The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Month: December 2016 (Page 1 of 2)

Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball start seasons strong

As students dust off their winter coats and bean boots, basketball season is now in full swing. The Bates Men’s basketball team has enjoyed a strong start to the 2016-17 season, compiling a 4-2 record against tiff competition.

Twins Malcolm Delpeche ‘17 and Marcus Delpeche ‘17 have been the standouts for the team. Standing at 6’8 and 6’7 respectively, the brothers have used their elite athleticism to demoralize opposing big men.

Marcus is averaging a double-double with 11.1 rebounds per game (#1 in NESCAC) and 13.3 points, all while shooting over 50 percent from the field. Malcolm is also shooting over 50 percent, averaging 14.3 points per game and 9.1 rebounds. His 3.7 blocks per game average is tied for second in the country. Malcolm needs just one more swat to break the Bates career block record set by Dave Larrivee ‘88.

The Delaware natives turned in their best performance against Southern Maine. The brothers combined to score 48 points, while missing only four total shots; Marcus’ 29 points was a career high. In addition, they both grabbed more than 10 rebounds and Malcolm set the single game team record with seven blocks. With the Delpeches firing on all cylinders, the Garnet and White cruised to an 81-71 win.

Max Hummel ‘19 has also been impressive so far. He is third on the team in points with 11.5 ppg, and has consistently shown he can knock down key jumpers. Against the University of New England, Hummel started out the game hot and finished with a career high 22 points.

In the absence of starting point guard Shawn Strickland (foot injury), Jerome Darling ‘17 has provided a steady presence in the backcourt. Freshman guards, Tom Coyne ‘19 and Nick Gilpin ‘19, have also stepped up.

The Bobcats will continue the season this week with a pair of home games against Bowdoin and Colby.

Meanwhile, the Bates women’s basketball team has started the season with a 2-2 record.

Forward Allie Coppola has been a standout for the Garnet and White. Coppola is averaging a NESCAC high ten rebounds per game, which does not include a 21 rebound performance in a scrimmage against Central Maine Community College. Her best game came in a win against Southern Maine, where she pulled down 12 rebounds, dished out four assists and scored 17 points on efficient 7-14 shooting; she then earned Maine Co-Player of the Week for this all-around performance.

Leading in scoring for the Bobcats thus far is Nina Davenport ‘18. Although her shooting touch has been slightly off, Davenport has shown she has the confidence to take and make big shots. She is averaging almost eight three point attempts per game, which is just two less than sharpshooter Stephen Curry’s average this season. Her 14.5 points per game ranks second in the NESCAC.

Women’s basketball will take on St. Joseph’s and Bowdoin this week.

I am a large athlete, allow me to explain my paper cup use

Hey, what’s up bro. I just got back from lifting. I’m wicked thirsty. Absolutely parched beyond saving. I am as dry as a lunar mare. I need some electrolytes, bro. Bro, I need some electrolytes. I am desperately hypertonic. No bro, get that efficient and reusable plastic cup away from me. I don’t care how long I’ve had to adjust my habits to my environment – begone with that cup. Bro, I need something slightly bigger for my massive and dexterous hands. My hands are hubcap large; they have their own postal codes, coordinatures. The average twelve-ounce plastic cup will disappear in the wasteland of my palm.

These hands (these instruments) are too full of vigor and strength. I need something bigger, in the 14-16 oz. range, more suited to my Herculean athletic frame. Your average plastic cup will shatter under the elephantic power of my digits; I am a human hydraulic press. I need a cup with give; something that will mold to the influence of these incredible, masculine paws. Bro, I am in dire need of a paper cup. My hydration depends on it. Wait, bro, what? These cups are intended as to-go carriers for hot drinks? The vox populi is pleading for the reduction of paper cup use? How dare they. I am a throbbing beacon of male virility. My body is a chuffing, pulsating machine: I need to fuel it, maintain it, regulate it. I need my liquids in tight, logistical order. I am the modern Tantalus. These lips can only touch reinforced paper. I cannot drink from any other cup; this is my grail. You ever seen that Indiana Jones movie bro? Remember when the guy drinks from what he thinks is the grail but then the knight says “you chose poorly” and he withers away to a lifeless husk? That’ll happen to me if I ever drink from a plastic cup.

