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“The Last Berniebro?”: Sanders Runs The Risk Of Waiting Too Long, To The Point Where It No Longer Matters

“I’ve got this thing,” said the politician on a secretly recorded phone call, “and it’s f-ing golden. And I’m just not giving it up for f-ing nothing.”

That politician, as you probably remember, was Rod Blagojevich, then the the governor of Illinois, and the thing in question was the appointment to temporarily fill the Senate seat of Barack Obama, who was headed to the White House. But Blagojevich’s colorful sentiment could apply equally well to the way Bernie Sanders seems to think about his endorsement in this year’s presidential race. It’s golden, a precious jewel he has secured in a safe whose lock can only be sprung by one who has shown herself to be pure of heart, or at least one who has paid sufficient attention to Sanders and performed the proper rituals of supplication. Then and only then will the endorsement be presented, perhaps on a velvet pillow of deepest blue, with gold piping around the edges, all nestled in a handcrafted mahogany box. He’s not giving it up for nothing.

But what Sanders may not realize is that by the time he’s finally ready to hand over that endorsement, very few people are likely to care. He surely calculated that he would lose something if he endorsed Hillary Clinton too quickly, without getting something in return. But now he runs the risk of waiting too long, to the point where it no longer matters.

Appearing Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Sanders waved away the idea that he was ready to endorse Clinton. And as for his supporters, “What we are doing is trying to say to the Clinton campaign, stand up, be bolder than you have been. And then many of those voters in fact may come on board.”

It’s unsurprising that there are holdouts among Sanders’s supporters, even as Donald Trump’s unique brand of horrifying buffoonery makes the stakes of the election clearer with each passing day. For a year now, they’ve been told not that their candidate is the best of a collection of reasonable options, but that they’re part of a revolution against a deeply corrupt establishment, embodied in the person of Hillary Clinton. To now ask them to make a pragmatic choice in favor of Clinton almost seems like a betrayal of everything they signed up for, no matter how ghastly the alternative to a Clinton victory is.

Yet that’s exactly the choice they’re making—and with little help from Sanders himself. In a new Washington Post poll, the number of Sanders supporters saying they’ll vote for Trump in the general election is at 8 percent, down from 20 percent just a month ago. “What’s more, the 81 percent of Sanders backers who are now behind Clinton is a higher number than in any poll of 2008 Clinton backers who rallied to Obama,” the Post writes.

This poll could be an anomaly; maybe it’s understating the degree to which Sanders supporters are going to withhold their support from Clinton. But on the other hand, maybe Sanders supporters as a group aren’t quite the doctrinaire revolutionaries we thought they were. Could it be that the passionate intensity (and, sometimes, outright douchebaggery) of a small number of Berniebros who make so much noise in social media convinced us that they were representative of Sanders supporters when they actually weren’t? Might it be that your typical Sanders supporter is a liberal Democrat who was attracted to Sanders’ ideas, but is also perfectly willing to vote for Clinton even if she wasn’t their first choice?

And might it be that it doesn’t really matter to them whether and when Bernie Sanders says the words “I endorse Hillary Clinton”?

One of the things Sanders had been holding out for was the writing of the Democratic Party platform, which he hoped would represent his views. The platform committee has finished working on the draft of the platform, and it looks to be the most progressive one the party has ever written, including calling for a repeal of the Hyde Amendment forbidding federal funds from going to abortions, a $15 an hour minimum wage, an expansion of Social Security, and the elimination of the death penalty. But because Sanders didn’t get absolutely every last thing he wanted (it’s almost as if somebody else won the party’s primaries!), he now cites the platform as another reason he can’t yet give Clinton his endorsement.

Not that too many people will actually read it (or that Clinton, if she becomes president, will be bound by it one way or the other), but I’m pretty sure that if most Sanders voters looked at the platform, they’d say, “Gee, that all sounds pretty good.” Nevertheless, there will be that vocal few who say it’s yet more evidence that anyone who supports Clinton is a Wall Street stooge. Liberal hero Elizabeth Warren got that reaction from an angry few when she endorsed Clinton, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Sanders himself, whenever he finally does make his endorsement, will hear that he has sold out his own revolution.

