White Privilege Allows Voters to Dismiss Bernie Sanders in Favor of Hillary Clinton.
There has been a swell of articles from major news sources that bash Sanders’ die-hard supporters for committing to write him in on the ballot in November if he does not get the nomination.
Particularly, articles like this:
As it becomes ever more likely that Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination, a host of people have announced…www.theguardian.com
Unequivocal support for Bernie Sanders is not based on privilege. The credulous masses who swallow these distortions need to stop for a moment and consider how completely upside down this is.
Let’s unpack this.
The people pushing this idea are trying to persuade voters to overlook decades (centuries) of white western imperialism, oppression and warmongering by telling them a lie: that only the privileged can refuse to vote for Secretary Clinton.
This lie capitalizes on rude comments on the internet as the primary exhibit in an attempt to create a controversy — a distraction from the issues motivating the Sanders campaign.
Pro-Sanders and anti-Clinton content gets plastered with the same kind of vitriol from supporters of Secretary Clinton. Tweets, comments, Facebook posts, and blogs make accusations of sexism, racism, ignorance, stupidity, childishness, and a lack of morals either directed towards Sanders himself or his supporters. Un-moderated internet comments are mostly a cesspool of garbage, no matter where you look or who is speaking to whom.
The common insinuation by authors playing up the White privilege argument is that Bernie Sanders’ supporters really are simply a bunch of angry white men who need to (in no particular order): 1) be ashamed, 2) immediately give Secretary Clinton their vote, and 3) check their privilege.
I call bullshit.
That’s not to say that white privilege and male privilege do not exist. There is no question that the history of our society is a long and unending record of the repeated exploitation and both conscious and unconscious oppression of non-white men and women. Our country’s history is written in the blood of the non-white men and women we exploited and killed to create it.
Gender inequality is so ingrained in our society that most men cannot or will not even acknowledge that they themselves perpetuate it. Entire industries in this country exploit the fact that female labor is cheaper than male.
People who would ask, “why do we see so many angry white young males supporting Sanders so ferociously?” Consider this: 1) our society has taught white males that their opinions are highly valuable, and 2) the consequences for white male anger are different from the consequences of anger if you’re not a white male.
There are many reasons to be angry as an American of any color, but Sanders’ supporters are angry in large part because of the inequalities that define American society, not in support of them.
If you have to ask, “Why aren’t there angry Black, Latino, and Native Americans supporting Sanders?” Then you are probably part of the problem.
Let me whitesplain that:
Some of the cautionary tales non-white people tell their children to scare them into good behavior are about how non-white people who get angry or act like radicals get eaten by white monsters.
Bernie Sanders is leading a highly popular radical movement to enact sweeping reforms of the financial system, the criminal justice system, and the political system. The ‘New Democrat’ strategy of slow progressivism and liberal realism is not working for an increasing number of American households. It isn’t working for Flint, nor Birmingham, nor Baltimore, nor Chicago, and people are raising their voices about it, by the millions. That scares the hell out of a lot of people, including many of the people it is designed and intended to benefit.
Meanwhile, white middle-age supporters of Hillary Clinton express smug approval of minority voters in the south who don’t buy into Sanders’ political revolution. They blithely share articles and sage comments about the ‘Black experience.’ They lament on social media about mass incarceration and racial inequality. Then they donate $2,700 to the Clinton campaign.
It’s dangerous to use the ‘privilege’ argument as a shaming tactic, because it’s a double-edged sword.
When White people try and assign motives and push a characterization on groups of minority voters, that’s bullshit. What’s even more bullshit, though, is that every movement seeking meaningful redress of inequality in America is still met with violence and oppression, punctuated by explosions of White guilt, followed by silence and exhortations about ‘slow change’ from comfortable White people who are used to promising some and delivering crumbs.
Where is the real action? Where are the tens of thousands of White people standing up for their fellow humans and demanding equality and justice? Where are the White people who don’t have much, but want to do whatever they can in the pursuit of a nation that will provide a good life for all of its people?
The grand lie the Clinton campaign fosters — that support for Bernie Sanders is a stance based upon privilege — is completely backwards.
The lie applies White guilt as a sword against White people — White people who would choose to vote for a candidate who espouses goals such as: 1) work quickly to make the United States a country where all people can live in prosperity, regardless of their identity, 2) ensure healthcare to all people as a right, 3) ensure that U.S. foreign policy puts peace and diplomacy first, and work to end bloodshed rather than cause it. These policies have been dismissed as unrealistic by Clinton and her supporters, because they would be too hard to get through congress, or would put our country at risk.
