Featured

Why I Won’t Vote for Michael Bloomberg, a Conservative Authoritarian Who Abused Civil Rights

This isn’t a personal attack. Bloomberg’s public record shows that he is the candidate that is most like Donald Trump, and I will not vote for him.

As Alex Pareene wrote on why Michael Bloomberg represents a “polite authoritarianism” over at The New Republic, he also noted that Bloomberg’s candidacy is “annoyingly relevant.” That’s true: he’s now in second place at 16.5% nationally according to polling averages at FiveThirtyEight. He’s on TV all over the country. He showed up on the debate stage last night (and Democrats welcomed him with a volley of deserved attacks). That’s relevance, and it’s scary relevance because there are many very important reasons why Michael Bloomberg should not be the Democratic nominee for president.

A couple days ago, I posted fifteen reasons why nobody should vote for Bloomberg, and those reasons all pointed at individual events or aspects of Bloomberg’s record and campaign. Many of them are disqualifying facts on their own, especially how he’s buying the election. Some of them simply reveal Bloomberg’s character. And there are far more than only fifteen reasons.

But I didn’t really get into Bloomberg’s most indefensible trait: he is a conservative authoritarian politician who has a record of blatantly abusing civil rights and supporting policies that are oppressive, right-wing, discriminatory, and racist.

Bloomberg defended stop and frisk even after it was ruled unconstitutional. Not unlike Trump’s impeachment, he claimed innocence and appealed the decision, which was later dropped by his successor, Bill de Blasio.

Because of that record, and because of his willingness to defend it, he is, in some ways, perhaps an even worse candidate for president than Trump was in 2016.

But how could that be possible, you might ask? How could someone who has held office in a major city and has a relatively respectable position on climate change be worse than Donald Trump?

When it comes to how Bloomberg differs from Trump, Bloomberg doesn’t really break political norms. Trump’s most obvious flaw is that he doesn’t just break norms in the context of the presidency and national politics; he shatters them with a sledgehammer nearly every day. While Trump will tweet lies and fire and brimstone about racist immigration policy from his little hands, Bloomberg will give a calm speech about why it just makes sense to throw young black and latino men up against the wall and frisk them. He, like Trump, will even try to argue that white people are actually victims of all this. He, like Trump, will claim innocence and an unfair trial, except Bloomberg tried to do that via court appeal when stop and frisk was ruled unconstitutional. Bloomberg has defended his other authoritarian policies as well.

As Ryan Cooper wrote at The Week, Bloomberg is not the lesser of two evils. He had no problem with blatantly abusing New Yorkers’ civil rights, no matter that stop and frisk accomplished nothing and made the NYPD act like gestapo. A vague apology, even when repeated on a debate stage, will never make up for the irreparable harm caused by Bloomberg’s policies. And he has no apology at all for illegally arresting nearly 2,000 protesters at the 2004 RNC and the subsequent settlement (“the largest protest settlement in history”), or for violently removing and arresting Occupy protesters, which are both violations of first amendment rights.

Occupy Wall Street

All his money influence, media influence, and silly waste-of-time attack ads on Bernie Sanders supporters like myself aside, Bloomberg wholeheartedly supports authoritarian policies that are unconstitutional, abusive of civil rights, and oppressive towards poor people and people, families, and communities of color.

The difference between Trump in 2016 and Bloomberg in 2020 is that we already know that Bloomberg supports policies that have more than a hint of fascism to them. Instead of a litany of racist tweets and ramblings that gave us the presumption that Trump is racist and likes authoritarian approaches to governing, Bloomberg has an actual record of racism and authoritarianism along with their terrible consequences for which he is responsible.

Bloomberg had nearly 2,000 protesters arrested at the 2004 RNC, which was ruled as unconstitutional.

