In Search of Tulsi Gabbard, Part V: The New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention

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“At some future point, trade may acquire nobility, and the nobility might then enjoy trading as much as they have hitherto enjoyed war and politics. Even now it is ceasing to be the art of the nobleman, and it is quite possible that some day one may find it so common and even vulgar that, along with all party literature and journalism, one would classify it as ‘prostitution of the spirit.’”

-Nietzsche, The Gay Science, 1882

The Red Arrow is New Hampshire’s most overrated tourist attraction. I’m talking about the real Red Arrow, the claustrophobic diner hidden behind Elm Street in Manchester, and not about any of its soulless imitations, scattered elsewhere in the southern end of the state. Those blasé eyesores, with their overbearing lights and massive television screens, haven’t earned the dignity of a tourist attraction: no tourist to New Hampshire ever seeks out any of them, but many a stranger looks for the original, the same eatery that seemingly every presidential candidate of the last quarter-century has visited at least once. I’m not sure if any of them have ever eaten there, but all have visited, at least. It’s very strange, this practice of politicians visiting a restaurant, or some other establishment, are partaking in none of the business therein, just promoting his or her own image and campaign. Does this ritual redound to the proprietor? Or does the host only bleed in sacrificial tribute?

Neither of these was the question on my mind as I sat, nearly sleeping, at the countertop of the Red Arrow on the morning of September 7th, 2019. It was early, still darkly early, maybe half past five, hours before the desperate drunks of Queen City would emerge from their restless sleep and prowl the streets—in search of what? in search of purpose? in search of vindication? in search of Tulsi Gabbard? Unless the latter were their desideratum, this likely wouldn’t be their day to maraud, as all of downtown was due to collapse amidst the weight of the New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention. I was one point of pressure amidst so many others, exerting what minor force I could to break the thin—but evidently impregnable—façade of faux progressivism that has arrested the imagination of the politically optimistic for the last four years, at least. To deal my feeble blow, I had to seek out the presidential candidates—all of those who’d yet to stare into my camera—and ask them one question, the question that haunted me on that morning, as it does every time I enter hostile political territory: “Do you support Julian Assange?”

Hmm. “Politically optimistic.” A redundant description. Isn’t all optimism, by its nature, political?

Only two other people were sitting at the countertop, sipping coffee and eating pancakes, as I was. To my right, a thirty-year-old man in a Bernie Sanders t-shirt compulsively and endlessly scrolled down his Twitter page, unaware of the two men wearing Joe Biden hats who had just entered and taken a booth in the corner. To my left, a man who wore no campaign merchandise at all asked me something he’d wanted to ask since I first walked through the door: “So, you must be going to the convention. Are you a reporter, or what are you doing?”

We must have been the only customers who were not broadcasting our support for a candidate on our clothes. I was wearing slacks, a plain button-down, a blazer, and a fedora. “I have a website,” I told my fellow patron. “I write about the madness of this primary season, going to as many rallies as I can.” We still think of blogging as a thoroughly modern occupation, even today, twenty years removed from the burst of the dot-com bubble, and yet, when attending these events, I have always dressed in antiquated fashion, beginning with Elizabeth Warren’s unsettling rally in January. I’m not sure why I started doing it, although I was heavily under the influence for that rally, but I think I’ve done it since as a parody of the postmodern political leitmotif, or maybe as a resurrection of the past as the United States approaches its foundational undoing. “Are you going, too?”

“Yup. I’m a vendor. I have a booth on the second floor, and I’ll be selling merchandise. I’ve got hats, shirts, hoodies, posters—whatever people want.”

“Oh, cool. Which campaign do you work for?”

“I don’t work for any particular campaign. I’m a licensed dealer, so I contract with any campaign that wants to work with me.”

I remembered those hawkers who patrolled Elm Street, selling discounted political apparel and loose water bottles, during President Trump’s trip to Manchester one month before. “Ah! You’re a mercenary!”

“No, I’m a businessman,” he smirked. “I’m not endorsing any campaign or person. I’m endorsing a product. That’s it.”

I couldn’t tell if I offended him with my joke. I hoped I hadn’t, not in the least because I understood all too well the misconception I facetiously invoked. In the modern political climate of inexorably hyperactive tribalism, there is nothing more fantastically unfathomable than the person who takes up some political association without endorsing or even agreeing with the corresponding ideology. I’ve spoken to a former bodyguard for a United States senator, and he admitted to me that he rarely agreed with the senator’s political philosophy: he just needed a paycheck. This vendor was in the same position, and even I am often asked why I write about politics if I have no faith in the political process. Yet, why do we make this baseless assumption? Do we think the staff at the movie theater love every film that is playing therein?

