One More Try

For some reason, many (not all) people are either unable or unwilling to see the sexism being directed at Hillary Clinton this primary season.  I know I’ve been going on about this, but I thought I’d give it one more try.  But, this time I’m going to go about it differently.  I’m going to provide a list, for those having difficulty avoiding sexism, of legitimate reasons not to vote for Clinton.

  1. If you are against women controlling their own reproductive freedom and this is an important or decisive issue for you, then don’t vote for Hillary Clinton.  You probably want a Republican.
  2. If you are anti-immigration, either because of wage depression or xenophobia, and this is an important or decisive issue for you, then don’t vote for Hillary Clinton.  All of the other candidates are better for you.
  3. If you believe that the gun industry (or any industry) should be protected by Congress from civil litigation and this is an important or decisive issue for you, then don’t vote for Hillary Clinton.  Again, all of the other candidates are better for you.
  4. If you are against universal pre-K, and this is an important or decisive issue for you, then don’t vote for Hillary Clinton.  You’re going to want a Republican in this election.
  5. If you are for massive amounts of debt for public colleges and this is an important or decisive issue for you, then don’t vote for Hillary Clinton.  The Republicans are better for you on this.
  6. If you want to keep tax rates as low or lower than they are now and this is an important or decisive issue for you, then don’t vote for Hillary Clinton.  The Republican candidates are much more likely to keep tax rates down.
  7. If you are against free trade agreements and this is an important or decisive issue for you, then don’t vote for Hillary Clinton.  All of the other candidates are against free trade.
  8. If you are against the Affordable Care Act, either because government should stay out of healthcare or because it doesn’t go far enough and this is an important or decisive issue for you, then don’t vote for Hillary Clinton.  The Republicans will help if you want government out of healthcare and Sanders is your man if idealism is that important.
  9. If you are a pacifist and this is an important or decisive issue for you, then don’t vote for Hillary Clinton.  Bernie Sanders or a third party candidate will be your best bet for pacifism.
  10. If you are against trying to mitigate the effects of global warming and this is an important or decisive issue for you, then don’t vote for Hillary Clinton.  The Republicans have this covered.

Obviously, this is not a complete list.  I just want to point out the important features of this list.  First, it sticks to actual issues and positions of the candidates.  Second, at no point does it assume that Clinton is nothing more than an extension of her husband.  Whatever you think of her, she is her own person with her own ideas and agency.  Third, it doesn’t play into any pre-existing stereotypes.  Let’s face it, when people try to make issues out of Clinton’s work, looks, decisiveness, income and shrillness (among other things) they are playing into those stereotypes.  I know this will raise hackles, but there is nothing you can say about Clinton in these areas that doesn’t also apply to all of the other candidates in this, and any other, election cycle.  Even Bernie Sanders is rich (certainly by my standards, and most regular people’s standards), has excepted compensation from institutions most people despise (The House of Representatives and Senate), fails to look presidential, yells a lot and has voted for things in the past (like the Crime Bill) that he now feels differently about.  Finally, I avoided talk of Clinton’s personality altogether.  This isn’t an election to decide who we’d like to hang out with.  And, I’d really like to think that people’s decision to not vote for Trump or Cruz or Sanders has nothing to do with their personalities because it shouldn’t.  The decision should be based solely on the issues.

And, just as a reminder, I know this list isn’t for everyone.  Many people have already made up their minds for non-sexist reasons.  Also, this shouldn’t be taken as advocating a vote for Clinton.  It is just to aid those of you who don’t want to vote for Clinton, but are struggling to find a non-sexist way to do that because I’m really sick of trying to navigate through the truly abhorrent mass of sexism every morning as I try to read the news.  I hope this helps.

Advertisements

The Real Problem With Bernie’s Unqualified Comment

I wasn’t going to comment on this.  When I saw on the news on Thursday that Bernie Sanders had said that Hillary Clinton is not qualified to be president, I was going to ignore it.  I was sure about a million other people would talk about it, so why add my voice?  Plus, I’m completely sick of this election.

