On Saturday, just as millions of us began drinking to celebrate Joe Biden’s apparent victory in the Presidential election, one of the most instantly memeable moments of all time was being born in Philadelphia. Just minutes after media organizations finally began to call the race, Rudy Giuliani stood at a podium in the parking lot of Philadelphia’s Four Seasons Total Landscaping, shouting about widespread voter fraud (of which no evidence exists). This unbelievable scene is already the stuff of legend, so let’s break down exactly what happened in this real story that is somehow not an episode of Veep or a headline from The Onion.
On Saturday, as President Trump headed to the golf course, he tweeted that his attorneys would be holding a press conference that morning at the Four Seasons Philadelphia. You know the one! The fancy hotel where you got drinks at the bar once, but where you could never afford to actually stay. Turns out the President couldn’t make a reservation there either, and his tweet was quickly deleted after the hotel clarified that no such press conference was taking place. The President soon posted an update, clarifying that the briefing was actually being held at Four Season Total Landscaping.
To clarify, President Trump’s press conference will NOT be held at Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia.
It will be held at Four Seasons Total Landscaping— no relation with the hotel.
— Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center (@FSPhiladelphia) November 7, 2020
A quick Google search revealed that the new location was, in fact, a literal landscaping company. Whereas the Four Seasons hotel is just a few blocks away from the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where votes were being counted throughout last week, Four Seasons Total Landscaping is 11 miles away, nestled between a crematorium and an adult bookstore in an industrial part of the city. When this location was initially announced it was hard to believe that they were serious, but the visuals of the press conference, with Trump signs plastered on the side of a dilapidated green building, confirmed that the location was exactly what it seemed.
The immediate narrative that took hold here was that someone on Trump’s team must have made a massive mistake, and booked the wrong Four Seasons. That still seems like a likely possibility, but of course, the campaign would never admit that. On Saturday evening, as most of us watched President-Elect Biden give his speech, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski tweeted praise for Four Seasons Total Landscaping, saying that they “are American Patriots,” and that “All great Americans in PA use” their services. Sure, Jan.
All great Americans in PA use Four Seasons Total Landscaping. They love this country and are American Patriots. Thank you!!
— Corey R. Lewandowski (@CLewandowski_) November 8, 2020
Not everyone is convinced that the press conference’s location was a mistake. Reporting from The New York Times suggests that the location may have been a strategic choice, given that the downtown area around the convention center had been largely overtaken by Biden supporters. Additionally, Four Seasons Total Landscaping, a women-owned small business that has grown substantially in its 27-year history, is also the type of American success story that Trump and his administration like to take credit for. But my favorite theory, which may only exist on Twitter, is that the location just off Interstate 95 was appealing to Giuliani & Co. because it would allow them to quickly GTFO of Pennsylvania after giving their press conference. Probably not a bad idea, considering that more than 80% of Philadelphia County voters chose Biden over Trump.
While another meaningless Giuliani press conference in a hotel lobby would have been quickly forgotten, Four Seasons Total Landscaping is something very different. On Sunday, as we all dealt with our hangovers from the previous day’s celebration, the images of the Trump campaign’s tragic last stand became the biggest joke of the moment, and two days later, we’re still not over it. On Tuesday, an employee from Fantasy Island Book Store, one of Four Seasons’ neighboring businesses, complained to TMZ about Saturday’s commotion, saying that they were given no advance notice, and due to the swarm of traffic, “customers were spooked and couldn’t get to Fantasy Island’s front door.” Fantasy Island isn’t happy with Rudy Giuliani, but the employee told TMZ that “a check from Giuliani for a few hundred bucks would make things right.” Uh, good luck with that.
But while Fantasy Island may have missed out on potential profits due to Saturday’s press conference, Four Seasons Total Landscaping is suddenly reaping the rewards of their weird involvement in this whole situation. The owners of the landscaping business quickly capitalized on the attention, rolling out online merch and posting numerous updates on their Facebook page, thanking followers for their support, and adding that their phone lines are “blowing up with calls from the conspiracy theorists.”
And of course, most importantly, the memes and tweets about this bizarre event have been absolutely on fire. In a Twitter poll from @jpbrammer that received more than 60,000 votes, Spirit Halloween was chosen as the ideal location for a campaign’s last stand, though my personal choice would be the alley behind SUR.
where would your campaign’s last stand take place. what would be your campaign’s four seasons total landscaping
— JP (@jpbrammer) November 9, 2020
I myself considered driving down to see this historic landmark for myself over the weekend, and with an endorsement like this from SNL‘s Stefon, who wouldn’t want to go? Honestly, there’s nothing more convenient than being able to buy a dildo and a bag of mulch in the same place, so it seems like an ideal location, minus Rudy Giuliani.
Philly’s hottest club is Four Seasons Total Landscaping. They’ve got everything: a crematorium, a dildo store, Rudy Giuliani pic.twitter.com/rFvBlCJi8B
— Drivont (@Drivont) November 8, 2020
One of Melania Trump’s only tangible projects as First Lady was redoing the White House Rose Garden, which had kept the same design since Jackie Kennedy’s time in the 1960s. Her new garden design received lukewarm reviews when it was unveiled this year, and some are hopeful that Dr. Jill Biden will restore the Kennedy-era landscaping. If she does decide to take on this project, she knows who to call…
I hope Jill & Joe hire Four Seasons Total Landscaping to fix the Rose Garden.
— 🗽866-OUR-VOTE (@Caissie) November 8, 2020
We’ve heard that the sex shop customers were caught off guard by Saturday’s press conference, but just imagine those poor gardeners who wanted to pick up some supplies to do their weekend yard work. I would probably need therapy if I showed up to buy fertilizer and saw Rudy Giuliani yelling about dead people voting.
Imagine going to Four Seasons landscaping to grab some mulch maybe a shrub or two and there’s a Trump press conference lol
— Chris Burns | Fat Carrie Bradshaw (@fatcarriebshaw) November 9, 2020
Obviously, a lot of important news has happened in the last few days, but we won’t forget about the poetic chaos of the Four Seasons Total Landscaping press conference any time soon. I’m just waiting for the next family Zoom with my conservative relatives, so I can bust out my new Zoom background—can’t wait!