Bernie Sanders is continuing to score wins in spite of the continuous and undeniable media bias against him. Journalists and Washington insiders continue to undervalue his campaign and the political movement that has formed around him. They describe Sanders as not presidential enough, too old, dangerous, and irrelevant.
As Glenn Greenwald succinctly describes, this media blitz closely follows the pattern observed in the recent U.K. election, where Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader of the Labour Party in spite of opposition similar to that which Bernie Sanders faces.
Now that we can read her emails, it is readily apparent how deeply connected Secretary Clinton is with the media organizations and the wealthy White people who own them. Clinton aides went as far as to blackmail journalists to write favorable articles about her while at the State Department.
In truth, the “my hands are tied” defeatism advanced by Clinton and her supporters is simply a continuation of the practiced ignorance adopted by the plutocratic leaders of this country throughout its bloody and exploitative history. That willful ignorance allows them to reap the benefits of our empire while collectively shirking responsibility for the atrocities committed for its creation and sustenance.
That is the lie. That is the double-edged sword forged by the Clinton machine: while white privilege is truly the bedrock of our society, it is also at the foundation of Secretary Clinton’s campaign.
People often forget that American White privilege manifests far beyond our own borders. Hundreds of people in the Middle East can be blown up, either by terrorists or by an air campaign staged by allied western nations, yet Kim Kardashian’s butt or the latest verbal fart emission by Donald Trump are more popular topics of discussion.
Here in the U.S. we don’t have to worry about getting blown up on our way to work.
Decades of both covert and overt intervention and outright meddling in the Middle East have given us a legacy as major instigators of some of the deadliest armed conflicts in modern history. In terms of Middle East foreign policy, the key difference between Secretary Clinton and her prospective Republican opponents is that Clinton advocates for war as a curative measure, while the Republicans advocate for war as a punitive measure.
In other words, a vote for either Secretary Clinton or the Republican candidates is a vote for the U.S. to pursue indefinite war in the region.
The stated end goal — the destruction of ISIS/ISIL/‘radical Islam’ — essentially means the continuation of U.S.-led war in the region with an indeterminate time frame and essentially unlimited scope.
You don’t have to take my word for this, as Secretary Clinton openly summarized this part of her plan herself in a speech in December, 2015:
We will defeat these new enemies just as we have defeated those who’ve threatened us in the past, because it is not enough to contain ISIS. We must defeat ISIS, break its momentum, and then its back. And not just ISIS, but the broader, radical jihadist movement that also includes al-Qaeda, and offshoots like al-Shabaab in Somalia… That’s why… I laid out a three-part plan to defeat ISIS, and the broader extremist movement. One, defeat ISIS in the Middle East by smashing its stronghold, hitting its fighters, leaders, and infrastructure from the air, and intensifying support for local forces who can pursue them on the ground. It will require more U.S. and allied air power and a broader target set for strikes by planes and drones, with proper safeguards. It will require special operations units, to advise and train local forces, and conduct key counter-terrorism missions.
In Secretary Clinton’s three-part plan, the first part is war, via the application of U.S. air power, the armament and training of militias, and covert operations by U.S. special forces. Dismantlement of global terror networks comes second. Hardening defenses in the U.S. comes third. This plan should be familiar by now, because it is strikingly similar to the global counter terrorism strategy advanced by George W. Bush in February of 2003.
In 2008, then Senator Obama ran on a platform of winding down war efforts in Iraq and continuing pursuit of the war on terror throughout the region, tempered by increased diplomatic engagement with foes as well as allies. For many on the left, this was a welcome but limited improvement on the status quo, and proved to be a key factor in securing the nomination and ultimately the Presidency. For many Americans, the Iraq war debate was a deciding factor.
The New York Times recently published an extensive 2-part exposé on Secretary Clinton’s role in the rush to military action in Libya. It discusses the lead-up to the crisis, her pivotal role in implementing the overthrow of Qaddafi, her exuberance in claiming Libya as her success in the aftermath, her ignorance of the warning signs of another collapse, and her subsequent silence as the country collapsed into 5 more years of bitter civil war.
The implosion of Libya has had dire consequences beyond its own borders. According to documents released by the DOD in response to a FOIA request, large stockpiles of weapons were shipped from Benghazi to Syria starting after the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in October 2011, through September 2012. In 2012, the U.S. intelligence community came to terms with the fact that supporting the overthrow of the Assad regime would help terrorist organizations in the region who sought the same goal.
Large portions of Syria are now held by ISIS and various other factions fighting against the Assad regime. To call the Syrian situation complex would be an understatement.
