Feminist philosopher Susan Bordo blames millennial women for “the destruction of Hillary Clinton” in a newly-published extract from her book. Our historical naiveté is contrasted with Bordo’s apparent “lived history,” which actually reads more as historical amnesia. Yes, we ‘millennial feminists’ might not have been around when the GOP was trying to take Bill Clinton down in “a series of witchhunts,” but we were around when Hillary was shilling for the Saudis, calling for a regime change in Libya in 2011, and raking in millions for speeches given to Goldman Sachs.
We were also alive when Hillary was still against gay marriage — one of the many causes for which she is now suddenly the vanguard. Democrats ostensibly care about women’s rights and LGBTQ rights, yet they backed someone who’s BFFs with some of the most sexist, tyrannical, homophobic dictators in the world — Hillary is very close with the Saudis (and receives a lot of money from them). Cultural historian Susan Bordo, however, chooses to forget all these facts.
She claims this last election season was “dominated by versions of Hillary Clinton constructed by her political opponents,” all the while failing to mention how Hillary’s campaign and the media portrayed Bernie Sanders as a crazy, old grandpa perpetually wagging his finger — as if that didn’t further minimize him as a candidate.
Clinton supporters and pundits also painted Bernie as wholly unelectable, despite polls showing that Sanders had a greater chance than Hillary of beating Trump in the general election. These liberals love data so much, yet they cast aside these poll numbers and instead took the risk of putting forth an extremely unpopular and unrelatable candidate against Trump. But, according to Bordo, we ‘millennial feminists’ are at fault for Trump winning the election, certainly not the older bourgeois white feminist elite to which Bordo belongs or the Democrats.
The Clinton campaign also constructed and polluted the media with the false narrative of the “Bernie Bros” in what is now a classic example of neoliberals co-opting the language and rhetoric of the left to paint themselves as victims and to distract from the bad policies of their failed candidate. When faced with any type of critique, Clinton supporters rushed to appropriate social justice language and cry ‘misogyny.’
Liberal talking heads believed that all Bernie supporters were men, and the only reason for their opposition to Hillary must be due to their sexism. No one could possibly be opposed to Hillary’s hawkish views or her intimate ties with Wall Street or her support of drones. If men supported Bernie, it was obviously because they were sexist. If women supported Bernie, it was because they were self-hating, or, as ‘feminist icon’ Gloria Steinem put it, just following the boys. And Madeleine Albright, the future slumlord of Hell, let us millennial women know that a special place was designated for us there if we failed to support Hillary.
Somehow it is so difficult for some people to understand — especially those who probably haven’t had to worry about their job security in decades — that many millennial women supported Bernie Sanders because of his coherent economic message. This isn’t about a new culture war. This is much more concrete than the politics of the ’60s. People want public works, they want socialism. These aren’t new ideas by a longshot.
Bordo writes that Bernie was “taking advantage of justified frustration with politics as usual (a frustration more appropriately aimed at GOP stonewalling of Democratic legislation),” yet millennials don’t equate politics or business as usual with such an oversimplification — especially one that frees the Democratic Party from all blame while simultaneously casting it as the Ultimate Good (or rather the Lawful Good in the alignment meme). Young women recognized that Sanders’ economic policies would actually benefit marginalized and low-income groups far more than Hillary’s politically expedient rhetoric.
Yet Bordo stresses that Bernie’s “list didn’t include the struggle for reproductive rights or affordable child care. Nor, at the beginning of his campaign, was there much emphasis on racial justice.” She fails to recognize how these first order issues are tied directly to economics, and the consequences of Bernie’s economic policies would not only protect but redistribute power and capital to the poor and racial minorities, groups which Bordo and other liberals purport to care so much about.
Young Bernie-supporting feminists played “a big role,” Bordo writes, “in the thin edge…that gave Trump the election.” This past election season, Bordo and other Democrats seemed to have chosen to forget that primaries are often contested in a democracy. How dare anyone run against Hillary? The narrative was that the nomination was hers, and everyone should accept that and rally behind her — or be seen as a divisive, corrosive force soon to be discarded.
With the way the establishment Democrats were supporting Hillary in the primaries, she might as well have been running as an incumbent. Despite having all of these advantages, Hillary still lost. Now ‘millennial feminists’ who supported Bernie are the source of blame for getting in the way of DNC operatives’ wet dreams of anointing Hillary as president. We are the ones who damaged Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s undemocratic inside campaign to hand Hillary the nominee on a silver platter.
For Democrats, Hillary’s loss can’t possibly have anything to do with the way she ran her campaign or her record. Nor could it possibly have anything to do with young people not connecting with a robotic, war-loving establishment hack. Hillary’s loss becomes attributed to everyone but her and the Democratic Party — everyone else, including the people who voted for Jill Stein (even though the math doesn’t add up) and the people who stayed home, are to blame for Trump winning the election.
Democrats like Bordo never take blame and refuse to be even the slightest bit self-critical. They’ll blame everyone but themselves instead of thinking about why they ran such an unpopular candidate in an election season in which the stakes were so high. They’ll make the same mistakes over and over again — the voting members of the DNC in February earlier this year elected Tom Perez over lifelong progressive Congressman Keith Ellison. Bordo argues that “Bernie Sanders splintered and ultimately sabotaged the Democratic party,” as if they weren’t already doing a good job of that themselves.