unravelling the great mystery of our times

To begin with, I have repeatedly and publicly said that I won’t vote for Bernie Sanders due to his stances on Israel, immigration, and guns. Despite this, I am daily asked to answer for the conduct of Bernie Sanders supporters. It’s pretty strange.

It’s also strange that our political class continues to think that the way people argue on social media is still more important, substantively and politically, than the economy, foreign policy, social issues, or the environment. That is really, really strange.

It’s also strange that I am represented in this piece as among those who minimizes the degree to which Hillary Clinton has been the victim of sexism. Clinton has been a victim of sexism her entire political career. Not just any sexism, either, but a particularly virulent, nasty, personal, and unfair strain of sexism. It’s gross and it sucks and I hate it. I just don’t think hating that sexism means I should support a woman whose record and values are totally contrary to my beliefs. You’d think Rebecca Traister would know that, because I said so a couple weeks ago. To Rebecca Traister. I can’t open up the contents of my psyche to prove to anyone that I believe that Clinton has suffered from consistent, powerful, and ugly anti-woman bias. I can only tell you that I believe it and you’ll have to decide for yourself if you think I’m telling the truth.

What’s not strange is that, as a socialist, I would not support Hillary Clinton, who is to the right of Richard Nixon. That’s about the opposite of strange. I’m anti-war; Clinton not only supported and voted for the Iraq war, she has been among the most hawkish politicians in American politics in the last decade. I oppose the influence of the financial sector on our political system; Hillary was the Senator from Wall Street during her tenure and remains a favorite of the ruling class. I’m a critic of Israel and its occupation of Palestine; Clinton just wrote a love letter to Benjamin Netanyahu. I think the mass imprisonment of the past several decades has been an incredible moral crisis for this country; Clinton called the 1994 crime bill that accelerated this trend “a very well thought out crime bill that is both smart and tough.” I oppose the welfare reform bill that cast millions into deeper poverty; Clinton defended that bill for years and years after its passage, and referred to welfare recipients as “deadbeats.” I’m in favor of universal socially redistributive policies like free college tuition for all; Clinton prefers means testing, which I see as inherently regressive. Trust me: I could go on.

And, seriously, you guys: this is Primary Hillary Clinton. This is Hillary Clinton defending her left flank. Do you think that this is who she’s still going to be, when she’s fighting off Marco Rubio in Ohio? You think she’s going to go to Florida and shout “Black Lives Matter” when she’s trying to get a bunch of retiree senior citizens to help her wrap up those electoral votes? Is that what you guys think?

So, you know, my not voting for Hillary Clinton doesn’t seem so weird to me. Having to constantly insist that I don’t support her because of her clear record of believing and doing things that are totally contrary to my beliefs, that seems pretty weird.

21 Comments

  1. I find myself in a similar situation to you. I find that if I criticize Hillary it is interpreted as an endorsement of the yet to be named Republican candidate and worse off that I endorse all attacks against her, not just my specific criticisms. Politics really exposes many people; especially those whose voices are loudest, to be fanatics who don’t see politicians as agents of their own political power but celebrities as masters of their emotional highs and lows. When you have anything but intense glowing agreement to share they act like children whose mother told them that their homemade card made them wish for a retroactively barren womb.

  2. To amplify on something I briefly tweeted the other day:

    https://votesmart.org/candidate/evaluations/27110/bernie-sanders#.Vj0f_a5HJ1O

    Aside from being a bit nasty, scouring the depths of Bernie’s or Freddie’s or Matt Bruenig’s hearts for hidden traces of sexism is a waste of time. Bernie’s actual record of governing, and presumably how he would govern as President, when it comes to issues of importance to women is utterly indistinguishable from the hypothetical perfect candidate. He’s voted with you literally 100% of the time on abortion, reproductive health, equality, and so on; the nasty bro impulses lurking deep within his pineal gland have lost, decidedly, to the rational parts of his brain. His legions of twitter bros have failed to keep him properly locked into MMA and Philip Roth, he has outflanked them.

    And he’s not going to win anyway. You’re dropping bombs on an all but defeated opponent. Might want to save some of that ammo for next year.

  3. I must be puzzling to say least to spend a large portion of your life writing simple ,clear, declarative sentences about what you believe and why and then be so misrepresented by others. By puzzling I mean utterly disorienting, like being laughed at for not wearing pants when you are sure you put them on in the morning, and can see them when you look in a mirror, and feel your keys in your pocket and so on. Are people really so obtuse? Or is there some sort of weird, deliberate character assasination going on?

  4. just as a question then, what’s your position on guns?

    It seems like most people say ‘common-sense regulations’ and then can’t really think of any. Background checks are nice, but seem to fail depressingly often. Bans on assault weapons haven’t stopped mass shootings particularly well. What should be done?

  5. Okay, so you’re not voting for any candidates, because none of them agree with you on everything, and none ever will. Why should anyone care at all what you have to say about this or any other election?

    You obviously believe in many things, but elections don’t seem to be one of them.

    1. Now this is puzzling too. Because Freddie here doesn’t support any of the main candidates no one should care what he has to say about the election at all? Or something? This lack of support can be adduced to explain he doesn’t “believe” in elections? Come again?