The conflicts of the past 13 years, coupled with localized famine and economic collapse, have caused a massive and undeniable humanitarian crisis in the Middle East. This has been a huge blow for human rights and particularly women’s rights, as religious extremism has expanded to fill the vacuum of instability left by the Libyan and Syrian civil wars. The expansion of the war on terror by such measures as the insertion of U.S. ground troops into Mali is a repetition of the same mistaken approach.
This is by no means a comprehensive summary of current conflict and its root causes in the Middle East. It suffices to say that conditions in the region continue to deteriorate, despite and, in part, as a result of intervention by both the U.S. and other world superpowers.
Secretary Clinton held legislative and leadership roles in creating some of the most violent conflicts and one of the worst humanitarian crises in the modern era. In her public speaking, her work as Secretary of State, and in her position as a U.S. Senator, she has advocated for and implemented a policy of direct military and covert intervention in the Middle East. This policy has resulted in the destabilization of multiple Middle Eastern and African countries, the violent deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and the complete suspension of human and women’s rights in large portions of Iraq, Libya, Syria, Mali, Yemen, and other countries.
That people would still enthusiastically vote for Secretary Clinton, despite these facts, is not surprising. We have been told continuously by both news media and elected officials that our safety and security depends on our willingness and ability to contain and destroy ‘the radical jihadist movement.’ We’ve been told this so often that it is now ingrained in our collective psyche — it has become a fundamental principle of American democracy: safety at home requires waging war abroad.
We have internalized this idea so much that it is now the philosophical basis of our criminal justice system as well.
The U.S. must stop engaging in proxy wars in the Middle East. The Israel-Palestine conflict and the Iraq/Syria/Libya wars are succinct examples of how U.S. foreign policy has been a devastating failure under numerous administrations, both Democratic and Republican.
I can’t point to a particular piece of the conflicts in the Middle East or elsewhere and assign wholesale blame for them squarely upon Secretary Clinton or any other elected official. What I can say, however, is that the centrist factions of both the Democratic and Republican parties have consistently represented to the American people that the U.S. is pursuing just military action in the pursuit of peace and the interest of securing the homeland.
We are such a comprehensively privileged society that we are now able to justify regular application of preemptive warfare as a means of making ourselves feel safer.
The real outcome of our military activity is the polar opposite of the stated intention. The history of U.S. involvement in the Middle East reads like a comprehensive ISIS recruitment pamphlet. Look closely at the scope of the conflict, and the degree of senseless violence and loss of life occurring.
The reality is that World War III is currently underway, and steadily escalating.
Senator Sanders is the only presidential candidate who has consistently advocated against expanded military involvement in the Middle East. I am astonished to find so many people outright dismissing the voting record on the Iraq War Resolution. Asking Sanders’ supporters to commit to voting for Secretary Clinton, if she wins the nomination, in essence demands that they give implicit consent to the continuation of the disastrous foreign policies that have created World War III.
Instead of making a long-term commitment to build a broad coalition of nations in the region, the past and current administration insists on maintaining a leadership role in the conflict. We have cast ourselves as savior, mediator, aggressor, victim, and victor. We are embroiled in a war so broad and complex that the average citizen in the U.S. has essentially no understanding of where the conflicts are even occurring, much less what the causes and key issues are.
Is Donald Trump dangerous? Yes. Would he beat Bernie Sanders in a general election? Not even close. Social issues no longer carry enough weight in the U.S. to outweigh the economic, climate, and geopolitical issues that will dominate the general election and first term of the next President. Trump is halfway through the primary season and has yet to advance even a single cogent proposal or platform dealing with the economy, climate change, or foreign policy.
Absent any real substance, Trump relies almost entirely on demagoguery and invective to motivate his supporters. The Trump sideshow is just that: a sideshow, without substance, which will dissipate like a spring snow melt. Trump is all noise and show, perfectly suited to distract and act as a foil in the Sanders-Clinton contest. I don’t buy it, and I am surprised and disappointed that the Democratic establishment has validated and exploited this farce thus far.
The major news networks, instead of dismissing Trump’s candidacy as a joke, have shepherded it every step of the way since he announced his candidacy. Numerous candidates, most far more credible than Trump, have been thrown into the wastebasket by the media. All it takes, most of the time, is low airtime, and a candidacy will wither like cut flowers out of water. A choice was made somewhere along the way by network executives, and Trump was catapulted onto the national stage, receiving more prime time news coverage than the entire Democratic field combined.
Money and politics are the seeds and soil of corruption. Bernie Sanders discusses this every chance he gets. People are not often often able to hear him speak about corruption via corporate media, because what we see and hear is regulated by the very same people who would stand to lose the most if the Citizens United decision were overturned.
