trying times

Chelsea Manning is apparently running for the United States Senate to represent the State of Maryland. I say ‘apparently’ because although she’s filed her intent with the Federal Elections Commission (which will allow her to raise campaign funds), she hasn’t yet filed with the Maryland State Board of Elections — which is necessary if she wants to actually appear on the primary ballot.

She’s running to replace Senator Ben Cardin. Cardin is usually rated as one of the most liberal Democrats in Congress. He’s a consistent F with the National Rifle Association, he’s been a proponent of the Affordable Care Act, he supports Net Neutrality, he’s been consistently in favor of raising taxes on higher income earners, he voted against the war in Iraq, he’s been active in expanding protections for foster children, and he’s fought for stricter ethical standards in government. Cardin also recently released a report on Russian efforts to undermine democracy and the rule of law in Europe and the United States.

Senator Ben Cardin (D – Maryland)

I like and, for the most part, respect Ben Cardin. I’m not a fan of his open Zionism and I question his occasional willingness to consider environmental compromises, but overall I think he’s been a good legislator. I don’t know enough about Chelsea Manning to like her, but I respect the way she accepted responsibility for leaking classified military and diplomatic information.

I completely understand why the military and the diplomatic corps needs to keep secrets. I also completely understand why there are times those secrets need to be revealed. Most leakers and whistleblowers try to avoid responsibility for their leaks. They want the information out there in the public, but they don’t want to suffer the consequences of leaking the information. Chelsea Manning, to her credit, leaked the information, got caught, pleaded guilty to some of the charges, went to trial on some others, and got sentenced to 35 years in prison.

There are folks who consider her a hero, and there are folks who see her as a traitor. Both arguments have merit, in my opinion. I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. Sometimes betraying your country is heroic; sometimes standing up for your country is cowardice. I’m not terribly interested in whether Chelsea Manning is a hero or a traitor or both; I just want to know what her ideas are.

Chelsea Manning

So here’s me — I like and respect Cardin, I respect Manning. Some people have said she shouldn’t run a primary campaign against a solid, reliable, mostly liberal Democrat. To which I replied, “Piss off…let her run. Let her engage in the marketplace of ideas, and let the good people of Maryland decide which candidate’s ideas they like the best.”

I still feel that way. But I have to say, Manning’s campaign announcement video makes me wonder what the hell her ideas are. Here, watch:

It’s not just that the video is awkward (though it is), or that her voice-over is wooden (and lawdy, it is). The thing about the video is that with a different candidate and a different voice-over, this could easily be a right-wing nutcase propaganda piece. This is what she actually says:

We live in trying times. Time of fear, of suppression, hate. We don’t need more…or better…leaders; we need someone willing to fight. We need to stop asking them to give us our rights. They won’t support, they won’t compromise. We need to stop expecting that our systems will somehow fix themselves. We need to actually take the reins of power from them. We need to challenge them at every level. We need to fix this. We don’t need them anymore. We can do better. You’re damned right we got this.

Substitute a short-haired Aryan face for the image of a trans woman, exchange the footage of the Nazi rally with a BLM rally, and replace the voice-over with a deeper, more menacing voice and that video would be appropriate a pro-Trump candidate.

I really like the idea of more trans folk running for office. I also like the idea of old privileged white guys — even those who are solid Democrats — being challenged by younger and more diverse candidates. And I really like the idea of shaking up the Democratic Party, which has been a moral and political Tower of Jello these last few years.

But that video? It’s grounded in fear, not in change. It’s not about politics, even; it’s about Chelsea Manning. It suggests that the world is in turmoil and in order to fix it we need a trans woman. And hey, that may be true. But being a trans woman isn’t, in itself, enough. Be a trans woman with ideas and tell us what those ideas are.

If you want to take the reins of power, first tell me what you want to do with them.

