Tag Archives: Hillary Clinton

This is Not Feminism

I read Sarita Sarvate’s article “What About Bill” with a combination of amazement, amusement, and disappointment. Ms Sarvate seems t suggest that Hillary Clinton’s failure to show “compassion to any of the women” who slept with her husband makes her less of a feminist. I beg to differ. All of my married female friends are ambitious feminists with excellent careers. And every single one of them would want to claw out the eyes of any woman who dared to come near their husbands. In fact, I think some of them would contemplate murder. I don’t understand why Ms Sarvate thinks that the women who were part of President Clinton’s extramarital affairs deserve any kind of empathy from Mrs Clinton. They don’t. No one expects wives to be supportive of their husband’s mistresses. Being a feminist does not mean you have to blindly support and cheer on women who are behaving badly and who have hurt you deeply. That is not what feminism stands for.

Feminists are not saints. They have the same hopes, dreams, emotions, and fears that all normal people have. I think Mrs Clinton’s attitude towards the women cheating with her husband makes her a far more authentic woman. We must stop holding feminists specifically, and women in general, to impossible standards of behavior. Hillary’s devotion to her husband and commitment to her marriage doesn’t make her any less of a feminist. Instead, I think it is tacit acknowledgement of the limitations of feminism.

And here’s what I mean by the limitations of feminism: finding a great guy to marry is really, really hard. For many women, it’s impossible. Mrs Clinton found a great guy to marry in law school. She has not been willing to walk away from him since, no matter what he did to her and their marriage. That decision is completely understandable, specially to a feminist, because the reality is that  there are not many men who are willing to be with strong, capable women with feminist ideals. President Clinton was one of the few. New York City and many other American cities are packed with extraordinary, hardworking women who remain single for their entire lives because they cannot find a man at their level to be with them. President Clinton is at Mrs Clinton’s level, and then some. I am sure she treasures that immensely, because that kind of partner is almost impossible to find.

I have many friends who are married to men who do nothing other than sit at home, unemployed and resentful, while they work 12 hour days and also take care of the children. But they want companionship in their lives and that is why they stay married. Many of them tell me that as bad as their marriages are, they will take that over being single any day of the week. Because being a single woman sucks. It is lonely, it’s hurtful, it’s isolating, and it’s frightening, whether or not you are a feminist. One of my friends fights with her husband every single day, and thinks of leaving him constantly. But when she collapsed and was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery, the first person standing by her side was her husband. And when she was discharged from the hospital, unable to move for several weeks of recovery, the person who made sure she had good meals, administered injections, and held when she cried was her husband. What’s a few affairs compared to that? I don’t know. The thing is, it’s not for me or Ms sarvate to answer. It’s for the wife to decide, and that is an incredibly personal decision – even for a woman in as bright a spotlight as Mrs Clinton.

Did Mrs Clinton let down feminists by staying with her husband? Or did she highlight how little feminism does to help women with the reality of their personal lives, and the nearly impossible choices they have to make as they fight to find happiness? Eliot Spitzer is surely not the only wealthy American man in his 50s consorting with prostitutes young enough to be his daughter. Why do so many middle-aged women women strive desperately to save their marriages even when their middle-aged husbands engage in sexual liaisons with women young enough to be their daughters? Because the cold hard reality is that their husbands will easily be able to find a replacement wife, while they will be alone for the rest of their life. And that just sucks. Feminism has no antidote for this reality.

I worked in New York for about 2 years and then in Washington DC for lose to 6 years. I expected to work with strong, independent women who were proud of their accomplishments and led self-sufficient lives. To some extent, I did find that. But I also found a lot of fear and compromise. I discovered that government agencies are flooded with resumes of women who are partners at investment banks and law firms, because they are in desperate search of work-life balance. They recognize that they will not be able to hang onto their marriages or families if they do not find a job that gives them to invest in looking good and paying attention to their husbands. But I realize now that they knew something I didn’t – that despite their fabulous careers and impressive Ivy League degrees, they were only a few shaky steps from being alone, and that being alone was the definition of failure. Their husbands are central to the very core of their  existence, and they will do whatever it takes to keep them by their side. That includes dieting carefully, exercising vigorously, and botoxing regularly. Because if they let their guard down, there will be plenty of younger, beautiful women eager to step in and fill the void. And then they will have nothing. No career will keep you from being lonely at night. No career will take care of you when you are sick. You need a husband for that.

