Uprisings: The gloves are off

By : Billy Manes
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Nobody expects the presidential politics of stuffy Red-Rover games in the dank hue of late-night union halls under the auspices of a “caucus” to be absolutely civil, just as nobody expects the debate exchanges rushing up to primary conventions to be a lovely little tea party, curtsies included. However, for most of this election cycle – at least on the left – the last two standing, Sen. Bernie Sanders and “establishmen” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have kept their conversations at a comfortable, respectful clip. That’s not happening anymore, as you’ve probably witnessed in either the viral YouTube Greenpeace guerilla-clip meltdown of Hillary Clinton complaining about her alleged financial embed with the fracking/fossil-fuel industry or her comments about “tone.” On the “purist” Sanders side, equal and opposing complaints have been made at an increasing pitch. Sanders’ path to victory is a bit of tiny babbling brook at this point, so the shushing and finger-wagging and Republican talking points have taken center stage.

The #bernieorbust movement is a sad apocalypse for multiple Trumping reason, and the constant nag on the superdelegate issue and speaking fees has turned a benign bumper-sticker campaign into a problem for all concerned. Also, the nonstop denial that Sanders is also taking part in the political lexicon of PAC cash and backpats is absurd. He may not be getting as much money from larger entities, but he’s certainly playing the same game. And now, just as “Shillary” has always been unflatteringly and unfairly accused of doing, he’s shouting about it.

“But what an ugly way to end a campaign that was supposed to be positive and idealistic,” New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote of the Sanders camp on April 4.

Granted, opinions, like assholes, are fairly widespread, and grains of salt are seemingly sparse as we approach the final blue crunch of this summer (or, hell, this week?) – also, full disclosure, Watermark, like most LGBT organizations, endorsed Clinton in advance of the Florida primary that she swept in March – but these latest shots across the bow on the issue of a New York debate in advance of that state’s crucial primary in April are pure sandbox politics.

The ridiculousness becomes even more evident when basketball’s March Madness rises to the level of an actual talking point in the lead up to a debate (which has now been scheduled for April 14). Balls. We’re talking about balls.

There are too many signs of decaying grace to point out in this limited space – the freakout over Arizona’s voting problems is a sign of voter disenfranchisement by Republican officials, not a shady, venomous Clinton (by the way, she’s been hearing that all her life, you would imagine); the jury remains out on whether a whack-job Clark County, Nevada, voting official stacked to deck for Sanders at recent conference, though said official’s idiotic sit-in rendition of “We Shall Overcome” would indicate that something is afoot.

We sure better overcome. There’s a pretty nasty Trump card in the wings.

UpRising_RuthBaderLove Supreme
It may not be the sexiest topic – voting rights and districting rarely are – but the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous smackdown of a Texas case brought by conservatives sent a solid signal about how important equal representation in elections really is. Evenwell v. Abbott was already shot down by three Texas judges after it was filed in 2014 on similar principles that led to last week’s federal ruling. Effectively, those bringing the case were insisting that districts should only be drawn representing equality among already registered voters. Texas’ policy has been to use full Census data. What’s more, had the case gone the other way, conservative white Texans would bask in the glory of being more represented than Democratic minorities. Likewise, the precedent would lead to further iniquities in other gerrymandered states. “This Court need not resolve whether, as Texas now argues, States may draw districts to equalize voter eligible population rather than total population,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg concluded in the ruling.

UpRising_RickScottAbortion law aborted?
Last month, Florida Gov. Rick Scott reignited his relationship with cruel hyperbole when he signed into law a bill that forbade the state’s Medicaid system from funding any health services provided by clinics that also provide abortions. Most reasonable people are aware that none of said public funding is allowed to utilized for actual pregnancy terminations – it’s called the Hyde Amendment, and it has existed beneath the lies of this anti-Planned Parenthood argument for years, often just to be overlooked by those with aggressive tendencies. On April 4, the Palm Beach Post reported that the new law isn’t likely to pass federal muster, even though it was just about enough of an inflammatory legislative volley to make Donald Trump smile (and then charge you with a crime for getting an abortion). The bill’s sponsors concede that they’ll need a federal waiver and they knew this all along.

UpRising_BuddyDyerProhibition priorities
Following the hugely positive response to similar initiatives in Tampa and St. Pete earlier this year, Organize Now’s Racial Justice Committee launched a change.org petition drive trying to convince Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer to “stop arresting thousands of folks each year for things like sleeping in public, panhandling or simple possession of marijuana.” The group hopes that the mayor will take the high overhead required for such routine arrests and funnel it back into philanthropic organizations that make the community stronger. The group estimates that decriminalization could put $2.2 million back into the city coffers. “[R]esearch shows that mass incarceration is due, in part, to thousands of new laws at the federal, state, and local levels that allow police to make a record-breaking number of arrests based on minor, non-violent offenses,” RJC argues. “This over-policing of neighborhoods has done nothing but fill prisons and put a band-aid on the underlying causes of crime.”

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