You can read this series from the beginning here.
"We have to be able to say something about these attacks," Emma said.
It had been the end of a very busy day, and a few of us were sitting around a conference table, trying to figure out what to do about the abysmal rollout of the former Secretary’s Presidential campaign. I was slumped down in my chair, too tired to add much to the proceedings.
"I’ve been putting all sorts of anti-Huckabee memes out there," Monique said, "which is a lot of fun, don’t get me wrong. It’s almost too easy. But you’re right. At some point, we have to respond to attacks with something besides attacks."
"It just gets so tiresome," Emma said, "just saying that they’re old news."
"Can’t say old news anymore," I pointed out. "Aunt Joan thinks that it points up arguments that say that the former Secretary is too old. We’re supposed to say rehashed allegations now. Or discredited arguments."
"Can we still say right-wing conspiracy?" Caroline asked. Caroline was a new addition to the intern contingent. She was technically still a college student, majoring in feminist orthodoxy enforcement studies at Berkeley, but she’d been allowed to spend her last semester interning for us in Washington. She didn’t have a lot of political experience, but I felt it was helpful to have someone with a strong theoretical background so that we didn’t run the risk of stepping on our own pro-women messaging. She’d even taught me a thing or two about revolutionary feminist literature, and you have to get up pretty early in the morning to beat Justin Trudeau-Fairchild on a revolutionary feminist literature issue.
"Legal asked us to back off on that one," Emma said. "It’s causing flashbacks for them to impeachment. And, technically, a conspiracy is a criminal matter, and it isn’t criminal to criticize the former Secretary."
"Yet," Monique said.
"I was going with witch hunt before Little Miss Trigger Warning over there complained," Emma said.
"I don’t see why standing against the public stigma against Wicca practitioners gives you the right to call me names," Caroline said. "Where’s the solidarity?"
"You spent twenty minutes on Pinterest looking up shower curtain patterns the other day," Emma said. "Do some real work and get back to me about solidarity."
"You don’t get to define my femininity," Caroline said.
"I’m your supervisor," Emma said. "I get to define what your workload is. That’s a lot more important."
Caroline sniffed at her. "I was told that this was a feminist-led equality-oriented collective of progressive thought-leaders." She pointed to me. "Or that’s what he said."
"He’s an idiot," Emma said. "Nothing personal, Justin."
I stood up from the conference table. "I’m going downstairs," I said, and left the room. Emma got up out of her chair, as though she were going to follow me, but she thought better of it.
I took the elevator down and walked out of the building and went into the little bodega next door, looking for something, but I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t want coffee, not that late in the day. I didn’t want a cigarette–when I was a kid I’d stolen one of the Cuban cigars that my mother had gotten from Castro as a gift one time, and it had made me sick. I didn’t want alcohol, because alcohol is a depressant and I was already depressed enough, what with the e-mail scandal and the foreign-donations scandal and the uranium scandal. I wanted a candidate I could believe in–a candidate that could wave the progressive banner proudly, that could lead us to a brighter, better future where people worked collectively to make pizzas for same-sex wedding ceremonies from sea to shining sea. And I didn’t think that was going to happen with the former Secretary on the ticket, not anymore. She was simply too entangled with the patriarchal power structure to ever break free of it.
I am not proud of what happened next. I opened the little refrigerator and got a bottle of chocolate milk. I knew it wasn’t organic. I knew the chocolate wasn’t fair-trade. It was probably pumped up with all sorts of preservatives and flavorings. But it was what I wanted right then. I got four packages of little chocolate donuts–yes, with white flour and high-fructose corn syrup–and paid for them. The cashier was nice enough to put them in a black plastic bag, so I could walk out of the bodega with no one seeing my shame. I went behind the building, to the loading dock, and took a swig of chocolate milk. It tasted sweet, like sin.
"Rough day?" a voice asked from the shadows of the loading dock.
I took another long pull on my bottle. "Rough enough," I said. I turned around to see who it was, and it was Aunt Joan. She had a lit cigarette in her mouth. "Looks like you’ve had a rough day, too."
"I told them this would happen," she said. "I told them that they couldn’t play fast and loose with the foundation money forever. Hell, Obama told them that, but they ignored him."
"If you knew," I said, "how could you still defend them?"
"The same reason that you do," she said. "Because neither of us wants to live in a world where Rand Paul could be President. And once Hillary wins the Presidency, all of this will be irrelevant."
"I don’t like it, though," I said.
"Then I have good news for you," Aunt Joan said. "If you like, I can reassign you to the Sanders campaign."
"That would be… wait, what do you mean by reassign?"
"Justin, use your brain. Why do you think Senator Sanders is running?"
"Well, um, I never thought about it. He wants to be President, I guess. Most Senators run for President."
"But he knows he can’t win. Why would he run, then?"
"Maybe to boost his national standing?"
Aunt Joan dropped the end of her cigarette on the floor of the loading dock and lit another. "Justin, be serious. He’s running because Hillary asked him to. No other reason. He makes her look younger, more attractive, and more moderate by comparison. Hillary can tack as far left as she wants, just so long as she stays on Bernie’s right."
"And together they suck all of the oxygen out of any potential Warren campaign," I said.
"Precisely. So this is what I can offer you. You go over to the Sanders campaign, but you report back to me and follow my instructions. If Bernie starts making any headway in the polls, you’ll be in a good position to sabotage him–a couple of unguarded comments on social media, that kind of thing. Maybe he can call someone a macaca. You know the drill."
"It would make me look disloyal," I said.
"I would know different," Aunt Joan said. "So would the former Secretary. You’d be her inside man in the Sanders campaign, letting us know what’s really going on, sending us data, being ready to do what needs to be done to make sure the contest isn’t a real contest. And the Warren people have already infiltrated over there; we need someone who can keep tabs on them."
"I can’t do it," I said. "You’re right," I said. "The former Secretary needs to win. We don’t have another choice at this point. But I want to be on the winning team, not just undermine the losing team."
"You’re passing up a great opportunity," Aunt Joan said.
"I know. But I believe in collectivism too much to take advantage of a personal opportunity like that."
"That, my young friend, is an attitude you’ll need to reconsider around the Clintons. Anyway, I appreciate your principles, and I won’t ask you again. And this conversation never happened."
"Of course," I said.
"See you in the morning, then. And don’t hit the chocolate milk too hard tonight."
As Aunt Joan went back inside the building, I threw the black bag with the little chocolate donuts into the dumpster. Then I thought better of it and went back and got one of the packages out. It tasted sweet as any other forbidden fruit.
I’d had the opportunity to make a difference, but it wasn’t the difference I wanted to make. If I wanted to make the difference I wanted to make, I would have to compromise my principles and accept that the former Secretary was a flawed candidate in a flawed world. It could be, I thought, that she couldn’t resist the allure of foreign money, any more than I could resist the allure of little chocolate donuts at a low point. When I thought about it that way, it made sense. The foreign donations weren’t a crime but a cry for help. And the best way for me to help was to continue fighting the battle every day to make a difference.
0 0 votes
Article Rating