Thoughts on “Carolus Rex,” performed by Follow The Cipher (orig. Sabaton)

Hey everyone,

As you probably know, I’m a big fan of music.  I’m open to pretty much every genre, but rock is my natural home.  I played a lot of Nirvana on a drum-set back in high school, and while I’m a bit less grungy now, I still dig distorted guitar.  One song that Youtube recently threw at my feet and I fell in love with is “Carolus Rex,” as performed by the band Follow The Cipher.  While it was originally performed by the band Sabaton, what fascinates me so much about this song is that it’s not about some random ruler, but rather about Sweden’s Charles XII.

Charles was the King of Sweden – which was, at the time, a substantial empire – during the “Great Northern War.”  I won’t get into the long story about it (The brilliant folks behind Extra History did a six-video series on the war, mainly focused on Charles), but Charles ascended to the throne at fifteen years old just like the song references.  He was immediately thrust into war when Sweden’s neighbors – Poland/Lithuania, Denmark-Norway, and Peter The Great’s Russia – united against the unproven ruler in hopes of reshaping the map of Europe to their liking.

 

Charles was not a bad ruler.  Admittedly, his entire reign and most of his life was dedicated to the war, but he advocated scientific research in fields related to war, and he was the kind of ruler who led his troops into battle, himself.  He was a brilliant military mind with an exceptionally skilled army, and I guess I would compare his military effectiveness to Napoleon’s in that he wielded an elite force to defeat numerically superior enemies, and only began to fail as his nation was worn down and depleted.

Of course, Charles actually died from a bullet (or possibly cannon grape-shot) to the head while preparing for a siege, where Napoleon was exiled, returned and raised a new army, then was exiled further away.  On the other hand, until his death Charles devoted himself to the war effort.  He had plenty of flaws as a leader, refusing to seek peace when he held the upper hand, but he was just a child thrown into command of a nation surrounded by enemies.  How could he be anything other than demanding?

It’s hard to tell why certain music speaks to certain people.  Maybe this song just catches me because of it’s driving, marching bass-line and drums.  Maybe the vocal tones get me.  However, the lyrics strike me because they sound exactly like a young man at the peak of his confidence, taking over control of an impossible disaster and throwing back the tide with seeming ease.  “Chosen by heaven,” indeed!  The implication was that he was the only one capable of saving his country, and perhaps he could have done better for it than he did.

On the other hand, he could just as easily have simpered, surrendered, and allowed Sweden to suffer without a fight.

There’s something to respect in all of this

Jesse Pohlman is an author from Long Island, New York.  He writes Science-Fiction, Fantasy, and even super-hero novels you can pick up at his Amazon Author’s Page, mostly for the Kindle.

 

Return Of The Website!

Greetings everyone!

Just wanted to confirm that the site is up and running, and I’m making progress on adding a few key things to it.  In the meantime….

I wrote an article about what a “Bloody Nose” strike would look like in North Korea for The Daily Kos.
– I tweeted a bunch over on my Twitter!
– I dropped a sample from my next Protostar novel over on my Facebook page!
– I’ve coordinated some Cover Art for the final Pillars Of The Kingdom novel.
– I’m working on a new subsection for this website, namely a list of my influences!

Stop by for more frequent updates, I should hope!

Bernie Sanders’ Gives 21st-Century Westminster Foreign Policy Speech

On Thursday, September 21st, Senator Bernie Sanders gave the 58th John Findley Green lecture from Westminster College, Fulton MO. As a series of speeches designed to “promote understanding of economic and social problems,” according to the Churchill museum, Sanders ambitiously undertook an evaluation of post-war American foreign policy in the hopes of laying out a strategy for 21st century challenges while speaking to a sell-out crowd.

When contrasting the Iraq War with the Iran Nuclear Deal, Sanders argued that the former was an example of a “blunder,” while the latter was an example of “leadership.” When discussing the 1950’s overthrow of popularly-elected Iranian leader Mohammed Mossadegh, he not only accurately connected the Shah’s re-installation to the eventual success of Ayatollah Khomeini’s rise to power in the 1979 revolution, but poignantly asked the question, “What would Iran look like today?” He ably connected America’s now-constant blustery threats to use military force with a matching perception of American weakness in a veiled shot at a certain President.

