US Election: Release the Surrogates! (Part II)

American presidential elections are not won at the base of either party. The dichotomy of the two major American parties has historically rested on a fairly centrist pivot, where roughly 40% of both Republicans and Democrats can be found. This loose crowd in the center, unpinned by party affiliation or loyalty, is coaxed toward one side or another, as those at the extremes jump up and down to tilt the balance. Nobody jumps harder than the surrogates and, having looked at Donald Trump’s representatives last week, Shay Carlstrom this week turns his gaze on those hitting the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton.


Elizabeth (Pulls-No-Punches) Warren

Don’t be fooled by the easy smile and the intellectual appearance: in Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton has a fierce force of will stumping for her.

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Senator Elizabeth Warren (Photo by United States Senate  Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Warren is an icon of the progressive left, with her fearless commentary and commitment to breaking the corporate stranglehold on American government, politicians and lives. (Witness her recent public shaming of the Wells Fargo executive who oversaw a massive fraud perpetrated against his customers, yet demanded accountability only from the lowest rungs of the corporation.)

Warren is a powerful pull for the left, as well as a pull-no-punches orator, as demonstrated at a recent campaign stop with Bernie Sanders in Denver during which she said:

Donald Trump has been talking a big game, that the game is rigged. Well…he’s right, it is rigged! It’s rigged for the Donald Trumps and billionaires of this world and it’s got to stop!

She went on to describe Trump as a “Small, insecure money-grubber, who cares about nothing but himself,” is a “pathetic cheapskate” and a “selfish little sleaze-ball.”

Warren then pondered, in the wake of Trump’s casino failure (and the release of a 1995 tax return), “If the house always wins, how’d he lose a billion dollars?” Trump has refused to include himself in the long tradition of American presidential candidates releasing tax returns, but Warren concluded it was likely because “[Trump] is a two-bit con man, and the worst businessman in history.”

But her most scathing crescendo came when addressing Trump’s sexually predatory behavior:

His words don’t make me sick anymore, they make me furious!


It’s for the Kids

Senator Bernie Sanders

Senator Bernie Sanders (Photo by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has remained a constant and consistent voice since his controversial acceptance of Hillary Clinton’s triumph in the Democratic primaries—a victory Trump has continually suggested Clinton stole. His first words to the crowd in Colorado (a state Sanders won handily over Clinton) were to explain his presence there, in front of the “Clinton-Kaine” Banner:

I am here for my seven grandchildren.

Sanders spoke about the Democratic National Platform, over which his movement had a great deal of influence, and which he has called the “most progressive in history.” It now includes several Sanders’ talking points such as free higher education and health care for all.

The power of the movement Sanders has built will see him return to a Senate that could, possibly, feature a Democrat majority; one where he could assist in founding a progressive bloc with the like-minded Warren. It’s a possibility that’s giving progressives hope for at least one of the chambers in Washington.


Go High, Go Above, Go Beyond

And soaring above this whole ignoble melee, helping to remind Americans that there is indeed integrity and grace—not only within the American political milieu but perhaps in the collective national soul—is the First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS), Michelle Obama.

Michelle Obama DNC 2016

Michelle Obama (Photo by Ali Shaker/VOA , Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

FLOTUS took to the podium in New Hampshire to deliver a speech that has been called a “watershed moment” in the American discourse on gender equality. Delivered without vitriol (without, in fact, even mentioning the name of the source of the abhorrent conduct), it walked lines of complexity: devastating in its castigation of the actions to which she was responding; uncompromisingly, clarion clear as to the absolute unacceptability of such behavior. It was statement about what is right and what is wrong, and the implicit human decency therein.

Michelle Obama, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

And to a flickering ray of sunshine from the North…


Canadian Sunshine

Sometimes, when you’re going through a tough time, when you don’t even know who you are anymore, all you need is a pat on the back and a friendly reminder that, “Hey, you’re great!”

And so, a Toronto-based creative agency, with no intention of selling anything, asked Canadians to create short videos stating what they like about America, and why they think it’s great already. And while the statements ranged from the generous:

So wonderful, warm, and accommodating.

The disability rights movement in American is amazing!

To the questionable:

You are infectious!

The gist of the feelings expressed were, indeed, a reassurance against the Trumpian slogans and statements.

This generated a twitter response from Americans at #TellCanadaThankYou because, as one commenter put it, “[There is] nothing like a polite upstairs neighbor to comfort you when mom and dad are arguing.”


Shay V. Carlstrom


Born in Walden, North Park, Colorado, Shay V. Carlstrom is an educator and writer living in Denver.




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