Political ad expenditures have exploded since the Citizens United decision was handed down in 2010. Much of that money flows directly into the hands of digital and television advertising and media agencies.
Can journalistic integrity even survive in a market that thrives on pleasing large donors, PACs, and political campaign organizations?
Secretary Clinton’s campaign has used Donald Trump as a stick to her carrot. Upon examination of Clinton’s donor network, which includes Time Warner and 21st Century Fox, it is easy to see where the idea of elevating Donald Trump might become actionable. This is not coincidence. It is just one element of the corruption that pervades American politics.
Do I hate Secretary Clinton?
Not at all.
I believe Secretary Clinton would make correct decisions with respect to domestic social and equality issues, despite her past foibles. She has come around to the idea that the American people want a President who values equality and justice.
I acknowledge that in her career she has made a significant positive impact with respect to child poverty, gender equality, human rights, LGBT rights throughout the world, health care, and other causes.
She’s won one substantial election and has a very effective campaign staff.
Despite her good points, though, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the creation of Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has been bought and paid for by the same corporations who brought about the largest economic collapse since the great depression.
Her consistent support of military aggression in pursuit of regime change has made us less safe, and has helped to further inflate the tally of innocent deaths attributable to U.S. hegemony.
She is the product of a political system that rewards corruption, and stifles dissent and grassroots. This, to the point where it took nine months of a grassroots movement of more than 2 million people before media outlets would even say the name ‘Bernie Sanders’ on a regular basis.
I can’t fault people who refuse to vote for Secretary Clinton under duress. In a country that believes itself to be founded upon the principles of truth and justice, prosperity, life and liberty for all, we should have the freedom to make better choices without being accused of exercising our own ‘privilege.’ We should not all have to turn our heads and hold our noses and engage in the collective delusion that Hillary Clinton is the best we can do.
We can do better.
The truth is, a significant portion of the electorate were never going to vote for an establishment candidate from either party. The Clinton campaign is ready and willing to chalk this up to gender bias, but the facts and substantive contrast between the Democratic candidates will speak for themselves, both for me and for the 40%+ of the electorate who were registered independents as of the beginning of 2015.
Look no further than the Clinton campaign’s roaring silence on the failed electoral process in Arizona and you will see that they do not care to hear every voter’s voice — only the ones that comply.
If Clinton supporters think that the ‘Berniebots’ are the worst they will see in the 2016 election cycle, they are in for a very rude awakening after the convention. The major issues I’ve outlined above are not born out of right-wing talking points. They are the very real and disturbing historical milestones of Secretary Clinton’s career, particularly her work in the State Department. The right wing will be ready to exploit them in the General election.
In November, you had damn well better turn out to the polls and vote out everyone who doesn’t support address of inequality issues of all kinds, from gender, to race, to income. Vote for someone who has the moral intelligence to understand that we shouldn’t be using our military like we have been, to sow chaos in the world, and that if we do, we should have the decency to provide a good life for them in return for their service. Campaign finance reform would be a yuge plus, but you will struggle to find a single candidate on your ballot who supports that if Secretary Clinton gets the nomination.
When it comes to the Presidency though, don’t ask me what I will do in November if Senator Sanders is passed over for the nomination.
That’s a stupid, bullshit question.
You want me to buy into your hypothetical and just, whoops, forget my conscience and all the really inconvenient facts (yes, facts) that assure me and millions of other Americans that Clinton is unsuitable to be the President? All so you can assuage your own conscience and give you comfort knowing that you were correct to settle for the more electable, more aggressive, more ‘experienced’, more polished, more politically and financially connected candidate?
So don’t ask me that question, because I’m not answering it.
I am indeed an angry white man, guilty as charged.
I am an angry white man, but I am not angry because I feel put upon by people who don’t share my identity traits. I am not angry at women, or immigrants, or Muslims, or Black people.
I am angry because my country is not the force for good in the world that I wish it to be. I am angry that I am being shamed by White people into giving consent to the waging of unlimited war halfway around the world.
I am angry because I am being shamed by White people for refusing to support the wholesale purchase of our democracy. I am angry that my shaming is being orchestrated by rich white people who have lost the ability to feel shame about their destructive and selfish behavior.
To imply that Sanders supporters are acting from their own privilege is callous and ignorant. It is defamation in defense of the exploitation of socially — and economically — oppressed people in other countries as well as our own.
The election of Secretary Clinton would be a signal to the entire world — an assurance that while the affluent white people of America will continue to enjoy power and superiority, the price will continue to be paid in flesh and blood by less privileged people both in the U.S. and abroad, ground under the treads of the American imperialist machine.