Tag Archives: 2016 election

We Didn’t “Fail.” Democracy Failed Us.

 

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Source: Damon Winter/The New York Times

In a shocking upset over predicted winner Hillary Clinton, an open racist, sexist, antisemitic, Islamophobic, xenophobic, journalist-hating confessed sexual predator about to go on trial for racketeering has been elected president of these United States. There have been approximately infinity think pieces and news stories and nuggets of punditry discussing “what the Democrats did wrong” to lose this election. But here’s the thing: HILLARY CLINTON WON THE ELECTION. Democrats did nothing wrong. Clinton got more votes than anyone else running, which, in any other contest on the globe would mean she won. She lost the presidency on a bizarre and outdated technicality.

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Journalists, pundits, and my fellow bloggers, the story isn’t “What did the Democrats fail to do?” it’s “Why do we continue to allow this antiquated ritual to deny the American people its democratically-elected choice for President?”

A majority of Americans wanted Clinton as their president, and due to a bizarre, outdated ritual, democracy failed them.

THAT’S THE STORY: DEMOCRACY FAILED.

What are we going to do about the fact that an antiquated ritual has (once again) robbed the American people of its democratically elected choice?

For all of you geniuses who thought Hillary was corrupt, you better hope you were right so she can move those levers of power, contact her rich Jewish banker friends, murder some people, or whatever your favorite Clinton fairy tale is, and get the electoral college eliminated before January 20. Since it would require a constitutional amendment (or at the very least the adoption of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact in nearly all 50 states), she had better get cracking.

Obviously, it can’t happen before we all have to watch the candidate endorsed by the KKK sworn in to the highest office in the land. But we should get our act together and push for the elimination of the electoral college before it can do any more damage– and this isn’t even all the damage it can do. It won’t happen before Trump and Pence start dismantling everything that makes America great (or even livable), but it can certainly happen before 2020.

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Sex, Lies, and Hillary Clinton

In the mid-60s, Jan Kott wrote a truly horrible book called Shakespeare, Our Contemporary, in which he analyzes Shakespeare’s plays according to his specific point of view as a white European male who hasn’t quite grasped the humanity of the women and people of color around him, although, at the time, we just called that “Shakespeare criticism.”

When discussing the character Desdemona, a character whose complete faithfulness to her husband is the primary narrative linchpin of the play, Kott says, “Desdemona is faithful, but must have something of a slut in her.” He says that she must be a slut “in potentia” if not “in actua” because so many men desire her– because she inspired erotic imaginings in the men around her. SO SHE IS THE SLUT.

And while this kind of “my white male imagination tells me so” Shakespeare “analysis” we’re used to getting from the likes of mid-century scholars like Kott (and Harold Bloom, and so many others whose “analysis” of Shakespeare’s female characters is 100% flights of fancy) it stood out to me, even as a teenager when I first encountered this nonsensical “analysis.” It stood out to me that THIS IS AN ADMIRED BOOK OF SHAKESPEARE CRITICISM. This was the first moment I realized that the world of academia was going to be an uphill battle for me as a woman.

This moment– seeing a respected book of lit crit describe male desire for a woman who never sought nor wished for that desire as HER OWN FAULT for somehow being a “slut” “in potentia”– has come to mind again and again this election cycle.

Millions of our tax dollars have been poured out in a desperate attempt to pin something, ANYTHING, on Hillary Clinton. Nothing illegal has ever been found. Every investigation has exonerated her, and the Clinton Foundation is one of the highest-rated on every nonpartisan site that monitors charities. Obviously false scandals have been created by alt-right (and regular right) propagandists, and they’re shared around the internet as if they make sense. Scandal after scandal have been manufactured and debunked. Hillary haters are the hydra of American politics– chop off one false scandal and two grow back. There’s a never-ending supply of false scandals, and the factual evidence debunking them is dismissed as “irrelevant” or “bought and paid for.” As if the Clintons have an unlimited supply of money– oh, wait, according to the Hillary haters, THEY DO, thanks to Jewish bankers and the Evil Jewish Scrotillionaire Necromancer Lich Demon George Soros.

