2016 Presidential Election

If the 2016 Presidential Candidates Were Video Game Companies

Whenever politicians try and meddle in video games, the result is always awful. However, video games apparently make for some hilarious politicians. So here’s the 2016 presidential candidates… and their uncanny digital entertainment doppelgangers:

<> the Fox Business Network Republican presidential debate at the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center on January 14, 2016 in North Charleston, South Carolina. The sixth Republican debate is held in two parts, one main debate for the top seven candidates, and another for three other candidates lower in the current polls.

 

Donald Trump: Electronic Arts

TrumpEA

I mean, was there any other possible option? A massive, well known corporate entity, they are almost universally reviled by everyone who comes into contact with them professionally, but still inexplicably successfully and popular despite employing some of the worst business practices in their industry.  They don’t have their own platform, piggy-backing on everyone and anyone else’s, making it their own. They haven’t developed anything unique or worthwhile in forever, instead relying on incessantly releasing newer and crappier titles for ideas that have been around for over a decade.

Mindless entertainment, sports, fast cars, and allegations of racism are their bread and butter; the cornerstones to their business models. The irony is that they also tend to pop up the champion of random, surprisingly progressive causes. They have a fetish with buying up as many subsidiaries as possible, slapping their own logo on them, and forcing loyal fans of those franchises to come crawling back and play by their rules if they want to play those titles again. This is second only to their obsession with making other people pay for things, preferably more than once. They’ll try to straight up copy popular client efforts from their competition, but the result just feels creepy, artificial, and super orange. Consistently rated as the “Worst in America,” they still remain an unstoppable juggernaut in their field, and they have enough leverage to completely rewrite the rules as they see fit.

 

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio: Sony and Microsoft

CruzRubioSonyMicro

Known for their industry leading platforms, they’ve become the benchmark for presentation, as well as continuing to develop and produce ideas of their own. Currently engaged in a massive arms race and rivalry, the deep, dark, secret that their fanboys will never confess is that the two entities have a LOT more similarities than differences. While each one jealously holds on to a few exclusive titles, the vast majority of the stuff they present is available  cross-platform. Not to mention their mutually annoying habit of backtracking or revamping their public statements if the public opinion doesn’t react well to it.
Yeah, their controls are a bit different, and they have generally different personalities and tones to their message, but, at the end of the day, they still wind up feeling like two sides of the same coin. Except for security. They have WILDLY different ideas about security, and it shows.

Pundits spend an uncomfortable amount of time speculating what would happen if the two ever put aside their differences and joined forces, but the only thing more similar that their ideas and platforms is the size of their egos, and unless one of them suffered a sudden, crushing defeat, it’s doubtful we’ll see them team-up anytime soon.

sony-vs-microsoft“TO THE DEATH!!!”

(Which is which? I’d say that Ted Cruz is Sony because he generally has much a much more relaxed and free-wheeling approach to national security and personal privacy… and because of the Trump-ed up rumors that he’s secretly a foreigner plotting to brainwash children with Canadian thoughts. Rubio is Microsoft just because he’s so uptight about privacy, trade, and security issues…and Microsoft is younger than Sony.)

 

John Kasich: Ubisoft

KasichUbisoft

They will literally never stop reminding you of how open-minded, moderate, and reasonable they are. Ever. (Seriously. The beginning of EVERY. SINGLE. ONE of the Assassin’s Creed games. That splash screen talking about how the development team is so diverse and chill and stuff.) While they were hot stuff about five or ten years ago, now they spend most of their time just releasing mindless sequels to their various franchises and titles, not really developing anything of significance in recent memory. Nevertheless, they waste no effort reminding you of how potentially important they are and how groundbreaking those ideas were way back in the day when they first came up with them. They also have a deep love of rewriting history, sometimes for the sake of entertainment and sometimes for the sake of hiding poor voting decisions.

