Disguised Conservatism and Performative Progressivism

They’re not “Political Junkies,” they’re just Irrelevant Misogynists.

Image for post
Biden has nominated Neera Tanden to lead the OMB and conservatives on both the left and right are super mad about a woman of colour potentially holding power. (Source)

Hope springs eternal. It truly does. For instance, I had hoped that we could elect a reasonable Democrat with a decent amount of experience who would then populate the upper echelons of her — for I had initially hoped it would be a certain Kamala at the top of the ticket — administration with a diverse cast of characters that reasonably represented the American population as a whole and would be in a position to faithfully execute their offices. I had also hoped that once said individual was elected and started picking diverse and experienced women that we’d stop having to have this discussion about why white men totally aren’t being super sexist when applying extreme double standards to female candidates, politicians, and nominees.

But evidently, we cannot have nice things.

Biden has nominated some really superb people to his cabinet and to the various offices to which a President must appoint people. And as worried as I was about having yet another old, white, male President I do recognize that the women he has chosen are all superbly qualified probably to a greater degree than most or any of the men who have held those positions in the past and I sincerely doubt that any other candidate excepting Kamala Harris or Hillary Clinton would have been able to look past their race and gender to appreciate their talent. Honestly, I need to give Biden credit where it is due. He is populating his cabinet with diverse and talented people rather than restricting his choices to white men who may or may not have failed upward.

So naturally there’s a lot of white men who have failed upward who are extremely upset.

Image for post
I’m at a loss for whether I should make a joke about decapitation, cod-pieces and infertility, or just go for the whole Harry Styles in a dress being unsuitably “manly,” thing.

There were some grumblings about all of the picks because oh dearie me a woman heading out a government office in our year of the Lord 2021? Be still my beating heart. But then Neera Tanden was announced and it was a bit like Biden mic dropped or something.

Unsurprisingly, the GOP super hate her. Not only is she a woman of colour but she also has a history and says things online. This can be expected because frankly, the guiding principle of the Republican Party is now and has been for the past several decades relentless bigotry and selfish near to outright authoritarian sentiment. Also, she’s the OMB pick for the office of the opposing Party who just defeated their incumbent. So yeah. They mad.

Also unsurprisingly, “Bernieworld” super hate her. This is because not only is she a woman of colour but she also has a history and says things online. I made the observation — echoing another tweet from someone with a lot more followers than me — that the entire reason Bernieworld so often echoes conservative or Republican sentiment is because at their base, their guiding principle is the same.

Naturally, a white man then got mad at me.

According to him, Neera Tanden personally bombs people for money. And of course as we all know that was definitely the totally valid and unbiased reason so many fake progressives used to justify opposition to a litany of other female legislators and cabinet members including but not limited to Hillary Clinton, Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, Susan Rice, Madeline Albright, and so forth. Strangely, it never comes up when discussing men in either Party despite all men having a comparable record in both votes and policy.

And yes, Bernie Sanders is also guilty of this. Sanders absolutely has voted to authorize wars or leave troops in place. He’s often cited as having opposed the Iraq War and if you look at only his vote for authorization that is true, but he supported multiple amendments and bills which financed the war. I’m not going to decide for you whether thing = bad, but if it’s bad for Neera Tanden then it should also be bad for Bernie Sanders.

But, okay, we have Sanders’ actual votes and we do have votes for several of the women mentioned above. We can actually evaluate those which have held elected office based on their votes. It gets a bit more dicey with Susan Rice and Madeline Albright, but they do also have had some pretty public careers. But, Neera Tanden has only held office as head of the student body at UCLA. And unless I’ve missed something she’s never headed out a diplomatic office. Even in the world of hilariously extreme double standards it’s weird that the fauxgressives are attacking Tanden on supposedly being a “hawk.”

Image for post
Ah. No, that makes sense. Also, this is the result you get if you do a google image search for “rapey white man who leveraged misogyny to fail upwards.” (PETER NICHOLS / REUTERS)

Tanden may or may not have written a very short email back in 2011 to someone who apparently did not then and still doesn’t like her that had an ethically questionable and reductive view on war. And it got Wikileaked. To be entirely honest I question the veracity of all wikileaks because it rarely tells the whole story and it’s super interesting to me that with so many men doing incredibly questionable things most of the people “exposed” by wikileaks are women who had prior good reputations. Also, Assange’s other projects include blaming feminists for everything, hurting kittens, and smearing walls with his own faeces.