I ran some numbers. I use two of these paper cups a day, four hundred or so a year. I probably use more. Sometimes I need to double-cup. I need the double-cup for the double-dose of ‘Rade, you dig? This body (this feat of engineering) needs to double-cup on the odd occasion, once in a new moon or blue moon or whatever.

May I empty this contoured head of mine? Bro, may I philosophize? Listen to this paradox: I will sit at the table closest to the fountains, which would allow me the most ease when refilling a regular sized cup, but I will use this paper cup so I won’t have to get up as many times, compromising the utility of my position. You’d think for an econ major I’d understand utility. It’s pretty wicked, bro. Bro.

Watch me drink out of this paper cup. You are watching me spread myself across the face of this earth, consuming, reaching like an oil spill. Can you contain me? This powder blue button-down and khaki combination certainly cannot. Watch me proliferate. Watch me violate. Watch me exploit. Watch me wither forests and drain rivers. Watch me replace the essence of the natural world with my own. I will strangle Gaia, mother goddess, to submission with my full, calloused man-hands. I am master of bodies: mine and all others. I will dominate this Earth one cup at a time.

 

To the editor,

A recent editorial by Hannah Tardie was meant to encourage viewpoints from political conservatives. But, instead of simply welcoming alternative perspective so that those mourning Hillary Clinton’s loss might begin to understand why Donald Trump won, Tardie, by characterizing conservatives as “gun-loving, border patrolling, abortion hating,” and “death penalty loving,” instead perpetuated memes which prevent a nuanced comprehension of the reasons so many voted for the political right. Starting with epithets undermines productive conservation.

You want free and open discourse at Bates? Then don’t call me a racist when I want to talk about the pandemic of Black-on-Black violence in America’s African-American community or express horror at the college’s practice of targeting hiring of minorities (here I was, thinking we should be color-blind); when I point out uncomfortable truths about Islam, don’t inaccurately label me an Islamophobe and pretend that these facts don’t exist; don’t call me a White Nationalist when I argue that undocumented immigrants should be deported so that we honor the sacrifice and respect for our laws demonstrated by those valued immigrants from all over the globe who enter the country legally; when I express concern that our national borders should be more secure in response to war, drugs, gun-running, and human trafficking, don’t call me a paranoid xenophobe; don’t dismiss me as uncompassionate when I articulate misgivings about Obamacare; don’t call me a tyrant when I give data that suggest that having more prisons makes life safer for those who live within the boundaries of the law; don’t tell me to “examine my place of ‘white privilege’” when I was born into, and remain in, the working class. Don’t.

Instead of responding emotionally, engage with the argument, debate the points. I’ve been listening to your ideas for years, allowing them to challenge my own and force me to reevaluate my positions. Perhaps it is time that you stopped seeing conservatives as enemies and started trying to understand us, time for you to step outside your insulated comfort zone and start a conservation with us from a place of mutual respect.

This welcome transformation in the state of political discourse could start at the very top. Recently, Clayton Spencer wrote to the Bates Community to update us on how Bates is responding to the recent presidential election. In her letter, she discusses the importance of freedom of speech. I couldn’t agree with her more. But, is she being honest? One cannot convincingly advocate for freedom of expression while simultaneously labelling certain arguments as “hate speech.” Instead quashing conversation before it has even begun with such unintellectual (and, frankly, un-American) ideas as “hate speech,” Spencer and her administration should be actively seeking out ways to make Bates politically varied, so that the minds, and not just the skins, that comprise our community are diverse, too.

It is with sincere regret that I cannot sign this letter, out of fear of the loss of my employment. Please forgive me for requiring anonymity.

 

Women’s and Men’s Swim and Dive stock up/stock down

Men’s Swim and Dive – STOCK UP

Last year’s men’s swim and dive team finished fifth in the NESCAC, tied for the team’s best ever finish at the conference meet. This year they are intent on improving that mark, with their eyes set on sending a strong contingent of swimmers to the national meet as well.   

