrace the ugly.

There's enough of that out there already.

Lead image credit: Her Campus

This post originally appeared on AAUP's Academe blog here.