Some might consider such a dissection to be boiler-plate, or of the, “Duh, we already knew this” prerogative. Truth be told, other than its unusual-for-2017 depth and historical accuracy, it was a rather subdued speech for the Democratic Socialist. What set this speech apart was how it was accessible to a national audience. For starters, it was announced, promoted and eventually aired via Youtube by Westminster College, itself. Additionally, key segments of it were live-tweeted by Bernie Sanders’ official Twitter account using the hashtag “#BernieFP” (No, Sanders himself didn’t tweet these snippets). This strategy was savvy to the modern political condition and its reliance on social media for success, and was especially effective as Sanders’ peacenik language drew a strong confluence with the trending “#PeaceDay” digital depiction of the UN-Recognized International Day of Peace.

For an example, this combination enabled casual Twitter users who might be off for Rosh Hashanah (L’Shana Tovah!) and have an interested friend to notice the event was happening via social media, say, “Hey, that sounds kind of interesting,” then subsequently click over to the Youtube stream. By populating Twitter’s search engine with a specific hashtag, even those who were at work or otherwise unable to tune in might still see one or more quotes from the speech, creating instant soundbytes for water-cooler conversation.

If, as September 20th’s episode of South Park subversively suggested, social media and Twitter are key elements of today’s political battleground, Bernie Sanders demonstrated a maestro’s grasp of how to bend them to his perrogative. Furthermore, if social media is a tool for the youth, this analysis goes a step towards explaining the justification behind more than one Washington Post article on how Sanders won the Youth vote in the Democratic primary, which itself is greener (pun accidential, but covenient) than the Republican one. Sanders’ social media presence may not have propelled him to victory in 2016, but he has kept it alive and well following the election and has contributed to his maintainence of a lead as the most popular politician in America. This is simply one example of the how behind this success, and should he be so inclined it will help ensure his weight remains impressive within the Democratic party for some time to come – his push for Single Payer healthcare included.

Byline: Jesse Pohlman is a writer and educator from Long Island, New York. When he’s not analyzing politics, he’s teaching America’s youth to analyze history and literature – that, or writing science-fiction stories!

Editorial Note:  “Better late than never.”

Bernie Sanders Speaks at Westminster – Courtesy of Advocacy Activism

Courage, Contact Sports, and CTE.

I played Lacrosse for about five years, as a kid, and even though I had some fun, I probably shouldn’t have. I was a scrawny kid, rarely eclipsing 120 lbs, and I absolutely loved to hit. I have no idea what I was thinking, to be honest. I played a little Football, although I wasn’t allowed on the field unless there was a 40-7 blowout because, again, I wasn’t, from a purely physical standpoint, exactly worthy of being on the field as as future NFL players when it came to skill or talent, and oftentimes my body couldn’t handle what I was doing to it.

Same with Lacrosse: I eventually sustained a fairly significant knee injury, with my right kneecap clocked in by the surgeon at 40% out-of-place, to say nothing of tendonitis or other damages to the joint. This eventual medical-benching came after a tenth-grade junior varsity game in which I decided to body-check a defenseman easily twice my size while going for a ground ball. That was one element of the benching, to be honest; the other was that, as I had decent instincts for the game, one of my team-mates happened to agree but come at the other player from his other side. When this other fellow fell on top of me, well, something was bound to give and it was likely the skinny grunge-goth kid. I actually had a bad knee before that, and wore a brace to support it that earned me the nick-name “squeaks,” but even better, I actually scored my first – and last – goal of the season in that game.

I remember my coach screaming at me to come out, mainly because he is a good man and knew I wasn’t in any shape to continue playing. I remember laughing him off because I didn’t know what ‘shapes’ were really broken, and coveted my playing time. I still think I was better at the game than I was given credit for. I remember discovering, after surgery, recovery, and disavowal of Lacrosse, that I was far better as a Tennis player, anyway; in two years I made it to All-Division status, and earned my place on my school’s “wall of fame.” Teenage male bluster is something to behold, and as an educator I’ve seen it extend into my early-to-mid thirties on a virtually-guaranteed basis. Young men have this implacable belief that they are all but invincible.

