Over the Christmas holiday, award-winning journalist David Sirota became the target of Democrat Party Twitter vitriol when he dared to publish a column criticizing the new DNC superstar Beto O’Rourke’s funding sources and voting record. It took less than 24 hours for an article containing nothing but facts readily available to anyone who cared to go look for them to become a “war on Beto” by supporters of Bernie Sanders. By Boxing Day, DNC mouthpiece Neera Tanden was shaking her head sadly that she, too, was suffered the pain of the innocent for the last two weeks.
For the record, I will be 71 in two weeks, am a White cis-female, have been a registered Democrat for 50 years, and resent being referred to as a “Bernie Bro.” So do the half-dozen women who responded when I posted that to Twitter. None of us has ever “attacked” a New Democrat with anything other than facts. Several women have been virulently attacked, however, by people alleging to be Sanders supporters, which suggests there is already a well-coordinated campaign in place to reinforce the idea real Sanders supporters are fanatical trolls. Remember Correct the Record? It hasn’t gone away.
The ridiculous assertion that criticizing a candidate is somehow an “attack” is the latest version of Democrat Party establishment gaslighting. The New Democrat contingent feels free to tell Sanders supporters, 80% of whom voted for their candidate, what they should be talking about. It’s the precise kind of “We know best” attitude that is really what drove those conservative Democrats in rural areas to vote for Donald Trump. I know because they’ve said so over and over to researchers and interviewers who actually went there to listen.
It’s the corporate media who persist in dismissing the Sanders message as “all about the economy”, not Sanders supporters. We are quite aware the needs of the many are much more complicated than “economic anxiety” or whatever euphemism is used for “people are one flat tire from being homeless and dying” in any given week. The media then go on to provide “examples” of a few white men in Iowa or somewhere else that’s not located on the East or West Coast who said they voted Republican because were against voting for a woman, or who’ll spout racist propaganda, ignoring the very real problems everyone not in the privileged 25% Thomas Frank calls the Professional Class suffers on a daily basis because of neoliberal economic policies and globalization.
Bernie Sanders saw a need to call attention to the real world, the one outside the Beltway and the suburbs where The Comfortable live, and he did that by choosing to challenge Hillary Clinton. He did so by declaring he was running as a Democrat, which is how it’s done in Vermont. Yes, there were people who heard his message and ignored the part where he said over and over it was not about him, but about the message. We’re a culture that’s been trained to expect superheroes to swoop in and fix everything for us. Bernie never said he’d do that, but it didn’t prevent people from assuming he would anyway.
He has also been criticized for focusing on economic issues to the exclusion of other things, like racism. Which, if one only looks at the surface, could appear to be true. However, anyone who has ever faced a huge job knows you don’t get it done by doing a little here and a little there. You figure out what you can do that will address the overall problem and start there. Bernie Sanders knows that people, and particularly women, of color are at the bottom of the economic scale. He knows that is partly a function of racism, but also understands the greater issue is systemic inequality.
Children are going hungry in this country as I write, not because they don’t have hardworking parents but because the jobs those parents can get are low-paying and all too often part-time/on-call gigs. Again, this is particularly true for women of color. “Economic anxiety” is very real, and a perfectly valid reason why people refused to embrace Hillary Clinton, a candidate who ignored what they said, and instead bewailed the fact they wouldn’t accept that she knew what they needed better than they did. Oh, and I know HRC never said that in public, but it was reported by two of her media fans in the book Shattered.
I don’t expect this to have any effect, as it’s clear the effort to block a Sanders run in ’20 is already polished and in full swing, just as the program to block progressive candidates from running in the midterms was blatantly obvious. The problem this time around is that people know that’s what it is, and the Democrats might want to pause a moment and rethink it. Unless they get past their arrogant assumption the voting public is too stupid to learn the facts and make an informed choice, they’re just another obstruction.