Bernie Sanders’ “Revolution,” is an ideology put in place to keep women and people of color down under the false banner of progressivism.
Normally when I dare to talk about Bernie Sanders I’m riffing off an article or a statistic or a vote. I’m not going to do that today. I’m going to talk about his [bowel] movement. I’m doing this because really, this is the core of the problem with Bernie.
And yeah, we can talk about his rape essays, or his vote against the Amber alert, his vote against the Magnitsky Act, his vote to fund the F-35 program, his support of big sugar, his failing health, his various instances of support for the gun lobby, his abstention from a vote sanctioning Russia, his unwillingness to explain his Medicare for All plan, that time he wanted to primary Obama, his really hypocritical approach to campaign funding, or the fact that he plays so fast and loose with his campaign funds that the FEC has had to send him multiple letters including one that was about 600 pages long.
That’s just a top hits medley I put together. Not even really “top hits,” actually. If I’m being honest I wouldn’t know where to begin on how to rank Sanders’ failings in public service. Would the time he used the n-word in his book be less or more forgivable than the time he dismissed sexual harassment in his campaign?
Sure, in each of these instances you can probably contrive some means of forgiving Sanders his sins. Each of these alone is pretty bad, but they’re just reasons I would never vote for him. I also wouldn’t want to be in the same room as him because based on these I don’t get the impression that Sanders would acknowledge my personhood.
But I didn’t take to social media and post daily about why John McCain or Mitt Romney shouldn’t be President. McCain and Romney haven’t been in lock-step with Sanders, but they have espoused similar views. So you might wonder why I’m all up in arms over Sanders. Well, it’s because as much as I disagreed with McCain and Romney and as much as I found some of their political positions personally dehumanizing, they were and are “little d” democrats. What I mean by that is that they were willing to accept majority rule. They weren’t running some long con. So yeah, I disagree with them on the political stuff but I was confident that I could just go to the ballot box and vote against them and that would be the end of it.
Sanders, in contrast, has been trying to mobilize his supporters to disenfranchise people like me.
Now, again we can point to Sanders’ campaign pulling volunteers from polling stations where he knew he couldn’t win thereby suppressing the vote and we can talk about his relative success in caucuses versus primaries where the time commitment necessary effectively silences women and people of color. But while those are very real concerns, that’s not what I’m on about.
We are at an inflection point in our society. We’ve actually been here for some time. I would point to Obama’s Presidency as not the start of this inflection point but certainly indicative of it. Women and people of color are starting to be recognized and valued for our work and accomplishments.
So that’s really cool. I’ve worked my weird white butt off knowing that the black version of me wouldn’t have the opportunities I’ve had but also watching white men with half my qualifications and not even a quarter of my potential getting scholarships and high paying jobs and all manner of things that they just didn’t earn and now, at last, we’re beginning to enter a world where I will actually be paid for my work and not expected to also do extra chores for my male colleagues.
And before any of you guys try to gaslight me in the comments, I have actually been put in a position where I had to regularly make tea for men simply because they are men. I succeeded in taking a position over them and was still asked to do it so the way I got out of it was by spilling the tea all over every time they made me serve it.
Thing is though, the reason my white male colleagues have forced me to do stuff like serve them tea or clean up after them is because I threaten them. And I did actually at one point ask a white guy, “why are you doing this,” and his literal response was, “to teach you a lesson.” This sort of discriminatory behaviour on the part of white men is not an accident. They’re not doing this because they don’t know better; they’re doing it because they’re afraid.
Many white men have told me to my face that they believe I’m less intelligent than them or weaker than them or more emotional than them simply because I’m female. And the issue with that argument is — ironically — the guys making it are not thinking logically. They’ll tell you they are, but this “line of reasoning,” is fear-based. Their entire self-worth, their entire status and identity is based on them being just naturally and incidentally better than me and thereby deserving the massive privilege that would entail.
Bernie Sanders’ “Revolution,” is about enforcing white male privilege. It’s not progressive at all; it’s a backlash.
If you read any memoir by a person of color — and here I’m thinking specifically about Becoming by Michelle Obama and Dreams from my Father, penned by her husband although really if you actually listen to people of color these will not be the only two people who mention it — they will at some point mention in some context that for a ‘black person to succeed she must work twice as hard to get half as far.’ And this remains true. Like I said, as a woman, I’ve worked my butt off and still had to deal with white men with half my qualifications getting more opportunities than me. But as a WHITE woman I’ve also watched my peers of color deal with the same and worse discrimination.
