First Sanders, Then Clinton: Why I’m Torn

Medical note: Doctor Wonderful decided that my gallbladder has to come out. Not sure when that will happen but I have an ultrasound on June 2 and an appointment with a surgeon on June 28.  He was kind enough to refer me to his personal surgeon.

After years of voting – always as an independent but always, inevitably, for the Democratic Party candidates – I switched my affiliation to “Democrat” so I could vote in the Pennsylvania primary for Bernie Sanders.

He lost.  Disappointing, but not surprising.  He did actually win the county I live in, by a decent margin.  It made me wonder, where are these progressives in Blair County?  I never seem to see any.  In fact, I was surprised that the Democratic Party didn’t even run any voter registration drives around here, as Democrats always do better in any election where there is a huge voter turnout.

Just more Pennsylvania weirdness, I guess.  An invisible Democratic Party with invisible Bernie Sanders supporters.  In fact, wherever Nancy Downstairs and I go, we are the only people I see wearing Sanders t-shirts.

Anyway, as I do watch most political things on TV – except Fox – I have found myself drifting more towards the Clinton camp these days.

Aside #1:  I never liked Bill Clinton, especially when he signed a bill establishing “workfare” in 1996 (“From Welfare to Workfare”, no authors cited, The Economist website, 7/27/2006).  “Workfare” was designed to “end welfare as we know it” (“How We Ended Welfare, Together”, Bill Clinton, The New York Times website, 8/22/2006), but all it did was make more people homeless and cut off benefits for those who needed them.

But Hillary Clinton is not her husband, thankfully.  While her husband was trying to placate neo-cons with his workfare bill, Hillary was working on a comprehensive healthcare plan.  She was mocked for her efforts, and told she had stepped out of bounds as her role as First Lady.  I remember being really angry about that.

Then, of course, her husband left office in disgrace.  Why she didn’t divorce him has always been puzzling to me, but that’s her personal business and none of mine.  It did, however, slightly tarnish my opinion of her.

Ok so back to the present day.

I have watched, with growing alarm, the Sanders campaign as we head towards the California primary.  I have felt a growing unease with Sanders as I’ve listened to his speeches and observed the rise of the “Bernie or Bust” sector of his supporters.

Aside #2: This unease began after I kept hearing Bernie refer, in his speeches, to himself in the 3rd person.  A minor thing to some, I know, but it set off alarm bells with me because in my opinion it indicates an ego problem.  Who else refers to himself in the 3rd person?  Trump.  But my objection is based on psychological profiles of patients/clients I am familiar with, and not some knee-jerk objection to Trump and his language. And Sanders’ ego worries me.

I have watched, and listened, with even more growing alarm, as Sanders seemed to be on the brink of at least one utterly disastrous decision regarding a debate with Trump.

Let me explain.

Clinton declined to debate Sanders at this point, and in my opinion this was a very smart decision.  We know her positions on issues, and we know his, too.  There is no need for her to focus on anything but her own campaign at this point.

Also, she is aware, I’m sure, that any criticisms Sanders has of her will make their way to Trump’s tiny mind and big mouth.

Considering that Trump parrots things that Sanders says about Clinton (because he can’t come up with any original opinions about anything), I had visions of an aftermath of a Clinton-Sanders debate that consisted mainly of soundbites of Trump repeating and distorting every criticism of Clinton that Sanders had uttered during his debate with her.

Regarding the Trump-Sanders debate, since Trump has opted out of it i think that this is a lucky break for Clinton and, to a certain extent, for Sanders, too.

Folks, we do not live in a “post-sexist” world.  Bernie needs to be aware that a certain portion of his potential supporters would see him pushing for a debate with Trump as a way of marginalizing Clinton.  Just another couple of good ol’ boys keeping the little woman out of a debate.  He can deny it all he wants but there is a certain visceral reaction that feminists have to stunts like this (myself included).

Couple that with the fact that a Trump-Sanders debate would have projected a false sense of what the general election will consist of (because Sanders is probably not going to win the nomination, he hasn’t enough delegates), and it all left a terrible taste in my mouth.

