Why I’m Supporting Clinton, And Hope The San Francisco Bay Area Does Too

Bernie Sanders is an obvious choice for the Bay Area, but a Clinton win would be a real progressive breakthrough

Barbara Kinney (CC BY NC)

Silicon Valley likes a good narrative, but there is one narrative it has shown little appetite for: its privileges.

I started being an enthusiastic supporter of Bernie Sanders and got more excited the more traction he gained. But then came a tipping point, and my enthusiasm for Sanders started waning. His story wasn’t evolving, and there were strong, clear disparities in the demographics that Clinton and Sanders were succeeding with. This usually means privilege is playing a role.

Paying closer attention to the various progressive, investigative reporters and feminist writers whose work I’ve followed with great respect for years, I noticed all of them were backing Clinton. They were discussing intersectional aspects and differing depths of policy proposals between the candidates, and all the difficult nitty-gritty nuances that expose how each candidate is a flawed human being, but also tell you much about who they really are. And, how that impacts different people who have different priorities in their lives.

Hillary Clinton came out swinging hard at the start of the race, with a stellar criminal justice platform. Bernie Sanders had ample months to respond with a more progressive platform, but he didn’t (and hasn’t). This did not help him with black voters, who have come out in favor of Clinton 3:1.

Sanders’ aggression in pushing his bill to let Vermont (and Maine) dump their low-level radioactive waste in Latino communities in Texas probably did not help him with Hispanic voters, who have come out in favor of Clinton 2:1.

I could go on, and on, and on, but the point is this: when a candidate routinely fails to appeal to specific demographics, something’s amiss. I’m not talking about overt biases (or bigotry) towards these demographics, like we see in the GOP; I’m talking about systemic blindnesses that keep one from truly understanding the needs and interests of certain demographics. Sanders may have a good set of pro-women’s rights policies, but he’s not convincing women that he truly understands their concerns. Same for people of color, people with disabilities, etc. It matters.

Truthfully, I recognize too many of my old and current flaws in Bernie Sanders, but they are the kind of flaws I really do not want a leader to possess — let alone one who has 40 years of life experience on me. I see Sanders not just coasting by on his white and male privileges, but being blinded by them, and being mistakenly convinced in his own moral righteousness as he fails to truly hear the concerns of entire demographics. It matters.

Being an intersectional feminist is a lot of hard work; the hardest part is recognizing and confronting your own blind spots caused by certain privileges. It’s a slog, doing this all day, every day, and it cannot be phoned in. Being an intersectional feminist politician means having to put in much, much more of that hard work. Instead, Bernie Sanders has reacted with ire every time his (all-male) top campaign team failed to put in the hard work of adequate preparation, and then falsely accused the DNC or the system for it.

You know what that behavior reminds me a lot of? The tech startup brogrammers of Silicon Valley. Progressive, but only up to the point where it requires honest self-reflection. Idealist and visionary, but only up to the point where pragmatism has to set in. The Sanders campaign has become the Color Labs of current politics. And if you work in Tech but that reference escapes you, your awareness of history is as bad as the people who think the 1994 Crime Bill outcome is an effective argument against Hillary Clinton. (It’s not.)

The truth is that upholding patriarchal influences and politics is not actually progressive, even if you’re voting for a Democratic Socialist in a country that’s still somewhat allergic to the term. Putting class and wealth politics first is fine, but putting them first at the expense of identity politics is not actually progressive.

Not seeing through the bullshit narratives that dominate our society, that actively try to institutionalize racism and sexism and homophobia and transphobia, is not actually progressive. And boy, there are some seriously bullshit narratives in the media about Hillary Clinton.

You’re angry about money in politics? Then be angry about the money in social and mainstream media, too.

The Koch Brothers, Karl Rove, and other conservatives have spent several hundreds of millions of dollars on several groups actively coordinating an ongoing smear campaign aimed directly at Hillary Clinton:

The goal is to indoctrinate the public with anti-Hillary narratives, to insert carefully tested negative memes into the public debate. It is a form of mental manipulation, intended to discourage critical thinking and create predetermined biases in the minds of voters.

That amount of money, by the way, is more than what Clinton and Sanders have spent in their campaigns combined. You’re angry about money in politics? Then be angry about the money in social and mainstream media, too. Here are some of the bogus narratives they’ve pushed about Clinton:

  • Calculating, scheming, crafty, manipulative
  • Secretive, suspicious, paranoid, uncommunicative
  • Polarizing, divisive, alienating
  • Untrustworthy, corrupt, deceitful, dishonest, unethical
  • Overly ambitious (Weird how that is never said of men)
  • Inauthentic, disingenuous, fake, unlikable, insincere
  • Inhuman, machine-like, robotic, abnormal, cold

Seem familiar? Because I’ve seen these memes come by all across social media, and plenty of times I’ve seen them uncritically regurgitated by vocal Sanders supporters who’ve apparently never looked into Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments or history, who she really is or what she’s actually like.

These anti-Hillary groups and conservatives keep trying to create“awful scandals” out of very little, and they keep failing to take her out because Hillary Clinton is fundamentally honest and consistent. Yes, she makes mistakes, and yes, she does things that you (and I) will disagree with her over. But everyone does, Sanders is no different in that at all.

But the bullshit from these groups does stick, which is why, after twenty five years of attacks and another half billion of viral media smears, there is a public narrative about Clinton that is severely different from what the real Clinton is like. It’s institutionalized misogyny writ large, manifested as a public narrative. It leads to Clinton getting the most negative media coverage, while being the most truthful candidate of them all.

Women and people of color might well be seeing through this bogus narrative more easily precisely because they are used to living in a system that portrays them unfavorably. A system that diminishes their contributions, that shouts them down when they object, that exploits them — sometimes, at the cost of their lives.

These are matters of privilege, with blindnesses caused by those who have them, and a clairvoyance amongst those who lack them. If the Bay Area, as full of black, Asian-American and Hispanic/Latino communities as it is, votes for Clinton over Sanders, it means that progress is being made. It means our work raising awareness into these matters that so disproportionally affect women and people of color (especially) is paying off, that the message is getting through, and that more and more people are seeing through the bogus narratives that dominate the media.

We are getting better and better, all of us, at identifying and addressing these politics of identity. And right now, the most progressive candidate who understands how these politics work and why they matter to people in uniquely different ways, is Hillary Clinton.

And that’s why I’m With Her.

UPDATE: You did great, Bay Area.