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Alas, there was no time to pursue this problem with the vendor, as a friend of his joined him at the counter and took his attention. I returned to my flapjacks and coffee, the uncomfortable aftereffect of the contretemps frozen between us, or maybe beside me alone. Politics has long been understood as the most divisive of all human institutions, but has its polarizing effect been juxtaposed against the stated purpose of democracy, which is to bridge humanity? How is it that our strongest efforts have achieved precisely the reverse? Ah, but this ironical gloom was too much for the time of the day, and it didn’t whet my appetite, either. In need of distraction, I took notice of my waitress and the fascinating tattoo on her arm, and I am thankful to her for agreeing to let me photograph it. It depicted a birdhouse, one I like to think was uninhabited, beneath the statement: “We think things need us.”

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Around seven o’clock, the sun was finally muscling its way through the clouds, and many throngs of people were bumping shoulders and knocking knees on the front lawn of the SNHU Arena. This is the same corporate mausoleum in which Trump made his own nauseating speech about a month before, but the walkways and sidewalks had long since been swept clean of litter, the red hats had been returned to their racks, and the twelve thousand Trumpeters had been replaced—displaced?—by seven thousand cheerleaders for the Democratic Party. There may have been more, but so many of them were hidden behind signs, placards, and banners, agglomerations of cardboard that reached much higher than any human being could stand. I don’t know when political candidates decided it would be a good idea for their supporters on the street to hoist sticks bearing two, three, sometimes even four or five of these flimsy banners, but the final design bears an awkward resemblance to a totem pole. Might this have something to do with the political ad hominem du jour, popularized by myopic quacksalvers like Emma Vigeland: “That candidate is totally running a cult!”

What Vigeland and her presumptuous colleagues fail to note is that electioneering—in the United States, at least—is predicated upon the characteristics of a cult: idolatry, arduous devotion, ritual, and climactic submission to the demigod who swears to redeem the wayward people. Charisma is the most profitable form of psychosis, and the candidate who effects the strongest delusion will be rewarded with the seat upon the lofty throne. All politicians, even those who promote philosophy and intellectual substance, must cast a spell upon some of the crowd, lest that crowd discharge its psychic energy in its imagined interaction with some other figure. As a politician, you can’t escape this process, not as long as the American people remain so muddled and mired psychologically. In consequence, Vigeland is not wrong, per se, when she accuses a candidate—meaning, of course, Tulsi Gabbard—of benefiting from her fans’ unhealthy interest, but she is wrong—knowingly, of course—when she suggests that this sickness is exclusive to Gabbard’s wing of the ward.

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If you don’t believe me, then you ought to take a look at the pagan crafts and artwork that blotted the façade of the Arena out from passerby and traffic. Unmissably, there were flowery monuments erected to Gabbard—some of them, audaciously, more than two feet tall—but so, too, were there oversized thousand-dollar bills with the face of Andrew Yang, and I will never forget the massive cardboard cut-outs of Cory Booker’s head, which were crowd-surfed through his clustered bevies of supporters. I don’t know why Booker insists on using that particular picture of himself, given that he has a ravenously lustful look in his eyes, but that sickening visage has haunted me since I first saw it on the Fourth of July, taped to the side of the COR-V . . . but that’s a different story.

Still, none of it was terribly interesting to me. Once you’ve survived one of Trump’s rallies, you’re going to need more than Hobby Lobby wizardry to be discomfited. Just as I was about to succumb to gloomy boredom, Jess Griffin and Zach Tabor, two of Gabbard’s most indefatigable supporters, asked if I wanted to join them at the Doubletree, a hotel that is basically across the street from the Arena, where Gabbard would make a short speech about the military.

“Well, it can’t be much duller than this. Do you think there’ll be coffee?”

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Look how much Tulsi trusts that guy with the fedora!

