Dall-E Mini, the AI-powered text-to-image generator has taken over the internet. With its ability to render nearly anything your meme-loving heart desires, anyone can make their dreams come true.
DALL-E 2, a portmanteau of Salvador Dali, the surrealist and Wall-E, the Pixar robot, was created by OpenAI and is not widely available; it creates far cleaner imagery and was recently used to launch Cosmpolitan’s first AI-generated cover. The art world has been one of the first industries to truly embrace AI.
The open-sourced miniature version is what’s responsible for the memes. Programmer Boris Dayma wants to make AI more accessible; he built the Dall-E Mini program as part of a competition held by Google and an AI community called Hugging Face.
And with great technology, comes great memes. Typing a short phrase into Dall-E Mini will manifest 9 different amalgamations, theoretically shaping into reality the strange images you’ve conjured. Its popularity leads to too much traffic, often resulting in an error that can be fixed by refreshing the page or trying again later.
If you want to be a part of the creation of AI-powered engines, it all starts with code. CodeAcademy explains that Dall-E Mini is a seq2seq model, “typically used in natural language processing (NLP) for things like translation and conversational modeling.” CodeAcademy’s Text Generation course will teach you how to utilize seq2seq, but they also offer opportunities to learn 14+ coding languages at your own pace.
You can choose the Machine Learning Specialist career path if you want to become a Data Scientist who develops these types of programs, but you can also choose courses by language, subject (what is cybersecurity?) or even skill - build a website with HTML, CSS, and more.
CodeAcademy offers many classes for free as well as a free trial; it’s an invaluable resource for giving people of all experience levels the fundamentals they need to build the world they want to see.
As for Dall-E Mini, while some have opted to create beauty, most have opted for memes. Here are some of the internet’s favorites:
no fuck every other dall-e image ive made this one is the best yet pic.twitter.com/iuFNm4UTUM
— bri (@takoyamas) June 10, 2022
There’s no looking back now, not once you’ve seen Pugachu; artificial intelligence is here to stay.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy is defined by his pursuit of equal rights for Black Americans through unity and peace.
He is canonized in American history as the patron saint of change through passive measures.
His infamous "I Have A Dream" speech was a rallying cry for this country to live up to its promises of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. King urged us to be a nation that advocates for the inclusion of all of its citizens in the American Dream, no matter their race.
But Dr. King's message of non-violence and civil disobedience is often misinterpreted. For some in the Black community, it means doing absolutely nothing in the face of physical harm from white people. In the hands of many conservatives and racists, his beliefs are a gag order against racial injustice. They have distorted King's dream in an attempt to make us docile.
The marches and protests during the Civil Rights Movement were peaceful acts of civil disorder. King implored members of the movement not to engage in chaos and destruction. Unfortunately, these non-threatening gatherings became violent due to agitation from law enforcement, despite honoring King's wishes of peaceful resistance.
At the time, King's call for unity and equal rights was considered radical and unpatriotic. The FBI had him under surveillance, and he was the recipient of death threats from white extremists. King was a beacon of peace; but, his cause made him a target for hate.
The narrative surrounding King's death has been warped, as well. Revisionist history paints him as a martyr when, in reality, he was a victim of white supremacy. His assassination in 1968 was a cruel irony. He preached peace only for its antithesis to be his demise.
Today, civil unrest is at an all-time high. Innocent Black lives are taken by police almost daily, and the election of President Trump brought to light how much America hasn't changed since Jim Crow. We've applied the same tactics that King advised his followers to use, only to receive the same treatment decades later.
When highlighting the level of violence against non-aggressive demonstrations, many on the Right feel that Black people's right to protest is a justification for police brutality. In their eyes, the need to peacefully assemble to combat racism is excessive and unnecessary, as if any non-violent uprising is a threat and has to be silenced to preserve law and order.
Even Black entertainers and athletes have faced public backlash for speaking against racial inequality. NFL Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was blackballed for kneeling in protest against police brutality. Kendrick Lamar's "Alright", a song about Black people overcoming struggle, was deemed an anti-police anthem. White America demonized them and others for using their platforms to bring awareness.
Meanwhile, white nationalism doesn't face the same level of persecution that Black liberation receives. Racists and fascists that subscribe to Trumpism are considered "patriots." But Black people seeking a level playing field are labeled as treasonous. One side has resorted to rioting as a last resort. The other looked at insurrection as a first solution.
Over 50 years after his death, Dr. King's message of peaceful resistance is a patronizing jab at the Black community. His philosophy isn't a factor when barbaric bigots are looking to harm us. Instead, it's as a pseudo restraining order to thwart our attempts at seeking change and potential retaliation.
For many Americans, Dr. King was a Civil Rights Superman. Unfortunately, his stance has become the movement's kryptonite.
Trump supporters swarmed the U.S. capitol during today's Senate debate over the Electoral College votes.
This article was originally published at 3:55 p.m. on January 6. It was updated at 5:50 p.m. on January 6.
Less than a year after Black Lives Matter protesters were met with tear gas, rubber bullets, and countless instances of brutality from police officers across the country, Trump supporters are being let off rather easy for...also protesting.
January 6 marked the Senate debate over the Electoral College count, during which the soon-to-be Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and various other Trump cronies asserted that Joe Biden did not win the 2020 election (though he did) and the current president would have been reelected in a landslide if it weren't for massive voter fraud (which didn't exist).
