Bernie exposed the white supremacist and imperialist contradictions of white feminism to the disinfecting sunlight of reason.
“White feminism was never concerned about the overwhelming majority of the world’s women in the first place.”
To Bern or Not to Bern – Take 1
I certainly apologize to any woman who felt she was not treated appropriately, and of course if I run we will do better the next time.—Senator Bernard Sanders, re his 2016 campaign for POTUS
Let me make the superstitions of a nation and I care not who makes its laws or its songs either.—Mark Twain, “Following the Equator,” Pudd'nead Wilson's New Calendar
In January of 2019, Sydney Ember and Katie Benner of the New York Times wrote one of several critical pieces that came out regarding Senator Bernard Sanders that year. It focused on one of the most important issues that could be addressed: what the dynamics of his campaign for POTUS said about his beliefs, relationships and actual policy advocacy regarding women. "Accounts like Ms. Di Lauro’s — describing episodes of sexual harassment and demeaning treatment as well as pay disparity in Mr. Sanders’s 2016 campaign — have circulated in recent weeks in emails, online comments and private discussions among former supporters. Now, as the Vermont senator tries to build support for a second run at the White House, his perceived failure to address this issue has damaged his progressive bona fides, delegates and nearly a dozen former state and national staff members said in interviews over the last month." "In interviews,” Ember & Benner continued, “women told of makeshift living accommodations on the road, where they were asked to sleep in rooms along with male co-workers they didn’t know. Women who had access to salary records were taken aback to learn that some female staff members made thousands of dollars less than their male counterparts."
“His perceived failure to address this issue has damaged his progressive bona fides.”
Roughly a month after the above article was published, Jennifer Wright, writing for Harper’s Bazaar, contextualized this and other troubling aspects of Bernie’s 2016 campaign with a direct quote of him; one that would serve as a snapshot of his character and psyche to any rational person. “That’s in keeping with someone who claimed, ‘women’s issues were a distraction,’” Wright said with withering criticism. “And while many male candidates for President might have felt that way,” she continued, “this year is filled with women who don’t. Women who have a lived experience of ‘women’s issues’ are very willing to talk about them proudly.” August Burns of the Burlington Free Press, from whom Wright derived the Senator Sanders quote, said ruefully as much as angrily, “It’s time for our society to face the cost to all of us of its deep sexism…What is it about men that makes them need to control and oppress women. What is the threat?”
There can be few things more disqualifying for a POTUS candidate than a bold, direct, and unapologetic statement of apathy in regards to the concerns of half the human population, particularly as they exist in your own country. Beyond disqualifying, it would be the epitome of political suicide (to a liberal at least) for someone holding such views to air them in the media. Particularly when they make the contextualizing of issues women suffered on their campaign trail both that easy and that unmistakable. The gift to one’s opponents of cherishing beliefs with a fraction of that level of toxicity, one would think, would make the brazen expression of them in the media a Trojan horse sent to oneself. Such a quote about women, dripping with not only misogyny but an unbridled arrogance passing the border into recklessness, would indeed make Bernie Sanders as much a commercial for the sweeping away of literally all male candidates for POTUS as Trump was. Which is why it’s worth establishing, given his second campaign got off the ground and inexplicably survived into April of 2020 four years later, exactly when and where Bernie said this, and why the fallout was so comparatively minor. When did he say something so politically Hiroshima/Nagasaki-like to the general public, and why?
Answer: he didn’t. Senator Sanders never said it. Turns out it wasn’t a direct quote from Bernie after all.