The event was sponsored by VoteVets.org, and while I didn’t receive any reading material on my way in, I think everyone in the audience was either a serviceperson, a veteran, or a relative of such. Covering an event such as this is always awkward for me, as I am a critic not only of the military-industrial complex, but of America’s militaristic culture, as well. I believe that militarism has been fetishized, often literally so, in the United States, and that this military-cultural complex appeals to our crudest, most childish, and least respectable interests. However, this acknowledgment is the last enduring taboo in our culture—inevitable, as the culture is predicated on a thoughtless defense of that militarism—in part because its criticism is applied—though only by the critics’ critics, who are, of course, anti-critical—to the individuals enlisted in the military. Hence my challenge: to write critically of our militaristic culture without offending preternaturally delicate sensibilities. If only I could be as lionhearted as Helen Buyniski.

If only politicians could be, too. We will never hear a mainstream politician discuss the military-cultural complex, and even those criticisms of the military-industrial complex, historically rare as they are, never examine the appeal of that complex. Rather than listen to a presidential candidate, I would encourage everyone to watch Jimmy Dore’s presentation on the impossibly dysfunctional American economy as the single greatest motivation for military enlistment. It’s a devastating bit of footage, especially from a man who describes himself—inaccurately—as “a jagoff comedian”, but you should do yourself a favor and take a break from this essay in order to hear what Dore had to say.

To be clear, I’m not excoriating Gabbard for failing to cover this dimension of the problem. Of all the malignancies consuming the American political system, the most lethal, even more so than the deference of morality to finance, is the deliberate hostility to sustained analysis, itself a symptom of our slothful culture of anti-intellectualism. In America, a politician cannot be a philosopher, as the people have no palate for nuanced, detailed discussion, and their anemia is reinforced through an institution of media that affords no time for extensive commentary. Sloganeering is involuntary, as nothing else accords with this headlong approach to political science. Accordingly, it might be a minor miracle that Gabbard has said as much about the military-industrial complex as she has—why hasn’t Bernie Sanders echoed her call to pay for universal healthcare by scrapping our entire military occupation of Afghanistan?

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In her speech at this event hosted by VoteVets.org, Gabbard did something I never thought I’d see a mainstream politician do: she explicitly rejected the perfidious patriotism of the warmongers in Washington. “I feel betrayal when those politicians who thank us for our service turn around and vote to continue these wasteful regime-change wars.” This wasn’t the first time she castigated our obsessive enthusiasm for “wasteful regime-change wars”, as anyone who has attended a single one of her rallies can report, but I believe it was the first I heard her address our embarrassing problem of fake patriotism, of anti-patriotism: our culture is saturated with fetishistic worship of the military and all who serve within it, yet our public policy betrays a childish and reckless misappropriation of military resources, including people.

Of course, you won’t hear another politician echo her criticism, not only because it requires more than seven seconds to explain, but because it comprises an introspective exposure of our personal failings, moral as well as intellectual. No one wants to stare directly into the mirror, as was brutally illustrated by the classic film Network, and only a politician who is nearing exhaustion will direct us toward the illuminating glass. If this is the critical leap that Gabbard has taken in the two months since I first heard her speak, then imagine what she might say as we come ever closer to the New Hampshire primary.

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It was only all too fitting that Julian Castro was the second of four presidential candidates to speak at this forum. Where Gabbard draw a stark, disheartening contrast between our vainglorious self-image and our humbling essence, Castro attempted a traditionally cheerful, comfortably brainless, reconciliation of our moral incoherence. As he explained, “Veterans have the exact same concerns as every other American in our country.” A brazen claim, that is, as it negates the justification for an event dedicated to veterans’ issues specifically. It might even be blasphemous to our collective cultural worship of the military, but Castro gets a pass because, in erasing the line between veterans and civilians, he helps to overwrite the legacy of pervasive, perverse trauma that is the real history of American military action.

https://worldbeyondwar.org/u-s-mass-shooters-disproportionately-veterans/

The closest he comes to acknowledging that all may not be well in our military policy is when he says we must improve our mental health care system. He doesn’t identify psychological disrepair as an inevitable consequence of active participation in imperialist violence, nor does he point out that more than one-third of mass shootings in the United States are committed by veterans, but he is “concerned” about our mental health care system, so . . . there’s that. He also makes a perfunctory promise to “raise the minimum wage”, though he somehow forgot to tell us what, exactly, he will raise it to, and he closed with a much more credible promise to remain in Afghanistan. “We have to concern ourselves with the freedom of the people there,” he said, which raises questions about what, exactly, we have been doing there instead.

