the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: Hillary Clinton

The Election of Donald Trump and the Hallmark Christmas Movie

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I voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary, but after it became clear that he wasn’t going to be the nominee, I instantly backed Hillary Clinton. Ms. Clinton, an accomplished and intelligent public servant, was the obvious choice, compared to Donald Trump, an incompetent demagogue who used hate as his campaign message.

Last week, I waited an hour to get tickets to the big Clinton Election Night Party at the Javits Center, where the symbolic “glass ceiling” would finally be broken. I was excited to be part of history.

On Election Night, the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood around the convention center was chaotic, as thousands of Clinton supporters and the mainstream media crammed into an area blocked off by armed police officers. Those who had general public tickets, like myself, were sent to the back entrance to airport-style security. A few campaign volunteers grumbled about being stuck with the regular folk when VIPS, in their Wall Street suits, were guided inside without waiting in line.  But, all in all,  we all felt like we were on the same team, confident in a Democratic victory.

By nine o’clock, we knew Trump was going to win. The crowd turned to the brightness of their iPhones in a desperate attempt to distract themselves from making eye contact with others. It was heartbreaking.

In the subway going home, you could feel the gloom in the claustrophobic underground air. A homeless man sitting alone in the corner was screaming at his demons in Spanish. The darkness outside the windows grew ominous as the metallic screeches of the train’s wheels pulled us further into the unknown. I asked myself, “How did this happen? “How did Donald Trump become elected when we were so sure that Hillary Clinton was our next President?”

When I returned home, I was too wired to sleep, but too anxious to watch the news. I needed something stupid for entertainment, television as innocuous as possible. I went to my DVR and found my choice.

Every year, around this time, the Hallmark Channel starts showing their annual Christmas movies. These “feel-good” cable movies are hopelessly corny, like the type of network “movie of the week” starring B-list actors that felt outdated even back in 1975. But like many things lowbrow, people like me have turned them into an ironic guilty pleasure. I’m even involved in a Facebook forum where we dissect each new Christmas Movie premiere on the Hallmark Channel. These movies have become so popular, that Hallmark has even started to show them as early as October! I had recorded a few last week, so I picked a rerun that I missed. On election night, with Donald Trump now as the president-elect, I watched a Hallmark Christmas movie.

One of the reasons these Hallmark Christmas movies have achieved a cult- like status is that 85% of these films are the same story told in a slightly different way. It’s amusing to watch the writers tell another yarn from the same basic plot. The protagonist is someone from the big city who travels to a small town in Middle America for some nefarious reason. It can be a real estate guy who wants to turn the “old mill” into a Chipotle, a self-absorbed actress who returns to her roots for some photoshoot about her origins, or some snooty marketing executive who wants to sell off the family farm after her father dies. All of these urban characters have disdain for these boring small towns. They are blind to the fact that they are unhappy in NYC/LA/Chicago and that their big city fiancé or fiancée is self-absorbed and unfaithful.

You know what happens. The protagonist falls in love with the small town values. He/She falls in love with a cowboy/waitress/farmhand. And he/she pays back the small town by saving the mill/the farm/the Christmas parade.

The myth of these Hallmark Christmas movies has nothing to do with the Miracle of Christmas. They are about America. Big cities and small towns need each other, and learn from each other. The big city is more trendy and knows how to get things done in the outside world. They can teach the small town citizens about modern art and rap music. The small town can teach the urban dweller how to fish/hunt/farm, and most importantly, how to live in a loving community where people care for each other.

This pop culture myth of big city/small town, and their need for each other, has been part of American culture for two generations, especially popular after the Second World War, in which the country was required to be unified, and American soldier stood with American soldier, bonding together to save our country.  Our most popular Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, is about a small town man, George Bailey, who dreams of moving to the big city and living the exciting life, like his big-shot, college-educated brother. Instead, he is trapped in a crappy old town, living in a drafty old house with a broken staircase. But what is the final message of the film? Yes, George Bailey’s brother become a war hero, but it is George who saves the town and America’s values from Mr. Potter. George is as important as any soldier. He didn’t march into Berlin, but held the fort at home. Bedford Falls, and George’s values, is why America was fighting.   Small town values. America’s cities were important to this country, but if we let them create the values alone, we get the darkness of Pottersville.

Big city and small town must coexist or else America ceases to be. The big city is America’s muscle and brain, but the heartland is American’s heart.

As I’m watching this Hallmark movie on Election Night, enjoying this absurd romance of a lonely prima donna fashion editor from New York and a hard-working cowboy who’s wife had died, I ponder the mythology of the narrative. The myth of the big city and small town needing each other, learning from each other, was a myth that allowed us to live in the same country, to believe in one America. But as we started to watch different TV, get our news from different outlets, and follow different leaders, this all changed. The cultural interaction stopped. The cities grew more diverse and prosperous, but ignored any of the issues in the small towns, stereotyping their fellow Americans as fat racist losers who only shopped at Walmart. The small towns, at least the ones which declined as we shipped off jobs abroad, retreated into their comfort of white supremacy and anger at the elitism of the establishment. Hillary Clinton felt it was useless to woo small town America, especially in the Rust Belt. Donald Trump exploited the anger of small town America by spreading his vision of bigotry and racism.

We all discovered the real truth about our country today — the big city and small town now hate each other. Both Hallmark Christmas movies and America need a new myth.

Are Obama Supporters Too Elitist?

Did you ever notice that the humor in the the site “Stuff White People Like” is not really about “white people,” but about upscale, educated white people? They are the ones interested in New Balance shoes and ipods. Of course, most of us don’t really care about the OTHER white people — the ones who live in trailer parks in Kentucky — they’re off our radar anyway, so it isn’t a big issue. Not working class minorities. Those we do find interesting. But working class white people.

