Darius Liddell and Jon Zaid originally enjoyed 34justice content as members of Ben Spielberg’s political email list. The three of them decided their joint passions for critical analysis of political and cultural issues could be better served by starting this blog.

Ben Spielberg won his school’s Mock Primary Election in a landslide for Dennis Kucinich in 2004 and ran Marc Elrich‘s winning, publicly funded Democratic primary campaign for Montgomery County Executive in 2018 against a former pharma exec who spent millions of dollars on advertising, so he knows progressive political candidates can win elections if they message effectively. His passion for social justice stems from the values his parents and grandparents instilled in him since early childhood and his sister Hannah is his moral role model.

Ben is currently the Manager of Strategic Projects for San José Unified School District (all views expressed on 34justice are his own), where he was formerly a middle school math and science teacher and math instructional coach (he was a 2010 Teach For America corps member and served on the Executive Board of the San José Teachers Association from 2012 to 2014). He is also an Assembly District Delegate to the California Democratic Party. In addition to running the 2018 Elrich primary campaign, he spent three years researching, writing about, and advocating for economic and fiscal justice with Jared Bernstein at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, DC, where he co-led the staff’s successful unionization effort. Ben worked in LGBTQ rights for Equality Forum in Philadelphia in high school and college as well and holds a B.S. in Mathematical and Computational Sciences from Stanford University.

Darius Liddell is a free spirit. He frequently follows his thoughts to their logical conclusions – even when they offend his own beliefs and convictions, as they are generally wont to do. He laughs at himself, even when he is crying inside. The most honest skepticism – the kind that cherishes courage, patience, and verve – helps to keep the mind nimble, brisk, and cheerful.  Curiosity is the greater part of intelligence. He believes that the human being is a thousand times more excellent and beautiful than he allows himself to be. He enjoys subtlety, nuts, fruit, and the conversation(s) nobody wants to have but everyone knows is necessary. He begs you to be patient with him, because he dances near abysses far too often. He thinks the most profound question you can ask someone is “Do you actually believe what you are saying, and why?” In brief, he is an artist in love.

Jon Zaid has many varied interests and would consider himself more well-read if he finished all the books he began. Often the guy at the bar that will initiate a conversation about religion and politics, he fancies himself as someone who knows just enough about a lot. As someone who has worked in numerous medical research laboratories in Philadelphia and Washington, DC he understands the value of sound logic, reflection, and the desire to know the unknown. He believes many (if not all) aspects of human nature are quantifiable, and that humans at the end of the day can use data and reasoning to make the world a better place for all.

Jon is a current medical resident living in Philadelphia. Before moving back east, he lived in Berkeley, CA since 2010, where he worked and volunteered at hospitals in some of the most economically depressed areas in the East Bay. He hopes to play a role on the ground level for community advocacy groups for homelessness and education. People often ask him where he lies on the political spectrum and he’ll usually reply snarkily, “I’m just a thinker.” He would be a much more boring person if he didn’t love playing devil’s advocate so much.

12 responses to “About

  1. Adam Jacobs

    Your piece on not voting for the lesser of two evils was good, but I think you should have gone after Hillary supporters much more strongly. You suggest there is legitimacy to the questioning of a third party voter’s intelligence by repeating the line that many dems would consider you an ‘idiot’ for not voting for Hillary. Frankly, they are the idiots-voting for a big money, corrupt traitor and expecting her to fight for liberal values.

    These folks are trapped in a self-defeating partisan shell game-a game our corporate, right- wing media wants them all to play.

    Oh well.
    I won’t vote Hillary either.

    Take care,
    Adam Jacobs

    • Thanks, Adam – glad you liked the piece! I certainly didn’t mean to legitimize the idea that people who reject lesser-of-two-evils voting are “idiots” – my aim was to explain that those comments are both incorrect and counterproductive. I also don’t think those who accept lesser-of-two-evils voting are idiots, however; I just think they weight short-term considerations and the immediate harm they think will occur more than the long-term impacts of their strategy, which they don’t see as definite (as I wrote, I think that decision is misguided, but I understand it; I also respect a lot of people who have that opinion, though I will continue to try to convince them it is misguided). Let’s hope Bernie wins the primary!

