Remember back in 2008 Barack Obama’s “insurgent” primary campaign that was derailing the media-anointed Hillary Clinton’s fast-track to the presidency? Remember when Clinton surrogates in and out of the media were decrying the “sexism” of Obama supporters, women who were “traitors” to the cause of gender, black voters who were only supporting Obama because he was “black”? Remember when none of these attacks proved able to reverse Obama’s momentum, only temporarily stay them as some white voters in “Butternut” regions in the North responded to Hillary Clinton’s total abandonment of the black vote and stoking of racial prejudices with use of easily understood “code”? Of course, back then the media wasn't too outraged at the process; one recalls the media being rather light-handed in response to the increasingly dark tone of the Clinton campaign and Hillary’s erratic pronouncements.
Fast forward to 2016. There has always been this undercurrent of resentment that this black man had denied this white woman her “rightful” place, and now it was Hillary’s “turn,” as if she was “entitled” to the presidency and no one should be allowed the audacity to stand in her way. Yet what the media has yet to realize is that the undercurrent of distrust for Clinton’s all-consuming sense of entitlement, her apparent belief that she is above the law, her total of lack of character and principles—personified by her Janus-faced sea-change in ideological perspective once Sanders started making a powerful move on her left-flank—has not changed. The simple fact is that a majority of people in this country do not like Hillary Clinton for a reason, and it has nothing to do with her gender; to suggest otherwise is to ignore the fact that Clinton’s many defects are being brushed aside by her self-righteous media supporters because of her gender.
For Sanders supporters who believe that he will make a far better president than Clinton because he actually believes in something strong enough to fight for it—unlike Clinton, who only promises to be “practical,” as the last six years have been—the attacks on them have been shockingly unfair, ignorant and most of all, desperate. We have seen this all before, but they have taken new lows since, after all, he is a white male. Take for instance Stephen Marche of UK The Guardian. This ardent Clinton supporter is as clueless as to the American voter as one might expect from someone weaned on a class-driven society like Britain is. In January he opined the now common refrain that the Sanders “phenomenon” has a “lot” in common with that of Donald Trump, an insinuation that Sanders supporters should find an extremely offensive comparison.
In an article entitled “The white man pathology: inside the fandom of Trump and Sanders” Marche attempted to claim a racist and sexist “base” of Sanders support, which is nothing more than a slap in the face to people who genuinely believe that there is something seriously wrong with a country whose creed is allegedly “equality” yet is the very antithesis of that, particularly economically. The very suggestion of an “ulterior” motive by those who do not support Clinton because of her near total lack of character, ethics and principles is beyond any principled explanation, which Sanders supporters cannot easily forgive. It is outrageous to even “suggest” that Sanders’ support has anything in common with Trump’s, who we see in ever more violent confrontations being perpetrated by Trump’s racist and xenophobic exhortations to his supporters, something you would never see at a Sanders’ rally. In fact, there are reports claiming that Sanders supporters “trumped” Trump’s schedule Chicago rally, although a Sanders’ press release denied that his campaign had orchestrated it.
Despite setting forth an opinion that Sanders’ support was the brainchild of sexist white men, Marche was forced to admit that the Sanders rally he attended also had “twentyish women in glasses screaming ‘Feel the Bern!” and “We’re Going to Build a Revolution” in the crowd. Undaunted, Marche still clung to the belief that “angry white people haunts Saunders’s rally, the same sense of longing for a country that was, the country that has been taken away” that Trump supporters have. Marche went on to make the ridiculous claim that Sanders’ supporters have more money (as opposed to, uh, Trump’s trailer park rednecks, or Clinton’s celebrity and Democratic establishment supporters), “the natural consequence of the American contradiction machinery: rich white people can afford to think about socialism, the poor can only afford their anger.” Puh-lease.
The absurdity of this totally ignorant misreading of Sanders’ support continues with this condescending remark:
“Sanders’s opening act was a congressional hopeful, Gary Kroeger. He hadn’t been on The Apprentice but on Saturday Night Live, a forgettable lesser actor from the great period between 1982 and 1985. He started out, naturally, with a half-assed gag: ‘the fresh patchouli in the air is so beautiful’. The sign language translator offered a mild smile to indicate it was a joke. Then, after a brief foray into leftwingery, calling America a ‘social democracy also known as a republic,’ Kroeger took a big selfie with the crowd behind him: ‘Ellen Degeneres, eat your heart out!’ he shouted. Everyone’s phones rose up to take pictures of themselves in a picture imitating a picture from the Oscars: such was American socialism in the year 2015.”
