This Woman

So I encountered this reasonably cogent, well-written post on one of the Bernie boards I frequent on facebook:

A. I have yet to see a single Bernie Sanders supporter mention Benghazi, Vince Foster or cocaine smuggling in the Arkansas governors mansion. That would be silly. What I have seen is people who do offer legitimate critique being slammed by those who would promote HRC as an equally progressive or viable option.

B. The “Bernie or bust” people are not pouting children who cry when they don’t get their way. Though I have not assumed the label I suppose I fit into this group. The reason, which most do not address or perhaps are unaware of (I hope I can express it half as well as others have done better already) is; our politics have been held hostage for too long by “centrists” whose only worthwhile political plank is “I’m not as bad as the fascist I’m running against.” They are not agents for change. They have the same economic agenda. They have zero interest in delivering power back to the hands of the people which in fact is the first and only issue that matters. Everything else comes after that.


That is why Hillary Clinton will not get my vote.

I’ve voted out of fear for the last time and refuse to vote for anyone who has done nothing to earn it.
In conclusion, if you want me to be silent about my difference of opinion, then stop trying to shove this woman down our throats as the inevitable candidate.

Okay, I hear you.  I want to put that up front.  It’s not as though I don’t feel your pain; I do.  And in the spirit of Bernie Sanders speaking to Liberty University today, I want to first find the common ground.  And that common ground is pretty simple: Bernie Sanders.  We all agree in Bernieland that Bernie is the best person for the job.  So I join you in pledging to work my ass off for Bernie Sanders, and hopefully, once he gets the nomination, the thorny question about whether or not to support the Democratic nominee will be moot.

I just think this author is being guided by his emotions rather than by his reason.  That’s the problem here.  He’s not using his head.  So let me go point by point and deconstruct the post.

A. I have yet to see a single Bernie Sanders supporter mention Benghazi, Vince Foster or cocaine smuggling in the Arkansas governors mansion. That would be silly.

True, and there we agree.  But there are some Bernie supporters who are now getting around to using the e-mail scandal against her.  Prominent progressive commentator Ed Schultz does that here. 

The issue regarding the e-mail is not whether or not there was wrongdoing.  Almost everybody agrees that technically there was.  The issue is the magnitude of importance the “scandal” entails in the grand scheme of things.  Did anybody actually die?  No.  Did ISIS actually obtain top secret classified information that led to American deaths on foreign soil?  No.  Is the proper use of e-mail security at the State Department going to help an underprivileged student go to college, feed a hungry child, or do anything at all about the gaping gulf between the very rich and the very poor?  No, no and no.  The issue here is one of perspective.  There is a tension in the argument of Sanders supporters who seize upon this as a bludgeon with which to bash Hillary Clinton.  Bernie Sanders himself refuses to do it, and says he wants to wage a clean campaign on real issues that are important to the American people, like, say, helping the underprivileged go to college, feeding hungry children, or doing something about the gaping gulf between the very rich and the very poor.  Those Sanders supporters seizing upon the e-mail scandal are showing that their priorities are not aligned with the very candidate they profess to support.  And as a Sanders supporter who believes in a certain amount of reality and realpolitik, I am telling you that this “scandal” is not going to fly, precisely for the reasons Bernie Sanders has intuited: it has nothing to do with the day to day lives of the American people.  It deals in hypotheticals.  Hypothetically, sure, ISIS could get ahold of classified information if it’s in the wrong e-mail account.  And hypothetically, yeah, that puts Americans at risk.  But the American people, I predict, will respond resoundingly with a “no harm no foul” and beg the political process to stop with the partisan nonsense and get back to issues that actually resonate with them.

What I have seen is people who do offer legitimate critique being slammed by those who would promote HRC as an equally progressive or viable option.

Welcome to a contested election.  You offer your critique; they offer theirs; and we do the dance.  As some prominent progressives once said, politics ain’t beanbag, and if you can’t stand the heat….  He also says this as if it is self-evident that HRC is not “an equally progressive or viable option.”  I’ve got news for this writer: it’s not.  The revelation that HRC is not an equally progressive or viable option for progressives is not actually obvious to a lot of progressives.  That’s why you have to make an argument.  You cannot just condescendingly pooh-pooh the Hillary Clinton supporters and complain about their orientation on the political spectrum.  That’s why we have a contested election.  You don’t get to cry foul because some other candidate exists and has her backers.  That’s not foul.  The existence of another candidate is not foul play.  This writer never says what “slammed” means, but guess what?  You’re going to get slammed in a contested election.  Bring your A-game or go home.  I for one am confident that the superiority of Bernie Sanders to Hillary Clinton will persuade progressives when I take the time to present the argument.  If I spend my time crying foul about Hillary Clinton’s supporters, then I’m not spending my time presenting the argument— an argument that could change a Hillary Clinton supporter into a Bernie Sanders supporter.  And that’s the goal.  Isn’t it?

B. The “Bernie or bust” people are not pouting children who cry when they don’t get their way.

Yeah, they are.  That’s exactly what they are.  They are political adolescents who cannot accept reality like adults: that in a system where other people have a say, you are not always going to get your way.  I also called out the DNC on this blog as needing to grow up too because they are not getting their way given that Hillary Clinton is not getting the nomination by fiat.  It cuts both ways.  Both Clinton and Sanders supporters have to accept reality.  One of them will inevitably lose.  People who can’t be adults about it don’t belong in the process.  There is a reason we don’t allow children to vote.