Derecka Purnell, in an article for The Guardian, notes how stop and frisk compares most closely to Jim Crow laws. She pulls no punches: “Bloomberg and Trump are two sides of the same sinister coin” (that coin is white supremacy). Here’s how she contextualized Bloomberg’s racist policies:

“Bloomberg’s logic illustrates Michelle Alexander’s argument in The New Jim Crow, that politicians exploit real concerns and fears about violent crime to push racially biased and punitive approaches to harass and incarcerate black people for all types of harm. The murder rate is in significant decline across the United States, but the government still pours resources into police and prisons to solve problems that are not there. What Bloomberg calls “unintended consequences” are actually a foundational piece of mass incarceration – the raids, frisks, arrests and jail.

The results are fatal. Police kill around 1,000 people every year, and injure, assault, and harass hundreds of thousands more whose names we will never know simply because they do not die and become hashtags.”

– Derecka Purnell, The Guardian

It is entirely unacceptable that moderates or even liberals in America could set aside morality to support a former Republican mayor who utilized brutal and racist law enforcement policies within a criminal justice system that’s rotten with systemic racism and racial profiling, even against its own officers. To enact such policies is to push a society further into an oppressive police state, to exacerbate inequality and racism, to protect and even “victimize” white people at the expense of people of color, and to even move closer to a genocidal state: see Stage 3 of “The Ten Stages of Genocide.”

The Ten Stages of Genocide from Dr. Gregory H. Stanton, President of Genocide Watch

Now this mayor is a presidential candidate who defended stop and frisk last year even when the data shows that it did not work at all. I don’t think his “decade late” milquetoast apology is any reason to trust that he no longer believes in what he did or why he did it and that he wouldn’t do something similar on a national scale.

No politician who has this kind of bad and brutal record should be allowed anywhere near the presidency. The office’s enormous existing powers would only enable Bloomberg to continue oppressive and even genocidal policies through agencies like CPB and ICE, except Bloomberg is smart enough to do it with a polite tone of voice, a smile, and a handshake, which is far more dangerous than Trump’s overt racism and violence-provoking rhetoric because it slips under the radar as “normal.”

Bloomberg’s rhetoric doesn’t really break norms as much as it insipidly worsens them. Not only does Bloomberg not deserve your vote for more than fifteen reasons. Not only does Bloomberg not deserve your vote just because he’s trying to buy the election.

He doesn’t deserve it because he’s a conservative authoritarian who has already committed crimes against human rights. Even though I doubt he would beat Trump, we must not allow him the chance to enact further authoritarian policies from the White House.

To remove Trump from office, I would vote for any of the remaining Democratic candidates should my preferred candidate (Sanders) and second choice (Warren) not become the nominee. But I will not vote for Michael Bloomberg. He cannot distinguish himself enough from Trump to inspire confidence that he wouldn’t use the same tools of authoritarianism that Trump uses today.

Fifteen Reasons Why Nobody Should Vote for Michael Bloomberg

After the first two Democratic presidential contests of 2020 — which included a vote-counting debacle in Iowa that could’ve used the help of one of my favorite Sesame Street characters — Bernie Sanders has won a majority of votes and has a pretty favorable near-future ahead of him. I don’t trust FiveThirtyEight but this is worth a look, and even CNN argues that he’s the frontrunner.

Count von Count! He helped me to learn how to count when I was a child.

But another candidate who isn’t even on the ballot in the first four contests is catching up in the polls, and some pundits are now calling this a two way race because of that candidate: Michael Bloomberg, former Republican mayor of New York and muppet lookalike:

Bloomberg does look kind of like a Muppet and he set himself up for that one.

His golf outings with Trump and muppet similarities aside, here’s the unprecedented thing about Bloomberg: he’s jumping into a presidential race very late by skipping the first four contests and basically gambling his own billions to win. That’s a glaring sign of the real and ugly power of wealth (and the consequences of inequality) in American politics. It almost makes billionaire-backed campaigns like Mayor Pete’s appear laughable. Those candidates, at the very least, have to ask billionaires and corporations and Super PACs for money instead of simply emptying their own coffers into a campaign.

