I am 50 Shades of DONE with Bernie Sanders
My body and the rights over it are NOT up for negotiation Senator Sanders. If you want to be the standard bearer of our party and our collective movements, you HAVE to do better. Intersectionality isn’t just a buzz-word, it is survival for marginalized communities and this hypocrisy simply will not stand.
Full disclosure: in 2016 I strongly supported Hillary Clinton in the primary due in large part to reproductive rights and the initial moves made by the Sanders campaign demonstrating that he didn’t understand “social issues” and economic opportunity ARE THE SAME THING. I am also, in my professional life, a reproductive rights advocate (though to be clear, NOT representing anyone I work with) who spends my days explaining issues in a matter of fact way to people who don’t understand the issue fully. Too often, that includes explaining the implications of legislation that “doesn’t sound so bad” to liberals who think they understand but obviously don’t. Which in all reality often times leads to bigger issues because in today’s world, “doing your research” means googling to find an article that fits your worldview and digging your heels in rather than researching opposing reputable opinions.
The desperate attempts by Bernie defenders to find an excuse for his support of anti-choice Mello (and his abhorrent legislation) in Omaha is appalling. First, it was the Russians that were providing the talking points that Bernie could do no wrong that was gobbled up without hesitation. Now, in their desperate attempt to find things that will defend their messiah figure, they have found refuge in the message of groups like Americans United for Life (AUL). AUL is a legislation mill that provides anti-choice “model bills” to strip women of their rights all over the country, and is REALLY successful at it in part due to reducing complex medical and policy issues to simple talking points.
I know it hurts when someone you believe in doesn’t fully support something you do, and that’s ok, but these excuses are not.
- From well meaning people who think that Mayors don’t really have any impact on repro issues. (Incorrect: What about city based health initiatives that wouldn’t provide info on contraception or STD’s, or the city forming business partnerships with companies that deny reproductive care to their employees or the common problem of city zoning codes literally designing policy that just so happens to target and halt construction of abortion clinics?)
- To not so well meaning people telling me that my bodily autonomy is a distraction and not something worth talking about. Perhaps I should show them some maps indicating how hostile State Legislatures have been towards abortion rights in recent years to convince them that my humanity and equality is a valuable conversation to have?
The amount of excuses I have seen in defense of Mello’s bill and Bernie’s support are staggering, but this is easily the worst one. “It’s not an ultrasound bill because it doesn’t require the ultrasound be performed, only that she can see a picture if she wants to,” is an argument that I have heard directly from the mouth of anti-choice witnesses testifying in the state capitol in support of their model legislation. Now, I am hearing it parroted out of the mouths of supposed pro-choice liberals desperate to make this ok.
Let me ask you a question, when you were in school and your parents made you dress in the nice outfit you hated for picture day, did they change the situation by saying “don’t worry, we don’t have to order the photos if you don’t want to!” Ultrasound bills work the same way. How in the world can you be given an option to see an ultrasound picture if they aren’t requiring one to be taken? In this language, the picture being taken is NOT optional, only seeing it is.
Sounds confusing right? Well congratulations, because you have fallen into a classic anti-choice trap. They make their nonsense sound reasonable so that you don’t think it’s worth fighting, or that pro-choice advocates are being hysterical and over reactive. (I don’t even have the time nor the patience to cover the sexism there)
It’s confusing and incredibly nuanced, and that’s their goal. Target women’s rights with complicated bills that are difficult to explain and sound reasonable to people who desperately want to be seen as moderate. But today, everyone is an expert! So there’s no need to listen to the people who actually work on these issues day in and day out because www.unicornsandfairydustforpolicy.com had an opinion piece that told you you were right.
Doctors typically perform ultrasounds before abortion procedures, but by mandating this process it allows the government further oversight into the Doctor-Patient relationship and places additional burdens on, and openings for, attacks on the physician. We see it time and again all over the country and this type of legislation is ALWAYS a dangerous precedent to set. Would you pass a bill demanding that patients see an x-ray of their wisdom teeth before having them removed? Of course not! That’s ridiculous and burdensome. So why would you support this for abortion providers?
Don’t get me wrong, I of all people fully understand that oftentimes in areas with similar make ups like Omaha that you have to compromise on your candidates if you want to put a D in office and I basically agree with this concept. But not only do 7 in 10 people agree that the government shouldn’t be interfering in private medical decisions, but Omaha was under Democratic Mayors from 2001 to 2013. So the idea that in order to win there we must sacrifice our values on this issue is ridiculous.
People I know with direct knowledge of Omaha politics even tell me that Bernie isn’t really needed to win the race there. While I don’t know the inner workings of any other high profile national campaigns, the hypocrisy of endorsing and helping here and not on other races is significant. Bernie owes us a good explanation for this and not just that he “doesn’t know” Ossoff in Georgia. Because all that tells me is he must be best friends with Mello if he endorsed him I guess? Which is of course silly. What is it Bernie? Why one and not the other?
I would be able to respect a message that says “we should be supporting all imperfect Democrats in difficult races if we want to move the party forward in quantity of Dem representation” even if I would still personally disagree with supporting one who is anti-choice. But to say one form of imperfection that just so happens to disregard women is acceptable, but another form of imperfection that happens to hit your singular narrative is not, is hypocritical at best. And dangerous at worst.
In my view, Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign and sadly still current message has supported the school of thinking that in politics, it is perception rather than actual policy that matters. And while this has proven to be helpful winning elections, (Trump clearly didn’t win on policy) it makes for bad government. I’m all for winning elections for Democrats and if I were a voter in Omaha, I would have quite the moral dilemma on my hands when I received my ballot. I’m honestly not sure what I would personally do. But I know I don’t fault anyone who is forced to choose between two bad options by choosing the one that only holds one view you find abhorrent over the Republican who by my understanding is an awful person generally all around.
But for a man who is so adept at using perception over policy, it is unacceptable that Sanders would be willing to put such strong backing behind someone who has thrown women’s rights under the bus and to then turn around and act like it is us, the repro advocates who are just not understanding the situation. No, we understand the situation Senator and the need to elect and work with imperfect legislators of all backgrounds if we want to protect and advance the rights of women.
That’s what we said all last year on federal races across the country while you were calling our party sell outs for compromising even slightly on anything you personally cared about.
Bernie is right now telling his supporters that compromising on abortion rights but nothing else is what constitutes a true progressive, and his people in comment threads all over the internet are seeking out any arguments that could defend him rather than taking a closer look at the issue itself. It is this mentality that has led to anti-choice legislation mills passing laws that harm women and disproportionately impact communities of color. (Again, intersectionality recognizes that it is typically women of color who face the worst repercussions of this type of legislation) It is THIS type of thinking that makes liberals think that a compromise on women’s bodily autonomy is not only acceptable, but a reasonable thing to do.
It wasn’t ok last year, it’s not ok today and Sanders should be held accountable. If he can’t do better by recognizing this behavior as problematic or by helping all Dems equally, he needs to take a seat.