As Senators debated in the capitol, a swarm of protestors — donning Trump swag, MAGA hats, and, yes, Confederate flags—began encroaching in. At around 2 PM EST, however, Capitol Police notified everyone inside the building to shelter in place. The protesters had, in fact, breached the capitol building.
A Timeline: Here's Video Evidence of What's Going On
First, Trump supporters began gathering outside the Capitol steps. As they inched up the steps, it appeared as though police officers did little to hold them back — save for a few spritzes of pepper spray.
View from inside the Capitol as people gather on the West Front. The Capitol is currently on lockdown. https://t.co/XKNKWNbHxZ— Caroline Brehman (@Caroline Brehman) 1609959899.0
Whoa: Trump supporters going at it with the police on the steps of the Capitol as Congress counts the Electoral Col… https://t.co/xr73tTSmHP— philip lewis (@philip lewis) 1609956924.0
It's a far cry from the violence that police enacted on Black Lives Matter protesters last summer.
This is WILD https://t.co/dC8whGzIgw— philip lewis (@philip lewis) 1609957919.0
Protesters then raised a cross outside of the Capitol (unclear if they plan on nailing Trump to it).
The Capitol's front doors were shattered as protesters then came inside, demanding to see senators.
Holy shit https://t.co/dofEG2SmqP— Jim Newell (@Jim Newell) 1609960908.0
Video of Capitol breakin. Trump protesters are demanding to see senators https://t.co/w7jTNYAedd— Steven Nelson (@Steven Nelson) 1609960776.0
Protesters were able to walk throughout the building with little to no pushback from security.
They breached the Capitol https://t.co/tWKxojW2Hr— Matt Laslo (@Matt Laslo) 1609960531.0
Protesters began getting violent with police officers in an attempt to reach the senate chamber. Chants of "U.S.A." echo throughout the building.
Police and Trump supporters are going at it INSIDE of the Capitol. Never thought we’d see something like this https://t.co/MqBJoKYHbP— philip lewis (@philip lewis) 1609962379.0
DC police reported that one person had been shot inside the capitol. MSNBC shared a clip in which a bloodied woman was shown leaving the capitol on a stretcher.
BREAKING: DC paramedic source tells me one person shot in Capitol. CPR in progress— Lindsay Watts (@Lindsay Watts) 1609963311.0
MSNBC just showed video of a bloodied woman on a stretcher being taken from the Capitol (I won’t show the video b… https://t.co/rst32DQ7bS— philip lewis (@philip lewis) 1609963598.0
Protestors found their way to the senate chamber. No tear gas, no rubber bullets.
A source reportedly told Aaron C. Davis, investigative reporter for the Washington Post, that the Defense Department denied a request by DC officials to deploy the National Guard to the capitol.
BREAKING: A source tells me The Defense Department has just denied a request by DC officials to deploy the National Guard to the US Capitol.— Aaron C. Davis (@Aaron C. Davis) 1609962905.0
President Trump's advice: "Stay peaceful," coming from the same man who told Black Lives Matter protesters, "When the looting starts, the shooting starts."
Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1609961938.0
Despite bipartisan demands, Trump does not strengthen his language at all.
Reports of violence and injuries, including a woman shot in the neck, confirm escalating violence. Later in the evening, MSNBC confirmed that the woman who was shot had died.
Pro-Trump rioters have breached the US Capitol and one woman has been shot as the building is engulfed in chaos aft… https://t.co/aMJQq74oJ5— CNN (@CNN) 1609966127.0
BREAKING: The woman has died, several law enforcement officials say - @PeteWilliamsNBC https://t.co/iwXCYHj6IT— MSNBC (@MSNBC) 1609973306.0
After a confusing delay, more DC National Guard troops are finally mobilized to quell the mob.
LATEST: Trump has ordered the National Guard to the Capitol after his supporters breached barricades and broke wind… https://t.co/AwLoGMWNJe— Bloomberg (@Bloomberg) 1609965928.0
Kanye West's presidential campaign might be a consequence of a manic episode that deserves sympathy and understanding, but if Kanye gains traction, he has the potential to hurt all of us.
Since he announced his presidential campaign on July 4th, Kanye West has been the subject of endless press, headlines, and speculations—both about his mental health and his ability to harm American democracy.
We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am runni… https://t.co/MySzN3vjIB— ye (@ye) 1593909493.0
West's campaign has been a labyrinth of twists and turns from start to finish. After he posted the initial announcement of his campaign on Twitter (and garnered millions of likes and an endorsement from Elon Musk), he described his platform as "anti-abortion" and "anti-vaccination" in a Forbes interview.
West, who has previously expressed support for Donald Trump, appears to be running on his own platform, which he calls "The Birthday Party," "because when we win, it's everybody's birthday," he said.
Though he launched his campaign after the filing deadline in many states, he paid the $35,000 fee to appear on the ballot in Oklahoma and appears to be encouraging people to vote for him, and he seems to be campaigning seriously.
The problem here is that we also have one of the most important elections of all time coming up, and we can't rule out the chance that Kanye's candidacy might present a potential threat to Joe Biden's campaign.
A Tumultuous Rally Leads Kim Kardashian to Call for Grace and Understanding
After an emotional campaign rally in South Carolina, Kanye wrote a series of tweets which led many people to worry about his mental health. West openly discussed his daughter North West and told the world that he and Kim considered aborting her until Kanye received a sign from God through his laptop. "My screen went black and white. And God said, 'If you f–k with my vision, I f–k with yours' … And I called my girlfriend and said, 'We're going to have this child,'" West said. He also maligned Harriet Tubman and said she "never actually freed the slaves, she just had them work for other white people."