Seriously, just look at the massive amount of bucks in play because Bloomberg is using his own fortune:

Image from research by Katharina Buchholz at Statista

So, when I think of Bloomberg becoming president by means of billionaire purchasing power, I think of America now except less Trumpy (he calls himself the “un-Trump”). I know he’s obviously not the same; a major respectable difference is that Bloomberg knows climate change is real and has a plan to fight it (even though it won’t work).

But he’s far richer than Trump, and even fellow moderate Amy Klobuchar has a problem with that. Bloomberg could, for example, not barge into an already crowded and confused Democratic primary and instead invest his own billions to combat climate change. His fortune could house the homeless in America and he’d still have plenty left over.

He is, instead, spending of spending hundreds of millions on an anti-democratic Democratic presidential campaign that has low chances of actually winning the nomination.

Anyway, I promised fifteen reasons why Bloomberg doesn’t deserve anyone’s vote. Let’s get into that. What follows isn’t even much of my own writing, which is kind of lazy. It’s mostly quotes from other sources, including quotes straight from Bloomberg’s own mouth, because Bloomberg’s record and campaign tactics speak for themselves.

Also, if there are some “blue no matter who” readers, thank you for making it this far! Please understand that I’m not trying to “attack” Bloomberg as much as present what he’s said and done and plans to do if elected as evidence for why nobody should vote for him.

Michael Bloomberg is trying to buy the Democratic Party nomination and the presidency, which is anti-democratic

Bloomberg has spent $129 MILLION on Super Tuesday ads, while fellow billionaire Tom Steyer has spent a paltry $25 million.

I personally believe that Bloomberg’s willingness to buy the election should be disqualifying on its own in a time of rampant inequality. His relative success in polls is due to his exorbitant spending on TV ads:

“Bloomberg entered the presidential race in November, and has since spent more than $300 million of his own money in his effort to secure the Democratic nomination. Much of the focus on Bloomberg’s historic spending spree has been on the TV ads he’s running in at least 29 states, helping boost him into the top tier in polls and driving up the price of air time for other candidates. Beyond pushing out his competitors, though, Bloomberg’s spending is having a shockingly disruptive effect on Democratic politics throughout the country: He is hiring armies of staffers and canvassers in nearly every state in the country at eye-popping salaries, poaching talent from other campaigns and progressive organizations that are now struggling to fill jobs. In just three months, the Bloomberg campaign has hired thousands of people to staff more than 125 offices around the country, the New York Times reported Thursday.

The former New York City mayor, who has committed to directing his money in support of whoever the eventual Democratic nominee is, claims that his billions of dollars will save the party.”

Ryan Grim, The Intercept

Michael Bloomberg became a Republican just to win an election

In a time when the GOP is willing to do anything, no matter how immoral, dangerous, corrupt, or cowardly, to maintain power, a former Republican who was chosen to run by the GOP is a bad look for Democrats:

“Well, the Republican Party called me, asked me to run. I’ve been endorsed by almost all local Republican government officials and party leaders. And I agree with the Republican values of those inclusive Republicans like the mayor, like the governor. And I’m very comfortable in running as a Republican, and I will stay a Republican long after this election.”

Michael Bloomberg

Bloomberg became a Republican to win the New York mayoral election.

Michael Bloomberg created and oversaw Stop and Frisk, a racist policy that was humiliating, terrifying, and even deadly for people of color

“. . . according to data collected by the New York attorney general, less than 0.1 percent of stops lead to weapons possession, and less than 0.1 percent resulted in a violent crime conviction. During one year of his administration, nearly 700,000 people were stopped by police — with Black and Brown New Yorkers nine times more likely to be stopped than whites. In 2011, there were more stops of Black men 14 to 24 years old than the number of young Black men who lived in New York City, according to census data.

