I managed to get myself labeled sexist twice within 24 hours for Facebook posts about Hillary Clinton. By her supporters, of course. In one post, I brought up a quote of hers praising Walmart from when she served on Walmart’s board. In the other, I actually said that Planned Parenthood’s endorsement of her had less to do with Hillary than it did with Planned Parenthood being in the pocket of the Dem party establishment.
This really has nothing to do with sexism, or even Hillary. What we’re seeing is what happens when those in power, in this case the Democratic Party establishment, feel threatened. They’ll do whatever they think will keep them in power. In this case, it means tilting the playing field in favor of their candidate. And they’ll seek to intimidate, by attacking those who support the anti-establishment candidate and demanding pledges of loyalty should the anti-establishment candidate lose. We actually may see that backfire on the Republican side, where those who pledged to support Trump if he’s the nominee, pledges made solely to extract a reciprocal pledge from Trump, might be called to live up to those pledges.
Will the “sexist” crap backfire on the Dem establishment?
I can’t see how it won’t, for several reasons.
I don’t doubt that sexism underlies some Democratic opposition to Clinton. We’ve not eliminated sexism from our society any more than we’ve eliminated racism.
But sexism is a pretty minor factor in the Clinton-Sanders contest. The two have a starkly different worldview. Many, many Sanders supporters actually preferred Elizabeth Warren. I’m among those. I thought Warren’s persona was more appealing than Sanders’, and didn’t see huge differences in their core principles. Simply put, the appeal of Sanders over Clinton has little to do with gender. It just doesn’t.
Painting Sanders’ supporters as sexist with a broad brush has clear costs. First, doing so will entirely undercut and dilute the entirely valid point that the Republican candidates and their supporters are largely sexist to the core. And racist. And homophobic. Wrongful charging bigotry really, really hinders your ability to rightfully charge bigotry. The cost of charging Sanders’ supporters with sexism could be to let conservatives off the hook. From that perspective, it’s a pretty foolish move.
Second, calling people sexist (or racist, or homophobic) tends to piss them off. In my case, someone somehow invoked my criticism of Hillary’s support of Walmart as evidence I was sexist. Another suggested my view that Planned Parenthood’s endorsement of Hillary was not gender-based indicated I was sexist. Thus, neither allegation of sexism was logic-based. That obviously causes me to lose respect for those who made the allegation. Does that infect my view of their candidate, Hillary? It actually shouldn’t, unless I (and others) feel it is part of a strategy coming from the campaign itself. At some point, however, that feeling becomes inescapable.
Third, the Clinton campaign should be soft-pedaling the gender card, not hard-peddling it. Hillary herself has real problems on this front. Here’s Maureen Dowd of the NY Times, in Leo, Hillary and Their Bears:
Ignoring our more gender-fluid society, the skyscraper-obsessed Trump has hectored male rivals for being girlie men. But he knows Hillary is tough. So he’s wielding his knife on her most sensitive pressure point: her hypocrisy in running as a feminist icon when she was part of political operations that smeared women who told the truth about Bill’s transgressions. Hillary told friends that Monica was a “troubled young person” getting ministered to by Bill and a “narcissistic loony toon.” Hillary’s henchman Sidney Blumenthal spread around the story that Monica was a stalker and Charlie Rangel publicly slandered the intern as a fantasist who wasn’t playing with “a full deck.”
Trump may be a politically incorrect Frank Sinatra ring-a-ding type with cascading marriages to hot babes, but he knows that a retrospective of the Clintons’ cynical campaigns against “bimbo eruptions” will not play well in a politically correct society sensitized by epidemics of rape in colleges and the military and by the Cosby effect.
Bill hid behind the skirts of feminists — including his wife and esteemed women in his cabinet — when he got caught playing around. And feminists, eager to protect his progressive agenda on women, allowed the women swirling around Bill to become collateral damage, torched as trailer trash or erotomaniacs.
In Iowa last fall, Hillary promised to fight sexual assault on campuses, saying that survivors had “the right to be heard” and “the right to be believed.” But when a woman last month asked if the women who claimed they were sexually harassed by Bill Clinton should be believed, Hillary faltered, replying lamely: “I would say that everybody should be believed at first until they are disbelieved based on evidence.” She’s in a dicey spot on this, as Trump well knows.
A dicey spot indeed.
Returning to my original point, this is not really about sexism on the part of Sanders’ supporters. This is about a clumsy Democratic Party establishment, not unlike the clumsy Republican Party establishment we’ve marveled at for the last several months. When the power of entrenched, clumsy establishment types is threatened, they react ruthlessly, corruptly and clumsily. And sliming those who threaten them is a key ingredient in the process. From that perspective, I suppose I should feel honored.