Bernie, Trump, and the White Guys

By Lisbeth Freeman

This Presidential campaign season has been nothing if not revealing.  Revealing of the anger of our people.  Revealing of the enduring nature of our -isms: racism, sexism, heterosexim, xenophobia, isolationism, . . ..  Revealing of our attraction to simplistic solutions to intrenchable problems.  Of course, those of us who consider ourselves liberals, lefties, even moderates can easily point to those on the Right as being the source of those societal ills.  But perhaps the most revealing aspect of this campaign season is the strength of sexism and racism in both political extremes.

Trying to parse the dynamics of demographic trends is difficult, perhaps impossible, work.  But we can see certain dynamics rise above the fray, and those trends require further examination.  Here, in this political season, that dynamic is the predominance of white males in both extreme camps – the followers of Donald Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders.  There is no doubt when watching the frenzied  rallies that there is something driving these white males to rise to a frothy fever in response to their chosen candidates (or is the word Savior more appropriate?).  So the question is this:  Why, when the candidates are advocating positions at opposite ends of the spectrum (with some notable exceptions), do their followers look so very much alike?

This is not to imply that the followers of Trump and Sanders are somehow of the same ilk.  No, it is clear that Trump’s people are motivated by a hatred of the “Others” who have garnered some degree of political power in the last decade or so, while the Sanders people are motivated by a frustration with the “Rigged System.”  But that understanding fails to explain why they look the same.

Since I started writing this particular piece, a few startling things have occurred within the Trump and Sanders campaigns.  Trump recently stated without impunity that women who have abortions should be punished.  Now, that is the undeniable result of outlawing abortion, which all the candidates on the right support.  After all, how do you enforce abortion bans if you don’t punish the people getting the abortions?  But Trump’s willingness to say it out loud is nonetheless shocking.

On the other side of the aisle, so to speak, we have the Sanders followers waging a secondary campaign commonly called “Bernie or Bust.”  That movement has coincided with increasingly sexist and downright vicious rhetoric about Hillary that reduces her to the ever-reliable sexist tropes – the Bitch, the Witch, and even the C**T that should be RAPED.

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This movement has been building for several weeks, even spawning an online pledge campaign to urge fellow Bernie followers to commit to NOT voting for Hillary – and choosing an alternative path by writing in Bernie, voting for Jill Stein of the Green Party, or voting for Trump.  All of which equate to a vote for Trump.  Yes, the far left is contemplating voting for Trump either passively or directly in a collective foot stomping temper tantrum that their Man didn’t win the nomination.  The political revolution failed so, hey, lets have a real revolution.  A violent revolution.

That movement reached its zenith when actor Susan Sarandon appeared on MSNBC a few days ago and indicated a willingness, even a rationality, to consider voting for Trump if Secretary Clinton is the nominee.  Her explanation was baffling: “Some people feel Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately if he gets in then things will really, you know, explode.”  So Sarandon apparently feels that a violent revolution triggered by a Trump presidency is preferable to continuing the progress of the Obama administration with Clinton as the next President.  As Charles Blow of the NY Times so succinctly explained, “[t]he comments smacked of petulance and privilege.”

Indeed.  Which brings us back to the question of this piece – why do Trump and Sanders followers look alike?  Because they can afford to.  They are predominantly white, predominantly male, predominantly not recent immigrants, predominantly not Muslim. Sanders followers are individuals whose concern about economic inequality resonates with them so strongly that the other societal ills fade into background.  They aren’t overly concerned with racism and sexism and xenophobia and heterosexism.  Well, they may try, like Bernie does, to say the right things about these injustices.  But that is not what they really care about.  They are concerned with their lack of economic opportunity, the unfairness of the system to people who used to hold all the cards. They feel cheated out of their continued economic advantages and they want the playing field returned to the old days where white men dominated across all classes. They are the people who will not suffer, and in fact may benefit from, a Trump presidency.

Susan Sarandon is a privileged older woman.  If Donald Trump is elected, her world and lifestyle will continue unabated.  So will the millions of young men following Sanders as their messiah.  They will remain at the top of the totem pole of privilege in the United States.  The economic inequality in this nation has long existed.  Only now has inequality become extreme enough that they now feel some of the pain that the rest of us have felt our entire lives.  They stand to lose little if Donald becomes President.  We stand to lose everything.  Arguably, they will be actually be better off because Trump will smash down the Others – the Blacks, Mexicans and Hispanics, Immigrants, Gays, Women – so that these white men can once again ascend to their rightful place in American society.  Right at the top.

