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Columns

Hearts (Bernie) vs Minds (Hillary): a pseudodilemma

Sunday 15 November 2015

"Visceral” is how many pundits describe Bernie Sanders.
“Pragmatic” is the word of choice for Hillary Clinton.
The dilemma of choosing one of the two candidates for Democratic Presidential nominnee is often encapsulated as “Dreamer vs Doer”.
Some people personally prefer dreamers and visceral people over pragmatic doers, but there is a general acquiescence that dreams can be dangerous or unstable and emotions that go against interests and rationality, can harm nations.
So, the thinking process inevitably leads to prefering Hillary over Bernie as the next President of the United States—even if some like Bernie more on a personal level.
That may or may not be the case. Martin Luther King and JFK were dreamers, and their boldness to make their dreams of changing the world, cost them their lives. But they did change the world. Richard Nixon was a doer. So was George W. Bush.
As for pragmatism, like all practical things in life, it’s good only if effective. Senator Clinton’s pragmatism led her to vote in favor of President W Bush’s Iraq war. It led to the Libya imbroglio which amongst other things, led to the terrorist attack on the US Embassy compound, killing the US Ambassador. It led to an email non-scandal which only proved a blatant disregard for protocol when it comes to matters important enough for the Clinton establishment to bother with.
As for “girl power”, women sticking up for women, and standing up for people of color, Hillary has not practiced what she now preaches, what she insists all women practice when it comes to voting for Her. When the Libya crisis broke out, Hillary (then Secretary of State) fled from the limelight, leaving the brave Susan Rice (currently national security advisor, an African-American woman of dignity, courage and knowledge) to take the flack and bear the consequences that ultimately put an end to Rice’s luminous trajectory that seemed headed for the State Department and then, even beyond.
Plato was the perpetrator of the… original sin of discerning between heart and mind, and coming down in favor of the mind as a sine qua non for superior, more elevated, better educated people.
The false dichotomy and the primacy given to the “brain vs the heart” continues to this day: emotion is equated to the Hobbesian dark instincts (“limbic”, “visceral”) so deleterious to the individual and society. It ultimately derives its dark, undesirable and unsophisticated nature—and potency— from that element so alarming to the Puritan founders of America: corporeality. The body, with all its appetites. (Although Bernie with his Harvard degree, intellectual passions and sedate, contentedly middle-class, really private private life does not really inspire as a Lothario.)
Whereas the “mind” is equated with intellect, rationality, Ivy League colleges, wonderful jobs, rich social lives, happy Instagram-lovely families with happy nannies, and long life spans. That Hillary and the Clinton establishment and hanger-ons (including one Anthony Weiner) fit this image is testament to the power of belief and interest, over factual reality.
Even the way they speak, and the optics. During yesterday’s Democratic Debate on TWC/NY1 and CNN, Hillary used emotion to appeal to New Yorkers and Americans. “New York values”, 9/11, being a woman; everything came into play.
At the extreme (maybe too extreme?) opposite was Senator Sanders. His political manner, like his entire campaign, is based on cerebralness. On concepts, ideas, solutions, for the people, by the people. In his endeavor and determination to truly stand for all Americans, for America, for progress and change, for demolishing the money and education barriers that intensify the great chasm between classes, Bernie has painted himself out of the picture entirely. As a whole person, a man with an x private life, with an x heritage, with x emotions, he simply does not exist in the public eye.
Speaking of being the son of immigrants to the US, he intentionally did not refer to his Jewishness, to the fact that his family sought refuge here in America, from the monster of antisemitism that was then rearing its head in Europe—as it is again doing so now.
He did not speak of his Brooklyn lower middle-class Jewish roots. The truth is that his accents evoke seders, gefilte fish, and warm Jewish hearths, making Fran Drescher sound almost WASP-y and unperturbed.
In politics though, everything has to be stated and restated, clearly, almost pedantically. Truths have to be claimed, and traits magnified. Everything is larger than life. What you do not claim as yours, your opponent does.
Regardless though of preference, Bernie or Hillary, it is monstrous, rationally speaking, as well as emotionally, to compare Bernie to Trump, as some pundits do. 


 
My beloved terrorist
Published by: LIVANIS
First printing: 2001
Pages: 403
Hellenists: Greece does not wound them
Published by: LIVANIS
First printing: 1999
Pages: 314
 
 

 

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