The irony is that in spite of ceaselessly trying to cultivate an aura of cosmopolitan inclusiveness, they are wracked by accusations of sexism and general hostility towards feminism, even though the reality is probably very different. The accusations are usually fairly petty, but quickly explode to massive proportions, and although both can claim to be generally far ahead of their competitors when it comes to women’s issues, they still get hit the hardest. They desperately want to be number one, but have to be content with being number four.

 

Ben Carson: Nintendo

CarsonNintendo

A well-known social fixture since the 80s and generally loved by everyone, you just can’t stay mad at them. Their most recent endeavors have pretty much flopped, but that can’t overshadow the massive legacies they’ve built for themselves or their irrepressibly positive outlook on the world and their chances of success in it. No matter how hard they face-planted, they’ve just kept trucking; not so much marching to the beat of their own drum as grooving along to a funk bass-solo that only they can hear.
They don’t take obvious hints to cease doing something, and you always get the impression that they know something you don’t. Sometimes this works out for them, and sometimes it doesn’t.

They’ve definitely produced a few titles and platforms that are widely viewed as “unusual” at best and “downright bizarre” at worst, but that hasn’t stopped them from owning it. Like Trump/EA, they’re often accused to appealing to the lowest common denominator and refusing to play by the rules. However, like Trump/EA, they have enough of a sphere of influence outside the current fracas that they just don’t care.

The BIG difference between the two is that people actually have fond memories of Nintendo.

 

Jeb Bush: Ensemble Studios (R.I.P.)

JebEnsemble

This one is actually for the Bush Legacy in general because, let’s be honest, Jeb is chained to his family legacy no matter what he does.
Once an incredibly popular developer, they peaked in the early-to-mid 2000’s and then just faded away. As the developer of the popular Age of Empires franchise, they changed the way we view global strategy and colonialism. While by no means original or revolutionary, they simplified and expedited the process.

In general, their mechanics were good and, with a couple exceptions, they produced solid, if not spectacular titles. Their ideas and releases became a legacy and mainstay in conversations about strategy or gaming in general.  They pretty much defined RTS games/the presidency/Florida-Governors for the entire millennial generation, for better or worse.

Unfortunately, they just couldn’t compete with or adapt to newer, bigger, faster, more aggressive developers and just stopped gaining traction. They were very close with Microsoft/Rubio, but were soon left behind by them as well. In spite of what, in theory, should have been impenetrable money-armor, they refused to delay the inevitable and closed up shop.

As the wannabe successor to his father and brother, maybe it would have been more accurate to compare Jeb to Robot Entertainment… except that Robot Entertainment is still functioning.

 

Hillary Clinton: 3D Realms

Hillary3DRealms

They were HUGE in the 90s and early 2000s and completely squandered their comeback in the late 2000’s, but they just refuse to go away. With an aristocratic pedigree of 90’s hits, it’s hard to deny them what they want, but people are just surprised to find out that they’re still around. They’re famous for proposing groundbreaking titles in the 90s, which tended to be a little controversial, but ultimately couldn’t keep pace with their competition… or even effectively manage their own organization. They made a ton of massive, grand promises during the 90’s, and completely failed to deliver on all of them. They had a brief resurgence in a more minor capacity in the early-to-mid 2000’s, but they still continued to squander their money left and right while constantly relying on their former status to keep opening doors for them.

They had their big chance to come back in the late 2000’s and fulfill the tease they had been putting on for over a decade and it not only fell through completely, but they had to sit on the sidelines and watch a young, fresh-faced rival take it from them and actually make it work, and they had to put on a fake smile and pretend to be happy for them. (In case you’re not picking up on it, we’re talking about Obama and healthcare.)

They’re still around, still kicking, and they still have “all these big plans.” We’ll see.
They are also wracked with women’s issues; mostly negative ones. Spending most of the 90’s trying to make excuses for or cover-up the bedroom abuses and indiscretions of their other half, they are now under fire for presenting a cartoonishly stereotypical “strong female hero” as an apology for victim blaming so many abuse victims twenty years ago. In other words, they aren’t gaining traction with anyone who wasn’t already playing their games in the 90s, but that won’t stop them because  “IT’S THEIR TURN!”

