I was informed by white men when I was eighteen years old that as a woman, I shouldn’t talk or think about politics. I should simply do as I was told. At the time, well, I was eighteen and I was graduating from a Jesuit high school wherein I was repeatedly told that women are stupid and emotional. So it took a little while before I deprogrammed myself and realised, that’s not only wrong but bass ackwards.
And then I got mad. And I remain mad to this day. I shall be mad most, if not all of my life because I as a woman have been robbed of my power.
Now, there are quite a few women who vote for awful men so I won’t say every woman is in my camp. But I can count quite a few. And in this case I can count the ones that really matter.
Women, particularly black women are the driving force in the Democratic Party. Black women pound the pavement, register the voters, work the volunteer stands and so on and so forth. And black women vote. When Republicans aren’t busy suppressing black women’s votes black women turn out in force. And because of this the Democratic Party has a lot of black women in leadership positions. In fact, the Democratic Party is intentionally egalitarian in who works for it. Meaning black women often are rewarded for their hard work with leadership positions.
The same leadership positions that Bernie Sanders disparages constantly.
And women, particularly black Democratic women, have noticed. This is not to say that Sanders has absolutely no black or female support because he does, but as Nate Silver pointed out Sanders hasn’t gained diversity due to winning new supporters of colour, he’s simply lost a bunch of his white supporters.
Sanders’ argument is two-fold.
- Sanders says donations to his campaign are small and represent grassroots support.
- Sanders says he will attract non-Democratic voters in the general.
So let’s have at this shall we?
To the first point: “Our Revolution,” which occupies a sort of weird position as not really a charity but also totally not a Super PAC has come under scrutiny for bundling money AND the Sanders campaign encourages its donors to split their big donations into smaller ones to create the illusion of more support than he actually has. The fundamental dishonesty and hypocrisy of both these things aside, it means that Sanders may not even have the level or type of support he appears to. And as he did in 2016, he’s trailing. “Our Revolution’s” status as a charity means it may not have to be open about who is giving donations and in what amounts meaning there is a possibility that individuals and organisations have given in excess of the legal limit. So, Sanders is once again far from being the candidate of the working man, taking big donations from rich patrons, and possibly even breaking campaign finance law.
To the second point: Lols, no. Sanders has never faced the general electorate and the first time he came close to doing so he lost by millions of votes. Now, yeah, Hillary Clinton was even further ahead at this point than Biden but we also now know a great deal more about what happened in 2016 and about Bernie himself. The argument typically goes that in white primaries it will look like West Virginia did. Cool story, except West Virginia went hardcore for Trump in 2016 and there were Republican campaigns in West Virginia and a few other white-red states to have Republicans go in and vote for the weaker of the two Democratic primary candidates. Republicans are currently trying to boost Sanders’ popularity because they know he will be easy to defeat. All they have to do is say “socialist” and dear ol’ Bernie loses at least a third of the electorate.
But let us address the elephant in the room.
Or actually, I suppose the donkey. Sanders is not going to win the Democratic nomination. Every time someone tells me he has a shot I have a flashback to June of 2016 when he had just a handful more than I think 1,500 delegates total and was insisting that he was still going to overtake HRC who had more than enough to be the presumptive nominee. There was something deeply ironic about a man insisting he be measured by an entirely different metric than his female opponent.
Sanders was at his most popular in 2016 and by the end of it, after he’d called black Democrats, “low-information voters,” said that women’s rights were a “distraction,” refused to release his taxes, agreed to debate Trump, photo-bombed the pope, and implied that Hillary Clinton was unqualified just ’cause, he was absolutely bleeding support. Quite a few of the primary voters who had actually voted for him in the early states had rescinded their support by July saying that if they could do it again they wouldn’t.
Also keep in mind that in 2016 Russia was helping both him and Trump (pp. 23). There seems to be this assumption in the Bernie camp that if there’s the appearance of support for him, Democratic voters will fall in line. But if that’s the strategy, he’s in the wrong party. The adage is, ‘Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line.’ Sanders does not have the support he needs to win the nomination. He’s alienated too many demographics. The best he can hope for is a contested convention and given that he was instrumental in electing Trump if he’s responsible for a contested convention the Democratic firing squad that usually forms a circle will in this one instance form a line.
In 2016 American women were once again robbed of our power. We had the majority. We had the most qualified candidate in the history of the nation. We had endured years of being called the c-word, the n-word, and having our livelihoods, lives, and even children threatened. And then, yet again, we were robbed of our power. Worse, we were told by gloating Bernie supporters that it was because women are unpopular and we were stupid to believe we could ever be equal.
Problem is, we remember. Bernie won’t win.