Images: mark reinstein / Shutterstock.com; FSPhiladelphia, clewandowski_, jpbrammer, drivont, caissie, fatcarriebshaw / Twitter
Hear ye, hear ye! Election Day is finally here. After months of candidate commercials, televised debates, lots of deranged tweets, and one global pandemic, the day has finally arrived for us to cast our votes and hope America gets renewed for another season. As if 2020 hasn’t been traumatizing enough, we now have the pleasure of dealing with election anxiety. Yes, voters are now experiencing heightened levels of stress and anxiety as a result of this sh*tshow we call an election. I mean, duh. But as we gear up to head to the polls, check our mail-in status, and anxiously await the results, it’s crucial that we also carve out time to take care of ourselves. A lot of things are out of our control right now, and that can feel overwhelming, but spiraling into a dark hole of doom and hopelessness isn’t going to do anyone any good. Perspective and mindfulness are key. It’s critical that we find ways to keep ourselves occupied and in check. To help reduce some of this election induced anxiety, I consulted with multiple experts on how to emotionally prepare yourself for election day.
What Is Election Anxiety?
First off, let me assure you that the glass case of emotions that you are in with respect to this election are completely valid. Election Stress Disorder, aka election anxiety, is a real thing that is taking a toll on a majority of voters leading up to the 2020 election, with 52% of Americans reporting in a survey done by the American Psychological Association that the election is “a very or somewhat significant” source of stress. So you’re not alone! I spoke with Natalie Ryan, LCAT, a psychotherapist in NYC, who says, “Nearly all of my patients have been speaking about election related stress and anxiety.” She adds, “A topic that’s come up a lot in sessions is processing people’s biggest fears of what might happen if their candidate does or doesn’t win.” This feeling of uncertainty and anticipation for Tuesday’s election results is only increasing our already heightened sense of anxiety from the dumpster fire that is 2020. I also spoke with the Regional Medical Director at One Medical, Natasha Bhuyan, MD, who has seen an influx of patients dealing with excess stress due to the upcoming election. Dr. Bhuyan says that, “Some patients are having trouble sleeping with racing thoughts about worst-case scenarios. Others are spending lots of time consuming the news and struggling to unplug.” I feel incredibly seen.
To elaborate more on how people, specifically younger generations, are feeling, I spoke with the Senior Director of Measurement & Insights at Fullscreen, Amelia Rance. Fullscreen’s insights division launched an election study that surveyed the political stances of 3,000 millenials and Gen Zers, ranging in ages from 18 to 37 years old. Rance says they found that, “We’ve always seen with a lot of the research that we do that this generation is thinking more about their future and are more aware of certain things, so they feel this stress and anxiety overall more than some of the other generations.” And they all said millennials were self-centered.
Rance continues, “When we asked specifically about the election, uneasy was the number one emotion that they were feeling, tied with hopeful.” This awkward balance of feelings can be a lot to handle. The best way to manage this upset of emotions is to find ways to support yourself and your mental health, especially during times of political uncertainty. Yes, I’m talking about self-care!
Have A Voting Plan
First and foremost, establish a voting plan. Dr. Bhuyan says, “Start by having a plan for Election Day. If you haven’t voted, where will you go to vote? Be sure to research the polling location and logistics like parking.” She also advises, “Do a sample ballot ahead of time (including the initiatives) so you don’t feel stressed about making those decisions on Election Day.” The more organized you are, the better your brain is going to feel. If you’re voting by mail, then double check you sent it in on time and its status. If you’re voting in person, make sure you have the right address for your polling location. Preparation is essential in reducing unnecessary stress.
Plan Your Day
Along with establishing a voting plan, it’s also wise to think about how you want to spend the day. Are you planning on watching the news all day, or are you blocking everything out and pretending like it’s not happening? Will you be with friends and family, or by yourself? There is no universal right answer. Ryan suggests, “Spend some time thinking about what will feel the most nourishing to you that day, and try your best to have things in place to help with self-soothing.” That could range from face masks, to ice cream, to a punching bag, or all the above, whatever will work best for you—no judgment.
As you think about what mental practices will best suit you, don’t be afraid to set boundaries with friends, family, and even with the news. You are not obligated to discuss politics if it’s going to be detrimental to your sanity. The same goes with the news and social media. Dr. Bhuyan says, “Many news and social media platforms are designed to have no natural stopping point––there are always more posts to read, videos to watch, and links to click on. As a result, people need to set intentional parameters about how much they consume.” Setting boundaries is a healthy way to preserve your mental well-being and to help prevent yourself from falling victim to political fatigue. Additionally, Ryan suggests, “Maybe you want to have a set time for when you check in with the results, rather than watching constantly for hours at a time. Spend some time thinking about what will feel the most nourishing to you that day.” It’s all about doing whatever feels right for you. Keep the news on all day or go totally off the grid—no option is better than the other.
It’s also important to try and level your expectations. Dr. Bhuyan says, “Managing expectations is a skill that requires being honest with yourself. While people use polls, predictors, and statisticians, know that there is still a wide realm of possibilities in terms of outcomes.” And keep in mind that just because voting ends on Tuesday does not mean that we will have answers on Tuesday. Rance adds, “There’s a strong chance that we won’t know what the outcome is, and then there’s still going to be that uneasiness until we actually know the results. Suspect that the uneasiness will continue after Election Day, unfortunately.” Try not to set yourself up for failure by expecting all of your anxieties to be resolved within one day.
Do Your Part
Another way to reduce anxiety is to focus on what is in your control. Rance says, “It’s important that people feel that they have done all that they can do in terms of making change happen.” She continues, “If people really feel like they’ve done all they can do in terms of motivating their friends and family to vote, or reach out to states that are more undecided, and really can make an impact; I think that’s how they’ll most feel prepared for the outcome.” Do everything that you need to do, so you can feel at peace and like you’ve done your part—whether that’s phonebanking, talking to family members, posting on social media, volunteering, etc. Oh yeah, and VOTING.