Hillary haters are forced, in the face of all the evidence exonerating her, to claim that the lack of evidence is the evidence. What is she hiding? It must be something! LOOK AT ALL THESE SCANDALS. Anyone who points to the facts is “bought and paid for” with all Clinton’s Jewish banker money, something I’ve been accused of myself multiple times. (I only wish someone was paying me to blog.)

And so we come back to Desdemona. SHE MUST BE SOME KIND OF SLUT. LOOK AT ALL THESE MEN LUSTING AFTER HER, reasons Jan Kott. EVEN IF SHE’S FAITHFUL TO HER HUSBAND, he continues, SHE’S STILL A SLUT, OTHERWISE WHY WOULD OTHELLO BELIEVE IAGO? Why indeed.

Kott blames Desdemona for the scandalous thoughts men have about her, and we blame Clinton for the scandalous thoughts we have about her.

“She’s too heaped in scandal,” “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” “There must be SOMETHING there,” “She’s clearly corrupt,” “One of the most corrupt politicians ever.” We dressed her in this outfit against her will, then condemned her for it.

Kott goes on:

Othello does not have to kill Desdemona. The play would be more cruel, if, in that final and decisive moment, he just left her. . . . Othello kills Desdemona in order to save the moral order, to restore love and faith. He kills Desdemona to be able to forgive her; so that the accounts be settled and the world returned to its equilibrium. Othello does not mumble any more. He desperately wants to save the meaning of life, of his life, perhaps even the meaning of the world. (123)

Kott– a respected Shakespearean critic– writes that killing a woman falsely heaped with scandal is the only way to “restore love and faith” and “the meaning of the world.” That men must use women as scapegoats for their own dark desires and imaginings and then kill them to restore order. Only dead can women be forgiven for “making” men have dark desires. This, again and again, returns to my mind as I see so many respected people– elected officials– calling for the murder of this woman who has borne the brunt of their imagined scandals, the congealed crust of hate and fear of powerful, independent, outspoken women.

And now I type the requisite sentences, the ones demanded of everyone who writes about Hillary Clinton and no other politician, ever: Do I agree with her every decision? No.

But we cannot productively discuss what kind of president she will be (and she will be president) in reality while we continue to make her the scapegoated center of 1000 false scandals. We cannot have productive discussions about foreign policy or ed policy– two areas we really need to be discussing right now– while the country is embroiled in a non-scandal about emails, or an alt-right created one about sex (take your pick).

Jan Kott is still taught. And respected newspapers are still running stories about Hillary’s emails, and the entire GOP is participating in a false story about voter fraud and a “rigged” election. The question is: Are we going to continue the Kott-like misogynistic scapegoating  of this woman, or are we going to get to work on the actual issues?

 

 

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The Response to “Pussygate” Oozes Hypocrisy

After every horrific thing Trump has said and done– insulting Mexicans, Muslims, the disabled, a Gold Star family, the poor, journalists, women– suddenly his 2005 off-camera boast, caught by a hot mic, that he’s able to sexually assault women (“grab them by the pussy,” and “get away with it” because he’s “a star”) has his supporters among the GOP fleeing like rats leaving a sinking ship.

After every horrible thing he’s said and done, why is this suddenly the line that loses him almost all his support? It’s not like he hasn’t insulted women in the past. He’s openly attacked individual women throughout the campaign– Megyn Kelly, Alicia Machado, Elizabeth Warren, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Katie Couric, Angela Merkel, Carly Fiorina, Heidi Cruz, Meghan McCain, Ana Navarro, Bette Midler, and Cher, just to name a few. He has publicly speculated about dating his own daughter. When it comes to women, he’s never made it a secret that he’s a monster.

His outrageous racism, sexism, xenophobia, narcissism, startling ignorance, childish bullying, petulant tantrums, open hatred of freedom of the press, and contempt for anyone who doesn’t lavishly praise him have slowly eroded his GOP support, but his boast about sexual assault was the nail in the coffin of his candidacy, losing him the support of the RNC itself and many prominent GOP politicians, many of whom are calling for Trump to step down. What that would mean for the GOP is unclear since voting has already begun– tens of thousands of mail-in ballots have been filed so far.