“On the men’s side our depth and talent could be the strongest we have ever had,” said head coach Peter Casares, who is in his 9th year as Bates’ aquatics director.  “We have many great leaders in the senior class, led by our three captains Dan Walpole, Jack Dina, and Josh Rines.  All three are poised for breakout seasons and can give both the NESCAC Championship and national meets a real run.” These senior leaders are backed by a solid junior class of swimmers that include All-Americans Teddy Pender ‘18 and Riley Ewing ‘18, who are poised to make return trips to the national meet this year. While these individual swimmers will standout during the upcoming season, the men’s team is not featuring any divers this year.  This challenge won’t pose any problems for the team’s individual and relay efforts in the pool, but could hurt them during the regular season in meets that are scored based on total team points.

“The ability to endure and reach peak performance is truly the ultimate in college swimming,” said Casares.  This is the challenge for any swim team, to match up the ultimate meet of the season with their window of peak performance, and it will be the challenge this team will have to rise up to this year.

Look for this year’s squad to finish in the top four of the NESCAC, break several team and pool records, and send a strong, if small, contingent of swimmers to the national meet.   

    

Women’s Swim and Dive – STOCK UP

Bates’ women’s swim and dive team is in many ways the crowning jewel of Bates athletics.  The last two years they have finished second and third in the NESCAC, and are expected to finish near, if not at, the top again this year. “After seeing the team train and compete this first month, I have some big goals for this group that I think can happen,” said Casares. “I know we have the talent, they just need to make sure they stay healthy and peak at the right moment.”

This year’s team is returning eight All-American swimmers, including star, Sara Daher ‘17, who finished second in the country last year in the 200-medley.  Daher, who has amassed 17 All-American honors in her illustrious career, led a group of nine swimmers to the national meet last year where Bates finished 12th overall.  But Casares thinks this year’s group, if anything is marked by its depth. “Breakout performances and national level swims exist in all 25 women – we’ve simply never had this balance and depth among all four classes before,” he said.

Peaking at the right time is key for a perennially competitive team like this one, but balancing that approach with performing well at both the NESCAC meet and the subsequent national meet, can prove challenging. “Can we be fully invested in an amazing NESCAC champs experience while balancing our National meet goals… sacrificing neither and embracing both?” he queried.  It will certainly be a challenge, but if any team can do it, this one can.

The women’s diving squad will be led by Emma Jarczyk ‘17, a three time all-NESCAC diver, and three-time regionals competitor, hoping to get over the hump and make her debut at the national meet this year.  The divers will be instrumental for the team as a whole, tallying a lot of points throughout the season. This year’s team, hard as it might be to do, will improve on last years showing.  Look for them to top the NESCAC at the conference meet this year, and crack the top ten at nationals.   

A space for art

When I first arrived at Bates this fall, I was in awe of the campus. It had everything I had wanted in a college campus: a spectacular dining facility, a comfortable dorm and excellent places to study. But as time went on, I felt like something was missing. The campus was stunning– but at times, I sensed a vacancy. Where was the art?

There were, of course, pieces scattered around some academic buildings. A lovely blue abstraction perched above a library stairwell, some charcoal sketches sprinkled here and there. We had a wonderful museum, but the art seemed isolated to that area of campus. The art that I did see was extraordinary– but I felt like I had to look for it.

I think that art can be an impactful medium through which we can develop ourselves and our ideas. I come from a background in arts; I attended a heavily arts-oriented high school, and I’ve worked at an arts center for several years. I’m accustomed to understanding art as an essential component of any landscape, so it’s satisfying to watch this continued at Bates. But I think we can do even better.

I think art can be more than something to see intermittently. Rather than something to fill the void of an empty wall, I think that art can play an even greater role on campus. I think that it can be more than just something to pass by, or stumble upon occasionally. I think art should be in your face.