Stop and frisk exploded under Bloomberg, increasing by 600 percent from his first year in office, in 2002, to 2012. As activists and Black people, we knew from experience that police stops were not only a form of racial profiling that cause emotional and psychological trauma, missed school days, and lost jobs — they could also be deadly. Studies show that increased police interaction for Black people means an increased risk of injury or death. The case of Sean Bell, a young man killed by police in a hail of 50 bullets a year into Bloomberg’s second term, remains fresh in our memories.”

Monifa Bandele, Vox

Michael Bloomberg based stop and frisk on his own racist views

No amount of apologies can erase this one. When a person in power enacts a dangerous policy that can have deadly consequences based on racist views, you can’t fully trust that they won’t do the same again.

Bloomberg based stop and frisk on his own racist views about Black and Latino communities.

“Ninety-five percent of your murders — murderers and murder victims — fit one M.O. You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male, minorities, 16 to 25. That’s true in New York, that’s true in virtually every city. . . . Put the cops where the crime is, which means in minority neighborhoods. So one of the unintended consequences is people say, ‘Oh my God, you’re arresting kids for marijuana that are all minorities!’ Yes, that’s true. Why? Because we put all the cops in minority neighborhoods. Yes, that’s true. Why we do it? Because that’s where all the crime is.”

Michael Bloomberg

You can listen for yourself:

Stop and frisk violated Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights and was ruled as unconstitutional

I think this is probably worse than the Democrats nominating a candidate that was under FBI investigation. At least that was just about emails and servers. This is violating the constitution itself in multiple ways (privacy and equal protection), and we all know Trump is plenty guilty of that, so why put up a candidate who already has been sued for violating constitutional rights while in office?

“Without the reasonable articulable suspicion required under the Fourth Amendment, NYPD officers have been, and are engaged in, rampant stops and frisks of individuals, including Plaintiffs. NYPD officers, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, often have used, and continue to use, race and/or national origin — not reasonable suspicion —  as the determinative factors in deciding to stop and frisk individuals. The victims of such racial and/or national origin profiling are principally Black and Latino.

The NYPD’s widespread constitutional abuses have flourished as a result of, and are directly and proximately caused by, policies, practices and/or customs devised, implemented and enforced by the City, Kelly and Bloomberg. The City, Kelly and Bloomberg have acted with deliberate indifference to the constitutional rights of those who would come into contact with NYPD officers by: (a) failing to properly screen, train, and supervise NYPD officers, (b) inadequately monitoring NYPD officers and their stop and frisk practices, (c) failing to sufficiently discipline NYPD officers who engage in constitutional abuses, and (d) encouraging, sanctioning, and failing to rectify the NYPD’s unconstitutional practices.”

Floyd v. City of New York, Class Action Lawsuit, First Plaintiff Complaint

(Of note, the policy was ruled as unconstitutional and Bloomberg’s appeal was dropped by his successor, Bill de Blasio, who has now endorsed Bernie Sanders for president and is campaigning against his billionaire predecessor.)

Sub-reason: Bloomberg lied about it, too

Then Bloomberg, in his recent “apology” for stop and frisk (which coincides with his presidential run), lied about how he cut back stop and frisk by “95%” when he actually increased it by a lot:

“The statement drew immediate backlash over its twisting of history. In 2001, New York City maintained an aggressive program of stopping and searching people throughout the city, with an overwhelming focus on young African American and Latino men. But, under the Bloomberg administration, the program vastly expanded, from around 97,296 stops in 2002 to a height of 685,724 in 2011 — a more than sevenfold increase during the former mayor’s tenure.”

Lee Fang, The Intercept

Michael Bloomberg thought white people were stopped by cops “too frequently”

This is a very clear example of how, under systemic racism, some white people claim that they are really the victims of racism, or “reverse racism” — or, in Bloombergs words, “exactly reverse of what they say.”

“Mayor Bloomberg claimed that people of color should be stopped and frisked more — not less — while whites are stopped too frequently.