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Pete Buttigieg was next, and while, unlike Castro, he offered ostensible criticisms of our military excess, they were so vague and muted that only a naked political novice could possibly believe in his sincerity. If Mayor Pete became President Pete, then we would “only commit the use of force when American interests are directly threatened.” A reasonable position, but, as President Trump has illustrated with his shocking pledge to use American troops as human shields for Saudi Arabian oil refineries, sometimes it’s kind-of hard to define “American interests”. Even if Buttigieg were willing to become a full-fledged non-interventionist, which is obviously impossible for a welcome member of a major political party, still there would be considerable potential for an abuse of terms, as one unnecessary form of military action might be in the “interests” of American-based weapons manufacturers, defense contractors, energy producers, banks, and a fleet of other institutions with dubious motivations and morals.

Fortunately, Buttigieg has devised a foolproof method of monitoring their virtue: every three years, Congress would need to renew any active war effort. Presumably, this is to prevent the president from overstepping his boundaries, but if the vast majority of Congress has already surrendered to the lucrative reach of the aforementioned industries, then this process of renewal is only ceremony, a display of pomp and circumstance, the effect of which—for lack of better term, as I can find no stimulus producing an effect—is to maintain the status quo. If politics achieves anything, then it is the discharge, via ritual, of the arresting influence of déjà vu. Hence why these scarecrows in the Democratic Party remind me of John Kerry, feebly bleating for an end to the war. What have we to show for fifteen years of moaning?

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We didn’t stick around for Kamala Harris, the fourth and final speaker, but we did have to squeeze past her and her bodyguards on our way out the door. We returned to the SNHU Arena, which, in the thirty or forty minutes since we’d left, had erupted. Thousands of people more had joined the thousands already gathered, all of them swinging banners or stamping their feet or shouting several equally incoherent chants. Their perpetual screaming and braying swarmed together into a raucous cacophony, and the strident madness was intensified by the use of miniature bullhorns, more than a dozen of which were already in use, amplifying the insanity and spreading it far beyond the other side of the street. It was a zoo, and while I hate to use clichés, it is probably the most fitting word of all, as I crashed into a person who was wearing a bulky and uncommonly cute cow costume. I asked this person, a protester dispatched by PETA, if she supported Julian Assange, to which she replied with a dispirited shrug.

“It’s time! It’s time! It’s time for a woman in the White House!”

“C-O-R-Y! Cory Booker is my guy!”

“Amy-Amy-Amy-Amy-Amy-Amy-Amy-”

Each candidate’s camp attempted to drown out the other, their plangent passion surpassed only by the undeniable futility of the task before them. There was no way in hell that any single group was capable of kicking up a louder fuss than all of the other clusters combined, least of all when most of them were evenly matched. Aye, the hundreds of fans of Elizabeth Warren probably could have drowned out the twenty or thirty supporters of Marianne Williamson, but even if their vocal power had reigned supreme and effectively silenced everybody else, well, what then? What would they have accomplished? Would their sonorous supremacy have translated to any kind of demonstrable benefit to Warren? Would she have risen in the polls because of their shouting? At a football game, the fans of the home team scream and clap their hands and slap plastic chairs to disrupt the visitors on offense, but without such a redemptive practical purpose, this stentorian sloganeering lacks even the intellectual dignity of spectator sports.

I couldn’t overcome the spectacle’s similarity to football, college football in particular, as everyone who led a chant was under the age of twenty-five. Most of them were young women, too, and it is their descent into shameless animalistic fervor that I find to be especially disheartening. Actually, it may be the absorption of so many young people into the hopeless, cynical maelstrom of politics, party politics in particular, that I find to be especially disheartening. Come to think of it, I believe it is these young people’s subsequently learned respect for politics as a cause or institution that is worth humiliating and degrading oneself for that I find to be especially disheartening. No, no, no, for real, this time: it is their unmitigated ability to humiliate and degrade themselves without the facilitating influence of alcohol that I find to be especially disheartening and sadly intriguing.

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I didn’t want to wade in this sea of sickness for any longer than I had to, so I made my way inside and waited for the festivities to start. Much to my chagrin, I couldn’t buy any beer—at nine bucks a bottle—until noon, and I hadn’t softened myself up at all beforehand, not at such an early time of day, and not with the Red Arrow being a non-alcoholic restaurant. Boy, do I miss Bangkok.