Kim Kardashian followed up West's announcement with a call for privacy and compassion.
"As many of you know, Kanye has bi-polar disorder," she wrote. "Anyone who has this or has a loved one in their life who does, knows how incredibly complicated and painful it is to understand…" She continued, "I understand Kanye is subject to criticism because he is a public figure and his actions at times can cause strong opinions and emotions. He is a brilliant but complicated person who on top of the pressure of being an artist and a black man, who experienced the painful loss of his mother and has to deal with the pressure and isolation that is heightened by his bi-polar disorder. Those who are close with Kanye know his heart and understand his words some times do not align with his intentions.
"Living with bi-polar disorder does not diminish or invalidate his dreams and his creative ideas, no matter how big or unobtainable they may feel to some. That is part of his genius and as we have all witnessed, many of his big dreams have come true.
"We as a society talk about giving grace to the issue of mental health as a whole, however we should also give it to the individuals who are living with it in times when they need it the most. I kindly ask that the media and public give us the compassion and empathy that is needed so that we can get through this. Thank you for those who have expressed concern for Kanye's well being and for your understanding."
West then tweeted an apology to Kim:
I would like to apologize to my wife Kim for going public with something that was a private matter. I did not cover… https://t.co/vuFlYDtP2d— ye (@ye) 1595710280.0
Kardashian West reportedly flew out to Wyoming for an emotional visit with Kanye following the rally and statement. Tabloids report that their marriage is on the rocks. According to People, the couple has flown to a private resort in the Caribbean to focus on their marriage. "They've decided to travel together so they can be away in private," said a source, "and Kardashian is 'exhausted'." Reportedly politics is off the table for this last-ditch effort to save their marriage.
The Complexities of Discussing Kanye's Bipolar Disorder
West's bipolar disorder has been public knowledge for a while now, and many believe this presidential campaign is a result of a manic episode. Certainly West deserves infinite compassion during episodes, as does anyone struggling with mental illness. "No jokes right now," wrote singer Halsey on Twitter. "I have dedicated my career to offering education and insight about bipolar disorder and I'm so disturbed by what I'm seeing. Personal opinions about someone aside, a manic episode isnt [sic] a joke. If you can't offer understanding or sympathy, offer your silence."
And Nylah Burton wrote, "Having a 'laugh' about how he expresses himself still perpetuates ableism, even while West is incredibly wealthy and famous. And ableism affects people with much less privilege than him."
The situation is, all in all, extremely nuanced. "When Kanye says terrible things about our heroes and about Black people in general, those comments hurt, especially for Black women," writes Jenn M. Jackson for Teen Vogue. "We have to be clear, though, that racism, bigotry, misogynoir, and other hateful language are not related to mental illness." This is, Jackson says, a "both/and" moment: a time where "we must both recognize the complex nature of mental health in Black communities and in society at-large. We must also protect those who are most vulnerable to harm."
[email protected] shares her sympathetic point of view to Kanye West's new tweets: "A lot of people you know probably have… https://t.co/MIKHKThSgI— Pop Crave (@Pop Crave) 1595304104.0
The Importance of November: We Need to Take All Campaign Threats Seriously
Over the past few weeks, lawyers with GOP ties have helped West get his name on the ballots in various states. In Colorado, former Republican Congressional candidate Matthew Zielinski helped West qualify for the ballot, and a similar pattern keeps playing out. In Wisconsin, a GOP strategist and lawyer named Lane Ruhland attempted to deliver West's signatures (apparently he was about a minute too late).
A little update — The GOP lawyer who helped @kanyewest get on the ballot in Wisconsin is actively working for… https://t.co/A3Exqm3oAI— Cameron Joseph (@Cameron Joseph) 1596598538.0
All this GOP support for Kanye has prompted concern that his campaign might be an effort to draw voters away from Joe Biden, rumors which West refused to deny.
In a text message correspondence with a Forbes journalist on Thursday, West was confronted with the fact that he's only filed enough paperwork to appear on eight ballots, which will not be enough to bring him to the Oval Office. When asked if his aim was to siphon votes from Joe Biden, West wrote, "I'm not going to argue with you." When asked again, he said, "I'm not denying it; I just told you."
After the quotes aired, West tweeted, "THE GOAL IS TO WIN." Yesterday, Trump appeared to be unfazed by West. "I like Kanye very much," Trump said yesterday. "No, I have nothing to do with him getting on the ballot. We'll have to see what happens."
THE GOAL IS TO WIN— ye (@ye) 1596760683.0
Even non-viable third party candidates can present threats to major candidates. (Trump won by only 22,000 votes in Wisconsin).
Kanye deserves compassion and understanding—but also, bipolar disorder doesn't force people to run dangerous campaigns. We also all deserve to see Trump ousted this November. So while Kanye's mental illness should be discussed with nuance and grace, his campaign needs to be shut down, lest we be faced with another four years of disaster.
Mike Pence once spent over $240,000 to walk out of a football game as a snub to Colin Kaepernick.
It's easy to forget that the presidency of the United States is a government job just like any other–in that it comes with a stipulated salary and benefits.
But regardless of their bombastic rhetoric or self-serious public image, politicians are like all other government employees. The president, vice president, and legislators earn an annual income from the government in exchange for their duties, which include: executing/circumventing the law, upholding/withholding the civil liberties of American citizens, and legislating/sabotaging how societal institutions meet the needs of citizens, from healthcare to education.