‘I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little. It’s exactly the reverse of what they say,’ Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show, in response to the City Council passing two bills aimed at reining in the controversial policing tactic.”

Yoav Gonen, New York Post

Michael Bloomberg’s climate change plan is not enough and can’t work

Bloomberg’s climate policies are also nowhere near the IPCC’s requirements, and to call a Green New Deal “pie in the sky” will not excite any voters on climate change since the Green New Deal is a highly supported plan to combat climate change among Democrats — 92% of Democratic Iowa caucus-goers support it. Also, similar to Warren’s plan, a market-based climate change plan cannot work:

“In January, he promised to introduce what he considered to be an “achievable” version of the Green New Deal, praising the concept of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s version but calling it ‘pie in the sky.’ . . . In an op-ed announcing Beyond Carbon, Mr. Bloomberg essentially argued that the solution to climate change might not come through government action. The Green New Deal ‘stands no chance of passage in the Senate over the next two years,’ he wrote.”

Maggie Astor, The New York Times

I don’t know about you, but to me, “the solution to climate change might not come through government action” sounds like inaction by Michael Bloomberg concerning the most severe and urgent crisis humanity has ever faced should be become president.

Michael Bloomberg is a sexist employer who told a pregnant employee to “kill it”

“He asked her about her marriage — apparently part of a pattern that involved Bloomberg prodding and ridiculing women in his office who were married. When Garrison told Bloomberg her marriage was good, in part, because she was pregnant, Bloomberg reportedly made the comments. 

‘He responded to her, “Kill it!”’ the court documents read. ‘Plaintiff asked Bloomberg to repeat himself, and again he said, “Kill it!” and muttered, “Great! Number 16!” suggesting to plaintiff his unhappiness that sixteen women in the Company had maternity-related status. Then he walked away.’”

Connor Perrett, Business Insider

Michael Bloomberg is also a transphobe

“If you want to know if somebody is a good salesman, give them the job of going to the Midwest and picking a town and selling to that town the concept that some man wearing a dress should be in a locker room with their daughter,” Bloomberg said. “If you can sell that, you can sell anything.”

The presidential hopeful, who came in tenth place in the Iowa caucus, then pivoted to explain a policy in New York prisons requiring inmates “drop their trousers” to determine whether they are sent to a men or women’s correctional facility.  

“You can’t sit there, you can’t mix things in a jail,” Bloomberg said.

Connor Perrett, Business Insider

Michael Bloomberg’s campaign is financially self-serving

“Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg has released his tax plan, under which he would pay nearly $5 billion less under his wealth tax than he would under Senator Bernie Sanders’s proposal. That’s according to a CBS analysis, which found Bloomberg’s plan would also generate far less government revenue than Sanders’s plan.”

Democracy Now!

The most important person is yourself, right? Especially given the “far less government revenue” part, Bloomberg might as well make this a campaign slogan: “Not Us, Me!”

Among Democratic candidates, Bloomberg is the most similar to Trump, especially on race

“Bloomberg must never become president of the United States. He and Trump are two sides of the same white supremacist billionaire coin. Heads for a national Muslim ban, tails for spying on thousands of Muslims in New Jersey and New York. Actually, Bloomberg is much more explicit in his intolerable views on people of color. . . .

The billionaire mayor is not only racist, but wrong. In New York state from 2008-2018, people reported for murder were 26% white, 44% black and 29% unknown. And 60% of the victims were black and more than 30% were white. Under Bloomberg’s paradigm, white people could go into black neighborhoods and kill endless amounts of people, but the police would never search or any other suspect who is not a “minority.”

Black boys and men are disproportionately victims of homicides, but prisons increase violence, not decrease it. Additionally, the strongest indicator of murder is socioeconomic disadvantage, not race. Studies show that “violent crime rates for extremely disadvantaged white neighborhoods are more similar to rates for extremely disadvantaged black areas than to rates for other types of white neighborhoods.” Rather than putting more cops on the streets, Bloomberg, or any mayor, could have used community development and investment to reduce violence. But as recently as 2015, Bloomberg doubled down on his faulty claims.

