Social media has become the platform for a great number of Americans (and everyone else around the world) to speak their minds and actually be heard. I find that path to be difficult to traverse, full of false prophets and trolls. But it is easier today because of people who have come before. One of those people lighting up Twitter since 2012 is “Mr. Weeks.” I found Dane Weeks because of a shared passion in our support of Secretary Hillary Clinton. His continued support of the woman who should be the President of the United States is inspiring in his tenacity and command of the facts, not just of her record but of her political opponents.
The Democratic Party has some real soul searching to do for 2018 and beyond as the left wing pressures the new party apparatus to set social justice issues to the back burner and to focus on economic populism. I wanted to talk to Dane about where he thinks the focus of the party should be and how we can move forward. The interview was conducted by email and, as usual, he pulled no punches and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
AJ: How did you find yourself getting swept up in the subject of politics and what fuels your passionate defense of Secretary Hillary Clinton?
DW: I always had a flare for politics since 9 years old, but it began to truly blossom in the spring of 1992. I was doing my homework in my mother’s bedroom on the floor in front of the TV when Oprah went off and ABC news 5pm broadcast came on with a sound bite of a woman saying “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession” from that moment in time, I was amazed by her “clapback”, and that woman name is Hillary Clinton.
DW: It was something fierce, something I was use too; strong women being opinionated in a welcoming but commanding tone. My mother told me, “That woman is the next First Lady of United States of America.”
From that point on I became a student of politics and supporter of Hillary Clinton. I related to Hillary Clinton from early on, especially when she was being embarrassed on the world stage by her husband, President Bill Clinton’s infidelities. I could see her strength and pain, because it was the same character and emotional frustration I saw in my mother when she was facing the same form of embarrassment. I also remember how during the mayhem Hillary Clinton stood by her husband, worked on getting healthcare and organizing her Senate run while making sure her household and the Democratic Party was all being taken care of.
Once again I was reminded by the strength and similarities of my mother and Hillary Clinton! They don’t complain, they handle their business and take care of business. I’ve been a researcher and supporter of Hillary Clinton since 1992 and followed her through her growth on marriage equality, her grit on standing up for working families through healthcare and education reform, using her powerful vocals as First Lady to stand with Moms of Gun Violence, Tough On Crime, and Stop The Violence movements to fighting the gun industry to make our communities and households safe for every individual. She’s shown me through personal and professional growth the importance of being tested and proven!
AJ: You shared some great photos of you and your friends in New York working for Secretary Clinton’s election, what was your roll there? Did you volunteer? Were you a staffer? Do you think you will be again in 2018/20?
DW: I did volunteer at Hillary Clinton for America for a few weeks, but, I’ve been in politics 25 years; worked on local, state and federal elections since I was 11 years old. This time around, I wasn’t going to make phone calls, and I think most of her surrogates were soft in their approach during the 2016 presidential elections. I did attend several community debates; I took the time to build a solid social media presence, dealing with facts and only facts, and well a little shade in the process.
I did get a chance to meet Hillary Clinton at my boss job, Fitzgerald & Fitzgerald & BGC Partners-of course investment banker and successful Wall Street guy! I did tell her she needs to take Bernie Sanders more seriously because his resume doesn’t match his language, she laughed. I will keep her comments private but let’s just say her speech to Wall Street was stern which made Bernie Sanders attack on her seem foolish. As of 2018/2020, I will be taking a back seat but still having a presence in politics. I think the Democrat party has done immense damage by accepting and colluding with Bernie Sanders, dismissing people of color by chasing white working class Americans.
AJ: In 2016, that Independent Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders decided to run in the Democratic primary (he has caucused with the party for many years but refused to declare himself to be of the party). His campaign was met with both devotion and revulsion. You’ve been pretty clear about where you stand. Many were fine with Sanders because he was running in the Democratic primary, but your opposition to him feels personal and it continues? What brought you to feel that way?
DW: On March 15th, Hillary Clinton received enough votes (delegates banked in her column clinch the Democratic nomination) and the primary was mathematically impossible for Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic primary nomination. Yet he didn’t drop out of the election. He decided to double down on his smear campaign. I didn’t have a problem with Bernie Sanders staying in the election per se, because I didn’t want Hillary Clinton to drop out of the 2008 election -even though she was winning the popular vote, it became clear she was losing the delegate and super delegate count. You start something; you have every right to finish.