You see, let’s fast-forward to the modern era, away from the days in which the tall, sort of skinny friend of yours from around the corner that you hit at full speed was yet to become a super-star athlete. Fast forward to the days of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE. CTE is, and I’m not a doctor so allow me a wide berth for error, a form of brain damage caused by repeated head trauma (such as concussions, of which I have had at least two significant ones in my life) that only manifests years after the injuries occur. Unlike more easily empathized-with injuries that leave scars on the skin, CTE doesn’t leave a visible mark in the present; it comes as a malignant reminder of what we’ve done in the past. Fortunately, I have had brain-scans that do not indicate any neurological trauma. I’m thankful for this, especially as I’ve seen first-hand what age alone can do to the Human mind. I fear for my old friends, not just those who played Football but those who played Lacrosse as well.

Unfortunately, CTE is currently not exactly detectable until after a victim’s death1, given that certain tau proteins need to be analyzed to make a definitive diagnosis, this means brain scans are not a reliable factor in excluding injury. I dread discovering that I’ve endured some degree of this disease; I tremble at the possible exposure my more athletic friends have experienced. Symptoms of a first-stage case of CTE include mild psychiatric symptoms that could be mistaken as having other sources; attention hyperactivity defect disorder (ADHD), dizziness, and headaches. Second-stage damage has similarly amorphous definitions, such as increases in impulsive behavior and a shaky memory. As someone diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, whose mind often wanders, I wonder sometimes – are my behaviors caused by my active youth? Did young Jesse have such an impact on early-thirties Jesse?

Thankfully the progression of symptoms seems to stop at these levels. Further CTE damage is similar to Altzheimer’s in terms of dementia, but include depression and suicidiality. I read stories about sports stars like Junior Seau and Aaron Hernandez, and even WWE legend Chris Benoit, and like the medical community I am in shock at just how prevalent this disorder may be. If athletes as young as 27 – Aaron Hernandez’ age at the time of his in-jail suicide – are crippled by this disorder, it makes me worry how soon it sets in. It makes me fear for my friends, who have been engaged in contact sports for far longer than Mr. Hernandez lived.

What started out as a personal piece about my passion for a sport has, through a series of twists, ended up a reflection on the potential harm that contact sports can cause. This calls for a pause; for a recalculation. “Should these sports be banned?” is a popular question when the subject of CTE comes up, but we’re talking about multi-billion dollar juggernauts that reach out and have childrens’ leagues. Furthermore, the evidence as to how prevalent CTE actually is, well, doesn’t really exist as of yet. Surely, it can be agreed that reducing contact amongst younger children whose brains are still developing is a primary concern for those seeking to reduce the harm of these sports, but until more research is completed about where the thresholds of damage lie, it’s hard to imagine parents and players giving up their game.

After all, back when I was young and felt invincible, I was more than happy to ignore an immediate physical injury if it meant a chance to get a goal.  My favorite sport of all wasn’t any of the ones I’ve already mentioned; it was skiing with my father over the winter vacations, and it was possibly the most dangerous of them all – especially in the golden “Time Before Helmets” that existed before the deaths of Kennedy and Bono.  Skiers know the risks when they get on the lift; we read a litany of legalese before we even put on our lift tickets.  We know that the big mistake could lead to the big injury, but that – unlike Lacrosse or Football – the goal isn’t contact with another player.  Does that cover-your-own doctrine apply to all sports?

My childhood would have been unrecognizable had my sporting activities been prohibited or restrained, but we lived at a time before we knew of the long-term consequences of these activities.  Now that we know – now that I dread discovering I have somehow been impacted by them – what will we do?  I only ask the question, for I have no answers.

 

Jesse Pohlman is an author from Long Island, New York.  When he’s not sporting about, he’s writing science-fiction and fantasy novels.  Check out his latest work, The Bartenders of the Nexus Tavern, available online (only) for only a buck!

“The Bartenders of the Nexus Tavern” now available on Kindle!

Hello friends!

Today I’m honored to announce the release of a novella that’s near-and-dear to my heart, The Bartenders of the Nexus Tavern.  It’s my first attempt at a collaboration between a group of old writing friends, with me taking point.  The story itself is a bit of a joy-ride, intended to be a fun escapist fantasy story where the heroes are constantly in action.  I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it!  Pick it up by clicking this link.

