White people actin’ like they own the place?
The Hawaii delegate explains why she flipped off the Hawaiian delegation.
“The two real political parties in America are the Winners and the Losers. The people don’t acknowledge this. They claim membership in two imaginary parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, instead.” Kurt Vonnegut from Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons
The 2016 presidential election so far has left me feeling acutely unrepresented. The one candidate that seemed reasonable was, through malice and chicanery, politically neutered by my former Party, yet Mr. Sanders continues to play a weird game of ignoring what Party infidels did to him and us.
There has been only one time during this election when I felt in some way represented. It occurred during the Democratic National Committee convention and wasn’t part of the script. Leaders of the Hawaiian delegation ignored the 70%, majority who had voted for Sanders in the primaries and cast their ballots instead for Hillary Clinton. Hawaii had even passed a resolution announcing its resolve that delegates were expected to vote according to the state’s popular will. Only two super delegates honored the resolution–Tulsi Gabbart and Tim Vandeveer–the rest all voted for Clinton. Delegate Chelsea Lyons Kent (CLK) realized that Sanders’ supporters in Hawaii had just been royally screwed by the Democratic Party of Hawaii (DPH). In that moment she had a choice: she could fake a smile and feign joviality–or she could use the moment to register an honest statement, and that’s what she did–She gave the duplicitous delegates “the finger” on national television.
Bravo! Chelsea! For the first time this election year, I felt represented! Democratic Party officials decided to censure her honest and courageous rebellion, however, threatening to invalidate her delegate credentials if she didn’t apologize and agree to and meet a set of specific conditions. “I did have my credentials taken at the DNC. I was given the opportunity to get them back, but I chose not to. I was told that if I apologized to Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono, and the DNC, that I would get my credentials back. I absolutely, 100% refused to do that. Both Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono chose to vote against the 70% of voters in Hawaii–who chose Bernie Sanders–and cast their votes for Hillary Clinton instead,” CLK told me. “There is nothing democratic about the Democratic National Committee,” she said, describing the convention as nothing more than “well-orchestrated theater”. Party officials, she reported, worked tirelessly to produce a false image of unity by silencing all dissenters.
“It’s a crushing realization when it dawns on you that democracy truly is dead. When the cameras were turned on my delegation, I had approximately three seconds to figure out how I could protest that moment. Especially that moment. If there was one moment throughout the convention that I would want to destroy the illusion of, it would have been that moment,” CLK recounted. “So I did the only thing I could think of….” (video clip 1:28)
Everything is not okay in the Democratic Party
Chelsea Lyons Kent (CLK) explained that the Democratic Party’s established structure–on both the local and the national level–caters to big business and career politicians. In Hawaii, the DPH has been primarily controlled by a small clique that has been present for years. “If you are just a concerned citizen looking for an organization through which to enact change, you are in the wrong place,” she observed. If you’re looking to climb the establishment ladder, then you are welcome to stay.” She added:
“I like to say that our local party is more like ‘Democracy role playing’. It was only once I was at the convention that I realized [the corruption] extended all the way up the chain. I think the overwhelming issue is that people are more concerned with politeness and propriety than they are with election fraud and the outrageous lack of democracy in America. We speak of paradise and Aloha without mentioning the corruption of our local party, the thousands of homeless people littering our streets, and the big-money companies that are destroying the land. We aren’t doing anyone any favors by perpetuating this false image of unity. Everything is not okay in the Democratic Party.”
CLK describes the Democratic Party of Hawaii (DPH) as exceptionally unhelpful to newer Party members. There is no outreach. No-one is sending out invitations to join the organization or to attend their event. DPH representatives elect new positions yearly but don’t explain how one runs for them. “You will have to do all of your own research. You either read the cluttered manifesto that is the rule book or remain clueless. There is a much greater sense of exclusion than that of inclusion,” CLK said. “It becomes clear very quickly that the Democratic Party is indeed a private club–a far cry from the party of the working class that they promote themselves to be.”
Lyons Kent says she will be voting for Jill Stein because the two-party system exemplifies excessive power in the hands of too few. In many other countries it’s common to have a slate of candidates in an election, yet in the US we only have two! She says she believes that Jill Stein and Gary Johnson have a unique opportunity to really shake up this election. “It’s likely that neither will win, but it would send a clear message to the major parties that they shouldn’t choose such unlikable candidates,” CLK said. “Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are equally terrifying options, and both of them will lead us into war. The American people deserve better.”
Ralph Eugene Hamilton (1918-1999) was born on September 22, 1918, in Malin, Oregon, where his father, Edward, farmed alfalfa. Eventually, his mother, Nell, inherited some land on Signal Hill near Long Beach from her father, Clarence Coseboom, so the family moved there, and in the 1920s Ralph enrolled in the Southern California Military Academy (SCMA), a private and excellent school. After attending the SCMA, Ralph joined the Navy, but when war seemed inevitable, he decided to become a combat pilot since he’d learned to fly biplanes when he was 15. He would eventually pilot P-47 Thunderbolts and P-51 Mustangs in combat against Germany.
After being shot down by ground fire, he spent the last few months of World War Two in a German prison camp fighting
boredom, hunger, dysentery, and bedbugs. Ralph never volunteered stories about the war, and seldom talked about it, which I think is true for many who experienced intense combat.
After the war ended, Ralph fished salmon commercially in Alaska. In the 1950s he graduated from the University of Southern California and started teaching 6th grade in Bellflower, California. In the early 1960s he got a Master’s Degree in Art from Long Beach State, studying painting and sculpture under the Hungarian artist Francis D’Erdley. Cartooning was a skill he developed later in life, mostly to amuse me.
I wrote a book about Ralph’s war experiences, Be All You Can Be, for my son who was born less than a year after Ralph’s death. The book’s title and cover art come from an antiwar cartoon Ralph drew. “Be All You Can Be” was the US Army’s recruiting slogan for about 20 years. It shows that Ralph did not fit the mold of the dutifully patriotic and obediently apolitical soldier.
From the back cover of Be All You Can Be, Ralph had this to say about draft-dodging:
“There is something sad about a person who blindly sacrifices his life ‘for his country,’ for he is unaware of the real issues. If a person can grasp the truth about war, it can’t help but color his thinking on such issues as draft dodging. The name draft dodger suggests the evasion of a just debt or obligation. In reality, a draft dodger is either a person who rejects military service on religious or moral grounds–or plainly doesn’t want to allow himself to be killed. Any of those reasons should be good enough, and I don’t think that he should be persecuted or prosecuted. Unfortunately, the multitude cannot, or will not, understand that wars are fought for the protection of vested interests.
A person who is willing to sacrifice his life ‘for his country’ is merely a dupe in the profit game of the military-industrial complex. A man who has the courage to stand up against such twisted idealism and refuse to be sacrificed for profiteers–is no coward. My opinion of the draft dodger probably differs from the opinion of many of my peers, but then, my generation is probably one of the biggest collections of fools on record.”