You can put a progressive T-shirt on a pig, but it’s still a pig, not a donkey.
Sen. Bernie Sanders knows it – he’s from Vermont, after all – and he derided the boorish gang of sexist, aggressive bullies known as “Bernie Bros” who were hiding behind some of his presidential campaign signs last fall. “Look, we don’t want that crap,” Sanders said of the explicit misogyny demonstrated by people who purported to be his supporters.
Amen, Senator, and let us pray the newly elected Democratic National Committee chair doesn’t want that crap either. For electoral success in 2018 and beyond, the need for a big tent is obvious, but that doesn’t mean Democrats must give a hero’s welcome to any old pig who wanders in just because he’s sporting the right T-shirt.
And speaking of big: It’s strange, isn’t it, that President Trump’s “message” resonated with white women?
According to Vox, Hillary Clinton picked up 54 percent of women voters nationally in the 2016 election, compared with Trump’s mere 42 percent. But Trump outperformed Clinton among white women, winning 53 percent of voters in that demographic.
Did the “Access Hollywood” tape and litany of other offensive behavior toward women mean nothing to this group? Or was evidence of gender bias in one camp simply canceled out by the Bernie Bros bias in the other?
The benediction closing out the 2016 election is a sad song about Democrats losing the working-class white vote, and one response has been to throw on a flannel shirt and some Carhartts – as if trading in a hybrid for a pickup truck will win future elections, when what Democrats really need to win elections are votes.
Imagine if all the women who marched on Washington decide to march into the polls next November.
Losers too often waste time rehashing lost battles, and with the election of a new DNC chair, hopefully the primary battle between the Clinton and Sanders camps can be put to rest. Let the record reflect it was the Bros who were largely responsible for the election of Trump, not the Democrats who supported and voted for Clinton.
Not a majority of the Sanders supporters, mind you – most are honorable people who believe in democratic ideals – but enough Bernie Bros helped define Clinton in the primary with vicious, unfounded attacks in the same mold set by Republicans.
The Bros hated Clinton and her supporters with such ferocity that it became impossible for the party to put its hate back in the bottle after she won the primary.
Now many of these people have the audacity to blame those who actually voted for Clinton for her loss. It’s sick and perverted logic that perpetuates dysfunctional politics and puts candidates like Trump in office.
Public expression of irrational hatred of Clinton or any Democratic woman running for office or in office is not a trait that should be tolerated by the Democratic Party or anyone seeking the privilege to lead it.
In Maine, too many Democrats have another pernicious trait in common with Republicans. There’s not much light between Trump’s nationalism and Maine’s provincialism. Trump says immigrants and people from other countries are a threat and should be subjugated as inferior human beings – the same way many of Maine’s current political leaders treat people “from away.”
Democrats who believe they are superior to others because of where they were born or choose to live now are no less offensive than Republicans who agree with them. Being “from Maine” is a wonderful thing, but it’s not the litmus test for being progressive, egalitarian, fair or a better leader.
What’s more important, the income of the candidate or how she will vote on issues relating to income equality?
What’s more important, how economically challenged a candidate is personally or how he will confront economic challenges?
Is it enough that a Democrat speaks out against big money in politics and supports clean elections and the overturning of Citizens United – or must he also have never come in contact with money or felt its immense power?
Democrats should be the party that does not measure a person or a candidate by their zip code. The numbers that should matter are the number of votes cast for democratic values. Democrats under the new leadership of their party must cull out the fringe instead of weaving it in if we want the fabric to change.
Cynthia Dill is a civil rights lawyer and former state senator. She can be contacted at: