political party time

How a National Woman's Party could catch America up to the rest of the world
With the prospects for women's continuing progress dimming, it's time for the rebirth of a National Women's Party.
By Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett

… Many people thought 2016 would be the year when the first American female president took office. And yet the winning candidate ran on misogyny. The Trump administration has attacked women’s reproductive rights and insurance coverage for contraception, pregnancy and childbirth. Among the opposition, meanwhile, some are calling for the Democratic Party to give up on the Obama coalition of blacks, Latinos and women and focus instead on the angry white men

…Perhaps we have pushed the present two-party system to its limits. The Republicans seem hopelessly fractured while the Democrats seem angry and demoralized. There is no “sane center” anymore.

In contrast, the women’s march after the election was energized and full of purpose, drawing many men as well as women to oppose Trump policies. Could a woman’s party capitalize on and add power to that energy and excitement?

Perhaps this party could be focused not on gaining the presidency but electing state officers, governors, representatives and senators who can meet the NWP’s goals of getting for American women all those things that other nations take for granted. The party could throw its support to the Democrat or Republican presidential candidate most in line with its views.

Once its primary goals were achieved, the National Woman’s Party could fold its tent. Or maybe not. Maybe it would be a great success, achieving for all Americans basic rights that so many other people around the world have had for ages.

Maybe no one — male or female — would want it to go away.


“Tell me one more time how I’m not allowed to use queer as an umbrella term”-moodboard.

[all pictures taken at the Lesbisch-Schwules Stadtfest Berlin 2017]


I may not agree with Bill Maher on everything and he does get on my tits sometimes, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him nail something so perfectly as he nailed just what the deal is with Republicans in the age of Trumpism.

deathgrillaz  asked:

This is such a random ask but I've been wanting to talk to someone in the subject. I keep seeing articles and hearing people say that you can't be fiscally conservative but social liberal, because capitalism "screws over minorities" or something. What do you think about this? I consider myself fiscally conservative even though I'm a broke mixed girl.

Being fiscally conservative is supporting restrained government spending, keeping a balanced budget, eliminating wasteful spending that only serves increases the burden of taxes and national debt, and generally supporting free market principles. People often distort the meaning of it when they tie it to what Republicans have historically done like increasing military spending, tax breaks only on the rich, etc. And most of us know that political parties a lot of times don’t tow in line with core beliefs they claim they have.

When you tie in ‘socially liberal’ with that, it’s generally in the form of “I want government to stay out of our personal lives and stop threatening the rights of certain people”. I’ve heard people use it interchangeably with classical liberalism (that might sound better to some people); I don’t know if that’s the correct term though.

And Capitalism isn’t inherently racist; people can exploit basic aspects of capitalism by using those to create a racial hierarchy, creating barriers to prevent racial minorities from achieving economic success. But no economic system is fundamentally racist – racial/ethnic hierarchies form independently in of those. Many countries that were historically non-capitalist – some still are - have had a fair share of ethnic tensions too. The Soviet Union had taken many efforts to deport specific ethnic groups such as the Polish, Greeks, the June deportations of Estonians/Latvians/Lithuanians and ethnic Koreans.

To say that centuries of racism will suddenly go away if we get rid of capitalism is just naïve at best.

  • Shale: How many other forms can the swamp witch become?
  • Morrigan: Several.
  • Shale: Can it become a golem?
  • Morrigan: Seeking companionship, are you?
  • Shale: If it could become a golem, I simply wonder why it would not stay that way. It is a superior form.
  • Morrigan: No, I cannot become a golem. I can learn to become animals, and each form must be learned anew.
  • Shale: And how does it learn a form? Does it read about it somewhere?
  • Morrigan: (laughs) 'Tis not a talent one can read from books! You must copy a creature's soul!
  • Shale: I do not understand.
  • Morrigan: Nor should you. Rock is unchanging—allow it to stay that way.
Don’t Let Tumblr Make You Think That You HAVE TO Vote For Hillary Clinton

TL;DR: If you plan to vote for Hillary Clinton because you genuinely think she’s the best choice, then cool beans. But don’t let others bully or scare you into choosing a candidate you don’t actually agree with. Don’t let anyone take your power away like that. There are other options (third parties.) It’s your vote, your voice, and your choice.

