Beth and the #AfterBern
What the hell is going on with some Bernie supporters?
I am not a psychologist, an psychoanalyst or a have a crystal ball to refer to when I am puzzled about someone’s behavior. I can relate to people who are hurting most of the time, and I empathize with people who are suffering. But I am more than a little perplexed when grieving over a political loss causes angst to the point of creating irrational behavior. This seem to be the case with some Bernie Sanders supporters. A self-described “very progressive”, seemingly logical friend, we’ll call Beth, seems to have tipped in a big way and I simply can’t get my head around it. My observations are purely from watching what she is posting on social media. But first let’s gather our thoughts and start from the beginning, the beginning at least of the possible source of what I am calling “Hillary Rage”.
Hillary Clinton has been in the public eye and a target for almost 30 years. There is no doubt that her early days were exemplary as a student, a young attorney working for the Children’s Defense Fund and as a law school professor. She then joined the Rose Law Firm which represented the failed Whitewater 1979 investment that the Clinton’s were minority investors in. The Whitewater failure led to the collapse of Madison Guaranty. While the Clintons were exonerated by the Resolution Trust Corporation and the law firm of Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro in the Madison Guarantee failure, the Whitewater investment trailed them from Arkansas to the Whitehouse and partisan Republican politics invented by the leader of the “neo-con” ideology Rep. Newt Gingrich.
In summary, after Bill Clinton was elected President in 1992 and after 2 appointed independent counsels, investigations and hearings on Whitewater, Kenneth Starr was “unable to find any grounds for prosecution”. Starr also found the allegations that the Clinton’s chief protagonist David Hale had been paid in hopes of influencing his testimony were “unsubstantiated or, in some cases, untrue”. In 2000 the grand jury expired.
The Vince Foster suicide, Monica Lewinsky affair and Webster Hubbell graft scandals ensued. Through all of this very little was made of any involvement by Hillary. In 2000 independent counsel Robert Ray, released a report that stated “This office determined that the evidence was insufficient to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that either President or Mrs. Clinton knowingly participated in any criminal conduct.” Millions spent, conspiracy theories hatched and perpetuated by right wing extremists so there was really no end of story despite no findings by one of the most exhaustive investigations in the nation’s history.
Resources: Whitewater and the ensuing investigations see the well footnoted article “Whitewater controversy” at Wikipedia by clicking here.
Clinton Body Count and Arkancide
Of the most egregious, plain old nasty and debunked conspiracy theories about the Clintons dates back to 1994. That year a women by the name of Linda Thompson created a website named “The Clinton Body Count: Coincidence or the Kiss of Death”. Thompson started the American Justice Federation after only a year as a new attorney. She has hatched other conspiracy theories on topics ranging from Waco to how the U.S. government was involved on the plot to blow up the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City.
“She really is contributing fuel to the flames of those who seem to feel that the government’s their enemy,” says Irwin Suall, a researcher with the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith who has followed Thompson’s activities. “I would say she’s a right-wing fanatic who is promoting hysteria about the role of government. Waco and Randy Weaver are legitimate subjects, but the notion that these cases represent a federal government conspiracy to deprive Americans of their liberties is utter nonsense.”
Resources: For more about Linda Thompson and her “right wing rage” from a 1995 Washington Post article by clicking here.
There are other totally unreliable “sources” that seem to be in favor with many disappointed #Feeltheberners and #AftertheBerners… but why?
Fast Forward to the 2016 Campaign
Howard Dean said in May 2005 that he considered Sanders an ally who “votes with the Democrats 98% of the time” and then Senator Barack Obama also campaigned for Sanders in Vermont in March 2006. Sanders entered into an agreement with the Democratic Party, much as he had as a congressman, to be listed in their primary but to decline the nomination should he win, which he did.
In 2016 Senator Bernie Sanders proved to be both courageous and enlightened. He is a true progressive by any definition of the word. His campaign for the Democratic nomination has proven invaluable to moving the party toward a more progressive agenda. Sanders, who is serving his second term in the U.S. Senate, announced on May 26, 2015, he would be running in the 2016 presidential race. His campaign is focused mostly on the idea of wealth inequality within the U.S. He desires to raise taxes for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, make minimum wage $15 and reform Wall Street. His supporters during the primary seemed to fall into the category of young democrats who are “seemingly very liberal”.