Marche went on to make other condescending attacks on Sanders’ supporters. He labeled “bullshit” Sanders’ proclamation that “What we’re saying is when millions of people come together to restore their government we can do extraordinary things.” Marche went on “Nobody asked what he meant. Nobody asked for numbers. They applauded. Better to take it in the spirit in which it’s given, like a Catskills resort comedian…Sanders reminded me of a line from Seinfeld, maybe because Larry David’s SNL parody was only a few days’ old. ‘The sea was angry that day, my friends, like an old man trying to send back soup at a deli.’ When Ben and Jerry make a Bernie Sanders ice cream, I hope its chili and ginger: the delicious hot flavour of nasal-passage clearing outrage.”
But this British condescension is nothing compared from what is coming from the gender politics camp. Last week, Janell Ross, a Clinton fanatic who is actually paid real money supplying illogical, hysterical and undignified commentary in the supposedly “dignified” Washington Post, first made herself ridiculous by accusing Sanders of not knowing how to “act” when debating a female, and that viewers were in her opinion clearly “agitated” by this gender “insensitivity.” She had admittedly a vague notion that merely jabbing his finger in the air to make a point, and saying “excuse me” when Clinton interrupted his answers might seem trivial to normal people, but it wasn’t “trivial” if your opponent is the sanctified gender icon Hillary Clinton. It turns out that most people who commented on her article saw her as “trivial”; as I mentioned before, at least 90 percent of the comments on her piece were in vehement disagreement with her, and egged on by equally clueless Clinton backers whose only answer to her history of corruption were accusations of “conspiracy” and Clinton-hate.
Ross apparently found this all disturbing rather than evidence of her own cluelessness. According to Ross, Sanders didn’t “get it” about voters, and this is why he was going to lose the Michigan primary by a landslide. But once again it was the media that didn’t “get it.” Was Ross going to eat crow and admit she didn’t know what the hell she was talking about? Of course not; stung by the level of criticism directed at her, she went on the attack against those who had the audacity to refuse to listen to her and vote for Sanders anyways—even, apparently, the 30 percent of blacks who did so for him in Michigan. So, Sanders voters, she accusingly pointed her finger at–as “keyboard gangsters, frequent commenters and tweeters, and those convinced of a grand media conspiracy to end the Sanders campaign—prepare. This piece is about another aspect of the Sanders campaign and some of you.”
And so Ross goes on to make even more wrong-headed allegations about Sanders’ supporters:
“Something -- we cannot say what -- inside certain corners of the ostensibly progressive and overwhelmingly white ranks of Sanders voters is amiss. There is a pattern -- demonstrated time and time again -- by both Sanders and some Sanders supporters of racial cluelessness, an infantilizing and almost colonial kind of condescension about policy, and a tendency to react to anyone who points that out by, well, supplying even more evidence of racial tone-deafness, self-ordained intellectual superiority and sometimes completely open displays of various forms of outright bigotry. That's right. We said it. In trying to make their case, Sanders, and far more often some subset of his supporters, behave in ways that are difficult to square with their claims to progressive politics and building a more inclusive and egalitarian society.”
The problem, of course, is that the media has spent so much time and energy marginalizing and muzzling Sanders and his support, that any “peep” that comes out of them drives Clinton supporters nuts. At any rate, Ross’ comments are again absolutely outrageous, especially given the fact that it is Clinton and her “old guard” gender politician supporters who have in the past employed their own brand of sexism and bigotry to pummel all non-believers. No, it is people like Ross who possess bigotry, angry with voters she stereotypes as all white and male. I have written many times that it is the Clintons who have practiced bigotry and have hurt minorities with policies aimed at appeasing conservative voters. It is Hillary who dismissed problems in the inner city and labeled black males “super predators,” not Sanders. It was Hillary who dismissively relegated Martin Luther King Jr. to second class status in an interview before the South Carolina primary in 2008. It was Hillary who tried to incite racism among Pennsylvania and Ohio voters, which apparently worked because she won those states’ primaries. And who dredged-up the Rev. Wright “controversy” that the Clinton News Network ran with for weeks? It only made sense that it came from the Clinton camp, since it occurred during the primary season when it was more useful to Clinton than to the Republicans, since the story later merely became old news.
The truth of the matter is that Hillary Clinton, ever the egotist and opportunist, and her supporters are using whatever brickbats they can find to keep Sanders supporters at bay to keep the Clinton train on the rails. It 2008, Clinton, the media and her old guard feminist supporters accused Obama supporters of being mesmerized by his “blackness.” Today, they have to come up with other excuses to explain away Sanders’ support. Ross goes on to add these ugly remarks in the attempt:
“But the emails, Twitter messages and comments I have received tell a different story. They use a variety of curse words and insults typically reserved for women. More than one has suggested that I deserve to become the victim of a sex crime. They critique the ‘objectivity’ of what is clearly political analysis based on polling data and other facts; they insist that black voters are dumb or that I have a personal obligation to help black voters see the error of their Clinton-voting ways. It is vile. And it stands in sharp contrast to the claim that no portion of Sanders supporters are angry people who sometimes engage in or embrace bigotry.”