10 thoughts on “trying times

  1. OK, just so I understand you. You will excuse the behavior of a traitor who gave away secrets that could have or did get Americans killed, but Trump is still the bad person here for saying Haiti is a shithole… Got it.


    • Well, no, it seems you don’t understand at all. First, there’s no indication that anybody was killed because of those leaks — though some Iraqi and Afghan civilians WERE potentially put at risk.

      Second, the final report of the DoD task force that evaluated the consequences of the leaks stated they had no strategic impact on the war.

      Third, she was properly arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to prison — which was appropriate, given her crime.

      Fourth, I don’t excuse her behavior at all; I may not agree with what she did, but I respect the fact that she accepted the punishment for it — in the same way I despise G.Gordon Liddy of Watergate fame, but I respect the way he accepted the punishment for his crimes.

      Fifth, yes Trump IS a bad person for calling Haiti and all African nations shitholes. Particularly Haiti, which is largely a shithole because we made it one and rigged it so it would remain one. Glance at the history of Haiti.

      There. Now you’ve got it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • So you are confirming you support a traitor over a person who is not convicted of anything other than calling a shithole country what it is, a shithole.

        By the way, Trump was not in office when the US pulled out of Haiti in `934, that was the good old New Deal guy, FDR. So you have a democrat yet again to blame for the mess in Haiti.


      • a traitor over a person who is not convicted of anything other than calling a shithole country what it is

        I’m not sure why you see this as a competition between Comrade Trump and Chelsea Manning — but if you choose to make it one, then yeah, I’ll take the person who stood up for a principle over the one who doesn’t appear to have any principles at all. I’ll pick the one who volunteered for military service over the one who claimed to have bone spurs to avoid the draft.

        But I don’t think I’d vote for either of them.


  2. As a Marylander & one of Cardin’s constituents, I’m really torn about this. You said it all with the bit about shaking up the dems, but I can’t really depend on someone who is just running.. not even sure WHY she’s running. That said, the Maryland Dems really need a super shake-up b/c they are just absent, which is why we have a republican governor who is quite popular in a super-blue state.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cardin is a nice guy, but yeah…he doesn’t inspire much passion, does he. Still, I’m in a state that voted for Chuck Grassley, so I look longingly on your Cardin.


  3. I would almost never support anyone who goes straight to a Senate race without other prior public service experience. I want to see people be leaders in the community, then the state legislature, then run for the Senate or House. Obama didn’t serve long in the state house or Senate, but at least he had a record of public service and a few years of votes to analyze. I think this is the best way to gain experience and show voters what you really stand for.


    • I’m inclined to agree with you. It’s a lot easier to trust somebody who has done their time in the policy trenches — either in local politics or in some form of public service. But I think the most important thing you said was this: almost never. It’s good to give oneself some wriggle room.


  4. in the land of the free, “killing” a candidacy before it gets going is a bit bizarre. I wonder if this reaction is the lack of trust in voters, and/or the system, that merits will not give the appropriate/expected result. yes, djt is the salient example.

    hopefully, she runs if she wants, and merit once again comes through. I am not sure if the djt result has inoculated the electorate from being lackadaisical, though the special elections are indicating (on the Dems side) that the informed voters are out.

    great exposition here, as per usual.


    • A lack of trust in the voters? No, I don’t think so. A lack of trust in the system? I suppose that would depend on which system you’re talking about. The electoral system? Probably not, though lawdy, it’s getting harder to believe in its integrity. A lack of trust in the general system of government? Probably. Or a lack of trust in the general system of the world (in a non-Newtonian sense)? Oh yes.

      I completely understand why Chelsea Manning would distrust…well, just about everything. One gets the sense that very little in the world behaved the way she’d expected or hoped — even to the point of being born in a contradictory gender.

      Yeah, the video seemed to demonstrate more a generalized anxiety, distrust, and resistance to the world at large — which my be understandable, but isn’t a solid basis for a Senatorial bid.

      Liked by 1 person

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