Two Questions for Bernie Sanders Before the Brooklyn Debate
For months I have been yelling at Bernie Sanders … in my dreams. I would say this has been an ongoing nightly drama, resulting in restless sleep —much to the annoyance of my wife, who has to deal with my tossing and turning and rambling and groaning.
I am not #blessed to have a golden ticket to tomorrow’s Democratic debate in Brooklyn. So, in order to break the cycle of sleeplessness, I turn to writing as catharsis. While the apotheosis of perfection for many (THAT BIRD LANDED ON HIS PODIUM! #MESSIAH!), Bernie here is my apostrophe: I address these two questions to him.
- How do you think you’ve benefitted—directly and indirectly—from sexism in this primary campaign?
Here I imagine Sanders’s shoulders pinching tightly in reaction, his notorious pointy-finger raising quicker than Voldemort’s wand. I imagine some blend of “Uhhhh” and “Ughhh,” and then some vague retort before trying to pivot to attacking Hillary as an evil establishment figure.
In my dreams, at least, I cut him off like the fierce Italian feminist-lesbian that I am (FORZA ITALIANA!) and parrot his “EXCUSE ME!” to say some like, “Lez be honest” and then unleash a list of #BasicSexist remarks that have glommed onto Hillary in this campaign. From Hillary’s “voice” and body and hair and clothes, to how she has to “control” her husband (and other men, like that wily DeBlasio guy!), to questions about how “qualified” she is and her “authenticity,” and other such nonsense (like chastising her for fundraising, and for making money in general) that smack of the same #BasicSexism women have been hearing FOREVERRRR.
Like, BRRRNG BRRRNG, all you new “democratic socialists,” neocons from 1993 are calling and they say THANK YOU FOR DOING OUR WORK FOR US.
My personal FAV is when Sanders criticizes Hillary for fundraising, knowing full well his ass will take the money she has raised if he wins the nomination. Not to mention the fact that women have to play the game to get ahead. #Truth. You want to know what happens to women who don’t play the game—who refuse the nasty game of politics that bleeds money? JILL STEIN. Who is Jill Stein, you ask? EXACTLY. Jill Stein is basically the woman Bernie Sanders has imitated throughout his campaign. (Basically, they are the same candidate.) She has run for president for the past umpteen years. She does not play the game. You have not heard of her.
I praise the Lorde—Audre Lorde—everyday. But I disagree with her idea about the “master’s tools.” Sorry, the master’s tools are our tools. They are how we get inside the house—to tear it down, or renovate it, or redecorate it.
2) Beyond the vagaries and pervasive ambiguity of all your policy positions, why do you think your class-based agenda will work in America?
I hate to break it to everyone, but the United States in no way, shape, or form economically or demographically resembles Scandinavian countries. Sweden, por ejemplo, has less than 10 million people; the U.S. has nearly 320 million. Theoretically, socialism is a dream. (GET IT?) In practice, it is nearly impossible (or, cf what these Scandinavian countries are doing to their refugees because of increased economic strain due to population increase and cross-cultural anxiety).
To place a finer point on my question: Sanders’s “democratic socialism” or pseudo-Marxism or whatever he wants to call it could never work in the United States. Why? Because the history of our rights and laws have been IDENTITY based, not class based. The first people to have full rights in this country were land-owning white men. For better or worse (usually worse), the evolution and expansion of rights in this country have been identity based: e.g., in the mid-19th century, Suffragists and abolitionists agreed that they should fight for black men to get the right to vote first, instead of women. Or, just take the Edie Windsor SCOTUS case from a few years ago, in which lawyer Roberta Kaplan first had to establish gay people has an actual group or class of people in order to prove her case.
An economic revolution is not tantamount to a social revolution. Or, to put it otherwise: giving everyone $15 bucks an hour will not stop cops from shooting black people.
The radical lesbian-feminist Monique Wittig said as much in her essay “One Is Not Born a Woman,” when she contended that the limit of Marxism is that it denies historic subjectivity to individuals:
Marxism has denied the members of oppressed classes the attribute of being a subject. In doing this, Marxism . . . has prevented all categories of oppressed peoples from constituting themselves historically, as subjects. . . . This means that the “masses” did not fight for themselves but for the party or its organizations. And when an economic transformation took place. . .no revolutionary change took place within the new society, because the people themselves did not change.
The Achilles heel of Marxism is humanity—the shitty humanness of people to treat other people like shit. Sorry. #HumansSoBasic.
The big reason I’m supporting Hillary—other than, obvi, my **VAGINA**—is that her detailed and nuanced policy positions speak to how laws are made in the United States. Her positions are, in fact, identity based in a way that reflects the complex and diverse demographics of our country. Furthermore, a president must represent everyone—from the atheist lesbian in Manhattan (IT ME!) to the born-again Christian and father of four (babythingies) in Alabama.
So, in my dreams, after asking Sanders HOW THE HELL WILL ANYTHING YOU SAY WORK? (and maybe adding WHERE ARE YOUR TAX RETURNS?) I turn to Hillary and raise my fist. And then I might be a total bitch and look at Sanders and say FEEL THAT BURN while rudely gesturing in a scissoring-motion to my crotch.