 

Bernie Sanders: Blizzard Entertainment

BernieBlizzard

They’ve been doing the same thing for decades and they’re extremely popular online and with people under the age of 35. (Most of the people over the age of 35 view them with deep suspicion, convinced they’re ruining the next generation.) Hailed by everyone as presenting bold new ideas and concepts, the reality is that nearly everything they’ve produced is borrowed from somewhere else (like Games Workshop). A gaming juggernaut powered primarily by micro-transactions, it’s notable for being one of the biggest developers in the world, while still acting (and fixing bugs) like an outfit running in someone’s basement. Their followers are extremely dedicated, vocal, somewhat socially awkward, and convinced that everything they produce is literally the best.

While they initially had trouble attracting women and POC to join them, their fans are growing very diverse, if not terribly good with economics or long-term perspective. But that’s ok, because neither is the company, making massively grandiose promises about their plan’s abilities that they can’t keep. However, as long as they are focused on doing one type of thing, with a handful of major titles, and they keep doing it well, their fans will never desert them.

Not to mention that they promise to let you play for free…. up until a certain level, after which your money is what’s paying for everyone else’s free time.

 

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? If it was up you, who would you pair with who and why? Let me know what you think, and don’t forget to vote in your party’s primary, just to tell your grand-kids that you participated in the Reality Show Election of 2016!

~ Louis Petolicchio lives and writes in Central PA, and, personally, he would rather NOT elect the human embodiment of EA to the highest office in the land. Follow him on Twitter!

GOOP and the Clinton Campaign: How They’re Annoying Different People for the Same Reasons

Gwyneth Paltrow, in her highly publicized and ridiculed “Food Stamp Challenge” last week, unintentionally demonstrated the underlying problem that Americans have with Hillary Clinton.

And no. It’s not that they’re both blonde.

goopclintonIn case you missed it, last week, Gwyneth Paltrow was nominated by celebrity chef Mario Batali to take the “Foodbank NYC Challenge,” where participants try and see if they can eat for a week with the same budget that a person living on SNAP (food stamps) has… which they estimate to be about $29 a week. Aside that not only is that number disputed, and that the SNAP program was only meant to SUPPLEMENT a grocery budget, the challenge was an echo of an earlier version in 2013, and meant to raise awareness for the hunger and poor nutrition that people living on government benefits experience.

Paltrow partook in the paltry pantry plunge with a passion:

And she was virtually crucified in the court of public opinion for it.

Having the media, especially the Washington Post, descend on her various faux pas is nothing new. Her celebrity lifestyle site, “Goop,” has become a virtual speed bag for reporters/comedians in training who want to demonstrate the utter disconnect between celebrities and normal people.

Let’s be honest: When you say that your blog is for designers and cooks strapped for cash while pushing the most expensive, top of the line products… or make comments about how single mothers working 9-5 don’t have it as hard as a multimillionaire movie star, you kind of bring it on yourself.

https://i2.wp.com/i.huffpost.com/gen/1050987/thumbs/o-GWYNETH-PALTROW-GOOP-facebook.jpg“EVERYONE can afford this! This is what I GARDEN in!”

And when she gave up on the challenge just four days in, the ridicule only got worse. Some of it was actually legitimate criticism of her food choices. One drew attention to the “inexplicable number of limes.” (Seriously though. There’s SEVEN limes. Why?? Is scurvy a big fear in the Paltrow household?)
When this style of food stamp challenge was last run in 2013, with left-leaning senators taking selfies with their pitiful meals, some conservative lawmakers, and housewives, responded by tweeting pictures of what a huge difference that a little bit of crafty consumerism can make on a low budget:

Paltrow was accused of planning her week poorly on that kind of budget, and I would agree. I mean, if you’re strapped for cash, and need a cheap, filling food high in protein and calories, peanut butter is your friend. (The lack of peanut butter really bothered me for some reason.)