Is any of that true to feminism? Probably not. But it is the reality for many women, and there are no easy answers. Middle-aged men with Ivy League degrees and 6 figure salaries will never be in want of female companionship; the same cannot be said of women with the same credentials. In fact, the opposite is true for women with the same resumes – they struggle to prove that they are worthy of companionship. Feminism simply doesn’t have an antidote for that reality. Mrs Clinton could have left her husband easily. He would have found a replacement within the month; she would have found it much harder.

In the wake of such reality, it seems particularly harsh to  judge Mrs Clinton so brutally for her marital choices. It seems even more harsh to criticize her for not empathizing with the other women in her husband’s life. Why should Mrs Clinton listen to Ms Monica Lewinsky’s TED talk about the horrific experiences of 1998? I personally have a lot of empathy for Ms Lewinsky. I cannot even begin to fathom the horror that she went through, and the mark that it has left on her life. But it is easy for me to feel for Ms Lewinsky because she and I have have no personal involvement. She never slept with my husband. But it was extremely personal for Mrs Clinton. It was her husband and her marriage. Should Mrs Clinton feel bad for what happened to Ms Lewinsky? Nope. Mrs Clinton was not the cause of any of Ms Lewinsky’s troubles. All of the trouble and humiliation that Ms Lewinsky went through is solely due to Kenneth Starr and his Republican cronies and sponsors, to include the revolting woman who recorded Ms Lewinsky’s confidential conversations. I am quite sure Mrs Clinton would have preferred that none of it have taken place, considering the impact that it had on her husband’s presidency and her marriage.

Mrs Clinton’s personal choices about her marriage probably did dent her standing among feminists, but they had little to do with her election loss. She lost the election because she failed to do what her husband had so successfully done in the past: build a bridge to working class white people. They voted for Trump in droves because he accurately captured and voiced all of their deep-seated emotions, beliefs, and fears. Feminists may have mixed feelings about Mrs Clinton, but we still voted for her, because we knew that Trump was an unspeakable alternative. And we also knew that Mrs Clinton, for all her faults and marital drama, cares deeply about women’s rights and human rights. She is an authentic voice for feminism; I have never doubted her belief in the feminist movement for one minute.

Last but not least, I found it amusing that India Currents interview with writer Amish Tripathi was published in the same edition as Ms Sarvate’s article. In his interview, Mr Tripathi states the following: “The feminist movement has been driven by the Western paradigm, not the Indian way. And this Western way has, over the past 200 years, morphed into the black/white or a right/wrong narrative. They tend to approach most issues from that perspective. There is no approach of reaching towards a balance …. There should be freedom for everyone to make a choice. This is the heart of male/female equality. Balance is important.”

Why can’t we let Mrs Clinton make a choice about her marriage without throwing her out of the ranks of feminists? Why can’t she be married to a cheating husband and still be an advocate for women’s rights? Does her life have have to be interpreted in such a strict black/white narrative? Or is there room for for human fallacies that are driven by the shortcomings of feminism in the personal lives of women? Perhaps it is time for us to stop being so judgemental about the personal choices of women in public life. Mrs Clinton’s marriage may not live up to our ideals of what the perfect feminist union should be, but even with all of its perceived shortcomings, she clearly does not want to give her marriage up – and she has the ultimate right to decide. After all, isn’t that what feminism is about?

Sumithra, Washington

 

How Can The DNC Rise From The Ashes?

It did not play out as expected for the Democratic Party with a Republican President-elect getting ready to enter the White House. Democrats were hoping for a strong showing to win the House polanalysis_donkeyand the Senate. Instead, the numbers are very different. Out of 435 House members, we now have 188 Democrats versus 247 Republicans, and 44 Democrats against 54 Republicans in the Senate. Those are not the only numbers! We will also see changes on the Supreme Court bench and the gerrymandering will continue.

So the headline in the story of this election—the Democrats just got a whipping!