I think there is real value in recognizing the value of art in an environment. After all, it’s value extends beyond pure aesthetics– art can be political, philosophical and deeply intellectual. And art is not only as important as any other academic discipline, but has the power to achieve things that other disciplines cannot. I think that it’s through art that we can articulate ideas that are difficult to express otherwise.

Art can be an outlet for discussion– and a very effective one too. We have several essential forums for discussion on campus, the Bates Student being one. I think that art is another.

After all, art has the power to resonate with people in a way that forums do not. Art isn’t hidden away in newspaper dispensers or tucked away online. It’s a visible element of the spaces in which we live, in a way that other intellectual forums are not. One can choose not to read a newspaper article, but I think there is an inevitability to art. As you go about your day, you digest it– whether you intend to or not.

So I hope this forum article serves to recognize the importance of another essential forum. I think that in the wake of the election, our minds are brewing with ideas. Some will speak these ideas through the newspaper, and other forums. But I think that art can be an equally important voice. So, through whichever medium best suits you, let’s keep the conversation going.

 

The self-made Hijabi?

Terrorist violence rarely includes women. Terrorist violence as a result of Islamic extremism rarely (if ever) includes “radicalized” Muslim women. Nonetheless, there is a cultural desire in the West to control the bodies of Muslim women. Unsurprisingly, the desire for this control often manifests itself in forms of violence against the bodies of Muslim women. I am specifically referring to incidents of violence such as French authorities forcing a Muslim women to de-robe by removing her burkini, and a man in North Carolina grabbing and removing a woman’s hijab on a Southwest Airlines flight. President-elect Trump’s Islamophobic rhetoric as well as the atrocities of ISIS can contribute to this desire to control the bodies of Muslim women, but it seems the overarching rationale guiding this behavior by white feminists is the belief that Muslim women are “oppressed” and forced into this “concealing” apparel. By pointing out this “concealment”, Westerners are not only placing emphasis on the body and objectifying it, they are engaging in an Orientalist act of violence that has roots in colonialism and exoticism in the effort to “develop” a culture through global capitalization.

While we can all agree that this violence is problematic, systemic and – well, to be insensitive – nothing new, I am wondering how far this domestic colonialism will push Muslim women. Is the only way for the violence to end in the United States to accept the hijabi woman as an agent of her own desire? Following trends of second wave feminism and the rising trope of consumer fashion, makeup, dieting, etc., the trope of the “self-made woman” commodifies Western norms of femininity into branded, purchasable items. This consumerism contributes to the widespread myth that American women are making entirely their own choices about their presented femininity (and in some ways, gender) because they are consuming it. Not only does this conflate American feminine selfhood with a brand [of femininity], it also helps manipulate representations and paradigms of what it actually means to be an American woman. Commodifying femininity through products and advertisements not only emphasizes the necessary decoration of the female body, it also adds women into the problematic Benjamin Franklin narrative of the self-made man pursuing the American dream. Because this narrative focuses so heavily on one dimension of American self-hood, the women included in it are most often white, middle class, able-bodied with Anglo-Saxon roots.

Therefore, any type of femininity deviating from this norm must be negotiated through a set of compromises and constraints in order to be accepted in American culture. The primary “compromise” is assimilation: black women are encouraged to pass as white by perm-straightening their hair and following Western fashion trends, Asian women are getting eyelid injections and using skin-whitening creams. The question asked here is, how much longer is this violence against Muslim bodies going to continue until Hijabi women are forced to assimilate in order to protect their own bodies, and what exactly is that going to look like? Following trends of colonization and second wave feminism, will Muslim women be forced to commodify their religion as a brand of femininity? While many internationally renowned brands already make hijabs, will their sale and accessibility increase in the United States? Will Wal-Mart start selling scarves next to their women’s clothing? The most obvious answer to an economist would be that obviously Wal-Mart does not currently sell hijabs in the women’s clothing section because the market does not demand it; the small specialty stores selling them currently meet the demand of the market. But I am asking a different question than “when will the market demand it?” I am asking if there is a correlation to violence ending and a prospect of hijab commodification. I am asking if the only way for the United States to accept Muslim women as autonomous human beings is to coerce them into consuming symbols of their religion. Could the commercialization of Muslim woman’s appearance be the only way to end this violence? Does overt physical violence have to be ended by covert objectification by assimilating them into the cult of branding that other American women are subjected to? Is the only way for this religious symbol to be accepted as a choice to make it an obvious consumerist choice? To feminize it as a consumer choice essential to Muslim-American femininity? Is the final step to end Western colonialism to commodify and redefine every sacred aspect of those colonized in order to comprehend their identity in terms of capitalism?

