Hi, I’m Caitlyn, and I’m a woman.
See, I have to open with that line. Because I’m about to defend Bernie Sanders, and on the internet, anyone who likes universal healthcare and is pretty sick of rich people is a Bernie bro. And anyone who wants to hear Bernie speak is a misogynist asshole who gets their jollies from murdering women and children in the street in broad daylight.
Case in point: as you’ve no doubt heard, the organizers of last year’s Women’s March are holding an enormous Women’s Convention this month in Detroit. They’ve been announcing speakers for a while now, but their most recent one made the entire Hillary wing of the online Democratic party start frothing at the collective mouth: Bernie Sanders.
Might just be me, but I'd have loved to see a woman keynote the Women's Convention. https://t.co/iwNrk8vG63
— Joan Walsh (@joanwalsh) October 12, 2017
The story went almost instantaneously from “Bernie is speaking on opening night” to “Bernie is the headliner, the closing act, and all the speeches in between.” The tweets I saw most often went something like, “16 women Senators and you couldn’t even get one?” or “A man is opening the first women’s convention in 40 years. Wow.”
Pretty amazing. How did the WomensMarch not find any woman for this gig? Unfollowing https://t.co/vJJhB99KUa
— Neera Tanden🖖🏼 (@neeratanden) October 12, 2017
Never mind that Hillary Clinton, Kristen Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris were invited to speak, but declined.
Never mind that the headliner, of course, is not Bernie Sanders, but Rep. Maxine Waters, who delivered the amazing “I’m reclaiming my time” line that some of these same people so gleefully slapped on t-shirts and mugs and sold all over Twitter.
— Tamika D. Mallory (@TamikaDMallory) October 12, 2017
This is really exhausting. It’s beyond exhausting. And it’s making me increasingly nervous about what the Democrats have planned for the rapidly approaching 2018 midterms.
Multiple stories have come out — and we have no reason to doubt them — saying that the midterm strategy is…. exactly what they tried in 2016: focusing almost exclusively on highlighting how big and scary the worst Republican contenders are, so that voters are cowed into casting their votes against them. It is a strategy of winning by default, and it’s mind-boggling that it’s the party’s goal instead of a last resort. What is the long game here? Best case scenario, you squeak by just because the other guy was worse? Then what? What is your mandate? What did you get elected to do?
Over and over and over (and over and over) again, those of us to the left of the party leadership have asked, pleaded, begged for someone to run for something. Universal healthcare, an end to mass incarceration, taxing the people who keep both parties’ war chests overflowing. Anything. But instead we’re just rehashing 2016. Again and again. It makes me feel like I’m in one of those dreams where you’re screaming in a crowded room but no one seems to hear you. It makes me feel crazy.
And feeling this way as a woman just makes me feel even crazier. It is obvious that misogyny played a role in Clinton’s loss. The woman was up against a literal idiot who, on paper, was everything the Republican party claims to hate, from his multiple wives to his city slicker ways. Unqualified, unappealing, unprincipled, unable to form coherent sentences — for a woman with her history to lose to someone like that would be impossible without a strong streak of misogyny driving huge numbers of voters.
Which is why it’s so bizarre to find myself defending an old man against charges of sexism. I shouldn’t need to do this. The people presenting this stupid speech as some sort of evidence of deep-seated misogyny from Bernie and his supporters — and, by extension, somehow any of us who want universal healthcare? — are operating without an ounce of good faith. This is bull and they know it. If the priority really was to elevate women and bring more women into leadership positions, they’d be RT’ing stuff about how to RSVP to the convention, and that’s it. This is petty and absurd.
Is Trump a disgusting, sexist pig, elected not just on a wave of populism as some of us like to suggest, but also on the white supremacy and sexism that runs deep through every level of our society? Hell yes.
Is that relevant to this particular conversation? Hell no.
Bernie isn’t Trump. His supporters are not Trump’s. The silencing and steamrolling of the women and people of color who supported Bernie and his campaign platform was disgusting when it was being served up fresh, and it’s even more disgusting as stale leftovers.
Shame on the women in the Dem mainstream who are pulling this crap. Shame on them for rehashing proven lies and making weaselly implications. Shame on them for gunning for a group of women who organized a convention for women and stacked it with over 50 women speakers — predominantly women of color, so that line should be retired as well — from a broad range of experiences, politics, strategies, and visions.
But maybe even more than frustrated and exhausted, I’m scared. This is scary.
Because we’re seeing the fallout of this presidency all around us — the entire island of Puerto Rico is perhaps the most visible current example — and it’s clear that we’re outgunned.
I was very much pro-Bernie in the primaries, and I still remain convinced that the Democrats will never, ever save us. But when you’re bleeding out in the middle of a desert, you need a tourniquet, and you need it now. Is a tourniquet a good long-term solution? No, just the opposite: you need to get that thing off as soon as you can. But first you need to stop the bleeding.
The midterms are our last chance at a tourniquet. And it’s looking like the Democrats are still dead-set on watching us bleed out, telling us that if we behave ourselves, and stop making silly demands, they’ll consider driving us halfway to the hospital.
Get us a frigging tourniquet. Or get out of the way.