While I respect the opinions of others, I think they should also be open to criticism and analysis- and the lack of this is exactly the issue I have with Jordan Thompson’s recent Affinity article, “Millennials and Bernie Bros: The Demonization of Hillary Clinton”. Jordan is a talented writer, and, given the fact he’s an intern for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, I can see that he is dedicated and passionate about his stance. I don’t doubt for a second that he genuinely believes seeing Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States is the best thing for America- but he fails to get to the root argument: why.
So, while I respect his perspective, I’d like to analyze his words, paragraph by paragraph.
We start with a powerful, loaded statement: “we’ve all been taught to hate Hillary Clinton”. Jordan cites the media and pop culture- but fails to give examples. How did the media convince us all- every single one of us- to hate this woman?
I don’t know if Jordan knows it, but there are number of factors that have affected Hillary Clinton’s historically low approval rates (not just from millennials). Firstly, the Clinton-era went hand in hand with a number of scandals, ranging from the relatively simple, like TravelGate, in which Bill Clinton fired a number of government employees without giving reason (which he was legally allowed to do), and promptly replaced them with personal friends, to the complex, like Whitewater. There’s also the fact that the Clintons themselves represent a far less progressive era in Democratic politics- from welfare reform to the Defense of Marriage Act to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell- progressive liberals struggle to cite many positive forces for change that from the so-called liberal administration. There’s also the fact that, as much as she likes to deny it, Hillary Clinton has received funding from Wall Street hedge funds, fossil fuel companies, Monstanto, super PACs, and has worked on the board for Wal-Mart- these are all valid criticisms not just of the politician herself but the transparency and ethics of the current political system.
As I said, I can’t say whether or not Jordan knew about these reasons- but he didn’t disclose them.
The author claims that Bernie is “pandering” to young people- which I passionately disagree with. These plans and ideas are not pandering, they are not empty promises for votes- they are the foundation of what he stands for. They are the things he has spoken about and fought for over his entire career. Jordan has a different opinion than I do on tuition-free post-secondary and decriminalized marijuana, and I respect that difference. But I respectfully ask that he understand his peers are not so ignorant and self-absorbed that they just want a free Feminist Comparative Mideastern Yoga Transgender Studies degree and an excuse to smoke more weed. They understand that there are still major economic barriers that keep people from attending college- and these barriers can keep students in debt for their entire adult lives or keep people in poverty for their entire lives. They understand that marijuana being illegal is not only nonsensical considering the fact there is no evidence suggesting the drug is worse than the legal tobacco and alcohol, but also the fact that the arrests made because of this drug waste taxpayer’s money and have the potential to seriously damage people’s lives. These are not ignorant and selfish opinions.
Jordan makes a fascinating point about a study that suggests Hillary Clinton receives more negative time than Donald Trump. That raises a valid question about the intentions of the mass media- in particular, why so much positive attention has been given to Trump, and why news stations almost solely focus on the negative, not the positive. That said, he can’t claim that the media has given Bernie more positive attention than Hillary- which is all that matters in this article, considering it is only comparing the two candidates. Bernie has not only received significantly less time overall- which does have an impact on election day, especially when you don’t have the privilege of being a household name because of marriage- but he has not received very much positive attention from major news sources either. Media outlets generally get more ratings from focusing on gaffes and scandals- and that’s not an pro-Bernie thing or an anti-Hillary thing. It’s a dollars thing.
Jordan also points out the difference in treatment of the candidate on social media platforms. I’m not one to deny the fact that anti-Hillary sentiment has taken over social media- in fact I wrote about how hashtags like #ReleaseTheTranscripts and #ToneDownForWhat actually help the public reclaim our voices and demands for transparency in a media-controlled society. The Twitterverse is not feeling the Bern because the website wants to demonize an innocent, faultless woman- it’s because these websites are mainly used by millennials, and millennial Bernie supporters simply outnumber Hillary supporters- by a lot. As said before, social media is a platform in which the users- the public- have all the control. People don’t dislike Hillary Clinton because social media says bad things about her- social media says bad things about her because the people who use these sites dislike her.
Also, as for those memes- we’ve all seen them, the ones where Bernie and Hillary are compared “on the issues”- they didn’t begin with Hillary Clinton having “unpopular opinions”. Millennials noticed early on in the campaign that Hillary Clinton tried “tactics” to get young people enthused- she asked us to describe our student loans in “emojis”, and learned how to dab on Ellen. Bernie supporters found it funny that one candidate tries to pander to young people with pop culture- which is, in my opinion, infantilizing and disrespectful- whereas Bernie doesn’t try to seem “cool” and young people flock to him- because believe it or not, we are thinking, feeling creatures, who can think critically and form opinions without emjois, and we like him. We like what he stands for. The memes started just as a funny joke to show Hillary as someone “trying” to be hip with the kids, where Bernie was honest and genuine and didn’t try too hard. It’s not hate. It’s not demonizing anyone. It’s simply pointing that millennials are unhappy with such a condescending approach to the demographic.