Various scenarios, each more dubious than the last, have been floated by desperate Republicans in the past 48 hours. Trump could vow to step aside before swearing in and let Pence become POTUS (because what American really needs is a man who thinks women should be legally required to pay for funerals for miscarriages and abortions— now that’s respect for women!). Trump could step aside now and be replaced on some, but not all, ballots if the Supreme Court allows it (unlikely, since the problem is just that the GOP chose an asshole, not that he’s been incapacitated by illness or killed in a plane crash, although I would not put assassination past the RNC at this point.) The election could proceed as planned and the electoral college could just choose to vote for someone else, violating the law in states where the electoral college is legally bound to honor the popular vote, with Republicans speculating they would somehow magically be able to protect these electors from the law through the sheer force of national hatred for Trump. (“No way would they be prosecuted,” they argue, because Republicans have always been so adept at predicting the future.) But that presupposes Clinton won’t have enough electoral votes to win, which is becoming increasingly unlikely.

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Whether or not Republicans sort out how to rid themselves of the eternally squawking bigoted albatross they fashioned out of stale circus peanuts and bile and hung around their own necks, my point is that Trump viciously attacked women for months in this campaign– entertainers, politicians, private citizens, even foreign leaders– and no one cared. But when he threatened women in the abstract, well, now, that’s a different story.

America has centered a massive amount of its cultural mythology around “protecting women,” especially white women. But we only care about women in the abstract.

We use the “protect our wives and daughters” excuse to get all kinds of laws passed that directly harm real women. We pass laws that are solely designed to restrict access to safe abortions, and to close clinics that provide OBGYN services to women, putting their health (and the health of their babies) at risk. We restrict transwomen from access to women’s restrooms. We have a long history of creating laws to “protect” women in the abstract that restrict and oppress real women.

When Trump finally made an egregious attack on women in the abstract by boasting about sexually assaulting “women” as an abstract concept, politicians and pundits immediately denounced him and distanced themselves from him. When he went after real, living women, the nation collectively shrugged. When he was accused of sexual assault of a minor by a real, living woman, the nation collectively shrugged. When he went after “women” as an abstract concept, we drew the line.

People who drew the line at Trump’s boast about getting away with sexual assault are the very same people– on both sides of the aisle– who  belittle, minimize, and otherwise cast doubt on the testimony of real women who have been sexually assaulted, especially when they have been sexually assaulted by wealthy and powerful celebrities using their wealth, power, and fame as a cover for their actions. Sexual assault victims who speak out are routinely disbelieved and even attacked as “liars.”

We worry about the “promising futures” of young rapists, and give them laughably light sentences, especially if they’re white and/or athletes. Campuses ignore reports of sexual assault, issue slaps on the wrist to violators, or even punish women who report sexual assault. We routinely blame women for their own assaults for wearing the wrong thing, saying the wrong thing, drinking the wrong thing, or being in the wrong place, despite all the evidence we have the shows without question that none of those things matter. We refuse to adequately support processing rape kits.

Yes, what Trump said about his ability to sexually assault women and “get away with it” is horrific– just as horrific as everything else he said when he was still getting the full-throated support of millions of Americans and the GOP establishment. I’m glad many more people are finally understanding– or pretending to understand as the national zeitgeist shifts– why Trump is an execrable human being whose soul is best represented by a grainy image of a pile of rat droppings in a broken cooler half-buried in a toxic waste dump.