I was partly right.  About a million other people did talk about it.  The problem was that no one seemed to talk about the actual problem with the statement.  Some people came to Clinton’s defense and spelled out her qualifications.  Others attacked Sanders by saying that he is less qualified than Clinton.  And still others agreed with Sanders saying that Clinton isn’t qualified.  No one that I saw, though, commented on the first thing I noticed in the statement, sexism.

I have no idea what Sanders was thinking when he made the statement, but it is really the perfect example of dog-whistle sexism.  He didn’t mention gender at all, but the only way questioning the qualifications of a former senator and secretary of state could land is by picking up on some kind of bigotry.  That may not have been his intention, and I’m willing to give Sanders the benefit of the doubt, but even unintentional sexism is wrong and Sanders needs to stop it.  And someone much more important than I am should let him know.

HRC Is Better Than BS

When the Democratic results on Super Tuesday came in, I felt relieved.  I wasn’t expecting that reaction.  I thought I was undecided, but I guess I’m undecided no longer.  I was a little nervous that Bernie Sanders would upset Clinton and I felt better about things when it became clear that Clinton would take the day.

The funny thing is, going from undecided to pulling for Clinton had absolutely nothing to do with Clinton.  As Sanders’ campaign gets more and more serious and I learn more and more about him, the less I like him as a presidential candidate.  This has been coming for a little bit, but I was resisting.  I find the Sanders’ supporters to be generally pretty off-putting.  I was afraid that I was holding Sanders’ supporters against Sanders himself.  Now, though, I’m pretty sure it is Sanders himself that I object to.

One thing that has bothered me from the beginning about Sanders’ campaign is his blatant populism.  In life, it is usually best to avoid making decisions out of anger and resentment.  But, the main source of Sanders’ appeal is anger and resentment.  It is just tapping into the anger people feel towards the establishment, towards banks, towards the military and towards debt.  This isn’t to say that I like any of these things, but I don’t want to choose a president based on negative feelings.  I want to choose someone based on reason and what I think they will do while in office.

The more important thing, though, that tipped me from undecided is that Sanders is running a backwards looking campaign.  For all the talk about progressive politics and revolution, I just don’t see anything forward looking.  Sanders is simply an old school Democrat.  He believes in the New Deal and the Great Society.  Two of the biggest issues that he campaigns on are restoring Glass-Steagall and the Voters’ Rights Act, at least that’s what it sounds like to me when he talks about breaking up the banks and marching with Dr. King.  I disagree with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, but I don’t think re-instituting a law from the 1930s is the right way to deal with it.  What we need is new legislation that regulates modern financial markets and securities.  Likewise, I strongly disagreed with the Supreme Court’s decision to void a good chunk of the Voters’ Rights Act.  But, simply restoring the Act won’t do much.  I want us to address all of the ways of denying people the vote that have popped up since 1965.

I guess what it comes down to is he is campaigning on idealism, but his ideals don’t do much for me.  They seem like the same old thing that Democrats have been saying for 80 years.  If I were going to back a revolution, it would have to have some proposals that are actually revolutionary.  I don’t think we peaked in the 1960’s and I don’t want to go back to that time.  So, Sanders isn’t my guy.  At least Clinton is up front about being evolutionary rather than revolutionary.  And, if nothing else, electing a woman would be ground breaking.

Bernie and Donald

I’ve been seeing something baffling lately.  I don’t know if it’s widespread or if it’s just a quirk of my social media feeds, but I’ve been seeing a bunch of people saying that Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are the same.  I don’t mean to say that they have similarities (I’ll talk about those later).  They seem to be implying that they are virtually interchangeable candidates.  I wish I knew if these people are purposely trolling or if they really don’t understand.

Their case takes a couple of different, but related forms.  Sometimes it starts with the obvious Trump/Hitler comparisons.  Just take a Hitler speech and swap Jews for Muslims and Communists for Mexicans and you pretty much have a Trump speech.  Then, they say that the Nazis were the National Socialist Party and Sanders is a Democratic Socialist.  They point out that both Sanders and Hitler wanted universal healthcare and strong public transportation and think they’ve made their point.  Trump has something in common with Hitler and so does Sanders, so they must be the same.  The other form is to start with Sanders’ supposed socialism.  Then, they point out all of the socialist/leftist things that Trump has mentioned like single payer health care and avoiding military entanglements.  So, either Trump is an obvious fascist and Sanders is a fascist in disguise or Sanders is an obvious socialist and Trump is a socialist in disguise.  Either way, they are the same.