This is where I really have an issue with this article. The next paragraph reads as such: Does Hillary really deserve this kind of casual loathing and hateful rhetoric, especially from millennials? I don’t think so.
This article has failed to cite a single example of actual hateful rhetoric. Not one. Is it because, perhaps, that these criticisms are valid, and it would be harder to make an argument against them if people knew what they were?
Worse yet, there is not one single reason cited about why Hillary doesn’t deserve this hate. I am not a Hillary supporter (was I too subtle about that before?) but I can think of a handful of reasons why she wouldn’t. I don’t agree with all of them, and I think many of them can be argued into the ground. Could that be why they aren’t listed?
Jordan carries on saying “if she doesn’t deserve it”, as though we have been presented with a shred of evidence why this is established fact. He calls anti-Hillary points “Republican”, which is the beginning of a fascinating argument- that the many (as, in over 20) scandals that have followed the Clintons are simply GOP conspiracies and nothing more. Regardless of whether or not these scandals are based in the truth, you can’t deny that her voting record and own words speak for themselves. However, it is an interesting argument I’d be hella down to discuss or learn about in a future Affinity article.
Now we get to Hillary Clinton’s comment that millennials don’t do their own research. He says that the statement itself is not true, but they do biased research.
I would counter that first and foremost by bringing up the fact almost every news source is biased. The only things that speak for themselves are the voting records and words of the candidates. I have been following this campaign pretty actively this year- partially because of my position with Affinity. I have encountered people who don’t like Hillary- I have met people who hate her- but I’ve never seen any Clinton-era scandal cited as the reason for their animosity. They talk about her voting records: the Defense of Marriage Act and her excuses following it are slimy and discriminatory, the trade agreements she voted for hurt American workers, plain and simple, and it doesn’t matter if our cool Black president did it too. Hillary is trying to argue that she is a leader- so she has to learn to take responsibility for her own choices without noting the fact others have made these choices too. Also, and this might be a shock to some, there has never been any conclusive evidence to confirm that the words “I’m sorry” can revive the thousands of people who died in the Iraq War, or cure PTSD, or repay the taxpayers for the financial burden they carried.
We also criticize her words. Like that time she said African nations should “get over” colonialism- one of the most damaging and lethal events of the past few centuries. Those couple of decades where she said marriage should between a man and a woman. Oh, and when she called the Iraq War- you know, the one that killed people- a business opportunity.
We do our research, and no, not from Fox News. It’s hard, to hear a voice say such awful, regressive and hurtful language- and then not dislike the person attached to it.
Yes, Hillary has come under fire for her super-predators comment- and let’s get one thing established right off the bat. Bernie Sanders could scream from the rooftops that all black people are super predators and that he wants them all to rot in jail- and that doesn’t undo what Hillary said. The damages of her words exist all on their own- not in relation to anyone else’s.
As I’ve said time and time again, I have respect for this article and its writer. But Affinity’s audience deserves better than a narrative that is tied together with “facts” purposely separated from their context. When Hillary Clinton made her comment about super-predators, she was specifically discussing youth- she begins with “these are not just children anymore”.
Bernie’s sociopath comment was in no way linked to youth. Not at all.
In fact, Bernie was speaking on the floor when he made this comment, passionately speaking about income inequality and mass incarceration- he was wise enough to recognize the dangers of this bill and plead with his fellow Americans to stand up against it. His comment that said that there are sociopaths in this world who deserve to be in prison- he said this in order to reaffirm the fact he was not against prison altogether, and was by no means suggesting that he didn’t want to lower crime rates.
See, in the harsh, tough-on-crime rhetoric of the 1990s, his speech would easily have been labelled pro-crime extremism- just like how Bill Clinton, speaking at a Hillary rally recently suggested that Black Lives Matter protestors valued the lives of murderers over children. He’s always been a classy guy, cigar tube fetish aside. Bernie used the word to defend his argument against the bill whereas Hillary used her dangerous language to defend it.
See how when you add a little context, the Hillary Clinton narrative starts to crumble?
As for the bill itself, Bernie has explained why he supported. When it came time to vote and no changes had been made, he was put in an impossible position- you see, a little something called the Violence Against Women Act was wrapped up in it. Now, mass incarceration was a bad thing, full stop. But violence against women is, too. I can see how his hands were tied. I hate the bill itself but I am sympathetic not only to Bernie but to everyone who found themselves in such a place where they had to pick between protecting women and poor people.
The reason I believe the crime bill can be used against Hillary still is the fact she openly supported the very aspects of the bill that lead to mass incarceration, whereas there is video evidence proving that Bernie did not. You can still have your opinion that her comment wasn’t that bad or maybe that it was appropriate for the situation- but tell the full story, first. There’s a word for situations where you purposely withhold certain information for personal gain. What is it again?