Bloomberg’s logic illustrates Michelle Alexander’s argument in The New Jim Crow, that politicians exploit real concerns and fears about violent crime to push racially biased and punitive approaches to harass and incarcerate black people for all types of harm. The murder rate is in significant decline across the United States, but the government still pours resources into police and prisons to solve problems that are not there. What Bloomberg calls “unintended consequences” are actually a foundational piece of mass incarceration – the raids, frisks, arrests and jail.

The results are fatal. Police kill around 1,000 people every year, and injure, assault, and harass hundreds of thousands more whose names we will never know simply because they do not die and become hashtags.”

Derecka Purnell, The Guardian

Because of that, Bloomberg will not beat Trump

“We will not create the energy and excitement we need to defeat Donald Trump if that candidate pursued, advocated for and enacted racist policies like stop and frisk which caused communities of color in his city to live in fear. The simple truth is that Mayor Bloomberg with all his money will not create the kind of excitement and energy we need to have the voter turnout we must have to defeat Donald Trump.”

Senator Bernie Sanders

Even Amy Klobuchar thinks Bloomberg is like Trump and is only trying to buy votes

“During an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union in January, the Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar, another Democratic presidential candidate, likened Bloomberg to Donald Trump.

“When people look at the White House and see this multimillionaire messing up so many things,” Klobuchar said, “I don’t think they think, ‘Oh, we need someone richer.’ I think you have to earn votes, not buy them.””

Daniel Strauss, The Guardian

And Warren believes that Bloomberg’s campaign is dangerous to democracy

“I was at an event in Iowa City a couple of days before the caucuses with Elizabeth Warren, and she called Bloomberg a danger to our democracy with the way that he is running the campaign, spending this much and skipping the early states. Not him, but the campaign was a danger to our democracy. That’s the way she said it.”

Edward-Isacc Dovere, Slate

Sanders will beat Trump and Bloomberg will not because despite his money, he won’t get the votes needed to win

From Sanders himself:

The argument for Sanders over Bloomberg

In terms of campaigning, Bloomberg’s campaign, like Sanders’, is unprecedented in American politics, although for almost polar opposite reasons. Sanders is taking money only from individual donors; Bloomberg is not taking donations (because he’s worth many billions) and has invested hundreds of millions of his own money into his campaign. His ad buys, including an $11 million Super Bowl spot, are a literal definition of oligarchy and plutocracy.

In terms of policy and message, the Sanders vision is one of progress and equality and inclusivity and a great expansion of the commons with plans like Medicare for All and free college tuition; Bloomberg more-or-less promises a continuation of the status quo in terms of the economy (Bloomberg doesn’t support a wealth tax), healthcare (Bloomberg won’t end for-profit insurance), and education (Bloomberg has no plan for student debt).

However, left policies like Medicare for All and free college tuition are gaining rapid support among a majority of Democratic voters. People aren’t just excited to enact policies that would undoubtedly make their lives better, dramatically reduce healthcare costs, and save lives. They’re fighting hard for it because they need it. Unlike Bloomberg’s corporate-based policies, they will vote for the Sanders platform. This isn’t a matter of what’s possible in our political climate. It’s a matter of what’s necessary. It’s about battles over social welfare programs that have been going on in the United States for centuries, and it’s about time what we won them.

Bernie Sanders is a “son of the American working class” and he always fights for us; Bloomberg is a happy member of the ruling class who likes “theater, dining, and chasing women.” It’s a simple fact that Bloomberg doesn’t fight for most of our causes and certainly doesn’t prioritize winning them. In fact, even though he’s rising in the polls, Bloomberg might not win much of anything.