Now the question is—how do they pick up the pieces, rise and thrive? What can the Democratic National Committee (DNC) do to get their political machinery back on the saddle? What would they see and learn if they peered into the inner recesses of the party soul? Questions need to be asked and answered in terms of strategy to reset its fortunes in the coming years.

1) DNC’s Image is Tarnished: Perception is everything in a politics. How about the DNC try acting swiftly disassociating with everything that is dishonest thus sending a strong message to the electorate? Is the party exhibiting ethical values, and fostering a culture that will reward those with such values? Is this going to be a party that is willing to change and respond to the needs of the people or will it be responsive to corporate America funding it’s campaigns?

2) New Leadership—Fresh Blood. It is time for the DNC to place leaders in the front that will reflect those values and walk the talk. Was the DNC doing enough to encourage new leadership or was everyone just saying “aye” to the establishment? Disband the old party machinery! Bold ideological shifts via bold leadership! Promote strong independent voices, and reward expression of new ideas and vision.

3) Think of the America of Today and It’s Values. What does America need? Are the core values based upon the needs of America and the electorate? Listen hard and adopt the values, after all the party is there to serve the people. Is this the party of a “rigged economy in bed with Wall Street?” The party may need a serious policy shift and grassroots efforts towards winning back the electorate that went with Trump. Is everything perfect enough that we continue business as usual? Or is the electorate disillusioned with DNC’s policies and politics and doesthe party needs to focus upon real change?

4) Bold and Open Communication. If the DNC does not listen to voices that question assumptions, it creates an echo chamber, and eventually there is a price to pay. Some Democrats think that they lost the general election in June with the Hillary Clinton nomination. As they raised their voices, they were targeted, ignored, insulted and others even attempted to brainwash them to favor the establishment story—unbelievable as it may have been—it is true. How do we deal with people who are calling attention to the issues? When California’s Bernie delegates were protesting at the Democratic National Convention, many expressed dissatisfaction with them, and their voices were suppressed. But, when there is a peaceful expression of protest, they should be heard and lessons learnt.

5) Address the Economic Needs of the Middle Class. Bernie Sanders brought attention to this recently. “I come from the white working class, and I am deeply humiliated that the Democratic party cannot talk to the people where I came from.” Is this the party that will question the system and seek to make it better? There are so many unemployed Caucasian white men in Middle America. Jobs have disappeared for those that do not have college degrees. The burgeoning population and the issue of immigration, a changing world, is a real problem affecting them and Trump was speaking to that at packed auditoriums. Is the party going to eschew corporate interests for economic-justice?

6) An Elitist Party. No group can be ignored! Yes the party appeals in urban America, but that has to change quickly. Is this the party that will flaunt expensive Armani jackets hoping for miracle wins, or will they rub shoulders with the blue collar worker, crafting out an agenda that will meet their needs?

7) Obsession with Culture. Is this the party that will flaunt “progressive values” as achievement, or will economic prosperity be the barometer? Are the democrats obsessed with social issues like abortion, equal pay for women, and climate change? But, it is time to question whether this progressive “stuff” hampers the party message. How far will this branding carry you with the segment of the electorate who have jobs, food, housing and a desire for a renewed economic vitality on top of their minds? Here is proof: Whites without a college degree, made up a third of the 2016 electorate; Trump won them by 39 percentage points. Half of these voters said the economy was the most important issue, 14 percent said immigration, a majority opined that international trade reduces American jobs.

8) Education for the Masses. Focus on education can single handedly create a rich vibrant happy economy. How about  massive funding for college education that includes trade school and tiers beyond the community college programs? Mimic the success models from other parts of the world.

9) Integrity and Democracy: Kill the Super Delegates. The electorate wants integrity and true democracy. Can the DNC once and for all kill the Super Delegates, and kill the primary caucuses? Can the DNC simplify the primary election that currently varies from state to state and prevents the majority from having their say?

10) Introspect on Working-Class Resentment of the Poor. That is not classified as racism. The DNC needs to understand the context. Supporting dole outs are not helping the party in its positining.  Is this money thrown into a well or is it really providing value?

