Bernie Sanders as a Feminist Role Model for Men

24salkbqxsilumvqsp4rzs4xgq8yqz6gjtgzn9def4817hm1o11q61w7ke2678od.jpg Clearly, Feminism is impacting this year’s election cycle. I appreciate and share a popular desire to see strong female role models in our culture. There are few roles that would be as powerful as a female President. However, I have struggled to support Clinton. For me, Sander, her challenger for the Democratic nomination, is clearly the better candidate due to his authenticity, consistent record, and better representation of the people’s concerns. Meanwhile, I felt a sense of loss because I too want a strong female role model for our youth.

My Masters studies a couple of years ago focused on the global development sector. We often studied a wide variety of programs designed to transform the lives of women around the world. In one such working group, as we were discussing empowering women, I asked what role we were leaving for men and what guidance we were giving them to adjust? There was a moment of awkward surprise as everyone acknowledged that nobody had really considered that part of the paradigm at all. It is my personal belief that this is also the case here at home. I believe modern American men, amidst a sea of change, are left in a vacuum of positive role models. In a culture that has drastically changed over the last many decades as a result of the Feminist movement, there exists a void of masculine role models for the current paradigm much less role models for the future paradigms we’d like to reach.

The Bernie and Hillary bid for the Democratic nomination created an environment where a huge discussion around this this play out, and it has been interesting. While some go so far as to call Bernie a sexist for running against Hillary and refusing to drop out until all of the votes are counted, far more people praise him for being a better Feminist than Hillary. Generally, I think the majority of people seem to deeply respect Sanders. In fact, I have heard a lot of concern from people who are deeply torn between who they considered to be a better candidate and their strong desire to see a woman as President.

For those of us who do view Bernie as exceptional, more specifically, for those Feminists who are torn between what a great role model Bernie is versus the powerful message of a female President – I have a question that has recently started haunting me. When you consider all of our countries gender issues, when you reflect on what you believe are the roots to our problems, what kind of role model do you feel would do more good for our country? A role model for women, a female President with a remarkably high disapproval rating? Or, and this is a radical notion, a feminist role model for men, a male President who exhibits authentic characteristics of love, respect, and support for women? In today’s world, who is more in need of positive role models for a future paradigm of equality, men or women? And, finally, did we become so focused on the ideal of a female role model that we’ve completely missed the opportunity to provide men with an revolutionary role model?

The Rise of the Independents

US Party IdentificationMy single biggest personal rebellion has been in being a political independent. Ross Perot’s Presidential run in 1992 inspired much of my generation to question the existing two party political system. At that time, I was too young to vote for Perot. I ended up making a t-shirt and wearing it to school. He earned 19% of the popular vote.

After the 1992 election cycle, the percentage of Americans identifying as Independent rose steadily for half a decade and then fell back down as the Republican party rose in 2004. However, since 2004, both parties have continued to tank while Independents are on the rise, now at historic levels.

At this very moment, the day after Super Tuesday, Pundits and talking heads are on the news explaining what voters like me are thinking – how we are going to react. I don’t think they get it at all. However, I’m not going to try to explain or sell you the Independent point of view. What I do want to bring attention to is the momentum behind the indie movement in politics happening right now.

Today, I’m supporting and expecting to vote for the Democratic Socialist, Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders decided to run for President via the Democratic party. He does not identify as a Democrat. As a party outsider running on their ticket, he is drawing an enormous amount of support from Democrats. So much so, he may win their nomination – holy crap! On the flip side, he is still bringing over Republicans as well. From my father, a devout conservative: “If it’s Clinton and Trump, I’m voting Trump. If it’s Bernie and Trump, I’m voting Bernie.” This is not an uncommon sentiment. Bernie has support for reasons that have nothing to do with party affiliation. Those who are very focused on party politics are just not seeing what’s happening outside of their context.

