Bernie's Insurrection and the Question of Hillary's Qualifications
Americans don't just want a new president, they want a new precedent.
Bernie's Insurrection and the Question of Hillary's Qualifications
Bernie, I am your father.
By Adebayo Akomolafe / bayoakomolafe.net
Apr 10, 2016

My fascination with American politics continues.

I think the recent media-induced hullabaloo around Sanders’ comments on the qualifications of Mrs Clinton highlights just how reductionistic, blatantly compromised and untrustworthy the mass media has become. Facing the repeated questions of her interviewer on Sanders’ eligibility for the White House, Clinton ducked, evaded and danced around giving a direct answer. The import of her meandering response was however not lost on observers, including major newspapers: Sanders is not qualified for the job.

Fighting back, the Vermont senator responded – with more directness – that he didn’t think Hillary Clinton was qualified, ticking off her use of Super PACs, her canoodling intimacy with Wall Street, her willingness to receive funds from special interests, and her scandalous ties to a disturbing global corporatocracy (recently forced into public conversation by the leaked Panama papers) as reasons. As expected, in a biting ‘gotcha!’ moment, the members of the fourth estate reacted with finger-wagging disapproval, taking umbrage at the impunity of the upstart senator, whose campaign seems to have overstayed its welcome in the eyes of establishmentarians. I watched a CNN interview with Tulsi Gabbard recently, and I thought I sensed some kind of suppressed, passive aggressive outrage in the questions posed by Wolf Blitzer: Are you saying that with all the years she spent as a senator, as a secretary of state, she is not qualified to be president of the United States?

Here’s my observation. Of course, Hillary Clinton is qualified to be president. It’s hard to dispute that. She’s actually more than qualified to maintain the present system. However, that system, with its worrying exclusions and sore spots, is fast losing its currency. It is a neoliberal agenda that is hollowing out – haunted by something we do not yet know. This is what Blitzer, Maddow, Todd and all the other gatekeepers of the media narrative are not speaking about, but is however alive on the streets: the unprecedented anger that produced the Trump phenomenon and inspired Bernie’s campaign is evidence of a groundswell of disenfranchisement that will not be appeased by the old rules. Trump’s supporters don’t care about his hair, his bigotry, anti-intellectualism or unpolished maniacal declarations about Mexicans and pro-choice advocates. What appeals to them is, I think, his swashbuckling stance against city hall – and his claim that he doesn’t need their money to win the presidency. Bernie’s supporters, just as passionate and enthralled by the wiry-haired anomaly of a politician, will most probably continue to make his campaign the most financially buoyant until the conventions come round in a few months. Both candidates are perhaps similar only in their ability to touch a nerve, the vibrations of which the media is deaf to.

Hillary Clinton’s eligibility is determined (and imposed) by a form of politics that is dying. While she is eminently qualified to continue to crank the levers, the ground beneath the entire machine is suffering seismic disturbances. Judging from the numbers that show up at Bernie’s events, most Americans do not care that she held high offices for years. They don’t care that she is the most traveled secretary of state, or that she knows the White House, or that she has the presidents of the world on speed dial. Americans seem to be making their choices based on entirely different criteria – the details of which hint at a bold new imperative: fashioning an economy that cares. An America where they matter. They don’t just want a new president, they want a new precedent. They want a paradigm shift so drastic that the effects of it will reverberate past the weakened walls of the government houses, flowing into the streets and into homes long silenced beneath the shush of America’s oblivious exceptionalism.

Hillary’s extensive expertise is stunningly unsuited to these yearnings. She has carefully crafted her career on the givenness of the very exclusions and privileges Americans want to contest today. Why should she earn hundreds of thousands of dollars for a few moments of speech-giving? Isn’t it troubling that the trade policies she celebrated left untold millions worse and an elusive minority richer? It hardly matters that Bernie is supposedly not as astute as she is when it comes to foreign policy or the legal ramifications of breaking up big banks. What matters is changing, and what is changing matters. It hardly matters that Bernie seems to have no clue about how to break up big banks (as one headline reported: “Bernie Sanders is a compassionate, intelligent man who doesn’t have a clue”); in fact, this cluelessness is fundamental to a campaign that impugns a paradigm that invests so much essence and agency in one person or one institution, while leaving the many out in the cold. This cluelessness is how a collective intelligence makes itself known.

