A Cancer Gnaws at the Heart of US Politics

Aug 27, 2015 (San Diego) There is a cancer in the United States, and it is hyper partisanship. It has now gone into the heart of how partisans at times talk of each other, and to each other. It now includes media as well.

This mostly affects Bernie Sanders supporters who in piece after piece after piece are accused of being racist, white supremacists and a few other lovely appellations. Yes some essays have appeared critical of what happened in Seattle from supporters and a few do feel like white ‘splaining, and they continues to provide fodder, but here is the problem: Those like Gawker, are magnifying the issue with the supposed racist who support Bernie in media stories.

Even the title of that piece is dismissive, the Bernie Bunch? Ok, then. Gawker is not alone. Forward Progressive is also accusing the supporters of being a problem.

And even major media is doing this as well, like the Fix at the Washington Post, or the New York Times writing off the support the Sanders campaign might achieve in the future from the present base.

It also ignores history. This early in the campaign the Barack Obama campaign was not that popular among minorities either. It truly was, who is that guy from Chicago? His popularity started to go up among minorities, who tend to support establishment candidates, only after he won a couple primaries. Since we have yet to have the first primary, we are not at that moment yet.

This is the cancer. This is not about Sanders or his policies, it is about sidelining a campaign by holding that campaign accountable for what some of its supporters might do. Are all Bernie Sanders supporters people pure at heart who do not hold any feelings against minorities? I would not bet the house on that. But I would not bet the house on that for the supporters of any political candidate. Yes, even racist can come out in support of very liberal candidates for their own reasons. The universe of voters contains them, so the universe of supporters will as well in a simple VANN diagram.

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But… if I were to use the same logic about Clinton Campaign supporters, I could use the same irresponsible standard. God knows I have been called by a few of them racist, a white supremacist and mentally ill. Lord knows that is because they believe, wrongly, that I support Sanders, ergo I must be one of those racist people they keep reading about in news stories that support their world view. This could split the party. This intra-party civil war is very dangerous.

I will use the same logic though for a second. It is the same used by reporters at Gawker and even the Washington Post I will make a reductio ad sbsurdum argument that those same supporters are so ugly that they represent the campaign. Ergo, Hillary Clinton better come down from the clouds and control them, or reject them. These are the same kind of demands made of Sanders.

This is precisely the cancer. These media publications are using the words of a few bloggers, and a few twitter users (to the credit of Gawker at least they gave a link to a single article, most just make the claim) that these people represent anywhere from the totality of the campaign, to the candidate himself.

It is a ridiculous claim but one that fits very well within the hyper-polarized political environment we live in. Most of the time we would ignore this at Reporting San Diego since it should just be noise. But at a deep political level these pieces are allowing an out for media publications from actually discussing the issues that candidates are bringing up. It also matches the he said, she said, environment in Congress that has led to one of the least productive periods in United States history.

Over the last few years these food fights have become far more vocal, and far more dangerous. We have to ask, regardless of who wins the nomination for the Democratic party at this point. Will the party be able to come together? As a political observer this is not an idle question. The Party Unity My Ass (PUMA) phenomenon was quite small in 2008. Will this be a larger one? Will feelings be so hurt that people will stay home, ergo depressing the vote? This is not something the campaigns are doing up in the clouds. This is a reflection of that poison that has infected the country.


Categories: analysis, Clinton, Democratic Party, media criticism, Race to the White House, Sanders, Supporters

2 replies

  1. A very well written analysis of how extremist supporters reflect upon the candidate!

    • But this is not about extremist supporters, but about how media is giving them far more voice than they should. I could do the same irresponsible exercise with a few choice posts from a democratic party platform right now about the HRC campaign. I have ethics, though.

      The media should stop magnifying the statements of anonymous posters on the web. They should just concentrate on the issues.

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