You know what the problem is with this country? No one has the courage of their convictions anymore. We’ve suffered a nationwide crisis of confidence, and now Americans are afraid to go their own way and live as devil-may-care visionaries. People are so concerned with fair play and rules of decorum that they aren’t willing to stand up for what they believe is right. We have all become hobbled by our sense of ethics and the way things ought to be done, afraid to act because we might be wrong. Also, the sun makes us colder each morning, and birds crawl silently along the ground. Today is Friday, and everyone in America is extraordinarily confident. Won’t you explore that classic mark of genius with me?
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.
As you may have heard, Republicans in the House passed their bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act yesterday. No longer will kids with cancer, women who had C-sections, and other drains on the system force the cost of their care onto real Americans by buying health insurance. No longer will insurers labor under the burdensome system of regulations that has depressed their soaring profits since 2010. Now freedom rings. Before doing the deed, the GOP caucus pumped itself up with a basement rendition of “Taking Care of Business”—fortunately, no one present could perceive irony—and celebrated afterward with Bud Light and a bus trip to the White House. Never mind that the Senate plans to scrap their bill and start over. The important thing is that House Republicans sent a message. Today is Friday, and America’s only functioning political party is hell-bent on cashing in while it can. Won’t you try not to get sick with me?
Yesterday, Democratic strategist and senior advisor to the Priorities USA Super PAC opined on Twitter that “the path to retaking the House…runs through the Panera Breads of America.” He meant that Democrats should focus on affluent suburban districts that went for Romney in 2012 but showed substantial movement toward Clinton in 2016. The former press secretary for the Clinton campaign cited Georgia’s sixth-district special election, where Democrat Jon Ossoff will face a runoff in June but still got more votes than both of his Republican opponents last night. It’s important to note that Ossoff is talking about retaking the House, not winning the 2020 presidential election. In his interview with Jeff Stein of Vox, he acknowledges that Democrats should try to appeal to working-class voters then. But he seems convinced that his party should focus on moderate Republicans in 2018. Quote:
There’s no doubt in where you start in forming the target list — it will be those 23 districts that switched from [Mitt] Romney to Clinton that look a lot, demographically, like the one in Georgia tonight.
This strategy strongly resembles the one that Hillary Clinton pursued in the 2016 election, which she did not win. That rumbling sound you hear is Sanders Democrats across the country grinding their teeth. But as the interview progresses, Fallon explains that his remark only described one strategy among many—one he qualifies to the point of utter meaninglessness. It kind of sounds like he has no plan. Fallon’s overall message seems to be that the Democrats should keep doing the same thing they did last year, but win.
It’s funny how the controversies in American history invariably have two sides. Abolition versus slavery. Gold standard versus free silver. Stalwarts versus Mugwumps. It makes sense that our two-party system would lend itself to such dualities, but what if we ever ran into an issue that had more than two sides? For example, what if it were possible to believe these two contradictory statements?
- Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons on Syrian rebels was an unconscionable violation of both international and moral law.
- United States military intervention to remove him would not improve the lives of the Syrian people.
Obviously, this is just a thought experiment. You’re either against Assad or against military strikes; you’re for intervention or for chemical weapons. But what if there were some rupture in the fabric of American discourse that created a third dimension of argument? Come to think of it, what if there were a second political party? Today is Friday, and such are the flights of a fanciful mind: idle, useless, bound for a sharp reunion with the earth. Won’t you choose a side with me?