Try Not To Spiral
In the same way that we should moderate our social intake, we should also be conscious of spiraling into a doomsday mentality. Ryan advises, “While it’s important to give ourselves space to process, it’s also incredibly important to recognize when we’re catastrophizing so we can rescale our fears.” She continues, “The first step to stop the catastrophizing and rumination cycle is to recognize when it’s happening. Once we have the awareness we have options to help us move away from it.” If you feel yourself start to spiral, just pause, take a breath, and then pivot to the Pinot, or whatever your self-soothing technique is—again, no judgment. Ryan says, “Distraction, clearing your mind with meditation or breathing exercises, talking to a friend, listening to music, or getting some exercise are some ways we can actively avoid dwelling on worst case scenarios” are all things you can try to calm the f*ck down.
Regardless of Tuesday’s results, it is important to remember that there will still be a Wednesday, a Thursday, a Friday, and an anticipated, hilarious Saturday Night Live. Time will go on, the Earth will keep rotating, and life will continue. I fully understand how pivotal this outcome is and how that can feel. It may seem like a do-or-die, make-or-break moment in time, but that is precisely what this is, a moment in time. As Rance says, “The privilege of voting is something that has been reborn, and people are going to continue to stay passionate, regardless of the outcome on election day.” Hope is not made or broken on November 3rd. The results are what they are. You may not be able to control the outcome, but you can control how you handle it.
Lastly, Dr. Bhuyan recommends, “Try to challenge yourself to see the silver lining in even the most difficult conditions.” Give it a shot. I’ll go first, my silver lining is that election day falls on taco Tuesday, so win or lose, we can still have a margarita, and I will cheers to that.
Images: vesperstocck / Shutterstock.com
The matriarchs of my family have always treated voting as a sacred ritual. Not a single election went by during my childhood that my mother did not bring me to the polls to watch her vote. Whether that meant waking up before the sun to drive to our nearest polling place so she could cast her vote before she dropped me off for school, or being among the last voters in line, exhausted after a long day’s work, quelling an inconsolable tween whose primary concern was whether we’d be going to Burger King after, my mother always upheld her civic duty to vote. And she always made sure that I, her only daughter, was present to watch.
See, to my mom, a child of the civil rights movement, born in the 1950s, voting was a privilege. It was the be-all and end-all. It was a right that had been legally and systematically withheld from Black people—Black women—for so long, she felt it would be nothing short of a slap in the face to her ancestors to voluntarily deny that privilege. My grandmother, born in the 1920s, felt the same. After all, her great-grandparents had been slaves, hardly able to visualize the prospect of freedom, let alone the ability to exercise the right to vote—a power that was historically reserved for white male property owners. It simply was not an option for my mother or grandmother to choose to forfeit their voting rights given the historical gravity and laborious terms surrounding the acquisition of universal suffrage.
Our family’s voting ritual culminated in 2008, when my grandmother, mother, and I went to the small church two blocks away from my grandmother’s house, which doubled as a polling station, to cast their votes for Barack Obama. The act was monumental at the baseline because two Black women were exercising their rights to vote, a radical act that the founders of the Constitution never intended. But that day was made infinitely more significant because two Black women were voting for a Black man, who would, of course, become the 44th President of the United States. (The day was significant for me because I got to go to Burger King after.)
The generations that preceded me rightly held voting to such a high standard because they directly had ties to a world where Black enfranchisement wasn’t the norm. My generation, on the other hand, is significantly more disillusioned. While we are keenly aware of our history and the struggle endured to acquire the universal right to vote, we also are able to see the cracks beneath the surface. The radical injustices associated with a system that proclaims itself as just. If my mother and grandmother’s generations saw the right to vote as the be-all and end-all, the almighty Oz, my generation’s unique gaze beholds Oz as just a man—and he’s white, self-interested, and a master puppeteer.
It’s no secret that the relationship between voting and Black America is a long, complicated one. From its inception and for almost the first 100 years of American history, Black people were denied the right to vote—simply because they were not white, not property owners, and not regarded legally as a full person. The 15th Amendment, ratified in 1870, technically granted Black (men) the right to vote, however many southern states utilized a plethora of tactics to prevent them from actually being able to do so. Literacy tests, poll taxes, gerrymandering, and grandfather clauses were among the many strategies employed to promote Black disenfranchisement. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 sought to rectify these unjust practices, as it was the first piece of legislation to formally prohibit racial discrimination in voting. But still, racist officials and lawmakers found loopholes within the system to prevent Black people from exercising their voting rights. The creation of voter ID laws, the illegitimate closing of polling places, and the reduction of early voting rights are all ways in which voter suppression still, to this day, plagues the Black community. So while the triumphs of acquiring Black enfranchisement were at the top of mind for my mother and grandmother’s generations, the somber realities of discriminatory disenfranchisement practices are jarring truths that mar my generation’s outlook on the subject of the vote.
I want to be very clear: I am a Black woman and I will be voting in November. And, at the risk of sounding like an episode of Schoolhouse Rock, you absolutely should too. Maybe it’s naïveté, or maybe my mother and grandmother’s voting had tremendous lasting power, but I am of the unwavering opinion that if you can vote, you must. And if you are Black, I mean this tenfold. No, not because our ancestors fought for this right (I do not believe in guilting people to vote), but because far too much is at stake to deny ourselves this right. In the words of Aubrey Stone, President of the Black Chamber of Commerce, “We cannot expect to win with every vote, but if we don’t vote, we can certainly expect to lose.”