And just so we’re clear there’s nothing about being white that makes a person naturally better and there’s nothing about being male that does it either. All the privilege that white men have is sociological. There is no biological basis for the massive economic and social advantages white men are awarded on the sole basis of their identity.
As we shyly edge towards an egalitarian society where people are evaluated on the “content of their character,” we run up against the resistance of another figure from Dr. Martin Luther King’s writings: the “white moderate,” The following is excerpted from his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”
“I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time; and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
Now there’s two arguments Sanders supporters use to try to except themselves from this critique and I’m going to address them both.
- MLK is addressing the problems of the “white moderate” and Sanders supporters will remind you that they’ve styled themselves as “far left.”
- MLK is actually calling for radical change which on the surface is what “Revolution,” is supposed to be about.
So let’s do the call out here. MLK is correct in assessment that white moderates are the problem and that incremental change in society in regards to civil rights is not an appropriately robust response to vast and institutional inequality. The reason we can “stare in civil rights abuse” at Sanders and his supporters is because while they style themselves as far left their actual ideology lands them in the moderate to conservative range and while Sanders has advocated radical change in economic issues particularly pertaining to those which would most concern white people and specifically white men, his response to civil rights and even human rights has been dismissive.
Sanders’ entire career has been about making sure that issues of social disparity and discrimination took a back-of-the-bus seat relative to economic considerations. Now, you can argue that economics is a component of social inequality and that is undeniably true. But it is a component; it is not the entire basis of race and gender inequality. If you address only economic inequality and either dismiss or ignore social inequality you end up only exacerbating the problem.
Let’s talk about clothes and hair in the workplace. Imagine yourself in a super fancy high powered firm of some sort. What are the men wearing? What are the women wearing? How is their hair done? What would you say if he wore that same shirt tomorrow? What would you say if she did? What is on their feet? Is she too sexy? Why? Is he to sexy? Is anyone’s hair braided? How long is everyone’s hair?
You might not think at first glance any of that is a big deal, but it is. I’ve been reprimanded for my footwear. Women’s wardrobes cost considerably more than men’s, African Americans sometimes have to go through long, painful, and expensive salon treatments to make their hair “work appropriate,” and just imagine what would happen if a female receptionist at a firm like that didn’t have a full face of make-up. That takes a minimum of thirty minutes every morning. So even in a world where everything is economically equal and everyone has access to the same education and there’s no hiring discrimination and there’s even wage equality across race and gender if you’re not addressing the social issues you’re still keeping women and people of color down. If my footwear gets me a mark in my record how do you think that’s going to go for me if I’m up for a promotion against a male colleague?
And we haven’t even talked about unpaid labor.
Now, some of you might be thinking, “okay, but who’s going to think of that? Seriously.” And here’s where we get into that word MLK used: “paternalistically.” Now he was talking about timing, but we can extend this concept to the whole system. Why should a white man like Sanders or like the majority of Sanders’ supporters get to decide the conditions of my humanity? Despite everything I do not hate Sanders and I do not think he means to be a force for evil. But it’s clear he doesn’t think of these things. But I do. Other women do. People of color do. LGBTQ+ individuals do. And we do because we’re forced to. These things effect our daily lives. We’re not rewarded for doing the laundry, but we are punished if it doesn’t get done. And that is time that we could have spent doing something that got us accolades or money. That is time white men get to spend doing whatever they like because as white men they are given credit not only for their work, but the work of those around them.
Again, in many cases I don’t actually think white men even know this is happening. I’ve been called a “dumb [c-word],” a lot by Sanders supporters, but even when they’re being that openly misogynist I really do think it’s more about the fact that they fear me and the threat I theoretically represent to their privileged position than them actively trying to push me back into the domestic sphere. I think they’re so blind to how many times their mom has cleaned their underwear or their girlfriend has brought them soup when they’re sick that they truly don’t understand the labor that went into that. But this is the problem.
Men, particularly white men, do not see the myriad of issues directly impacting the lives of roughly 70% of the American population. But these white men want to tell women and people of color that the solution is really economics and that we’re just not charismatic enough or just don’t understand the problems or our voices are too shrill or we’re just imagining inequality when really we should be more like men but of course we should both not complain that we don’t get maternity leave and also not be bad mothers.