Hillary was the indirect source of the quote. On March 31, 2016, ABC News reported the Yale Law School trained lawyer, former First Lady of the United States, Senator from New York, Secretary of State and twice Democratic National Convention candidate for POTUS Hillary Rodham Clinton’s reaction to an explosive declaration by Donald Trump, not one by Bernie Sanders. Upon being asked to clarify his alleged “pro-life” beliefs on national television by Chris Matthews of MSNBC, Trump said that women should be held legally responsible and criminally punished for having abortions. The firestorm his comment created—amongst Democrats, Republicans, and the entire country—led him to completely reverse himself almost immediately. Clinton’s response to Trump, of course, made news all by itself. Hillary said, among other things, “Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse,” effectively framing the carnival-level freakshow Trump’s campaign had already devolved into for much of the political establishment (and the corporate media already monetizing it). As Liz Kreutz reported for ABC News, however, much of Hillary’s ire was ironically reserved for Bernie. She seemed more offended by Bernie’s response to Trump’s declaration (and reversal) than she was with Trump for saying it. In the article, “Hillary Clinton Knocks Bernie Sanders Over Response to Donald Trump’s Abortion Comments,” Kreutz quoted Hillary at a rally in SUNY Purchase, NY, saying “Last night, Senator Sanders agreed that Donald Trump’s comments were shameful but then he said they were a distraction from, and I quote, 'a serious discussion about the serious issues facing America’…”
Hillary’s castigation was a broadside against Bernie, with specific intent. Bernie was clear that Donald—
whose educational history is questionable, business history is full of failures and bankruptcies in spite of huge inheritances, and who had never held any political office—was incapable of either a serious discussion of the state of the country, or a discussion of policy advocacy that could serve as solutions to any of its problems. As was Hillary. Bernie said so, publicly, to get the debate of who should be POTUS and why back on track from the tabloid sensationalism into which it was already devolving; the only rough seas Trump is actually good at navigating. Hillary was undoubtedly aware of this. Trump’s gift, developed over decades of being a gossip column personality and Reality-TV show host (as both Hillary and Bernie knew implicitly), was creating controversy and stealing focus; degrading and demeaning substantive debate and the comprehension of serious issues in the process. Bernie attempted to bring the national conversation away from irrelevant virtue signaling in reaction to Trump’s comments (which kept “the Donald” center stage) and back to where it belonged (i.e. around the issues). It was well done. As was Hillary’s reframing of Bernie’s comment to serve her own agenda, for entirely different reasons. Hillary implied that Bernie didn’t care about women’s issues because, as the liberal woman candidate for POTUS running against him in the primaries, it was politically expedient (if not necessary) to do so, not because it was true.
All three candidates for POTUS, therefore, played three different political games in this pivotal moment in American politics; none of which being original, all of which being effective. While all three would become a window to the user’s respective characters, however, Hillary’s game, I assert, would change the course of history.
The Stool of Forgetfulness
How Hillary reframed Bernie’s comments in regards to Trump’s misogynistic sensationalism was in fact a master stroke of political one-upmanship. Bernie could have said literally anything and it could have been turned into exactly what Hillary needed to rile up her base. If anyone would know about the power of such propagandistic sophistry, in fact, it would be Hillary, as she made clear in her book What Happened (which came out the following year). Clinton explained that she was already a victim of this kind of game playing; not just through the entirety of her political career (which is irrefutable), but by virtue of her competition with Bernie—who she believed directly cost her the presidency in 2016. In What Happened, Hillary summed up the debating technique of (as I call it) strategic misquoting (i.e. reframing the words of one candidate out of context in order to make them serve the agenda of another) with a joke that was as funny as it was disturbing. As Michael Sainato of the New York Observer said in this regard, “Clinton writes:
“‘Bernie : I think America should get a pony.
‘Hillary: How will you pay for the pony? Where will the pony come from? How will you get Congress to agree to the pony?
‘Bernie: Hillary thinks America doesn’t deserve a pony.
‘Hillary: Actually, I love ponies.
‘Bernie Supporters: She changed her position on ponies! #WhichHillary #WitchHillary…’”
Hillary used this exact technique against Bernie during her rally at SUNY Purchase. In other words, Hillary Clinton never said that America shouldn’t get a pony. And Bernie Sanders never said that women’s issues are a distraction.
This debating game, nonetheless, is a symbol. Like a treasured artifact from an archeological site that can reveal the details of an entire era of history, this lone interchange between Hillary and her supporters referencing Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders almost poetically represents a now forgotten three-part campaign strategy; one that inadvertently destroyed Hillary Clinton’s campaign and, more than Breitbart, Bob Mercer or the propaganda whorehouse of mainstream media, made Trump president.
First Leg – Pyramid Scheming
The deification of caste, as expressed by the pyramid of the Clinton campaign org chart, was arguably the first major strategy problem of Team Hillary. David Catanese of US News and World Report wrote for a November 11, 2016 article, “…Back at DNC headquarters, staffers were equally as depressed, but they also became angry, reeling through times they were not valued or downright insulted…There was the time a state party executive director asked to speak directly to Marshall, and a reply came back from a junior staffer that the state party member wasn't senior enough to merit that level of interaction….’ He continued, “’… [I]t was all about analytics with them,’ the DNC source says. ‘They were too reliant on analytics and not enough on instinct and human intel from the ground.’”
Second Leg – Second Degree Bern
Bill Glauber of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel brought up the second strategy problem with the Clinton campaign. Telling the story of Wisconsin in 2016 (in preparation for Hillary’s What Happened book tour coming to the state the following year), Glauber summed up the mistake that seemed to define not just the strategy of her team but also the psychodynamics behind it: “Clinton became the first Democrat presidential nominee to fail to win Wisconsin since [Walter Mondale against Reagan in] 1984. The defeat here was part of the crumbling of the so-called blue wall of states, as President Donald Trump won in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania… Clinton lost badly here in the Democratic primary against independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and never returned to the state [italics mine]…She lost to Trump in Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes.”