Across the board, the backlash to Paltrow’s endeavor was negative, and people were downright insulted. Especially to the people who DO live on food stamps, it just felt like a rich, white, blonde celebrity was patronizing them for publicity points. Their reaction was probably best summed up by a comment I saw on Facebook:

“You don’t know us, you don’t know our family’s struggle, and acting like you do just trivializes what we’ve done.

But here’s the kicker:

Paltrow doesn’t really deserve any of this criticism.

Was it ham-fisted, poorly executed, and in the end, rather laughable? Yes, yes, and yes.

However, what reporters and the public alike don’t seem realize is that Paltrow’s spectacular failure just UNDERLINED the point she was trying to make from the beginning: Wealthy DON’T get the struggle that poor people go through. They literally cannot.

As far as shallow, pedantic “awareness raising” campaigns go, this one takes the cake. (Not literally, because, y’know, food stamps, but still.) The storm of media mockery created a discussion about food stamps and surviving on the government dole that Democrat senators could have never instigated on their own.

It was never meant to be a statement for people living with SNAP benefits. It was meant to be a call to action for the people who have never had to. She wanted to demonstrate that rich people cannot effectively relate to poor people. Even if you disagree with her, her challenge implosion was a good illustration for her argument.

It’s a pity that Paltrow didn’t do this challenge TWO weeks ago, or else Hillary Clinton might have learned an important lesson before she stumbled into her first week of campaigning for president:

If an obscenely wealthy person tries to act like one of us peasants, they will fail, and the public will hate them for trying.

During her first announcement week, we were treated to a hit parade of innocuous, vapid, but well-meaning gestures as Hillary Clinton embarked on a cross-country road-trip in her giant, glossy-black Chevy van, affectionately nick-named “Scooby.”

https://i1.wp.com/www.eonline.com/eol_images/Entire_Site/2015313/rs_1024x683-150413133343-1024-hillary-clinton-mystery-machine_copy.jpgYou literally have no idea how badly I wanted it to look like this instead. You don’t. She would have legitimately won my vote if her van looked like that. You think I’m kidding, but I’m being dead serious. You don’t even know.

And she definitely gave it the old college try:
She kicked it off with a super casual, social-media announcement that packed more diversity into two minutes than a late 80’s Saturday morning cartoon show.

She took a van to Iowa instead of a private jet.

She stopped and talked at coffee shops.

She ate at Chipotle.

She flew home coach.

She carried her own bags.

She tried. She tried SO HARD.

Unfortunately, people just didn’t buy it.

Oh, there were plenty of awkward gaffes that happened along the way: Not only was she unrecognized by the employees at Chipotle, but she didn’t leave a tip. Her van was spotted parked in a handicapped spot. Her “everyday American” audiences were actually hand-selected and screened. The “students” posing in her coffee shop photos were actually active Democrat party coordinators.

Her “hip” social-media announcement and attempted virtual groundswell felt less like Hillary desperately trying to recreate Obama’s natural appeal to the youth vote, but more like a retiree trying to wear skinny jeans in an attempt to convince the world that “they can be cool too!”

https://i0.wp.com/mrwgifs.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/How-Do-You-Do-Fellow-Kids-Reaction-Gif-Steve-Buscemi.gif

The Clintons on the Campaign Trail.

But none of these were anything but minor news fodder for more conservative publications. (Honestly, half of America has wrongly parked in handicapped spots at least once, most people don’t tip at Chipotle, and having friendly audience is pretty standard your opening week.)

No, people didn’t buy it for the same reason they scoffed at Paltrow’s Food Stamp Challenge: A well-established national figure, who’s spent the better part of the last twenty-five years making it very clear that she’s above the average citizen, suddenly trying to act like a populist champion comes off as more than a little insincere.

So what’s the difference between Paltrow and Clinton?

Short answer: Sincerity and consistency.