I still see anthropocentric politics as inadequate to the task of ‘meeting the universe halfway’; yet, Bernie’s insurrection hints at a different form of justice-making, an ethical eruption of equality challenging the previous configurations of power. The bespectacled septuagenarian is calling for a reimagination of politics, one which ‘brings people together’. For this noble vision, even Bernie himself is not ‘qualified’ – and he has wisely noted this. No ‘one’ is. No one knows the new spaces of opportunity and deeper justice that might open up if the American people turn to each other, but it is perhaps worth stressing that Hillary’s entanglements with the moneyed status quo disqualify her from holding aloft the torch that will light the way ahead. But even more forcefully, the media’s fixation with who is ‘more’ qualified shows just how out of tune they are with what is now stirring in America.       

4.2 ·
2
Trending Today
What Happens When You Rebel Against the Herd
Sofo Archon · 15,555 views today · Are You Truly Living Your Life? You live, but are you living the way you want to live, or the way others want you to live? You choose, but are your choices based on...
The Coming War on China
John Pilger · 6,447 views today · A major US military build-up – including nuclear weapons – is under way in Asia and the Pacific with the purpose of confronting China. John Pilger raises the alarm on an...
Murdoch and Trump, Sitting at the Tee, S-C-H-E-M-I-N-G
Frankie Boyle · 4,618 views today · Say what you like about Donald Trump but he's already done things people said were impossible, like made Twitter worse. Looking back, the Harambe situation is the closest...
How a Lack of Touch Is Destroying Men
Mark Green · 4,499 views today · Why Men Need More Platonic Touch in their Lives
Real Underground Kingdom That Has Existed for Millions of Years Went Unnoticed, Until Recently...
Kid Krunk · 2,530 views today · 28 Stunning Photos Of The World’s Largest Cave
10 Words Every Girl Should Learn
Soraya Chemaly · 2,371 views today · "Stop interrupting me."  "I just said that." "No explanation needed." In fifth grade, I won the school courtesy prize. In other words, I won an award for being polite. My...
Thich Nhat Hanh: How We Can Learn to Love Our Enemies
5 min · 1,965 views today · This is a short excerpt from Peacemaking. I often think about this story when I think about the kind of activism I would like to bring into this world. I want to help build a...
Simple Social Experiment Shows We Are More Than The Boxes People Put Us In
3 min · 1,947 views today · We live in a time where we are quick to put people in boxes. Maybe we have more in common than what we think?
I Am Not Your Negro (2017)
3 min · 1,661 views today · In his new film, director Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished - a radical narration about race in America, using the writer's original words. He draws...
What Would It Take to Stop the Raids?
CrimethInc. Ex-Workers Collective · 1,560 views today · Responding Effectively to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Attacks
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 1,287 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 1,089 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
How Wolves Change Rivers
4 min · 1,022 views today · When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable "trophic cascade" occurred. What is a...
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 927 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 900 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
The Charter For Compassion
2 min · 674 views today · The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated...
Surviving Capitalist Depression
Michael Emero · 672 views today · We live in a toxic society filled with toxic people. Even the ones with the best hearts- including ourselves- have been raised in ignorance, with disinformation. Our examples...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 555 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
Hans Rosling Brilliantly Explains Complexity of Population and Resource Issues Using Simple Tools
3 min · 468 views today · Let me show you the world, says Swedish academic Han Rosling as he demonstrates the dynamics of population growth, child mortality and carbon dioxide emissions. The challenge...
"The Myth of Time" - Martin Luther King Jr.
3 min · 440 views today · Excerpt from MLK Jr.'s last sermon, "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution". Delivered at The National Cathedral on March 31, 1968 (4 days prior to his...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Bernie's Insurrection and the Question of Hillary's Qualifications