Yes, that’s a hard assessment but it should also be placed into perspective how Bernie Sanders conducted himself after March 15th. As the end of the primary election drew near, Bernie’s attacks on Hillary Clinton and democrats became more vile and divisive! I knew this would be major problem in the general election because now the psychological mindset of Americans was being preyed upon by someone who became bigger than the causes he claimed to represent. The election ended on March 15th mathematically over, June 14th Democratic primary was officially over, Hillary Clinton won by 4M votes, an historic win, 57%-43% percentile win, her delegate lead was crushing and so was her super delegate count.
Bernie Sanders semi-endorsed Hillary Clinton on July 11th, took the time from the 11th to July 27th to indoctrinate his supporters, convincing them that he was going to get the same super delegates he hated to overturn the will of the people by 4M votes, to crown him the Democratic Nominee and he bashed Hillary Clinton and Democrats until November 8th and celebrated our lost on November 9th.
My stern opposition for Bernie Sanders is because he’s liar, a fraud and con man, his progressive language is not matched by his anti-progressive votes from voting against Universal Healthcare, deregulating Wall Street, gun safety measures, dumping toxic waste in poor Latino communities, from him taking money directly and indirectly from Wall Street etc. His dismissiveness of people of color working class is dangerous. His working white class defense is offensive and his phony anger is a fire-starter for America as a whole. Bernie Sanders is not a team player, something that’s been said by Barney Frank in 1991. Bernie is a poor sport and his actions during and after the primary, during and after the general election as proven this as well. His attack on the Democratic party during a time of treason with Trump, Russia and Republicans, he continue to find flaws only with Democrats while defending Trump supporters and voting to protect Russia and Trump with his recent sanction vote. Bernie is not our friend, anyone who can’t see that has tunnel vision and if we don’t call Bernie out now, he will continue to stab Democrats and Americans in our back. Bernie Sanders should leave the Democratic Party alone, start his own party and focus on his family’s FBI investigation for bank fraud.
AJ: There were accusations thrown around -still being thrown around- but Sanders continues to insult the Democratic Party publicly, he backed an anti-choice candidate in Kansas, his “unity tour” with Chairman Tom Perez completely avoided the American South (they did go to Miami). If you could advise Senator Sanders on how to modify his rhetoric and help the party, what would you say to him?
DW: To be honest, I don’t have time to advise Bernie Sanders on anything. I want him belittled, challenged and kicked out of politics for what he did to Hillary Clinton, what he did to the Democratic Party and what he did to this nation. It’s to the point I reached out to Republicans to work with the Vermont party to defeat Bernie Sanders, sometimes you have to dance with the devil for a better outcome. It’s not like Bernie Sanders vote with Democrats when it actually counts.
Tom Perez first wrong decision as chair of the DNC was spewing the same recklessness and lies of Bernie Sanders campaign that the Democratic primary was rigged, when the only one who rigged the primary was Bernie Sanders working for republicans and breaking into Hillary Clinton campaign database, roaming around for 27 minutes downloading and stealing voters information, then when he got caught, he sued the DNC, and fired 2 out of the 4 criminals! Where were the other 2, Russia?
Tom Perez then took Bernie Sanders on tour with Keith Ellison, teaching them how to speak to white people, since Bernie said, Democrats don’t know how to speak to white people, like all 17 Million of Hillary Clinton supporters in the primary were a persons of color, smh, like 66M people who voted for Hillary Clinton in general election were people of color. If I had one thing to say to Bernie Sanders is: Please, sick people in America, especially kids and disable people are banking on Democrats saving healthcare. Just STFU and stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about the people you claim to serve. Because as a black gay man in America, I have learned that progress comes in increments not leaps.
Bernie Sanders need to learn how to lose with grace. Winning is not everything, but how you conduct yourself after you lose matters the most. We can see how his poor sportsmanship resulted in a Trump victory.
AJ: I spoke with Wisconsin candidate David Yankovich and Congressman Ted Lieu recently and both expressed concern about “rehashing” the 2016 primaries. While I like and respect both men, the debate in the party position is between center-left (which is what could easily be explained as traditional liberalism with support for Americanization/globalism in the world) and the far left (which could be described as an increase in socialist forms of economic policy, nationalism and reducing emphasis on social justice issues to focus on economics). But isn’t that exactly the debate we should be having as a party? (Perhaps without including the names of the 2016 candidates)
DW: I had that same conversation with David Yankovich, and with all due respect, I told him to fuck off. People don’t understand how dangerous Bernie Sanders language is. “Identity politics is a distraction,” is not just a talking point, it’s a BIG ERASER of people of color, women, LGBT and disable. We have black people being SHOT in the street by cops, dying in the street by guns, women have their rights being stripped away and bodies controlled, LGBT can’t use a bathroom in peace, work in peace or marry who they love in peace, but yet, we’re supposed to act like Bernie Sanders language in the past and present isn’t a distraction? As of this week, he’s screaming single payer during a heated debate on Trumpcare; once again thinking about self and not America.