Look, I’m terrified to post this, but I can’t stay silent on this subject. I’m seeing a lot of fear-mongering posts going around, yelling at people that they HAVE TO vote for Hillary even if they disagree with everything she stands for because she’s supposedly better than Trump and that there are no other options. I see where these people are coming from, but I find these posts to be completely disgusting, manipulative, and most of all just plain factually wrong.

It is no one’s place to TELL you who to vote for. NO ONE’S. They are free to give reasons why they personally feel people should vote a certain way (ex: “I think ____ is the best choice because A, B, and C.”)  But they minute they cross the line into shaming, browbeating, name-calling, and other bullying tactics, they’re being shitty, and you should tell them that.

I know that people are afraid of Trump because of the insane and racist things he SAYS. But what about all of the terrible things Hillary Clinton has DONE?

I want to protect the environment. But you expect me to vote for a candidate who supports fracking?

I want an end to the United States’s imperialism and war crimes abroad. But you expect me to vote for a candidate who voted for the Iraq War, and continues to push for more military interventions at every opportunity?

I’m a POC. But you expect me to vote for a candidate who called us “super predators” in the 90s, has supported legislation that disproportionately throws Black Americans in prison, and who continues to talk down to Black Lives Matter activists?

You might think I’m crazy, irresponsible, whatever for feeling the way I do, but I don’t believe in the concept of the Lesser of Two Evils. I won’t let fear of something worse make me abandon my ideals and fall in line behind a political party that is corrupt to the core. And to try to shame, browbeat, and manipulate me and people who feel this way is way out of line.

This is supposed to be a democracy. You don’t OWE anybody your vote. If Clinton wants people to vote for her (especially millennials and progressives), she needs to reach out to them instead of exxon mobil.

Also, THERE ARE OTHER OPTIONS besides Trump or Clinton in November. Third party candidates do exist, like Jill Stein from the Green Party. Voting for a third party candidate is a great way to support a causes you actually believe in, as well as give a big “FUCK YOU” to the establishment :)

Alright, I’m done venting! Thanks for reading, if you actually read this! 

Aromanticism, Empathy, and Cognitive Dissonance

Identifying as aromantic has made me more aware of my emotional differences from other people. Especially when it comes to empathy.

I can only empathize with romantic feelings to a limited extent. I can care about those feelings in the abstract, because I do care about people. I have a decent practical understanding of how romantic relationships are supposed to work. But my ability to notice romantic attraction is unreliable, and I can’t relate to romantic feelings at all. I have no intuitive understanding of those emotions, and I have no frame of reference to which I may compare them.

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okay but why hasnt trump been assassinated yet like no one’s gonna think you’re a monster if you kill him, you’ll be a hero to all of the united states. u want to do something productive for the country? kill that chicken haired bitch

anonymous asked:

What do you think would have happened to John Laurens if he didn't die so young?

“It requires all the virtue and all the abilities of the country. Quit your sword my friend, put on the toga, come to Congress. We know each others sentiments, our views are the same: we have fought side by side to make America free, let us hand in hand struggle to make her happy…”

That is a letter from Alexander Hamilton to John Laurens dated August 15th, 1782; just weeks before Laurens tragically was shot and killed. 

If I had to make an estimated timeline, I’d say that Laurens would of moved to New York and joined congress. Since John Laurens’s father was president of the congress (Henry Laurens). I also believe that John would of become a part of The New York Manumission society (Hercules Mulligan was also in it as well as Alexander Hamilton). 

While during the war, John tried to get his wife and daughter to join him in the United States; I do believe that since Martha Manning (his wife) died in 1780- Henry Laurens was very ecstatic about John’s wife and daughter. I do suspect that John would of had his daughter moved and located to the United States to live with him. 

I do not know if John would of become a Federalist or a Democratic Republican (the two political parties at the time). His background and heritage suggests Democratic-Republican, while his relationship with Alexander Hamilton would beg to differ and say he’d be among the Federalist party. 

The law practice that Alexander Hamilton created, I believe John Laurens would of joined his practice and they would of had a law firm together. John Laurens had a law degree (althought he would of preferred to study medicine or biology). 