      None of this makes sense. It is obvious that as of right now there is no particular enthusiasm for any of the candiates among a large number of qualified voters in your republic. Are all these people supposed to just shut up? A strange and provocative view to take in a “democracy” (scare-quotes and all), to say the least.

      1. Not at all. I value the thoughts of gadflies! Glenn Greenwald and Chris Hedges, for example, are both essential reading. But they share this quality with Freddie, that when they venture into commenting on specific candidates and specific elections they consistently offer “none of the above” bromides that amount to rejection of the foundational principles of elections, specifically that even people who disagree with you get a vote; and you will never find a viable candidate who perfectly embodies your views.

        Anybody who feels so above the fray that they can afford to sit on the sidelines is a poor source of electoral advice, and when they offer it they should be aggressively ignored.

        1. And yet here you are, not ignoring him, agressively or otherwise.

          If you can provide a single instance of our chum Freddie asserting that his dissatisfaction with the present candiates means that people who disagree ought not to get to vote I will eat my tuque. As far as “bromides” go, as near as I can tell he has offered clear, specific reasons he can’t support Clinton or Sanders.

          Large swaths of your fellow citizens do not bother to vote. I have no idea if Freddie is among them, but given the poor turnout, could it be that the electoral system is deeply flawed, even broken? Could it be that, far from not “believing” in elections, these many millions are not convinced that the present arrangement is actually a meaningful election at all? Or are these folks simply excessively picky gadflies, high above the fray, who can afford to sit on the sidelines?

  6. I read the NYTimes, LATimes, WashingtonPost, politico, slate, and realclearpolitics regularly, and often watch MSNBC, and I can’t recall any recent discussion of the impact of social media on politics. Maybe I just have a bad memory, but this leaves me puzzled by your claim that “our political class continues to think that the way people argue on social media” is important.

    1. realclearpolitics guy too, whats poppin

      I do see it a fair amount. I think it’s more in the lesser-known sites though, the writers at these sites know that pre-internet adults are reading and don’t give a damn.

  7. I’m in favor of universal socially redistributive policies like free college tuition for all; Clinton prefers means testing, which I see as inherently regressive. Trust me: I could go on.

    I’m legitimately puzzled by this. Until we get a much, much more progressive tax system, using tax revenue to pay 100% of the cost of rich people’s college education is just straightforwardly an upper redistribution of wealth. This is just a fact. It’s the opposite of regressive.

    Now, I think there are good reasons to make it free for all anyway, and those reasons can be defended with progressive values, but so can Clinton’s proposal. In some magical world where we actually have a choice, I suspect I’d vote for Sanders proposal over Clintons, although it’d be a close call. But any support for Sanders plan would be in spite of its regressiveness.

      1. Hey, I don’t mean to push, but I’m really wondering what your policy on guns is

        I don’t really like guns either, but I never see any practical explanations of how to solve the problem of mass shootings, beyond simply outright bans or something similar which, while practically solving the problem, will never happen

    1. Means testing is regressive because it kicks in well below where it should, in terms of not harming the future debt profile of the typical middle class student. Source: anecdotal.

  8. HRC’s 2008 race-baiting against Obama was, I think, real, and it’s the thing that finally pushed me over the edge with her, to a probable abstention in ’16.

    With that out of the way, I don’t see the need for this defense. Apologies can soothe feelings, but the anti Iraq War Tweet that necessitated it shouldn’t have gone out in the 1st place. I think Traister’s 1st article on HRC was fairly well-layered, after all, reflecting as it did the mixed feelings lots of women and feminists have about Mrs. Clinton. (see Roxane Gay’s remark that she “started to like Clinton” before rightly ripping-in the same Tweet-some dismissive comments HRC made about the impact of colonialism upon Africa)

    The Iraq War is a dealbreaker for many voters, which is ok (It was for me when Joe Lieberman lost a primary in 2006; I’m not sure Mrs. Clinton did as much as Lieberman to trash the left in the service of that war, but it’s certainly arguable, and Lieberman’s total contempt for war opponents was the 1A reason I voted against him.) but what the 2nd NYMag article-the one Freddie responds to here-does is hit back on suggestions that women aren’t conflicted about Clinton, that it’s “all about identity” for them, or somesuch thing.

    1. Apologies can soothe feelings, but the anti Iraq War Tweet that necessitated it shouldn’t have gone out in the 1st place.

      You are apparently unaware of the nature of apologies, or failing that, the nature of time.

      what the 2nd NYMag article-the one Freddie responds to here-does is hit back on suggestions that women aren’t conflicted about Clinton, that it’s “all about identity” for them, or somesuch thing.

      An idea that I don’t believe, haven’t said, and never would, thus compelling me to ask what this statement has to do with me.

  9. What’s weird to me is that a Progressive – nevermind an actual Socialist – even is called upon to explain why Hillary (or, for that matter, erstwhile Socialist Bernie) is a no-go.
    I don’t support St. Bernard for Pres. That’s not to say that I would be outraged to see him as Dear Leader: better him than the peas-in-a-pod RepubliCrats beginning with Hiilary and descending from thence into hell. So, good luck to him but if I want to put my vote where my soul is, I’m voting for Jill Stein.
    Being a capitalist Warmonger is like being pregnant: you either is or you ain’t; there’s no “kinda-sorta” about it.

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