If you've ever wondered what American politicians earn for all their hard work arguing across the aisle and starting Twitter feuds, look no further:
President (Donald Trump): $400,000 with non-taxable perks including a $50,000 expense account, a $100,000 travel account, and $19,000 for entertainment (all annually).
Technically, Donald Trump donates his presidential salary, but as an independently wealthy private citizen, Trump still earns income from his real estate investments. As USA Today points out, this has been challenged by lawsuits arguing that Trump is violating the Constitution's foreign emoluments clause.
Simply put, the emolument clause prohibits the sitting president of the United States from accepting money from foreign states–in any way, since doing so could influence his judgment on foreign or domestic affairs. Trump, of course, holds over $100 million of investments in foreign business interests. That's why he's been fighting emolument lawsuits since 2017.
But yes, technically, Trump writes a check for around $400,000 once a year in order to "donate" his salary. As for his travel expenses, that $100,000 travel "budget" seems to be irrelevant, since the government covers way more than that amount each year.
Vice President (Mike Pence): $235,100 (subject to annual cost of living raises)
Let's remember that Mike Pence once spent over $240,000 to fly to a 49ers game just so he could dramatically walk out of the stadium when the national anthem played as a snub to Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of police brutality against Black citizens.
So Pence is payed over $230,000 a year to pull stunts like that as Vice President of the United States. (We won't be too hard on him, though; reportedly, Donald Trump ordered him to do it).
Speaker of the House (Nancy Pelosi): $223,500
On Friday, @SpeakerPelosi said she was opposed to a temporary extension of unemployment benefits because she would… https://t.co/fRyqAT7Dpg— Movement for a People’s Party (@Movement for a People’s Party) 1595627579.0
Amidst a global crisis that has put nearly half of all Americans out of work, Nancy Pelosi doesn't believe in extending unemployment benefits because she would "lose leverage" when arguing with Republican representatives.
As a venture capitalist who's in business with her husband, Paul Pelosi, Nancy has a net worth of about $97 million (despite a popular meme that claims she's worth more than twice that). Yet, she's paid over $220,000 a year to do things like dismissing life-saving unemployment benefits as nothing but "leverage."
As for the rest of the house leadership, Steny Hoyer and Kevin McCarthy (the House Majority and Minority leaders respectively) earn $193,400 each year, while the rest of the standard salary for a congressperson is the same as a senator: $174,000.
Senate Majority and Minority Leaders (Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer): $193,400
Mitch McConnell has an estimated net worth of $30 million (including a windfall from an inheritance his wife received after a relative passed away). He earns nearly $200,000 a year protecting his wealthy friends' special interests and blocking bills from the Senate floor that don't have "liability protections" for said rich friends.
Supreme Court Associate Judges: $246,800
Prayers Up for our beloved Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Warm healing wishes #NotoriousRBG! https://t.co/iQczE6SYlu— Christine Pelosi (@Christine Pelosi) 1594762677.0
As one of eight current Supreme Court Associate Judges, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a priceless treasure who deserves to be paid in immortality and hugs. She's been an advocate for women's rights and racial justice throughout her career, including her 27 years on the Supreme Court.
It's unfortunate that she only earns about $250,000 a year, but Ginsburg's total net worth is about $4 million plus the hopes and dreams of an entire nation.
Workers at Amazon, Target, Instacart, and other companies were planning to strike May 1.
In just the most recent example of his utter uselessness and misdirected energy, President Trump has declared May 1, 2020, as Law Day in the United States.
"We know that our Republic can continue to shine as a beacon of liberty only if Americans diligently defend our Constitution and ensure that its limits are strongly enforced," reads a statement signed by Trump on the official White House website. "On this Law Day, I urge all Americans to honor our shared inheritance of respect for the principles of the rule of law, limited government, and individual liberty. Let us rededicate ourselves to remaining ever vigilant in defending our rights secured by the Constitution so that our experiment in self‑government continues in perpetuity."
This coincides with the massive strike scheduled to occur May 1 by essential employees at Amazon, Whole Foods, Target, Walmart, Instacart, and other companies in demand of better protections and benefits in the wake of the health crisis. Over the past few weeks, organizers have called for shoppers to boycott such companies and participate in the strike in support of essential workers.
Trump's unanticipated declaration of Law Day, then, scans as a deliberate effort to suppress workplace strikes. Many of his supporters have been protesting stay at home orders and mask mandates, despite evidence suggesting that reopening the country this early could pose greater risk. Those who dismiss these preventative measures often claim to do so on the basis of protecting the country's economy, seemingly without taking into account the health care workers who have been serving on the front lines of the virus.
Trump's statement continues: "I urge all Americans, including government officials, to observe this day by reflecting upon the importance of the rule of law in our Nation and displaying the flag of the United States in support of this national observance; and I especially urge the legal profession, the press, and the radio, television, and media industries to promote and to participate in the observance of this day."
Instead of sanctifying a 200-year-old document, Trump must focus his energy on undoing the damage he's done as the crisis takes over. The Americans who have died of the virus have him to blame.
It's time we stop acting like the leading Democratic candidate is the only old guy who's ever had a heart attack.
Whoever your pick might be in the 2020 Presidential Election, there's an overarching issue that's been largely prominent: the age of the Democratic front-runner, Bernie Sanders.
At 78, Sanders would be the oldest elected president in the country's history (a title currently held by Trump). The topic of his health became more hotly debated after he suffered a heart attack last October, resulting in him having two stents inserted. Though he bounced back to give one of his best debates yet that very same month, critics have been quick to cite Sanders' declining health as a hindrance to his electability. The backlash is getting even louder as Sanders claims he won't divulge his comprehensive health records. "We have released a detailed medical report, and I'm comfortable on what we have done," he said this week during a CNN town hall.