But how many Sanders supporters are there who won’t decide to vote for Clinton until Bernie says it’s OK to do so? The number gets smaller every day. And if he waits long enough, he could find that almost none of them are still waiting with him.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect, June 27, 2016

June 30, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Bros, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“It’s Smart To Think About The Long Game”: Hillary Clinton Supporters; It Is OK To Care About Gender On The Ballot

When it comes to women in politics, the United States is pretty much the pits. Women make up half the population in this country but hold less than 20% of congressional seats and comprise less than 25% of state legislators. The numbers for women of color are even more dismal.

On the world stage, the US ranks 72nd in women’s political participation, far worse than most industrialized countries – and with numbers similar to Saudi Arabia’s. A United Nations working group late last year called attention to this disparity in a report that found massive discrimination against women across the board, an “overall picture of women’s missing rights”.

And so it seems strange that at a time when the country has the opportunity to elect the first female president, the idea that gender might be a factor is considered shallow in some circles.

Only in a sexist society would women be told that caring about representation at the highest levels of government is wrong. Only in a sexist society would women believe it.

There has been an extraordinary amount of scorn – both from the right and from Bernie Sanders supporters – around the notion that Hillary Clinton and women planning on voting for her are playing the “gender card”. The criticism comes in part from Clinton’s unabashed embrace of women’s issues as a central part of her presidential campaign, and in part – let’s be frank – simply because Clinton is a woman.

The absurd conclusion these detractors are making is that if gender plays any role in a woman’s vote, it must be her sole litmus test. (If that were the case, you’d see throngs of feminists supporting Sarah Palin or Carly Fiorina.) As author and New York magazine contributor Rebecca Traister has written, “Somehow the admission of gender as a factor in support for her creates an opportunity to dismiss not only enthusiasm for Clinton as feminized and thus silly, but also a whole body of feminist argument that concerns itself with the underrepresentation of women in politics.”

One could argue that, gender aside, Clinton’s policies are better for women than Sanders’s – Naral Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood’s endorsements speak to that some, as does Clinton’s vocal emphasis on repealing the Hyde Amendment, which denies poor women the ability to obtain reproductive healthcare. But there is also nothing untoward about pointing out that the groundbreaking first of a female president would also benefit women.

After all, while Barack Obama’s tenure hasn’t led to any “post-racial” utopia, the symbolism of the first black president forever changed the way this nation thinks and talks about race. The first female president, while certain to bring misogynists out of the woodwork at proportions that will make GamerGate look tame, would likely do the same for gender.

There is nothing wrong or foolish in thinking about a candidate’s gender in an election. It is politically savvy to vote for your interests. It is smart to think about the long game for women’s rights. And for those of us with our bodies literally on the line, it is wise to cast a vote that you believe will be the most likely to ensure women won’t be forced into pregnancy, arrested for having miscarriages or any other of the horrifying consequences that anti-abortion Republican leadership would surely pursue.

For some people, even weighing gender heavily in their political decision-making still won’t mean a vote for Clinton. But if it does, their vote should be respected as a well-informed one. Dismissing those who want to take gender into account is turning your back on the basic democratic principle that people have the right to be politically represented.

Electing women into office is important for women’s equality, and it’s also crucial for our country’s health. Considering that truth in the election booth is not caring about a “single issue” – it’s voting smart.

 

By: Jessica Valenti, The Guardian, January 15, 2016

January 17, 2016 Posted by | Gender Equality, Hillary Clinton, Women in Politics | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Just Changing The Optics”: The Republican Abortion Bill Shows They Still Believe Many Women Lie About Rape

In a move being credited to the wisdom of Republican women lawmakers, the House will not be voting on a sweeping 20 week abortion ban that only allowed for rape and incest exceptions if the victims reported their assaults to police. (Because Republicans know just how much women love to lie about rape and incest to get those sweet, sweet abortions!)

But before we pat all those kind, considered Republican women on the back for their reasoned withdrawal of support for a bill that would’ve made women file police reports 20 weeks after being assaulted in order to have the option of not being forced to have their rapist’s baby, let’s not forget that all of this is just political posturing. The bill – or even another, less extreme 20 week abortion ban – was unlikely to ever pass the Senate, and President Obama made clear that he would veto it if it did.