In conclusion, “should’ve would’ve” are part of so many social media feeds, with everyone chiming in as they search for answers. We hear slogans like, “let us stay united,” “let us continue the revolution,” “let us change the electoral college,” “let us blame the Bernie guys,” “let us blame the ones who stayed at home,”—the list is long. But, this is the moment for the Democratic party to introspect and learn from within. The media bemoaned that the the Republican party was in shambles before the elections, but, as it turns out it is the DNC that needs to resurrect. Was Trump’s win a fluke or a tactical shortcoming from the DNC—the attitudes and answers will decide whether this party gets re-built or whether it will remain decimated
Indeed, George Santayana’s words cannot ring truer for the state of the DNC today—“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Rishi Kumar is a Saratoga City Councilmember and an executive board member in his 2nd term with the California Democratic Party, who is passionate about political engagement, political empowerment and advancing ethical standards in the political system. You can reach Rishi via his website www.RishiKumar.com

Campaign Rhetoric Revisited

Emotional exhaustion is likely commonplace amongst the electorate. After all, the candidates put forth by the two major parties would hardly qualify as the first choice for most Americans. The Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has been embroiled in a scandal involving the careless handling of classified emails. On the other side, the Republican nominee is billionaire Donald Trump who continues to offend moral sensibilities across the board and seemingly delights in doing so.

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Each of these candidates is vilified by the opposing party in hopes of gathering enough traction to bolster their own case. What’s fascinating, however, about how both of the parties have presented their candidates is that they have relied heavily on emotional appeals to strengthen their respective bases. From the campaign slogans to the highlighted issues and the rhetoric regarding the opponent all showcase masterful uses of propaganda. This isn’t a new occurrence, mind you, but it’s been converted into an art-form when considering the individuals being promoted in this election cycle. In this last leg of the campaign, a close examination of the rhetoric and imagery of the campaigns is helpful to understand how each candidate is being presented to the American voters.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was under FBI investigation this year regarding the use of a private email server to send classified documents. She denied any wrongdoing, barely recanting even after the FBI announced that she was responsible. Yet no indictment was brought forth, something that could have ended her campaign overnight. Ironic that the candidate of choice for the equality-seeking “Black Lives Matter” would receive favoritism in the face of criminal offenses, which is why her campaign slogan isn’t about political issues but gender. “I’m With Her” draws a hard line in the sand, reminding her base that her opponent is a man—the gender of the status quo—lest they are considering casting a vote for a rich, white candidate.

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Businessman Donald Trump is a contradiction of similar magnitude. A life-long Democrat who expressed dissent towards Republicans less than a decade ago, Trump has claimed he believes marriage to be between a man and a woman and has built his platform criticizing immigrants, even though his third wife happens to be one. In fact, a recently surfaced video revealed Trump crudely gloating about making sexual advances on women, which led to theologian Wayne Grudem recanting his support for Trump. Yet the slogan that drives his campaign, “Make America Great Again” has helped him draw voters who buy his rhetoric, which centers on an anti-establishment sentiment. The slogan also begs the question as to what greatness he’s appealing to, since it would be easy enough to connect his words and actions to the highly publicized sexual indiscretions of former presidents Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy, a rather unlikely scenario considering that both happened to be Democrats. Yet this message has connected with a base that holds the opposing party responsible for the current state of political disarray.

With unanswered questions and issues surrounding both candidates, one would imagine the electorate would move away from the two parties to seek outward, yet nine out of ten voters polled were leaning towards one of these two candidates. Curious that an educated and informed electorate would stand for this, the likely reason is that American politics relies heavily on targeting the compartmentalized nature of western education, and the rather binary nature in American culture. Coke vs. Pepsi. Capitalism vs. Socialism. Republican vs. Democrat. As Edward Bernays eloquently explained in Propaganda, an influential book which brought together psychology, democracy, and power published in the late 1920s, compartmentalization allows for “the conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses [which] is an important element in democratic society.” In another vein the binary nature makes it easier to mobilize the masses to, say, vote instead of getting frustrated and giving up on the system altogether.trump1A common thread in political demagoguery on both sides of the aisle has revolved around the failure of politicians to effectively safeguard the public interest. While the right wing has identified this as an inherent flaw in a system that allows for career politicians, the left believes this to be a byproduct of corporate interest manifesting as lobbying. The Republican National Convention brought many excited about a political outsider winning the nomination. Little concern was expressed regarding his moral failures, and his penchant for conveniently changing his stance on issues based on the audience he’s speaking to. In a nutshell, Trump was presented as the anti-establishment solution that America needed.

