This is not a call-out post but I wanted to respond in a way that more people would see. I also wanted to share a couple of links on a semi-related topic.
The original linked article from the liberal blog Talking Points Memo that says Bernie Sanders called on supporters to ditch “identity politics.”
One issue I have with this reporting is that there’s no transcript of his speech to put the whole thing in context. It claims Sanders said to ditch “identity politics” (in quotes), but it doesn’t quote a single sentence from his speech where he actually says those words. That’s sloppy reporting and it makes me worry that the author is twisting Sanders’ message. Having listened to the whole speech I don’t think Sanders actually ever said the words “identity politics.”
It does quote Sanders saying this:
“It is not good enough for somebody to say, ‘I’m a woman, vote for me.’ That is not good enough,” he said, according to WBUR. “What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industries.”
Does anyone actually disagree with this, though? I am disappointed that the first female president won’t be Hillary Clinton, but none of us want the first female president to be Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin. None of us want the first Hispanic president to be Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio. If you’re a public servant, it doesn’t just matter who you are, it matters what you will do.
I feel that also, sometimes we Democrats lean too much on identity politics in assuming that somebody will vote for us just because they’re gay or Latino or black or whatever else so of course they won’t vote for Republicans. We can’t get lazy; we have to focus on the issues and the policies and what we will actually do to benefit those people. We can’t take anyone’s votes for granted.
Bernie Sanders might go a little too far in just focusing on economic issues to the exclusion of other social justice issues, but saying he wants to ditch “identity politics” might also give the impression that he’s turning a blind eye to racism and bigotry. He’s not. He definitely talked about it. And anyway, economic issues and social justice issues are not mutually exclusive. We need a party that can do both.
Just for a more balanced take on Sanders’ speech: here are a few more stories about it:
Beacon Hill Patch (contains 15 minute video of Sanders’ actual speech
I get that some people on GT really dislike Bernie Sanders, but I’m getting pretty tired of people constantly shitting on him. Bernie Sanders is not shitting on the Democratic Party. He’s trying to lead it.
Here are the other two links I wanted to share:
Honestly I think this article is so important that it probably deserves its own post. If you only read one link that I shared, it should probably be this one. This is not about having empathy for white working class folks to the exclusion of anyone else. It’s about understanding who these people are, what they care about, why they’re not voting for us, and how things we’re doing are pushing them away.
For example, the working class is not synonymous with the poor. It includes a lot of middle-class blue-collar workers. So when Democrats talk about helping the working class, but then offer policies that will benefit the poor but won’t benefit middle-class blue collar workers, that is alienating to them.
I do think that Trump voters were complicit in racism. Trump ran a racist campaign. At worst, it was part of his appeal. But at best, his followers still voted for him in spite of it.
That said, demonizing all Trump voters as racists just strikes me as super unproductive, probably even counterproductive. Calling people racists and shaming them isn’t going to change their minds. Most of the time, it’s probably just going to make them defensive.
I get that a lot of people are angry and scared right now, and they’re upset at calls to show empathy to Trump supporters when they’re so often not shown the same courtesy. But if I’m calling for empathy, it’s for two reasons. One, we need to be the bigger persons. They go low, we go high. Two, I think it’s necessary to get what we want. It’s in our own interest not to cede the moral ground, and to understand those who aren’t with us.