 

Bates favorite Tall Heights brings life to VCS

Aside from the chai and cookies, the best part about Village Club Series is listening to original music for an evening every single Thursday. This semester’s performance roster has truly been stacked – from Ryanhood, to Elizabeth Acevedo, to the incredible student artists and now Tall Heights. On Thursday, December 1, the Mays Center welcomed an overwhelming student turnout to see this popular group perform.

Tall Heights always attracts a large crowd, but I was unprepared for the sea of Batesies I walked into when I opened the doors. I got there a little late, so there was no chance of grabbing a chair, wall space or even a good glimpse of the stage. Despite this, the chill atmosphere was tangible. The dim lighting and casual set-up of the space created an intimate and inviting environment. I think it goes without saying that VCS effectively rids me of work stress, especially with finals right around the corner.

Cellist Tim Harrington and guitarist Paul Wright were accompanied by a drummer. In between their songs, Harrington and Wright developed close connections to the audience; they shared their awkward yet warm personalities and told stories they have gathered throughout their time on tour. Getting the Bates students to chuckle certainly does not hurt their reputation here.

Several of the songs they performed were from their newest album Neptune, released in August of this year. The songs consisted of multi-leveled harmonies that varied in range. The vocal ranges of the artists were truly magnified throughout the night. What was most striking, however, was how they transformed their usual acoustic vibe to a more technical foundation, epitomizing the VCS experience.

The song “Two Blue Eyes” was a perfect example of this. Not only did they show off their vocal skills, but lyrics like “I fell in love with two blue eyes and that’s you,” melted the hearts of those listening, a feat not unusual for Tall Heights. There was a perfect balance of electric and acoustic mastery. The entirety of the song had a steady tempo that was easy to digest yet captured attention the whole time.

“Spirit Cold” is an easy listen, at least for me, because it did not project thematic ideas of love or heartbreak. The gradual buildup of tempo and energy creates a climax around the third chorus but then dies back down for the end of the song. They discuss the cycle of gain and loss of spirit and dreams. All of their originals carry an aura that appeals to Bates students and brings them back year after year. No matter the content of their songs, their music is always transformative and innovative.

VCS next week includes a faculty and staff showcase featuring Professor John Smedley from the Environmental Studies Department, Assistant Professor Ali Akhtar in the Classical and Medieval Studies Department and Associated Chaplain Sruli Dresdner. Each faculty member will perform for about 20 minutes. Smedley and Akhtar will be playing the guitar and Dresdner will bring the accordion to the stage. This is definitely something you will want to go to for the last VCS of the semester!

Tim Harrington and Paul Wright stun the audience at VCS with their original music. DREW PERLMUTTER/THE BATES STUDENT

Tim Harrington and Paul Wright stun the audience at VCS with their original music. DREW PERLMUTTER/THE BATES STUDENT

Finals got you down?

The three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks are filled with late-night study sessions and never ending assignments. Therefore, in order to relieve the stress of finals week, you can participate in various annual activities put on by Bates’ Active Minds club and the Office of Campus Life.

Bates’ Active Minds chapter is part of a national organization that was created “to fight the stigma surrounding disability and mental illness by raising awareness and fostering dialogue about such differences,” according to its Facebook page.

Usually at this time of year, the Bates’ club facilitates a “Mental Health Week,” with activities and events spread out throughout a whole week. However, this year, according to Azure Reid-Russell, the club leader, “we hoped to increase our attendance by compressing the whole week into a few hours.” Thus, they created the Self-Care Fair, which occurred on December 2nd, from 3 to 6 pm, in the Fireplace Lounge.