My significant other and I recently moved out of our apartment and started a community house. Looking for housemates, we posted a Craigslist ad that included a mention of being Bernie supporters. We were overwhelmed with Bernie-centric responses. Many wrote that they knew they wanted to live with us based on that one point alone. While it would be easy to trivialize that experience as an inconsequential story, it had a profound impact on my perception. I now see that the energy of Independent political thinking is driving the momentum of the Bernie Sanders campaign – and it’s beautiful.

Bernie is building a culture of participation and immediacy. The people – especially Independents –  love it. He is building a “machine” made of people. He is enabling those people to have a voice and know they can use it. The “machine” behind the political revolution really is us. It is growing in size and running in the background of this campaign, quietly shifting the tides. Will Bernie win? I’m not entirely confident that he will be the Democratic candidate – perhaps. However, I think that Bernie will probably be our next President.

Bernie may not get enough delegates to supplant Hillary. What will happen next? It is a fallacy to believe that Bernie is a dedicated Democrat. I expect him to choose to stay in the race. He would then have the lion’s share of support from the 40%+ of Americans who identify as Independent, including myself. He would pull over a huge portion of the Democratic base, which is already below 30% of the nation anyway. He will also attract many of those fleeing Republicans who comprise even less of the nation than the Democrats. Those numbers add up to a win for Bernie.

The only message more powerful than electing Bernie Sanders as President will be doing so without the support of a major party.








Welcome to 2012…

I feel like the insanity of 2012, so far, is best summed up with the following video:

Meanwhile, I realize that my activity on Facebook is keeping me from Blogging… More on that later, if I get around to it… (irony)

Electing The 99%, an open letter….

Dear 99%,

Hi. I’ve been paying attention to Occupy Wall Street. This evening, I had a chat with my girlfriend about the spontaneous eruption of democracy that is Occupy Wall Street. We had an idea I have to share with the rest of the 99% out there.

We create a new party where candidates agree to a much more specific job role during their political term. They would agree to:

  • Inform the public of their progress as real time as possible. For example: live stream all meetings, post materials related to all votes, post video updates multiple times a day, etc.
  • Vote on all issues using popular vote. Use some yet-to-be-built voting platform to collect votes from anyone who wishes to cast a vote. Something as reliable as Reddit or Digg is enough, and I have no doubt we could build something significantly better. I want to see something completely open source and distributed in nature.
That’s it… inform and act based on popular vote. It’s not bullet proof and it won’t stop corruption, but it would shift the balance of power to the people in a dramatic way. We just have to build the software and elect a few honest people who are good at communicating.
Hoping to hear back,

Detach from Wall Street

Here’s a thought to all those feeling in alignment with #OccupyWallStreet, but not currently actively involved: If something is keeping you from occupying Wall Street, consider detaching from Wall Street instead.

First, leave your bank for a local credit union. Credit unions are owned by their members and are not-for-profit organizations.

Second, spend locally. Buy local food. Consider trades people in your social network. Look for privately owned businesses or co-ops. Think about where you do business.

I’m sure there are a lot more ways of detaching from Wall Street… and I think detaching could make for a powerful change.

#occupywallstreet vs #thathighmoment

I just had another discussion about the amount of media attention (or lack there of) the Occupy Wall Street protest was seeing. There have been slews of reports that Twitter may be blocking the trending topic. I just did the most basic of tests. I searched over and over again for both #OccupyWallStreet as well as many of the current trending topics. Over and over again, it seemed clear to me that #OccupyWallStreet was experiencing far more posts than any of the trending topics… by a considerable margin. Check out the post times in the following image capture:

Building Community: The Game Changed

My first online community effort happened in 1994. I didn’t have a vision or understand what I was doing. It was low tech and attracted a small population, but it filled a need so it sustained for several years. Back then, building an online community was actually rather easy.

In 2007, I was hired by a big name health and fitness company to develop an online community. The effort began well, but was quickly derailed by many of the most common mistakes that big companies seem to make. I departed the venture in 2008 and moved on to social media centric projects. I went back to check on their progress and found that the entire community, one that used to be hundreds of thousands of users strong, was wiped from the face of the Internet entirely.


