No. The Party Let the Voters Down. No. The Party Let the Voters Down.

No. The Party Let the Voters Down.

Bernie Sanders’ challenge to the DNC’s foregone conclusion was not a slap in the face to the Democratic Party.  It was a chance for the party to attract and embrace a broader electorate.  While both candidates had every right to critique their opponent, Clinton’s campaign went further, ridiculing and dismissing young people who were enthusiastically joining the Democratic Party and the democratic process, vigorously fighting against independents participating in primary voting (while expecting them to turn out in the GE for the choice they had no voice in), blaming voters whose affiliations had been hacked (yes, that is now established fact, per the FBI) and changed without their knowledge or who’d been removed from voter rolls as being lazy or ignorant or sore losers, and casting Bernie supporters as racist, sexist, and uninformed.  Worse yet, the Clinton primary campaign spent a great deal of time tearing down New Deal style policies as “free stuff” or too dangerous to even discuss.  We shouldn’t even bring up single payer or this woman’s daughter might lose her chemo!

While folks are claiming that Hillary Clinton ran a liberal campaign, anyone paying attention knows that it was liberal only because she found herself running against an actual liberal during the primaries.  So much of the platform is directly due to Bernie’s influence and does not reflect the Clinton campaign rhetoric during the primary (or the GE) that it can hardly be considered “hers”.  Not much of that liberal platform was touted in Clinton’s GE ads, giving way to countless ads about what an asshole Donald Trump was.  Really?  A guy who is famous for being an asshole is an asshole!  Who knew?

So apparently Bernie Sanders lost the primary because . . . Bernie.  Because Bernie has a “problem” with black people, because Bernie thought he could cure racism with fair economic policy, because Bernie’s policies were all so pie in the sky and pony/unicorn/fairy dust/scary.  Right?  (Of course, all of that his hooey; he lost because he didn’t do the front end work necessary in the South, among other things, and the media ignored him and the DNC played games in favor of Clinton, etc.)

And Hillary Clinton lost the election because . . . Bernie.  Because Bernie said mean things about her during the primary, and because Bernie’s voters were a bunch of petulant children who insisted on voting for a primary candidate that better represented their interests, and because . . . the media, the gop spin machine, apathetic voters, racism, sexism, the presence of third party candidates.  Etc. Right?

It would be mighty tidy if we could blame the outcome of this election strictly on racism and misogyny, and there was a lot of that I’m sure, but it wouldn’t be the whole story.  If simple racism could have defeated Obama, it would have.  People liked him, and they liked hearing about hope and change, and they liked the narrative.  They liked him.  Despite the negative crap people were trying to pin on him.

But it makes no sense to claim that racism caused Clinton’s core supporters to stay home in large numbers, or for people to simply skip over the presidential race on their ballots, or for her to lose traditionally blue states that a black candidate won.  She took some of those states completely for granted, and dismissed the 47% of left/liberal/independent voters who’d made it clear they were hungry for a populist message, a hint that someone understood how much they hated big money in politics and how little they felt their voices were being heard by DC.  And the DNC shunned independents because they skewed Bernie, but if the DNC expects independents to support their candidates in the GE don’t they have to speak to what independents are looking for?  Don’t they have to at the very least acknowledge them?  It was clear the Independents were not looking for Hillary Clinton, so their participation in the primary was scorned while their votes in the GE were expected.

If the DNC cannot learn from this, they have no business being “the” Party, and some other party needs to show up.  First thing folks do is turn to Bernie to run it?  Bernie, who “isn’t even a Democrat”?  Or Dean, who turns out isn’t so much of a gate crasher?  Bernie, in his WISDOM, hands the baton off to Keith Ellison, who pretty much embodies everything the right reviles — and everything the Party needs to embrace.  Progressive policies, diversity, inclusion, tolerance, youth, and an open mind and enough vision to endorse and advocate for someone who “isn’t even a Democrat” but represents core Democratic values.  A broader umbrella.

The Clinton campaign and the DNC actively denigrated progressive policies and idealism and discouraged participation among young people and new voters and independents who thought they saw something being offered by the Democratic party that spoke to them.  No thanks, the DNC said.  We don’t want your votes sullying the purity of our primary, they said.  You’re too young to understand the system, they said.  If you’re not already registered with us, to hell with you, they said. If you wanted to vote for the Democrat, but you were lost in the system, erased from the rolls, or found to your chagrin that someone changed your long-time Democratic affiliation to republican or independent, you’re shit out of luck because you were going to vote for the wrong Democrat.  Don’t look to the DNC for support.

And then, having crushed the spirits of the most idealistic and passionate democratic and would-be democratic voters (not by nominating Clinton, but by demoralizing them and denigrating Democratic policies throughout the nominating process), they select perhaps the least charismatic running mate possible and proceed to run a campaign that seems to assume these progressive voters will vote for the Democrat, simply because the republican is so reprehensible.  Not even a running mate who is a nod to the young people and progressives whose votes she needed.

And now, after the loss, people want to place the blame on these same voters.  The Party told us we were silly old goats and naive youngsters and people who should boo our way out of the party, and then they expected us to save everyone’s ass from this madman, and the majority of us tried to do that despite how we’d been treated.  Yet a lot of people just couldn’t do it.  Not because of racism or sexism, but because they didn’t feel like the Party gives a shit about them anymore.

Millions of people of all ages, genders, race, and religion, people who had not voted for a Democrat in their lives, people who had not participated in the process before, told the Party what they were looking for.  The Party turned away, with derision.  They wanted to bury Bernie Sanders as a crazy old racist, sexist coot whose ideas didn’t stand a chance in hell.

They didn’t have to nominate Bernie in order to retain these folks’ votes.  They had to show they were listening, that SHE was listening, to these voters and their concerns.  Instead, she ran around the country soliciting money from the most odious big donors, told us to be afraid of Bernie’s big ideas, and allowed her campaign to create completely false memes and narratives about sexist Bernie Bros and “English Only” shouting and chair throwing and violence and a campaign that was only about White people and free giveaways that would rot young people’s sense of responsibility.  When Clinton did adopt Bernie’s policies, it was sort of slipped in through edits to her website — at one point I was arguing with someone here about her college tuition policy only to find she’d added something from Bernie’s plan that the person I was arguing with was using as a cudgel against Bernie — and it wasn’t perceived as genuine.  Could Trump have outflanked Bernie on TPP?  Uh, no way in hell.  Trump couldn’t articulate what is wrong with TPP to save his life, and Clinton wouldn’t articulate it, but Bernie could, and would, and did.

She could have promised to end fracking or at the very least promised a quick transition to renewables.  Or she could have promised to add single payer by expanding Medicare (not just to allow states to add it).  Sure, those be nigh impossible to accomplish, blah blah blah. How is that more ridiculous than promising to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico?   Yet even this was too much for the campaign to utter, despite how much we wanted to hear she understood the urgency enough to at least try.

Clinton could have been the nominee, faults real and perceived notwithstanding, and WON, decisively, including traditionally democratic states she lost, simply by sincerely embracing the lesson that 47% of primary voters tried to impart about what inspired their participation.  Not by embracing and endorsing every policy Bernie espoused (sticking it all in the platform and never discussing it again didn’t work, did it?), but by telling us she heard us and would do something about our concerns.  She didn’t even have to be specific about how.

Trump played ads in CA.  I was pretty surprised.  They were mostly stupid anti-Clinton garbage.  But the final ad was a clip of a speech he gave, where he told voters that he understood their feelings about being ignored by the government, and that he would return the power to them.

Coming from him, it’s all speechwriting and bullshit.  But to some extent, it worked, because that is what people wanted to hear.  They wanted to hear it so badly that they voted for a sack of sexist and racist demagoguery as long as he was willing to say it.  But his voters are NOT all racists and sexists, and clinging to that means we fail to learn anything from this debacle.  They heard something from him they weren’t hearing from the Democratic candidate.

A statement of bold vision targeted at the hearts of disenfranchised and disappointed Bernie supporters would have done so much more than just having Bernie insist that she now embraced this or that policy.  She never spoke to us.  She could have, like those online talks Bernie had after the primary.

The Party didn’t want to hear from us, and the primary campaign ridiculed and marginalized us, and the GE campaign never reached out to us about understanding our deepest concerns, even in general, overarching terms.  Her policies are obviously far better for all of us, but people need to feel heard, and many did not.

It won’t help to blame and castigate voters for this loss, even though they’re woefully wrong and misguided and in for a world of hurt once they realize who they ushered in.  Calling them names and dismissing them as simply ignorant won’t help, and won’t earn their votes.

The Party needs to reassess what it stands for and who it includes and who it is willing to exclude and dismiss going forward.  The Party let the voters down.  But we are still here.  And people are willing to work, but people need to feel heard.  We make up the Party, not some elites on some board somewhere, so let’s start listening.

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