The successful Self-Care Fair intermixed fun, calming activities with relevant information on maintaining one’s mental health during a stressful time. The event included performances from acapella groups The Merimanders and TakeNote, as well as The Strange Bedfellows, and the Mount David String Band.

Tara Humphries, a Multifaith fellow at the Multifaith Chaplaincy, led a mindfulness and meditation workshop and students were educated about stress relief techniques. Lastly, members of the Student Support Network and Psychological Services helped students learn about available mental health resources. The club also provided baked goods, tea, coloring books, and music.

The Office of Campus Life will also once again host a variety of study-break activities in the upcoming weeks. December 8th’s VCS concert will be a faculty and student showcase at 9 pm in the Benjamin Mays Center. The following night, from 9 to 11 pm, Student Government is hosting a dodgeball tournament in the Gray Cage.

Perhaps the most well-known finals week event is the Campus Life Study Break which occurs on Reading Day, December 12th, in the Chase Hall from 7 to 10 pm. According to the Office of Campus Life, it “has been a popular event just prior to finals. Last year there were stress puppies, snow-cones, a bouncy house and various other craft activities.” Stop by for five minutes or stay for hours!

Mariam Hayrapetyan ‘19 is especially excited about the puppies. She exclaims that she “hopes the same dogs are there that were last year. One of the puppies was especially cute. Her name was Tilly!”

To find a complete list of December Campus Life activities, you can visit http://www.bates.edu/campus/events/this-months-events/. For more information on the Active Minds club, follow them on Facebook at Active Minds at Bates College.

The Pillowman Preview

I have always liked to walk into plays that I have never heard about. There is something magical about entering a completely new world; you’ve read no previews, no guides, no scripts, no cast, no title. More often than not, I recommend doing that.

Unfortunately, we can’t always just jump in and allow ourselves to experience something new. Batesies know very well that finals week is approaching fast, so here is the incentive you needed to watch The Pillowman this weekend (Dec 8-12, tickets recommended).

One hour before the show starts you will probably find yourself pondering: “should I really watch The Pillowman or should I study for [include random final exam]?” I can say with a fair amount of certainty that you would be better off by watching The Pillowman. If you choose not to watch it and you are anything like me, you will spend your time procrastinating rather than studying. Little you know, but you would have missed a great show.

The plot is acclaimed. The Pillowman won the Laurence Oliver Award for Best New Play in 2004. Martin McDonagh, author of The Pillowman, is known for having an explosive and violent writing style. He is considered one of the best Irish playwrights alive. “You think you figured it out and then everything changes… This happens every 15 minutes in this play” – A friend from theater tech mentioned in an informal conversation about the show.

This first impression is just as to be expected given that the director is Samuel Wheeler ’17. I have the pleasure to have Sam as a friend and he is a very talented performer, actor and director. He has a very peculiar taste and I can only expect the unexpected when it comes down to The Pillowman.

In an interview, Wheeler told me he fell in love with the Irish dark comedy and storytelling during his semester abroad in Dublin, Ireland. His fascination with The Pillowman is evident in his words: “Everybody loves stories. My favorite thing about stories like The Pillowman is that even in their gruesomeness, there is still beauty.” Wheeler also revealed that, although it is a dark and profound show, it is also hilarious.

One thing that surprised me very much is how little people were willing to reveal about the actual plot. “A writer in a totalitarian state is brought in for questioning about the linkage of his gruesome short stories to child murders that have been occurring. That’s the basic premise of the show without giving many secrets away,” Wheeler told me in interview. All I know is that it will be heavy, intense and complex. I have heard rumors of an amazing soundtrack as well. As I started to ask more and more questions about the play, everyone told me the same: “I don’t want to ruin it for you. You got to take your own conclusions when you see it.”

