Don’t Believe the Hype! — 5 Myths About Bernie and Hillary
Let’s put this out there, I am a fervent Bernie Sanders supporter. That being said, I’ve seen a warped version of both candidates passed around cable news and the internet, catchphrases repeated so often that they become second-nature. Very often, they prevent off debate on the issues that really matter by smudging them over with superficial qualities. Here are 5 that I’ve noticed on each side:
5 Myths About Hillary Clinton
The big issue that I’ve encountered with Bernie supporter tropes about Clinton is that they often lack specificity, throwing out labels that many on the left find inherently bad as if they dismiss the debate. Wall St., establishment, neo-liberal, liar: while these words may be enough when preaching to the Leftist choir, they ring as hollow insults to anyone outside. Even more than that, vague character flaws tend to be the best excuses for sexists and there’s no place for that in this race.
1. She’s Evil / She Lies — No. Stop it. You cannot see inside another person’s head. You think she’s wrong, even dangerous, but it’s pointless to try to see inside another person’s head. Reading into someone’s intentions is basically writing your own story. Clinton has a long enough history of policy for you to hate policies rather than hate her.
2. Her Being a Woman Isn’t a Positive Factor in Itself — It is, and girls growing up around the world will have their horizons widened if she is elected. It must be taken as one positive among many factors, though in my opinion it shouldn’t outrank the lived experience of millions of oppressed women around the world whose stories are not known to most of us. Whoever will do right by them, should matter more, and giving them hope is one factor in many.
3. She flip-flops — Changing positions in itself is not bad. Now pointing out that Clinton pushed for the CAFTA trade deal in private while opposing it in public might shine a light on how she’d treat the TPP trade deal. Some people call waiting to support gay marriage until it already had momentum in 2013 smart strategy, even if you call it abandonment. Again, this criticism points to a failure of effort in communication, an assumption that the opposition has not just done their research, but done it through your outlets. Fox and CNN don’t report on Clinton’s actions in countries like Colombia, Haiti, and Mexico, so you need to point them out and cite your sources, and then debate each issue.
4. She’s Part of the Establishment — Bernie’s been a politician for 32 years. Every president that didn’t start out as part of the establishment became part of it quickly. Though Bernie may not have the DNC on his side, that doesn’t automatically make him the hero. Awful candidates can be anti-establishment too.
5. She’s Just Here Because of Bill — While their policies may have been similar, any implication that Hillary isn’t running the show here would be absurd. She knows exactly what she is doing, the question is whether or not you approve of what she’s doing.
5 Myths About Bernie Sanders
The biggest issue with Hillary criticism of Bernie is to talk down. They point out how tough things are, without offering any better solutions, and offer vague platitudes, dismissing the person before listening to the idea. Clinton criticisms just boil down to her being a better person for the job, an idea that they take as much for granted as Bernie supporters do that Wall St. is bad. Both, again, are at the core of lazy thinking, sexism, or antisemitism:
1. He’s Not Experienced / Doesn’t Know What He’s Talking About — Bernie’s been around for 32 years, written bills on every one of the plans he is talking about, traveled on diplomatic missions to the Soviet Union, and served as the highest-ranking US official to ever visit the Sandinistas. He also correctly predicted the disastrous outcomes of Libya, Iraq, the 1994 crime bill, and the deregulation of Wall St. He is vastly more experienced and knowledgeable than Obama or any Republican candidate. Whether or not you like his worldview or achievements, or view 4 years of Secretary of State as more valuable than 20 more years of total experience is your choice. And the Daily News Interview? Even the Hillary-endorsing NYTimes wrote that his answer was fine. It’s not his job to decide how banks break up any more than it was for him to decide on details of bank mergers after the repeal of Glass-Steagal.
2. He Doesn’t “Get Things Done” – Both candidates have gotten plenty done, and Sanders actually passed more bills and a higher percentage of his bills introduced per year in Congress than Clinton did. His landmark Veteran’s healthcare bill, which he saved from the dead, earned him the praise of John McCain as the best candidate for Veteran’s issues and a congressional award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Now Clinton has done plenty as Secretary of State, but whether or not that is good depends upon your opinion of her pushes to intervene in Libya or her decision not to call out the overthrow of an LGBTQ friendly government in Honduras by one that murders activists to this day. Titles are not achievements. Neither are words. When it comes to the opposition, they’ll face in Congress, it’s also pretty equal. If Obama proved anything with his push for a middle-of-the-road healthcare bill, it’s that having a D next to your name is all it takes for unilateral opposition by Republicans. Hillary won’t be treated any better by Republicans than Bernie.
3. All or Nothing — There’s this absurd idea that, by having big goals, Bernie is risking his chance to achieve smaller ones. Pushing for a better healthcare system doesn’t put Obamacare at risk, neither does pushing for a $15 minimum wage all of a sudden make $12 impossible. What does put people at risk is keeping a starvation wage and a healthcare system that bankrupts a million people every year. Bernie has shown a willingness to use legislative backdoors and executive power (he actually passed more amendments than anyone for 7 Republican controlled terms and served as the longest independent in US history, playing both sides to get what he wanted). If anything, you start high in negotiations, and bring your opponent to you, as Bernie has done with Clinton, who is now claiming to support his positions on everything from the TPP to the $15 minimum wage.
4. Free Stuff – Bernie has a section on his site saying how he would pay for all of his programs. Whether or not you like the way that he changes how government resources are allocated is one thing, but stop pretending he’s just promising shit. That’s straight out of the Republican playbook.
5. He’s Not Electable / Will Divide the Party — Every single matchup poll contradicts this and the fact that Bernie has dominated independent and Republican voters in open primaries demonstrates his appeal. Being a socialist isn’t stopping him. It’s third party candidates who actually divide voters, not primary competition. Any attacks that Bernie dishes out will be dished out 10x harder by Republicans. Meanwhile, Clinton is throwing the kitchen sink at him, so there’s no secret attack that will make his highest-in-the-race likeability numbers plummet. Clinton’s “warm purple space” may seem like the most applicable option, but most independents are not purple, they are strong overlapping strands of red and blue, and they appreciate candidates that will fight hard for some of their issues over one who is lukewarm on all of them.
So there you have it. I think my stance is clear, but hopefully the ground we debate on can be a bit more productive. The worst thing that can happen is for this primary to devolve into name-calling. If it does, we will be sorry come the general election.