In the midst of obstruction, cruelty and anti-progressive policies, Bernie Sanders is still attacking Democrats, making false equivalences and saying The Democratic Brand is “bad”, like seriously wtf? And for the Record, he’s having his surrogates and Bernie Bros still stalking our Democratic leaders like Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, Cory Booker, and John Lewis. Look at what Bernie Sanders and his base just did to Jon Ossoff in a heated election. I wish people like Ted and David would use their fierceness to protect Democrats and reject the ideology and ignorance of Bernie Sanders because we can’t move forward fighting Republicans and fighting the progressive base at the same time. It’s like white America (left & right) beating up on the minorities in the middle of America. The faster people like David and Ted realize Bernie Sanders is not our friend, the better our Party and America will be in the present and future.
AJ: There are a lot of new candidates coming up to challenge Republicans. They are going to need to be well versed in the local issues of their districts and work extremely hard to get their names known. But when Democrats talk about national issues, which issues do you what Democrats to be fighting the loudest on; jobs, health care, prison reform, climate, individual rights, or something else?
DW: First let me just say, Democrats are so wrong for not shutting down the government over Trump and Russia’s act of war against our Presidential Election. In my ideal world, because of the cheating, Hillary Clinton should run again as a Democrat or as independent. I honestly don’t believe anyone in the current state of the Democratic Party can really take on the GOP. You saw, it took another foreign government to intervene to take Hillary Clinton down. She was the most experienced and qualified person ever to run for President and in 2020 she will still be the most experienced and qualified person in America politics.
She’s the only one with the knowledge and experience to fix the constitutional and international crisis we’re in right now with Trump, Republicans and Russia! Democrats need to focus on voter registration, reforming and strengthening the Voting Rights Act, bringing identity politics back to the forefront because it speaks to the core value of progressing America! Democrats ran on the most progressive platform and had the most progressive presidential candidate in modern history, yet the white working class turned their nose and voted their heart which means they tolerated Trump racism, sexism and bigotry over the sane and progressive values of Hillary Clinton.
We also need an honest national discussion of what took place in 2016 and it was the mix messaging and over-the-top ignorance of Bernie Sanders conditioning his base to hate both political parties. While we’re having a national discussion on all these things such as healthcare, jobs, prison reform, climate change, individual rights…we also need a defense to combat Bernie Sanders and his base from attacking Democrats from the left.
AJ: Liberals, many who bulk at calling themselves Democrats, talk about social issues in many ways. But race is a particularly troublesome topic. From your own unique perspective, do you think it’s wise to promote “color blindness?”
DW: It’s not only wise to promote color blindness but it’s vital! Liberals used black people oppression only as a weapon for personal gains. It wasn’t real nor was it believable. They bashed Hillary Clinton for the 1994 Crime bill, excused Bernie Sanders for voting for it, balled Hillary Clinton over Keystone Pipeline, ignored the fact Bernie Sanders voted to dump toxic waste in poor Latino communities, blamed Hillary Clinton for the prison system, but excused Bernie Sanders’ votes in congress not progressing prison reform nor did they focus on Bernie’s home state of Vermont having only 1.2% of the population being black, yet 10.7% are locked up in the Vermont prison system. Vermont is #2 in per capita Black imprisonment. Now The Bernie Base are saying Hillary Clinton owned slaves because prisoners worked at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion when Bill Clinton was governor of the state!
Liberals use our pain, blood, sweat, tears and dead bodies as a stepping stool. Us turning a blind eye to “color blindness” is disrespectful to our ancestors who were murdered to bring color blindness to the forefront. But like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr tried to warn us, progressive bros are not our friends if they dismiss the nature of people of color and our oppression. You don’t have to be a Democrat or Liberal to know the importance of calling out racism at every corner, but also, us black people can’t be militant in our educational lectures to white people, we must start a serious conversation while keeping the importance of blackness at the forefront because Hillary Clinton was the first Presidential candidate in my life time to call out white privilege and out blackness on the table for a bigger and better conversation of race relations.
Dane Weeks can be found and followed on Twitter @MrDane1982