So backing off on yet another terrible anti-abortion bill – they tried this in 2011 with the “forcible rape” provisions in the Hyde Amendment renewal – is not a sign that Republicans will be more moderate with their future restrictions on reproductive rights, or that Republican women will be able to temper the radical anti-choice agenda of their party.

It’s great, sure, that Representatives Renee Ellmers and Jackie Walorski took their names off the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and that Ellmers also reportedly lobbied her female colleagues against the legislation. But I don’t believe this was some change of her anti-choice heart: more likely, she simply realized that the bill’s extreme requirements for rape and incest exceptions to the blanket ban wouldn’t exactly go over well with American women.

During a time when sexual assault and the difficulty of reporting it is a central part of the national conversation, forcing women and girls to go to the police before they can access abortion makes Republicans seem even more out of touch with the issues women face than usual. According to RAINN, 68% of sexual assaults aren’t reported to police, and numbers are even harder to come by for incest – where so often the victims are young girls.

Still, Republicans will now get to introduce and support anti-woman legislation, but they’ll have the advantage of appearing less radical than they are because they supposedly have a few “reasonable” women in the party keeping them in check on women’s issues. And any 20-week abortion ban is a bad thing for women, even without “forcible rape” or “reported rape” provisions.

Trotting out a few female Republicans and changing some words in a bill doesn’t change the reality of how the party feels about – or legislates – abortion; it just changes the optics. Republicans still want to deny people access to sex education, they still want to deny women access to contraception, they still want to prevent us from getting abortions and they still want to eliminate the Roe v Wade decision that protects our rights – and they want to do all of this despite the irreparable harm that it will cause American women.

The Republican women who forced House leadership to withdraw this one bill aren’t “reasonable” – they’re just smart enough to know that they need to shroud just how radically anti-woman their party really is. Good luck with that.

 

By: Jessica Valenti, The Guardian, January 22, 2015

January 27, 2015 Posted by | Republicans, War On Women, Women's Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Moderate This”: Mitt Romney Is Talking Out Of Both Sides Of His Mouth

So Moderate Mitt Romney told the editorial board of the Des Moines Register yesterday that he had no interest in promoting anti-abortion legislation as president:

“There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda,” the GOP presidential candidate told The Des Moines Register’s editorial board during a meeting today before his campaign rally at a Van Meter farm.

But by executive order, not by legislation, he would reinstate the so-called Mexico City policy that bans U.S. foreign aid dollars from being used to do abortions, he said.

But then there’s this, via HuffPost’s Elise Foley:

The Romney campaign walked back the remark within two hours of the Register posting its story. Spokeswoman Andrea Saul told the National Review Online‘s Katrina Trinko that Romney “would of course support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life.”

And speaking of National Review Online, that’s who published Romney’s definitive statement on abortion policy during the Republican primary battle, when Romney was justifying his refusal to sign a very radical pledge presented by the Susan B. Anthony List:

I am pro-life and believe that abortion should be limited to only instances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.

I support the reversal of Roe v. Wade, because it is bad law and bad medicine. Roe was a misguided ruling that was a result of a small group of activist federal judges legislating from the bench.

I support the Hyde Amendment, which broadly bars the use of federal funds for abortions. And as president, I will support efforts to prohibit federal funding for any organization like Planned Parenthood, which primarily performs abortions or offers abortion-related services.

I will reinstate the Mexico City Policy to ensure that nongovernmental organizations that receive funding from America refrain from performing or promoting abortion services, as a method of family planning, in other countries. This includes ending American funding for any United Nations or other foreign assistance program that promotes or performs abortions on women around the world.

I will advocate for and support a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion.

And perhaps most importantly, I will only appoint judges who adhere to the Constitution and the laws as they are written, not as they want them to be written.

So last year, in a carefully considered and drafted statement, Romney was all for new legislation to ban federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and promised to “advocate and support” federal “fetal pain” legislation along the lines of bills being promoted by anti-choice legislators from sea to shining sea. He basically agreed to do anything within the president’s power to help The Cause, with the exception of administering litmus tests to a host of his appointees, which is what the SBA List was asking him to do. To some extent, his comments to the Register simply reflected the limitations of the executive branch on this particular subject, which has been a source of great frustration to anti-choicers over the years.