So don’t tell me about voting with your conscience.  Don’t tell me that Clinton and Trump are practically the same (because that is simply a lie).  Instead, tell me how you are going to protect your Brothers and Sisters from the promised attacks, the criminalizations, and the slaughters that Trump has outright promised.  Will you take up arms to protect us, or will you only take up arms to ensure YOUR economic opportunities are rehabilitated so that YOU can achieve the American Dream, while the rest of us are left in the ashes.  Because that is the choice you are making with your infantile Bernie or Bust movement.

 

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25 thoughts on “Bernie, Trump, and the White Guys

  1. You wrote “…tell me how you are going to protect your Brothers and Sisters from the promised attacks, the criminalizations, and the slaughters that Trump has outright promised.” Here’s their response: they don’t care. And don’t try to shame them either, because it won’t work. Only Bernie can set them right and he’s not ready to do that yet, if he’ll ever be.

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  2. Bernie Sanders is 100% pro choice (Hillary still thinks late term Abortion should be restricted to rape, or health cases) , He already said many times sexism is not welcome in his campaign blaming him is ridiculous you don’t see Bernie supporters calling Hillary supporters antisemitic and trust me I seen plenty of terrible posts about him. Your statement that all his supporters are white and male is also false, Sander leads in women and minorities under 30 by quite a bit, In fact he won the women vote in several states . People general hatred for Hillary has nothing to do with sexism (And racism she is white huh?)).

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    1. Robert, my assertion is that his followers are PREDOMINANTLY white male. Its well-documented. And I’ve never heard anyone criticize Bernie for being Jewish. And please don’t get going on how Bernie is better on women’s issues. That is a farcical position. Bernie has a good voting record, but the truth is that he has NEVER taken the lead on women’s issues. His history is replete with comments that he doesn’t have time for those “demographic issues.”

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      1. That is just laughable. She fights every day for women. Perfection is not a goal. Steady progress is, and that’s what she has proven over the years. Don’t try to manufacture a problem to hide Bernies, such as his reference to the “old bitch teach (and there are many of them).” Bernie has now for the third time in his political career chosen to run against ground breaking women. It is a trend that deserves a look.

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      2. How is any of this “manufactur[ing] a problem?” Are you saying that Hillary Clinton laughing about defending a man she believed to be guilty of raping a 12 year old girl by discrediting the girls rape Survivor story is not a problem, or are you saying that that’s not actually Hillary’s voice? If the second, here she is admitting the recording is of her:

        She claimed she took the case as a favor in the recording, but she said it was a required task in her response decades later when the recording was unearthed. Even if it was her job, being so glib about the rape of a child and successfully defending the man she felt was guilty (through means which happened to include discrediting the survivor and blaming her by accusing her of spending time “with older men,” an accusation the traumatized survivor denies, is at very least a show of an incredibly callous stance on rape and pedophilia.

        Or are you saying her support of policy which cut benefits for mothers with children in need should not be considered as destructive toward women? If that’s the case, here are some numbers and descriptions of changes attributed to TANF (Spoiler alert – it resulted in more children and women in poverty):
        http://www.cbpp.org/research/family-income-support/chart-book-tanf-at-19

        Provide some reasoning for why these things are not women’s issues which should concern voters instead of dismissing them out of hand, please.

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      3. I prefer to look at her nearly single handedly getting CHIP passed. I never said she was a saint and never will. But I do reject her being tainted by her husband’s policies. First Ladies always support the policies of their husbands. So I won’t lay that on her. She is a separate entity from Bill.

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      4. If she wasn’t supportive of TANF after the fact in 2003 as a Senator or maintaining her support for the TANF legislation in her 2008 nomination campaign, I wouldn’t hold it against her. She had an amazing opportunity to correct a mistake which she could easily have used to solidify her stance as focused on protection for women and a separate, more progressive kind of politics than her husband. Instead she doubled down on bad legislation with a proven record of failure. She and Bill are separate people, but like many enduringly married couples, they appear to have a certain similarity in their perspectives. I made a point to link that in my response to your writing.

        I hope you can understand if I’m confused when you claim you never said she was a saint. So far you have been exceptionally reluctant in your writing to examine your candidate’s failings or accept them for the problems they are. Meanwhile, you throw a number of attacks at Sanders where there are directly parallel transgressions committed by Clinton, and you call him out for other failures which look different though arguably no better or worse on paper than Hillary’s do. You’ve been preaching that supporters of Sanders should vote blue no matter what while many of them are registered independents and while you make a point of tearing him down while propping her up. Hardly breeds consensus.

