I was taking a break from blogging, even though I was still commenting on Facebook, because I felt my rants were becoming unproductive. I wanted to take some time to channel my anger into things not related to Trump. I wanted to take some awesome vacations, including planning a rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon in the coming weeks. I’m going to vlog about it, so make sure to follow the adventure of two brown girls taking on the western wilderness! After reading David Atkins piece on Washington Monthly I had some thoughts that I wanted to share, so here it is the first one after my hiatus!
I absolutely agree with Atkins the false and never-ending Hillary vs. Bernie political proxy war within the Democratic Party is unproductive and quite damaging and in general purity politics accomplishes nothing. But the problem I had is that this piece in itself had a lot of the bad faith arguments that each side says the other uses in bad faith.
Example 1: It conflated all opposition to Sanders and his wing of the party as establishment. There are a lot of people, young people of color, at least in my small universe who are making some incredibly progressive smart, well-thought out points against the “Sanders” platform (e.g. see recent twitter thread by Samuel Sinyangwe or Joy Reid’s discussion with Symone Sanders on Pod Save America). I will add the caveat that I was very vocally opposed to Sanders during the primary but I think we can all say that I am not establishment anything. For example, there are lots of older progressives in the South who are probably way more progressive than the millennial class warriors, especially white ones. Just in my experience alone, older Democratic folks in my family were generally not in favor of Bernie. My dad, who is retired and still has to work a few days a week because his social security is not enough to cover the sky-high rent in the DC area, is hardly “the establishment,” but he didn’t support Bernie. Older, non-white voters like my dad tend to be extremely pragmatic and promises like free college just sounded too pie in the sky. Not because they don’t believe it’s a good idea but because they didn’t hear any solid ideas on how that would become reality.
I will say that the racist supporters of Bernie are not just wannabe pundits on social media. During the middle of the primary, two friends of friends, both white men including one who has a fairly senior position at Moveon.org, both dismissed the exact point I made above because “voters, especially minority voters, are not as educated on policies that benefits them.”
“Voters, especially minority voters, are not as educated on policies that benefits them.”
Nothing irks me more these days that false equivalence because they are counterproductive and extremely dangerous. I think our country is in part here because the media promotes false equivalencies. Did Atkins really compare Deval Patrick being the Managing Director of Baine Capital as the equivalent being the head of the NRA? The current nut wing NRA?!? It’s hard to take any point made after that illogical comparison. Also, I don’t ever think the Democratic platform should be bankrupt Wall Street, mainly because what comes after Wall Street goes belly up… This is not to say we can’t ask questions about candidates past experiences or choices but we can’t make it a litmus test either.
My last annoyance with this piece… the lack of understanding of the Bernie supporter. I think just as easily blame poor hillbillies for the rise of Trump we paint Bernie supporters as struggling millennial working three jobs to pay off their student loans. Again, in my experience during the height of the primary I had to try hard to miss huge Bernie signs on windows of condos easily approaching a million dollars in neighborhoods that pushed out black working class people. In this context, I just couldn’t help literally rolling my eyes when Atkins claimed class warriors are anti-charter schools. Sure some might be but again in my experience my wealthier, white progressive friends who supported Bernie are ardent supporters of charter schools and in fact take full advantage of them and turn a blind eye to how, at least in DC, the charter school movement has rapidly entrenched segregation and created a two tier school system.
The overall point of the article was solid. Both the Hillary and Bernie sides need to move on past the campaign and need to stop in bad faith claiming the other side is acting in bad faith. I agree meeting in the middle is necessary. There are many, many voices of color diagnosing the problems of 2016 and offering wonderful ideas for moving forward. I am all in favor of listening to them. In fact, I stopped blogging because I needed to rant less to get past my own knee jerk anger at anyone who even sort of mentioned reaching out to Trump voters to listen and learn from people way smarter than me. Read the Atkins article if you want, but I’d recommend so many other voices (e.g. Cornell Belcher, Mitch Landrieu, Justin Gest) including voices of color that are accurately diagnosing the problem of 2016 and are articulating a sustainable way forward.