But Moderate Mitt should not be able to get away with bland reassurances on this issue–with his own campaign repudiating him almost on the spot–without dealing with specific pledges he made during this very campaign. Is he–on behalf of himself and his loyal running-mate, Paul Ryan, who up until now has been universally considered a leader in the anti-choice cause–specifically retracting promises to promote a funding ban on Planned Parenthood and federal legislation flatly banning abortions prior to some arbitrary point in the second trimester of pregnancy?

It would be good to know if Moderate Mitt is talking out of both sides of his mouth.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, October 10, 2012

October 11, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rick Santorum Is Coming For Your Birth Control

Here is an actual Rick Santorum quote: “One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country.” And also, “Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s okay, contraception is okay. It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

These comments were not dug up from some bygone moment of ideological purity, before dreams of a presidential campaign. He said them in October, to a blogger at CaffeinatedThoughts.com (they met at Des Moines’ Baby Boomers Cafe).

It’s pretty basic: Rick Santorum is coming for your contraception. Any and all of it. And while he may not be alone in his opposition to non-procreative sex, he is certainly the most honest about it — as he himself acknowledged in the interview.

This is important, because while reproductive rights are always cast in terms of pro or against a woman’s right to an abortion and in what circumstances, even liberals are surprised to find out what social conservatives really want to do about contraception. Liberals are even willing to cast the proposed defunding of Planned Parenthood and all Title X programs (a position that has become mainstream in Republican circles) as an abortion issue, when it is actually about contraception. (The Hyde Amendment already bans almost all federal abortion funding.) So is this about “babies” or is this about sex? Rick Santorum isn’t even pretending it’s (only) about childbearing.

Speaking to ABC News’ Jake Tapper, Santorum recently reaffirmed his opposition to Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 Supreme Court decision that struck down a ban on discussing or providing contraception to married couples, and established a right to privacy that would later be integral to Roe v. Wade and Lawrence v. Texas. (It is generally better-known how Santorum feels about gay people.) That would be the case where the majority asked, “Would we allow the police to search the sacred precincts of marital bedrooms for telltale signs of the use of contraceptives? The very idea is repulsive to the notions of privacy surrounding the marriage relationship.” Rick Santorum disagrees. He thinks, using the currently popular states’ rights parlance, that “the state has a right to do that, I have never questioned that the state has a right to do that. It is not a constitutional right, the state has the right to pass whatever statues they have.” This is a view Santorum has held at least since 2003.

The trouble with this is that not only have more than 99 percent of sexually active women used at least one form of birth control, helping people get access to birth control is actually a popular issue. According to a June survey by the Public Religion Research Institute, 82 percent of Americans actually want to expand access to birth control for women who cannot afford it, while only 16 percent were opposed.

Santorum isn’t alone. Five of the current or former Republican presidential candidates signed the Personhood Pledge (though unlike Santorum, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul added some caveats to their support). Mitt Romney told Mike Huckabee he’d support an amendment saying life begins at conception — which Personhood folks interpret as the fertilization of an egg, meaning that contraceptives like the IUD and sometimes even the pill are murderous. (Good luck figuring out what Romney actually thinks on that one.)

Santorum just happens to be happiest putting it at the top of the agenda. In the Caffeinated Thoughts video, he promises that “all those issues are going to be front and center with me,” and says, ”I know most presidents don’t talk about these things and maybe people don’t want us to talk about these things. But I think it’s important that you are who you are… these are important public policy issues.” Among those important public policy issues: Sex for fun. In the same video, Santorum bemoans sex becoming “deconstructed to the point where it’s simply pleasure.”

Many people don’t want them to talk about these things because it shows the true colors of what social conservatives wish for this country, which is very different from what Americans wish for themselves. Maybe the near-win in Iowa yesterday is the end of the road for Santorum, and maybe no one will ever succeed by openly suggesting a contraception ban that would send the condom police into America’s bedrooms. But that’s clearly the world Santorum wants, and it’s one that is entirely consistent with the antiabortion movement’s goals. That would be the same movement that over the past year decided it had a mandate in states across the country, the same one that demanded endless obeisance from the Republican candidates in Iowa this year — and mostly got it.

 

By: Irin Carmon, Salon, January 4, 2012

 

 

January 6, 2012 Posted by | Abortion, GOP Presidential Candidates, Pro-Choice | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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