I’ll admit, it is exhausting to vote in a political system where your community is not only underserved, but systemically under attack. Almost 50 years after the Civil Rights Act, the racial wealth gap suggests Black men still earn 87 cents for every dollar earned by white men. Almost 66 years after Brown v. Board of Education, racial inequality in our education system still persists as Black students graduate at drastically lower rates than white students, and are more likely to be expelled, less likely to be invited into gifted student programs, and more likely to be overlooked by teachers. According to the Bureau of Justice, 1 in every 4 Black men is likely to go to prison, whereas 1 in every 23 white men is projected to serve time in prison. Black women who give birth in hospitals that primarily serve Black communities are far more likely to have serious health complications than women who give birth in “white-serving” communities. And as we all were reminded this year after the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, even though Black people account for less than 13% of the American population, they are still twice as likely to be shot and killed by the police. The system is downright abhorrent for Black Americans. But the answer isn’t for us to not vote. The answer isn’t to self-serve defeat because defeat is expected. I can’t recall any victorious historical movement that was achieved through the passive act of surrender.
The truth is, while suffrage isn’t the all-powerful Oz that my mother and grandmother once proclaimed it to be, voting is a tool that has considerable power and influence in drastically improving our daily living standards. In the upcoming November election, specifically, we’re voting in the hopes of increasing the federal minimum wage, ending the cash bail system, restoring the Voting Rights Act (which was compromised by the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013), and increasing federal funding for public schools. For minorities, in particular, we’re voting to reinstate DACA, advance the enactment of the LGBTQIA Equality Act, rescind the Muslim-targeted travel ban, and decriminalize marijuana. Access to affordable healthcare, tuition free college, and investment in climate change programs are also all among the many political initiatives that will ultimately be decided by your vote.
And yes, I do specifically mean your vote. I’m cringing at the children’s television-level soapbox I’ve unintentionally found myself standing on, but your vote sincerely does matter. Every vote does. Overwhelming data shows just how many elections have been decided by a mere handful of voters. In 1991, a House seat in Virginia was determined by one single vote. In 2002, a GOP House primary in the state of Washington was decided by just one vote. George W. Bush infamously won the deciding state of Florida in the 2000 presidential election by roughly 500 votes. And, of course, in 2016, Donald Trump secured the presidency by winning just enough votes to secure the Electoral College. Roughly 43% of eligible voters did not turnout to the polls in 2016. And for that, we are paying dearly.
The presidential election next month is one of momentous importance because we are quite literally voting for our lives. And again, if you are Black, I mean this tenfold. A considerable amount of voter apathy comes from the erroneous and, quite frankly, dangerous idea that a Biden Presidency would be just as bad as a Trump Presidency. And while it is absolutely correct that Biden’s political record is not squeaky clean when it comes to his previous political platforms that affected the Black community (i.e. The 1994 Crime Bill and his former anti-busing stance), it is paramount to affirm that re-electing Trump for a second term (either actively by voting for him or passively by choosing not to vote) would be far more damning to Black America than electing Biden. Neither candidate provides the prospect for a perfect presidency, but one candidate refuses to denounce white supremacy, which freely and directly puts Black America under siege. If the leader of the free world cannot merely condemn the malignant threat and oldest form of racism that has plagued our nation, the floodgates of unbridled bigotry will be jolted open and a second-term presidency would terrorize our worlds in unfathomable ways. As Sonya Renee Taylor so poignantly directs, “vote like you are picking the enemy you want to fight.” Be clear that we would all be better off fighting the enemy whose political record is considerably tainted, than the enemy who wholly rejects the validity of our existence.
No, voting is not the ultimate answer to all of the injustices that plague the Black community. Only a complete and total societal reckoning can even begin to tackle that monumental feat. But voting is an essential step that can be utilized to affect necessary and transformative change. Your vote has tremendous power; you simply must use it forcefully and strategically. But we mustn’t stop our work after we’ve cast our votes at the polls. My mother and grandmother were correct that voting is paramount, but they were wrong about it being the be-all and end-all. We must vote in November, and continue our civic engagement in other proactive ways. We must vote in November, and continue to protest—since the protests that ensued after George Floyd’s death, Minneapolis, D.C., Chicago, and Denver have banned the use of chokeholds and many city governments have removed public sightings of Confederate monuments. We must vote in November, and hold our representatives accountable—in 2006 an immigration reform bill that would increase fines and prison sentences for undocumented immigrants was not enacted because of a successful citizen uprising in the Latinx community. We must vote in November, and continue to act. Voting is merely a single action item, on the thousand-page to-do list of “how to fix America.” But it’s a critical step, nonetheless.
Image: Element5 Digital / Unsplash
If you watched literally any part of the Democratic National Convention over the last few days, you’ve had a lot of different people telling you how important it is to vote in this election. And, like, yes, we all agree. However, in a handful of states, uncertainties remain about who can vote by mail, where, and for what reason.
Some states are starting to clear up the process and attempt to make voting make at least a little sense. Yesterday, NY Governor, Andrew Cuomo, passed legislation allowing voters to request an absentee ballot if they prefer to avoid voting in person due to the pandemic. Previously, it was unclear if requesting an absentee ballot to avoid risking exposure to the virus qualified as an “excuse” to vote by mail, which some states require. The deadline to submit your application for a mail-in ballot in New York is October 27. When you receive it, you can select illness/temporary disability as your excuse.
While a majority of Americans believe we should be able to vote by mail for any reason (called “no-excuse” absentee voting), a minority of states require voters to provide a documented reason why they are unable — not just unwilling — to cast an in-person vote. Amid a pandemic that has killed 174,000 Americans and infected nearly 6 million, most states have lifted these restrictions to allow absentee voting for people who can’t or would prefer not risk exposure.
As of today, 83 percent of Americans can vote without going to the polling place this year. A number of states will also send a ballot directly to registered voters. Click here to find the rules and deadlines in your state, and check out this map via the Washington Post for an overview of your state’s offerings.
BTW — you can still vote early in person or on election day in person, of course!
New York’s clusterf*ck of a primary process – where some results were delayed up to six weeks – raised questions about how postmarking and prepaid envelopes will work in November. Thankfully, the state is working on getting its sh*t together as quickly as possible before the general election in November.
Cuomo also said the state will be counting all postmarked ballots received on or before election day and for the following week. New York will also be counting all ballots without a postmark received on November 4.
