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The Uncivil Servant: Tim Who? Tim Why?

Mitchell Abidor
July 23, 2016

by Mitchell Abidor

LIKE SOME HERO out of Greek tragedy, Hillary Clinton seems to be dogged by an evil fate of her own making. Her lack of principle has long been reproached her, her overweening arrogance as well. She and her husband’s sentiment that everything revolves around the Clintons, and that all is permitted them led to the email fiasco, which has helped make what should be a cakewalk into a possible defeat All of this leads naturally to her choice of Tim Kaine for vice president.

Tim who?

Kaine is being described everywhere as a nice man, a good, safe choice. Choosing him, though, is a slap in the face to those to whom she owes her victory over Bernie Sanders, and those she’ll need to win over to beat Trump.

She would not be the Democratic candidate had it not been for the black vote; she will not win unless she can re-enthuse progressives. If there’s one thing Trump has over Clinton. it’s his ability to read what his supporters want -- and so Clinton, instead of throwing down the gauntlet to Trump and his army of the melanin-deprived and standing up for something by choosing a black running mate, say Corey Booker, or someone the left admires, like Elizabeth Warren, retreated into the normal Clinton mode of not rocking the boat.

Has she not read a newspaper in the past year? Has she not seen that the American populace has become unhinged, and the last thing anyone wants is someone who will not rock the boat?

And so she insults blacks and so she insults Sanders’ supporters by ignoring them. And she thinks that turning her back on them them is wise.

Given the calculation that goes into everything she does, her thought process might have resembled the following: the states I won thanks to the black vote are either already in the bag, like New York and California, or totally lost, like the Confederacy -- so no need to throw them a sop. As for Sanders’ people, they, like my supporters in 2008, will realize they have no choice and will vote for me.

And she’s right. They will vote for her, but only those who come out to vote. Regressing to the Clinton mean, she is doing all she can to demobilize those who need to be mobilized.

HER CHOICE of a vice president also speaks to another fear many of us harbor about her. If she chooses the middle road in this, does it not also signify that for all her stealing of Bernie’s ideas, when -– or if –- she is elected she won’t simply turn back into a Clinton Democrat? Farewell higher minimum wage, free college education, opposition to free trade, and hello whatever the polls tell her to do today.

She should have learned from the mess that was the Republican convention that she is hated beyond words by almost half the country, and they are lost to her forever. People who want you in jail or dead are unlikely to turn into your supporters. She needs to ensure that the other half of the country was not just against Trump, but for her. Choosing Kaine is not the way to do it.

And about the Republican Convention, in particular Trump’s portrait of America: Many have wondered why he decided to portray Götterdämmerung and not morning in America. This choice was not so odd, and again shows Trump’s ability to focus on what make’s people, or at least Boobus Americanus, his base, tick.

His vision of America, one few of us actually live in, with crime and murder and terror the rule, was nothing short of a horror movie/disaster movie vision of America. However inaccurate and false this is, Trump knows that people love horror movies, always have and always will; that they line up for disaster flicks. People respond to them, and they are responding to Trump in the same way. He has made himself into the man who kills the monster/mobster/terrorist or whatever it is that threatens us. In the Society of the Spectacle that is America, Trump could end up king.

Mitchell Abidor, our contributing writer, is the recipient of a Hemingway Grant from the French Ministry of Culture for his new translation of Emmanuel Bove’s A Raskolnikoff. His other new books are Voices of the Paris Commune and his collection of writings by and about the anarchist “propagandists of the deed,” Death to Bourgeois Society. His translations of the poetry of Benjamin Fondane can be found in the collection Cinepoems and Others, published by NYRB Poetry.

Mitchell Abidor, a contributing writer to Jewish Currents, is a writer and translator living in Brooklyn. Among his books are a translation of Victor Serge’s Notebooks 1936-1947, May Made Me: An Oral History of My 1968 in France, and I’ll Forget it When I Die, a history of the Bisbee Deportation of 1917. His writings have appeared in The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Liberties, Dissent, The New York Review of Books, and many other publications.