 
Larry Le’Sur was a gritty old detective from Detroit who, after a vicious fight for his life, was whisked away into a magical dumping ground called The Nexus. The quick-shooting sleuth was saved by a mage and recruited as an Assistant Bartender of the Nexus Tavern, Larry adhered strictly to a commandment to provide protection for others pulled into the Nexus. When the head Bartender fell in combat, Larry took up the title up, himself, assuming responsibility for a cast of wanderers, vagrants, and vigilantes as they protect travelers and, in times of crisis, even the magical pocket of existence they’ve all found themselves in as a whole.

Among the legends adorning Larry’s crew are the ancient vampire, Jack, Larry’s source of advice and wise council when he isn’t nursing his own ambitions; the little girl Lucy and her pet dragon Inara, the only known survivors of the Dragon Wars; Drayven and Vincent, two young scalawags who arrive at the Tavern just prior to an invasion by the dreaded Legion of Broken Souls; Morrigan, a magic user of incredible strength who also happens to command a walking war robot; and, finally, Ian Windsong, a blacksmith who just happens to be a flighty wind elemental.

Joining forces, these unlikely heroes each have a role to play in repelling the Legion’s invasion and – perhaps – finally turning the war against them towards the offensive. Yet with personal disputes, drama, and the rigors of both old age and danger swarming them at every turn, how could they possibly hope to defeat the one of the Legion’s strongest leaders, a life-elemental gone rogue? Will they overcome an ageless enemy, or be trampled by her?

A Much-Belated Status Update!

Greetings, friends and fans!

Hopefully you’re all looking forward to a restful and/or exciting Summer, depending on your flavor and your job’s amount of time off! It’s been a while since I’ve put out a website update, so I figured now is the best time to do so.

Projects and Patreon

First of all, I’ve cleaned up some of the site’s subordinate pages wherever possible, and added them where they were needed. The site still isn’t a work of art (I’m a writer, not a web designer), but it’s more serviceable for your reading pleasure.

Next up, let’s look at some of the projects I’ve got coming up. The first half of 2017 has been pretty quiet because I’ve been nearing completion of a lot of novels, and I’m super excited to release them to the public. I think the best way to organize them on a WordPress is a simple list, in order of distance-to-completion.

However, before we get to some tremendously long list, a word: I’m generally following this list when it comes to dedicating my writing time, however I could always use some more editing time. To that end, I’m starting a Patreon campaign in order to try to raise enough money that I can spend one hour less a week working a day-job, and instead spend one hour a week editing my work. This is based on reader feedback on what priorities I need to focus on as an author.  Editing is a huge part of what we writers do.

 

List of Current Projects:

– The Nexus Tavern: An homage to a storyline my friends and I once shared on an old roleplaying forum, The Nexus Tavern is a novella (about 40,000 words) starring, among many others, Larry Le’Sur as the ‘Bartender’ of the Nexus Tavern. His tavern is usually the first landing-point for visitors to this strange, captivating realm, and as an ex-cop he takes his duty to protect travelers seriously. Accompanying him are a vampire with nearly endless knowledge, a girl with what at first glance appears to be a pet dragon, and many more. When an eternal evil known as the Legion of Broken Souls stirs, will Larry be able to lead this rag-tag resistance to victory? Distance To Completion: Finished, already beta-read, just waiting on some amazing cover art.

– Pillars of the Kingdom, Volume 3: A Goddess Revealed: I began the Pillars of the Kingdom series with the release of The Forming in 2005, and followed it up with The Search For The Four. I re-released Volume 1 as a 10th anniversary edition, with heavy revisions, and I’m thrilled to finally have a chance to finish what I started. Jacin, Clarice, Branden and the rest of the titular heroes of the Kingdom of Emor struggle to save their people from a foreign invasion spearheaded by an ancient cult of death-worshippers. Distance To Completion: Currently finishing up an epilogue. Will need Beta readers soon!

– Physics Trincarnate: The third volume of the Physics Incarnate series sees Saffron Latchkey take a turn at conspiring with the Consortium of Trust, a secretive group that might be called super-heroes if they had their way, but might also be regarded as a shadowy clique that shapes world events without most people ever knowing it. Saffron is manipulated by forces greater than herself – and her own code of ethics – into mastering her own supernatural powers and saving the world. Distance To Completion: Writing the final battle!