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      5. The “predominantly white male” thing isn’t really an error on Lisbeth’s part so much as an issue with media narratives and major Clinton donors having control of major media outlets. Following wins in Washington, Hawaii, and Alaska, those states were declared white states by the media despite Hawaii having the largest minority population in the country and both Washington and Alaska being in the top ten most diverse. The narrative that his supporters are primarily white male is one that protects the Clinton campaign and minimizes his apparent threat to Hillary in order to demoralize his base. The truth is Hillary wins mostly conservative states and Bernie wins most of the Progressive or purple ones.

        He does have one population that consistently and heavily forms his base: Those who grew up with the Internet.
        #BernieMadeMeWhite: No, Bernie Sanders Isn’t Just Winning With White People http://n.pr/1ShnuIQ

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      6. Luke, I think you’ve been proven VERY wrong about which states Hillary wins. After last week, it appears she is winning the blue and purple states and it is Bernie that is relegated to winning states like Wyoming and Idaho.

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      7. Hillary won NY after an enormous voting purge that Hillary supporter and NY mayor De Blasio found suspicious. But yes, she has been winning in some very blue states as well. That doesn’t mean Bernie is “relegated to winning states like Wyoming and Idaho.” Why would you want to erase his wins in some of the nation’s most diverse states through that kind of language unless it is to further a dismissive narrative aimed at whitewashing his supporters? It seems like dismissing those minority identities is a bit privileged.

        He’s definitely run into a wall at this point. It’s got to be hard to win when your opponent is funded by Soros, the guy who owns the AP, and while the AP is reporting the numbers. Not to mention his ownership of the NY Times, Washington Post, ABC, CNN, etc. I’m curious if things would have gone a bit differently if there was equitable representation in reporting delegate estimations and fewer owner-coddling endorsements.

        But it is what it is. So the question is whether Clinton tries to re-collect far left voters or populist voters for the election vs whether she just goes for an appeal to fear argument.

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  3. You are right on the money I too have gotten those kinds of comments, and I’m sick of lies and smears by Bernie supporters! Hillary is most likely the most honest one of all!

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  4. The McCarthy supporters who sat out the 1968 election helped elect Richard Nixon. Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of history are condemned to repeat them.

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  5. My problem with this line of thinking is you are not electing their followers, you are electing the candidate. Take away the rhetoric, the yelling and screaming, the “junk” from the crowds and listen to the candidates. Use THEIR words to determine who you’re going to vote for, who most closely represents what you believe is best for this country. The Congress and Senate we have now did not do that when voting on issues these last 8 years. They had one goal in mind and that was to thwart Obama at every turn. Don’t let others block your own intelligence and instinct in making your decision in this Presidential election. Listen to the CANDIDATE’S words. Then make up your mind. I have and my vote is set – just have to mark it in November.

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  6. I would love to have left this comment directly in response to my last for the sake of clarity, but WordPress has some weird rules governing comment and reply chains.

    I should note that my mention of Soros above actually skips a couple steps and implies he is the legal owner of those companies when he is not directly an owner, but he is a large contributer (over a million in one year) through a charity in his name which is giving to these businesses, several of which lose money pretty much annually. Additionally, groups like ProPublica, which a Soros foundation largely funded, are obviously indebted and employ members like a managing editor of the NYT. It’s hard to assume that that money, however indirectly or directly, does not guide to one degree or another what is getting published. Money has been, almost universally, a corrupting force in politics. It’s hard to think that millions for ProPublica, and sizeable chunks of the billions spent by his foundation could manage to be an exception.

    So, in short, I was being halfway between hyperbolic and indirect in talking about his “ownership.” It’s more like a debt suggested or undue influence suggested. This might not even be notable if it weren’t for the fact this money is being accepted by journalistic agencies with an ethical obligation to avoid the “perceptions of conflicts of interest.” The willingness to violate that precept at the heart of journalism calls into question the ethical fiber of these agencies.