The second strategy problem (i.e., not taking the pulse of the swing states personally and responding accordingly) was deep enough to empower the first beyond all reason (i.e., reading analytics that justified the preexisting decision over listening to her own team, who tried to advise the opposite strategy). It ran so deep, in fact, that it’s also the parent of the third problem—which became a catastrophe.
Third Leg - Trumpenstein
Bernie was not a women-hating distraction from the issues. That was Donald. The New Deal progressivism of Bernie Sanders was an existential threat to the neoliberal centrism of Hillary Clinton (as it continues to be), not her gender. One that, to a panicky DNC Establishment, demands playing every dirty trick in the book to defeat. Team Hillary came up with a doomsday doozy in preparation for the 2016 election. It was a strategy expressly designed to kill two birds with one stone, i.e. both the GOP Establishment competition (Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, etc.) and that of the Progressives in the DNC. Gabriel Debenedetti of Politico wrote in November of 2016, “Clinton circles' initial planning for Bush began even before the Democrats’ wipeout in the 2014 midterms. In an October 31, 2014 memo, informal confidant and longtime friend Sidney Blumenthal mapped out a ‘CONFIDENTIAL’ path for Clinton, which she then forwarded to aides Nick Merrill, Brynne Craig, Huma Abedin, Philippe Reines and Cheryl Mills, with the note: ‘Worth discussing elements.’” Debenedetti continued with a revelation that should have been a bombshell dominating several news cycles, “Mills then forwarded the note to campaign manager-in-waiting Mook and Podesta…to take [Jeb] Bush down, Clinton’s team drew up a plan to pump Trump up [italics mine]…:
“‘This memo is intended to outline the strategy and goals a potential Hillary Clinton presidential campaign would have regarding the 2016 Republican presidential field,’ it read… ‘The variety of candidates is a positive here, and many of the lesser known can serve as a cudgel to move the more established candidates further to the right. In this scenario, we don’t want to marginalize the more extreme candidates, but make them more “Pied Piper” candidates who actually represent the mainstream of the Republican Party,’ read the memo.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
Choose Your Seat and Sit Down
The three legs of Hillary’s campaign stool from hell, therefore, seem to be as follows: 1) A hierarchical structure of cloistered insulation amongst upper level leadership vis a vis lower level employees in her campaign staff, making them dependent on analytics representing the real world instead of the real world itself; 2) the failure to “press the flesh” in the swing states to ensure Hillary’s analytically predicted leads were authentic and galvanized, and 3) the objective of making Donald Trump the Frankenstein of the GOP; a monster that, after climbing off the operating table, killed all the appropriate villagers of the opposing team but, though failing to kill off Bernie, became nearly invulnerable in the process.
History would seem to show that the worst of the three legs of this stool was the Trumpenstein protocol. In reality, however, in a country of more than three hundred and twenty million people, Hillary, after winning the popular vote, lost the electoral college to Donald by considerably less than one hundred thousand votes. The worst of the three interconnected strategies, clearly, was not hitting the swing states hard with enough in-person visits and town halls. (This non-agenda was at least partly developed in emotional response to the Bernie Sanders effect: his thunder-stealing visits to the swing states beforehand, during the primaries.) The innumerable post mortems of Hillary’s campaign tell the same story, just in different ways: despite a) Comey’s I, Claudius homoerotic fantasies triggering his unprecedented post-convention disruption through the FBI, via re-investigating her emails; b) her self-immolating “Basket of Deplorables” comment; c) Republican vitriol and conspiracy theory over the Clintons cultivated over thirty years; d) the albatross around her neck of Bill Clinton’s uncontrollable desire to dry clean his legacy at her expense; and e) America’s entire history of patriarchal misogyny—all giving Trump what should have been an insurmountable lead despite his corruption and sociopathic incompetence—she was mere inches away from the Presidency. A Presidency denied, it seems, by the refusal to take basic advice about campaigning from liberal statesmen in her corner who had already been elected twice.