It would be great to see the Bloomberg campaign end sooner than later. So, please don’t vote for Michael Bloomberg. Don’t lend any legitimacy to his billionaire influence and his attempt to buy your vote. He has already proved why he doesn’t deserve it.

Why Suleimani’s Assassination Is a War Crime

There’s plenty of justified outrage against Trump and anyone who supports the assassination of Qassim Suleimani by American drone strike and the potential, if not likely, war with Iran, especially if Trump is re-elected.

But we must remember that the power the president has to kill whomever he wants comes from previous administrations, much like the violent and genocidal immigration and border control agencies we have are also products of previous administrations. It’s worth noting that one of those presidents declined to prosecute war crimes committed by Americans in the Middle East, including his predecessor’s officials, and kept the same apparatus in place. It’s no surprise that Trump continues to use that apparatus of death from above, considerably amplified it, and now refuses to release how many people his drone strikes kill. Trump even tweeted a follow-up vow to bomb Iranian cultural sites, which is also a threat of a war crime and a component of genocide.

It’s also worth noting that only one Democratic presidential candidate called the strike what it actually was (an assassination), and that same presidential candidate is the only one who totally condemned the strike and added that his foreign policy would be to remove the entire American military from the Middle East, period. No surprise that that candidate is Bernie Sanders.

Senator Bernie Sanders released a statement accurately calling the death of Suleimani an assassination

Every other Democratic candidate justified the attack and called Suleimani a “murderer” and that he “deserved” it. Yes, he killed people. He was a general and that’s what generals do, including American generals. Every other statement, including from Democrats in office, essentially made the same center-right talking point: that this guy was “BAD” and still deserved it, but it just didn’t happen the right way according to their preferences.

If you read statements and tweets closely, Democrats are mostly upset that it didn’t go through Congress. That kind of language is the same justification used for wars like Iraq and Afghanistan (which went through Congress) and the same reason why Congress, despite some rhetorical protestations from Democrats, has allowed unilateral executive branch assassinations and killings and other military actions for decades, especially in the Middle East.

We’ve been at war in the Middle East since I was 17 years old, and I’m in my 30s now. It’s horrifying and it seems to only get worse. My high school class was one of the first under the “war on terror” to be relentlessly pursued by military recruiters, and plenty of people my age who signed up came back traumatized, maimed, or dead. And knowing that they went there as part of a military that killed thousands of innocent civilians and commits war crimes and pardons the perpetrators and emits more carbon emissions than entire nations is all the more sickening.

I simply don’t trust Democrats who rely on talking points about “bad guys” and “murderers” because that is language that justifies endless wars and illegal military interventions and strikes. I don’t trust Democrats who want to perform cost/benefit analyses instead of following moral truths about undeniable human rights. All I trust is a policy to just get out of the Middle East, period, because we never should have gone there in the first place.

As a person who has lived in a superpower that’s been at war for more than half my life, who has seen that superpower kill hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians and pardon war criminals and continue to bloat the defense budget,  I’m disgusted by it and I have been for as long as I can remember. You should be, too. And you should do something about it, like this:

Protestors shut down JFK airport after Trump’s first Muslim ban

It’s going to take much more than marching with signs and calling your representatives (which, in a sense, is somewhat ridiculous to do since our representatives just approved Trump’s defense budget). It’s going to take direct actions and sit-ins and strikes and shutting down of infrastructure to make a difference, the latter of which we’ve only seen once outside of Black Lives Matter in recent American history. This quote from Mario Savio is worth repeating right now:

“There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part! You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”

If you truly want to stop the war, do those things. Speak to like-minded folks in your community. Organize with them, volunteer, protest, donate, sit in, strike. Shut down an airport or train station. Disrupt military recruiters on school campuses. 

And, please, vote for the candidate whose policy is to get out of the Middle East and end these senseless wars: Bernie Sanders, the only anti-war candidate.

NO WAR WITH IRAN