I apologize for this political intrusion. I really don’t like writing about this stuff, which is why I don’t do it as much as I did back in the early 2000s when I started out. But sometimes you gotta get things off your chest, and sometimes you feel like an asshole if you don’t say something. I hope we won’t get into arguments about all this, but you can read it or not and consider it or not, and I promise we’ll be back to discussing Mario Van Peebles movies and shit in no time. Thank you.
BREAKING: HILLARY CLINTON RECEIVES COVETED VERN ENDORSEMENT
Normally I don’t endorse candidates, but Trump recently got the endorsement of the official KKK newspaper. I’d like to think I have more readers than them (?) so maybe this balances it out.
Bottom line of this column: I implore you, if you are a registered U.S. voter, to vote for Hillary Clinton. I know there are many reasons why many people don’t want to. Let me bring up a couple of points I think are relevant.
* MY FEELINGS ABOUT HILLARY.
I don’t hate her like you hate her. I don’t worship her either. I went for Obama over her in the 2008 primary, and I held her vote for the Iraq war resolution against her. I would say my politics are closer to Bernie Sanders’ than hers. But I didn’t have a preference in this primary because I liked his promises better, believed hers more. I think she’s more capable of getting some of it done. I don’t know what it is about our side that we have to be such purists, that we feel entitled to have a president just as far left as us and spit at one who’s not. I guess as I get older I get more understanding of centrists, even if I’m not one of them. About half of the country is right wingers anyway. Would it even be fair to have an extreme lefty as president all the time like we dream of?
Clinton’s been fighting for causes her whole life, first as a young Republican, then changing her views because of the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement, and believing in working for change inside the system. She did it in student government, as a lawyer, as a First Lady, as a senator, as Secretary of State (even as an author). People have treated her drive and ambition as a bad thing. It makes her cold and inhuman and suspicious. Fuck that. That’s stupid. Normal people aren’t presidential material. Clinton is.
For most of that time she has been rabidly, goofily, violently opposed by the GOP. I first liked her when she was the First Lady of the United States. She drove certain Republicans crazy because she was trying to promote health care legislation. What the fuck is this woman doing? How dare she use her position to try to improve life for millions of people? She’s supposed to be hosting the Easter egg hunt. They were at war with her husband, but I swear they hated her more.
I don’t think many of the young, well-meaning Sanders supporters knew that their impression of Clinton, and many of their talking points against her, came from decades of propaganda from the GOP fringes, a mix of extreme partisanship, misogyny and conspiracy theory that they accepted as truth. I definitely don’t think they understood that it was an attack on her for starting the fight for health care that Sanders was continuing.
It is extraordinary that through this she held her head high and refused to give up, continuing from First Lady to Senator to Secretary of State. People always say “I’m sick of these Bushes and Clintons controlling everything,” which would make sense if she was a president’s son or something. A president’s wife has not gone on to do the things she’s done before. That is unique to her.
During her public service she has also made mistakes. Everybody does. Most do not make them under the looking-for-any-possible-misstep microscope that she does. Other people have been Secretary of State when embassies were attacked, but I don’t know of one who was publicly grilled and shamed and blamed for it for years. I imagine other Secretaries have made mistakes on par with her improper cybersecurity, but who knows. Colin Powell didn’t have people spending decades of their lives trying to find some way to ruin him, so that kind of thing wouldn’t come to our attention.
As it stands, a congress and FBI who are openly out to crucify Clinton on any possible thing have exhausted time and money and resources on both of these issues. Over and over and over again they’ve had to reluctantly admit that she didn’t do anything. They’ve intentionally dragged it out until this election so they can keep implying that maybe there’s some information out there that proves a secret sinister plot. Meanwhile, Russian hackers and Wikileaks have dumped thousands of stolen emails from the Clinton campaign online, taking things out of context, trying to make them sound sinister, doing a poor job if you actually read the shit and try to understand what it means, but knowing that most people won’t.
You can’t prove a negative, but I find it hard to believe that there is some smoking gun to some horrible scheme out there. How would these veteran teams of obsessive witch hunters and garbage snoopers have gone so long without finding it? Even Bush had to admit there were no weapons of mass destruction at some point. These guys never will. But we could stop taking them seriously one of these years.