Women are people, not symbols of male honor in either protection or conquest. When women speak out about sexual assault, we’re not going off-script in your honor narratives about us for our perverse pleasure. We’re just– and you may want to take a seat for this– telling the truth. The tiny percentage of false sexual assault reports do not change anything. The vast majority of us are telling the truth, yet when we speak out, we are automatically mistrusted, disbelieved, looked at with suspicion. Our stories are minimized and dismissed. Our culture despises sexual assault in the abstract, but we revile the real women who speak openly about being sexually assaulted in real life. They’re disrupting male honor narratives by accusing real men of real crimes. If she’s assaulted, either men failed to protect her or she’s ungratefully rejecting an honorable conquest. There’s no way for men to preserve their honor narratives when real women are sexually assaulted. While men openly despise sexual assault in the abstract, they also openly revile real women who speak out about real sexual abuse. Even in the face of incontrovertible proof, they will find ways to blame the victim. If she’s a woman of color, the blame is intensified sevenfold.

So excuse me if I roll my eyes at all the Republican men clutching their pearls this weekend about Trump’s statements.

Men, especially you Republican men suddenly jumping off the SS Trump Is Human Garbage as it burns and sinks into the briny deep: The next time a woman speaks out about sexual abuse, especially if the abuser is wealthy, powerful, and/or famous, remember how publicly outraged you were about Trump’s comments. And remember that we will spare no mercy in decrying your hypocrisy when your first response to a real victim is to doubt and mistrust her. Do not think we will forget that you’re only interested in protecting women in the abstract.

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VOTE.

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I Don’t Mind Voting for a Man, Just Not THAT Man

Listen, I’m not sexist. I would totally vote for a man. I would vote for that one guy who’s not running (don’t you just LOVE him?) in a heartbeat. The mayor of our town is a man, and I voted for him. Or, I mean, I would have; I was really busy that day. I would, personally, LOVE to vote for a man. Just not THAT man.

First of all, his personality is just abrasive. Who wants to listen to that screech, screech, screech? Ugh, it’s like a nagging tirade every time he opens his mouth. Seriously, his aides should get him a secret shock collar to zap him whenever his voice starts to get screechy. It’s like he’s always yelling at us. His opponent’s passionate speeches are so much better. When she gets going, whew! She gets fiery, amirite? It’s hard to resist that kind of sincere, intense passion. You can just tell she cares by how passionate she is.

And his look, let’s face it, is just frumpy. Did you hear how much he paid for that pantsuit? He’s always wearing those ugly pantsuits. His hair is a catastrophe. Is he trying to look older or younger or what? It’s just embarrassing. He says he cares about the people, but he can’t even handle his own look. Ugh, care about the fact that we have to look at you. Imagine having to watch that for the next eight years, just getting older and frumpier.

Remember that thing he said 30 years ago? Right?! Listen, I know his opponent agreed with him at the time, but she had good reason, and then she evolved on the issue and really fought hard for it ten years later. He only came out for it and fought for it when it was politically expedient for him, like a freaking DECADE later. And we’re expected to trust him?!

I don’t trust him. There’s not an honest bone in his body. I know I was using factchecking sites like snopes and politifact to support my points for the last eight years, but now they’re clearly in his pocket because their hard research and facts don’t support my belief that he’s untrustworthy, which, come on, we ALL know is true. Have you seen that homemade youtube video??? It really shakes my faith in Pulitzer prize-winning factchecking sites. Who can you believe, right? What is he hiding, right? He’s never been indicted, but he *will* be. He could be. He should be. For something. I just feel it in my bones. He’s untrustworthy. Look at him! Listen to his screechy voice. It’s just something about him. No man gets to that level of power without some kind of cheating. I just know it.

Speaking of cheating, his wife. LOL5000! He wouldn’t be where he is without his wife’s fame, power, and influence. And she is shady af. Look at all this shit she said and did! Her behavior clearly indicates he can’t be trusted. Why did he stick by her all these years? Because he needed her for his schemes and plots to grab political power, that’s why. All his success comes from her. Would we even be talking about him if he wasn’t her husband?

He’s just so . . . aggressive, you know? Too aggressive and pushy. Always pushing his point of view. Like, UGH, it’s not all about you. You can just tell he’s power-hungry. And don’t you think it’s kind of, well, unmanly to be so aggressive all the time? So emotional. Do we really want a man like that running the country? He just seems so unsympathetic. It’s not about him being a man; it’s about him being unsympathetic, overemotional, and untrustworthy.