To Bern or Not to Bern – Take 2
He fought on, and the trends he spoke of intensified, and people started to see that maybe the world was flat only for Thomas Friedman, maybe it was the best time in history only for Steven Pinker and maybe inequality truly was a big problem. Suddenly both Republicans and Democrats were running against the “rigged system,” and billionaires from Aspen to Davos began to feel unloved…In so many ways, Sanders led that turn. He made his message mainstream enough to win 22 states, pulling Clinton to the left in the process. —“Bernie Sanders Wants to Change America. But He May Have to Change Himself First,” Anand Giridharadas, Time
Hillary, in fact, was often criticized over “the vision thing,” i.e. the belief that she lacked the vision & charisma of men like her would-be mentors Pres. Barack Hussein Obama and her husband, Pres. William Jefferson Clinton; men who would speak to the souls of the people and fire them up with the kind of (fantasies or) dreams that would create logic-defying movements, not just motion. Bernie took it one step further, making her that much more insecure: he was inspiring the multitudes in a way that surpassed her techniques for doing so, but with a vision that, unlike Trump, Obama or her husband, transcended the limitations of her political ideology. Neoliberalism is dead. The rebirth of FDR’s New Deal—held at bay quixotically by Obama in 2009 but irrepressible by 2016—was an idea whose time had come. Which made the rising Summer Solstice sun of Bernie, the New Dealer, completely upstage the waxing moon of Hillary, the neoliberal, for bigger and bigger portions of the American electorate with each passing day. Senator Sanders was changing the game of Washington, creating a resentment in Secretary of State Clinton in the process that was almost tangible.
Bernie, Hillary’s Achilles’ heel to the Left, undoubtedly influenced whether or not she chose to make friends and influence people in the swing states (in his long reaching shadow) after the primaries. (Hillary’s adamant refusal to even consider taking Bernie on as her VP after May of 2016, despite a) her contest against Obama during the primaries in 2008 being much more vitriolic, and b) virtually every successful POTUS candidate in modern political history became President by virtue of unifying their party with someone they personally hated beforehand, is only more evidence supporting the theory that she and her team were incapable of objectively strategic thinking where he was concerned. This is arguably the fourth leg of her campaign stool from hell.) The historical and economic forces buoying Bernie, combined with poor strategy against him, therefore forced Hillary to be more dependent on the identity politics and feminist cult of personality she was trying to move away from for much of her career. They had already failed her against the Black-American Obama in 2008. She would have been crazy to trust them in 2016, however she had no choice but to use them if she wanted to win. Which meant Senator Sanders was calling way more of the shots than she could ever be comfortable with no matter how you look at it. The optics alone said that America, given Republican plans to declare war on a Hillary presidency right out the gate if it were to materialize, might be better served with Hillary as Bernie’s VP rather than the other way around. (Which, to Team Hillary, was unthinkable.) Obsessing, if not panicking, certainly (in retrospect) influenced her decision to use Trumpenstein, the manufactured opponent to the Right, against Bernie—with the rage, hypocrisy and fear permeating her team facilitating a poorly done cost/benefit analysis.
“Senator Sanders was changing the game of Washington.”
The seminal part of Hillary’s strategy in the DNC primaries becomes clear in context: kill off the existential threat to her DNC coronation and its legitimacy (Bernie), by using the existential threat to the GOP and the entire democratic system (Trump). The false confidence derived from doing this led to the tragic flaw of not hitting the swing states in person the way she should have. Given the media was already cheerleading for Hillary, and white feminists were ready to do and say anything to insure the Rapture of a liberal white woman becoming POTUS (as the prophecy foretold), the election was probably considered too “in the bag” to worry about the one thing she needed to, above all others. It just made too much sense that the old rabble-rousing white men of the far Left and the far Right—who were already destabilizing God’s neoliberal duopoly—would cancel each other out and let Hillary, Queen of Queens, walk triumphantly back into the White House…in a white pantsuit, glowing by the dawn’s early light…led by six white horses when she comes, when she comes.
Hillary using an unforgivable declaration by Trump in order to allude to Bernie’s non-existent misogyny in a rally at SUNY Purchase, NY in the early Spring of 2016, therefore, was the synecdoche-shot of the Trumpenstein protocol heard ‘round the world, regardless of how many may have missed its deeper significance when it happened. Its effectiveness amongst her base—who gobbled it up like a medium rare Porterhouse at Ruth’s Chris—made it abundantly clear that her broadside against Bernie was a statement of faith more than an objective criticism. The mainstream media, however, easily deducing both this strategy and the dubious objectivity associated with it, tenderized, seasoned, and sautéed Hillary’s allusions into a ready-to-eat slogan and then ran with the Bernie “quote” anyway—as the editors of the innumerable newspapers and magazines in which the attribution appears in Op Eds and elsewhere can attest. (Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.) Indeed, with so many forces greenlighting this Team Hillary gambit before the popes of white feminism even blessed it, the idea that a use-Donald-to kill-off-the-GOP-centrists-and-Bernie strategy could backfire, horribly, never seemed to occur to any of her supporters.
