Once again, Bernie Sanders has shoved his entire foot into his mouth on the subject of racism, suggesting in an interview with the Daily Beast that many people who didn’t want to vote for Stacey Abrams or Andrew Gillum weren’t racist, just “uncomfortable” voting for a Black person.
THAT’S KINDA EXACTLY WHAT RACISM IS, YOU FOSSILIZED MUSHROOM.
He later tried to walk it back, acknowledging that Abrams and Gillum’s opponents ran racist campaigns (really? You don’t say!) but honestly, this is just the latest in a long line of head-desk-inducing statements on this issue from this guy and his fans. Spend some time mousing around the red-rose brigade on Twitter, and you’ll inevitably find someone insisting that Democrats need to drop “identity politics” in favor of focusing primarily on economics, to bring in more of the working class (which is presumably all white, I guess?)
Let me be completely frank for a moment: I sincerely believe that the anti-Democrat left has been at least partly responsible for driving broke white people into the arms of Republicans. In framing our party as indifferent to their needs, they have allowed Republicans to step in and declare themselves saviors of this group. Nevermind that Democrats have been fighting for labor rights and economic justice for nearly a century, that economic issues are literally at the top of the party’s platform and that both the economy and worker/consumer well-being are better under their leadership. Apparently the fact that we also fight for social justice means we just don’t care about broke white people anymore.
Oh, and hey, who started that bullshit? Why, that would be the Republicans who siphoned off the Dixiecrats when they got mad at Johnson for signing the Civil Rights Act. The very root of this idea comes in the belief that ensuring the safety and security of people other than white dudes means those white dudes won’t be able to protect and feed their families. Knowing that this shit came directly from racists who were still pissed off about their grandpappies losing the Civil War, why the everloving fuck would the left be singing the same song? Well, it’s because the left isn’t necessarily not racist.
Believing in an egalitarian model of the economy may seem to dovetail nicely with democracy and other kinds of justice, but that’s not necessarily the case. It’s entirely possible to believe that money should be evenly distributed, but only among certain groups of people, and there are quite a few people on the American left who believe that white dudes should be the only or primary group that benefits from that system. That was pretty much what the Dixiecrats were all about, and though most of them have joined the Republicans by now, there are vestiges of that philosophy still hanging around out there.
See, our core problem in the U.S., as I mentioned ages ago in my post-game analysis of the 2016 exit polls, is that we have a bunch of white guys who think they’re somehow divinely entitled to be catered to by everyone else (thanks, Christianity!) The only difference between left and right (in economic terms) is that the right also believes that the wealthy are entitled to more power, under the theory that they contribute more. This philosophy of the right goes well with white male supremacy philosophies. All they needed to do to win the votes of the broke ones was convince them that the only reason they’re broke is because Black and Brown folks are taking their jobs and tax dollars, and lurking around every corner, just waiting to rob them.
Now, the white guys on the anti-Democrat left know very well that the wealthy are keeping them broke. But even though they reject the siren song of “you, too can be rich and powerful if you vote for us” they still believe that Black and Brown people are getting in their way. In the current political landscape, that manifests as a belief that “identity politics” are taking focus from the “real” (their) issues. They hate the right because they believe the rich are keeping them down (which is true), but they also hate Democrats because they believe marginalized people are robbing them of the focused attention that they deserve (apparently their needs are more important than anyone else’s, because getting murdered by cops totally isn’t a big deal compared to having to make student-loan payments.)
If you push most of them on this point, they’ll try to cover it up. They’ll make some noise about how fixing economic injustice will benefit “everyone,” and therefore focusing exclusively on that issue is the only way to bring the most benefits to the most people. Well, no shit that everyone will benefit if CEOs of failing companies don’t get billion-dollar exit packages via the theft of worker labor, but fixing that stuff won’t fix social inequality. Given that poverty rates are much, much higher, and the effects of it worse, among marginalized people, unless we’re also fighting against bigotry, not a whole lot is going to change. Giving all workers a 10-cent raise is great, but if abled cishet white men are already making $10 an hour and everyone else is making $6-8, that doesn’t actually result in justice. The right already argues this: They argue that everyone is born a blank slate, with the exact same potential, and only hard work makes the difference in whether a given person becomes wealthy. Acknowledging systemic, generational inequality would mean acknowledging that they got their money from their ancestors’ labor, not their own, so it’s in their best interests to pretend we’re all already equal. And it’s in the interests of broke white dudes on the left to pretend that bigotry isn’t a thing, because then they won’t have to admit to their own role in perpetuating injustice. Many of them are generic anti-establishment sorts anyway; acknowledging bigotry would mean acknowledging that they themselves are part and beneficiaries of established injustice. Sorry guys, but you ARE The Man. You’re just the Broke Dude Auxiliary wing of it.
What the Bernie-stan left sounds like, most of the time, is a kid with a broken toy who’s mad that the kid with a broken arm is getting more attention than he is. He’s convinced that because the adults are attending to the other kid, that means the toy is never going to get fixed. He tries to convince them that the other kid is crying not because of the broken arm, but because he can’t play with the broken toy. He argues that fixing the toy will benefit both kids, because then the other kid can play with the toy, too. And when he’s told that “yes, fixing the toy is on the agenda, but we have to deal with the actual emergency right now,” he not only refuses to help with the injured kid, but then kicks him in the shin, too. “It’s because of you that the toy isn’t getting fixed right this very second and I have to wait to play with it!” he screams. He goes around telling all the other kids that the adults don’t care about fixing broken toys. And when the kid with a broken arm speaks up and tells the other kids the truth, broken-toy kid doesn’t understand why no one wants to play with him anymore, and declares that he’s being persecuted by everyone. In a five year old, this sort of self-centered attitude is expected (though parents do have to guide them away from it–hi, personal experience!) In grown human beings, there’s no excuse for it, which is why I will never support the anti-Democrat left, including the egotistical asshat who has become their idol.