To be clear, Bernie didn’t declare as Democrat until November, 2015 for the New Hampshire primary even though he announced his campaign April 30, 2015. His official Senate press releases still referred to him as an Independent or omitted party affiliation, his participation in the primary didn’t break any party rules but clearly questions arose early on about (Independent) Sanders running against a lifelong (Democrat) in Hillary Clinton. The situation created some mistrust of Bernie’s intentions. This is clearly evident from the emails produced by Wikileaks that lead to the resignation of Debbie Wasserman-Shultz and others. For more on the DNC email leak click here.
The “Rigged” Election
Voter Fraud and Suppression
The basis for the claim the primary election was rigged comes down to superdelegates. It has since spiraled into voter suppression and vote fraud claims. While no voter suppression or fraud has been found, the “rigged election” mantra has been picked up by the Trump campaign in part to appeal to disaffected Bernie Sanders supporters. The Sanders supporters fraud allegations are being perpetuated by right wing activists and other conspiracy theorists like Cliff Arnebeck. Arnebeck Arnebeck was a leader in the Ohio campaign for Ross Perot’s failed 1992 presidential bid (red flag) and believes Beau Biden, among many others, was murdered. Check out this interview of Arnebeck that clearly shows his conspiracy theory leanings by clicking here.
While a “superdelegate” is an unpledged delegate to the Democratic National Convention seated automatically to choose the candidate for whom they want to vote. These Democratic Party superdelegates (who made up just under 15% of all convention delegates) include elected officials and party activists and officials. Democratic superdelegates are free to support any candidate for the presidential nomination. Under a new superdelegate reform package negotiated between Sanders and Clinton, about two-thirds of superdelegates would be bound to the results of state primaries and caucuses.
Conclusions and Questions
So what to do? I personally won’t and oppose sleazy conspiracy theories, manipulation by ultra right wing “wingnuts” but I am also struggling with how can so many self-proclaimed progressives start re-posting and referencing their propaganda?
Are they reacting to Hillary Clinton because, as Maya Angelou wrote, “its power to upset and offend oppressors. When a woman is confident instead of self-doubting, it means she’s no longer playing by the rules.”?
Do they distrust the “system”, in this case the Democratic Party, so much they are willing to sacrifice the gains being made through the nomination of the first woman from a major political party? And do this despite Hillary’s high marks over the years as a Senator and Secretary of State? See Huffpost for more by clicking here.
Nope and nope… what I think is going on is the progressive equivalent of “right wing rage”. It is a phenomena attributed to, and surprisingly accepted by many right wingers, white male angst over “political correctness” and their feelings that they loose more often than they win… compromise is not acceptable. As Heather Digby Parton of Slate put it, “conservatives openly defy any restriction on their God-given right to be puerile jerks”.
Resources: See Heather’s article at Slate.com “Welcome to the GOP’s age of rage: Shocking new study shows how anger is fueling the Republican Party” by clicking here.
I think Beth is feeling betrayed.
That she is being treated by those with privilege, that presume they have the right to do what they want to do, regardless of consequences. What many like Beth are doing is proving to minorities and others that when it really comes down to it, they would rather be “pure” than practical so they can tell themselves they are principled… never mind the consequences to the environment, equal rights, reproductive rights and the enduring principles Democrats have shared for over 60 years — exactly what #BernieorBusters claim to care about.
I have to believe that Beth will learn from her 2016 experience just as I learned from my 1968 experience. One huge difference, Bernie Sanders wasn’t assassinated. She didn’t have to be an activist in the 70’s when there was real mistrust in our institutions over poverty, civil rights and Viet Nam. She doesn’t know that during the early 70’s there were over 1,000 politically motivated bombings each year. My hope is, she will understand the Bernie Sanders political revolution is another needed step toward creating a “more perfect union” that respects the rights, aspirations and hopes of everyone across every generation.
Bernie famously said “ I hope that I made you proud. I know that Jane and I are very proud of you.” I hope he look past the “Bernie or Bust” folks who are labeling him a traitor, turncoat and worse and keep up the good fight. I personally think it’s a shame so many people are short-sighted. The seem to forget the American revolution is ongoing and has been from the day the Declaration of Independence was penned. Revolutions within our democratic society can take decades.
For more and a discussion about “Why do some Sanders supporters put their anger with Clinton ahead of keeping Trump out of the White House?” on Quora by clicking here.
Please keep talking. #GOPnever