Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Though it's been more than six months since my last posting, it isn't as if i hadn't been busy. There were various festivals, including New Directors/New Films, BAM CinemaFest, NYCDocs, the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, the Art of the Real. Plus i've tried to keep up with films at places like Film Forum, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Anthology Film Archives, the Museum of Modern Art, and the new Metrograph.

But right now, all focus has been on the political arena. Last week, it was the Republican Convention, where (as expected) Donald Trump became the Republican nominee for President. Right now, the delegate count at the Democratic Convention is making Hillary Clinton the Democratic nominee for President. This has been one of the most contentious presidential primary seasons in memory. Each time a regressive Republican was nominated (Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush the second), i kept saying this is what American fascism will look like. But i was wrong, i had no idea that it would come in the form of a reality show host whose brand is garish and deficient luxury real estate.

The process of the Democratic nomination was actually quite exciting. Hillary Clinton was the presumptive nominee, but she faced a challenger in Bernie Sanders, who has been an independent politician. What was amazing was the amount of support Sanders was able to engender: his campaign made no concession to fundraising from corporate donors; instead, he was able to mobilize millions of people to contribute, mostly in small amounts. The passion he was able to generate was astounding.

Of course, there was no way that Sanders was going to go all the way to the nomination: he simply didn't have the apparatus of the Democratic establishment behind him. (By contrast, though Barack Obama started out as a similar outlier, he was a Democratic politician, and had roots in the party. Sanders doesn't have such roots, so that his challenge, though impressive, couldn't be sustained within the Democratic Party establishment. Quite frankly: he had the numbers in terms of the sheer amount of registered Democrats and independents who voted for him in various primaries, but there was no way he could get the superdelegates which were needed.) And now with the revelations of the ways that the Democratic Party establishment actively undermined and purposely tried to negate and ignore Sanders and his constituents, there's no wonder that emotions are running high at the convention.

People are making an analogy to 1968, but that's erroneous. In 1968, there were political protests everywhere: against the escalating Vietnam War, for black power, for women's rights. But these protests happened outside the conventions: at the Republican Convention, there was an active suppression, with the police making sure that the protests were kept away. At the Democratic Convention, the protests erupted into confrontations which, however, were still kept out of the convention proper.

What has happened in the five decades since is that, this time, the parties have hardened. For the Republicans, the coded interests (against blacks, against women, and a flagrant disregard for veterans) have simply become absolutely overt. For Democrats, the possibility of genuine reform has taken hold of the party, and cannot be ignored.

Yet the political situation is the United States remains volatile, and nothing in these two conventions has done anything to alleviate the problems.