For all of her faults, Gwyneth Paltrow genuinely seems to have a heart for the causes she pushes, even if the causes are misguided and her attempts to help are… bizarre. She actually seems to care. On top of this, the idea of Paltrow helping the poor in the richest, whitest way possible is nothing new. She is literally (in)famous for it.
Paltrow has always presented herself as just your “regular person” with “regular people problems”…. who happens to have millions of dollars and enduring celebrity status. Goop.com hilariously, but consistently, tries to help the less fortunate with solutions only the rich can afford.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has only ever been consistent about ONE thing: wanting to become president.

When even SNL sees through your facade after less than five hours of your debut, there’s a problem.

Even before she had officially announced, Clinton was already being chided for hiring high-powered image specialists to change her public appeal. Now, this is pretty freaking common for politicians of every stripe. The reason it raised so many eyebrows is that the personality Hillary chose to work with is the diametric opposite of how she’s behaved for the better part of her public career.

Republicans knew a wealthy, corrupt, scandal-hounded, power-hungry Washington’s insider that had ridden her husband’s coat-tails to success and wanted even more.

Democrats knew a driven, strong, powerful, pant-suited woman who was never afraid to independently assert herself and was ready to make history wherever she went.

So, whether you think of her as the Wicked Witch of the West or America’s response to Angela Merkel, her new persona as just a regular ol’ grandma whose taking a break from being hip, cool, and perfectly average in order to casually run for president is… confusing

However, aside from her new-found personality, which literally did not exist two week before her announcement, people, especially Democrats, are taking issue with her remarkably fluid policies. (It’s just a given that Republicans will hate her policies no matter what they are.)

While some of her more ardent sycophants, like Michael Tomasky from the Daily Beast, believe that Hillary is the key to reversing the “rightward drift in this country since 1980,” others vehemently disagree, including others at the Beast. In an open letter to the candidate, David Freelander accuses Clinton of being a phony; just saying whatever Democrats want to hear and avoiding “rubber meet road” scenarios.
This sentiment has been echoed by Bernie Sanders and even Roseanne Barr, who both say Clinton is just microwaving old ideas and trying to pass them off as new, exciting, home-cooked meals of her own invention.

When Bill de Blasio is considering running against her in order to provide Democrats with a REAL “leftist alternative,” you know there’s a problem.

It’s not that the Democrats see Hillary as being too moderate. It’s that they don’t see her as ANYTHING… besides someone who wants to be president. She consistently gives off an air of complete entitlement, and has been running her campaign like someone who DESERVES the presidency. What Hillary doesn’t seem to understand is that this is not a unionized factory; seniority does not automatically mean promotion.

https://i1.wp.com/benswann.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Hillary_Clinton_-700x357.png“You don’t understand. I put the time in. It’s MY turn. I DESERVE to lead you.”

She may BE the hope that progressives have been waiting for. They got a start with Obama, but gridlock, compromise, and generally unfulfilled campaign promises torpedoed that particular wave of hope and change. They’re gun-shy, and they want a candidate who will follow through, not someone who will treat the nomination as a coronation.

And Hillary is not showing signs of following through.

She’s already back to riding first class.

People are quick to say that it’s not such a big deal, but the problem is, when your campaign focuses such heavy attention on those little, scripted, “everyday American” moments, you’re going to be expected to keep it up.
Republican contenders haven’t had to deal with this particular sort of scrutiny because their campaigns have been almost universally issue-driven. Hillary is the only one who has placed such a huge emphasis on who she is as a person, because she’s trying to reinvent herself. But that’s coming back to bite her.

It’s not just about riding in planes, or even where you eat. It’s about WHY you do those “everyday American” things.

Obama didn’t just play basketball with college students for the cameras. He actually plays basketball. Bill didn’t learn to play saxophone just to get airtime on NBC. He actually plays saxophone. Regardless of politics, both of those presidents had extraordinary appeal and charisma, especially with young voters, because they felt REAL; they felt SINCERE, even if they weren’t.