Anyhow, I do think that if he did end up being part of the Democratic Republican party that it would of caused a rif in the relationship between his boyfriend and himself. Although Henry Laurens was a Federalist so I’ll bet that John Laurens would of been among the Federalist party. Henry Laurens most likely would of wanted John to move to South Carolina to be closer together. And, after Henry Laurens death in 1791- John would of inherited his fathers plantations. John most likely would of set the slaves free and discontinued the plantations or handed them off to somebody else. 

I also don’t think that Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr would of been in a duel together if John Laurens had been around. Although if they were living in different states- I don’t know if John would of been able to stop him in time. 

I also don’t know if John Laurens would ever gotten remarried. I think that his father would of pushed re-marriage upon him and him becoming resilient. But as far as I’m concerned, John had an okay relationship with his fathers (no hatred or envy). 

Any thoughts? Drop em’ in my box!

Brexit: WTAF?

So I was chatting to someone the other day and they said,

“From the outside, it really looks as if voting is brand new to Britains. Obviously it’s not, but between the government ignoring some votes and the number of Leave voters who seem genuinely confused as to what happens when the most people vote for something, it looks like they have never encountered ballots before and aren’t quite sure what to do with them. Just waiting for somebody to throw up their hands and say, “Alright! All votes are now suggestions! We will strongly consider them."”

Which is precisely correct, from a British perspective, because of how we elect Members of Parliament and because referenda aren’t legally binding unless we say so and because Parliament is sovereign. 


Point the first: British people are really, really used to our votes counting for nothing, because of our voting system.

When it’s election time, you don’t vote for who you want to be Prime Minister, or who you want running the country, or any of that.

You vote for a Member of Parliament who will represent your constituency.

Except a large number of the UK’s 650 constituencies are what we call “safe seats”.

A safe seat is one where the same political party wins basically every time. 

More than half of those 650 constituencies are safe seats.

From the Electoral Reform Society:

• 368 seats are so safe the Electoral Reform Society has already called the result in them
• 25.7 million voters live in safe seats
• 79.3% of constituencies in North East England are safe seats, with 77.8% in Northern Ireland and 70% in the East of England
• 225 constituencies have not changed political hands since before 1950


So if you’re a voter in a safe seat, you are well used to your vote not actually counting for anything. Hence the shock and awe that, in a referendum where only two options are possible and the side with an actual majority wins, your vote counts.

So all these people who voted Leave in order to protest, who never actually expected to win? Yeah, that’s largely down to them never having won before, because their vote has never actually counted for much before.

So what could fix our broken voting system?

Well, a change in the way we vote to elect MPs (that’s Members of Parliament) could do it.

We had a referendum on that a few years ago. 

Which brings us to:

Point the second: UK referenda are not legally binding.

“Parliament is sovereign” is the phrase, and it means that 

a) Parliament doesn’t have to abide by the results of a referendum (though they have…so far), and

b) Parliament can, at any point in the future, reverse legislation approved by referendum. 

You also can’t prevent a future Parliament from reversing legislation the current Parliament enacts. 

The outcome of the 2011 voting referendum was that people voted for the current system.

The one where over half of the seats in a Parliamentary election are as good as decided already.


Still and all, we had a referendum on Europe. We voted to leave. Parliament could, in theory, overturn this result and say nah, we’re staying in.

But since many of the ‘protest votes’ were protesting the fact that people don’t feel politicians are listening to them and their concerns?

It…wouldn’t look good.

Point the third: there are no protest votes in a referendum. Or indeed anything where only two options are available.

Just saying.

The Spectrum in America: Trump to Sanders and the Role of the Younger Generation.

“The 2016 election coverage, I haven’t been this addicted to television since Breaking Bad,” reads one of my favorite memes currently circulating the internet.

It’s true. I can’t get enough of it. The debates. The discussions about the debates. The endless stream of ever-changing polls. The memes. The articles. The videos. It is American political theater at it’s finest. Our democracy (cough cough oligarchy cough cough), is at work in all her glory. The citizens are choosing their leader. And in a democracy, every voice gets to be heard, even if it is a misinformed, easily swayed, religiously motivated, poorly educated, politically, culturally, and judicially ignorant voice. That’s democracy. The citizens get to vote for whatever reasons they want to vote for. They may have a good understanding of American history and policy, and be basing their vote on who fits into their understanding of what is needed right now. They may have supported one of the two political parties for a long time and be for whichever candidate arises from their chosen party. They may be passionately for a specific social issue, or religious issue, or foreign policy issue and be basing their vote solely on the candidate who addresses that issue in the right way. Or they may just like the candidate in their gut.

