Nature sends us signals that something different is happening. When it comes to natural disasters, the people who are impacted completely depends on the direction of the wind, and it makes me think about the fact that the winds are shifting in presidential politics, too. So how will we be effected by the crazy political Santa Ana winds that seem to be headed our way?
Nature has been having fits on the west coast. Wildfires from California to Washington are burning acres of forests. Our triple digit temperatures aren’t helping the situation. Just last month the dramatic Cajon Pass between the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains got blasted by a brush fire that grew with such a fury it jumped the 10 Freeway. Cars were scorched and travelers ran for their lives leaving their automobiles alone on the burning freeway. Then they received bills from local auto towing companies who cleaned up the aftermath – ouch.
Here in my beautiful city of Los Angeles we saw the rare event of thunder storms in July. It’s inauspicious and it makes us uneasy.
The people who are impacted by these natural disasters completely depends on the direction of the wind, and it makes me think about the fact that the winds are shifting in presidential politics, too.
Donald Trump is leading his pack of GOP contenders. Even The New York Times, whose recent hit piece on Hillary has me yearning for the days of that boxing tattooed editor Jill Abramson, points to the unthinkable rise of Donald Trump. Trump’s recent comments about Senator John McCain not being a war hero because he was ‘captured” set off the first in a round of political firestorms.
If you grew up in the unique 1970s like I did, you know that POWs never have a nice day. They are respected because they endured.
Trump hasn’t suffered the consequences of his words, as many pundits expected, and he remains leader of the pack.
His words were tacky, but they were made by a male candidate for the Oval Office. He has space to be obnoxious. If Governor Sarah Palin had said it, both sides of the partisan aisle would have their hair on fire. They would say she wasn’t fit for the presidency.
The establishment GOP fears Trump will pull a Ross Perot and make a third-party run which could hand the presidency to the Valkyrie in the pantsuit – Hillary.
One curiosity about Trump is that he has donated more money to Democratic candidates than Republican ones, including donations to both of Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaigns and the Clinton Foundation. Many of the people who love Trump are conservatives, but they don’t seem to mind his Clinton BFFs.
After the 2008 heated primary Trump said on CNN that he was a “big fan of Hillary, she’s a terrific woman, she’s a friend of mine. I think she was treated very poorly.” Once Hillary was out of the race Trump, endorsed for John McCain for president. We assume he voted for him.
In all fairness, maybe Trump was mad at McCain who called the Trump supporters “crazies” for flocking to Trump campaign events.
The GOP has a hair-trigger alert for crazy people after they lost the 2012 easily winnable Missouri Senate seat held by the unpopular Claire McCaskill. She was so unpopular even Democrats hated her.
Hillary supporters are at the top of that haters group because they remember that Hillary and Bill campaigned for Claire’s first Senate run and raised $1 million for her – very nice of them. But, then Claire turned tail and supported Obama in 2008. When asked why she endorsed Obama she invoked religion, “And there’s no question that he is truly gifted by God with an ability to speak to people in a way that touches them…”
That’s a burn that keeps rubbing. To the Hillary supporters, Claire McCaskill was a shell of a vehicle left on the freeway that didn’t deserve towing. But she got towed right back to the Senate for free, thanks to her opponent Congressman Todd Akin, a religious conservative. Todd got a little to jovial an interview when he was asked about that comfortable wedge issue – abortion. He practically said women could weave a spell and make sure they didn’t get pregnant after being raped. The die was cast and the game was over. Claire McCaskill stayed in the Senate by just phoning it in.
Politically the establishment GOP got sideswiped by a Manhattan developer and they are not too happy. Trump is packing stadiums with blunt talk that gets to the hearts of an angry conservative electorate. After eight years of Obama the Republicans want the White House badly and Trump is just too unpredictable. Blunt talk can lose an election.
The progressives are still predictable, of course. They found a new messiah in Senator Bernie Sanders. Gender equality in the Oval Office isn’t a big priority for them.
