There has been think piece (thank you, America) after think piece (thank you, Lena) after think piece (thank you, Chris) written on why people left and right are voting for Hillary Clinton. Full disclosure: as the title of this post suggests, #imwithher and cast my vote for her in the NY primary a few weeks ago. Yet, everywhere I turn, people are screaming at me, “you’re doing it wrong?” You’re voting against your interests!”
I often hear the argument, “If you only knew more about Bernie, you’d vote for him.” But that is not a logical argument because I actually know a lot about Bernie! I really appreciate his stances on Wall Street, living wages and income inequality. I don’t too much care for his record on guns or plan to make college free for all, mostly because I don’t see how economically it would work. But overall, Bernie is a great guy who’s spent 25 years in established politics as an Independent. In the senate, Bernie and Hillary voted the same way on legislature 93% of the time which I think is pretty cool and illustrates how similar they are when it really comes down to it.
But enough about Bernie and back to some of the arguments I hear from his supporters and surrogates! Conspiracy theories are rampant, this election is rigged for Hillary! I hear that a lot too. I don’t think so but thanks to social media, anyone with an internet connection and Twitter account can start and stoke that fire with just a few key Retweets, Likes and Shares. Gah, I got distracted again! I really do want to focus on one issue though and it’s the argument I constantly hear which is that I, a Hillary supporter don’t know what’s good for me when I choose to support her. Allow that logic to sink in. This is where I drew the line:
This reddit post sums up what I seem to hear so much of in such clear fashion: African Americans are dumb and they’re voting against their interests for some bitch. From post to post, the verbs and nouns used to describe each element tend to change but the message remains the same: You’re doing it wrong.
This reddit post also sums up what I seem to dislike so much about the #BernieorBust/#NeverHillary movement: ignorance, misogny and low-key racism. But let’s look at these claims individually, through my personal lens as I cannot speak for all black people or all Hillary supporters for that matter.
- “You’re dumb.” Actually, I’m not though. I went to college and then I went to graduate school where I received a master’s degree in education. (I also graduated with honors and 4.0 GPA.) I’m not dumb. I know how to read a newspaper, watch debates, talk to friends, colleagues or strangers and parse information about political candidates from viable news sources. I also understand how government works. Gold star for me!
- “You’re voting against your own interests.” This assumes you know what my interests are, that they perhaps mirror your own or that I’m a single issue voter. I’m not a single issue voter but for the sake of this argument I will chose to focus on ONE issue: LGBT equality. As a trans person, I was curious to find out where our future leader stood on these issues. I didn’t hear a lot about this from Bernie, so I went to his site. I found it lacking. While I had heard a lot about LGBT rights from HRC’s camp and supporters (including the Human Rights Campaign endorsement), I still checked out her website and found a much more comprehensive outline of what she thinks and how she will execute her plan if she’s elected. It spoke to me as a member of the LGBTQ community and informed me that not only does she want to do something about it but that she understands the roadblocks I face and HOW TO remove said roadblocks to improve my quality of life and civil liberties.
- “You don’t know enough about Bernie.” But I do though. I’ve listened to him on TV and seen him debate after debate. I don’t connect to Bernie (a lot of other black people don’t either) for a variety of reasons. As the Politico piece suggests, Bernie’s stumble when answering a simple question on his racial blindspot felt disconnected from the reality I exist in. I don’t live in a ghetto, I live in Park Slope, BK yet I’m aware of my blackness, racial inequality, systemic racism and the perceptions that cloak me as a black person in this country. I struggled to reconcile the information around race and incarceration rates in Bernie’s home state of Vermont or to see how that might be a problem for a nation where over 30% of people are black, latino or hispanic.
- “You REALLY don’t know enough about Bernie.” But I do though. I read the NY Daily News transcript AND listened to the audio to determine for myself if the interview was an inquisition or not. In the process, I determined it wasn’t and I found a lot of holes in Bernie’s platform namely how he’d get some of those big ticket items accomplished if elected. I found it all very hard to reconcile. The speeches with the action and implementation.
- “You STILL just don’t know enough about Bernie.” But I do though. I never see Bernie connecting one-on-one with members of any community, I do see plenty of pictures of Bernie at rallies with thousands and thousands of people but not much diversity at them (TO BE FAIR: I have a number of diverse friends who are ardent Bernie supporters and some of them attended his gatherings here in NYC). I don’t know if it’s because I hear the same old message from him. Every time I watch a speech at a rally or hear him joke about releasing the transcripts or about how Hillary is nervous, it’s the same exact message. You’ve got speech writers, freshen it up! This is all to say, I don’t hear anything new from Bernie. And I don’t hear anything about the issues I care about. I hear a lot about breaking up the banks. Giving people free college and health care. But the frank reality is that a lot of Bernie’s platform doesn’t reflect the issues affecting my reality today and that’s a deal breaker for me.
- “She’s a bitch.” Do I even need to address this? How is she a bitch? In that she’s female and running for president so we get to say sexist things about her? Cool! Nothing Hillary has done on stage or off it for that matter has led me to believe she is a bitch. Is she flawed? Certainly, but find me a politician who isn’t. Bernie voted for the actual crime bill. Hillary was First Lady when her husband Bill signed it into office. Years later, we see the results — some in the short term were great, long term, not so much. We can only hope our political leaders learn from mistakes and adjust accordingly to make a better future for all of us. So again, I don’t know that Hillary’s a bitch as much as she’s a woman who gets shit done for people but that’s what happens when you allow the right wing to poison the well of one of the most qualified candidates to run for president in years.
TLDR? I’m black. I’m trans and I’m with her because she’s with me.