It strikes me that Wheeler and McDonagh have similar goals. I read some articles and interviews on McDonagh’s writing process. When he was describing his creation process for another play to The Guardian, he mentioned that he “had to find the story and let the issues just bubble underneath.” Wheeler, in our conversation, mentioned that “allowing the audience to pull what they want and directing it in such a fashion where it does not spoon-feeding the audience was a goal from the start.” If there is one thing I am sure is that Wheeler and McDonagh interested in taking complexity to another level. Art can be beautiful and gruesome, bittersweet, warm and dark… all at the same time. The Pillowman seems to be the kind of play in which it is impossible not to be excited.

This next weekend, I invite you to expect the unexpected with me at Gannett Theater. I challenge you to see theater differently: theater can be your break from “study,” but “study” can also be your break from theater. Art has a transformative potential that should not be overlooked. The playwright is described as having “a punk spirit” by The Guardian. But truly, I got my cue when Sam Wheeler and I crossed paths by chance one day. Even though he was visibly excited about the show, all he said was that The Pillowman was going to be incredibly deep… Sometimes a play can reveal much more about humanity, life and justice than a dozen textbooks combined. You must see it for yourself.

 

The End of the Clintons

Voting for Hillary Clinton was not easy. As you will soon find out, I did not have a favorable opinion of the Secretary, and a cross section of exit polling data would seem to suggest that millions of Americans, including Democrats, shared my animosity. However, in the wake of her remarkable loss, Clinton partisans have castigated Trump and his supporters as bigoted ignoramuses. To some extent, these accusations are valid. But they are easy and ultimately futile platitudes that serve us little in the war for the soul of America. In uncertain times, we need hard truths to move forward, and the hard truth for the 2016 election was this: Clinton lost because she was bad.

The merits of the Democratic platform are not in play in my analysis of Clinton’s badness. Believe me, I resent strongly the sanctimonious manner in which the Democrats approach many key issues. Nonetheless, their agenda is one that I agree with more so than the lunacy offered by the Republicans.

No, the argument for Clinton’s badness can start and end with her flawed character: her political inauthenticity, her gluttonous appetite for special interest money, her disastrous unauthorized email server, her lies, her shifting positions, and her overall incompetence as a U.S. Senator and Secretary of State. Secretary Clinton gives the awful impression of being willing to say or do anything for power, including jeopardizing the integrity of elections, the safety of the country, and the interests of a free and open society. Perhaps this is no mistake, given who Clinton says she looks up to. When asked about how she would improve the government, Secretary Clinton boasted about her cozy relationship with a previous Secretary of State, a man by the name of Henry Kissinger. That Clinton would accept and flaunt the assistance of a war criminal with the bloodthirst and malevolence of Kissinger, I believe, says everything you need to know about her character.

There are purely aesthetic reasons why she is disliked, too. With apologies to Mr. Bush, few presidential candidates could have used a speech coach more than the Secretary. Clinton never realized that she does not need to yell into the microphone to be heard through the loud speaker. Her fake laughs and contorted expressions seemed to exist on the uncanny valley, especially when dancing around personal failings (“Wipe the email servers? What, like with a cloth or something?”). Furthermore, her smugness and sense of self-worth were repellent when defending such a lackluster and overpraised resume. Lastly, I was tired of gender being used as a means of voter outreach, as though having a female president were an end in and of itself.

But in the end, measured against the prospects of a Trump presidency, I held my nose and relented. Somehow, Trump and his supporters managed to be even more intolerable.

First, there were Trump’s insane policy recommendations: building a concrete wall nearly 2,000 miles long, deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants, introducing religious tests for entry into the country, allowing punishments for abortion, renegotiating American debt etc. All self-evidently ridiculous and immoral ideas, all disqualifiable.

Then, of course, there was Trump’s general detachment of reality: his denial of statements he previously made on record, his stated belief that climate change is a Chinese hoax, his suggestion that vaccines could cause autism. Perhaps the most pernicious of these beliefs was that somehow the election was getting fixed against him. This led to Trump’s dangerous suggestion that he might not accept the results of the election (not unlike the #NeverTrump movement)

Still yet, you had Trump’s trademark moments of mental psychopathy and/or sexual depravity: his inability to ignore criticism on Twitter, his impersonation of a disabled reporter, his flippant endorsement of sexual assault. These moments struck me as the actions of a man totally unhinged and unpredictable. Yet they only seemed to embolden the resolve of Trump loyalists, who saw his public failures as humanizing in the face of Clinton’s robotic inauthenticity.