Solving America’s Illegal Immigrant Problem

And that’s how some people want to approach the issue of illegal immigrants in the USA. Everything I know and understand about life aligns clearly to say that building a wall between the US and Mexico is a horrible idea. It’s not like Mexico is mounting an attack and we have to defend the castle. They’re sneaking into the country to find jobs. To cover the issue from my own perspective, I’ll offer three planks and then a plan.


The Virility Discussion: Control

Let’s start this blog post with a definition, the definition of virility. According to Wikipedia:

Virility refers to any of a wide range of masculine characteristics viewed positively. It is not applicable to women or to negative characteristics.

Those of us that are men, and that’s about half of us, have probably – at some point – thought about what it means to be a man. Sure we get to pee standing up without the aid of special hardware, but what else is there? Often times people ask, what does it mean to be a real man? The nice thing about the word “virility” is that no matter how our society changes, the word itself still retains the same meaning. The traits that make up virility today may not be the same by society’s standards 100 years from now; however, virility is defined as the positive traits, whatever those may be.

This brings us to a brilliantly confusing discussion, what defines virility today? This question is important to me. I’ve spent a lot of time working on it. It truly seems to me that, in our current time, we lack clear positive role models. We live in a time when our counter parts, women, have changed significantly over the past few generations. Powerful role models have shaped and changed the concept of what a woman should be. Where are the male counterparts?

As I’ve worked on this problem for myself, I keep encountering paradoxes. It’s difficult to form any clear conclusions to build a strong framework around. However, I have recently come to a powerful conclusion on the issue of control. I’ve noticed patterns in nearly every human interaction that can be discussed in terms of control. The conclusion I’ve drawn can be viewed in two parts, external and internal. First, lets discuss the external:

A man of virility does not exhibit control over another individual.

This concept is easy to grasp and extremely difficult to actualize. I believe that controlling others was once a trait of virility. It’s easily confused with leadership and strength. In fact, I would say that it takes a great deal of strength to maintain control over others. However, such behaviors often manifest from insecurity. A modern man of virility grants every human individual bot the right and the responsibility for personal choice. The word “responsibility” is important here. There are those that, for some reason, seek domination. These behaviors also seem to manifest from insecurities. A man of virility is aware of his individuality and seeks to be surrounded by those who are also aware. That said, lets move on to the internal component:

A man of virility does not allow others to control him.

This is a more difficult concept to fully grasp. When we consider who has control over us, a lot of gray areas arise. Not allowing others to control you does not mean walking up and spitting in a police officer’s face. However, it does mean that when you look at a police officer, you are fully aware that you can spit in his face if you choose. This may seem silly in this context, but when extended to relationships, it starts to show value.

If a man allows another to control him, he will appear weak. In our modern culture, a weak man is not an attractive man. A weak man will be used and tossed aside. This is rarely more obvious than in the mating game. Yield to a woman’s every wish, and watch her sleep with someone else.

If a man attempts to exhibit control, he will attract the weak. In the mating game, a man might find himself sorting through the emotional drama of a needy clingy woman. It’s hard enough to find happiness for yourself, no man should be responsible for the happiness of two people.

It is extremely difficult to maintain a life flow that follows both of these principles. While it may seem that, at times, the two come into conflict – they don’t. This can be seen, again, in the mating game. When a man has control over himself and shows absolutely no intent to control another, he attracts a certain type of individual. Once again, this is highly pronounced in the mating game. Such a man is extremely attractive to women, showing confidence and general satisfaction.

This is when a true kind of magic can happen. A man who is in control of himself but unwilling to control another can only attract a woman with the same traits. Upon an encounter with such a woman, both can have the confidence of knowing that any mutual desires are truly mutual and not a product of manipulation.

Brilliant Resonse to Lily Allen from Dan Bull

If you haven’t followed the media noise over Lily Allen and filesharing lately… it’s a lot to catch up on. The highlight came, for me, when Lily started an anti-filesharing blog, reposted another author’s content without citing the source (irony much?), and then took the whole blog down when she was getting too much “abuse”… I can’t speak enough about how brilliant and accurate Dan Bull’s response is. Go get the MP3 and share it!!!!