The Democratic National Convention was hardly any different. In the Democratic primaries, Bernie Sanders regularly criticized Hillary Clinton for running a campaign funded heavily by Wall Street. Yet after Clinton won the nomination, a parade of wealthy celebrities—political and otherwise—marched on stage to support her. Comedian Sarah Silverman even talked down to Bernie’s supporters, expressing that they were being ridiculous for voicing their frustration with the nomination of an establishment candidate. If Edward Bernays had been alive today, he would have applauded the brilliance of both parties. After all, it was he who organized the very first public relations display for Calvin Coolidge a century ago, inviting Hollywood celebrities for breakfast with the candidate in order to show him as a likable candidate to the press. Press and media play crucial roles in the building up—as well as the tearing down—of propaganda.

In the early days of television, the first-ever televised debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon was held on September 26, 1960. Political pundits who heard the debate on the radio felt that they were evenly matched with some even giving the Republican incumbent a slight edge over his younger rival. But those who watched the debate on television thought that Kennedy trumped Nixon. He had a tan, a wide smile and an easy nature, whereas Nixon had just recovered from a knee surgery, looked pale and ineffective. Many felt that his live performance in the debates helped clinch the presidency for Kennedy in a tightly contested election. But we needn’t look to the last century to see the effects of visual imagery in helping shape public opinion.confident_kennedy

It was early 2008 when Shepard Fairey created the iconic “Hope” poster. It arguably became the tipping point in Barack Obama’s successful presidential campaign. Few know that the original iteration of the poster read “Progress,” and included Fairey’s signature “OBEY Star” over the campaign’s sunrise logo. Commissioned by the Obama campaign and managed by publicist (or propagandist, as Bernays would call him) Yosi Sergant, Fairey adapted the poster to read “Hope.” He was also asked to remove the “OBEY Star,” which has been a part of his brand for decades. “The OBEY sticker campaign can be explained as an experiment in phenomenology, [which] attempts to enable people to see clearly something that is right before their eyes but obscured; things that are so taken for granted that they are muted by abstract observation,” reads the manifesto on Fairey’s website.

Incidentally, what was right before his eyes was the rather conscious removal of what had manifested as an anti-authoritarian symbol, a byproduct of that very experiment. As it originally stood, the “Progress” poster with the word “Obey” made a far more accurate observation than its revision, at least according to Fairey’s interview in 2015: “There have been a lot of things that [Obama has] compromised on that I never would have expected. I mean, drones and domestic spying are the last things I would have thought [he’d support].” While authority had a new color in tow, the machine itself remained intact. Had Fairey’s art intuitively captured the conflict he sensed between the man and the machine when “Obey” was featured? If so, his experiment in phenomenology (simplistically described as the objective study of subjective topics like perception and emotions) was derailed when he gave in to the propagandizing of his art.obama-206x300Yet therein lies the problem. Humans are highly subject to their own emotions. This is the underlying premise for psychology, economics, even politics. While it’s easy enough to point out that greed and fear are to be legislated against, Lord Acton observed, “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Those in power seek to hold on to it, employing any and all means necessary. They leverage the very emotions they condemn. The two campaigns use emotional triggers to bolster their cases. It’s easy when her campaign can invoke the fear of a Trump presidency that deports every immigrant. Likewise, someone who has bragged about committing some form of sexual abuse continues to have support behind him because his opponent cannot be trusted. And the media outlets perpetuate these manipulations.

