Jonathan Jacobs says he comes not to praise Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, but to mourn it. With due respect to Jacobs (who is an honorable man) I think his high school English teacher did a poor job of teaching him the deep manipulation that Marc Anthony was enacting on his audience when he uttered those words in Julius Caesar.
The whole purpose of Marc Anthony’s statement that he “comes not to praise Caesar” is that actually, he does come to praise him. He uses his speech to lay bare his complaints against Brutus, who up until this point has led the crowd to accept that Caesar was a tyrant. Anthony passive-aggressively describes Brutus as an honorable man. “I thrice presented him [Caesar] a kingly crown, Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?” cried Anthony, who adds sardonically:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,And, sure, he is an honorable man.
Jacobs should really re-read the play. It’s a classic of world literature.
I wrote much earlier in the electoral cycle that I would vote for Jill Stein, because in my view (at that time) Rhode Island looked like a safe bet for Clinton. I found many of the complaints about Clinton to be legitimate, but I also found some of the politicking against her to be without strategy. I urged voters in swing states to vote for the Democratic ticket, but asked blue- and red-state voters to use the critiques in Stein and Johnson’s candidacies* to express their displeasure with the major parties. When, a week before the election, the FBI released innuendo that brought Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers down, I announced on Twitter that I would be voting for Clinton, and I set out to urge others in my life (including Blue-Staters) to do the same. Above all, I asked that people not scapegoat third-party voters, but instead encourage more voters to come out, to speak their consciences, and to raise participation levels. Sadly, some people who replied said that they had chosen to ignore me, and to not vote at all.
I have personally decided this week to vote Clinton instead of Stein because of the closeness of the race. #Vote
— Transport Providence (@TransportPVD) November 6, 2016
The Democratic Party has significant reckoning to do. It lost key states not because the message Trump sold was exciting (he did not increase his vote count in places like Michigan, for instance), but because Clinton’s brand of politics ran roughshod over the real concerns of working people, and then only weakly modified itself. Many people chose not to vote, and they didn’t even do the helpful thing of picking a third party candidate to give their voice to, so that we could analyze what they believed. They decided that the Democratic Party had ignored them, and they were right. It wasn’t just white working people. 50,000 fewer black voters turned out in Detroit, a result that possibly stemmed from demographic decline in that city, but which also spoke to the disenchantment some voters felt about Clinton’s (real, not imagined) past:
But some residents said they also sensed apathy, even distaste, for Clinton’s campaign.
‘From what I saw, a lot of African Americans did not go out to vote,’ said Wilfred Blackmon, 70, president of a residents group of 3,000 homes on Detroit’s blue-collar northwest side. Blackmon, a Clinton supporter, said he’d voted in every election since he was 18. Yet, a few weeks ago, Blackmon heard Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan on the radio.
Farrakhan ‘was disenchanted with Hillary. He went back to the days of Bill Clinton and the increased incarceration of black people,’ Blackmon said, adding: ‘A lot of people listen to him.’
I don’t like Louis Farrakhan a great deal more than I like Donald Trump. But can you really disagree with this part of his views? I can’t.
Clinton rejected key aspects of economic justice– and it came back to haunt her. Many of the states that were lost this election were places that Bernie Sanders either won, or came very close to winning. Michigan, Iowa, New Hampshire– The exit polling points to the result being from economic disenchantment. As upsetting as it is that white working class people, or even white women, would vote in large numbers for Donald Trump, that fact should be put in this context. There really wasn’t all that much of a switch-over, it’s just that a lot of people didn’t bother. Bernie people called it, and people like Jacobs scoffed. And he’s still scoffing.
Jonathan Jacobs is an honorable man (and here, I say that without intended sarcasm– Jonathan is a person, I think, of deep commitment to values of social justice). But people like Jonathan need a wake-up call. Hopefully we will get that wake-up with Keith Ellison as DNC Chair.
As Marc Anthony might have said:
I speak not to disprove what [Jonathan] spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once,–not without cause:
What cause withholds you, then, to mourn for him?–
O judgment, thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason!–Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with [America],
And I must pause till it come back to me.
Bring our hearts back to us, Democrats.
*Before someone angrily points out, let me say that the two third party candidacies were not the same, but they did have overlaps, especially in light of this election cycle.