Consider this.  Suppose Sanders gets the nomination.  Are the Hillary Clinton supporters by and large going to fall in line behind the Democratic nominee?  Yes, they will.  That’s because they tend to be party faithful, establishment Democrats who have the adult experience to know that they too will not always get their way.  They certainly did not get their way in 2008; yet Barack Obama sailed into office without any significant evidence of Hillary Clinton supporters writing in Hillary Clinton’s name or voting third-party.  If Hillary Clinton’s supporters can show that degree of maturity, why can’t some Sanders supporters?

The reason, which most do not address or perhaps are unaware of (I hope I can express it half as well as others have done better already) is; our politics have been held hostage for too long by “centrists” whose only worthwhile political plank is “I’m not as bad as the fascist I’m running against.”

“I’m not as bad as the fascist I’m running against” is a hell of a good reason to support a candidate.  One.  HELL.  Of a good reason.

Donald Trump says he is going to defy the Constitution, ignore the 14th Amendment and deport 11 million people.  Do you think he’s not serious?  Do you want to find out?

When did Hillary Clinton say that she was going to defy the constitution and deport 11 million people?

Mike Huckabee says he is going to defy the Constitution, allow clerks everywhere to ignore the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage, oh, and, get this, use the national guard to stop abortions, even though Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land under that central document that creates the very core foundations of the system in which we live, the Constitution.

Remind me.  When did Hillary Clinton say that she was going to defy the Constitution, allow clerks to ignore the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage, and storm Planned Parenthood clinics with national guard troops?  Tell me again.

And that’s not even to touch Ben Carson’s crazy creationism, Carly Fiorina’s disastrous tenures in business, Scott “Wholly Owned Subsidiary of the Koch Brothers” Walker, Ted “I Once Said the U.N. is Going to Force Us To Live In Hobbit Holes” Cruz, Chris Christie’s actual corruption and scandals in office, or Jeb “Need I Say More, Just Look at My Last Name” Bush.  Just to name a few.

Is there any doubt that any one of these clowns in the clown car would be a tremendous disaster?  Is there a one of them that you can point to and say, well, that one makes a whole lot of sense, clearly a reasonable choice?  Kasich?  Pbbbbbbbsssssssssst.  Anti-choice extremist.

When was the last time Hillary Clinton questioned the legitimacy of contraception (let alone abortion)?  When was the last time Hillary Clinton declared that the world was made in six days and that the Scopes Monkey Trial let Scopes off too easy, and said we should impose creationism in schools?  When was the last time Hillary Clinton ran a company into the ground four times into bankruptcy?

Let me be perfectly clear.  I want to beat Hillary Clinton.  I want to beat Hillary Clinton on the merits.

But I also live in reality, and reality tells me, you know, she has a better than even chance of actually, you know, winning the Democratic nomination.  And then we all have a choice to make.  We either resist the fascism with which we are presented, or we don’t.  And that’s the choice.

They are not agents for change. They have the same economic agenda. They have zero interest in delivering power back to the hands of the people which in fact is the first and only issue that matters. Everything else comes after that.

But you do have power.  You have the power to work for Bernie Sanders, which is what you and I are both doing.  See, this writer seems to keep saying that “power” means “I always win.”  That doesn’t happen in politics.  Sometimes you lose.  That doesn’t mean the people have zero power.  And I’m sorry, but an amorphously stated tenet like “delivering power back to the hands of the people” is indeed not “the only issue that matters.”  This writer can’t even formulate “the only issue that matters” in any concrete terms; why should I concede that there is one and only one “issue that matters” if it’s presented to me as a vague platitude?

Abortion rights matter.  Black lives matter.  Economic disparity matters.  Kids going hungry matters.  Whether or not we go to war matters.  Respecting the Constitution matters.  To say that there is one and only issue that matters is preposterous.  I concede we have a broken system in which average people do not wield as much power as they should.  But there are enormously complex reasons for that.  Do you really think that writing in the name Bernie Sanders in 2016 is a solution for “the only issue that matters”?  Once again, this writer shows that he’s living in Fantasy Land.

That is why Hillary Clinton will not get my vote.

I’ve voted out of fear for the last time and refuse to vote for anyone who has done nothing to earn it.
In conclusion, if you want me to be silent about my difference of opinion, then stop trying to shove this woman down our throats as the inevitable candidate.

And here the use of language betrays the real motivation of the writer, in two succinct words.

“This woman.”

Not “this candidate.”  Not “this politician.”  Not “Hillary Clinton” or “Secretary Clinton” or “Senator Clinton.”

No.  We’re shoving “this woman” down his throat.

Why use the term “this woman”?  It’s obvious that she’s a woman.  There is no other reason to use that phrase other than to convey the fact that this candidate being a woman is something contemptible.

This writer says that he won’t vote out of fear again?  I submit that he is precisely voting out of fear— out of fear that a woman might actually become the most powerful person on the planet.  I have always thought that unlike the word “racism” and unlike the word “misogyny,” the word “homophobia” was the most apt description of a particular kind of prejudice because it gets at the heart of what’s really going on— fear.  Fear of the other.  Fear of losing power.  Fear of losing a position of superiority.  Fear, fear, fear.

The writer might say, but!  He was perfectly prepared to vote for Elizabeth Warren.  Yes, and some of my best friends are women too.

This writer needs to face it.  He slipped up, and his use of language betrayed him.  It’s not really about electing the most progressive person possible.  It’s not really about delivering more power to the people.  It’s not really about Bernie Sanders and his agenda for the American people.  Look at where he put his bon mot— the very end of his essay, where one rhetorically marshals the greatest conclusive force one can.  So we are left with the very deep impression that for this writer, it is ultimately about one thing and one thing only:

“This woman.”

Well, if it’s a choice between proto-fascist Trump and “this woman,” I’m voting for “this woman.”

-Robert Gross

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