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    1. Interesting that you point to Soros, when he is a known long-time supporter of Moveon.org, which is an endorser and active promoter of Bernie Sanders candidacy. So his unclear affiliation with other organizations, such as the Washington Post (which is owned by Jeff Bezos), is really misleading. And you say that the AP reports the numbers. Yes they do. But there is no evidence that they distort the numbers. And Hillary won Brooklyn, where the purge took place, but you assume that the purged voters were Bernie supporters? Likely they were a split representative of those who did vote. In addition, many of the states that Bernie has won were caucus states, which are the real travesty of this crazy primary system and grossly suppress the voter turnout. But I see none of you bernie people arguing against them. So stick with your conspiracies and excuses for your guy, but there is no denying one thing. Hillary has 3 million more votes, has won more states, and has won more pledged delegates. There is no basis for Bernie to claim victory or even the will of the people, and yet he does. He is an arrogant, self-important illeist that is now bilking his beguiled followers from millions of dollars to no reasonable end except to continue to feed his ego and belief that he is the rightful savior of the liberal people of this nation – and yet they overwhelmingly have supported Hillary. He is now doing grave harm to the ability of getting a democrat into the white house by his ugly ongoing campaign against Hillary.

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      1. Excluding (foolishly in my opinion) rising to the bait of being suggested as less qualified by Hillary’s campaign and taking a swing at her as being unqualified if she is in the hands of monied interests (which… the evidence for is inconsistent in her Senate voting patterns and programs supported as Secretary of State, but she has dodged opportunities to clarify some of that), Bernie hasn’t run a terribly negative campaign against her. Consider, for example, Hillary’s campaign against Obama in 2008 intentionally throwing out there that famous picture of Obama in a small turban suggesting, but not directly saying, he was a muslim in a manner suggesting it might bar him from being a good US President. By contrast, Bernie has been ham-fisted when he has targeted her, but mostly he’s not even taken swings. Some of his supporters are assholes, but so are the loudest of hers. Assholes get attention, sadly.

        I don’t think Soros is evil, btw. I just think paying to influence a system sometimes results in influencing that system. With an advocacy group like MoveOn, it isn’t terribly upsetting if it works or doesn’t in one direction or another. The problem is newspapers and news outlets actually have a code of ethics for their journalists. And that particular code of ethics says they’re not supposed to show anything that looks like it could be some sort of conflict of interest. Sort of a different game. Because you know the fourth estate is supposed to be a pretty neutral thing. For democracy protecting.

        In terms of caucuses, they’ve got huge downsides by my estimates (they further disenfranchise impoverished voters who can’t afford to take off work), but they are much more accountable in the initial phase (you get your vote counted and you know it). Primaries tend to be riskier because there’s more opportunity for your vote to be altered (typically due to a machine error, but potentially in response to intentional vote or registration altering – unclear which happened in AZ, but something their chair, who is a Hillary supporter, admitted was a problem this cycle). Basically, democracy on this scale is hard. Issues like Brooklyn (and yes, I know those purged voters wouldn’t universally have voted for Bernie, but damned if it doesn’t look bad – and it is an area which is much more favorable for Bernie than any other part of NYC), Arizona, this mess in NV (at all stages of the process there, including when they had Bernie ahead), the weird count issue with Washington, and the way the DNC and the news had basically coronation Hillary going in just makes the process FEEL rigged whether or not it is. My issue is that I’m way the hell more rational than the loud and angry supporters. If Hillary wants to win, what does she do to get that coalition of Millennials that put Obama over the threshold and into the White House? And if Trump starts running the “I just said that stuff to get through the Republican Primaries, I’m really a Centrist” game that he is likely to run, how does someone with a history like Hillary’s not get pulled into an argument about who LOOKS (because looks are what is important in electioneering) more consistent in their views and more open about their plans? Because that shit is going to erode her ability to get voters out to vote in the down-ballot elections where most of the change-effecting Republican money is spent. I live in NC. I do not want to see garbage like what is happening in my state start ruining more formerly purple or blue state governments.

        Sorry to take so long to respond by the way. I’m in the middle of a residential move, I just got married, I just started a new job, and I just had to spend some time in the ER. It’s a lot going on, and arguing over how the candidate that I feel more comfortable with has lost and how I totally get that he’s lost vs how frustrated it appears you are about how you feel your candidate has been treated is relatively low priority for me right now. I am, I promise you, equally frustrated about where the news has chosen to focus during this cycle – Trump, angry idiots online, completely not on questionable election practices. The greatest damage is done to my enthusiasm, but I’m an overly political voter, so I’m still going to be there come election day. I hate to think of how others who are less compulsive about their engagement would respond if they also have their own major life events.

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      2. And I’m really confused why you vilify this candidate so much beyond what your candidate sews and so much for what a subset of his supporters have done. I hope you reconsider him though I wouldn’t ask you to reconsider his ill-fated presidential run. If you have a chance, review Bernie as a Senator based on his actual voting and ammendment record, his past speeches on the floor, and his actual behavior right now in the race.

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