He needs to be more in tune with women over, say 40 years old, who have seen this type of tactic over and over again.  And, just as whites do not have the right to tell minority people what they can and cannot be offended over, nor can they tell them to “get over it”, so it is with men not being in a position to tell us that “Sanders didn’t mean it that way” or that we are being too sensitive.

I am 100% sure Bernie didn’t mean it that way.  But the effect would have still been the same – two men debating over a contest that they are the only participants in.  It still marginalizes women, intent or not.

Also, I know that his criticism of Debbie Wasserman Schultz is supposedly based on what he calls the “rigged system” of the Democratic Party’s selection of the nominee for president, but he is, himself, running within that system and what did he expect?  He knew – or presumably knew – how the delegate selection process works, yet he didn’t start complaining about it until it became clear that he wasn’t going to win enough delegates to get the nomination.

Aside #3: He is so upset with her that he endorsed her opponent in the Florida congressional race she is in.  Who is a white male.  Come on, Bernie, you have to know that this is starting to look like a pattern.  In fact, all his proposed platform committee members are male, except for one.

Wasserman Schultz also dared to tell him to reign in his supporters, after the minor dustup at the Nevada Primary.  The Sanders supporters were upset because many of their delegates were disqualified for not registering on time, by May 1 (Allegations of Fraud and Misconduct at Nevada Democratic Convention Unfounded”, Riley Snyder, Politifact website, 5/18/2016).

This is the fault of the Sanders campaign, no one else’s.

Sanders’ supporters were also upset because they lost a “voice-vote” to adopt a preliminary credentials report – which showed there were more Clinton supporters than Sanders supporters present at the convention – and their response was to boo and yell and generally react badly.  A later, “actual” count showed that Clinton supporters did, indeed, outnumber Sanders supporters.

This, too, is the fault of the Sanders campaign, no one else’s.

You have to do the work in elections.  This means voter registration drives, going door-to-door if necessary, and not just working through social media to get the work done.  Until and unless there is a US-wide system (as in Pennsylvania, shockingly) where people can register online, people are still going to have to do the work of registering people in person and even taking them to the polls and conventions if necessary.

Even if all states had online registration, people would still have to post links everywhere, mass email people, hit all social media sites and so on.  People would still need rides to the conventions and/or the polls.  You know, the disenfranchised that Democrats and others are always claiming they care about.

I haven’t seen any party do any of these things.  Republicans won’t, of course, because low voter turnout helps them, but what is the excuse for the Democratic Party?

Instead of addressing the problems with organizing people (that resulted in a lower turnout of supporters), and telling his supporters to stop behaving childishly, Sanders continued to hammer the leadership of the Democratic Party and their rigged elections.

That is 3rd party rhetoric.  We’ve been hearing that for years.  Most of us in the far left know that it’s exceedingly difficult to get a candidate elected who isn’t in the pocket of, well, of everyone basically who would never support a 3rd party candidate.  And we know that running for office takes money, more money than most of us will ever have.

So, while I was initially delighted that a socialist of any kind was able to make it as far as he did, I am very much over that now.

The thing that tipped me over the edge was the “Bernie or Bust” people.  So sure of their moral high ground, they insist that if Sanders isn’t the nominee then they will just not vote. Because…principles.

Well, I would just like to thank those morally superior voters who will stay home and risk a Trump presidency win so that they can feel better about themselves.

I guess they aren’t poor.  I guess they aren’t marginalized.  I guess that, to them, it makes no difference in their daily lives who wins the presidency because they are not on welfare, social security, or medicare/medicaid.

No matter who wins, they will be ok.  Annoyed, maybe, but essentially ok.

Meanwhile, a Trump win will mean that benefits of social programs get cut (he claims he won’t but these programs are seen by his supporters as helping the poor, so you bet he will try to cut them), especially if he has the support of a majority of Congress – and if progressives don’t vote, he will have that support because Republicans will retain their seats.

A Trump win will mean that all that ugly rhetoric about minorities, women, the poor, and the disabled will morph into actions that hurt those people.  Have people not been listening?  This man – and I use that term loosely – thinks protesters should be jailed and/or beaten, and encourages his supporters to do that.

