When Progressives Take Out Their Election Trauma On The Disadvantaged

It’s a form of privilege, I suppose.

One of the weird things (among many) after Sept. 11, 2001 is that there was a group of liberal-ish Democrats who decided to turn their back on Democratic social and economic policy. For reasons that aren’t clear, this massive shock apparently convinced them that liberal (or even moderate) economic policy no longer applied in a ‘post-9/11 world.’

Trauma will do that. It seems a subset of progressives are doing the same sort of thing in the aftermath of the disastrous 2016 election (boldface mine):

One can draw too many inferences from a life spent online, but I see a lot of antagonism towards The Left, and by The Left I just mean people who, before the whole Clinton/Sanders spat erupted, were pretty solidly in the mainstream of the online Left, a group which was the on the left wing of the democratic party, but not exactly planning on leading the communist revolution. Policy positions that I thought were pretty standard fare are now dismissed because they’re associated with Sanders, and therefore associated with Berniebros, and therefore the people who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton and therefore the people who are to blame for all of this. There are a lot of assumptions in there (and of course I’m making gross generalizations I recognize), as on the internet no one knows you’re a dog. But basically there’s a chain of them which goes from support of policy ideas which were pretty standard stuff before the primary means you didn’t vote for Clinton which means it’s all your fault.

I don’t have much patience for lefties who pay enough attention to politics to argue about it online and who chose not to vote for Clinton, but I also know a lot of people who are lefties, did support Sanders, did support Clinton after the primary was over, did tell other people to vote for her, and did (they say) vote for her, who get a lot of shit because reasons I haven’t yet figured out. Basically, shutup you supported Sanders! I mean, hate Bernie if you want, but getting mad at people who voted for him and then going on to dismiss a political agenda because it’s associated with him is pretty weird. I see a lot flaming liberals now sounding like Max Baucus for reasons I don’t quite understand.

Either this is some sort of post-election trauma or many ‘progressives’ didn’t like any of the left’s ideas at all, and are using this as an opportunity to blame the left. That would be par for the course for many progressives. That said, I thought, perhaps naively, that more Democrats did worry about issues like these (boldface mine):

…one of the things that a lot of middle-class people, upper-middle-class people don’t know is that, yes, we are better off economically today than we were eight years ago, when Bush left office—there’s no debate on that—but for 40 years in this country, under Democratic and Republican administrations, we have seen a shrinking of the American middle class, we have seen more and more income and wealth inequality, so that today the top one-tenth of 1 percent now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, and today we have 43 million people living in poverty, some in really dire straits….

But I want you to understand the pain and the hurt that millions of people are experiencing. You’re a single mom in Philadelphia. You’re making $30,000, $40,000 a year. You have a baby. You need childcare in order to get to work. You know how much childcare costs? You tell me. What does childcare cost in Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia? $15,000 a year? More? Anyone know? Fifteen? All right. What do you do if you’re making $30,000, $40,000 a year, and you’re paying $15,000 for childcare? And that’s—I can tell you, in Washington, D.C., I had a young woman working for me. She had—she was paying $32,000 a year for childcare in D.C., where it’s more expensive there than the rest of the country.

Healthcare, right? We talk about the gains of the Affordable Care Act. And that’s true, it did make some progress. Today, 28 million people still have no health insurance, and many, many others have high deductibles and high copayments. They cannot afford to go to the doctor when they get sick. You know that? We lose thousands of people every single year. And I talk to doctors all over the country. People walk into their office profoundly sick, and the doctor said, “Why didn’t you come in here a year ago, when you first developed your symptom?” And they say, “Well, I didn’t have any insurance,” or, “I had a high deductible, and I couldn’t afford it.” Some of those people do not make it, or they end up in the hospital at great expense and great suffering. One out of five Americans today who go to the doctor and get a prescription cannot afford to fill that prescription. One out of five. You’ve got elderly people in Vermont and, I’m sure, in Pennsylvania who are cutting their prescription drug pills in half, because they cannot afford to pay for the medicine that they need. What do you think you’re feeling when you go to the doctor because you’re sick, and you walk into the drug store, and the medicine is so expensive, you cannot afford to fill it?