The only reason people vote for him is because he’s a man. What has he actually achieved? No, not the stuff about men’s rights, ugh, that doesn’t count. Of course he does stuff for men. And not the stuff about children’s health; I mean real stuff. No, those doesn’t count, either, because he didn’t support those positions from birth, and why would you trust someone who listens to his constituents and changes his point of view? No, those also don’t count, because they were compromises, not exactly what I wanted, and why would I support a politician who compromises?! Why can’t his supporters find anything good to say about him? I’m listening; I’m waiting. But they can’t. They only support him because he’s a man and they’re voting with their penises.

Listen, like I said, I would vote for a man in a heartbeat, just not THAT man. I would happily support a man if there ever was one who was flawless, pure, and perfect in every deed, word, and thought. Until that day comes– and I welcome it!!!– we’ll just have to stick to the flawed women candidates we have.

 

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Dear Senator Sanders: Please Save America

Senator Sanders:
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I have been talking and writing about income inequality (and its impact on both our country and my industry) for years. I was thrilled to see that issue move from “un-American communism” to smack in the middle of the national conversation, and for that, I have Bernie Sanders to thank. I wrote in April that you had already accomplished all you were going to accomplish this election cycle, but what you had accomplished was breathtaking. That this movement MUST continue, MUST succeed, for the good of the nation. I sit here as a Jewish woman stunned by three things I never believed would happen– a serious Jewish candidate, a woman as the presumptive Democratic nominee, and one of the most important issues facing our country suddenly on the table.
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This is a massively historic moment.
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Senator Sanders, I sincerely thank you. And I sincerely hope you don’t let your personal political aspirations destroy a movement that literal lives are depending on. Now that you have the nation’s ear, you can do so much more about economic injustice from your Senate seat than you can as POTUS. POTUS has a zillion issues to contend with, but economic justice can be your legacy. Return to the Senate. Build coalitions– work with people, compromise, win people over– push legislation that makes sense, that will actually pass. Make incremental progress every moment until you can no longer fight. THAT’S where we need you– not in the seat that signs or vetoes, but in the seat that WRITES.
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Stop refusing to stump for downticket races unless they have endorsed your presidential bid first– those people on the ground will be your left and right hands in this movement going forward. You need them. We ALL need them. Change begins at the grassroots level.
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Please, please do not sacrifice this movement– one of the most important political movements of our lifetimes– on the altar of your political ambition. WE NEED YOU WRITING BILLS IN THE SENATE and then using the political clout you’ve gained over the past year to get them passed and signed. You’re focusing on continuing to push forward in a lost primary in order to gain power to influence a platform that’s essentially just a wishlist when you could be focusing instead on the actual legislation that will make those wishes a reality.
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The issue of economic injustice and the way it has prevented our nation from achieving anything like the equality and hope we say we stand for is the point upon which turns an America that means something and an America that happily disenfranchises women, people of color, the disabled, LGBTQ people, and many more. Either we approach this issue intersectionally, tirelessly, and immediately, or we become a third world nation. That’s what’s at stake, and Senator Sanders, you are our best hope. We desperately need you in the Senate, writing bills and using your newfound clout to pass them. America has given you an immense gift– more power than 99.999999% of the people in this nation. Use it where we need you most.
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Senator Sanders, you could permanently change the nation for the better if you use your power and fame wisely. Or you could throw everything you worked for away and leave the American people who need you in the Senate– who need you drafting legislation and getting it passed– hanging because you want the big chair despite losing the election.
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I know it’s hard to lose. But we’re counting on you. You currently occupy one of the most elite, powerful seats in the nation. Go sit in it and make things happen. Change America for the better. You already have this power. Please use it for the good of the country. The primaries are all but over, but your Senate seat is empty. That’s where we need you.
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Senator Sanders, please return to the Senate and start the hard work of leading a movement to save this nation. You already have so much power. You don’t need more to get this work done.
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Sanders, Trump, and their Angry White Men

This is the Election Cycle of the Angry White Person, Mostly Men. This particular kind of Angry White Person supports either Trump or Sanders, and is defined both by their privilege and by saying they’d rather stay home than vote for anyone else. A surprising number of Sanders supporters have said they will vote for Trump if it’s HRC/Trump. This phenomenon bears examining.