Sanders' campaign has released letters from three doctors who all asserted the senator is in good health. "I do not see a reason why he would not be able to function effectively in a high stress job," said Dr. Mary Ann McLaughlin, director of cardiovascular health and wellness at Mount Sinai Heart in New York. Why are Sanders' opposers so adamant that his health will fail him in office?
Yes, the senator is the oldest candidate in the race, but not by much: Michael Bloomberg and Joe Biden are 78 and 77 respectively, while Sanders' fellow progressive Elizabeth Warren is 70—the same age as Trump when he was elected. The health of Bloomberg, Biden, and Warren hasn't been scrutinized nearly as much as Sanders'. Sure, he might be the only one of the bunch who's suffered a heart attack, but that alone shouldn't be a disqualifier; notable politicians including President Dwight D. Eisenhower, President Lyndon Johnson, and Vice President Dick Cheney all proceeded with lengthy, successful careers in office despite suffering heart attacks early on.
A heart attack should not render an otherwise healthy candidate unfit for presidency, and Sanders' campaign has offered enough proof of his well-being. Our country's entire history has been predominantly dictated by old white men—why make an exception for someone who can actually instigate radical change?
Short answer: Everything.
In a small office inside an old theatre in New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders' supporters gathered to share their highlights and challenges after a day of knocking on doors.
"I'm feeling grateful," said one, before relaying a story about a surprisingly friendly interaction with a Trump supporter.
Others said they were feeling energized and inspired, despite a low response rate after hundreds of knocks and hours out in the February drear. "Just talking to one person who thanked me for being out in the field made it all worth it," said another.
The moment one person said they were feeling cold, organizers leapt into action, tossing hand-warmers to the shivering canvasser.
The New Hampshire primary was in one week. Some organizers had been in the small office for months, others had been working steadily since 2016, and still others were canvassing for the first time, but the energy in the room was palpable and warm and beautifully chaotic and fundamentally communal, much like a lot of Bernie Sanders' campaign. That has something to do with its success.
As Sanders has steadily risen in the polls, major media outlets have been forced to examine his campaign and the massive base of supporters—many young, social media-savvy, and passionately fired-up about their 79-year-old patron saint—that have propelled them to this place. Some portray his supporters as a battalion of belligerent young white males; others insist that Bernie's base is the most diverse of all; still others view them as lazy, entitled kids.
Doubters have been forced to interrogate that last opinion, because it's clear that Sanders' campaigners are anything but lazy. Sanders' campaign has garnered the highest number of individual donors of any candidate, amassing $1.3 million after discovering that a super PAC planned to air a negative ad about him. He raised nearly $100 million in 2019, topping Pete Buttigieg by some $25 million without the help of major corporations. His supporters are fervently keyed in, texting, tweeting, and—as it became clear in that New Hampshire room—getting out into the streets, taking the time to talk to people.
So what's behind Sanders' sweeping, grassroots appeal? And who are his supporters, really?
The easiest answer to this question is that there is no single answer. Bernie Sanders' supporters are working-class Americans, disaffected progressives, starry-eyed optimists, frustrated pessimists, devil's advocates, and God-fearing moralists. They are not a monolith. In that way, they might just represent the actuality of the American people—in all their contradictions, devotion, and passion—better than any other base.
"Not Me, Us" and the Fight Against American Hyper-Individualism
Miss Toni took a while to open the door. She was wearing a blue onesie covered in hearts, and her room was filled to the brim with records and posters from the 1980s. When she finally was able to open the door, a flock of birds fluttered away from her porch and took to the sky.
She told us she was already a Bernie supporter and began shakily filling out the sign-up sheet we gave her. She was registered to vote by her deadname (the male name she was given at birth), but she asked us to refer to her as Miss Tami. She had been an activist in the 1960s, she said. Bernie felt like the closest thing to bringing back the spirit of those days.
We also met a gun-owning Republican from Hawaii who, after hearing about Bernie's support for ending student debt and his dedication to ending the spirit of xenophobia in America, pledged to lend his support for Sanders on Tuesday.
Among the Trump supporters we met, their number one reason for supporting him was always the economy. "Me and my daughters are doing well."
"It would be nice if everyone could do as well as you and your family," we said. He shrugged. By the end of the conversation, he was genuinely smiling when he said, "I'm still voting for Trump. But I hope you guys keep going."
If Sanders does win the Democratic nomination, the economy will be paramount to the ensuing debates. While the currently strong American economy mostly exists thanks to Obama-era policies, and while many economists project that we are headed for a recession, it is true that Trump protects the Wall Street interests that continue to ensure cutthroat capitalism's success in America and around the world. These very successes are what have led America's income inequality levels to approach Depression-era extremities.
Sanders represents a synthesis of radicalism, anticapitalism, and a realistic understanding of the threats that America and the world are facing. To many, he also—contrary to the entire Bernie Bro narrative—represents human compassion. His campaign slogan, "Not Me, Us," is a refreshing antidote to the egotistical and self-absorbed nature of politics and neoliberalism in America. It's a reminder that—like the best stories, or the best policies—Sanders is just a vessel for something much greater, a catalyst for a dream.