Hindsight being 20/20, the new Bernie-hates-women mantra developed in 2016 was doomed to fail at doing any long term good for the DNC. Hillary’s (declining but strong) following in the (middle class) Black community; her tacit support from the Pentagon; the unchanging DNC Establishment support (given she was basically supporting it); her corporate and Wall St. backing, and the long standing Clinton brand was, in concert, stronger than Bernie’s reach. It most likely still would have been without this campaign strategy used against him. (Only a properly functioning democracy could have changed that.) But it was his first time at bat, and both Hillary and Bernie knew what him getting this far meant. The only thing more infuriating than an idea whose time has come when it isn’t yours, is when your thunder-stealing opponent embodies it. Hillary’s resentment-fueled obsession with Bernie was not only understandable but predictable.
Trumpenstein went off and killed his creator several months later by serving Hillary one of the most unexpected and embarrassing losses in modern political history. But while Trump robbed her of power, Bernie robbed her of significance. Hillary was scorned by Bernie—and as the three legged stool from hell can attest, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
It is the East, and the New Deal is the Sun
What was “white feminism” — if it was a phenomenon divorced from what’s been lately dubbed “mainstream feminism,” or previously “liberal feminism,” or sometimes “marketplace feminism” — is now forever linked to that 53 percent of white women [Trump] voters. Whatever feminism means to women who can vote in the United States, it was not enough to turn their votes away from a man accused of serial sexual assault, a man who would seek to punish those who terminate pregnancies — both long understood as unalienable feminist litmus tests. Whatever feminism means, after the election, it was understood as insufficient to elect a powerful, wealthy, perfectly qualified white woman.
— “White Feminism Is Over If You Want It To Be,” Melissa Gira Grant, Pacific Standard
It was inevitable that Bernie would evolve from a joke, to a clown, to a Rocky Balboa halftime show (against Hillary as Apollo Creed), to Satan himself in the bedtime stories of white feminists, according to the unprecedented evolution of his campaigns from 2015 to 2020. Hillary had sunk her own battleship, while Bernie simply refused to die. The practically daemonic forces Team Hillary helped unleash, via opening a political door wide enough for Trump to walk through, resulted in empowering him beyond their imagination in 2016. So much so, in fact, it arguably debilitated her feminist successor Elizabeth Warren in 2020. White feminists had indeed become their own worst enemy, right when the Brass Ring was within their grasp; something their apoplexy, in response to their chosen white male enemies continuing to rise in power, served only to underscore. That, and all the liberal feminist stereotypes they embodied while in mourning, was expected. What was unexpected, however, was the degree to which the general public would take the redo bait of white feminists hook, line and sinker, because of the #MeToo and #TimesUp lenses provided to our cultural world. The pioneering work of Black women like Tarana Burke and Barbara Smith, and Women of Color like Tina Tchen, gave white feminists new intellectual property to culturally appropriate, facilitating their reinvention into nouveau aggrieved victims in the public mind. All that was needed was training the public to pay attention to the necessary paradigm shift, but redirect the transformational energy afterward to prioritize the victimization of upper middle class white women almost exclusively.
Hindsight being 20/20, the unfolding drama of all this could have brought us nowhere but to the ongoing madness of 2020. The neoliberal zombies of late-stage capitalism are taking over, with bringing the country to an angry, post-hydrocarbon age of neo-feudalismas their primary goal.
Forget the formality of the DNC nominating process for a moment, and consider the bigger truth of an American empire in twilight. We are the new Rome—and after 9/11 (strike one), the economic implosion of 2008 (strike two), and COVID-19 under (of all things) the Trump administration (strike three), the new Rome is in terminal decline. Only a New New Deal is the way, the truth, and the light, and only one person in America, still, seems both willing and able to bring it to us.
After two thousand years (just to put it out there), it might be time to trust an iconoclastic Jewish guy again.
To Bern or Not to Bern – Take 3
An objective analysis of gender issues re Bernie Sanders’ 2016 and 2020 campaigns, if they are to occur in good faith, should therefore begin here. What Senator Sanders had attributed to him, along with how and why, is critically important to discern. That leaves, however, what he actually said and did, and its consequences. The above analysis is an attempt at the former. Below is an attempt at the latter. All that his people said happened during his campaigns should be taken seriously, regardless. The picture painted of the character of the man who allowed such things to happen, however, needs to be reevaluated with skepticism if any objective assessment is going to lead to authentic understanding.
Tim Mak of NPR reported in January of 2019: “Asked about the reports on Wednesday evening, Sanders issued an apology…’I certainly apologize to any woman who felt that she was not treated appropriately, and of course, if I run [again], we will do better next time,’Sanders said on CNN, stressing the steps that his 2018 senate re-election campaign had taken.” Those steps included, “… [T}he sexual harassment policy…which showed that a third-party hotline to report sexual harassment had been established. Andiola said that she was unaware of any such line during the 2016 campaign.”