Now onto gay marriage. Jordan claims Hillary has always supported gay rights, and there was a time when gay marriage was on a whole other level than plain old LGBTQ rights. The truth was, there was always strong support for gay marriage among progressives. But the Clinton family has never actually prioritized progressive ideals- it’s always been about compromise with the GOP. Regardless, her support of DOMA and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell were reprehensible, even if the general public agreed with her. Yeah, Hillary marched in a parade. She even gave a fancy speech! That means shit all.
While I believe Jordan makes a strong point when he says we should point out the fact that neither Bernie nor Hillary were pro-gay marriage their entire careers, it’s important to note that there’s a huge difference between announcing support in 2009- when both candidates running for president had to swear up and down they were against it- and 2013, when the majority of the population supported it and it was just two years before it was the law of the land. Jordan asks why Hillary gets “slammed” for “decades old grievances” and Bernie doesn’t?
Because, at the end of the day, Bernie voted against the Defense of Marriage Act. Hillary didn’t. Plain and simple. When it came to words, both of them could have and should have done better. When it came to actions, Bernie did better.
Then we get into “Bernie or Bust”.
First and foremost, understand something: we do not owe Hillary Clinton shit.
Yes, her and Obama are pals (at least in the photos) and yes, a Trump presidency is terrifying. But, believe it or not, Hillary Clinton has her own agency. She exists as a candidate on her own, NOT in relation to any other politician. She has to earn every single vote by herself, not because another candidate is worse than her.
Also, please understand that Bernie has not only attracted Democrats- he has also attracted independents. Thus, you should not assume that Bernie or Bust supporters are turning their back on their own party- because it’s not necessarily their party at all.
Jordan claims that it is clear Hillary will be the nominee. Not so fast. Hillary’s lead in delegates in less than 200 and there are over 1,000 delegates up for grabs. I don’t mean to get snarky (oh, I totally do, it’s my Chandler-esque defense mechanism against sloppy, loaded statements in journalism), but I’m sure the Clinton campaign would only hire interns who could mathematically figure out that 1,000 is a bigger number than 200.
Also, believe it or not, the majority of superdelegates are undecided. Meaning that we cannot say what they will choose (unless among Hillary’s many great strengths are psychic superpowers???). Also superdelegates are not written in stone- they can change their mind and some already have. Reasons they may change their mind includes the possibility that in the area that elected them and is therefore responsible for their successful careers and comfortable lifestyles, there may be an overwhelming number of Bernie supporters- they feel they should support the person the people they claim to represent has voted for. You know, like democracy.
There’s also the fact that Bernie objectively does better than Hillary against Trump, no one has ever won the presidency with such low approval rates (and you can argue that these rates are unfair, but they still exist), and her FBI investigation.
Saying that you “must” do everything you can to avoid a Republican in the White House is actually a very abusive tactic. Remember, we have the right to vote. When you make us feel obligated to cast our vote a certain way, or use our human right to shame us, than you are exploiting our rights for personal gain. Also, every vote is supposed to be representative of a person’s beliefs- if they believe our current two-party system is failing us (and considering more than half of America is either an independent or unregistered, it makes sense), than voting against that system is perfectly reasonable.
I’m glad that you will support Bernie if he is the nominee- but you are a Democrat. Your personal values are to have that party represent the White House. Not every Bernie supporter embodies such ideals and that is okay. This dichotomy of liberals and conservatives is not reflective of the colourful spectrum of beliefs we actually have in the grand old US of A. “It’s either Hillary or Trump” is what both parties want you to believe, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Also, Trump might not win (contested convention). Also, Hillary might not win (lots of progressive states coming up).
Oh, and a side note about Hillary having the most votes. This is accurate, but what you need to factor in is it would be nearly impossible for the person currently winning in the party with less nominees to not have most votes. Hillary has more votes than Trump, but there have been candidates galore in that race- unlike in primaries where it’s just Hillary vs. Bernie, and the winner obviously has more than fifty percent of the vote, there’s been Trump and Cruz and Kasich and Fioriona and Carson and Rubio and Bush and Huckabee. Just because the votes have been split differently does not mean it’s a strong argument towards her victory.
As I’ve said before, I respect this different opinion. I think this article broaches interesting thoughts- yes, we should look at some of the good work Hillary has done. She has supported every piece of legislation to raise the minimum wage that has crossed her path. She has been outspoken about women’s rights. However, in my opinion that simply cannot compensate for fracking, NAFTA, DOMA, the Patriot Act, the death penalty, for Libya, for her ties to Kissinger, for the Wall Street bailout, her support from both Wall Street and private prisons, her less urgent plan for climate change, her long history of flip-flopping. But every person has to decide for themselves. We should also look at the places where Bernie has been wrong- and they exist. Even as a supporter, I understand that focusing on these flaws can help make him a more competitive candidate and better leader. But I don’t think his wrongdoings are in any way a valid argument against anything Hillary has said or done- both of these candidates must be criticised not in comparison of one another, but on their own.
As I said, I wrote this article not because of the opinion but because there were too many arguments that were not supported by evidence, and too much dishonesty, whether intentional or not. Sorry for dragging you, Jordan. Keep on keeping on.
But be open to criticism along the way.