Still, I think both the Benghazi tragedy and the private email server would be legitimate discussions to have about her success as Secretary of State, if she was going up against a competent candidate. That is not the case right now.
* HILLARY IS A WOMAN BY THE WAY.
I feel like it should be mentioned that many dudes are being pretty fucking cavalier about the possibility of a woman president. In all our history we haven’t had one, haven’t come close, haven’t even had one as the nominee for one of the major parties, don’t have another one that seems like a possibility in the future. We haven’t even figured out for sure whether it would be the “First Husband” or what his role would be. There are many reasons why having a woman president would be good for us as a society. If it’s useful to have a female perspective on directing a WONDER WOMAN movie then imagine having a female perspective on running America! But also, most of us are trying to move away from the world where Trump and, yes, Mr. Clinton, see women as something to “grab by the pussy” and what not. One simple step toward that is to have girls and especially boys grow up in a world that is not always ruled and dominated by dudes. To see the world differently.
Of course I’m not saying to vote for her only because she’s a woman. There are many women who I would not consider qualified, including the one running for the Green Party. I just think you should consider the enormity of this opportunity before saying “Sure, I want a woman to be president, just not this one [the first in the entire history of our country to ever have a shot].”
* TO YOUNG PEOPLE PLANNING TO VOTE THIRD PARTY.
The main reason I felt like I should write this was to talk to young left-leaning people who don’t want to vote for Clinton because they wanted Bernie Sanders or they think she’s too centrist, too corporate, whatever. I’ve been there. It was in the year 2000. If you’re too young to remember that election, I think you could learn from it.
See, I was one of you. I voted for Nader. He was our Bernie. Less charismatic, more accomplished in the world of car safety. But he represented a more idealistic liberalism, less compromised, anti-corporate. I thought Al Gore was too middlebrow, too much part of the system, too close to Republican. Much as people hold things about Bill Clinton against Hillary, I didn’t like that Gore’s wife was the poster woman for the movement to censor rock and rap music in the ’80s. (Ha ha. That seemed like a big deal at the time.)
Some blame Nader for the outcome of the election, because if Nader voters in Florida had voted Gore it wouldn’t have been close enough for all the recounting shenanigans that ended up giving it to Bush. I think I agree with them because if I had voted Nader in a state that was close I know I would feel like an asshole. But I don’t really think arguing about that is productive.
What those years did for me was dispel the myth in my mind that there’s not that much difference between Democrats and Republicans. They’re both part of the system, subject to lobbyists and corporate money and how the game works, career politicians, blah blah blah. Although those cliches are true, or based in truth, and things we must fight to improve, that is not the whole story. Eight years of Bush taught us that. Our theory was wrong. There’s a BIG fucking difference.
Let’s suppose Gore was president, and 9-11 still happened. We don’t know what he would’ve done. We do know he would not have invaded Iraq. That was a specific goal of Bush’s cabinet and they found their window. And so many of our problems now date back to the invasion of Iraq. Even Trump knows to say he was against it.
I think it’s unlikely that a Gore administration would’ve given us the PATRIOT Act, or Abu Ghraib and all the other torturing, but I won’t speculate too much. I’ll just say that it seems to me many of the things we’re ashamed of today, and that inspired and emboldened the next generation of terrorists, came from people like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft and Paul Wolfowitz, who worked behind the scenes for Bush and were very ideologically different from the people who would’ve worked for Gore.
I think it’s safe to say that we would be years ahead on environmental policy. If we’d voted Gore in we would’ve had a president trying to use regulations and diplomacy to fight climate change. Instead he had to grow a beard and make an ON DEADLY GROUND inspired documentary about it while Bush put climate deniers in charge of science committees and actively fought against even believing in it, let alone doing something about it. And it wasn’t only climate change – the administration and the Republicans of the time actively fought against science in general. Republican icon Nancy Reagan, having suffered through the hell of Alzheimers like my family and some of yours, had to come out of seclusion to try to change their minds about stem cell research. Didn’t work. Wasn’t personal to them.
By the way, speaking of climate change, I also think Gore (and probly most presidents of either party) would’ve had a faster and more competent rescue effort when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. That shit was abominable. These choices matter.