In 1999, the Journal of Educational Psychology published a study labeled, “Effects of Repeated Exposures to a single episode of the television program Blue’s Clues” on the viewing behaviors and comprehension of preschool children. While the age range was certainly limited, the experiment found that continuous repetition led to higher audience retention, and the recalling of transmitted information more readily. This might shed light on why 24-hour news channels recycle content regularly. It’s also why it’s become increasingly difficult to dispel myths and even lies from political discourse. One of the most prevalent ones concerns the “wage gap.” While it is true that there is a twenty-cent gap between men and women, that number is an average across all types of jobs. When looking at the same job, however, the gap shrinks to less than five cents. But after a misleading statistic has been repeated by demagogues incessantly, reality is simply the reiteration of a propagandist’s well-crafted narrative. Of course, this cuts both ways.

trump_hillary3The bases of both parties have consistently made it clear that they rely on talking heads to help decision-making easier for them. But genuine change doesn’t come easily. It’s not a bumper sticker or even a cast ballot. It starts with accepting the inconvenient truth that those you were taught to trust, could betray that trust if it helped their careers. While Mitt Romney was criticized in 2012 for saying that 47% of Americans don’t pay taxes, Hillary Clinton has seen little backlash for claiming that Bernie Sanders’s supporters live in their parents’ basements. Likewise, President Obama’s policies are often criticized by Republicans who don’t seem to realize that he would be considered a moderate Republican just a couple of decades ago. “But when … the herd must think for itself, it does so by means of cliches, pat words or images which stand for a whole group of ideas or experiences,” Bernays observed rather accurately. Neocon. Socialist. Communist. Fascist. It’s much easier to compartmentalize another human being that way, after all.
The reality and influence of propaganda in American politics is unlikely to change overnight. The Internet age has fueled that to an even greater extent. As search engines learn about the individual conducting the search, the results are curated to display links that would interest someone of their political leanings. Further use simply reinforces an echo chamber for most. Compounding this issue is when social media giant Facebook comes under fire for promoting left-wing issues by fraudulently pushing them to the top of their “trending topics.” For these reasons and more, it is increasingly important for Americans to do their research instead of regurgitating what they heard or read. Settling for the chain of command to deliver talking points in bite-size pieces is the very reason this election looks the way it does. So the next time someone suggests voting, ask them who would benefit from the execution of such carefully crafted propaganda: the voters or the establishment?

Based in Southern California, Arpit Mehta is an international visual artist, writer, and a consultant to creatives. As a polymath he is fascinated by the exploration of the human psyche from both a philosophical and a logical perspective, which is why he’s often drawn to topics like politics, economics, and technology.

Hillary Clinton Uses ‘Pokemon Go’ to Get Voters

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PokemonGo the augmented reality mobile app and game is already on more than twice as many phones as Tinder, has twice the engagement rates of Snapchat, and unbelievably, already has a higher percentage of daily active users than Twitter! Nintendo’s stock price is up over 30% in the last week. Pokémon GO is the biggest mobile game in U.S. history according to Survey Monkey. Hillary Clinton is going to use the new Pokemon Go smartphone game to lure voters. “Pokemon Go to the Polls,” as she called it.

The game allows players to capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear throughout the real world. It makes use of GPS and the camera of compatible devices. The game is free-to-play, although it supports in-app purchases of additional gameplay items. There are three main “teams” that people compete from in PokemonGo: Instinct (Yellow), Mystic (Blue) and Valor (Red).

Hillary Clinton is going to leverage this virtual game to attract more customers.  Near a PokeStop, her team can create something called a “Lure” to attract more Pokemon for 30 minutes. This drives traffic through their doors for the next 30 minutes.

Hillary Clinton wants to use the “Lure” to woo and register voters in the key swing state of Ohio, according to her campaign.

“Join us as we go to the Pokestop in Madison Park and put up a lure module, get free pokemon, & battle each other while you register voters and learn more about Sec. Hillary Clinton!!!,” the campaign said in a post on her website. The event is listed as taking place at the Madison Park Pokestop and PokeGYM in Lakewood, Ohio, on Saturday between 1 and 2p.m.

Clinton also mentioned Pokemon Go in Virginia on Thursday while campaigning with potential VP pick Sen. Tim Kaine.

“I don’t know who created Pokemon Go, but I’m trying to figure out how we get them to have Pokemon Go to the polls,” she said, as the crowd shrieked.

Donald Trump shared a video on Facebook Thursday evening featuring Clinton as a Pokemon named “Crooked Hillary.”

The idea for the game was conceived in 2014 by Satoru Iwata of Nintendo and Tsunekazu Ishihara of The Pokémon Company as an April Fools’ Day collaboration with Google, called Pokémon Challenge.

