In 2007 Hillary Clinton shocked the world by running in the Democratic Primary. Sure, it had been done before. But this was the first time a woman might actually win the nomination of a major US party. And she didn’t. She lost to Obama. In 2015, she did it again.
She’d been a well loved New York Senator and a highly memed Secretary of State and her popularity among Democrats remains astronomical to this day. (I’m aware those numbers don’t look incredible, but check out this for comparison.) And conservatives particularly the GOP and those primarily allied with the GOP lost their minds. Hillary Clinton was well left of her husband, a consummate professional they’d spent years unsuccessfully trying to take down, and the most qualified person ever to run for President. But her greatest most inexcusable sin among those who opposed her was that she was a woman.
American men tell me routinely that Muslim women have it worse, so what am I complaining about? I mean, cool story, but I spent years living with a Muslim woman, I know and am friends with several others, and I’m also friends with Muslim men. I’m not going to say that Muslim culture is across the board in all countries totally egalitarian, because omg lols, but with the exception of one guy the Muslim men I met basically treated me like a princess. Not really how I want to be treated, but it’s better than how American men act. With Muslim men, I could expect safety and absolutely no insults. American men routinely insult me and will often attack or suggest that they might attack. So while there is a degree of sexism in some aspects of Muslim culture American misogyny is generally far FAR worse.
But more to the point, several Muslim majority countries have elected a female head of state. The USA has not, despite having numerous women qualified for the job while corrupt white men proceeded to misuse their power.
There’s been a lot of propaganda and fake news implying Hillary Clinton … I dunno … eats kids? I never could get my head around some of that foolishness so I’m not going to just say all people who didn’t vote for her did it because they’re misogynists. But it is a bit of a fair assumption (unless you were a victim of voting suppression, and that is a whole ‘nother story). All of the lies which follow HRC about could only take hold because of our culture’s deep distrust of women. There’s not an ounce of truth to any of it. She’s pretty guarded now but you would be too if the hot second after a friend of yours was killed you were dragged in for it despite trying to protect him, or if you had been raked over the coals because your husband had an affair, or if your daughter’s appearance had become the target of speculation about your fitness as a mother. So if that’s your problem with her, maybe imagine how you would have handled all that. For all other problems you have with her you’re likely talking about fiction so find better sources for fictional entertainment than FOX News and the Republican Party.
But conservative propaganda aside, few American men will listen to the perfectly reasonable words of an experienced woman when they may instead listen to the irrational screeching of another man. I find this funny in that American men only recently learned it’s super sexist to call us shrill at every turn. The 2016 election proved that whether they identify as liberals or conservatives, American men are — as a group — just absurdly misogynist. It would have been funny, except it’s cost us our democracy.
And both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump latched onto the time honored tradition of women bashing.
We all remember Trump stalking her around the debate stage and his deranged “nasty woman,” comment. But we often forget Bernie Sanders’ more subtle instances of sexism. Bernie Sanders wagged his finger, and interrupted, and talked down to the former Secretary of State, but that wasn’t even the beginning of his sexist playbook. Sanders not only dismissed women’s issues in general, but on more than one occasion dog-whistled that her being a woman was disqualifying. (It has also recently come out that Sanders, in a meeting with Elizabeth Warren confided that he didn’t think women could beat Trump. Which is absurd and backwards. He is trying to deny the statement, but several sources including Warren herself are confirming that he did say that.)
He stole her policies knowing that his supporters would not check or if they did care. (For instance Clinton made campaign finance reform a major part of her first political speech when she announced she was running for President. Sanders only embraced the policy much later, but failed to credit Clinton for the idea.) He called her unqualified knowing full well she’d been in Congress far shorter than he had but passed more legislation. But the real crown jewel in the Sanders sexism playbook was that early and often he would call her “unelectable.”
American women all knew this was code for “she’s got girl cooties,” but particularly after the Women’s March and #MeToo, the rest of the nation also figured out that “unelectable,” is just veiled sexism. Evidently no one told Sanders. Although, at the time Sanders was dealing with evolving revelations of sexual assault and harassment in his campaign. He explained that as he was running a campaign he was too busy to worry about that sort of thing. I guess he’s just not very good at multitasking.
