I’ve wasted way too much time discussing the various candidates on Facebook.
But if there’s a kernel of value in it, it’s this: No matter the candidate, supporters have an infinite capacity to engage in mental gymnastics to blind themselves to the weaknesses of their candidate.
I’m a Sanders supporter, but I cringed when I watched him completely botch the situation at Netroots Nation in July. I cringe when I hear him rationalize his vote on the liability exemption for the gun industry. I cringe when I hear him stumble and bumble on foreign policy questions, when it would have been relatively easy to develop a dozen talking points and pivot to them when asked a question.
I have this feeling, though, when I read what others say about “their” candidate, that they don’t have the same problem.
I saw Sanders supporters, many of them, attacking the BLM activists because their candidate blew it in July. I read comments from Clinton supporters about how those speaking fees are of no significance, that getting paid $675,000 by Goldman Sachs shouldn’t concern anyone. One commenter explained how most of those fees went to charity. Really? Then how did their net worth go from zero to over $100 million during a period that their income was almost entirely from speaking fees?
It’s of course just as bad on the other side. I’ve joked that Paula Pennypacker is like a woman on an ether binge with her over the top support for Donald Trump. No, I don’t really think Paula is on an ether binge, but I think her ability to blind herself to Trump’s shortcomings is breathtaking. I marvel at Rubio supporters explain away his financial shenanigans. With Cruz it’s a different story I guess, because the only way one could support him in the first place would be to lack the inability to see his weaknesses.
Where does this lead us? I won’t argue that we’d be better off going back to smoke-filled rooms. But the behavior of primary voters, a smallish slice of the voting population, inevitably must lead to disappointment in the general election, when it’s no longer just the party faithful who participate. What Sanders’ supporters are closing their eyes and ears to now will be seen and heard in the general. Those speaking fees Hillary received will move votes in the general.
It may very well be that we’d wind up in the exact same place if primary voters took a more sober approach. But at least we’d be sober.