That is how so many of us ultimately make our decisions, why would voting for a presidential candidate be any different? We make some choices emotionally. On instinct. What feels right.  So if I’m a committed Christian, and one of the candidates is sure to bring up his Christian faith often, I’m guessing something about him is just going to feel right. And of course we want to feel right about our president. This is why Trump and Sanders are such great indicators of how the majority of the country is feeling. Their popularity can clearly be attributed to a major dissatisfaction with the current political system amongst our citizens. They are two opposite sides of the spectrum of perspective in American citizens. As much as it pains me to associate Bernie Sanders with Donald Trump in any way, their connection is clear. They come off as authentic. They are consistent. Sanders has been consistent in his views and stances for his entire political life. And Trump is consistently…Trump? They are both seen as outsiders, which holds value in this election. Many Americans have learned, with good reason, to distrust the political insiders.

Hillary Clinton is a career politician. She is a master in the games of the political establishment, as seen from the political establishment. (Feel free to read political establishment as corporate establishment as they are interchangeable). She is the only proper candidate, the perfect candidate, way more electable, maybe already elected, crushing the polls, so hip she’s dabbing with the youngsters, and invented Obamacare (Hillarycare), according the media, which is entrenched in the political establishment. Sanders is an unelectable, farfetched, overreaching, pie-in-the-sky, crazy uncle according to the media which again, is entrenched in the political establishment. Trump is an unelectable, unsuitable, undeserving, mockery of the game, according to the media (and I might agree), which one more time, is entrenched in the political establishment. In case you missed it, the media is one in the same with the political corporate-funded establishment.

But that’s just it. The majority of citizens are not part of the political establishment. And the rise of Trump and Sanders supporters shows us how many of our citizens view the political establishment. They are angry at the status quo of our political system. So whether you’re on the side of liberalism, social justice, civil rights, equality, anti-corporate influence, and overall accountability and reform, or on the side of conserving “traditional america” (cough cough white america cough cough), bomb’em, deport’em, wall’em, arrest’em, don’t need facts and will not listen to facts and Obama is worse than Hitler: the message is clear: We want change. And we need a perpetrator of that change. We need a leader of that change. We need a symbol that things will be different. Cue Trump and Sanders.

There is actual Bernie Sanders, who has stood for civil rights and social justice his entire political career, who has stood against corporate greed and inequality his entire political career, who has stood against the corrupting influence of money in politics his entire political career, who has stood against the deregulation of Wallstreet, who has stood for the fading middle class and struggling poor citizens, who voted against the Iraq war, who has stood for our under-cared-for veterans, and who has the footage to prove this history. There are the actual Bernie Sanders policies that he has laid out that can be studied and reflected upon. Policies based in addressing the issues of the corrupting influence of money in politics, the massive issues of student debt and healthcare costs, the failed war on drugs and booming prison industry, and all around inequality culturally and financially. Then, there also is what Bernie represents to us. He represents a revolution of the political system that we have been so dissatisfied with. He represents a hope that our system can actually work again. He represents our lost hope. He puts the progress in progressive. And his supporters respond to his authenticity.

There is actual Donald Trump. The bankrupt four-times, “build-a-wall-make-them-pay-for-it”, muslim-deporting, celebrity-businessman making America great again. There is his actual great comebacks and zingers during the debates. There are his actual speeches where he often isolates entire cultures. There are his actual re-runs of The Apprentice. And then there is what Trump represents. A strong leader. The total opposite of a pussy. (A dick? A boner? Whatever that flat patch a Ken doll has?) He represents the first amendment rights closet-racists have been shamed from using for so long. He is a take no bullshit, does what he wants, says what he wants, is smart because he says he is, perfect representation of a freedom loving American boss, which is apparently what many Americans have been looking for in the political world. And his supporters respond to his authenticity.

