I’m a lifelong Democrat (sadly, that may change, we’ll see) and an enthusiastic Bernie Sanders supporter. For the past year I’ve been asked repeatedly, “Will you vote for Hillary Clinton if she’s the Democratic nominee?” And for the past year I’ve answered yes. Over and over and over again. Yes, yes yes.
A year ago, I hadn’t yet encountered the continual onslaught of abuse, baiting, smears, and harassment on social media by Hillary supporters. I hadn’t yet observed the former Secretary of State’s campaign tactics, positions (many have been contradictory, misleading, or obfuscatory). I hadn’t yet watched her debates with Senator Sanders. I hadn’t yet had longtime followers and pals on Twitter abruptly turn on a dime and aggressively challenge my judgment (which until this primary they had openly admired), Bernie’s policies (which until this primary they’d actively supported), and reveal a viciousness and disdain usually reserved for those on the right (not to mention practiced by them).
Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: Beating Trump is mandatory. But it’s getting to the point where voting for Hillary is becoming increasingly difficult if not impossible. Luckily, I live in California where she’d likely beat Trump handily, should she become the nominee, so I may not feel the pressure to vote for her if polls show her winning by a huge margin. We’ll see. If it’s close, I’d still stay true to my original stance, hold my nose, drink heavily, and vote for her. But I do not like her, I didn’t vote for her in 2008, and I’m concerned about her policy positions, including this one from the Rachel Maddow Show, November 19, 2015:
Before my friends who are ardent Hillary supporters (and I have many, and I adore them) say what they always feel compelled to say about Bernie fans being monsters, respectfully, that’s not what this post is about. “Both sides are meanies” isn’t the point here, nor is this a contest over whose online bullies are crudest, cruelest, or most prolific. This post is in response to the thousands of tweets I’ve gotten and seen. This post is about professional journalists with whom I’ve had great relationships and admiration who have disappointed and enraged me.
The primary is not over. I repeat, the primary is not over. As I said, I’m in California, and I haven’t voted yet. Even Team Hillary has encouraged Bernie to continue his campaign. That needed to be said, believe it or not. Oh, and not marking my ballot for Bernie in June is not an option. Even if he can’t claim victory, he can claim delegates and exert influence over the Democratic agenda at the convention. Anyone telling me to give up and forfeit my vote doesn’t understand the democratic process and should be ashamed of themselves.
Now on to the print and TV journalists. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, and disagreements are fine with me. Lies, misrepresentations, and faulty talking points are not. I won’t be naming names here, by the way, because that would be counterproductive. Generalizing will suffice.
Bernie Sanders was interviewed for a full hour on the Maddow Show last week (transcript here) and during that conversation, this exchange occurred:
MADDOW: What`s the solution to corporate media?
SANDERS: I think we have got to think about ways that the Democratic Party, for a start, starts funding the equivalent of Fox television.
Until this primary season, every liberal and/or Democrat I know was 100% behind this concept. After this interview, more than one prominent “liberal” blogger/columnist/talking head mocked Bernie’s idea. I cannot fathom why. For years the consensus among Democrats is that we have no genuinely liberal media, and over the past couple of years, MSNBC has become more centrist, even right-leaning, and certainly is not a “liberal” TV channel.
Here are more excerpts from that part of the interview:
SANDERS: You tell me, you`re in the media, what percentage of the media discussions in this campaign is about process? Who`s going to win in West Virginia?
How many delegates does Hillary Clinton have? What dumb thing did Donald Trump say yesterday? Rather than why are we the only country in the
industrialized world not to guarantee health care to all people?
How much discussion have you heard on TV about the fact that the top 1/10 of 1 percent now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent?
That`s the kind of discussion we need and the American people need to be engaged in that. So we have got to demand of corporate media, and that`s
going to be hard, because this is against their own best interests. NBC is owned by who?
MADDOW: Comcast, our overlords.
SANDERS: All right. Comcast is not one of the most popular corporations in America, right?
SANDERS: All right. Et cetera. Et cetera. And I think the American people are going to have to say to NBC and ABC and CBS and CNN, you know what, forget the political gossip. Politics is not a soap opera. Talk about the real damn issues facing this country.
High profile commentators slammed Bernie for daring to speak out in favor of a more substantive discussion while criticizing MSNBC and others for covering the most superficial aspects of the presidential race. They suggested that Bernie was being a hypocrite for appearing on MSNBC while criticizing it. Getting an entire hour with Maddow during prime time while running for president? Yeah, I’d appear too. Being critical of a news outlet– or even the very show you’re on– doesn’t preclude one from taking advantage of a free hour of air time.
Bernie’s right, of course. Presenting policy arguments in depth, digging deeper into how candidates think and feel take precedence over poll numbers and infotainment. News for profit, focusing on ratings– commercializing the news– can be detrimental to democracy. Expressing views about that very topic is not.
Demanding that Bernie Sanders prematurely drop out of the race, red baiting (Bernie’s a crazy pinko commie!), engaging in ageism, calling him a fraud (of all people!), lying about his platform, accusing Bernie (should he lose) of refusing to fight against Trump when he pledged to do everything in his power to stop him, pretending that corporate power vis-à-vis Wall Street, Big Insurance, and Big Pharma is suddenly acceptable and that single payer isn’t, that fracking now gets a pass, that being a war hawk is okay when it wasn’t in 2008 vs. Barack Obama, that obscenely huge donations and unruly superPACs and are now hunky dory when they used to be questionable, that hope and change should be ridiculed (!), that free public colleges are laughable when they were once the norm in California: All of these attitudes are self-defeating and contrary to what my allies used to espouse.
Why should the vile attacks by Clinton voters persist if they’re so confident that she’s won the nomination? Is this how they think they’ll win over their rivals? Is this their definition of “unifying the party”? If so, they’re deluded.
Okay, so what happened? Why the about-face on policy positions? What can we do to fix this? Why must former cohorts be this offensive and seemingly hypocritical?
I can only speak for myself, and myself will continue to defend what Sen. Sanders, his supporters, and I have consistently defended: genuinely progressive plans and ideas. And I’ll do that while striving to maintain a sense of respect and decency for the duration of the insane Opposite World we call Election 2016. I’ve never sought anyone out to insult Hillary Clinton. It’s divisive and plain old rude.
In the meantime, if you seek me out to bash my guy (or me for standing up for my guy), please think again.