Good luck to the planet to victims of American imperialism to people with giant student debt to those who want a li… https://t.co/EvaAD4D56p— 𝐓𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐚 𝐒𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐡 (@𝐓𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐚 𝐒𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐡) 1580738520.0
Sanders' Internet Army and the Limits of Tolerance
It's unfortunate that Bernie's campaign has been plagued by cruelty and disunity—and that these aspects of his base have been so heavily emphasized by the media. It's also true that some of Bernie Sanders' supporters can be cruel, and many need to learn to listen. If Bernie's supporters are serious about his campaign, they need to understand that shutting down discourse and rejecting all contention isn't the way to go about winning support.
But it's also true that in this America, people are dying thanks to medical bills they cannot pay, and students graduate into a world where they pay exorbitant amounts of money each month for years at a time in order to combat their student debt.
In light of this, the rage that many of Sanders' supporters feel at so-called centrists is born out of a deep-rooted desire to see real change instead of more of the same. It's a realization that trusting in the system and tolerating hatred is essentially the same thing as allowing them to continue.
It's also true that we're embroiled in a climate crisis, and kids are being born into a world of increasingly rampant natural disasters and apocalyptic scenarios playing out in real time, all while watching their politicians and parents do nothing. Bernie's Green New Deal is the most ambitious plan to address climate change of any candidate's; it also promises to renew the American economy, refurbishing our crumbling infrastructure by providing millions of new jobs in green, clean manufacturing. The strength of his plan has caused Sanders to gain the support of major environmental organizations across the country.
In a world where families can easily be crushed by a medical bill or a college admissions fee, Sanders' policies read like gospel for the disaffected. The Green New Deal, Medicare for All, free college, immigration reform, and an end to endless wars are plans that promise actual change, packaged in a promise that can be paid for with the money that the United States spends on wars and allows to burn holes in Jeff Bezos's pockets.
The gospel-like, lyrical, and consistent nature of Sanders' policies are at the center of his movement. Like "Make America Great Again," Sanders' policies appeal to the idea that politics is theatre, that the best politicians present a show and offer a vision, a possibility, a roadmap for a movement that will get people out of their homes and into the field.
Lighting the Fire
There's a video of Bernie Sanders in Vermont, teaching his campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, how to use a wood-burning furnace. Sanders is wrapped in a coat, bent over a cast-iron stove. "You want the flames from the small guys—are you recording me?" he says, stopping and then clarifying, "You want the small wood to be able to catch onto the big logs."
A Vermonter tries to teach a Floridian (me) how to properly light a wood-burning furnace. Let the record show he… https://t.co/Y5nLkZlWyS— Faiz (@Faiz) 1575426269.0
With his thick Brooklyn accent and his dedication to the task at hand, Sanders has intensely grandfatherly energy—but his statement also seems like it could suffice as his campaign slogan. He's a small flame, and when he began as a Vermont senator in 2016, he seemed to face impossible odds.
But every fire starts with a single spark. As the infamous poster that's a fixture in many dorm rooms reads, "Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases from being shared." It's a quote from the Buddha, but it could also apply to the ripple effect that Sanders' campaign has launched.
Change is catching and intoxicating. The spirit of hope and unity and fire that lights Sanders' campaign is a balm against apathy and hopelessness, against racism and xenophobia and economic inequality. It's about what human society can achieve—what we should achieve—what we are morally obligated to achieve.
Still, many of Sanders' supporters are realistic. We are well-aware that even if Sanders is elected, it will still only be the beginning of a long, hard fight against deep-rooted economic inequality, corporate greed, and dangerous capitalism-driven climate disaster in America and around the world. We know that visions and dreams mean nothing if the work isn't put into achieving them—the long, endless nights and the decades spent carving out policies.
But it's impossible to even begin the work if the dream isn't there in the first place, and if the people who believe in the dreams aren't allowed in the rooms where the work is done.
Regardless of what happens in Iowa and on the campaign trail, even the most fervent Bernie Sanders supporters believe that cruel attacks are not the answer. Even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—one of Sanders' biggest supporters—has stated that Democrats need to support whoever is elected in order to beat Donald Trump. If anything, we will need more unity and love and compassion for each other in the coming months than ever before.
We shouldn't have to compromise our values and allow people to die while others languish in the shade of the wealth and power they did nothing to earn, save being born in the right place.
Voting in Iowa closes at 7:00 PM CST in Iowa today, February 3rd. Find your caucus site here.
The opportunity to change your party affiliation in New York State closes February 14th.
Find out how to vote for Bernie in the primary in your state here.
We’re here at the Ottumwa satellite precinct, which is the first Iowa precinct to caucus today. They’ll kick off at… https://t.co/MFBXp2zHfn— Brianne Pfannenstiel (@Brianne Pfannenstiel) 1580752095.0
The president attended the annual anti-abortion event in Washington, D.C.
Today, Donald Trump became the first-ever president to attend the March for Life.
The March for Life—not to be confused with the very different March for our Lives—is an annual gathering with an ultimate mission to end abortion in the United States. At the national march in Washington, D.C. this morning, Trump expressed that he was honored to be the first president in attendance.
Trump delivered his speech in a very characteristic manner, claiming the venue had maxed capacity, bragging about his contributions to the anti-abortion movement, and describing himself and his presidency with hyperbolic statements: "Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House," he assured the crowd.
"When it comes to abortion...Democrats have embraced the most radical and extreme positions," Trump added.