While this obviously provides some relief in terms of having mail-in ballots count, it also raises an important point that we need to start seriously talking about. We probably won’t know the election results for at least a few weeks after November 3. And, yes, typing that sentence basically launched me into yet another election-based spiral. Still, it is comforting to know that at least one state is addressing all of our concerns about voting this year.
If you live in New York, request your ballot here today (like, literally right this second, I’m not kidding)!!!!
While it’s no All Too Well or, even, Cruel Summer, since Folklore came out last week, I’ve listened to the song Mad Woman too many times to count. I then went back and made an entire Spotify playlist with songs about being gaslit because, tbh, I’m kind of going through it right now.
Obviously, songs like Mad Woman always hit differently, but, around my 15th listen, I also happened to be scrolling through Twitter when I saw one too many Trump tweets and started to get, like, really angry. Then I remembered that the Trump campaign and most of the GOP is relying on the same gaslighting tactics as every boy Taylor writes about and the all of the f*ckboys I’ve *almost* dated.
Before I get ahead of myself, gaslighting is a form of manipulation that makes someone feel like they’re actually crazy, forcing them to invalidate their own thoughts and feelings. While it’s most common in interpersonal and romantic relationships, it can happen at a wider scale, like when the president gaslights his entire country.
Here are a few examples of talking points that they use to gaslight Americans:
“The Radical Left”
The Radical Left Democrats: First they try to take away your guns. Then they try to take away your police!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2020
Donald Trump, everyone who works at Fox, and most of the Republican party have latched onto the phrase “radical left” over the last several years. They tend to like using it as a description of most of the policies that the Democratic party supports and advocates for. As someone who studied politics in London for a semester and hasn’t shut up about it, it’s really important that we deconstruct the myth that a “radical left” exists in America. “Radical left” policies like increased access to healthcare and gun control are commonplace in most countries. In many, they’re even seen as the bare minimum.
While political commentators like to talk about the fact that American parties are more polarized – or further apart – than ever. This narrative implies that the Democratic and Republican parties have moved left and right, respectively, at the same rate.
This is absolutely not the case, as demonstrated by this New York Times article from last year. The Democrats certainly have moved to the left, but the GOP has moved much further right at a quicker rate, leaving Democrats way closer to the center than the Republican party.
The term “radical left” is really just a way to force the left to concede on important legislation and aspects of the Democratic party’s platform.
It’s also worth considering that the fear of having a candidate that was seen as radical is part of the reason we went from the youngest, most diverse field in history to picking an old white guy for a nominee (love you, Joe!).
IDK about anyone else, but this has direct parallels to the guy who told me I was being crazy and controlling when I said I’d appreciate it if he maybe stopped hooking up with other girls, please? Like, I was really asking for a bare minimum level of respect, but to him, it was “moving too fast, and it was way too much!”
IDK!? I just feel like whether it’s from guys or politicians, we shouldn’t have to beg for the bare minimum.
“They’re Taking Away Our Rights”
THANK YOU to the 5 million members of the @NRA for once again entrusting me with your FULL & COMPLETE ENDORSEMENT! As long as I am President, I will ALWAYS protect our Great Second Amendment, and never let the Radical Left take away your Rights, your Guns, or your Police! @NRAPVF https://t.co/8ZhChqxgBI
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 17, 2020
Let’s go back to things like gun control for a hot sec to talk about rights. Conservatives love to use the Second Amendment to push back on arguments for increased gun control. While I’m not going to fully get into this debate because I can only dedicate one or two of the very few brain cells I have left to this, I want to point out what the actual amendment says.
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
So, the Second Amendment was written and ratified in 1789, when our country was literally brand new. We didn’t have a legitimate army, in fact, part of the motivation behind the Second Amendment was that the founders were nervous about the country having a strong standing army like Britain’s. They were worried that a standing army would limit citizens’ rights. There would always be a looming threat that the federal government could deploy against its citizens.
If you think this sounds like anything that might be happening around the country today? You’re right. But, I digress.
The argument that gun control is taking away Second Amendment rights reminds me of a guy who likes to revise history and change the meanings of words mid-fight. You know, the kind who says, “just because I said I really liked you, slept over every other night for two months, and brought you to my grandpa’s 94th birthday party doesn’t mean I had feelings for you, I thought you knew that.”
“This Is What Joe Biden’s America Will Look Like”
Joe Biden and the Radical Left want to Abolish Police, Abolish ICE, Abolish Bail, Abolish Suburbs, Abolish the 2nd Amendment – and Abolish the American Way of Life. No one will be SAFE in Joe Biden’s America!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2020
You may have noticed a new round of Trump ads that depict what he thinks America will look like under a Biden presidency. These ads have footage of protests, riots, and violence that have all happened during the Trump presidency. The ads also falsely say that Biden is in favor of defunding the police despite him saying the opposite in several interviews.
These ads are the same as saying “seriously, I can’t believe you’re upset about the way I talk to you, it could be so much worse. It’s not like I’m manipulating or lying to you, all I did was say it’s psycho that you told your friends about me and punched a hole in the wall.”
While we’re on the subject, let’s touch upon how Trump gaslights his own base. It cracks me up that his supporters keep walking around with MAGA hats as if Trump’s campaign didn’t briefly try to use “Keep America Great.”
MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 27, 2020
MAGA gives his base a goal and a fictional enemy, completely distracting from the reality that over the last almost four years, Trump has accomplished almost nothing he promised his supporters he has, and America is further from ‘greatness’ than it has been in quite a long time.
“Mail-In Ballots Lead to Fraud”
There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed. The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2020
This is one of the more dangerous examples of manipulation by the Trump campaign, and one Twitter flagged as misleading. In a typical year, somewhere around 20% of Americans vote either by mail or through absentee ballot (spoiler alert: they’re literally the same thing). Though this 20% includes the Trump family and most of his administration, Trump has recently picked safe, mail-in ballots, as his new enemy. He has called them unsafe and said that they would put us at further risk of election tampering. More candidly, he expressed fear that expansion of early voting and vote by mail means that “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”
Multiple studies have shown that not only is voting by mail safe, but it is proven to favor neither party. However, in a normal year, in-person voting serves as a barrier to many people getting to cast their ballots at all, and, in a pandemic, this will obviously be worsened. What Trump really is saying is that when people who may not ordinarily get to vote are given the option and when more people vote in general, Republicans often lose. (He has also openly said this.)
