The Trouble With Quibbles: A Study in Political Intolerance (UPDATED)

banned

Well, the big name writer who loves Hillary Clinton and preaches a lot about how those on the left need not to “trash” each other’s candidates (and will stomp you if you criticize Hillary in his threads, though somehow her supporters who say nasty things about Bernie don’t seem to get stomped) has unfriended me on Facebook. Again. This is, I think, the fourth time he’s booted me in the past six months, and because I actually really like and respect him (feelings clearly not reciprocated), previously I’ve just sent him a fresh friends request each time, which he’s then ultimately accepted. Not going to bother this time; maybe I’m learning to take a hint.

Why did he boot me? Was it because of the article I posted citing the actual history of Hillary and Bill Clinton’s relationship with the Children’s Defense Fund and the Clintons’ horrible record in the war on poverty? Was it the essay by black writer/preacher/civil rights activist Shaun King defending Bernie Sanders’s exceptional record on black issues and civil rights? Was it because I posted a funny meme that satirized the two candidates’ position on the issue of “Jazz?”

I dunno.

I don’t think he’d tell people not to criticize (as opposed to insult) his candidate, because his self image is plainly that he is fair and open to dialogue. I also don’t think he’d say people shouldn’t joke around and satirize her, because his self image is that he is a defender of free expression who has a great sense of humor. But I think he’s hypervigilant and overly sensitive to things that he doesn’t want others seeing (particularly solid, critical facts about his candidate that may “trash” her shiny veneer even more than nasty insults about her), and he’s like a twitchy young gunslinger who’s too fast on the draw at any perceived slight.

I may wind up following him again, because I often enjoy his posts (when they’re not just screed after screed telling people not only how to behave on his wall but on theirs). And I’ll miss our virtual friendship because I do think highly of him and I’ve enjoyed our interactions. But I’m never going to censor my own damn speech just for his sake, and if he’s such a delicate hothouse flower that he can’t countenance our political disagreements, that’s too fucking bad.


I posted the above on Facebook, and naturally people started asking who I was talking about. I said I wasn’t going to name him because I wasn’t calling him out, I was just citing his behavior to make a point. But I did say folks could message me privately and guess, and I’d let them know if they got it right. I had a feeling that his imperious behavior would be immediately recognizable to anyone who regularly sees his posts.

Twelve people guessed. Eleven got it right.

One of the eleven shared with me a thread on his wall in which a woman calmly and politely critiques Hillary Clinton on policy and the writer snidely asks her if she’s a Republican shill or being paid by the GOP. So much for the elevated dialogue he’s allegedly promoting.

I’m still not looking to call him out or start a feud or anything, and he may have booted me for a different reason. And he has a right to control his friends list any way he likes. So if you mention him directly or badmouth him in a comment, I won’t let the comment post. None of this piddly stuff really matters, when you get down to it, and I just wish we could all treat each other at least a little bit better.

Oh, and SANDERS 2016!!!

UPDATE: I’ve been hearing from more Sanders supporters who claim they were booted from the writer’s friends list because they either defended Sanders on his wall or posted political stuff he disagreed with on their own. At the same time, he posts rants about how some people are obnoxiously complaining that he shouldn’t post whatever he wants to. So be careful what you say on this guy’s wall, or even your own, lest he transport the whole kit n kaboodle of you to their engine room. Er, I mean off his friends list.

 

How The Democrats Can Give Us A Republican President

trump

We hear a lot of nonsense spin about not voting for Bernie Sanders because he’s “not electable.”

When you point out that in pretty much all the polls, for months, Sanders has outperformed Clinton (often by a large margin) when matched up against any specific GOP candidate, the data is handwavingly dismissed because “Hillary has low numbers because she’s been under attack for decades, but Sanders is untested.”

Other than the fact that the entire corporate power structure of the Democratic party is trying to squash him, of course.

And never mind the fact that in the past year, as both candidates have shown the people who they are and what they stand for, Sanders’s favorability numbers have soared from the low 30s to nearly 90% while Clinton’s have plummeted from the mid-70s to 39%. It can literally be said that most voters, whether they support him or not, genuinely like Bernie Sanders. The same is not true of Hillary Clinton.

All the same, while the polls consistently show Sanders beating GOP candidates by a larger margin than her, they do (usually) also show Clinton beating them. So if things continue along this track, it appears that either of them is actually electable, though Bernie would be the more certain bet.