Bernie Sanders has told everyone that he’s going to fix the problem via economics. Cool story, bro. Except when we ask how that works he tells us not to worry our pretty little heads. That’s paternalistic. But then if we point out that he’s reinforcing a discriminatory system and perhaps a woman or person of color should lead he and his supporters give us the conflicting arguments that we somehow haven’t earned the right to decide our own fates and also are establishment/elitist.
An actual progressive movement means that those who have been discriminated against gain in rights and hopefully become equal. Liberalism is about expanding human and civil rights as well as increasing the impact of minority voices within a democratic system. A revolution is a far more violent affair — and yes, I’m aware Sanders has talked about his as being bloodless, but his supporters made threats, SWATed women over tweets or for writing books, and may be involved in some of the incel terrorist attacks — which involves overthrowing the powerful in favor of the less powerful. A true revolution would mean black women gaining power supported by other black women. In no sense is Sanders’ “movement” which involves white men threatening, doxxing, and suppressing women and people of color a revolution.
Instead, Sanders and his supporters are supporting the status quo and worse, by calling himself an uncompromising far left liberal Sanders has confused the conversation and forced real liberals and real progressives to redefine themselves. Again, a lot of what Sanders is doing floats around political ideology in the far right particularly in regards to personal liberty and authoritarian versus democratic governance. But because of his economic positions he can’t really be defined as a Republican or a Libertarian despite being further right than them on most issues. Also, despite Democrats lowering the importance of economics in their own consideration, Sanders’ economic positions in a vacuum are far left. So in talking to liberals he just shuts down any discussion of anything that’s not economic and refuses to elaborate.
Sanders’ campaign(s) have always been a backlash. He is particularly angry with the DNC because despite the DNC having funded a lot of his races he’s failed to gain power within the Party and the DNC does actually value the contributions of women and people of color. So while I usually have to watch mediocre white men get jobs and opportunities and grants over me, Sanders has had to watch as black women with CVs he could never match get promoted within the DNC. To him this is threatening because to him it’s an inversion. He believes as a white man he should be the obvious first pick.
But as we lean into this historical inflection point the double time pace that women and people of color have had to keep up on the outside track is about to pay off. We’re starting to see more equality and because we put in so much extra work just to keep up we’re beginning to see the very start of a huge increase in women and people of color being hired, promoted, elected, published and so on. It’s as if most of society has had to train with heavy weights for two hundred years and those weights are now finally being removed. But for Sanders and other white men who never wore those weights it’s terrifying. They were doing well and now all of a sudden all these people who were so far behind are zipping past.
Sanders and his supporters are mad. They don’t want to be left in the dust even if they never did bother to train. Because our society is in transition, because women and people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals are gaining in civil and human rights and even power, white men are watching their special place in society occupied by people who aren’t male and aren’t white. They’re afraid we might treat them as poorly as they treated us. We won’t, because tragedy breeds empathy more than it does vengeance, but that’s not an entirely illogical fear.
But Bernie Sanders is selling all this as if somehow black women are keeping the white man down. Black women work fast so maybe they’d only need two hundred or so years to do to white men what white men have done to them, but we’re still talking about a millennium of institutional racism and sexism. What Sanders is selling isn’t progressivism, or liberalism, or even revolution. It’s just old-fashioned, tried-and-true resentment. It keeps us from talking about the actual issues, it keeps white men in power, and it gives white guys an excuse to dismiss people’s actual experience and say some just absurdly sexist stuff in comments and on twitter. But in the end, Sanders cannot reverse the inflection, he can only prolong it.
So if you’re a Sanders supporter still at this point I don’t think we can be friends because your “tribe” has threatened me, called me the c-word, harassed me, tried to doxx me and done absolutely unspeakable things to my friends who don’t have the white lady shield I carry. But I will promise you that I will never do that sort of thing to you. I will never treat you with the absolute dehumanizing disgust you’ve treated me. And the reason I won’t do that is I am not afraid of you and I do believe you can do better.
And of course if you’re like most Americans and aren’t a Sanders supporter, cool. Let’s salsa.
#NeverBernie #UnelectableBS #VettingBernie