Given the overall tone of her article, it should be clear that the self-righteous Ross is adding her own inventions here, and after Michigan it is clear that the “objective” media clearly took a major hit. I spent hours on the comment page on her article, and she deliberately mischaracterized the 5,000 or so comments; as I noted before, Sanders supporters generally attempted to persuade, while the few Clinton partisans chose only juvenile and empty attacks. And it was and is Clinton supporters like Ross who are interjecting gender and race into the conversation, not all those “keyboard gangsters.”
Other examples of where the bigotry and sexism is coming from can be gleaned from comments by feminist Gloria Steinem, who “explained” to Bill Maher why polls show younger women are supporting Sanders by a large margin: “When you’re young, you’re thinking, ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie,'” Maher pointed out that if I said that, ‘Yeah, they’re for Bernie because that’s where the boys are,’ you’d slap me.” Steinem went to say “Women are more for [Clinton] than men are…Women get more radical as we get older…. I don’t mean to overgeneralize, I’m sure that you got more radical, but men tend to get more conservative because they gain power as they age and women get more radical because they lose power as they age.” Steinem is merely speaking for herself. More than two-thirds of white women over fifty voted against Obama in 2008 and 2012. And then there was former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who in regard to women who voted for Sanders (or a Republican?) “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”
There are of course self-described feminists who support Sanders, although many still buy into Clinton as gender victim rather than someone who has used her position and connections to escape payment for decades of corruption in the pursuit of power and wealth. On self-described feminist in the Huffington Post said “Every female Sanders supporter interviewed for this piece agreed that Clinton has faced sexism and double standards throughout her career. And they also felt that it was because of those roadblocks that she'd had to adopt what some perceive to be not-so-appealing political traits (ambition and firmness being the two terms most frequently used). Their empathy for her was made even deeper by the fact that many had faced sexism in their career.” As I wrote in my previous post, many minorities see things quite differently in regard to the level “victimization” of white women in this society.
Rachel Weaver of the Chicago Tribune recently added some much needed truth to the conversation:
“I want to address something I see as profoundly sexist: the constant attempts by the media and Hillary Clinton's campaign to erase and discredit Bernie Sanders' female supporters, of which I am one…Sanders' supporters have been ubiquitously discounted as ‘Bernie Bros’ — sexist anti-Clinton bots who harass her female supporters online. No doubt, there are trolls. The idea that bad behavior on the Internet would be something unique to men drawn to support Sanders, a candidate with an impeccable record on women's issues, is of course absurd, but many in the media as well as many Clinton supporters have latched onto this convenient, if unsupported, narrative and treated it as gospel during this Democratic presidential campaign. But what this generalization of Sanders supporters does do especially well is this: It erases his millions of female supporters from the narrative. This is sexism at its most devious…When Sanders' large number of female supporters — especially among young women — are acknowledged at all, they are invariably condescended to. Notably, none other than Gloria Steinem said one of the most profoundly sexist things I have heard in recent memory: ‘When you're young, you're thinking, 'Where are the boys?' The boys are with Bernie.’ And thus died second-wave feminism.”
Weaver added that there are very real and substantive reasons why a female voter would prefer Sanders over Clinton:
“I spent plenty of time in my 20s defending the then-first lady from sexist nonsense. But I spent even more of that time feeling betrayed by her: again, and again and again…You see, Bill Clinton was the first president I was old enough to vote for. And what did that presidency get me? It got me a disavowal of my sexuality with the Defense of Marriage Act and ‘don't ask, don't tell.’ It got my mentally ill mother kicked off of welfare thanks to regressive welfare reform. It got hundreds of thousands of people (overwhelmingly black) imprisoned with draconian drug enforcement laws like the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. And Hillary Clinton campaigned in force for every single one of these measures.”
Weaver further points out the sand of Clinton’s “principles” and “ethics” that seems to shift with every change in the political weather.
“Clinton frequently touts her advocacy for children as a touchstone of her progressive politics. True, her first job out of law school was with the Children's Defense Fund. But her campaigning for her husband's welfare reform legislation undid all of the goodwill she had earned on this issue. Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the defense fund and a longtime friend of the Clintons, was outspoken against the welfare reform bill. She said President Clinton's ‘signature on this pernicious bill makes a mockery of his pledge not to hurt children.’ Likewise for Hillary Clinton for campaigning for it on his behalf.”
Weaver then makes this cutting observation:
“Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright just a day later (after Steinem’s comment) said that there's ‘a special place in hell for women who don't help each other.’ No mention, oddly enough, of the special place in hell for women who shame each other for voting their conscience.”
“Conscience” is something that Sanders supporters do share in common; it is something that commentators like Marche, Ross and the pro-Clinton media in general lack.