– Song of The Sisters: An Epic Poem featuring the lives of Zephyr and Crash, known as ‘The Sisters’ but who are really just kindred spirits with the power to reshape the world. In this project, I’m drawing on equal parts sci-fi, fantasy, and Milton. Distance To Completion: Halfway done, maybe a little more-than, but it’s relatively short.

– Protostar, Volume 3: I know I tried to compete in NaNoWriMo 2016 and crashed hard, but I started work on a third Protostar novel with themes of insurrection, rebellion, and the imposition of order on disgruntled subordinates and idealogues. Distance To Completion: Quite a ways, actually; I’m only about two chapters in.

I look forward to this journey and I hope you’ll join me on it, moving forward!

My warmest regards,
–Jesse Pohlman

On Accepting A Missed Deadline

Greetings, friends,

One of my goals, when I decided to make my Physics Incarnate novel into a trilogy, was to have the final book finished and published by Election Day, 2016. That’s November 8th for our foreign friends who aren’t already mystified by the delirium of this year’s contest for control of the U.S. Government. I set this goal for the simple reason that within the course of the second novel (which is already out and available for your enjoyment!), I revealed that one of the primary antagonists of the series, Erica Hall, was using her super-human powers of Empathy to control every crowd she came across and use it to propel herself to the Presidency. That’s right! In my novel’s alternate reality, the election isn’t rigged – the subconscious desires behind your vote is!

Alas, due to having the constraints of a day-job and some vicious cases of writer’s block, I am pretty much never going to get that done in time. It’s something that ate at me for months in the back of my mind, a little cricket chirping every time I spent a minute on another pursuit or a different story to remind me that, “Hey, Physics Trincarnate actually has a time-frame while nothing else does!” Well, nothing until NaNoWriMo 2016, anyway! On the other hand, when I recognized my obligations and stared down the barrel of a blank OpenOffice or Google Doc file, well, I groaned and closed my laptop. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to write; or, I knew but couldn’t figure out the words; or, I knew but erased half of it; or, I got distracted by a music video; or, whatever. I simply failed.

That failure eats away at me in tiny, delectable incriments. In its own way, Physics Trincarnate aims to capture everything that is practically alarming about the election. Erica’s power to compel people to feel how she wants them to is akin to the cult of personality we see around men like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. For better or worse, they have a certain magnetism that has created a massive movement. On the other hand, Erica works very openly with her ‘frenemies’ in the Consortium, even going so far as to ‘recommend’ her arch-enemy Emmett Eisenberg’s scientific advisory company. Why? Well, Emmett is the original ‘Physics Incarnate’ that gave birth to the series’ name, and he manufactures mineral wealth for nations to extract using his superhuman powers. It’s a kinder, gentler and infinitely more generous form of economic exploitation. It’s the ultimate foreign donation. It comes with no strings attached and it lets the people (or at least their governments) do what they are told. It works perfectly with Erica’s simple requests to meet with these leaders. Of course it does! She just has to lay eyes upon them to make them abandon their former hatreds and embrace new loves.

It’s what the perfect Orwellian government would do to its people, controlling their thoughts and making everyone see past themselves towards some ‘greater good’ that only its secret cabal of leaders – a real-life conspiracy theory – could accomplish.

Now that I’ve gone and spoiled at least what I was thinking, let me just say that this was the only way I could think of to justify, to myself and only myself, my failure. You see, I’m Human. I think we all figured that out, but we forget so many of that fact’s infinite implications on a day-to-day basis. Not only am I Human, so you might expect me to fail, but I am Human so I might never myself expect me to fail! Even if I might fail at a dozen other things to prove my own perception wrong, when it comes to the very next thing it’s so easy to forget those lessons and assume I’ll find a way through it.

Well, I’m going to try to be more attentive to my own deadlines and goals.

For those who are curious, Physics Trincarnate will probably take a back seat to what I’ve honestly been craving – NaNoWriMo 2016. I might very well fail at that too! But it’s a much more achievable goal then rushing to pay a big pricetag for cover art in the hopes that I can finish Trincarnate in anything resembling a releasable shape in seven days. It’s just not going to happen.