But, predictably, it’s Hillary who listened to young Black Lives Matter activists. They confronted her on legislation that was passed under President Bill Clinton and has led to the mass incarceration of African-Americans. (Interesting to note is that Hillary was the First Lady and had no role in creating or signing this bill.) This legislation was the Violent Crime Control Act which was authored by Senator Joe Biden. It created new prisons and “enforced harsher sentencing in federal prisons.”
Hillary didn’t challenge them on the fact that she was not president at the time, but she respectfully asked them to create a vision of the future for their movement. She then explained that all social movements of the past; Civil Rights, women’s rights, and gay rights movement activists fought hard to change hearts and minds and also fought for legislative changes. Those activists had a vision for America that had yet to come and it was realized through activism and legislation. She asked these activists to create a plan, “They (sixties activists) had a (legislative) plan ready to go.” It was either a court case, or a piece of legislation, or gay marriage in the states.
As I watched her talk I noticed that no one else in this race for the primary has mentioned the continuum of social movements, that includes the women’s movement, in our country with such knowledge and respect. She listened, digested their information, and responded to them.
Activists protest, march and lead. Politicians help make policy changes with congress and lead. Many politicians rarely really listen. In fact, Trump was asked what he thought about #BlackLivesMatter and he said “Well I know nothing about it. I’m seeing lots of bad stuff about it right now.”
Both O’Malley and Sanders stumbled when confronted by “BlackLivesMatter activists and they didn’t add much to the conversation. It was Hillary who moved the dial forward.
She praised their movement and took a quick swipe at her opponents Sanders and Trump, “You can get lip service from as many white people as you can pack into Yankee stadium…that’s not enough, at least not in my book.” She said to them, “Your analysis is totally fair…but you’re gonna have to come together as a movement and say here is what we want done about it.” She asked them to “find common ground” with others to help move their agenda forward.
Listening helps you digest information you haven’t heard before and, if you are a politician, you then lead with this new information. For the media, Hillary’s conversation with the #BlackLivesMatter activists was hard for the press to cover. It was unpredictable with no sound bites that could be easily packed into a sports analogy. Chuck Todd, who can’t cover politics without using sports analogies, was probably paralyzed with writer’s block.
Nature sends us signals that something different is happening. It’s as if the weather is shifting our actions too. President Obama did something that no other sitting president has done; he visited men at the El Reno federal prison to shed some attention on the long prison sentences handed out to people unequally in the United States. He did it quietly and listened to the prisoners.
Afterwards, in front of reporters, he spoke off the cuff without the usual prepared comments. He was asked about his impressions of his visit and I heard sadness in his voice. He mentioned that even he “made mistakes” in his youth, but he didn’t end up in prison because he had a different family background with a strong support group.
Even New York City Police Chief Bratton, (who was once our police chief here in the fair city of Los Angeles) when asked why their weren’t more African-Americans in the police department responded “We have a significant population gap among African-American males because so many of them have spent time in jail,”
That’s a showstopper.
Hillary recently called for reform of our criminal justice system to end mass incarceration of African-American men. She talked about building trust between police and citizens. Hint: This is “common ground.”
Hillary didn’t say it from a script to a stadium of adoring fans. She said it to young activists standing right in front of her. She was listening and she answered them from the heart with a strong suggestion that we reach common ground as best we can and move into a better future. That’s leadership that isn’t swayed by shifting winds of any kind.
Jennifer Hall Lee is a filmmaker who lives in Los Angeles. She has spent many years working on Hollywood films, in visual effects, and used her free time (when she had it!) making her own films. Her latest film, “Feminist: Stories from Women’s Liberation” is being distributed nationally and more public screenings are upcoming, including the Feminism in London Conference! Jennifer was named Global Ambassador for the Global Media Monitoring Project. To schedule an interview with Jennifer or book her as a speaker, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.