Thursday, May 19, 2016

Sanders, Stop the Mob or Get Out

[Content note: Misogynist references, harassment, violence]

Oh damn, now here is a satisfying read.  I hope Kurt Eichenwald has some good security. Via his recent article at Newsweek:
"Violence. Death threats. Vile, misogynistic names screamed at women. Rage. Hatred. Menacing, anonymous phone calls to homes and offices. Public officials whisked offstage by security agents frightened of the growing mob. None of this has any place in a political campaign. And the candidate who has been tolerating this obscene behavior among his supporters is showing himself to be unfit for office. 
So, Senator Sanders, either get control of what is becoming your increasingly unhinged cult or get out of the race. Whatever respect sane liberals had for you is rapidly dwindling, and the damage being inflicted on your reputation may be unfixable. If you can’t even manage the vicious thugs who act in your name, you can’t be trusted to run a convenience store, much less the country."   
The writing has been on the wall, as many feminists have been saying for months now, about the Sanders' movement's anti-feminist, sexist leanings: his staff of all-male, highest-paid advisors, the way he shoved Jane away from him at the podium (he's the rock star!), the single-minded emphasis on economic issues above all other issues, the Vatican PR stunt, calling his highly-qualified female opponent "unqualified," a surrogate implying Clinton is a "corporate Democratic whore."

And, of course, the notorious BernieBros, that precious online (and increasingly in-person) mob of overly-aggressive Bernie supporters.

The progressive/radical left's ongoing woman problem is a key reason I don't organize or associate with the movement even though I agree with them on many issues (see also, movement atheism).  Let's just say I had a big a-ha moment circa 2006 when I used to participate in leftist forums. During one memorable week of my life, I objected to leftist bros calling Hillary Clinton a "corporate whore" only to be mansplained to (ha, before that term existed) that since I can't read people's minds HOW DARE I imply that anyone was sexist, and besides there's MORE IMPORTANT issues to worry about! Ignore lady issues for socialism, comrade, and then we can maybe talk about those lesser issues after the revolution happens!  

Well, to paraphrase Flavia, my revolution will be intersectional or it will be bullshit. And, I'm not too keen on violent overthrow, either, by the way, so good luck with implementing a non-violent revolution given the reality that many Americans don't want a revolution in the first place, as evidenced by our heretofore peaceful voting process in which Bernie Sanders is losing. Oh, but details, right?  It's as though in Bernie-land, once people are sufficiently enlightened beyond their/our false consciousness we'll "feel the Bern" too. Somehow.

Sorry, but no. That's not typically how these things work out.

Nor is it a coincidence that it seems to be female Democratic leaders who are targeted with the most vile, aggressive threats. You know, in the same year that the first woman in history has a real shot of winning. It's like people are wearing some warped version of beer goggles, except instead of making people look hot, they make Bernie look like a saint and any female Democratic Party leader look like a corrupt she-devil.

Sadly, Sanders' weak sauce response thus far to his supporters' aggressive behavior has had some victim-blaming tones: If Democrats would welcome more of "the people" into the process, people wouldn't be so angry. (Or, my absolute favorite response from a spokesperson on Rachel Maddow this week: his Nevada supporters were just hungry! Ha! I mean, I get being hangry, but never once have I had the hungry impulse to tell a political opponent they should be publicly executed. But I'm a shill-bot, so I'm sure my non-violent temperament just means I'm not "passionate" enough about my candidate).

And nevermind, I guess, the millions of "the people" who have voted for Clinton.  The implication from Team Sanders continues to be that Clinton is not legitimately winning, but rather, the "Democratic Establishment" has rigged the primary for her. (If you're keeping track at home: It's a failure that Hillary hasn't blown out Bernie, but also she's only winning because she's cheating? Huh. Put that one in the "women can't fucking win" files, I guess.)

And here's where I have to be serious.

If Sanders were a more skilled, thoughtful politician and leader, he would firmly state that his movement ("not me, us," remember?) should not engage misogynistic slurs, intimidation, and threats of violence in his name and that, while we must continue to fight corporate corruption, we cannot and should not sell out our other progressive values in doing so.  If he's unwilling to use his platform to make that sort of statement, he should step down.  Because as of now, I see his actions and words thus far as indicating a lack of suitable temperament and leadership for the office of the Presidency.

And, when he does eventually lose the Primary, I guess we can only hope now he doesn't make that huge of a mess when he wipes his ass on the drapes on the way out.

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