March for Life's official website says they "celebrate life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death, and every moment in between," a sentiment underlined in Trump's speech. "We are fighting for those who have no voice," he added. "[The women at the march] just make it your life's mission to spread God's grace." But of course, Trump's words and his actions haven't always aligned: just last November, the Associated Press reported that nearly 70,000 migrant children were held in U.S. government custody over the past year. While Trump may care about the fate of unborn children (or at least pretend to to gain the support of evangelical christians) he has made it extremely clear how little he cares about living children.
#MarchForLife https://t.co/5Yg09dOoJd— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1579889480.0
Can the Democratic establishment get it right this time?
With the first Democratic primary still about eight months away, the Democratic party establishment appears prepared to throw all of their weight behind Joe Biden.
To hear MSNBC or CNN tell the story, Joe Biden has been the Democratic party's frontrunner since before he even declared his candidacy. Whether or not this is entirely true, however, is debatable. Misleading polls are being conducted and then misrepresented by many liberal news outlets as a means of solidifying Uncle Joe's frontrunner status early on in hopes of swaying voters toward the "more electable" candidate in the primaries. If Joe Biden can be made to look like he actually has the best chance of clinching the nomination or winning against Trump in a general election, then, voters will be more likely to vote for him as the safe bet.
IVN, or the Independent Voters Network, self-described as "a platform for unfiltered political news and policy analysis from independent-minded authors," has highlighted the biased nature of many political polls. IVN writer, Rudolpho Cortes Barragan reports:
"FiveThirtyEight, which is owned by ABC/Disney, functions as a sort of gatekeeper for polling, and polls are extremely important for candidacies. The public is told that polls judged as A+ by FiveThirtyEight are to be seen as real bellwethers of popular opinion. In reality, 'the polls' are manufactured to produce the results that the pollsters (and their corporate funders) want to see."
Barragan goes on to cite a recent Mammoth University poll as evidence. "The results showed Biden 9 percentage points ahead of Sanders," he writes, "but if you look closely you will see that more than 70% of the people polled are over the age of 50. Any honest person would be able to tell you that the 2020 electorate will be far younger than 50." The data is seldom presented within its full context on mainstream news outlets like MSNBC or CNN, and instills in voters a false sense of Biden's electability and props him up as the "safe" vote.
If this sounds eerily familiar, it's because the same thing happened in 2016. Hillary Clinton, like Biden, was prematurely propped up as the most electable candidate, even though an anti-establishment candidate like Bernie Sanders may have stood a better chance against Trump's "outsider" persona, which resonated with many voters (particularly across the midwest). This was proven in the wake of Trump's victory when analyses showed that many Bernie supporters either did not vote in the general election or jumped on the Trump ticket, preferring the radical change suggested by Trump's "drain the swamp" narrative over Clinton's years of experience as a politician.
Joe Biden, like Clinton, is firmly rooted in the Democratic establishment. While Trump's approval rating has wavered over the last few years, hitting its low at 35% in 2017, it has remained around 40 to 45% — a number that should be alarming for Democrats going into 2020, as there have been only three single-term presidents since World War II.
Either way, the Democratic party and its voters must avoid making the same mistakes if there is any hope of preventing a Trump reelection. Poll manipulation was not the only issue in the 2016 election. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) was also exposed for unfairly tipping the scales toward Clinton in 2016, effectively rigging the primary against Bernie Sanders.
Donna Brazile, former interim chair of the DNC, revealed in her book, Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House, the nefarious– although not technically illegal, according to US District Judge William J. Zloch, who dismissed a class action lawsuit against the DNC – actions of the Committee.
"Hillary would control the party's finances, strategy, and all the money raised," writes Brazile. "Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings."
It's unclear whether the DNC's current chair, Tom Perez, will run an honest and fair ship as we approach the 2020 election cycle. Perez held the position of labor secretary during the Obama administration, and Biden publicly threw his support behind Perez during his campaign for DNC chair; whereas Sanders preferred Keith Ellison, who lost by a narrow margin. Only time will tell if Perez will tip the scales in Biden's favor due to their favorable history together, but the Democratic party is no stranger to nepotism, so Perez – especially in light of 2016 – should be watched carefully in the months to come.
Even if the DNC does run a fair election this time around, electing Joe Biden would be a grave mistake. A mistake that the party already made last time around in the form of gifting the primary to Hillary Clinton. This election will not be one for tepid, center-of-the-road policies. We've already seen how an establishment centrist performs against Donald Trump. The Democratic party must embrace and adopt the progressive push to the left provided by candidates like Sanders and others if they have any hope of winning in 2020. Playing politics as usual will cost the Democratic party, and the nation, another four years of a Donald Trump White House.
Over the course of two hours, ten candidates employed Trump's name for applause and support a total of 35 times.
The first round of Democratic debates are underway. Ten out of the twenty candidates who qualified for the debates were chosen at random to participate in the first half of NBC's debate last night. The goal for the Democratic Party is obviously to take the Oval Office and hopefully the Senate, but for most of the candidates, last night seemed more like a bid for positions in Elizabeth Warren's cabinet. Straight from the get-go, Warren stood strong like she had nothing to prove and answered every question directed at her with poise and eloquence. Consequently, she may have won the evening. Although, a couple of lesser-known candidates also made their marks, most notably Julian Castro and Jay Inslee.
We Get it, You Speak Spanish
Beto O'Rourke, former representative for Texas, spoke in Spanish during his first response of the evening. Evidently, neither Cory Booker or Elizabeth Warren could maintain their poker faces during the surprising moment. Booker and Warren appeared humored and stunned by the skinny white guy's pandering.