I’ll probably put out the first chapter for your perusal in the near future, but until then I think I’ll finish the book by, maybe, Christmas?

Until then, I’m looking forward to my next adventure with Lahira Ocean…

Jesse Pohlman at “Decisions 2016,” Adelphi University, 10/6/2016

Hey folks,

This is just a little bit late in going up – You know, a few weeks? But I realized I should be using this site more, and I should make sure this is posted here as well. Anyhow, this is me talking to an awesome crowd at the Adelphi University event entitled “Decisions 2016: Why your vote matters in all races.” It’s a wee bit long, about twenty minutes, but it’s well worth it.

The event was sponsored by the Adelphi History Department, specifically Dr. Cristina Zaccarini; she’s the awesome lady who introduced me. Also appearing at Decisions 2016: Marcus Henriques, Anthony Miller, and Jamie Diamond.

A Tepid Endorsement of Hillary Clinton

Hello, everyone.

This election cycle has pushed all Progessives to and beyond our breaking points. It’s time to take a look past the grand spectacle of the presidential election and focus instead on what we can do to further improve our already ‘great’ nation, and – whether we like it or not, no matter how much I might have wanted to see it be Bernie Sanders – the only way that will happen is with Hillary Clinton as our next President. To that end, I encourage reading to support her candidacy on November 8th; I realize that is a huge thing to ask, given her questionable track record, so I will try to address some of the most prominent questions to the best of my abilities. I know I won’t convince everyone – and I know some people might call me a sell-out, or worse – but I hope you’ll take a second to consider it. I might not have a laser-like precision, but no decision this grave is carried out without some generalization in mind. The goal is to avoid oversimplification and to prove a case for her earning your vote.

What exactly has Clinton done to earn our vote?

I’ll start off by discussing her time as a lawyer for the Children’s Defense Fund. A favorite story of mine is when she went under-cover to fight against segregation. She would ask people, sometimes point-blank, ‘do you let Black people in?’ Of course, the law of the land said segregation was illegal but that didn’t mean that certain ‘unspoken rules’ weren’t enforced. It certainly doesn’t mean that people wouldn’t look, deliberately, for non-integrated communities. And guess what? Clinton fought this tooth-and-nail.

Another example of her doing good in the world comes with the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a sort of victory-out-of-defeat when her attempt to expand health-care in general failed. That’s right! Before it was “Obamacare” it was “Hillarycare.” Of course, Obamacare also was Romneycare and even HeritageFoundationCare, but I digress from the main point – Clinton actively fought to create a program which provides healthcare to millions of children who otherwise would get sick, perhaps die, and go un-cared for.

In the third Presidential debate, she spoke highly of the oft-controversial Clinton Foundation. Her donors are certainly unsavory and there’s the risk of that unfairly influencing anyone, but she also argued for the good it’s done across the globe. This honestly isn’t my area of expertise, so I’ll cite Charity Navigator’s rating, which is four stars out of four.

As you’ll see below, I have some questions about her and there are others competing for your vote – all of whom are far better qualified than Donald Trump, by the by – but I think my main reason for this endorsement comes from Paul Ryan’s nervous lips. When he says, paraphrased, that if Clinton wins and wins big we’ll get Bernie Sanders in charge of the Senate budget department I start salivating. You see, that’s the real ticket to change – should the Democrats manage to flip the Senate (a likely possibility) and/or (a less likely one) the House of Representatives, we’ll get both a Progressive caucus which can hold Clinton accountable to campaign promises such as her efforts on Climate Change (which she unilaterally raised in at least the second and third debates), overturning Citizens United, and more. It’s those promises we should vote for, hoping that in that vote that we get a Congress which will actually do its damned job, and that is the embodiment of the Political Revolution that Bernie Sanders leads. He still leads it! And I will follow it, even if that means voting for Hillary Clinton.

But isn’t she crooked, among any other weaknesses?

Surely, Clinton doesn’t come off as the most empathetic politician. Her connection to big money is a huge reason why I supported Bernie Sanders, and why in 2008 I supported – wait for it – Bill Richardson. However, just as when I supported her in 2008’s primary defeat, I can look past some of her least glorious moments in order to critique her overall body of work, and that is why this is a tepid – lukewarm, dispassionate, un-thrilled – endorsement. The third Presidential debate was what hit it home for me; for the first time in a long time I heard the Hillary Clinton of 2008 poking through the haze of this insane election.