Part of Bernie’s strength is that he has enormous blocs of voters who are incredibly passionate about his candidacy. Within the Democratic party, he has a two-to-one edge over Hillary among all voters under 45. Let me say that again: ALL DEMOCRATS UNDER 45 prefer Bernie by a two-to-one margin. And anyone who tells you that young people won’t turn out to vote hasn’t been paying attention to the tens of thousands of people who show up to see Bernie speak, or who spontaneously marched in support of him in cities coast to coast recently. The young people will be there for Bernie. He doesn’t do as well among older, longtime Democrats, though he still has a lot of support; even a third of Baby Boomer women, Hillary’s core demographic, support Bernie.

And many polls don’t even count independent voters, most of whom support Bernie, or the surprising number of crossover Republican voters who can’t stand their own candidates but see in Bernie a man of integrity they can get behind.

So much for the “electability” nonsense.

We also often see folks saying “whoever you support in the primaries, just be sure to support the winner in the general election.” And that’s a reasonable and rational request. There’s not a man or woman who has stood on a Republican debate stage who is qualified for the presidency, and some of them (the frontrunners, naturally) are simply monstrous and would be total disasters for our country and the world. Most sapient people would prefer either Clinton or Sanders to any of the snarling buffoons of the GOP, so the principle of supporting whoever ultimately winds up opposing them is obvious. And most people will do exactly that.

Except…

Except, young voters are pretty notorious for their lack of participation, and while many of those now fired up about Bernie Sanders will remain engaged even if he loses the nomination, the unfortunate likelihood is that many of them won’t. There will be anger, yes, but I don’t think that’s what will lead them to stay away on election day. I think it will be the nihilistic feeling that their vote doesn’t count after all. Bernie will have given them hope that an establishment they see as hidebound and corrupt could be successfully challenged and changed, and that hope will have been crushed. To a demographic that is already tragically, even stupidly, disengaged, that loss of hope will prove enough to keep many from bothering to cast a vote for anybody.

I’m not supporting that attitude even a little bit. But I do recognize it as a political reality. Many more people will turn out to vote if Bernie Sanders is the nominee, and they will support the Democratic candidates in other races when they do. If Hillary Clinton is the nominee, she, and all the other Dems on the ballots, will lose those disillusioned young voters.

That, in itself, may not be enough to tilt the election to Trump or whichever other malignant pustule the Republicans nominate. Hopefully not. But let me tell you what almost certainly will:

If Bernie Sanders wins the nomination by popular vote but Hillary Clinton and the Democratic establishment steal it from him, and buck the will of the majority of voters, through process maneuvers.

As someone commented today on Facebook, “If there’s a cabal of Democratic Party insiders who will choose the candidate no matter who the Democratic voters want, then I am not a Democrat. If the majority of voters go with Clinton, then I’ll vote Clinton. If more of them want Sanders and the party chooses Clinton anyway then I will do everything I can to turn the Democratic Party into an irrelevant third party.”

Today’s the day of the Iowa caucus, and it’s being reported that the Clinton camp has been training their supporters to game the caucus results wherever possible to keep Martin O’Malley’s delegates from going to Bernie Sanders. The fact that this is possible is one of many terrible things about the caucusing system (and the primary system in general, and our electoral system at large), and the fact that Clinton is falling back on it shows just how desperate, and ruthless, she is. Though she can game the caucuses, the fact that she will is troubling, especially after months of obvious unethical favoritism shown her by the Democratic National Committee and its unfortunate head, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

At the same time, while Bernie endures an avalanche of attacks from the establishment media and pundits and Democratic party insiders, much of it disingenuous and a lot of it verging on character assassination (compare Chris Cuomo’s loaded questions to Sanders to the fanboy bootlicking he gave Clinton) Nancy Pelosi herself is making a point of saying that many of the great things Bernie Sanders wants to do for the American people will not happen, not because of Republican intransigence but because her Democrats won’t work with him to make needed change. That’s right: Nancy Fucking Pelosi, the absolute mascot of the Democratic corporate establishment, basically just threatened to stamp her feet and pull a Mitch McConnell if Democratic voters don’t choose the candidate that she wants them to.

How dare the voters think they have the right to decide who wins an election?