Here, we’re being told not to trust an institution that is not only very trustworthy but vital to the functioning of democracy. It’s like being told that your friend is lying to you and jealous after telling a significant other that the same friend saw them cheating on you or pointed out your significant other’s problematic behavior.
Personally, I think that these manipulation tactics coming from elected officials impact women in different ways than they do men. Women are often gaslit by their significant others, co-workers, family members, and even friends. While some women do the gaslighting, we are more likely to be on the receiving end.
When these tactics become commonplace in daily interactions, they can have devastating psychological impacts. According to Psychology Today, over time, a victim of gaslighting will stop trusting their own judgment, over apologize, question their knowledge or memory, and have difficulties making decisions.
Gaslighting is just one of many forms of emotional abuse and manipulation that society conditions women to accept and that we see in our political world. Last week, AOC was verbally attacked in front of the media, our president regularly comments on female politicians and reporters’ looks, the list of misogyny in politics goes on and on. All of these things are connected to one another.
The idea that Trump is a misogynistic, manipulative narcissist who uses gaslighting for political power is not new at all, but it’s getting worse. The effects of gaslighting by Trump and his cronies have already impacted the 2020 election and will continue doing so.
Just like our toxic exes, Trump probably won’t change, so it’s up to us to be aware of what he is doing and dump his ass on November third.
Subscribe to the Betches Sup newsletter to get stories like this directly in your Inbox.
Welp, after a truly wild primary season that started with approx. 666 thousand candidates of various backgrounds in the running, we have narrowed our option down to the old, white, Christian dude. What a breath of fresh air!
No matter your opinion on the man, Joe Biden is very likely to be the Democratic nominee for the 2020 presidential race, and humanity will be in much better shape if he beats Donald Trump. The good news is, Biden still has the opportunity to pick an exciting running mate.
Biden has already promised that he would be picking a woman as is vice-presidential nominee, both as a concession to disappointed progressives and to balance out his relentless straight-white–cis-maleness. Picks are typically announced around late June or July in the run-up to the Democratic National Convention (postponed to August this year), but given the extraordinary times and a campaign that could use a real shot of enthusiasm, we wouldn’t be surprised if the second name on the ticket drops sooner than expected.
Here are some amazing women on the shortlist:
Harris and Biden may have butted heads during the primary debates, but that’s all in the past. Harris was quick to endorse Biden early on, sparking early theories that she may top his VP shortlist. The California senator and former attorney general has name recognition, experience, and brings diversity to the table.
Plus, while she’s seen as a somewhat progressive pick, a lot of her politics are actually pretty moderate. For Biden, she could be the best of both worlds. Biden ran on being able to secure the Black vote during the primary, and having Harris as his VP could help him solidify that same strategy in the general election. Plus, Harris had a close friendship with Biden’s late son Beau — the two worked together frequently as attorneys. general.
And let’s be real, she’d add a much needed ~cool~ factor to Biden’s, uh, pretty straight edge image.
Liz! Liz! Liz! Warren and Biden certainly disagree on some things, but this could actually work in their favor. Warren is seen as a progressive, and Biden is seen as a moderate/centrist. If Biden wants to bring in Dems who are further on the Left, picking Warren as his VP could be a smart move. Plus, she has a plan for everything, and could be a very effective VP. Also, after endorsing Biden with a video, Warren told Rachel Maddow that she would say “yes,” to the question of whether or not she would accept the role of VP from Biden.
Judging by the complete lack of hesitation in her answer, it seems like something maybe she had already thought about. Makes ya think…
Abrams gained national attention in 2018 when she ran against Brian Kemp for the seat of governor in Georgia. The election was pretty controversial, since Kemp was Secretary of State at the time, meaning he got to oversee an election he was running in, something one could call a conflict of interest. Kemp ended up winning by a small number of votes, but that’s a whole other story. Abrams caught the attention of many Americans as she came close defeating Kemp in the red state of Georgia. She’s a captivating candidate, and she is a woman of color, which would, again, help with Biden’s saltine cracker image.
Klobuchar was quick to drop out of the race and endorse Biden back when Bernie was the frontrunner, making us wonder if she is working to get that VP spot. She and Biden also make sense as a team. They’re both moderates, yet they appeal to different demographics. Klobuchar has that Midwest vibe that does well with…Midwesterners, and liberal women across the country. She’s got a real moderate feminist energy, which appeals to white moms, AKA a big part of the voting pool. She’s well-liked amongst Dems, and people seem to enjoy her performances at debates. Especially her one liners that I am convinced she learned how to formulate at a $400 week long stand up comedy class at Caroline’s on Broadway.
Who? You may not recognize Whitmer’s name right away, but she has been in the news a lot lately. As the current governor of Michigan, she is receiving some criticism for her very strict measures for combatting COVID-19. People are pissed tf off about it, but as the saying goes…all press is good press. Plus, the main people she is pissing off are Republicans, so it could potentially gaining her some brownie points with Dems. She is def establishing herself as a woman in power who stands her ground, and there’s something to be said for that.
WILDCARD: Michelle Obama
Truly the only thing that could save 2020. And it’s not just pundits and stans fantasizing over a Michelle Obama vice presidency — the Bidens can’t resist the idea either.
“I’d love it if Michelle [Obama] would agree to it. I think she's had it with politics. She's so good at everything she does. That would be wonderful,” @DrBiden says when asked if the former first lady would consider being Joe Biden’s running mate. https://t.co/tAOTzVqh4T pic.twitter.com/DShgiFmj9D
— New Day (@NewDay) April 24, 2020
Jill Biden, wife of the presumptive Democratic nominee, said she would “love to see” former First Lady Michelle Obama join her husband’s ticket if she would agree to it. The former Vice President himself said he’d appoint Obama “in a heartbeat” but that he doesn’t “think she has any desire to live near the White House again.”