Trump is resonating with the people who love America to be just that. A symbol. A beacon of freedom and independence. The pinnacle of democracy. The smartest, bestest, strongest, richest, most dreamy country in the world. Everything they believe to be true and good, despite facts and historical perspective, and a basic inability to accept the massive shortcomings and atrocities in American history. Their America is just like Trump, great because he says so, despite facts and historical perspective.

Sanders is resonating with the people who see him as a symbol of the America they want to see. A country with great promise and hope, but clear about it’s flaws and the fact that it has been built on exploitation, a country that needs to adjust and address what isn’t working, and start building a system that will work for all, not just a select few. They love him as a symbol of rebellion against their long standing understanding that politicians and corporations are corrupt and need to be held accountable. They also love the fact that he has policy ideas to back up his beliefs, policies based in his actual passion for the issues and actual compassion for people, not a flaunted compassion because it is convenient right now and will win him votes, a compassion that has been a through-line to his life that can be seen in his speeches of the past. He represents a hope that our system can work.

These are the two ends of the spectrum in America right now. Both sides valuing authenticity, which is clearly a reaction to the coached, trained, adjusted, pandering politicians of our recent history. Both sides are angry about how America has been governed and influenced. Both sides are hungry for a leader in this flawed democracy. But that is where the correlation between Trump and Sanders, and Trump supporters and Sanders supporters, falls flat. 

Because one side is based in reality and facts. It is based on evidence that certain policies haven’t been working, like deregulation and allowing corporations to be considered people. It is based on actual needed change and actual policies to kick-start that change. It is based in compassion for people and a desire to make the country work for everybody. 

And the other side is based on a made-up notion that our country is so far off track, and that all of the many problems facing America, including financial inequality and Isis, are solely because of the leadership of President Obama during the last eight years. This side is based in bigotry and nonsense. In separating people and playing on people’s fear of each other. In proving who has the bigger balls, the bigger dick, the bigger bank account, the nicer car, the louder argument, the smallest patience for pussy-liberal shit like “thinking before acting”. When one side is based in reality, and the other side is based in Trumpland, the scales are not even.

Trump winning the Republican candidacy is terrifying many in the Republican establishment, and yet it is exactly what they deserve. Time to reap what has been sown. Over the past 10 years the Republican Party has swung so far to the right that it has forced moderate conservatives to look like progressive liberals. There has been pandering to the extremists of the party so as to not be ostracized by their own. The Republican establishment fueled this diversion to the far right. It was good for business. Fear mongering. Polarizing race and religion. Promoting un-intellectualism. Encouraging disinformation and the muddling of clear facts, and in many cases, ignoring the facts all together, to protect their big money interests. They funded the Tea-party. They broke bipartisanship. Obstruction became the name of game. They caused a government shutdown, and successfully convinced their base that it was the Democrats at fault. They have been stirring up the underbelly of America and given it a voice, because that was how power and control were maintained, but now the underbelly is supporting a candidate who is anything but controllable.

Bernie winning the Democratic candidacy must be equally terrifying for the Democratic establishment, judging by the lopsided media coverage favoring Hilary. From an outside viewer, the coverage doesn’t seem to be treating both sides equally, whether it is the way some debate questions are phrased, or just the overall media coverage of the Sanders campaign. They keep saying he doesn’t stand a chance, and yet the delegate count is very close to even so far, and the national polling is even closer. Yet many news outlets are already showing stats granting Clinton superdelegate votes that don’t even get cast for a number of months. The establishment is trying to say it has already been decided, when to the American people, it is still the early days of a close race. Look at the way he keeps climbing in the polls. Look at the massive turnout he draws at his rallies. Look to the internet for his real footprint. His message is resonating with very close to half of democrats and independents. And he is crushing Clinton when it comes to the millennial vote. We all know that when younger people turn out to vote, democrats win elections. And now it seems, that if younger people turn out to vote, Bernie is more likely to win the Democratic nomination.

The young vote can actually make the difference in this primary. The young vote can be the margin of difference to make or break the Sanders campaign. And from where I am standing, if you are a millennial and are not supporting Bernie Sanders, I think you might be missing something. It is our role as the younger generation to show the older generation where it has been corrupted, not to fall in line with the accepted shortcomings of the current system. We are meant to believe that our world can be changed for the better, not already be jaded by our expected disappointments.  We are meant to believe in the power of compassion, of which the older generation has grown numb.  We are meant to stand for hope. We are meant to stand for change. We are meant to be the political revolution. 