Hillary, on the other hand, feels like someone just handed her a list of “Things Americans Do” and a list of “Things Democrats Like” and she’s reading them off to the cameras. It’s like she doesn’t even think about the crushing irony of what she says half the time.
She’s been attacking CEO’s for their unfair wealth, lamenting the mean-spirited nature of modern politics, and arguing that politicians need to stop with the massive flow of cash from questionable sources.
Meanwhile, conservatives and progressives alike are silently screaming “BUT YOU DO ALL OF THOSE THINGS!”

Hillary’s campaign is obviously a paper tiger when it comes to policy issues, which is why she NEEDS this to be a coronation. Once she gets into the general election, she’ll be able to fall back on the usual “Us. V. Them” rhetoric, declaring that liberals and moderates will HAVE to vote for her, because she’s their only choice. (Since Elizabeth Warren’s not making any more presidential overtures, they might be stuck with Hillary after all.)

But she can’t play those cards in the primary, and so until she actually goes into the ring with Republicans, she has to convince Democrats that she’s the populist hero they need.

Both Paltrow and Clinton have annoyed people by more common than they are, but with one, it’s amusing. With the other, it’s malignant.

Gwyneth Paltrow thinking she’s just like poor people is funny, in part, because she seems to think it’s true, and the media has gotten a LOT of mileage out of this harmless delusion. She actually believes it.

With Hillary Clinton, it’s very obvious that she doesn’t, and that just gives the whole facade a menacing air. Hillary leads anything but an average life, and her skin-deep attempt to convince people otherwise is insulting. Americans don’t like that. It’s perfectly justifiable to try and reinvent yourself for maximum appeal, but without ACTUALLY changing your behavior, it’s just so many nice curtains over a boarded-up window.

(Which doubles as a fitting illustration of Hillary’s policy on transparency.)

With Republicans like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, even if you think they’re completely insane, no one questions if they actually believe what they’re saying. In fact, the Democrat strategy against them seems to bank on the public taking them completely at face value.

With Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, not even her own base is sure she’s for real.

~ Louis Petolicchio lives and writes in Central PA, where he hopes to one day be rich enough to see the products featured on Goop as the bargains Gwyneth Paltrow clearly thinks they are. Follow him on Twitter!

Three Interesting Things That Will Be Decided By the 2016 Campaign Season

With his announcement at Liberty’s Monday Convocation this morning, Ted Cruz has managed to beat his other prospective opponents to the punch in declaring his bid for presidency and officially fired the starting gun for the disorganized bum rush that will be known to history as the 2016 Presidential Election. https://i1.wp.com/ww4.hdnux.com/photos/35/30/27/7702007/3/622x350.jpg As America braces itself for the deluge of debates, political advertisements, and awkward family holiday conversations, there are three big things, that may not seem so big at first, that will be worth watching:

1: The End of the Bush/Clinton Dynasties

I really don’t know what else you can call it besides “dynasty,” since these two families feel like they’re second only to the Kennedys and Roosevelts for number of decades spent controlling large sections of our nation’s government.
Both Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton have been eying up the 2016 presidency, generating obscene amounts of money and making as many promises about their terms of office as they can without ACTUALLY announcing, coasting practically on name recognition alone.

https://i1.wp.com/cloudfront.mediamatters.org/static/uploader/image/2014/12/16/jebbush-hillaryclinton.jpgWe both just really miss being able to walk into the White House whenever we wanted.

However, both families are also on their last political leg, and this campaign will decide whether or not Clintons and Bushes continue to be politically relevant, or fade from public eye. It might sound a little dramatic, but it’s true. None of the other Bush siblings or children have demonstrated any interest in the political scene, Chelsea Clinton appears perfectly content with her charity work, and neither Jeb nor Hillary are getting any younger. If they decide to run (which they are almost certain to, the ongoing investigation of Hillary’s email notwithstanding), this will be the last big gasp of their legacies.