My ticket to the event was supposed to seat me somewhere in the upper decks, which would have made it impossible to take any decent pictures of the candidates onstage. The SNHU Arena is not a massive building, being the former site of a minor-league hockey team and the annual host of a preseason NBA game, but the nosebleeds are the nosebleeds, and they are plainly unacceptable to a world-class photojournalist like myself. So, I decided to sneak down to the lower decks, which, to my delight, were effectively vacant. They did begin to fill up, eventually, but they never reached maximum capacity, or anything close to it, and not a single person, except maybe those who hadn’t even spoken to a member of the opposite sex in years, dared to complain: “That’s my seat, ya know! I reserved it!”

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Astonishingly, with abundant visual evidence to the contrary, Raymond Buckley, Chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, took to the stage and shouted: “Sorry, Donald Trump, but you won’t see a single empty seat at our convention!” Even if the SNHU Arena hadn’t been so roomy when he delivered his taunt, still he would have been telling a lie. I attended the presidential rally to which Buckley referred, and I saw the pictures of the empty seats behind him, and I can tell you: those pictures were doctored. Were they doctored by desperate liberal commentators, or were they doctored by conservatives in a false flag operation? That I don’t know, but watch the video below and take a look at the flood of fools standing behind the President: not an empty seat to be found.

That was actually the moment I abandoned the rally, desperate as I was to breathe air again, but I couldn’t head for the hills when Buckley lied, not when there was still so much to see, and so many candidates to get on the record. As Buckley babbled about the beautiful future for the Democratic Party, I looked toward the entrance to the arena—the mouth, as I call it—and noticed, for lack of better word, thirty “Firefighters for Biden” banners surrounding a suite that had been rented out by the eponymous organization.

“Holy Christ, would you look at that!” I said. “How much money do you think he spent on that?”

“The big banners cost $2,800 apiece,” said a gentleman to my left, who I hadn’t even seen when I spoke aloud. “I don’t know about the little ones, but look around and you’re staring at someone’s mortgage.”

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This man did not deceive: there were so many banners suspended from concrete, you would have thought you were bearing witness to a real revolution. There was something about it I just didn’t like, something that suggested the candidates had bled into cauldrons and transfigured their blood into the many banners. Somebody or somebodies paid handsomely for this promotional litter, and all of it would be ripped apart or folded up and stuffed into the dumpster before the sun came up tomorrow. It was all beginning to unnerve me, so I decided to sneak out and browse the concourses.

If you’ve never been to an arena such as this, the concourses are those narrow concrete tunnels in which you can find concession stands, desperate hawkers of merchandise, and, on occasion, guys dressed as Moses who pass out religious literature before an armed security guard arrives. On this day, you could find snacks and souvenirs and plenty of reporters with the media. I was interviewed by NECN and CNN, chosen most likely because of my completely bizarre style of dress, but I’ve yet to find the footage. I did happen to pass by one man I had met previously at a Joe Biden rally, the same man who said that Tulsi Gabbard’s military service didn’t count because she is a woman. But it was much easier to find Julian Castro, whom I met for the second time in as many hours not too far from his private suite. I asked if he supports Julian Assange, and if I never give that man credit for anything else, as I likely won’t, then I must give him credit for one thing: he delivered the most candid response you will ever hear from a major politician.

Wait a minute . . . didn’t we enter the building in search of Tulsi Gabbard? We did, and it was time for her to take the stage, but, alas, she was nowhere to be found. Several people had already spoken for the two minutes that had been allotted to each: Joe Biden, who claimed it was a “Freudian slip” when he referred to Trump as “President Hump”, despite his own disquieting history of providing unsuspecting victims, including children, with unsolicited massages; Maggie Hassan, who remains a hero in the eyes of New England liberals, even though she surrendered the governorship in the Granite State to Chris Sununu, all so she could cast symbolic, ineffectual votes against Trump’s agenda; and Pete Buttigieg, who accused Trump of “coming within cheating distance of the White House”, in an apparent pledge to bring conspiracy theories from small-town America all the way to Washington, D.C.!

I listened to this nonsense, standing inches away from the concourse, my nausea coming to a boil just as Julian Castro took to the stage. How had he made it all the way down there so quickly? As I watched him grin and wave to the crowd, I heard a voice beside me ask: “How’s the atmosphere in here?”

I scoffed. “Can’t get much worse than it is out there. This whole place is just one giant goddamned . . .” I turned to my right and saw Beto O’Rourke standing completely alone—no security, no aides, no entourage, no nothing. The only time I saw a major politician standing truly alone was when I saw Tulsi Gabbard staggering off after finishing a 5K. This was a new level of surreality, a meager reward for all of the prostration and exhaustion I’d endured in pursuit of these many politicians. I knew that there was no time for courteous patience, so I decided to ask O’Rourke immediately if he would take my question.

