A pox on both your parties

As I have noted previously, it has been apparent for a while that Hillary Clinton relies heavily on establishment bias in her bid for the Democratic Party nomination for the presidency in 2016.[1] She enjoys an enormous lead in “superdelegates,” that is “delegates awarded to party insiders,” who are not in any legal sense committed and could change sides, but who promote a tone of inevitability for Clinton’s long-presumed nomination, a tone which appears in mainstream reporting and thus arguably misleads about the state of the race of the Democratic Party nomination.[2]

But there now appears to be more than an attempted self-fulfilling prophesy at work here. Where before the Democratic National Committee’s thumb on the scales was barely concealed, it now seems entirely in the open.

Four days ago, I received a message from the Peace Team sent to its distribution list which states in part:

On our side there are many sincere people who frankly like Bernie Sanders better than Hillary Clinton, among our own participants by about a 4.5 to 1 margin in both the online polls we did. And there are LOTS of women in particular who like Sanders better on his policy positions, NOT because of his gender.

If you are a Clinton supporter, we respect that you like her better. And you need to respect that some of the rest of us prefer Sanders.[3]

The email went on to call on Clinton supporters to avoid “going to war with or blowing off your fellow progressives and liberals” and to pledge the Peace Team’s support for the eventual Democratic nominee, whoever it may be.[4] Evidently, this message provoked a rather furious backlash. Last night I received this (in part):

Never before in the history of this resource have we gotten so much hate email as in response to our recent plea for civility and peacemaking amongst the respective supporters of the two Democratic candidates.

We are frankly appalled at the level of rancor coming from supporters of BOTH Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton directed at each other. It is juvenile. It is self-destructive. It is the sure path to the biggest debacle in Democratic election history. And it has to STOP . . . NOW!!![5]

In this context, it’s a little hard to imagine the “so much hate email” coming from a lot of Sanders supporters. Rather, these messages would be coming principally from Clinton supporters and the Peace Team is trying desperately to appear even-handed in its response so as to avoid increasing the rancor among its activists. This morning, a Facebook friend posted to her friends (not publicly), in part, “Democrats, instead of blocking me when I don’t endorse Hilary [sic], why not stand up for Bernie? Put your energy into an authentic change agent with integrity?” And yesterday, someone I know from my time at California Institute of Integral Studies refused to defend her support for Clinton, dismissed my well-supported views as an “opinion,” claimed some of my opinions are ill-informed (she didn’t say which), accused me of crossing a “boundary” she had just set, and unfriended me (to which I respond with numbers 13 and 14 here).

Fig. 1. My Political Compass score, July 18, 2012.

Look, I put up with a lot of nonsense in a political and economic system that needs to be abolished entirely rather than participated in. I have described my views toward this system in papers written as part of my Ph.D. program coursework as well as in blog entries (listed here) and I cite a lot of sources. I’ve been looking at this for a while and I know something about what the fuck I’m talking about. I understand that my political views are to the left of the left or, more precisely, extreme left-libertarian (figure 1).

But what’s going on here in 2016 is the Democratic Party tilting even more strongly in an authoritarian direction. Clinton hasn’t even yet been formally nominated, but you are a traitor to The Party if you do not support her. That should remind a lot of people, especially people my age or older (including Clinton herself), of something very scary.

Fig. 2. Political Compass for U.S. Presidential Primary campaign, January 27, 2016, fair use.

The campaign this year is interesting in that Republican candidates are clustering in the extreme authoritarian right; Clinton appears nearly as far to the right, but not nearly so authoritarian; and Sanders actually counts as being on the left, but not radically so (figure 2). In previous presidential campaigns, there’s been a lot less space between Democrats and Republicans.[6] But The Party now seeks to impose something of a totalitarian personality cult. Sanders’ challenge to that cult is not permitted and the range of acceptable political discourse continues its inexorable march in an authoritarian right direction.

One of the virtues of the Political Compass is that it illustrates a range of political and economic opinion that is not represented within the U.S. political and economic system. Conservatives, especially authoritarian populists, have been notorious for denigrating less conservative Republicans as RINO, that is, “Republican in Name Only.” Now Democrats are also effectively seeking to impose ideological conformity with a single permitted candidate.

So I’ll say it now: I can no longer respect any supporters of Hillary Clinton, let alone the Republicans. Their views no longer permit principled opposition. And unless Bernie Sanders succeeds in climbing what appears to be a very steep hill toward the presidency, this country now appears likely to emerge from the 2016 election as one ruled by two totalitarian parties.

  1. [1]David Benfell, “Two thumbs on two scales,” Not Housebroken, December 19, 2015, https://disunitedstates.org/?p=8456
  2. [2]Adam Johnson, “Hillary is anything but ‘inevitable’: The political press is lying to you about her delegate lead,” Salon, February 25, 2016, http://www.salon.com/2016/02/25/hillary_is_far_from_inevitable_stop_counting_her_bogus_delegate_lead_partner/
  3. [3]Peace Team to The Pen list, “An Open Letter To Supporters Of Hillary Clinton,” February 23, 2016, http://www.peaceteam.net/in.htm
  4. [4]Peace Team to The Pen list, “An Open Letter To Supporters Of Hillary Clinton,” February 23, 2016, http://www.peaceteam.net/in.htm
  5. [5]Peace Team to The Pen list, “The Rancor On The Democratic Side MUST STOP NOW!!!” February 26, 2016, http://www.peaceteam.net/in.htm
  6. [6]Political Compass, January 27, 2016, http://politicalcompass.org/

2 thoughts on “A pox on both your parties

  • I received the “The Rancor On The Democratic Side MUST STOP NOW!!!” email. Peace team talks about receiving hate emails, but they don’t consider the email they sent me hateful and insulting. My response was to clarify with them that I have a right to my opinion of Hillary Clinton. Trust me in saying that this approach to people in the Sanders camp is ineffective, and will probably drive more people away from what they were trying to accomplish by sending the email to begin with.

    I will not vote for Hillary no matter what scare tactics the party brings out. I will vote Green party or write in Bernie Sanders if she gets the nomination.

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