Finally, the cherry on top was the pick of Mike Pence as Vice President, by all accounts a bible-thumping lunatic. Even before I got to consider the future of the Supreme Court, the decision had already been made for me.

So, who could be happy when President-elect Trump gave his vacuous acceptance speech on Nov 9th?  I certainly was not, yet the silver lining of the occasion is not lost on me.

Beyond her “badness,” Clinton’s loss is just deserts for her behavior in the primaries. Her collusion with the DNC—to rig the primary process and extirpate all challengers because it “was her turn”— was unforgiveable. Could there exist a more cynical attitude towards the will of the people? And if the DNC’s glorified coronation does not represent an existential threat to democracy, what possibly could?

Her loss is also justice for the crimes and ineptitudes of the Clinton presidency preceding the turn of the century. It is back pay, owed for the blood of hundreds of thousands of Slavs who were massacred under Clinton’s watch, following the breakup of Yugoslavia. It is a justice for our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters in this epoch who tried to serve in the armed services (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell) or get married (The Defense of Marriage Act), and were treated like second-class citizens. It is a justice for the disastrous corporate deregulations which helped spur our nation into the Great Recession. And finally, it is a fitting end-of-legacy for a man who lied to the American people and perjured himself under oath. Secretary Clinton touted her husband’s record, so the fact that America rejected it would speak volumes for our righteousness if not for the alternative of Trump.

There are less spiteful reasons why we can be glad that the Democrats lost last month. The result hopefully spells the death of the Clinton-Obama era of corporatist shills, who, by my money, have been completely discredited. Maybe the Sanders coalition now has a shot at life, and the left might finally have champions worth fighting in the trenches for.

I should touch on the desire to blame outside forces for the loss. I have already started hearing the whines about Director Comey, Gary Johnson, and the Electoral College. I urge Democrats not to buy a word of this bad-mannered self-pity. Secretary Clinton had every conceivable structural advantage she could have asked for: the unilateral support of her party, favorable coverage from the media, the endorsement of most major newspapers and celebrities, double the spending of Trump, an organized ground game, and the help of one of the most popular Presidents in recent memory. If the Democrats had a problem with Comey, perhaps they should not have supported a candidate with an ongoing criminal investigation. If they had a problem with the existence of third parties, they should have pushed for national rank-choice voting. If they perceived the Electoral College as problematic, maybe the Democrats could have fought for an amendment in 2000.

It would be imprudent of me to put all the blame on Clinton and the Democratic elite, however. The left in general have unknowingly sowed the seeds of a populist backlash for years now. We earned this loss the day we decided to ban speakers we did not agree with, to push around journalists, and to call our political enemies racists and bigots. If this election tells us anything it all, it is that people are tired of censorial and dogmatic PC culture. If you’re a leftist, by all means, denounce Trump and purge the DNC. That should at least maximize your chances of success in the elections to come, and it might just satisfy a vindictive urge that only failure can brew. But save a little bit of resentment for yourself as well. You have earned it.

We are in trouble. I truly believe Trump’s brand of authoritarian and capricious lunacy is dangerous. You would be an ahistorical fool to trust blindly in the robustness of the United States bureaucracy and institutions. Just last week, Trump proclaimed on twitter his belief that those who burn the flag ought to be jailed or even stripped of citizenship. Leftists, you must brace yourselves. Now do you understand why the enlightenment ideals you sought to weaken and make exceptions for ought to be indivisible and universal? It is for our own sake that we unconditionally protect the speech and rights of bigots and the malcontent. Because if we don’t, who will defend our rights when WE become the malcontent? Take care, the first thing they will go after is our right to a free press, unmolested by private or government intrusion. Defend this and the other universal freedoms you once besmirched in the name of sensitivity and progress. Because these freedoms, our cherished universal and liberal and secular freedoms, are all that stand between us and the precipice.

 

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