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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Trump Supporters Against Sanders Supporters

Yesterday, I confessed a dark, clammy fear: "Will white berniebros provide the layup for white trumpbros to elect their fuhrer?" A friend and regular reader pressed me on it in the Moot: "As a foreigner can I get it explain[ed] to me what the similarities are apparently between trumpsupporters and sanderssupporters in your opinion? Do not mistake me for a Sanders fan I have my own problems with the guy."  My response, edited and upgraded from that exchange, follows:

Most of them would presumably fight like cats and dogs on most issues. But their opposition is actually interestingly complementary, with possibly ruinous eventual consequences in my view. As for actual similarities, I think these may be clearer in the subcultural formations of their fandoms and in the media narratives they attract than in the candidates themselves. This becomes quite pronounced in the mansplaining and whitesplaining both fandoms are prone to, to put the point gently.

Bernie Sanders is a life-long fighter against racism and sexism -- occasional generational awkwardnesses in his communication of these commitments notwithstanding -- but there is a decided white male skew in his support that benefits him in the first two primaries, especially New Hampshire. This is doubly conspicuous given that Hillary's support is both less white and less male and so is the Democratic Party as a whole.

These issues are being displaced onto media narratives about a shared anti-establishmentarianism in both Trump and Sanders (although Trump populism is white supremacist and Sanders populism is anti-plutocratic so such analyses risk many distortions) and also a fairly phony competition between Clinton and Sanders over who is the most progressive candidate. Given their actual voting records both candidates are comparably progressive. Given his avowed democratic socialism (which I share) Sanders has the more progressive ideals -- but when the question is the pragmatics of arrival through legislation of more progressive outcomes this becomes a much more complex question. I for one think Clinton would be the more effective progressive President following the Obama administration -- but I will admit my view on this score does not seem to be shared by a majority of those who are as far left as I am, at least not yet.

I must say that I was quite enthusiastic about Sanders getting in the race and educating mainstream Americans on the substance of democratic socialist positions, which are not only correct in my view but more congenial to American values than is understood and hence would benefit from sustained public scrutiny -- but I have been profoundly disappointed that his candidacy has turned out to be more of an occasion than I anticipated for smug white male steamrolling of discourse and celebrations of symbolic over pragmatic politics in the Sanders fandom.

Look, I'll say it. I don't think Sanders is electable given my read of American culture which seems to me likely to disdain his curmudgeonly temperament (which I personally like and share) as unpresidential and to fall far war-terror fear-mongering which will declare him a dove with no grasp of the details. This scares me. The stakes are stupendously high. The GOP plutocratic Establishment/brainless bigot Base coalition verges on utter breakdown should the party fail to win the White House yet again (and this time after giving in to the Base's demands for once). Of course, Trump and Cruz and Rubio are even more loose-talking than Sanders on foreign policy, but Americans don't seem to mind loose talk when it takes on the belligerent tonalities of the right. Clinton's command of the details of foreign policy will reassure Americans if that is where this election is taking us, but her practice will be less bellicose (but still far from my cup of tea) than any of the Republicans likely to beat Sanders on this score. I find this prospect personally terrifying -- almost as bad as realizing what reactionary appointments to the courts would do to this country for the rest of my natural lifetime.

On domestic politics should the election turn on the economy instead, her enormously detailed policy papers on everything from financial reform to immigration, including their elicitatons of diverse stakeholder coalitions and strategic anticipations of likely objections, all strongly suggest better outcomes than the congenial chestnuts I am hearing from the Sanders campaign. Of course we can strengthen Social Security by raising the cap taxable income, of course single-payer is both fairer and more efficient than our for-profit system -- the policy wonks Clinton has on the payroll know this quite as well as the ones who have Sanders' ear. It's just that if making that abstract case got us from where we are to where we should be -- we would have already been there for half a century.

Needless to say, on policy the differences between Trump and Sanders are wider than the Grand Canyon. You better believe I'll vote for Sanders without hesitation if he becomes the nominee -- but I'll be scared to death about his chances to win and pretty resigned about his capacity to have coat-tails to summon a Congress to support his agenda. No doubt after the votes come in and Congress comes into session we'll find out what exactly "the revolution" he says we need practically consists of. 


Elias Altvall said...

Thank you for the reply. It more or less sums up what I have already gathered from the rest of the internet. I would on the other hand as a swede point out that from the outside Hillary will win. Because say what you will but Bernie Sanders have not taken money and promises (or at least makes it look like) he would seriously regulate Wall Street and the monopolies while Hillary is getting money from them and most likely will do about as much as Obama has done. Still rather see Hillary than any republican but as a an outsider to the process it is still deeply disconcerting that the choices are mostly a batshit insane fascist or a very midly progressive woman (who i will admit has some issues with a certain from of entertainment I enjoy).

Chad Lott said...

I could be misreading part of your argument from the previous post here, but I don't agree that Sanders has more white male support than any other candidate would. White males are simply in a better social position to peacock their support for whatever they're into. Just look at Comic Con.

Killer Mike (from Run the Jewels) and Sarah Silverman are the faces I associate most with Sanders fandom (likely a result of my own fandom lens) and my social feeds are loaded down with nothing but diverse Sanders supporters.

I'm from the South and maintain close friendships with a ton of hillbilly Republican voters and I don't see nearly as much passionate support for Trump, though I expect that would change if Hillary gets the nom.

I think Sanders is stronger against Trump than Clinton would be. My read is that broad and intense dissatisfaction with polished traditional candidates is more important to Americans than any logical issue.

I'm with Mike Tyson on this one, I'd like to see Trump vs Sanders in "the finals." Of course that has a lot to do with my belief that Mike Judge is our time's Nostradamus and we may as well get on with making Idiocracy happen.

Dale Carrico said...

My social feeds are suffused with diverse Sanders support as well; which I attribute to the diversity and socialism of my social feeds. Polling mostly indicates this impression is anecdotal and non-representative, though Sanders support is finally diversifying a bit now -- hardly enough to justify the "surge!" narratives getting coughed up to whomp up the usual horserace drama for February -- but indeed getting a bit better on this score. I suspect Super Tuesday will be a harsh reality check for Berniedom and if it is I hope it does not yield demoralizing take my ball and go home tantrums in all my social feeds. If instead Clinton is indeed eclipsed by the disheveled Senator with the congenial but loose policy talk you can be sure I will be a good supporter and soldier to stave off the Republican anti-ecological racist militarist war on women and queers apocalypse -- but with trepidation to the point of stark terror. As for dreams of a Thunderdome Trump and Sanders face-off, I cannot personally say that I would find that particularly appealing in the least, but I do not doubt many would find it idiocratically edifying as you say. Of course, the Governator porn star 80s child celebrity scrum in California happened between this state's GOP prevalence (and racist anti-immigrant corporatist nightmare gridlock dysfunction epoch) and the present Democratic supermajorities (and the turn from racism toward sustainability solvency and good governance): if the old chestnut remains true that as goes California so goes the nation perhaps a Trump/Sanders comic book battle in which hyperbolic dreams and nightmares disjoined from the norms and limits of actually practical governance will have to convulse the nation to purge it of its abiding white-supremacy and plutocracy-with-lotto horror show in time for a working left to implement something like sustainable equity-in-diversity in a social democracy partnering with other nations trying to keep their heads above water in comparative peace in a Greenhouse planet.