A Trump win will not only mean a reversal of reproductive rights, but maybe jail time for women to “punish” them.  Certainly we will see laws that jail doctors for this.

But that’s ok, I guess, because Sanders supporters can just smugly say “I told you so” as they rant and rave on social media, completely oblivious to the fact that this does not do a damn thing to change anything.

We had a saying, those of us in the old, far left – you know someone by their practice, not by their words.  This is so pertinent to what’s going on today.

I don’t really have a problem with Sanders sticking things out until the end.  What I do have a problem with is his practice, his tendency to ignore everyone but young, white people.  That, to me, speaks volumes…and I find it very disappointing that someone who touts himself as a socialist still is not addressing people who suffer the most under capitalism.

Yes, he does mention us marginalized folks in his stump speeches.  But look at where he campaigns, for the most part.  Look at who his supporters are, for the most part.  Oh, there are occasional minority people who pop up at his rallies, but they are often rich and famous minority people, like Spike Lee.

Aside #4: I know, Clinton does this as well.  But a cursory look at their rallies reveals that Sanders supporters are overwhelmingly white and middle class.  Clinton’s rank and file are more representative of “real” people.

Sanders is still almost entirely focused on his own campaign, his own wish to be the nominee. His speeches consist almost entirely of attacking the Wall St rich backers of candidates (which is a valid point but ok already, people get it), explaining what his presidency will do – in the vaguest of terms, and now taunting Trump because Trump refuses to debate him (because Trump has no ideas to debate).

Where are the real-life examples of what Sanders will do to help the most vulnerable of people in America?  He has stated that he doesn’t understand how anyone can live off of “11,324/year” (“Social Security”, Bernie Sanders, Bernie Quotes for a Better World website, no date).

11,324/year???  Wow, everyone I know – and this includes my clients at my volunteer job who consist of elderly, disabled people – would be over the moon with that monthly payment (~$943/month)!  Why? Because, unless someone has retirement benefits or something, people on SSI/SSDI get $750/month at most.  That is what I get, and that’s what everyone I know gets.

I have no idea where he gets that number, but it shows how out of touch he is with the poor.

I think he, for the most part, cares more about his ego, and his nomination, than he does about the people he supposedly is representing.  I think he would take down the entire Democratic Party if he thought it served his interests, and I come to that conclusion reluctantly.

The most important issue right now is to defeat Trump.  I don’t think I need to explain why.  But, even when Sanders states – over and over again – that polls indicate he would beat Trump in a general election, I think that it’s going to be painfully obvious that the old “anti-American, anti-Communist/Socialist” rhetoric is going to be the Republican Party’s most used weapon against Sanders, were he to get the nomination.

The reason is, the Republican Party and Trump feed on fear and ignorance.  They hate women so Clinton is the enemy, and they hate “commies” so Sanders is the enemy.  Is Bernie going to take great pains to explain why socialism isn’t an evil idea that is, to many people, traitorous and totalitarian?

Clinton has a better chance of making her claim that sexism just won’t fly with most women anymore, and point out that the Republican Party and Trump are reactionary, hateful people. With the exception of some loudmouthed idiots, most people will not openly support blatantly sexist rhetoric or ideas.

Um…ever read the comments sections by “Bernie or Bust” people about Clinton?  “Blatantly sexist” doesn’t even begin to describe that.  Or take the interviews of Sanders supporters you see on TV – yes, they mostly mention Clinton taking a lot of money for speeches to corporations. But there is also a disturbing sub-text, an almost pathological hatred of her because she is female.

I can come to no other conclusion.  I have seen some bitter, contentious political fights but I am always aware that the most virulent and hateful rhetoric is reserved for women and minorities. If they are strong women who dare to stand up to a man (unlike Palin and other right-wing women), they are vilified to an extent that I have only seen reserved for our current president (because of his race).

Sanders needs to get his ego in check and talk – really talk – to his supporters.  Otherwise, when the time comes to unite the party against Trump, we are going to lose a lot of voters due to false morality, sexism, or just sour grapes because Sanders lost the nomination.