Musical Ballot Boxes

During an election season, anywhere in the world, candidates need an image: to be likeable, and reliable; a platform: explicating stances on issues; a base: of people who donate, vote, support, and work for the candidate; and to add to this list of musts (at least in most parts of the world)—music.

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Music is as personal to the candidate as a base, with as much mass outreach potential as an image. It instantly builds a sonic brand; announces and identifies the candidate. It can be as controversial as the platform, with the power to damage an image. This was evidenced by the Trump campaign, when R.E.M. (for “The End of the World”), Adele (for “Skyfall” and “Rolling in the Deep”), and Aerosmith (for “Dream On”) were among those that cease-desisted their songs from being played at Trump rallies.

Before she stepped on stage to give her presumptive-candidate speech on Super Tuesday II (June 7), Hillary Clinton had Sara Bareilles’ “Brave” broadcasting her message. She apparently spent a few thousand dollars for a Portland music agency to come up with an official playlist. Lyrics play as much of a role in the selection as the mood. Also implicit in the selection is that the musician supports the candidate; broadening the base and/or appeal.

Neil Young and Art Garfunkel had no problems, for example, with Bernie Sanders playing the respective “Rockin’ in the Free World” and “America.” Their fan bases comprise the young at heart, idealists, and romantics, the kind of people Sanders is credited to have attracted the attention of.

Ushering in Politics
Music has made ballot boxes sing the world over. India heard music of the original kind in recent elections. Assam ushered in BJP to the tune of Zubeen Garg’s song  saying that “Assam’s joy is everybody’s joy,” the last two words being a play on the candidate’s name, Sarvananda.

Tamil Nadu had an election anthem that urged citizens to vote,  “Our freedom fighters fought for our right to vote. Let’s vote, it’s our duty.” A trendy Tamil pop song by Put Chutney and Culture Machine urged the electorate to vote NOTA (None of the Above) if they’re disillusioned by mainstream candidates/parties.  Trinamool Congress had Anupam Roy composing for Mamta Bannerjee in Bengali, “It’s been five years of great change in West Bengal; Mother, Earth, and Man have flourished.”

2015 had Bihar listening to “Phir Se Nitishe” (Nitish, Again) sung by popular Bollywood singer Neeti Mohan and “Iss baar BJP, ek baar BJP” sung by Bhojpuri well known singer Manoj Tiwari. 2013 had Prime Minister Narendra Modi featured in a song that said NaMo is the Maha Nayak (greatest protagonist), while the Congress was humming along to “Sab Ki Yahi Pukar, Congress iss baar” (Everybody’s calling for Congress).

But the most revolutionary election song in South Asia has got to be the 1988 PPP’s (Pakistan People’s Party) “Dila Teer Bija … Jiye, Jiye Bhutto Benazir.” It was iconic because it unleashed melody publicly on the Pakistani masses after Islamization had virtually wiped out social music from making a public appearance; it was the promise of democracy after a long time; it heralded the return of hope to a region with the face of a popular icon; it got the masses in and around Pakistan to its feet. The music was catchy; still is.

“Let’s ask Ram about it!” is the start of a flirty Q&A sponsored by Nepal’s Election Commission and Democracy and Election Watch, which regularly employs Lok Dohori (Street/People Musical Performance) to coax the uninitiated population into the voting process. This video has four men and four women dressed in folkwear and featuring voter registration how-to. As is characteristic of most folk tunes, the rhythm has your head nodding in no time.

Rocking Indonesia
The most “rocking” note was in Indonesia. Current Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s (Jokowi) 2014 election can be partially attributed to his musical campaign, a precursor of which was the success of his 2012 Governorship campaign music video. Jokowi’s volunteers had created a parody of One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” that lamented Jakarta’s state of bureaucracy, the reason to elect him, of course. The Youtube video shows a twenty-something getting out of bed in a panic because he has to update his ID card. The panic grows as he is held up by traffic and then long queues at a government office; at long last, an official comes out to announce it’ll take years. Conclusion: Jokowi is the need of the hour!

Inside, Indonesia has reported that even musicians Sting and Jason Mraz and rock group Arkarna encouraged Indonesian voters to support democracy and get behind Jokowi in 2014.