And then, ahead, we have the existential threat to democracy that is the superdelegates. Another of the bugs in our electoral system, the superdelegates are the very essence of the establishment looking out for the establishment:

A “superdelegate” or an “unpledged delegate” is a delegate to the Democratic National Convention or Republican National Convention that is seated automatically, based on their status as current (Republican and Democratic) or former (Democratic only) party leader or elected official. (From Wikipedia)

Superdelegates are unelected, they have significant power (especially in a close election like this one), and they are the political party’s way of saying “No, no, never mind, we’ve got this” to the voters.

For months, hundreds of superdelegates have been already pledged to vote for Hillary Clinton. Why wait to see what the people want? The establishment has chosen, after all.

So, what happens if Bernie Sanders wins the primaries according to the will of the Democratic voters, but then the party sics the superdelegates on him and manages to give the nomination to Hillary Clinton? I’ll tell you:

All those Bernie Sanders voters get really, really fucking pissed.

Then, you know, voters are human, and voters are emotional, and voters don’t always do the “reasonable” thing. I think, combined with the lower turnout among younger voters, the backlash among angry voters who actually won the vote for the nomination only to have it stolen from them could well sink what is otherwise a very good chance for the next president to be a Democrat.

Bernie’s supporters will almost all vote for Hillary if she wins the nomination fair and square. But if she, and her longtime cronies and pals, insist on stealing it?

Get ready for President The Donald, or something just as bad.

Courage Is Fire, And Bullying Is Smoke: Thoughts On Political Venom

Abuse
I support Bernie Sanders. In practical terms, for the moment, that means that I do not support Hillary Clinton. It means I’m going to tend to share information about Bernie as a way of helping get the word out about what he stands for. It also means I’m going to be vocal about the differences between him and Hillary, and I’m going to be critical of her in a way that I probably won’t be if she ultimately wins the nomination. The differences between Bernie and Hillary are important, especially when it comes to the choice of either coddling or challenging the corporatists and banksters who are ruining our country, but they are nothing compared to the vast schism between both of them and the parade of idiots campaigning for the GOP.
 
So, yes, I’m critical of Clinton, and I can be a tough critic of her policies and political behavior. But I never lower myself to insult, either of her or her supporters. You won’t find me calling her a bitch or impugning her because of choices in her personal life or mocking her appearance or dress. Nor will you find me making derogatory comments about those who want her as president. I respect Hillary Clinton and I respect her followers; though we disagree, we are ultimately on the same side. And eventually, however the primaries shake out, they and I will be voting for the same person in the general election.
 
So when I visit a friend’s Facebook page and see all sorts of derogatory comments about “Bernie-bots” and how stupid they are and how vile (and even misogynistic) their candidate is, all it does is make me not want to even bother talking to that friend. I already kicked one jackass off my friends list for getting riled up in a calm discussion about the candidates and accusing me of sexism (solely based on my choice of Sanders over Clinton), and after a couple of visits to his wall to check up on him, I’m glad he’s gone because his wall is full of venom and he’s an abusive prick who’s all too willing to resort to personal attacks to try to get a rhetorical advantage. Or perhaps just to be a bully.
 
On another friend’s wall, I see a shared post from yet another Hillary supporter, a long diatribe about Bernie Sanders’s history and positions that’s as nasty a piece of work as I’ve seen this election season. This is typical of the venomous spin in the post:
 
“[At university, Sanders] joined socialist organizations and dabbled in far-left communist politics, gaining national notoriety by petitioning the school to let students have sex in the dormitories. This was before birth control and abortion were legal, when there were still very serious repercussions for women if the condom broke, but that didn’t stop him from crusading against those silly rules that were an obstacle to his own satisfaction.”
 

So here we have a liberal harshly criticizing Bernie Sanders for fighting for people’s sexual freedom. Does the writer really think that legal adults at the time should have had their sexual activities interdicted by university administrators because condoms might break? Or is authoritarianism fine and dandy when it’s being fought against by the candidate you don’t like?

I’m sure there are Sanders supporters out there who are just as bad as these people. My point isn’t that Clinton supporters are abusive assholes, it’s that none of us should be. Not only does it lead to bad blood between individuals, I’m sure it turns at least some possible voters against your candidate enough that they won’t vote for that candidate no matter what happens.

Talk to me with respect and I’ll do the same to you.

(Of course, comport yourself like a bunch of racist, sexist, theocratic, clown car fascists and all bets are off. Just sayin’.)