In July of 2019, CNN reported on the many issues regarding Bernie’s unionizing of campaign staff. Bernie was once considered out of touch (to say the least) when saying American workers needed a $15 minimum wage on which to establish a baseline for living, well before any prominent Democrat took the idea seriously. "Four years ago, when I first introduced legislation to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, it was considered an impossible dream," Ryan Nobles and Gregory Krieg of CNN reported Senator Sanders declaring. "Today, I am proud to say that a $15 minimum wage has gone from laughable to inevitable." The Washington Post, however, (which, nota bene, has never been a fan of Bernie Sanders), reported that a significant percentage of Bernie’s staff protested their base pay falling significantly lower than the new minimum wage standard, when the grueling overtime and weekend work that is practically part of the job description was mathematically taken into consideration. (Senators Warren and Castro also decided to unionize their campaigns via processes that were either much smoother than Bernie’s or conspicuously under-reported.) The process of campaign unionization is nonetheless an organic one that can mimic the evolutionary phases of the democracy in which it is being established. This makes it not just notoriously difficult to begin but a risk to the central campaigner, when taking the often uncontrollable and unpredictable optics of the inevitably messy process into consideration. As such, it is a surprisingly yet understandably new development in American politics. Bernie took it on anyway. Bernie’s pioneering stance in this regard, demanding a continuation of often difficult negotiations and contracts with staff to address needs and disputes, spoke not only to his ideological integrity but also to the practical issue of pay disparity exposed in his previous campaign: the Collective Bargaining Agreement of a union contract legally precludes salary disparities between men and women for the same job.
Bernie was fixing what was broken in his 2016 campaign, issue by issue. There is no reason to believe he would have stopped, had he not ended his run for POTUS in April.
Nancy Fraser and Liza Featherstone, writing the for the Jacobin in February of 2020, made the case unavoidably clear: “For feminists, this election presents a clear choice — between advancing the interests of one percent of women and fighting for the liberation of the rest. Bernie Sanders is on the side of the 99 percent….” On the subject of female leadership, they were even more clear: “…Don’t get us wrong. We’d like to see a woman president as much as anyone. But not if it costs us the chance to build a movement that can actually improve the lives of the vast majority of women…While Bernie’s signature policies — Medicare for All, free public college tuition, $15 minimum wage, a Green New Deal, strengthening unions — aren’t always recognized as feminist, they target social injuries caused by gender, as well as by class and race…After all, the vast majority of low-wage workers are women [italics mine]....” They continued, “…Similarly, Medicare for All, which Sanders alone unreservedly supports, disproportionately benefits women, who use more health care services than men and thus have higher medical costs….”
“Bernie’s signature policies arget social injuries caused by gender, as well as by class and race.”
Senator Sanders made a point of addressing the harm-causing aspects of his first campaign directly where his policy advocacy failed to do so indirectly. This is what he seems to have meant four years earlier, when he said we couldn’t afford to be distracted from “a serious discussion about the serious issues facing America.”
Bernie was addressing the serious issues facing America in both of his campaigns, one by one. America, in turn, was listening, ready to believe in a new Hope-and-Change-they-could-believe-in. (Those listening even included some of the people under the stairs and deep in the swamps.) Deep appreciation of him firing up the body politic by doing this, at home and “across the aisle,” was unmistakably shown by liberals everywhere: by virtue of the declaration of war against him by his own party and the ever colluding mainstream media. Particularly from white feminists, who all but sounded the trumpet and cried HAVOC! before letting the dogs of war slip with rabid abandon. In other words, the evolution of Bernie Sanders into the POTUS candidate America needed to make president, at this critical time in the nation’s life cycle, was met with the exact opposite energy from white feminists and liberals that, indeed, this tenuous moment in human civilization would otherwise dictate is appropriate. The only way to justify this insanity to a deeply perplexed electorate would be with propaganda; feminist propaganda of Orwellian proportions. So there it went. Like a firehose to a birthday cake.
Indeed, the discoloring process of Bernie Sanders’ character, electability and very biology served as a delivery system for so much white feminist propaganda that the legitimacy of a woman being POTUS purely because she’s a woman (or perhaps better said, not a man) stopped being questioned by whole chunks of the population. Which made any woman nearly as competent as Senator Elizabeth Warren seem so destined for the office that an investigation of her actual politics—or the issues regarding her campaign—were considered a bore at best, an insult at worst. It’s time for a (white) woman to be POTUS, the message was clear, and it barely mattered which (white) woman. American (white) women have suffered enough indignity by watching a Black man with an Arab/African name and a fake billionaire demagogue with pedophiliac tendencies ascend to the highest office in the land instead of Hillary, and before any of them. It’s “our” turn, dammit. Full stop.