Even if we make the pretty absurd assumptions that we can trust Assange, the email is not fabricated, the few lines of text indicating a likely prior conversation are not devoid of meaning taken outside of context, and Tanden has not changed her opinion on the matter in nine years it’s the only thing fauxgressives seem to have on her and it’s irrelevant to her potential position at the OMB.

Members of the Republican Party especially Senators are mad specifically and exclusively because she said mean things about them on Twitter. That’s so obviously stupid that I’m really not going to take the time to point out the orange painted elephant in the room, but it also makes sense because they’re from the opposing Party. Them stomping their feet a bit is to be expected. It’s dumb and I will expect — and likely be disappointed — that after they’ve voiced their criticism, they’ll behave like adults, but it’s not really all that weird.

But according to Bernieworld she’s the devil in a blue dress. They have a few other complaints about her but all of them are misinterpretations or outright lies. For instance one of the issues they seem to have is that while she was at the head of Center for American Progress, ThinkProgress which is part of their Action Fund but editorially independent released a video criticizing Sanders for changing his rhetoric about millionaires once it was disclosed that he himself was one. So basically, an editorially unrelated organization released a video that pointed out his hypocrisy and so now a woman who had nothing to do with it is definitely solely responsible for this and also all the evil in the world.

Remember: Benghazi. But her emails. Cookie-gate.

Image for post
Pictured: A blue man failing upwards. I’m kidding. I love cookie monster. (Sesame Street)

There are other things that Bernieworld aka the Lone Fauxgressives aka the BernieBros aka closeted Republicans are mad about regarding Neera Tanden, but it’s all means of not talking about why they actually don’t like her. I’ll lay it out.

Neera Tanden:

a.) worked with Hillary Clinton and has a history of working with other Democrats in the past even appearing at the 2016 Democratic Convention

b.) is Asian-American

c.) is a woman

d.) isn’t from “Bernieworld.”

Their stated reasoning tends to be that she’s somehow not liberal enough but everything she’s involved in is super liberal. That’s why the GOP hate her so much. She’s super effective at getting progressive legislation and policy through. They’ve got a whole thing about her supposedly trying to defund Social Security or something, but again, the narrative is so full of holes you could drain spaghetti in it.

Bernieworld has their own set of people they wanted chosen for Biden’s cabinet and the issue with Neera Tanden aside from her not having man parts is that she wasn’t on their list. Keep in mind Bernieworld lost in 2016 not because there was some weird conspiracy against them as they repeatedly claim, but because Hillary Clinton was a far better candidate in all possible ways and ran a far better campaign. They then lost by more in 2020 not because Biden was better than Clinton, but because a lot of the people who had previously bought into the misogynist rhetoric woke up and got out and misogynist rhetoric doesn’t do well against a female candidate, but it does incredibly poorly against a male one.

Basically, and this goes well beyond Tanden or any of Biden’s other picks, Bernieworld is not about progressivism or super far leftism. Bernie Sanders and his supporters are ideologically near identical to the Republican Party. The only place in which they differ is economic policy. A lot of them don’t seem to understand that there’s a great deal more to ideology, politics, and governance than money and so because they differ in that one place so much they think if Republicans are right then they must be left. And so they’re trying to reform the Democratic Party which is actually left in the image of the Republican Party.

There are mercifully fewer and fewer BernieBros out there, which fortunately makes them — despite their wailings to the contrary — democratically irrelevant, but they like other conservatives have nothing but contempt for women and people of colour.

Biden’s going to put together his cabinet. It’s going to be made up of people who actually deserve to be there and that means there’s going to be a lot of women and people of colour in positions of power. A lot of white men are going to be upset with that and a lot of them are going to engage in just loads of intellectual dishonesty to explain why their hate for all women is not sexism or misogyny. But it is. When you are presented with a perfectly reasonable female candidate for a position and you tie yourself up in knots to ensure she doesn’t get that position you are engaging in sexism. It’s not ethical, it’s not liberal, it’s not revolutionary, and it’s time we took those old authoritarian attitudes so many fauxgressives trumpet out to the trash.

Doctor of Palaeopathology, rage-prone optimist, stealth berserker, opera enthusiast, and insatiable consumer of academic journals.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store