This is a certain type of Angry White Person, not all angry white people everywhere, just in case you’re feeling fragile and need a #notallwhitepeople or #notallmen. Or even a #notallSanderssupporters, because it most definitely is a subset, and a minor one at that, but so vocal, so active, so, well, LOUD, they’re impacting the election cycle as a whole. I may yet vote for Sanders myself, not that it matters, as I’m in California and our primary is like five minutes before the election.

This subset of Angry White People I’m talking about are attracted to either Trump or Sanders, period. Their personal politics will push them in one direction or the other, but the basic exchange between voter and candidacy is exactly the same.

Right now, white people are starting to lose their privilege (or, more accurately, fear they might lose it) as we strive as a culture for equilibrium. White people are being asked to examine their complicity in a system that’s racist, sexist, ableist, transphobic, etc. Many white people, especially men, are upset and angry that they, who believe they are good people– who ARE good people– who believe they are “not racist” and “not sexist,” are still associated with systemic oppression, still asked to examine their privilege. Unjustly accused, they believe, of being “the bad guy.”

Along come two angry white men, both of whom say “America’s problems are not your fault. YOU’RE the victim of an unjust system. You have every right to be angry! The system is rigged against you, so get angry and fight back!”

This is music to the ears of a certain type of white person. Trump lays it at the door of “political correctness” unjustly oppressing white men, and Sanders lays it at the door of an unjust economic system. I agree that economic injustice is a massive problem in the US, but that’s immaterial to the point I’m trying to make.

Many Sanders supporters are baffled when their fellow Sanders supporters say they would stay home and allow Trump to win or even vote for him themselves should the general election be Trump v HRC. Liberal and progressive politics center around championing the vulnerable, and in general, those voters recognize the danger that Trump– and the GOP in general– present to the vulnerable in the US. They understand that the perfect cannot be the enemy of the good when actual lives are at stake. They know that the luxury to pretend that Clinton is the same as Trump only comes with the kind of privilege that insulates one from the consequences of the election. They understand what Sanders’ support of feminism and anti-racism initiatives means.

But, as we’ve seen, not every Sanders supporter actually listens to Sanders, and many are so caught up in the message that they, as white people, are victims of an unjust economic system that they refuse to consider how the consequences of this election might impact people more vulnerable than they, making them “Bernie or Bust.” And while there are indeed “Bernie or Bust” people of color, the vast majority of them are white– the vast majority of Sanders’ supporters in general are white. It’s been a problem dogging the Sanders campaign from the beginning and the reason he’s not likely to win the nomination.

This particular type of Angry White Sanders Supporters are defined by their response when it’s suggested that they should “vote blue, no matter who” in the general election to protect the vulnerable against the real dangers of a Trump presidency. They reject, with angry indignation, the idea that the actual lives of the vulnerable should take precedence over what they’re mistakenly calling their “conscience,” but what is really “my anger is more important than the lives of the vulnerable.” They say, “If I’m Bernie or Bust, don’t blame me, blame Hillary Clinton,” which means exactly same thing: my feelings matter more than, to name just one example, protecting Muslims from the policies of Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. They’re more than willing to sacrifice the safety of vulnerable Americans if they don’t get precisely what they want. They see compromise as a line impossible to cross, no matter the cost– especially when the cost is one they themselves will not have to pay.

This kind of Angry White Person is excited to finally be in a place where they’re back in the center, where they’re The Victim, where they’re no longer associated with The Bad Guy, The Man, The White Male Monolith, The Patriarchy. They finally have a place that tells them that they’re the true victims of injustice.