The reason I say this is now with most of the candidates of color out of the primary and the likely nominee being another septuagenarian white man, Bernie has resorted to calling him, “unelectable.” Someone needs to tell Bernie, that only works on women. When Bernie loses on Super Tuesday is he going to call Biden fat and say he wouldn’t have slept with him anyways?
I suppose the argument that could be made here is that Bernie “doesn’t see gender,” which, I mean, okay cool, but we don’t need MORE erasure. Not seeing race is why we have institutional systems that reinforce the present racial-social stratification and given things like imbalance in healthcare Sanders and other white male politicians ignoring women could cost actual lives.
And he’s not even right about it.
There’s an ongoing “Bernie woulda won,” argument but okay … so why didn’t he? Contrary to the argument the only rigging that occurred was in Sanders’ favor and he still lost the primary by millions of votes. HRC did actually win the general, but Sanders by that point had poisoned the water so badly that even if Russia and the GOP left him alone he would not have had Democratic support. I will never vote for Trump because he’s sexist, racist, corrupt, and doesn’t understand the Presidency. But the same can be said of Bernie Sanders. So I and a rather huge proportion of Democrats and liberals will not vote for him even if he did get the nomination because we see no difference between him and Trump. He’s not electable. Hillary, demonstrably was, and Biden is not polling as well as Hillary did but he’s still doing considerably better than Sanders.
Sanders and his supporters though are very much like Trump and his supporters. Trump just says things that clearly aren’t accurate and his followers keen to it and will not be dissuaded. Sanders and his diminishing base are the same. Actual liberals and real Democrats and true progressives have pointed out time and time again how destructive Sanders has been to liberal causes and Democratic candidates only to be ignored. Black and Latino activists and feminists have pointed out places were Sanders has done major damage to women and communities of color only to be dismissed. In a weird twist of irony, the justification for dismissal of these concerns and criticisms has been that they come from “centrists,” or “neoliberals,” who aren’t progressive enough or ideologically pure enough.
I’ll put that in different words. Sanders is intentionally damaging progressive candidates and blocking progressive causes and when called out he and his supporters claim too be above criticism on the basis of their progressivism. Basically, Sanders is working for the GOP. I’d say he’s working for them for free, but we don’t know that because “Our Revolution,” might be breaking the law in how it collects money.
But all this aside, Sanders needs to update that playbook of his. Assuming the best about him he’s just working as what a white progressive would have been when he was young. But he was young when serial killers were being congratulated on their potential. We’re post-#MeToo. Even if he was up against Hillary again these attacks wouldn’t work as well as they did in 2016. (Clearly the sexist and racist attacks on Kamala Harris did work, so we’re not out of the woods by a long shot.) But in 2020 he’s up against Biden. And yes, Biden’s not as great as Hillary is, but Biden has no fault that Sanders does not also have. And because both of them are old white men, the potential for any of Sanders’ attacks to backfire rises considerably.
Sanders may not even want or expect to win. Given his behaviour I think he does want to win, but he’s been skimming off his campaign and using it to sell books for years now. This could just be his retirement plan. Tell white guys who like to cosplay the downtrodden that he’ll stick it too the 1% while rising higher up among the 1%. But regardless of his stated or actual intentions he’s damaging democracy.
Sanders made it okay for a lot of people to be sexist in 2016 which is why Trump is President. His popularity has dropped since then, but Biden is not the juggernaut HRC was. Biden’s support will come from most Democrats and most liberals and the many people Sanders’ supporters harass online, but he is not as strong as HRC. She had the nomination effectively tied up by Super Tuesday. I doubt Biden can do that. And Biden will need every spare moment of general election campaigning he can get. Sanders cannot beat Trump and he definitely cannot beat Pence, but he can hurt the eventual Democratic nominee’s chances of winning yet again.
Sanders is just a spoiler. And he needs to remember what year it is.