My biggest concern isn’t that she’s going to sell the proverbial farm for a dollar (although something-something-Russia-Uranium was worrysome, it’s also been called inaccurate), it’s that she’s not genuinely progressive and won’t offer real advancement to the nation. This is the underlying “Which Hillary?” controversy that I believe stems from the Democratic party (Oh, we’ll get to them) as a whole accepting big money into its bed. She’s also a foreign conflict hawk, and her argument in favor of creating a No-Fly-Zone in Syria is well intentioned but flat-out dangerous if she can’t convince the Russians to go along with it. Then there’s her e-mail scandal which does not appear to have concealed anything terribly nor was it deemed worthy of actual charges – and, no, Benghazi wasn’t her fault, go back and try researching it at least from when Congressional Republicans denied funding for security enhancements to the tune of about $330,000,000.

When I look back at Clinton’s actual body of work, however, again I find myself sighing in resignaton and mumbling, “Well, with a Progressive Congress there’s a shot, here.” It’s the only shot we have, even in a 2016 landscape that maximized the chances of a third party forming a coherent, composed challenge.

But Gary Johnson is free from all of those negatives! Why not support him?

The 2016 election is very different than 2012. In 2012, President Obama was not only faced with a reasonably confident shot at re-election, but he was actually running against a rather sane Republican opponent. If Mitt Romney had acceded to the Presidency, the nation would have still kept ticking. Furthermore, in 2012 there were two very clear objectives for the Libertarian party: Number one, to reach 5% of the national poll and receive ‘major party status’ with respect to general election funding; number two, to create a lasting Libertarian infrastructure which could propel the 2016 Libertarian candidate (Johnson/Weld/Weed) to a legitimate challenge.

Again, in 2016 the political landscape couldn’t be any more in favor of a third-party vote. Think back to right after the Primaries, when #NeverTrump and #NeverHillary were at their peaks. Especially for Republicans who noticed early on that Trump was a madman, Gary Johnson seemed like a natural choice. It seemed, at least to me, like he stood a serious shot of earning endorsements from folks like the aforementioned Mitt Romney. Surely if any year was a year for the Republican party to fracture, it was this one!

And, yet, that didn’t happen. Worse, Johnson’s primary news coverage came as the result of “Aleppo Moments” (Which any Human being has, but not with regularity on national TV), and while some people considered this a possible strategy to boost his name recognition, I feel like it was a sign that Johnson’s candidacy had simply fallen apart.

Don’t get me wrong, I strongly urge all Conservatives to vote for him! As awkward as he’s handled specific policy topics, his overarching grasp of why Syria is a massive problem we should be avoiding is sound. So he forgot the second-largest city’s name! The truth is, at least Johnson is idealistically consistent if completely opposed to what Bernie Sanders believes in, and that matters. And if he gets to that 5% mark? Good! The 2016 Republican Party deserves to wander in the political wilderness for a while.

But what about Jill Stein, the only other Progressive in this race?

I like Jill Stein. I’ve contributed to the Green Party, too! I gave her a serious and long look. I certainly expect many people to vote for her out of disgust for the (again, we’ll get to them) Democratic party as well as distrust of Clinton. As long as people are voting their conscience, I can’t argue with that!

However, once more, Stein’s ultimate test during this campaign actually stems back to her 2012 run, and that test was simple: Building a party infrastructure that would propel her, in the course of four years, to a reasonable chance of victory in the Presidential election, to say nothing of state-and-local Green candidates. Stein did not accomplish this task. She has consistently polled at around two percent, maybe hitting as high as four percent. She simply cannot and will not win this election.

Does that mean you shouldn’t vote for her? Well, I’m suggesting you vote for Clinton so I’m clearly biased, but as much as John Oliver has gotten flak for questioning her plan to cancel out student debt, the truth of the mechanics of quantitative easing is simple: The President can’t just print more money to end problems. Quantitative easing could definitely be part of the solution, but since the U.S. government controls most of the student loans (Federal Stanford being the #1) anyway, why wouldn’t Stein just press Congress to sign off on debt reduction directly? Why devalue our currency? In fact, why is the Green Party so interested in student loans when I’ve always understood them to be an environment-first party?