If you’re of a certain age you’ve lived most or all of your aware years under Obama, a president who truly believes in many of the things we do on the left, who speaks to us like adults, who knows what he’s talking about, who has had many accomplishments despite unprecedented obstructionism from an opposing party who would be against ice cream if he said he was for it. (Seriously, they were against dijon mustard at one point.) Many of the things he had to struggle against, and that we hit him for, are leftovers from the Bush years: the Iraq war, the Afghanistan war, Guantanomo Bay, domestic spying, the economy, Wall Street regulation or lack thereof. Whatever you think of his handling of these things, or continuation of these programs, most of them exist in the first place because we got Bush instead of Gore. These things make a difference. In this election, it seems to me, more than ever.
* “GIVE ME SOMETHING TO VOTE FOR, NOT JUST SOMETHING TO VOTE AGAINST.”
That’s what people say if you want them to vote against Trump. Clearly they don’t have the same problem voting against Clinton.
If you really believe this is a “lesser of two evils” situation, fine. Not only is there no shame in choosing the one that will do the least damage, but it is your duty to. If you had to choose between two irresponsible people to take care of your kid, and one was clearly way worse, but you didn’t like either of them, you wouldn’t say “ah, fuck it, I refuse to take part in this” and then hand the kid to the worse one and leave. This is the same thing except it’s your country. So it’s your kid and everybody else’s kids and the guy wants to cancel your kid’s insurance and if your kid is black he wants the cops to stop him and pat him down for weapons all the time. And you could’ve chosen the other one.
You don’t like being forced into voting for a party you don’t like. Fair enough. I really wish the Green Party and Libertarian Party were better parties with smarter candidates and were taken seriously enough that it was a four-or-more-way battle of ideas. In this election I believe voting for the Green Party is more likely to be damaging toward that future. If Trump wins in close enough margins that the Greens made a difference, they will not be quickly forgiven, if ever. Have you heard from Ralph Nader lately?
I understand the appeal of symbolic stands. But we can instead work toward an actual progressive future. If you care about that the way to go is make sure Clinton gets in office, then pressure her for more of the policies you want (like Sanders with the college program, and Black Lives Matter meeting with her), and fight against whatever you think she does wrong. If Trump gets into office our best possible (far-fetched) scenario is to find some fresh new Bernie Sanders and get him elected four years from now for 1-2 terms of starting to dig us out of a Trump hole. That’s a bad strategy.
* I DON’T LIKE TRUMP, YOU GUYS.
I really think that even someone who agrees with all of Trump’s politics should never vote for him. He’s an embarrassment to our country from the surface to the core. Born so rich he got to stay that way despite a lifetime of disastrous business decisions, made famous for tacky opulence, beauty pageants and a trashy celebrity game show, entering politics by cynically peddling a ridiculous conspiracy theory, running for president without ever making it seem like he understands how the government works, or has tried to think of any specific policies, or feels there is any reason to learn about any of this stuff, making up bullying nicknames for the other candidates, trying to succeed only by being the alpha-asshole who dominates by being louder and ruder and talking more. Even his pathetic “locker room talk” excuse for that tape where he was bragging about how being a buffoonish D-list reality star helps him get away with molesting people shows that he sees himself as the loudmouth prick everybody hated and feared after school gym class. The worst guy in school who everybody wants to see overweight and unhappy at the reunion. Instead they show up and find him bragging about his “ever-expanding collection of award-winning golf courses (18 thus far in the U.S. and worldwide.)”
(No joke, that is a quote from the biography he provided for the voter’s pamphlet. See for yourself.)
And I don’t see how they can get past that wall thing. You know what, let’s disagree on the wall. I find it un-American and anti-democratic to want to build walls around shit, you think it’s a good idea, that’s fine. But what about how he says that he’s gonna make Mexico pay for it? He has said that to you hundreds of times. And you know that’s blatant horse shit, right? Right. So the question is, is he really so out of his mind he believes that? Or does he just say that to you thinking you’d believe that kinda shit? Doesn’t that piss you off? That would piss me off! He’s supposed to be on your side. You shouldn’t let that creep talk to you like that.