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You should have seen the look in his eyes when I turned my camera to the video mode. He became afraid. He showed fear, the one emotion that a politician is never supposed to evince. He looked toward the concourse and asked, almost pleaded, for one of his assistants to come hither. His fear was so intense that I actually felt a sympathetic compulsion to reassure him by saying: “I ask all the candidates the same question, so don’t worry, no surprises.” Even so, he was visibly distressed before I even asked the question, and you can note the psychic transformation by comparing his grin in the picture above to his demeanor in the video below.

I didn’t see him again for the entire day. In fact, I couldn’t get any of the other candidates on the record, although I did come tantalizingly close to getting Tom Steyer on the record; he was an easy man to approach, especially when his aides were passing his business cards out in a frantic quest to build a campaign staff in New Hampshire. So, I spent the rest of the event lingering around the mouths of the concourses, occasionally popping in to listen to Cory Booker spin the same yarn he has spun twice in my presence alone, the story of the Iowan who supposedly told him, “Dude! I want you to punch Donald Trump in the face!” Or maybe I would show up with just enough time to hear Kamala Harris say, “When I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to fight injustice. So I decided to run for president.”

Every politician has slogans, catchphrases, or anecdotes that he or she employs more than once on the campaign trail, presumably in some kind of effort to develop an intellectual rhythm among the people in the audience. Tulsi Gabbard does the same thing: I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard her talk about “clean air to breathe and clean water to drink”, and I definitely heard her story about there being “nowhere to go” in the event of a nuclear strike long before you heard it at the second televised debate. My gripe is not with the repetition itself, but with the reduction of an entire campaign platform to a tagline. Yeah, Gabbard repeats herself here and there, but she also produces fresh material far more frequently than anybody else who is running for office, which makes my task as a journalist much more pleasant than it could be otherwise. By “otherwise”, I mean if I were to follow Booker or Harris, neither of whom ever deviates from his or her template, established months ago and submitted for approval to innumerable focus groups. It’s awfully hard to miss a fake politician, but one must embark in search of Tulsi Gabbard.

Speaking of which, when did Tulsi Gabbard finally take to the stage? A full five hours after she had been scheduled to appear, long after most of the other candidates had long since left the Arena to host smaller venues elsewhere in the state. Kamala Harris, for example, had vacated well before Gabbard made her speech, but not before going out of her way to thank, and then to thank over and over again, a developmentally disabled man who, apparently, was planning to vote for her. I do wish I had caught this exchange on camera, as it would have made an interesting contrast to the footage of her saying, “Well said”, in response to a man’s description of Trump as a man who performs “mentally retarded actions”. Alas, I’m not the kind of guy who films a politician speaking to a disabled person “just because”, and . . . wait a minute, what the hell were we talking about?

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Oh, yeah: Tulsi Gabbard finally made her speech, five hours after she was supposed to do it. She addressed the audience, an audience that had almost completely evaporated, but those who stuck around enjoyed her speech, even though they’d heard most of it so many times before, even though they knew that she would not appear in the next televised debate. They enjoyed it anyway, even though the majority of them were supporting someone else’s campaign.

When her speech was over, Gabbard hurried over to Murphy’s Taproom, where I had softened up before I attended Trump’s sickening rally not too long before. It’s funny how these campaign events run together after so much time has passed. Personally, though, I didn’t see anything funny about what had transpired at the New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention. What I saw was a crowd of desperate, delusional people who have come to rely on the vacuous promises of well-connected millionaires to find any kind of hope for the future—but the future of whom? The future of the planet, the future of their children, the future of their own, or the future of America, a country so decadent and gluttonous that it entrusts the wealthy with moral redemption? What kind of value system is that? How can we be even slightly surprised that we have reached this point of spiritual and philosophical ruin when our entire approach to social organization is lopsided, predicated upon a consumptive search of wealth?

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Oh, man. No. No, no, no. I can’t succumb to the same sickening feelings that compel me to give up on these pursuits and to crawl into bed, where I can drink myself to death and avoid the ghastly horror of dignified society in the United States. I have to keep going. I have to suspend all of these painful embraces of reality and venture on, in search of clarification, in search of redemption . . . in search of Tulsi Gabbard? I can seek out Tulsi Gabbard all I want, but what do I do when Tulsi Gabbard is found? What will I do when the search is over?

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