We get to be idealists, it is one of the many perks of being young. And Bernie isn’t just an idealist, he is a practical idealist, meaning he can actually implement his ideals with policy. And he is a passionate idealist, meaning he will fight for what he believes in, and not continue to make concessions to a Republican party that refuses to behave in a civil, or constitutional manor. And he is a highly intelligent and thoughtful idealist. Look at the way he predicted the dangers of invading Iraq, or the way he predicted the economic crash as a consequence of deregulation. 

Bernie Sanders is standing against money in politics, the very thing which has corrupted every facet of this supposedly democratic system. He has had the courage to actually run his campaign without the millions contributed to every other campaign from big donors. He wants to pass healthcare for all. He wants to address the prison industrial complex, which makes imprisoning citizens a for-profit business. He wants to address the war on drugs, which has not lowered drug-use at all and is proven to disproportionately affect people of color more than whites. He wants to provide college for all, and get rid of student-debt, which is crippling a whole generation from participating in the economy. He is standing for equality and progressive change, like he has been his entire life. He is standing for America to be known for the way it takes care of its people. He is standing for America to be known for its education. He is standing for America to think before it acts. He is standing for America to finally tip the balance back towards the many rather than the few. He is standing for you and me. And he is hopefully ushering in a revolution to this bought-and-paid-for political system.

I fully support Senator Bernie Sanders for president.

**Watch him call out the dangerous outcomes of invading Iraq. Think about how valuable it would have been to have this man as commander in chief. There are many other Bernie speeches of the past that demonstrate his consistency, and capability as a leader. 


To my new followers!

People who have followed me a long time probably followed me for blogging In The Flesh (or maybe Doctor Who if we really go that far back). But recently, what with becoming phan trash, I’ve gained a lot of phan/general multifandom followers (judging by the URLs)

So, if this is you and you haven’t heard of In The Flesh, I have a little proposal for you - you should watch In The Flesh.


Here’s why you should give In The Flesh a go:

  • The main character is canonically queer; confirmed by the writer to be pansexual. In the second season, canonically queer couple as the main characters. Even better is that their sexuality is not the main focus.
  • Incredible mental health representation - Kieren committed suicide and struggles with self-image. Jem has PTSD. Simon has a history of drug addiction. All of this is potrayed accurately and sensitively. 
  • Well-written female characters. The women in this show are not sexualised; they have full and intricate back-stories and personalities. 
  • Every aspect of this show is brilliantly made. The script is realistic, funny, exciting, heart-breaking; the acting is astonishingly believable, the cinematography is stunningly beautiful, the soundtrack is heart-breaking. 
  • There’s only 9 episodes, 1 hour each, so it won’t even take you that long.

Interested? Here’s a little more detail:

In The Flesh is set after a zombie apocalypse, when they’ve found a drug that means the zombies are back to normal and can return to their communities. The word ‘zombie’ makes it sound a lot worse than it is. It’s nothing like your standard shooty shooty gore zombie movies. It is sensitive and heart-felt. Through the lens of sci-fi it deals with how fear leads to discrimination, religious extremism, the rise of extremist political parties (at times the parallels to UKIP are chilling), homophobia, stigmatisation of mental health issues… oh you name it’s got it. (Ok, admittedly it is a little weak on POC, more on that later).

So why am I telling you this now?

Well, after just 9 episodes, In The Flesh was cancelled in what is wildly considered the most arse-hole move of the BBC ever.

But we’re still fighting. 

The fandom (often called the Redeemed) are campaigning to get the show picked up by another company. 

We want a third season so it can continue to grow - see the characters continue to develop, find out what happens with all the things that were left unresolved, even see it improve in certain aspects such as POC.

Now, I could just tell you to go and sign this petition and this petition, and that would be that. But we want to spark interest in the show. We want this fandom to keep growing because if nothing else, this show deserves it. It is wonderfully made by such a dedicated cast and crew, and it was so refreshing to see a show deal with so many issues in such a sensitive way. 