Of course they aren’t going to vote for HRC; of course they’re going to believe whatever debunked propaganda they can find about her, of course they’re going to disparage her in sexist terms; of course they’re going to demonize her. There’s a certain kind of person who needs to believe the propaganda about her, because he’s enraptured by a world wherein white people, especially men, are the victims of an unjust system, not the architects and enforcers of one. He can’t– or he won’t– entertain the notion that white people can be both simultaneously. “Bernie or bust” = “my worldview at ALL costs.”

(And here it is again, in case you tend to confuse “people who do this” with “all you people do this”: #notallSanderssupporters #notallwhitepeople #notallmen.)

While White Anger is pretty much the alpha and omega of the Trump campaign, it’s only part of the Sanders campaign. Yet it’s such a vocal part that it’s become one of the most persistent negative aspects dogging it, doing Sanders much more harm than good.

There are two kinds of anger dominating Sanders followers: The first is the righteous anger over decades of economic injustice bolstered by every aspect of the oligarchy we foolishly made of the republic we were given. It’s an anger that recognizes that racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, Islamophobia, and every kind of injustice and bigotry are serious problems in and of themselves in addition to, not in opposition to, economic injustice, that recognizes the importance of intersectionality. These are people fighting for the vulnerable, whether their own intersectional identities fall into any of those categories or not. I believe these are the (somewhat silent) majority of Sanders supporters. I hope they are. I would count myself among them, no matter who I vote for in the primary. In the general, I will proudly cast my vote for either Democratic candidate, because these issues– these people– matter to me.

This brings me to the particular kind of White Anger I’m discussing– the second kind of anger dominating Sanders followers. It’s an anger that rejects any consideration of other issues, that rejects any consideration of others, period. The White Anger that revels in its own importance and cannot, even for a moment, entertain the notion of having to return to a place where their white privilege or their male privilege– their association with, and potential complicity with, systems of oppression– becomes important, instead refusing to leave the circle where they can claim that they are the ones against whom the gravest injustice has been committed, everyone else be damned. The people who would throw the vulnerable under the bus to preserve the illusion that they are the ones suffering the gravest injustice, deserving of the most urgent attention, and entitled not just to the front of the line, but to the entire line.

 

 

 

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“I’ll Never Vote for Hillary!” Yeah, OK.

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The latest installment of “The Internet Explodes with Hatred for Hillary Clinton” happened earlier this week, when HRC (whose own record on AIDS research and funding is better than any other candidate) mistakenly said that Nancy Reagan was a lowkey supporter of AIDS research, when Reagan was, in reality, a massive asshole about AIDS in every possible way. Clinton immediately apologized, then apologized again, at length. Yet we’re still seeing a wagonload of “I’ll never vote for her” from progressives, as if her words about Reagan trump (and I’m using that verb deliberately) her actual record on AIDS research and funding. Why?
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Clinton’s stellar record on AIDS is ignored while people indignantly attack her for making an inaccurate statement. I like Bernie. I really do feel the Bern. But I see Democrats brush aside things he and other male politicians have done while raining fire on Hillary for the exact same thing– or something much less. This happens all the time. Hillary is flamed for being a “career politician” and an “insider” when Sanders has been in political office for much longer than she has. (Hillary was first elected to political office in 2000; Sanders was elected to his first office in 1981 and his first national office in 1991.) People flame Hillary for speaking in favor of the omnibus crime bill in the 90s when she was First Lady– a position with no political power– but Bernie, as a member of Congress, actually had the power to enact it into law, voting in favor of it despite the fact that many of his colleagues did not.
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I’m not here to argue Hillary vs Bernie. I genuinely like them both. I’m here to say that I’m sick of seeing her reviled for the same things people forgive easily when they’re done by men, and that the stakes are too high this election cycle to indulge that or leave it unexamined. If you’re reviling Hillary for saying something racist and stupid in 1994 in favor of a crime bill that turned out to be a very bad idea, but you’re not reviling Sanders for actually using his political power to make that very bad crime bill law, I want you to take a long, long think about why that is. If you’re reviling Hillary for campaign contributions made by banks, but did not revile Obama for the same thing, I want you to take a long, long think about why that is.
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Those of us who are old enough to remember what it was like to live under Reagan and the Bushes remember how bad it was. How much better almost everything– including the economy and job growth— got under Clinton and Obama. I lived through it, and I would support half a Snapple as the Democratic nominee rather than go back to the policies of Reagan or (any) Bush.I see people swear up and down their hatred of Hillary isn’t because she’s a woman, or doesn’t stem directly from decades of vicious, lying conservative propaganda— they will swear it!– and then immediately turn around and eviscerate her for something Bernie did (or is) himself, or call her a “crook,” or say nonsense like, “She doesn’t have an honest bone in her body.” Conservative copywriters, whoever you are, I applaud you for your success in taking a complete and total fabrication and successfully integrating it so far into the American consciousness that there are people who agree with nearly every policy position HRC has today, yet will still claim she’s “dishonest.” That’s some impressive chicanery, and I mean that.
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We should be closely examining all candidates for office, and balanced, honest criticism of a candidate’s record and policies is crucial. Respectful debate about the candidates is necessary and healthy. But supporting Sanders should not be the same as hating Hillary. Too many people are not debating the candidates and their various records or platforms logically, instead viciously reviling Clinton– often in misogynistic terms– for things they routinely excuse in male politicians. And I have to say, the level of unfocused, irrational vitriol feels an awful lot like what conservatives have been doing to Obama for years.