You got in Pennsylvania and in Vermont and all over this country, added together, millions of seniors, disabled veterans, people with disabilities. They are trying to get by on $10,000, $11,000, $12,000 a year Social Security. You can do the arithmetic as well as I can. You’re 80 years of age. You are sick. Social Security is your sole source of income, as it is for many people. Try to get by on $12,000 a year….

You are an older worker, 55 or 60 years of age. Half of the older workers in America, do you know how much money they have in the bank as they await retirement? Anyone want to guess? Zero! Try to think of yourself at 60 years of age. You’re going to retire in five years. Everything being equal, you’re probably making less in real inflation-accounted-for dollars than you did 20 or 30 years ago. You’re going to retire in five years. You’ve got nothing in the bank. How are you feeling about the establishment and what the Democratic Party has done for you or the Republican Party has done for you? You are scared to death.

And maybe, in fact, you’re one of the many millions of workers who actually once had a factory job with a union behind you, and you were making good middle-class wages, you had good benefits, you had a pension. But one day your employer told you that they’re shutting down that plant, because they can hire people in China for a dollar or $2 an hour, and now you’re making 50, 60 percent of what you made when you had that manufacturing job.

You can be a college graduate, somebody who saved and scrimped and went to college, left school $50,000, $60,000 in debt, and now you’re making $14 an hour. Again, do the arithmetic. You’re stuck with that debt, year after year after year. You’ve got a debt, but you don’t have the income to pay it off. I remember distinctly talking to a guy in Nevada who said that he took out his student loan 25 years ago. He is more in debt today than he was when he took it out, and he’s scared to death, literally, that they’re going to garnish some of his Social Security in order to pay that student debt….

City after city—and I suspect Philadelphia is not an exception—in minority areas, African-American areas, Latino areas, youth unemployment, 20, 30, 40 percent. I was in New York City, took a walk with some people on the City Council there. They need $17 billion to rehabilitate public housing in New York City alone. So you’ve got people in public housing living in rat-infested, mold-infested housing in New York…

The point is there are a lot of people hurting in this country.

Regardless of whether or not you liked Sanders as a politician, a messenger, or disagreed with policy specifics, this is what I thought many progressives were fighting for. Don’t take out your anger on the wrong people–it’s bad policy, and bad politics.

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4 Responses to When Progressives Take Out Their Election Trauma On The Disadvantaged

  1. Ruthmarie Hicks says:

    I’m guessing that this is all about the neoliberals consolidating power within the democratic party. Clinton may be gone, but many of the neoliberal remains still want to be gainfully employed. When there is a lot of money on the line, people do (and say) strange things.

    IMO, these are the people who are stirring the pot. They are trying maintain their own legitimacy in the face of a humungous loss. It’s past time for the neoliberal wing to call it a day, but they aren’t going quietly into that good night. If demonizing old-time progressives who actually represent the masses will work, why not give it a try? So far, it seems to be working. Pelosi and Schumer are in the democratic leaders in the House and Senate. Nothing screams neoliberal louder than these fossilized players.

    The corporate wing of the democratic party has died. Their attempts at resurrection may lead to the death of the entire party.

    • harrync says:

      Pretty much agree with Ruthmarie. But I think the problem really is that the average swing voter is pretty dumb; those who voted for Trump over Clinton were dumb, but not nearly as dumb as those who voted for Clinton over Sanders. Or as Mencken put it: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

  2. drouse says:

    I like to think of it as an epidemic of mesplaining. Simply put mesplaining is that the real reason for anything happening fits my personal biases and I’m gonna tell you why. Tediously. At length. Over and over again.

  3. eddie blake says:

    wow. WTF holy both-sides, batman!.

    carter was four years and out. clinton was in power for eight years, but didn’t have the congress AND was impeached. obama had a filibuster-proof majority for the BLINK in time between seating franken and the death of kennedy.

    on YOUR planet, that has the SAME impact of nixon (x2) ford, reagan (x2) hw bush (x1) w bush (x2) and now the fascist orange orangutan, not to mention republican control of the goddamn supreme court since the goddamn EARLY seventies.,

    same thing right? both sides, amirte?

    give me a fucking break.

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