Well if Joe Biden doesn’t pick a woman, after all, it’s safe to say I have no desire to live near America again.
Images: Getty; Giphy
White feminism: that bitch that needs to sit down, stfu, and listen for a change.
Unfortunately, white feminism did not do this back when the suffrage movement pushed to secure women’s right to vote. The 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, and gave women the right to vote, which rules. What does not, in fact, rule, is that it did not secure the right to vote for women of color. It wasn’t until years later, when the Voting Rights Act passed in 1965 and prohibited racial discrimination in voting, did black men and women have more equal access to the franchise.
White women quite literally left women of color behind.
In fact, the 55th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday on March 7 commemorates the day when people of color attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to peacefully demand their access to the ballot. They only made it 6 blocks to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where cops attacked them with tear gas, clubs, and the like.
Where were the white women who wanted everyone to have the right to vote then? Susan…Carol…Karen…where you at?
As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the suffrage movement and the 19th Amendment, let’s try to do so by also acknowledging its blind spots and honoring the ongoing issues we have yet and need to fix. Might be a cute thing for us to do for a change, no? In 2020, women may have the right to vote, but voter suppression is a very real thing and it — surprise, surprise — targets people of color (as well as people with disabilities and students).
In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down a provision in the Voting Rights Act that required nine states with a history of racial discrimination in voting to clear changes in their elections with the federal government. Since then, state governments have pursued efforts to disenfranchise voters who may question their claim to power.
White women: let’s put down our “Men Are Trash!!!” signs (don’t throw them away, babe, just put them down for now), and pick up our “White Women Have Privilege Too And If We Don’t Check It We Join The Trash” signs.
For starters, here’s a breakdown of how voter suppression works in this country, so you can stay educated and be aware of how you can vote to end this bullshit.
Voter ID Laws
Let’s start with something as simple as the laws behind which types of identification you need in order to vote. Most states (36) require you to bring ID to the polls when you vote. Some states (7) have exceptionally strict ID laws, like requiring you have more than one government-issued ID in order to vote. Here’s the thing: over 21 million U.S. citizens do not have a government-issued photo ID.
Think about it: Access to official identification like that is a privilege. It often costs money to get an ID, and in some cases a lot of money. In 2018, obtaining a Missouri driver’s license cost $89.00. In many cases, you have to travel to go get the ID. That costs money (public transportation/gas). These things also require time. If you’ve ever been to the DMV, first of all, my deepest sympathies to you and your family, and second, you know very well how that experience can take up an entire fucking afternoon.
Time is also privilege, as working-class people are busy working and/or looking after their family without the help of childcare, and don’t have the ability to get time off to go and get an ID. Also, most homeless people can’t get IDs because they don’t have a permanent address.
And because of the cute lil’ rigged system white people have created in this country that keeps them on top, all of this disproportionally affects people of color. Nationally, up to 25% of African-American citizens of voting age lack government-issued photo ID, compared to only 8% of whites, minority voters are questioned about their ID more than white voters, and specific laws like one in North Carolina that prohibits public assistance IDs and state employee ID cards, which are disproportionately held by Black voters, target minority voters. Capiche?
Voter Registration Laws
Moving on to the laws behind simply registering. Should be easy and fair, right? Think again, bitch! Some states have a cut off date for registering to vote, and unless you’re paying close attention, it’s easy to miss that date. Cut off dates only really made sense when you had to send your voter registration in by snail mail, so the state could get it in time of election day. Now, most states allow you to register online, so the cut off date is pretty pointless.
And for states that don’t have online registration…literally what are you doing? It’s 2020. Get online.
Politicians often use the concept of voter fraud to justify registration restrictions, but their claims lack any real evidence and are essentially fear-mongering. A recent study found that, since 2000, there were only 31 credible allegations of voter impersonation…that’s a v small amount. Yet politicians claim these documents are to “prove citizenship,” but really they are meant to stop people from voting.
Ugh, this bitch. We did an explainer on gerrymandering back in 2018, but for those of you who missed it, gerrymandering is when states redraw their district lines to manipulate the outcome of elections. Drawing district lines is meant to accurately represent population sizes and racial diversity, so y’all know bitches are using this to racially discriminate. This is America, after all.
Both parties are guilty of gerrymandering, but Republicans are more guilty of using racial discrimination to their advantage. And before we go and call Dems the heroes, this is mainly because Dems know we’re more popular among diverse voters.
Gerrymandering is a huge problem and a blatantly corrupt tactic that politicians continue to get away with. Fun!
Call me old fashioned, but I feel like we should leave the purging to the plot of the movie The Purge and keep it out of our voting system. But alas, voter purges are a process that take people off the voter registration lists if they have passed away, moved, been convicted of a felony, or haven’t voted in recent elections. I would say the last two are never a good enough reason to purge a voter, but what’s also messed up here is that the data the purges are based on is often wrong, so people are taken off the list for no reason, and don’t know about it until they show up to vote and are turned away.
For example, in the 2016 presidential primary, 200,000 names were improperly deleted from the voter roll in New York City. And in June 2016, the Arkansas secretary of state provided a list suggesting that more than 7,700 names be removed from the rolls because of felony convictions, but turns out that roster was inaccurate af. It included people who had never been convicted of a felony, as well as people with past convictions whose voting rights had been restored.
According to a Brennan Center study, jurisdictions with higher a history of racial discrimination had significantly higher purge rates. Well, well, well, looky looky what we have here: voter suppression based on racism. Again.
Denying Felons the Right to Vote
Some states ban felons from voting while they are incarcerated, some while they’re on federal release, and some ban them from life. This is already messed up imo, as they are citizens of this country, but it’s even more ~fucked~ when you counter in the fact that they are still used in the census, and therefore used when creating district lines. Then you add in the fact that the criminal justice system is historically racist and disproportionally incarcerates Black and Latino men. In 2016, Black Americans comprised 27% of all individuals arrested in the United States — which is twice their share of the total population — and African-American adults are 5.9 times as likely to be incarcerated than whites, while Hispanics are 3.1 times as likely.