It’s not about him, it’s about our country and the gains progressives have made over the years. He needs to change his rhetoric – not only to help defeat Trump, but to educate his supporters that “progressive” does not mean “my special interests” regarding student loans and other millennial concerns, that it means addressing the deepest and sickest problems of the entire country under capitalism.

So, now, I am torn.  If Sanders loses the nomination, as he is predicted to, my vote in the presidential election will be for someone who is bought and paid for by the system.  But at least Clinton has the possibility of being pushed farther to the left, once elected – because I happen to think that Clinton really does care about people and their problems.  She realizes how dangerous Trump is and is urging people to focus on defeating him.

Sanders realizes how dangerous Trump is, too, but his main focus is still on his campaign and the electoral system.  If he doesn’t start addressing, in a clear and principled way, the problems this country has specifically, he is going to send “Never Hillary” people scrambling to vote Libertarian, or to not vote at all – both of which hurt the Democratic Party and ultimately help Trump (though he may also lose votes to Libertarians).

Libertarians – who think that poor people ought to just rely on charities or…or I guess just lay down and die.  Libertarians – who think that a “free market” will solve everything and by God if those poor, elderly, and disabled people weren’t so lazy, they would get jobs that would magically appear if capitalism was unfettered by any controls or checks/balances.

Libertarians – who believe that everyone should just have health insurance savings accounts, but who have no answer as to where we are all supposed to get the money to put in a savings account.  Oh yeah, those magical jobs that will appear to hire those of us who, so far, as so marginalized by society that no one will hire us.

Why do I think a portion of “Never Hillary” or “Bernie or Bust” people will vote Libertarian?  It’s because of the last election that Libertarians ran in, with Ron Paul as their nominee.  I talked to a lot of people who considered themselves “progressive”, who were Libertarians, because of some of the policies Libertarians support (marriage equality and reproductive rights, to mention two).

These so-called progressives, though, also railed against welfare and social security.  Their ideas still only revolved around helping the middle class.  I see the same thing with some Bernie supporters.  Not all of them, of course, but a portion of them.

The election is a few months away.  I hope to see things change and evolve so that we can keep Republicans and fascists out of power.  I still wear my Bernie shirt, and if I had it to do over again I still would have voted for him in the primary.

But I am becoming disillusioned with Sanders.   I will be watching and hoping he changes his tone, and perhaps adds more women to his campaign rolls.  I hope he becomes more specific in his speeches on how he is going to change things.   If by some extraordinary circumstance he is the nominee, I will vote for him and maybe even campaign for him (if I am not sick).

I am also watching Hillary Clinton.  As of this blog post, I have to say that she has displayed a high degree of self-control and has not been distracted by the many criticisms thrown at her. As for her emails, I would venture to guess – based on my experience with one of my tech savvy kids who actually sets up servers – that her server at home was much more secure than the one at the State Dept.  Also, many of these so-called rules she broke were not even in effect when she was Secretary of State.

But I have noticed that there seems to be so much hatred towards Hillary Clinton, so much unreasonable dislike of her (unreasonable in that a lot of people can’t even articulate why they hate her), that I wonder how she will turn that around.  She’s not young, she’s not model pretty, she seems to talk fairly straight when asked questions, and she won’t let Trump bully her.

Maybe we just aren’t ready for a woman president.  I would like to think that this isn’t true.  But, as Nancy Downstairs put it the other day, when I expressed sadness at the sexism I see all around, “It’ll always be that way.”  I sincerely hope not.

Weirdness of the day comes from the Reuters website, just because it shows how easy it is to generate a lot of views over the most stupid of things:

“Texas Woman and Her Chewbacca Mask Go Viral”.  Yes, I know – I’m a grump.  I found this woman annoyingly self-involved.  The fact that she then went on several TV shows just boggles my mind.  But, there you go – you might find it funny.

Recommendation for the week?  Sorry, too sick to recommend anything right now.  In fact, it took several days for me to write this, because I feel so awful.

Be good.  Be kind.  Be well.





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