Oh, y'all thought I was just making a meme?!?!?! Here it is in its glorious video form: https://t.co/rdjSi7kbbY— Jason Howerton (@Jason Howerton) 1561606757.0
To compete, Booker whipped out his Spanish, as well. Notably, the only Latinx candidate on stage, Julian Castro, did not speak in his family's native tongue until his closing comment, where he used his bilingual skills to celebrate the opportunity to represent his people.
Ok, when John Delaney, the Maryland Congressman, began speaking before the camera panned to him, did it sound to anyone else like Jimmy Kimmel was on stage? Unfortunately, Delaney is not as charismatic as the Jimmy Kimmel Live! host. He rubbed many the wrong way with his countless attempts to get a word in.
While it's crucial for the lesser-known candidates to elbow their way into the debate, Delaney came off as pathetic. At the end of the discussion about the separation of families at the border, Delaney tried to butt in a personal anecdote, disclosing, "My grandfather was actually separated from his family when he came to this country." Lester Holt rightfully moved on from the comment and switched to another pressing issue.
2020 Democratic Candidates Debate - Separated Grandfather www.youtube.com
Finally, when asked whether or not any of the candidates would choose to prosecute Trump after the Mueller Report, Delaney was indifferent. Out of all the references to Trump last night, this was the most important, because Trump could become the first president to be indicted after his term. Delaney claimed that everyday citizens don't care about Donald Trump breaking the law because it doesn't affect them. Although Delaney supports justice being served to criminals, he hypocritically proposed that Trump's indictment isn't a big enough concern to take up his time if he were president.
Yes, Women Care Too
While Washington Governor Jay Inslee had an overall good showing, his one big fumble occurred when he claimed to be the only one on stage to pass a reproductive rights act. Minnesota's Senator Klobuchar spoke for everyone when she interrupted Inslee, saying, "I just want to say there are three women up here that have fought pretty hard for a woman's right to choose, I'll start with that." The crowd gave Klobuchar resounding and deserved applause.
Recognition for the Trans Community
Early in the debate, San Antonio's finest, Julian Castro, highlighted an overlooked population that's affected by abortion restrictions: trans people. It was a standout moment for the former mayor.
Later on, Cory Booker piggybacked off Castro's sentiment. When Hawaii Representative, Tulsi Gabbard, was asked about her former dismissal of the LGBTQ community, she highlighted the work she's done for gay men and women since. Booker retorted that it's not enough:
"Look, civil rights is someplace to begin, but in the African-American civil right community, another place to focus was to stop the lynching of African-Americans. We do not talk enough about trans-Americans, especially African-American trans-Americans and the incredibly high rates of murder now."
Just like climate change is a national emergency and should be treated as such, so should the murder rates of trans people, especially POC trans people. Booker, as the only African-American candidate on stage, brought attention to historically under-represented issues.
Tulsi Gabbard Dunks on Tim Ryan
Army veteran Tusli Gabbard was the most googled candidate last night for good reason.
While she was one of the candidate who spoke the least, overall, she corrected and challenged Ohio Representative Tim Ryan when he asserted the troops should stay in Afghanistan longer to keep an eye on the Taliban.
Tusli Gabbard rips Tim Ryan over foreign policy www.youtube.com
Gabbard draws from her military experience to inform her non-interventionist position, and she memorably reminded Ryan that families want their children to finally come home, saying, "The Taliban was there long before we came in and will be there long before we leave. We cannot keep U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan thinking that we are going to somehow squash this Taliban."
Ryan gustily clapped back, saying, "I didn't say squash them. When we weren't in there, they started flying planes into our buildings."
Gabbard corrected Ryan's outlandish error, notifying the Congressman, "The Taliban didn't attack us on 9/11. Al Qaeda did." While that should be common knowledge, Gabbard came out on top and successfully relayed her position on foreign policy, diplomacy, and war.
Castro Annihilates Beto
Besides Ryan and Delaney, Beto took the biggest L of the evening.
Throughout the night, O'Rourke failed to answer questions in an informed or committed fashion. For example, when discussion about immigration policies arose, Castro called out Beto for not supporting decriminalization of border crossing:
"Let's be very clear: The reason that they're separating these little children from their families is that they're using Section 1325 of that act, which criminalizes coming across the border, to incarcerate the parents and then separate them. Some of us on this stage have called to end that section, to terminate it. Some, like Congressman O'Rourke, have not."
Beto attempted to defend himself by explaining that he supports a complete rewrite of the bill, instead of just repealing Section 1325. He then tried to pivot by readdressing his support of asylum seekers. But asylum seekers are only a small portion of the immigrants affected (and now imprisoned) for attempting to cross the border.
Castro did not take the bait, putting an end to the exchange by suggesting, "You should do your homework on this issue."
Among the ten candidates last night, eight referenced Trump in a total of thirty-five times. Over the course of two hours, candidates employed Trump's name for applause and support of their anti-Trump Democratic position.
The two candidates who refrained from name-dropping were Bill de Blasio and Elizabeth Warren. The two remained measured and composed throughout the evening, respectfully sticking to their ideas, raising concerns, and focusing on change.
While Elizabeth Warren did not have any quippy moments, she stood out as the strongest candidate, never wavering from her beliefs, policy ideas, or promises. Her comprehensive vision for America involves restructuring broken systems that don't work for the majority of citizens.
Although Warren shined, it's possible that the absence of other frontrunners, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, contributed to this. Only time will tell how the three will stack up agaisnt one another, but tonight we'll see how Biden and Sanders fare among hopefuls like Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg.