“Persist,” modeled after Wall Street’s “Fearless Girl,” atop party HQ in Sacramento
Last year, public opinion was split over a symbol of feminism that turned out to be a symbol of corporate power. Of course I am referring to Hillary Clinton. But the Democratic candidate for president found a robust analog in Fearless Girl, a statue of a five year-old defying Wall Street’s iconic charging bull. That statue was nice, right? It encouraged young women to be strong, and perhaps it inspired adult women working in the financial district to carry a little of that defiance into their traditionally male-dominated workplaces. It seemed like art was finally improving people’s lives, but then we found out that it was a marketing stunt by State Street Global Advisors. Here’s State Street Executive VP Lynn Blake:
“We placed the Fearless Girl there to be a partner to the bull, to represent the power of women. We certainly never expected her to be a challenge…It was not really about the social or political issue, it was absolutely about the investment issue and the benefits of having women in the corporate world.”
Ah yes—the power of women not to challenge the corporate world, but to partner with it. Along with their expressed opinion that “the image of the girl would be more relatable than one of an adult woman,” comments like these suggest that State Street’s commitment to feminism might be problematic. Even if you regard Fearless Girl as a net good, its complications leave a bad taste in the mouth. But one mouth remains as ready to partner with the bull as ever: the California Democratic Party’s. On Friday, CADEM unveiled its own variation of Fearless Girl called She Persisted, which now stands atop its San Francisco headquarters.
Remember when Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and Donald Trump were going to divide the Republican Party amongst themselves? Remember when we worried aloud, biting our cheeks to keep from snickering, that the GOP would suffer a contested convention? Here’s video from the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, in which delegates boo their nominee:
The DNC was in the news this weekend, starting Friday afternoon, when Wikileaks published over 20,000 emails proving party leaders connived against the Sanders campaign. The leaks probably came from Russian hackers, who likely dumped the information to sow division among Democrats and abet Kremlin favorite Donald Trump. That’s what the panicked faithful said, anyway. On Sunday, Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned as chair of the DNC. She promised to gavel the convention to order and oversee its proceedings, but after delegates from her home state met her with jeers at breakfast, she withdrew. Now the party is without a master, and Hillary’s power to command loyalty among Democrats is compromised on the eve of her ascension. Oh yeah—and Trump pulled even with her in the polls.
There is no Trump message. There’s not enough of one, anyway. His signature move, rhetorically, is to deplore the problem for 45 seconds and praise the solution for his remaining 15. We’re going to have better deals with China, and it’s going to be great. We’ll get rid of illegal immigrants. If you ask him where he plans to hold the illegal immigrants before he deports them but after he rounds them up, he says it will be great. From a message standpoint, his campaign is like if you went car shopping, and one guy was just selling a picture of you and him riding in a Corvette with boners.
His message doesn’t make sense to me. But it makes sense to a lot of people, and more of them have voted for him than for any other Republican candidate. They can’t all be dumb. Some of them must like something about him besides that he is brightly colored and easy to understand. There is a Trump message. It is under-articulated and thick, like a walrus flipper, but it is strong enough to heave his campaign up onto the ice floe of popular democracy, where it can devour the penguins of cable news. He’s saying something, and it’s not “make America great.” It’s make America great again.
The oft remarked premise of this slogan is that America sucks now. He’s not wrong. Something does suck about America in 2016. It started in the last decade, when George W. Bush made the economy work really well for rich people until it broke. Don’t worry: it’s working well for rich people again.
That’s how you get a candidate like Trump. For the last 30 years or so, the American system has worked increasingly well for a dwindling number of people. When the middle class shrinks and the ruling class gets richer but stays the same size, society gets weird. People lose confidence in the existing system. Their taste in leaders becomes more personality-driven, because they don’t believe specific policies will get anything done. They’re cynical and broke. They don’t care how we fix this broken system. They just want some dynamo to cut through the bullshit and set things right—someone to make America great again.
Trump’s message is “everything sucks, and I will undo it.” It’s a call to either action or apocalypse, depending on how far you think it through. I think it’s nuts. But if you only consider it for a second or two—basically, the time it takes to decide whether you like that guy—it’s true. The first part is, anyway. America is not great right now. The system has become unfair. We used to be the country that didn’t care who your dad was, but then the president’s son fucked it up.
Or immigrants and women’s studies majors did it—it depends on what meetings you go to. On one side of that divide, the president’s wife has offered to make things more fair and merit-based, plus fight another war to clean up after the last two. On the other side, “make America great again” has won more delegates than “make America constitutional again” and “neither of these maniacs.” But it hasn’t won a majority. The GOP could broker its convention and keep Trump from detonating the party and/or United States of America.
But maybe they shouldn’t? If Trump wins the most delegates and somebody else wins the nomination, the GOP will prove him right. It will demonstrate the truth of his message and disappoint its largest single bloc of voters in one stroke. The Republican Party blackballed the guy who said democracy is rigged even though he got the most votes, huh? I guess I’ll vote for Clinton—no, Hillary Clinton.
FiveThirtyEight believes people agree with Trump’s message that the Republican nominating process is rigged if it doesn’t give him the nomination. Quote:
Last week’s NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 62 percent of Republicans thought the “candidate with the most votes in the primaries” should become the nominee in the event that no candidate wins a majority of delegates, compared with 33 percent who said Republicans should choose the “candidate who the delegates think would be the best nominee.” Only 40 percent of Republicans had Trump as their first choice in the same poll, which implies that there’s a group of Republicans who personally don’t prefer Trump but wouldn’t want to deny him the nomination if he finished with the plurality of delegates and votes, as he is almost certain to do.
The Republican Party stands to lose more than Trump supporters if it nominates someone else. I submit that denying him the nomination would make his message more convincing—the larger one about how this country works, not just his micro-message about the convention. I don’t care for Donald Trump. I think he is a symptom of an unhealthy democracy. But I don’t know if another insult to our system will cure it.
Around the fire, a punch-druk John Kasich becomes inexplicably hostile to Nick Adams.
Confirming your uncle’s Facebook theories, John Kasich and Ted Cruz have agreed to stay out of each other’s ways in Indian, Oregon and New Mexico, in an effort to prevent Donald Trump from winning the Republican nomination outright. Cruz gets Indiana, where he’s polling eight points behind Trump but lags by only two if Kasich leaves the race. Kasich gets a new blanket and a can of soup, and Citizens United v. FEC gets even more laughable in its ban on “coordination” between Super PACs and campaigns. Quote:
Both campaigns said they expected allies and third-party groups to follow their lead, and a representative from the “super PAC” supporting Mr. Kasich confirmed late Sunday that it would not advertise in Indiana.
That’s a totally independent group of citizen activists, right there, independently suspending their advocacy in order to adhere to a deal struck between two campaigns. But will it work?
Ryan Zinke and Teen Wolf at a 2014 Republican debate in Great Falls
If you write about politics, don’t try to predict the future. Every right prediction seems obvious in retrospect, and every wrong one will haunt your career, unless your dad was the editor of Commentary. The wise commentator will limit himself to expressing opinions on things that have already happened, so that when people point out his obvious stupidity, he can distract them with the claim that reasonable people can disagree about matters of opinion. I know from experience. This week, though, I have broken my own rule and prognosticated on the fortunes of Rep. Ryan Zinke and gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte if they appear on the same ballot as Donald Trump—or on one from which Trump is conspicuously absent.