I mean, if Bernie did all that stuff, I’d have to be like “I agree with him on a lot of stuff, but FUCK that guy!” It’s weird to me that people could have such a visceral kneejerk hatred to Hillary Clinton but be willing to tolerate this slimy blowhard. I can’t relate.
And there’s one other thing that transcends politics, this is more of an outlawvern.com issue. There was a 1997 New Yorker profile where he called BLOODSPORT “an incredible, fantastic movie” but then revealed that he fast forwards to the fights “to get this two-hour movie down to forty-five minutes.” I can’t abide by that. You watch BLOODSPORT for the story. If you’re only watching for the fights there are way better movies that you, as a rich world traveler, should fucking know about.
Donald Trump: wrong on BLOODSPORT. Wrong for America.
* AND I FUCKING HATE RACISM!
The biggest reason I’m proud to vote AGAINST Trump is one that’s much bigger than Trump. He’s a small man being swept along by the currents of the worst parts of our history. This man, who made his first appearance in the New York Times for being sued by the government for deliberately excluding black people from renting in his buildings, explicitly built his campaign on racism and xenophobia. He opened by calling Mexicans rapists and vowing to build a wall to keep them out. He spent much of his convention demonizing all immigration on the basis of a few cases of immigrants who committed crimes (a standard he doesn’t hold assault rifles to). He worked people into a frenzy about refugees – people who need fucking refuge! – as probable infiltrators. He proposed a database of Muslims in the U.S. and spying on or closing down mosques. He talks about “inner cities” as “hellholes” and said in a debate that his answer for improving race relations is stop and frisk. He told his followers that people in “certain communities” were going to steal the election from them. etc. etc. The primary theme of his campaign is fear of non-whites.
Now, I’m trying to not be insulting about this. I don’t think I’m good enough. I would hope that most of his voters are not racists. But clearly racism isn’t a dealbreaker for them.
“Make America great again” could mean anything. To me, it means let’s have Nicolas Cage starring in more theatrical releases. To many Trump voters, it is clear, it means fighting back against what we see as progress. They grew up in a white male dominated society, and as things shift a little bit toward a more fair setup the change is scary for them. When they say “take back our country,” they mean from that black president, from this woman, from these liberals with their liberalism. They don’t like “all this political correctness,” where they’re expected to respect the feelings of minorities. They don’t want to have to know about this trans business. When cops kill black people, they don’t want to have to hear from the people who are upset about it. It didn’t used to be like that. They feel under attack. They don’t consider any of that racism, but they find themselves on the same team, in the same crowds, as people who could be characters in the movie GREEN ROOM.
After the last election I read convincing claims that the new demographics of the U.S. made it so you could no longer win by appealing to white people’s racism. This is why I have always believed that Trump couldn’t win. But the GOP is always so focused on redrawing district borders around racial lines, and changing voting laws specifically to try to discourage voting by minorities. And now these close polls are making me nervous. What if we’re not there yet?
Trump is like a sidewalk caricature of a race-baiting Republican. He’s so much less subtle about it that he has embarrassed the rest of them and emboldened actual white supremacists to see him as part of their movement, inspiring the KKK and David Duke to try to re-enter the mainstream. Preventing his election is voting against all of those assholes. It’s saying fuck you, stick your Southern strategy up your ass, you can’t do this shit anymore, goodbye motherfuckers.
This should not be so close. This movement needs to be smashed into the ground. They cannot feel accepted by society. Imagine if Trump wins! These out and proud “deplorables” would be vindicated. They would be the majority. This would be their America, “taken back” from us, fair and square. Don’t you think it’s important to prevent that?
And you know what, if you hate Clinton then it’s even more meaningful. That you’re willing to vote for a woman you hate in order to tell the bigots to go fuck themselves – let that be your protest vote. Be a part of this. It’s something to be proud of.
So vote now if you have early voting, if not be sure you know where your correct polling place is for Tuesday. Read up on the other elections and propositions on your ballot, and get things rolling. I will give you a high five afterwards.
Anyway, thanks for letting me get that off my chest, sorry if I was insulting to anyone, let’s do what we can, hope for the best, and try to get along afterwards. More movie reviews soon.
p.s. Everybody please try to be nice and respectful to each other if you comment. We’re all passionate but none of us need any more negativity in our lives.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.