Can we add “Supporting Obama” as “Stuff Upscale, Educated, White People Like?” (at least the ones I read all the time on the blogosphere)

While I usually don’t write much about politics, I have been fascinated by the growing class distinctions in the Democratic race. You would think that this year’s election would be manna from heaven for the Democratic party, as the candidates include a woman AND a man of color. Instead, upscale white people, meaning most of the media, academia, and Democratic blogosphere are crazy over Obama, leaving Clinton with the underbelly of the party. Ironically, this group is helping Clinton win the nomination.

Obama is a great orator, someone who inspires the intellectual with visions of hope (which means living in a country that isn’t run by George Bush), but the actual working class seems to be voting for Clinton. They gave her the victory in Pennsylvania. Why isn’t the working class inspired by Obama? Is it because Clinton gets down and dirty and speaks to the real-life issues that face these citizens rather than speaking in flowery tones about hope? Is it racism, where the Archie Bunkers of the world feel more comfortable with a woman than a man of color?

I think we should partly blame ourselves… and our own elitism, which is affecting the whole election. While the Democratic party was once the strong hold of the working and middle class, most of the upper middle class now look on them with disdain. Our issues are not their issues. Maybe we are embarrassed about our own humble backgrounds, wanting to maintain a certain sophisticated image as we Twitter away in our loft/office in San Francisco. Obama has been criticized as elitist, but I think he is only trying to appeal to his followers — us.

Here are a couple of Twitters I just read after Hillary’s victory speech in Pennsylvania:

Watching a Hillary Clinton “victory speech” is like watching puppies raping kitties.

Let me rephrase that, Hillary’s audience looks like the crowd that got turned away at the Jerry Springer taping.

“blah blah blah day one, blah blah blah gas prices, blah blah blah give me money”

I love watching the idiots behind Hillary… they are funny to look at.

I really want to understand how anyone can look at Hillary Clinton & think to themselves: “You know? I think she should be president!” WTF?!

Not only did I notice a hatred for Clinton, but also for her followers, as if they were stupid. They are described like the unwelcome family members from the deep South that you hide from your children. I even read a blogger calling Clinton the candidate of “old saggy women,” and this was written by a woman! Great, let’s add a little ageism to the mix!

Why do people who always complain about lack of equality in life, always turn around and act just as pig-headed? Maybe someone working hard to care of their family doesn’t have the time to go to seminars about global warming or Darfur, but it doesn’t mean that we both can’t be part of the Democratic party. That’s what politics is all about. If the Democrats really want to win, they need to get the working class under their wing. Without them, first Clinton will win, and then McCain will be President.

Too many people think supporting a candidate is akin to following some cool band. I don’t think it is a good idea for Obama supporters to be dismissive of the lower middle class, calling them ” gun-toting trailer trash.” This is not an effective way to win voters over to your side. Supporting a candidate isn’t feeling good about yourself. It is about winning elections.

If I were some hard-working blue-collar guy working in Pennsylvania, there would be no way I would vote for Obama after reading some of the things Obama supporters write about ME on Twitter. It’s like when Simon Cowell trashes some singer on American Idol, and the bulk of Americans vote the opposite way just to sting him. Why are we mocking those necessary to win an election? At some point, hipsters have to listen to at least one Randy Travis song if they want to win the election.

Clinton or Obama?

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In all my years of following politics, I don’t recall a Democratic race being so close and and so embittered as the current race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.  Like in a Hollywood movie, these are two allies torn apart by the intensity of the political process.   Democrats usually rally behind a candidate by March.  Events are different this year.  Tensions are high as friends and families draw the lines in the sand — Clinton or Obama.  The Democratic Party has been splintered.  Liberals, progressives, men, women — these “categories” are now useless, as each demographic divides itself into smaller and smaller sub-groups.  Blacks, whites, Jews, union members — no one votes as a single bloc anymore.  Candidates and pollsters alike are scrambling to decipher what Democrats want and who to appeal to in this important election.

As of today, here is what the Democratic landscape looks like, according to the most recent polling:

Women over 50 who lived through the feminist movement:  Clinton

Women under 40 who know more about their vibrators than the feminist movement:  Obama

Voters who want change:  Obama

Voters who want change, but not as much as the other voters:  Clinton

Women who make over 100k — Clinton

Women who make over 100K but are divorced from a randy husband who was getting oral sex from his “intern” — Obama

Blacks who think Obama is too “white”  — Obama

Blacks who think Obama is too “black” — Obama

Blacks who owe favors to the Clintons — Clinton

Guilty Liberal Jews who say they love “rap music” just to look cool — Obama

Religious Jews who think Obama will nickname the White House the “First Mosque” — Clinton

Small Town Americans who have never met a black person, but feel comfortable with them  — Obama

Small Town Americans who have never met a black person, but still don’t like them — Clinton

Small Town Americans who have never met a black person, but still don’t like them, but have heard Clinton speaking on the TV — Obama

Misogynists — Obama

Racists — Clinton

Misogynists and Racists —  McCain

Misogynists and Racists who hate McCain – Clinton, because at least she doesn’t seem like a typical dame

Academics in Universities — Obama

Academics in Universities with Tenure — Ralph Nader (what do they care?!  They have a job!)

Asian male models who look gay, but aren’t — Obama

Women who buy Anne Taylor suits at the outlet mall — Clinton

Men who show their private parts on MySpace — Clinton

Men who go online and ask for photos of women in bras — Obama

Crest users — Obama

Colgate users — Clinton

Those who make love to Neil Diamond — Obama

Those who make love to Nine Inch Nails — Clinton

Those who know that Hillary Clinton and Hilary Duff spell their first name differently — Obama

Those who say, “Who’s Hillary Duff?” — Clinton

It is clear that this race is going down to the wire!

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