Given the differing opinions on this site in regards to the respective merits of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, I should preface this article with a statement about my support for anyone not named Donald Trump running for President. Given I am a liberal, this obviously means Hillary Clinton.
Some of our readers tend to get pretty tribal about politics, and given the majority of the other writers on the Banter are fairly vocal Clinton supporters, a lot of our readers tend to expect pro-Clinton articles. Invariably, this means that when I write anything supportive of Bernie Sanders or dismissive of Hillary Clinton, I am attacked in comments section of the site — which is all well and good given we are supposed to be about back and forth conversation (hence the name ‘Banter’).
I don’t mind the differing opinions and the attacks on the substance of my articles, but I do mind the attempts to distort my position.
Here are a couple of comments from a recent piece I wrote on why I would have liked to have spent more time going after Obama during his presidency:
You may get your wish, both House and Senate seats shifting to Democratic majorities thanks to the ‘revolution’ led by NOT Sanders, but Trump himself. Then you’ll have 8 glorious years of hammering on Hillary for not being ‘liberal’ enough, and how Sanders would have been a much better choice had he not had the 2016 election ‘stolen’ from him.
Also, too, your boy St. Sanders supports drones so there’s that.
And the media have never given PBO a break on anything. They’ve enabled the Rethuglican racist slime to enter the mainstream conversation.
And evidently, inclusion of women and POC (hallmarks of the Obama and Hillary campaigns) are not “leftist” enough?
Sorry we in the US are not “progressively pure” enough for you.
If you only read the comments and not my actual article, you’d think I had expressed my undying allegiance to Bernie Sanders, my seething hatred for Hillary Clinton, and had defined President Obama’s entire legacy by his drone policy.
Of course I did nothing of the sort. I simply argued that given Republican intransigence and all round insanity over the past 8 years, we haven’t been able to focus much on the Obama administration. I pointed to things like his drone policy and going after whistle blowers — topics that would have been good to cover in depth without the ideological blinkers of sites like ‘The Intercept’ and other Greenwaldian hipster journalists. Bob Cesca did a good amount of work on these topics, but it was mostly fact checking a lot of the less than stellar reporting coming out of civil libertarian circles.
However, the current tribal political dictates that one must be 100% for or 100% against, and any attempts to take a balanced position (ie. refusing to take one side) is translated as being a pro Hillary shill or a ‘Bernie or Bust’ fanatic. Again:
Then you’ll have 8 glorious years of hammering on Hillary for not being ‘liberal’ enough, and how Sanders would have been a much better choice had he not had the 2016 election ‘stolen’ from him.
Yes, this is what I have always dreamed of — 8 years of attacking Hillary Clinton due to her ideological impurity and nursing a severe case of jealous rage over her theft of the primary from my Lord and Savior Bernie Sanders.
Where this reader gets his insight is beyond me given I have stated over and over and over again that Hillary Clinton would make a good President, is infinitely better than Donald Trump, that Obama is a very good President etc etc.
This isn’t to pick on this particular reader (although I must confess to finding his tone uniquely jarring), but to illustrate a point. It is, shock horror, possible to be critical of President Obama and Hillary Clinton while generally supporting them. It is also possible to support ‘my boy’ Bernie Sanders without threatening to burn down the Democratic party if he isn’t elected as the nominee (and he won’t be as he now accepts).
In this election cycle, any liberal still banging the drums to get Clinton arrested over her emails/Benghazi/wearing an expensive dress etc etc should be sent off to the loony bin and not allowed out until the election is finished. The stakes are simply too high with Donald Trump being the only other option, but there is still room for legitimate criticism of the Democratic party and its disheartening acquiescence to corporate interests.
The reason why many of us got excited about Bernie Sanders was that he genuinely hasn’t been bought off by corporate interests and doesn’t do the bidding of big banks. Hillary Clinton isn’t the evil corporate stooge she has been made out to be, but there is no denying she has extremely suspicious ties to the financial industry and the insurance companies she will ostensibly regulate while in office.
The argument that Democrats must simply accept this is part and parcel of doing business in American politics is one of the major reasons why systemic change is so difficult to enact. The Democratic party has essentially used this line of thinking to get voters to shun more progressive politicians, and as a result corporate centrists invariably win in the name of practicality. As Matt Taibbi writes:
This is why the thinking within the Democratic Party has gotten so flabby over the years. It increasingly seems to rejoice in its voters’ lack of real choices, and relies on a political formula that requires little input from anyone outside the Beltway.
It’s heavily financed by corporate money, and the overwhelming majority of its voters would never cast a vote for the nut-bar God-and-guns version of Republicanism that’s been their sole opposition for decades.
So the party gets most of its funding without having to beg for it door to door, and it gets many of its votes by default. Except for campaign-trail photo ops, mainstream Democrats barely need to leave Washington to stay in business.
Still, the Democratic Leadership Council wing of the Democrats have come to believe they’ve earned their status, by being the only plausible bulwark against the Republican menace.
Of course this is completely true — the Democrats are the only plausible bulwark against the Republican menace — a fact that should not be forgotten under any circumstance.
But how long can this strategy go on for? The economic system as it stands is devastating for the working poor, and each successive administration basically allows it to go on unchecked. When candidates are primarily funded by giant corporate interests that thrive off of the status quo, it is unsurprising they do little to change it while in office. This isn’t to pick on Hillary Clinton as she is no more ‘corrupt’ than President Obama — she simply knows that announcing a plan to radically regulate Wall St would put her at a serious disadvantage in the election cycle, so won’t go anywhere near it.
If we can’t discuss these issues sensibly and acknowledge there is a serious problem without being labeled a far left, raging Bernie Bro, then there is little hope these issues will ever be addressed in a real way.
I don’t hate Hillary Clinton and don’t have any desire to religiously attack her as many on the left have chosen to do. Overall, I think she’ll be fine as a President, but I do think the Democrats can, and must do better in the future. Because it’s not too much to ask that our elected leaders be held accountable to actual voters and not the institutions financing their campaigns — a very modest ask that Bernie Sanders was actually attempting to deliver on.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.