Why didn’t she focus on the Green New Deal? Because I think the political calculation was that college students propelled Bernie, so college students could propel Jill. I’m sorry, but that’s not what I (as someone who has struggled but paid off some but not all of my debts) wanted to hear. Paying off college is nice, but that jobs package? Getting energy independent?

Last, but not least, I have to mention the Green Party’s overall approach to newcomers – and that is to say, when I attempted to get to know the rank-and-file, I found a lot of venom. I found a lot of people who regard the slightest deviation from the agreed-upon norm were downright brutal. I am sure they will not take this endorsement happily, but I hope they’ll understand that we can disagree on who the best candidate for President is and still work together on the issues that really matter. Believe it or not, I would love to see Jill Stein play some kind of role in Clinton’s administration – and, from the bottom of my heart, I really think that if Bernie had taken up Stein’s offer to lead the Green party he would have won the 2016 Presidency as a Third Party.

But that’s not the reality we live in.

As to Donald Trump…

I have perhaps one bias in my life, instilled by my grandparents, both my grandfathers who fought in World War Two and my grandmothers who were at home for it: Fascism is an obvious face of tyranny, and I must oppose tyranny at all costs.

Donald Trump, frankly, is an incompetent neo-nazi wearing the thinnest possible veil over his swastika-laden heart, and a vote for him is in my eyes equivalent to a vote for Hitler.

Trump has repeatedly called for (and appears to have received!) not only foreign espionage against his political opponents, not just the incarceration of anyone who opposes him and their lawyers, but has subtextually suggested someone shoot Hillary Clinton. His supporters listen. Not since the Civil War have we faced a situation where someone threatens not to recognize the fundamental legitimacy of the election. No, we aren’t talking about the right to a legal challenge such as Bush V Gore in Florida (at least part of which was mandated by Florida law); we’re talking about refusing to acknowledge any election result other than his own victory. He literally parrots Benito Mussolini.

Perhaps he is part of the reason Clinton’s flaws are so minimal. Jill Stein argues that a vote for the lesser of two evils is still evil, and she isn’t wrong; however, I do not see Clinton and Trump as equivalent, let alone seeing Clinton as somehow worse than Trump. Trump is subverting this nation’s good people and intentions in an almost unprecedented manner by appealing to racism, sexism, and many other lesser bigotries I can’t even begin to count.

Simply put: If you believe in the democratic process and the American Constitution, you can’t walk through the maze and vote for Trump without throwing both of those values aside.

But doesn’t this reward the Democrats for screwing Sanders over?

Yes.

I hate that fact almost as much as I hate the fact that over one hundred thousand of my fellow New Yorkers were stripped of their right to vote in the primaries. It’s clear that the Democratic party had its thumbs on the scale (and, really, I’m not surprised), and it’s clear that Sanders probably would have come within a hair’s breadth of winning the nomination had it not been for this bias. On the other hand, Sanders campaign aides have said that the campaign lacked, among other things, a lot of the data optimization that the Obama campaign used in 2008. It was always going to be an uphill battle considering Clinton’s popularity with minority voters, and the Democratic party’s bias towards its long-time member just didn’t help.

Was Bernie screwed? At least halfway! But here’s the beautiful thing about this election: In four more years we get to try again if we don’t like what we see. On January 20th, 2017, we get to start holding Clinton accountable as President. Even today, we get to push Obama to do things like recall his nomination of the moderate Merrick Garland and nominate a Supreme Court Justice that more befits the Progressives who will rescue his party from an orange totalitarian lunatic. We get to make sure Clinton and her allies know exactly who put her over the top in this election, and that they know who will determine whether or not they retain power in the 2018 House and Senate elections; in the various governorships and state-and-local races; in the 2020 Presidential cycle that will come affixed with a chance to un-gerrymander the actual election rigging that has taken place in states like Florida.

So, no; I am not thrilled to offer this endorsement, nor am I a particularly potent person to be giving it. I offer it regardless, hoping you will consider it when you cast your ballot on November 8th.