MONDAY’S 2016 IOWA DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS ended in its closest result since the 1970s: Hillary Clinton, 49.9%; Bernie Sanders, 49.6%. Both camps declared it a win, as they should. But some Sanders supporters argued that Clinton’s 0.3% lead was ill-gotten, and part of a conspiracy to keep their candidate down. It wasn’t.
But that matters very little to many of the most vocal Sanders supporters. I hate to type that, because I’m a Sanders supporter. I’ve been “feeling the Bern,” as it were, for two or three years now. But there’s no denying that Sanders’ voter base has a major problem: they contribute to the “rabid sexism” — to quote Lena Dunham — that bashes Clinton at every turn.
Meet the Berniebros: sexist lefties who rally around Sanders because they don’t want a female president. There are more than a few female Berniebros out there, whose internalized misogyny shines through every time they use gendered language to disagree with Clinton, but the Bros are, by and large, male.
Of course, not every Sanders supporter — male or female — is a Berniebro. But, following a few attacks on Clinton, her campaign circle, and her supporters, the Sanders camp has been forced to ask the community to police itself and weed out the virulent sexism, while they work on apologizing for the Bros’ very-un-Bernie-like statements.
Look, there’s nothing wrong with disliking Clinton’s politics. But when she’s being described as “shrill” and “frumpy,” by both the mainstream media and people who support a yelling man with wild hair, that’s a problem.
It’s one that should bother the women who support Sanders. It bothers me. No one’s a “psycho” or a “b*tch” for voting for Clinton. She is a valid choice for president, and I support anyone who supports her.
There’s nothing wrong with women voting for women. White men have been voting for white men because they are white men for a very, very long time, a fact the — largely white, male — Berniebros neglect. The women who support Clinton aren’t “voting with their vaginas,” any more than Barack Obama’s black supporters voted with their skin. They’re doing what old white guys have done for centuries, and have therefore forced the rest of us to do: take care of our own.
Is it sexist to assume that every woman will vote for Clinton? Sure it is, just like it’s sexist to say that she’s only getting support because she’s a woman. If that were true, Carly Fiorina would have won more than zero delegates in Iowa. And even if Clinton gets support because of her sex, who the f**k cares, really? We’ve elected enough white men because they were white men, so how and why is electing a woman because she’s a woman any worse?
Going back to Clinton’s politics, yes, her corporate ties trouble me. But seriously, aside from Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who doesn’t have them? Corporate sponsorship has been the name of the game in U.S. politics for many election cycles now, and we’ve put up with it because we’ve had to. The one thing that Sanders gives us over Clinton — because, like it or not, their policies are nearly identical — is that he isn’t backed by the Waltons. That’s it. That’s the big, huge difference, when you boil it down.
Clinton has had to play the corporate game to get where she is now. I mean, we’re talking about a woman who gave up her law career because her husband’s campaign managers thought that a working FLOTUS would be too aggressive for the American people to accept. She can’t yell and be unkempt, just like Obama can’t, because neither of them have the — white, male — privilege that Bernie has. Pajiba‘s Courtney Enlow sums it up nicely in her “All-Caps Explosion of Feelings Regarding the Liberal Backlash Against Hillary Clinton”: “CRAZY GRANDPA IS TOTALLY ELECTABLE BUT CRAZY GRANDMA NEVER COULD BE.”
I don’t hide the fact that I’m voting for Sanders, but seeing #ImWithHer on my social media dashboards doesn’t bother me. I know that Clinton, Sanders, and Obama are three sides of the same coin. There are only minor differences in their politics, and a presidency from either of the former is going to resemble that of the latter, either as it has been or as it would have been, depending on the makeup of Congress.
If Clinton wins, it will be a historic event, and whatever changes come or don’t will depend on whether we take back Congress. This has been the case for the last 8 years, it’s the case now, and it will be the case even if Bernie wins.
As liberals, we need to present a united front. We need to be better than the Right’s absurd mud-slinging. Even if we’re voting for different people, we can still support each other’s candidates.