The far left, the group so desperately obsessed with the idea of revolution sold to them by Bernie Sanders, that they balk at a straightforward democrat like Hillary Clinton, is a lot of things. They are loud. They are passionate. And they are operating under the same kind of privilege that they seek to eliminate. Obviously they are not privileged in the drippy-wealth-disparity way that is an insidious reality in this country. But they are privileged in the sociological way. No matter how you spin it, it takes a person who has not experienced much discrimination to be so uncompromising in the face of great potential disaster, and in the face of what could be the ultimate victory for women.
On July 26, 2016, for the first time in history, a woman was elected the presidential nominee of a major party, and in true historical fashion, that feminist triumph is being overshadowed by a man. For the sake of transparency, I’ve always been with her. I see Hillary as a dedicated political servant, a remarkably accomplished and qualified politician, and as a strong role model for future generations of women. But I also was deeply moved by Bernie’s platform and ideas, and would have happily supported him as the nominee. I am not anti-Bernie in any way. I am against being so pro-Bernie that you take on a delusional idealism that is not only out of step with how change is affected in our country, but is also hypocritical in its willingness to gum up the works while espousing proclamations of progress.
I don’t want to be Gloria Steinem about it, and my point is not the cringeworthy one that she made alongside Madeline Albright during the primaries, that it’s anti feminist to not put your support behind Hillary as a woman. My point is that once the chips have fallen, once Bernie himself is ready to get behind her as the candidate, it’s just generally anti-human as a liberal American to withhold support. That stance belies the whole full-throated cry to change the world that Bernie supporters seemed to believe for all of these months. It conveys instead a desire for an unrealistic kind of immediate change, that must align 100% with your beliefs or not happen at all. It reveals the beliefs of people who don’t stand to lose very much if a President Trump were to come to fruition.
There was an electricity in the air back in the months leading up to November ’08, when it was becoming clear that a black man could really become president. There doesn’t seem to be that same energy around electing the first female president. And the reason for that is simple, it’s because even liberal men still don’t fully believe that women are unequal. Even liberal men will regurgitate Republican rhetoric that Hillary is “crooked.” Even women having only twenty percent of the seats in congress, while making up over fifty percent of the voting population (which a crew of celebrity women have just started campaigning against), isn’t as important to a lot of men as “breaking up banks” is—as though that’s going to somehow manifest a magical savings account for all of the middle class white males in our country.
If you want to believe that the primary was rigged in some lesbionic love story/power grab by Debbie Wasserman-Schultz for a cartoon villain version of Hillary Clinton shooting at your feet like Texas Pete, fine, but you’re swallowing the pills of the patriarchy. It is very easy to paint women as manipulative and deceitful. It’s kind of the oldest story in the book (literally, it’s in the bible). It is an internalized fiction that has been very successful in keeping the money and power where the men are, as evidenced by the fact that women don’t get paid the same wage for the same work. But if you’d like to join us in the real world, and be realistic about it, it actually makes a lot of sense that the chair of the Democratic party wouldn’t be bananas about a candidate who isn’t really a democrat, and didn’t become one until his presidential run. No, those emails weren’t very kind. But in what realm did you think that politics was a game where people were nice to each other all of the time, and tirelessly fought to keep everything fair? That’s the same kind of rose-colored glasses thinking that has Bernie or busters either all in for democracy, or completely abandoning it.
Leave it to Michelle Obama to put it perfectly in her address on Monday to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, “Because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters, and all our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.” It’s exciting that women are turning over precedents and slowly cracking the glass ceiling, but frankly I’m really tired of getting excited about “the first female” anything, because it all should have happened already. And it’s not just the conservatives who have created the atmosphere in which it’s hard for women to succeed with the ease of men. It’s also the liberal white people, who have the balls to stand at the democratic national convention with tape over their mouths as though they’ve ever actually been silenced. As though electing a woman to the presidency isn’t a revolution in and of itself.