There’s not a thing wrong with choosing Bernie over Hillary, or disliking Hillary’s current policy proposals. However, the out-and-out hatred we’re seeing from some Sanders supporters (and about which I am hardly the first person to write), bears some serious scrutiny. While the Sanders campaign has made real efforts to deal with the worst of it– the “Bernie Bros” acting as a misogynistic mob, attacking Clinton and her supporters Gamergate style; the “Bern the Witch” controversy– there’s still far too much active hatred, and far too much of it is misogynistic or coded misogyny. Far too much of it stems from willing belief in conservative propaganda about HRC that has been debunked over and over.

I think we all expected it, but I did not expect it from our side.

It’s one thing to prefer one candidate over another. That’s healthy. That’s admirable. It’s another to actively HATE a candidate for doing EXACTLY the same things as the last three men you voted for, despite her liberal record.
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Let’s think practically about the election in November.
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If Trump gets elected, how many vulnerable people will be hurt, how many programs cut, how bad will the the economy get under conservative policies? How much damage will be done if Trump, an open racist and misogynist, is empowered to command our military, veto bills, and nominate people to the Supreme Court, impacting life in the US for decades to come? Trump exhorts his followers to attack Black protestors at his rallies (“The next time we see him, we might have to kill him,” a follower said  after punching a Black protestor at a rally earlier this week), excuses his followers who attack Mexicans on the street, claims Mexican immigrants are rapists, refused to distance himself from the KKK, supports banning Muslims from even entering the US, advocates killing the families of terrorists, and is openly sexist. Trump is the worst America has to offer.
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How privileged do you need to be to imagine that it’s a good idea to risk the actual lives of vulnerable Americans because you “hate” Hillary so much you vow to stay home if Sanders doesn’t get the nomination? How protected from the consequences of a Trump presidency do you need to be to think your hatred of Hillary constitutes, as I saw someone say earlier this week, an “inviolable principle,” meaning, more important than the actual lives of vulnerable Americans? That all applies equally to anyone saying the same about Sanders. (We have yet to see the full weight of American antisemitism aimed at Sanders, and if he wins the nomination, we most certainly will.)
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Vote for whoever you like in the primary. But let’s step away from vicious attacks and hatred. Let’s step away from buying into debunked conservative propaganda about Clinton’s trustworthiness. Let’s look at the candidates’ actual proposals and weigh those proposals’ actual strengths and weaknesses. Let’s respect each other’s choices in the primaries.

And whoever becomes the Democratic nominee, the stakes are far, far too high for us to selfishly stay home because we didn’t get our first choice. I will happily, proudly vote for either Clinton or Sanders, and I hope you will do the right thing and join me.

NOTE: The comments for the post are now closed. Thanks for reading Bitter Gertrude!
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