The big problem with this line of thought is that having things in common is not enough to make people the same.  Trump and Sanders are not even similar, except superficially.  They are both old, white men.  They agree on a couple of issues (maybe.  It’s almost impossible to know what Trump actually believes.).  But, Sanders has been a public servant for his entire adult life while Trump is a celebrity/businessman.  Sanders is consistent while Trump is mercurial.  Sanders is concerned for others while Trump is completely selfish.

Given that they are not even similar, let alone the same, why all of this talk about them both being fascist (or socialist)?  I think it has to do with the most important similarity that they have, they are both populists.  Populism is a funny thing.  It comes in many varieties.  Saying all populists are alike is like saying all pop music is alike (Hey, did you hear the new Kanye?  It sounds just like “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”.).  Just knowing that any two people are populist politicians  doesn’t mean you know anything specific about their ideas or policies.  It just means that they are tapping into the people for their support as opposed to the establishment.

The really funny (or sad) thing is that populism is enough for a huge number of Americans.  They are angry and supporting a populist candidate, whichever populist candidate, seems to be their way of expressing that anger.  While I don’t think that Sanders and Trump have anything substantive in common, I do find it fascinating how much many of their supporters seem to have in common.

 

Something Is Bothering Me

There’s something that’s been bothering me about this primary season on the Democrat’s side.  Whenever I read something written by a Hillary Clinton supporter, they always seem to say that they like Bernie Sanders and then go on to say why they like Clinton better.  But, whenever I read something written by a Bernie Sanders supporter, they always seem to detest Hillary Clinton.  I find that odd on its own.  This is a primary after all.  These two agree on far more than they disagree on.  I read somewhere that when Clinton and Sanders were in the Senate together, they voted the same way 93% of the time.  Politically speaking, that makes them almost the same person.  However, the thing that I find bothersome is that the hatred seems real.

Elections are always full of overheated rhetoric.  That’s the nature of the beast.  But, in the primaries, people are supposed to leave themselves an out.  When Clinton lost to Obama in the 2008 primaries, all of her supporters were easily able to support Obama.  When Howard Dean lost to John Kerry in 2004, it was easy for all of his supporters to support Kerry.  This feels different.

The reaction of Sanders’ supporters to Paul Krugman’s recent piece in the New York Times illustrates why.  They have been loudly accusing Krugman of being a sellout, a shill for the Clinton campaign and far worse.  They have even been suggesting that he doesn’t understand basic economics or that he is being willfully blind.  I don’t read Krugman very much, but I do know that he has been a vocal supporter of Obama for many years, even going so far as to call him a legitimately great president.  So, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that he supports Clinton’s proposals, which are much closer to Obama than Sanders.  But, it’s beyond me how a simple criticism of their candidate leads to such anger.  Krugman was literally just doing his job.  It’s fine to disagree, but there is no excuse for the vitriol being spewed.

A big part of what’s bothering me comes from the polls that show Sanders doing better in the general election than Clinton.  There are only a couple of ways that works.  It is possible that Clinton would get the entirety of the Democrats, but not get any Republicans or Independents while Sanders would do reasonably well with all three, but that doesn’t seem likely (I should say, I haven’t looked at a detailed breakdown of the polls).  Sanders has to be anathema to any small government types and all of the evangelicals.  They make up a decent chunk of the Republicans and Independents.  The other possibility is that if Sanders wins the primaries, all of Clinton’s supporters will back him, but Sanders’ supporters won’t support Clinton if she wins the primaries.

If the second possibility is the case, that makes Sanders’ supporters (and by default, Sanders) into Ralph Nader if Clinton wins the primaries.  That very idea terrifies me.   All those Democrats and left leaning Independents who hated Gore because they saw him as an extension of Bill Clinton gave us eight years of George Bush.  Is it possible that we have learned so little in the last 16 years that Sanders’ supporters could give us a Trump presidency?  It’s starting to look that way.