Of the two, Hillary has been less ham-fisted about her intentions to seek office, but with her age and the various health issues cropping up, this may be her last chance to try. If not for then, then for the steadily increasing amount of baggage she seems to accumulate, intentionally and unintentionally. However, the bigger issue is still her age and constitution. If she does not or can not run, the odds are pretty good she won’t be ABLE to try again. In short, for Clinton, it’s now or never.

Jeb, on the other hand, has to contend with the legacies of two predecessors which share his name, both of whom started their presidencies with very high ratings, and departed very unpopular. Jeb has the uphill battle of convincing a nation that’s gotten tired of the Bush name that he’s still worth voting for, and if he doesn’t make it, a Romney-style “Rinse, repeat, and retry” isn’t going to fly very well for a nation that feels like it’s had enough of the Bush name to last a very long time. He may have been one of only three people to serve two full terms as governor of Florida but, as bizarre news stories continually remind us, the rest of the nation is not Florida. In short, if Jeb Bush is unable to convince the American people that he’s worth electing on his own merit, he’ll have to wait even longer than Hillary to try again, and he’s already long past the average ascension age for presidents.

Either way, one of these names is going to decline. Both have a reasonable chance if they run, but this cycle is likely the last chance they’ll get, and they, in turn, are the last members of their families who have shown any interest in doing so.

2: The Democratic Party Forced to Choose Between Immigration and Organized Labor (And More).

The most recent flurry of Democratic activity has made it pretty clear that immigration reform is going to be one of the major talking points/arguments of the coming election, at least on their ticket, and they’re gearing up to try and claim the exploding Hispanic and Latino voting bloc. Unfortunately, this threatens to divide their foundation in a major way, chiefly among labor unions. https://i1.wp.com/c3e308.medialib.glogster.com/media/45/45c10aa0ce11808a03617f63e06c35387cf1a0ed0f4ab7e851132e4cad9c88e8/labor-union2-jpg.jpgFor the better part of the last century, labor unions have been a major contributor of the Democrat Party’s bread and butter, both financially and at the voting booth, and it’s seen many unions evolve from the arguably necessary push-back to overbearing business practices of the turn-of-the-century, to little more than glorified election enforcers, who do remarkably little for their members beyond the basic platitudes of negotiating health benefits, and their image to the public is… mixed. https://sparkingtruth.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/c49d5-unioncardcheck.png?w=620 However, one age-old tradition that has remained unchanged among organized labor is their complicated and often hostile relationship with immigration. Since day one, unions have been unable to agree on the pros or cons immigration reform, and with the decline of American industry, this divide has only grown wider, with debates over it even threatening the stability of monolithic unions like the AFL-CIO, which has been steadily splintering for the last decade. Less than two years ago, another branch of over 40,000 workers announced their disassociation with the country’s largest labor association, mostly due to AFL-CIO’s fairly open support of relaxed immigration policies and healthcare changes, which many saw as harmful to American labor.

However, even the AFL-CIO has far from given Democrats carte-blanche approval of whatever immigration reform they propose, and honestly, with workers questioning the point of union that would sacrifice their jobs to newcomers, they can’t afford to. Even the relatively party-line AFL-CIO is opposed to open, unbridled immigration, makes no allowance for guest workers, and a number of other major elements of Democrat Immigration Reform. Their relatively close-mouthed endorsement essentially says they want to legalize whoever is already here, already working, and already part of the union, but not much else. In short, the vision the Democrat leadership has of immigration is not exactly shared by labor unions, and if things were tense while immigration was still being treated as a side issue, imagine what will happen when it takes center stage. https://i2.wp.com/www.latinamericanstudies.org/immigration/migrants-2.jpg While the Latino community has been a noted component of American labor and industry since the industrial revolution, they have garnered such major Democratic attention recently largely due to the sudden population explosion and immigration from the Southwest. They recognize that Hispanic and Latino people will comprise a formidable voting bloc in the coming years, and want to secure their votes early.