    • How do you feel about your Voting decision today? Frankly had Younger Voters like yourself had listened to the Advice of your Elders our Country wouldn’t be in the control of a Narcissistic, Misogynistic tyrant who’s on his way to being a Dictator. I prefer regular ole Politician like Hillary who is backed by money from various sources. Had Hillary been elected we wouldn’t be having a discussion about the loss of every FDR Social program devised as Safety Net for Poor, Disabled , Elderly or the minimum wage working Single Mothers who’s deadbeat Husbands vanish leaving females to support their Children. We wouldn’t be worried about our President sending Nukes to N. Korea. We wouldn’t be embarrassed as well as worried when the President has meetings or conversations with Foreign Leaders because she wouldn’t be making enemies out of our allies. I can keep going but I hope you get my point. Sometimes compromises are your only option and if it comes down to lesser of two Evils choose lesser. One final point, With age comes a Wisdom that wisdom comes from life experience and education as well as vast others the Younger Voters would serve themselves an Their Country better by occasionally listening to Elders and taking their advice. Why make mistakes elders have already made for you??

      There’s much to be said for Idealism and being naive however when it concerns Political & Governmental issues a big dose or Reality serves one best. Case in point, Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein she helped Right Wing elect Trump ny splitting Liberals. Stein was able to do that by taking advantage of Youths unrealistic naive pie in the sky dreams. I’m sure she was paid well by Putin. Stein had an continues to have investments in Oil industries which in my view should have disqualified her as a “Green” candidate. Please if we have a situation like the last election where by It’s choice between lesser evils please choose the Democratic lesser otherwise we may not have abFree and open election again.

      I sincerely hope my comments haven’t offended anyone because That’s not my intention, rather to offer a bit of Wisdom gained through the years.

      • I’m perfectly happy with my vote and would encourage you to note that, even had all of Jill Stein’s votes gone to Hillary Clinton, which is not an assumption that would hold true, Clinton still would have lost the election. I’d also encourage you to read https://34justice.com/2016/08/28/privilege-many-jill-stein-voters-have-it-and-many-hillary-clinton-voters-do-too/ and https://34justice.com/2015/12/19/why-i-reject-lesser-of-two-evils-ism/, which describe why I think the philosophy you’re espousing is misguided. Many people suffer under the policies advanced by “compromise” Democrats, and it’s essential to find ways to offer people better choices. I strongly oppose Trump’s policies and will continue to do everything I can to stop his administration’s agenda.

        In addition, the idea that Jill Stein “was paid well by Putin” is completely ridiculous, so I’d suggest not alleging it (especially in a paragraph in which you call for people to be attuned to reality).

      • vivianunger

        Do note, LonestarAngel, that Hilary Clinton won the most votes in the election. So rather than getting angry at voters for voting their heart, it might be more productive to get angry about the ridiculous electoral college system that distorts the vote and makes the loser the winner. Why not phone your MP and tell them you want the electoral college abolished? Or support organizations like NationalPopularVote.com and FairVote.org.

  2. Is there some way I can print your wonderful work in http://www.cynicaltimes,org?

    Happy to trade stories,

    Victor Epstein

  3. Hi Ben,
    This is an excellent blog, but if I could suggest an improvement, please give larger versions of your images. I have courted blindness by squinting at the tiny bar graph in the piece about privilege and Jill Stein voters. Thanks.

    • Thanks, Vivian, for both the kind words and the suggestion! I am uploading the graph again with bigger fonts for the percentages – hopefully it is a little easier to see now – and will keep this comment in mind in the future.

  4. FormelyFRED

    80 year old white dude from a 3% minority state with 30 years doing nothing in congress, hired first woman of color in 2016 and said abortion was a negotiable distraction. He IS the fucking patriarchy, you incurious twit. No wonder Bernie’s ass is going nowhere with black voters and ya’ll won’t have Clinton, superdelegates or DWS to scapegoat when we hand that saboteur his ass again in 2020


  5. Steve

    Hey Ben,
    Not sure how to contact you. But watching your talk with Dore I realized an element that is missing and possibly an important missing element:

    The “Tea Party” was extremely engaged with alternative media. Alt media is very important. But I did not see that happen with AOC or the others when there was a disagreement.

    As Dore mentioned: Alt progressives have *no way to engage* other than yell? Why didn’t anyone from “the squad” contact privately any of those in forcethevote (it did not have to be Jimmy, could have been Kyle or you?)

    The tea party engages their support in alt media and involves them. That is a Key to their power. Then their alt media creates momentum. The squad is not and as a result not only can’t we be a lever they need, but they leave their best media support with no other option than to clamor???

    Why are the squad not engaging the new progressive media?

    • Hi Steve,

      Apologies for my delayed response. I think you make a great point and would love to see social justice advocates in the House leveraging the full progressive media infrastructure – and other allies – more. I think it was a mistake for them not to respond to the request to attend the #ForceTheVote town hall, for instance. They may not have because of unhappiness with Dore’s attacks, but I do think it’s incumbent upon them to get past that and still engage in order to build maximum power.


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