The Other “M” Word
"The notorious 1998 New York Times op-ed by Gloria Steinem must surely stand as one of the most regretted public actions of her life. It slut-shamed, victim-blamed, and age-shamed; it urged compassion for and gratitude to the man the women accused. Moreover (never write an op-ed in a hurry; you’ll accidentally say what you really believe), it characterized contemporary feminism as a weaponized auxiliary of the Democratic Party." — "Bill Clinton: a Reckoning,” Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic
There were no legitimate grounds for disagreement with an it’s-our-turn argument for a 2020 Warren presidency, of course. That’s because the argument itself lacked legitimacy. It was accepted as another article of faith by those who made it; as such, it needed neither explanation nor logical foundation for the initiated. Talking about Warren’s policy prescriptions; her issues regarding race and class; her draw of women, the white working class and minorities (or lack thereof), and comparing any of these to those of Bernie Sanders—with whom she was (supposedly) ideologically simpatico and good friends for years—could only be tolerated to the degree it supported the central premise that had already been established by white feminism, and its blessing of the discourse. To be a man who disagreed with those brandishing the it’s-our-turn argument underlying Warren advocacy before her campaign was over was not just to be one with a divergent opinion, or an honest desire to see an unexamined set of facts addressed. (Including, if not especially, if you were a man speaking to certain virtue-signaling male Warren supporters: those who reveled in their masochism-derived, shame-based intolerance of speaking, even disdainfully, to legitimately skeptical men on the Left—like new converts to a church resenting the very idea of talking to their unbelieving family members.) No. Disagreeing with the it’s-“our”-turn argument, i.e. that which served as the white feminist id underneath the liberal superego of any objective discussion of Hillary or Liz, was disagreeing with the articles of faith of an established belief system. And to be a man in disagreement with the articles of faith of white feminism is to be a misogynist. Period. It doesn’t matter if their argument, made in favor of Liz is, like that of Hillary before her, actually against progressivism as a whole. It doesn’t matter if progressive economic, social and foreign policies are far better for the majority of the world’s women than liberal or conservative ones—and that that matters far more than the race or gender of a leader representing us. A progressive man (God forbid a man even further to the Left) who refuses to see the light regarding what white feminists say about who should be POTUS, is thinking with his penis. Thinking with his violent, barbarous, irrational, woman-hating, angrily erect (or fearfully flaccid) penis, in ways that are potentially victimizing to all the innocent (white) women of rape culture, while jeopardizing the redemption of his immortal soul. Only a misogynist, in fact, would deny the accuracy of such a castigation by a white feminist—even when occurring in the absence of supporting evidence—given only a misogynist would imperiously demand any proof for that which has been declared self-evident by the enlightened. (Any and all requests for evidence in the spirit of dialectic, of course, no matter how politely done, are both inherently examples of mansplaining and tantamount to an imperious, self-incriminating demand.)
“To be a man in disagreement with the articles of faith of white feminism is to be a misogynist. Period.”
And just like that, white feminists in this political year turned the other M word—misogyny—into a thought-terminating cliché. An ancient Greek term describing a profoundly damaging psychological propensity in the white supremacist, Anglo-Celtic, Christian capitalist patriarchy of our time; a word describing a caustic dynamic which is nonetheless integral to the cannibalistic alter-ego of the American identity; an ancient term signifying a modern mental disease, expressed socioeconomically, via the rape culture and neoliberalism that not only damages and destroys women everywhere but is begging to be cured through new law, education and progressive economic policy…the word misogyny, along with virtually all allusions to it, becomes, in the hands of white feminists, little more than a Psy-Opsweapon of liberal Democrats. Drained of its descriptive, proscriptive, and prescriptive power in the service of justice, culture, socialism and democracy, the word has become a linguistical weapon to be used against literally anyone who might either disagree with white feminists or stand in the way of their acquisition of power. (That includes the shameless use of it against “eunuch” liberals: those of different races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, genders, and lower classes, who have bought into DNC propaganda on every other subject, but notice the disquieting contradictions inherent to white feminist use of—and allusions to—this word, and just want to know why the emperors are not wearing any clothes.) In other words, the word misogyny, via the oxymoronic verbiage and hidden agendas of white feminists, not only becomes a thought-terminating cliché. In the most tragically Orwellian fashion, the word becomes one that serves the dictates of the very rape culture, racism, narcissism and neoliberalism upon which the existence of the dynamic it signifies in the modern world is dependent.