However, their sudden bestowal of lavish amounts of attention to a specific demographic has left other major members of the Democrat party feeling disgruntled and disenfranchised. Organized labor is worried that their jobs are going to be sold out for political reasons, moderates are worried that sudden sweeping reform is going to far too far, and certain branches of the NAACP are pushing back against what they claim is preferential treatment of immigrant students.

In other words, if the Democrats are wanting to make immigration their main show horse for 2016, then they may lose a large portion of their base in the process, not just for this election, but if they make it stick, for elections in years to come.

3: The Weight of Ethnicity.

This one’s all about Ted Cruz, and what he is; more specifically, what people SEE him as. For those unaware, Cruz is of Cuban extraction, and if he were to win, he would be the nation’s first Hispanic president, and the nation is going to have to clarify what it thinks being “Hispanic” is. Technically, the fiercely conservative and controversial Cruz is considered a minority.

https://i1.wp.com/www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ted%20cruz%20AP.jpg“What NOW?”

This election will be interesting, if for no other reason at all, than to see how pundits, specifically those on the left, treat Cruz’s heritage. While some might just slap a “Latino Uncle Tom” label on him and call it a day, I think it’s much more likely that his opponents in the Democrat party will try and negate his Hispanic background altogether. They can, and probably will, point out that Cruz is just another white guy, with typical “white guy privilege,” and technically, they’d be right.
You see, it gets tricky because “Hispanic” is an ethnicity, not a race. But then again… “Latino” isn’t technically a race either. (It might “become” one in 2020, but they’re still not sure.) So, on the one hand, it would be pretty easy to toss out Cruz’s heritage altogether on those grounds, giving progressives a free hand to berate him for being so, ugh, white and Republican. The PROBLEM with this is that if they do that, they are, in turn, completely trivializing the heritage, struggles, and legacies of hundreds of thousands of Latino people across the United States of America.

In fact, a large number of Hispanic and Latino people hailing from different areas of the Caribbean and Central America are likely to still have a large amount of European extraction in their background, but still strongly identify with their Latin culture. It’s Cruz himself who is making a major statement of his Hispanic heritage, and while he may not be over-politicizing it, he’s certainly not shying away from it either. Since his first official campaign ad was in Spanish, he appears almost ready to capitalize on it:

This has the potential of major significance because race relations are once again an object of major scrutiny. While many liberal pundits will likely be quick to dismiss Cruz’s own heritage, it’s going to force some uncomfortable conversations within the progressive movement.
For a long time, progressives have presented the unbelievably complex racial background of Hispanic and Latino people in a very simplistic manner, especially in issues of race. If they push, critique, or challenge Cruz on this subject, they will need to seriously reexamine the semantics they’ve been using regarding the Hispanic and Latino community for the better part of the last thirty years. We’d have to start asking awkward questions like “at exactly what skin tone does a Latino person become ‘white?'” We, as a nation, will be forced to consider the different of race and ethnicity and how they compare in regard to respect and… (dare I say it?) “Privilege.” For the moment, although liberal websites like Salon have lost no time in viciously mocking him, they have conspicuously avoided talking about his Hispanic background. Perhaps the various talking heads will ignore it completely, or just make passing comments about Cruz exploiting his heritage to “steal” Hispanic votes and go back to making jokes. (Because you OBVIOUSLY can’t possibly be Hispanic AND conservative. EVERYbody knows that.)

BUT, if they DO stop to seriously address it, then the dialogue about the changing cultural landscape of America will have just gotten a WHOLE lot more complicated… All thanks to Ted Cruz merely being present in the proceedings. Will he have a chance of winning? Honestly, at the moment, that seems pretty darn slim. But if Cruz is good at one thing, it’s seizing the spotlight, and while he probably won’t rake in the votes, he’s going to clock a lot of media attention, and with that attention is bound to come a renewed discussion of race and ethnicity.

So, while the bigger moving and shaking of the coming presidential election begins, I, for one, will be very interesting in seeing how this particular trio turns out.

Louis Petolicchio lives and writes in Central Pennsylvania, and he honestly has no idea who he’d vote for in 2016. Follow him on Twitter!