In Texas, Crystal Mason faces five years in prison for attempting to cast a provisional ballot in 2016 because she was never told the terms of her federal release barred her from doing so. Her vote was never even counted.
Crystal Mason is a Black woman, so it’s no surprise that her penalty is much more severe than those of white women, like Terri Lynn Rote, a white woman who just had to pay a $750 fine after purposely trying to cast a bad ballot for President Trump.
Election Day Accessibility
To top us off, there’s the fact that Election Day is most accessible to people without disabilities who work 9-5 jobs. For someone who works outside those hours, it’s harder to get to the polls.
Oh wow, look at this: across the country, counties with larger minority populations have fewer polling sites and poll workers per voter.
Also, only 40 percent of polling places fully accommodate people with disabilities.
Essentially, all of this bullshit comes together to make a bullshit sandwich that feeds a system that sets people up for failure. And the people it wants to fail is specific: minorities. Because if everyone’s voices were heard, the power dynamics of our political system might start to shift, and all old white men in Congress might have to give some of their power and wealth up.
Somewhere in the Capitol, Mitch McConnell just gasped.
So, how do we change this? Somewhat ironically, by voting. Vote for lawmakers who make voter suppression a major talking point in their campaigns. Call your Senators and tell them these issues are important to you and they need to be important them too if they want your vote. Get involved and get the word out; remind people to register to vote before the deadline, encourage them to look up the voter ID laws in their state, offer people a ride to the polls. Show these mofos they can’t stop us from voting.
As part of our #KeepIt100 campaign marking 100 years since the first women voted, we’re donating 20% of the purchase price of each sale (excluding taxes or shipping) of Keep It 100 merch to the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.
The primary elections have just begun and I’ve already aged 46 years as a result. If the Iowa Caucus taught us anything, it’s that it’s time to nap for the next 25-50 years the Democratic process can sometimes be a hot mess.
Much like when you and an acquaintance keep forcing small talk and suggesting you get lunch whenever you run into each other, parts of the primary election process have us asking: why are we doing this?
First of all, this whole ~delegates~ thing is p confusing and nonsensical. As we saw with Iowa, a candidate can win the popular vote but still end up with fewer delegates than another candidate, as was the case for Senator Bernie Sanders. It seems wrong that someone with the most votes can lose, which is also how we ended up with Donald Trump as president after he lost the popular vote but won the electoral one. You live, you learn, right? Oh, we didn’t? F*ck.
In order to secure the nomination, a candidate needs to receive 1,991 delegates. By the end of February, there are still a lot of states to go — some with a lot more delegates to give out.
But with so many people in the race, some are growing concerned that no one will receive all 1,991 delegates needed for the nomination, and then the nominee will have to be chosen through a *~*contested convention.*~*
IMO, this system is outdated and needs to be adjusted, but until then, we are unfortunately stuck with it this time around. So, it’s probably best we know exactly how it works, so we can have informed opinions on what needs to be fixed in the future.
Without further ado, I will break down how the delegates system works, why a contested convention might be necessary and how it will work, and then I will proceed to scream into my fourth cup of coffee of the day.
Let’s talk about these delegates
Delegates are representatives who cast votes on their state, district or territory’s behalf for the nominee at the Democratic National Convention, which will be held in Milwaukee on July 16th.
There are 3,979 delegates. A candidate needs 1,991, a majority, to secure the nomination. There are also 771 superdelegates, but we’ll get to them later.
Delegates work differently in each state, because why make anything simple and comprehensible? Much like Democratic policies, Democratic primaries aren’t a winner take all situation. For example, just because a candidate won the most votes in a state doesn’t mean they take home all the delegates. Instead, candidates generally get delegates proportional to their performance in the state based on some complicated formulas.
This means in a close state race, two candidates can receive the same amount of delegates, like when Sanders beat Buttigieg in New Hampshire, but they both received the same amount of delegates. In Iowa, the proportional allocation was different than in New Hampshire, so while Sanders again beat Buttigieg in numbers, he received fewer delegates than him.
Long story short, delegates are a messy bitch who live for drama.
Another thing about delegates: you have to pass the 15 percent threshold of popular votes in order to win any delegates at all. That explains why both Warren and Biden didn’t receive any delegates in New Hampshire, and Warren left Nevada empty-handed.
The idea here is to make sure that only top-earning candidates stay in the race. The delegates are allocated proportionally, but only to candidates who are doing well. This (kind of) makes sense in a less populated race, but with so many candidates on the 2020 ballot, things are getting a little sloppy. The 15 percent threshold isn’t quite high enough at this point, as it’s not that unlikely for candidates to keep missing it with so many others making up the percentage.
They’ll all keep pushing forward, taking up delegates, and eventually, it might get to a point where a candidate would have to start winning states by a very large amount in order to get all of the delegates needed.
So, what happens then?
The nomination would come down to a vote at the DNC in July, aka a contested convention. This there would be a “second ballot,” whereby 771 superdelegates get to cast their votes for whomever they want making whoever had the most votes/delegates up until then essentially irrelevant, in theory.
Superdelegates are basically members of the DNC who are free to support any candidate they want if no candidate crosses the threshold on the first ballot. We would hope that the superdelegates would vote for whichever candidate clearly has the majority of support from the voters, but they are not required to. They can choose whoever they want, really.
There’s already so much tension within the Democratic party in this election, as it seems to be at a crossroads of deciding whether to lean more left or towards the middle, so having the final decision be made by the establishment and not the people seems like a recipe for disaster and revolt. And one that could ultimately divide the party at a time when we need to stand together if we’re going to defeat Donald Trump.
At this point, all we can say is get out there and vote for the candidate you support. The democratic process is much more powerful if we all participate.
Want more stories like this? Subscribe to the Betches Sup newsletter for a lunchtime briefing to make you laugh, instead of cry, about the news.
Images: Giphy (2)