Once upon a time, a misogynist was someone who clearly hated women. Now, in the politics of the cult of white feminism, a misogynist (once again) can just be any man that feminists have decided to hate. (With certain other men, in not being hated by white women, made magically pure in ways that would make Orwell laugh in his grave.) One might, in fact, subsequently find white feminist use of the word misogynist similar to, as was known in other cultural/historical circles with other like-minded groups, the term heathen. Because for white feminists, the two words are practically synonymous.
The Past is Not Even Past
“The more successful the villain, the more successful the picture.” — Alfred Hitchcock
White feminists saw crisis in the rise of Bernie, whose vision, advocacy and policies, were he to have been nominated by the DNC over Biden and elected president later this year, were going to live in the service of the majority of America’s women. (Instead of the norm of liberal Democrats catering to just them, at the planned expense of the majority of America’s women.) He was therefore inadvertently exposing the fraud at the heart of an entire social movement; one self-explaining its divergence from global feminism. The beating heart of that fraud sent out a morse code signal to the world that the supporters of Senator Sanders easily deciphered: white feminists know clearly what Bernie stands for and stands against, and they are clear that, while it may be a nice set of ideas for human civilization in the long run, it just doesn’t work for them right now. This, of course, makes liberals a much safer bet for white feminists to the exact degree (and for the exact same reasons) they should not be trusted by the majority of the nation and most of the world. (Which includes the majority of the world’s women, of which no more than ten percent have ever been white.) Trump and the GOP being even worse does not change the reality of what is to be seen when looking at them carefully. Bernie, therefore, exposed the white supremacist and imperialist contradictions of white feminism to the disinfecting sunlight of reason, the more he rose in the east. Which caused a crisis; a crisis of political and cultural legitimacy.
White feminists, however, saw an opportunity. One allowing them to survive said crisis of legitimacy, even while it drove them to near criminally negligent suicide with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Elizabeth Warren. By virtue of the world’s eyes being opened to the depths of rape culture in late-stage capitalist America—via the global feminists and womanists behind identity politics, intersectionality, Black Lives Matter, #MeToo and #TimesUp—they saw ways they could manage and manipulate the nature of the resultant social activism for the purpose of white female, bourgeois reinvention. A public reinvention, through symbolic crucifixion, in order to (as “bourgeois” would imply) re-secure their high place in America’s racial and economic caste. Which they did.
There are plenty of feminists who happen to be white (aka women of European descent) all over America, of every class and regional demographic. That is different from being a White Feminist, as a careful analysis of ideological differences, political agendas, and ability to support and defend the leadership and communities of Women of Color (in ways that transcend the symbolic or performative) makes clear. White feminists have no problem borrowing the language of post-colonial feminism, in order to serve agendas that are ultimately antithetical to women’s health, safety and empowerment, i.e. the majority of the country’s women existing outside their elite purview. Indeed, white feminists, in that regard, saw and see little problem with deadening the country’s sensitivity to rape culture & institutionalized misogyny, so as to turn the descriptors into weaponized weasel words. Weaponized weasel words, with racist subtext, to use against Bernie Sanders and progressivism, before doing the same thing against the patriarchal white nationalism of Trump. They have to know, if only intuitively, that this serves to embolden the GOP further and little else, given the ritualistic dismissal by Republicans of the very concept of institutionalized misogyny as liberal superstition at best. Particularly given that, arguably, since the advent of neoliberalism under Nixon, empowering the GOP is virtually all white feminist politics and propaganda has ever accomplished. Which means, by virtue of a) being café macchiato Republicans disguised as mochaccino Liberals (when most of white America wants either the straight black coffee of white nationalism or the orange juice of progressivism), and b) knocking orange juice off the menu completely by lying about it being poisonous, liberal white feminists (let’s say) inadvertently worked almost as hard to get Trump elected in 2016 as his fascist constituency did. (And they are doing it again, in 2020, as you read this.) White feminism did and is doing all of this because, in the final analysis, it was never concerned about the overwhelming majority of the world’s women in the first place.
No cult ever is.
Earl Hazell, native New Yorker, Basso Cantante opera singer and jazz composer/arranger, is the Executive & Artistic Director of Jazzoperetry (“Jazz-OP-ruh-tree”), Inc., the innovative production company combining jazz, opera and spoken word poetry in performance. He has worked with, among others, Max Roach, Zuben Mehta, Jon Hendricks, James Levine, Abbey Lincoln, Kurt Masur, Billy Taylor, Jimmy Heath, Karen Slack, Donald Byrd, Eric Owens, Frederica von Stade, Morris Robinson and the New York Philharmonic, as well as numerous opera houses globally including San Francisco Opera, the Semperoper of Dresden, the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Teatro dell’ Opera of Rome.
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