The Gospel of Bernie
The man who brought fire back to the Democratic Party

Was it Opposite Day at Liberty University? Here was Bernie Sanders, who spent his 20s preaching sexual liberation and social revolution, taking the stage to speak to a student body of fresh-faced Christian conservatives at the school founded by televangelist Jerry Falwell. Liberty students pay a $25 fine for “attendance at a dance” and $50 for “visiting alone” off campus with a member of the opposite sex. At 74, Sanders was an old man among young people, a self-described “democratic socialist” in the boiler room of the Christian right. And you could argue that his presence was the opposite of clever. After all, why was this overachieving underdog of the Democratic Party–the breakout star of a season that was supposed to be all about Hillary–stumping for votes in a place where he had virtually no chance of finding them?

Why does a missionary venture out among the heathen? Bernard Sanders, a paint seller’s son from Flatbush, an early-’60s campus radical, a rumpled transplant to progressive Vermont who worked his way gradually up a small ladder in a small state to become the unlikely embodiment of a very large yearning–leads with his heart and his sermons. He seeks conversions, not just votes.

If that strikes you as insufficiently calculating, you are starting to understand Bernie’s momentum. And to understand the Sanders surge is to understand the spirit of 2016. Look around at the candidates who are stumbling and fumbling toward the first balloting less than five months away. Republican Jeb Bush of the White House Bushes learned to count delegates when most kids were still counting fireflies. Democrat Hillary Clinton is part of a family that once commissioned a poll to choose a family vacation that would endear them to voters. So far, calculation is getting them nowhere. The surging candidates–rampant Donald Trump, novice Ben Carson and retro Bernie Sanders–represent the opposite. Slickness is out, conviction is in.

“I am not a theologian. I am not an expert on the Bible,” Sanders told the crowd of 13,000 at Liberty. “I am just a United States Senator from the small state of Vermont.” With that caveat, Sanders painted scenes of a progressive utopia: free higher education, health care for all, bolstered wages and chastened billionaires. The audience in Virginia received him politely, though their biggest wave of applause went to the student who asked why his compassion for the weak did not extend to unborn babies. Sanders’ real audience–the roughly 1 in 4 Democratic-primary voters who have lifted him into contention against former Secretary of State Clinton–could only love him more than ever. He was defending the faith. Daniel, as they might put it at Liberty U., in the lion’s den.

With each twist and wrinkle of this election season, which is as wide-open and unscripted as any presidential cycle in living memory, we see more clearly that these are special times in American politics, baffling times, times to challenge categories and scramble expectations. The Internet has killed the kingmakers. Freshness beats incumbency, while the perception of sincerity beats all. There is no room for focus groups in the elevator to the top of the polls; America wants its candidates straight up and packing a kick. This is how a squinty-eyed New Yorker goes from shooting his cuffs and hawking condos to the head of the GOP pack. It’s how Bernie Sanders can join the Democratic Party in April and by August be battling for first place in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Without a single TV ad–or a single congressional endorsement–Sanders has exposed the weakness of the party’s Clintonian establishment while at the same time spotlighting its hunger for an ideological savior. Polls now indicate that if the nominating contests were held tomorrow, Sanders would edge out Clinton in Iowa and beat her in New Hampshire by 10 points. Nationally, he has cut Clinton’s lead from an impregnable 46 points to a crumbling 21 points in just two months.

But even those metrics don’t convey the extent of the Sanders phenomenon. At Clinton events, campaign staffers section off floor space before her speeches to make her crowds look densely packed. Sanders needs no barriers. His audiences are authentically huge–28,000 in Oregon, 11,000 in Arizona, 7,500 in Maine. His volunteer army, meanwhile, though mostly self-organized online, numbers more than 182,000 people spread out from rural Alaska to the Florida Keys, people who have asked the campaign how to improvise events, knock on doors and spread the gospel from campus quad to living room to farmer’s market.

Win or lose, Sanders seeks to transform his party and redeem American politics through an epic battle against some of the wealthiest powers in human history. A lot of people have given up on the political process, and I want to get them involved in it,” he tells TIME. “In this fight we are going to take on the greed of the billionaire class. And they are very, very powerful, and they’re going to fight back furiously. The only way to succeed is when millions of people stand up and decide to engage.

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