Jokowi’s rival Prabowo Subianto tried to make music campaigning history by featuring a popular rock icon called Ahmad Dhani. However, it spectacularly back-fired, as it had Nazi-looking imagery and tones, completely annihilating the spirit of the song it was based on—Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” It was no competition for Jokowi’s captivating music-video and a sold-out open-air concert attended by tens of thousands, featuring a rapper called Kill the DJ and a crowd shouting and holding up two-fingered salutes—Salam Dua Jari.
#2 was Jokowi’s number on the ballot and it made music for him.

Priya Das is an enthusiastic follower of world music and avidly tracks intersecting points between folk, classical, jazz and other genres.

Hillary Clinton Hires Sanders’ Top Student Organiser Kunoor Ojha

ojha_largeOnce the Democratic nomination was hers Hillary Clinton launched a new “millennial engagement” program. Among the weapons in her arsenal is now Kunoor Ojha who will serve as the Clinton campaign’s National Campus and Student Organizing Director. Ojha will be tasked with listening to young voters and convincing them to back Clinton. For the general election the youth vote is seen as a crucial piece to add to the vote from women, older voters, and people of color.

Ojha began her political activism as a field organizer on ‘Obama for America’ campaign in Chicago in 2011, and worked in various state-level campaigns before joining Bernie Sander’s campaign in 2015.

Kunoor Ojha, the first senior aide to move from the Sanders campaign to Clinton’s, will join Anne Hubert, formerly of Viacom, and Sarah Audelo, who’s worked as a political and field director at Rock the Vote. Hubert will be advising Clinton on multiplatform messaging, outreach and producing content for younger voters. Hubert has also worked in development and programming for MTV and mtvU, MTV’s college network.

Ojha will serve as national campus and student organizing director.

Why I Am Part of Hillary Clinton’s Campaign

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service to others,” said Mahatma Gandhi. In this and every election cycle, the values of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Mother Teresa are so important—compassion, kindness, and non-violence.

In this 2016 election year, the role of Asian Americans and particular Indian Americans is very important to ensuring that the most considerate politician wins and takes our country forward.

I’m a Hillary Clinton supporter and I want to see her succeed. When Hillary Clinton was asked how the country could confront a new wave of fear, her response was thoughtful and considerate: “We’ve got to do everything we can to weed out hate and plant love and kindness,” she told a crowd of several hundreds in Iowa. In her campaign Clinton has  embraced “love and kindness” as a refrain.

In Alabama, she told lawyers that justice means “standing beside love.” In Atlanta, Clinton promised black ministers she’d run on a “love and kindness platform.” And after Trump said he’d block Muslims from entering the country, her campaign quickly churned out a new catch phrase: “Love trumps Hate.”

In January “Hillary for America” announced the launch of its Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) for the Hillary Leadership Council—a group of over 150 elected officials, community, and grassroots leaders to help her campaign engage, energize and organize support in the community. I am part of the AAPI National Leadership Council for Hillary.

My involvement in Hillary’s campaign is an example of Indian American contribution to the fabric of American social and political life. I can participate in the debate about issues that are important to us: the nation’s broken immigration system, accessibility and affordablity to higher education, quality health care at lower cost, support and incentives for businesses …

Hillary Clinton has vowed to reduce the visa backlog and help unauthorized immigrants with deep community ties that “deserve the chance to stay.”

Applicants from the Asia-Pacific region make up about 40 percent of the family visa backlog. Some from the India  have been waiting for a visa for 12-14  years. If you’re a U.S. citizen and your brother lives in India, it will take at least 12 -15 years to get a green card for him.  Hillary has been  strongly fighting for immigration reform.

It is important for Indian Americans and Asian Americans to get politically engaged, energized and involved. The California Primary is on June 7th and Asian American voters in Nevada, Virginia, California, Florida and other states can determine the electoral outcome in those states.

Ajay Jain Bhutoria is an author, speaker and thought leader. Ajay was recognized by the State Senate Majority Leader for promoting Indian culture, building bilateral relationships between the Bay Area and India and for bringing the Indian American community together. You can reach him atBhutoria.ajay@gmail.com