In the midst of a heated campaign, there are bound to be intemperate voices. That is the case even in a campaign the Democratic presidential candidates are having, in which one candidate is determined to win and the other trying to win without destroying the general election chances of the other.
And so it was that the wife of the latter politician was interviewed Tuesday evening by MSNBC's Chris Hayes and was, in the words of blogger Melissa McEwan, "super shitty." Here is the exchange, as posted by Ms. McEwan:
Hayes: —Clinton's lead, which is now nearly two hundred allocated delegates more than Sanders, will become more difficult for Sanders to overcome, because of that proportional allocation. That's a lesson Clinton learned in her two thousand eight race against Barack Obama. Joining me now, spouse of two thousand sixteen presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Jane Sanders. Ms. Sanders, it's wonderful to have you. Um, what is your feeling about—
Sanders: It's nice to be here, Chris.
Hayes: —the mathematical path forward for the Sanders campaign, facing now this banked deficit of 200 allocated delegates, and the fact that it's proportional all the way through?
Sanders: Well, we knew the early maps would be harder for us, uh, for several reasons. First that the people across the country might not be as familiar with Bernie as they are, uh, with the woman that has been in three presidential campaigns—two of her husband's and her own already. Um, so she's quite well-known throughout the world, and we needed to introduce Bernie. Um, however, uh, the early states have turned out to be at least as good as what we had hoped. Um, as you say, it's proportional, so, in Massachusetts, we had forty-nine percent of the vote. The delegate—the delegate count is going to be just about equal. In Vermont, where they know him the best, he got a shutout. Uh, he will get a hundred percent of the delegates, because, uh, Secretary Clinton didn't meet the—the fifteen percent threshold to get any delegates from our state. Um, in terms of the states that we just had, with, um, Super Tuesday, it seems—I think there are two important things to point out: Most of the states that, uh, Secretary Clinton won had low voter turnouts. Most of the states that Bernie won had high voter turnouts. We know, when we have a high voter turnout, Bernie does better, because the more people that participate in the process, they more they, uh— His ideas are carried out. Uh, the second is that most of the states—just, you know, not all of them—but most of the states are historically red states and are not likely to carry the day in the general election. Most of the states that Bernie has won are mostly blue states or battleground states. And he's won them handily. I think it was, um, ten percent in Oklahoma, nineteen percent in Minnesota, twenty some odd percent, ah, in Oklahoma, so—
Hayes: Well, let me stop you right there.
Sanders: —I think we're looking good.
Hayes: Let me stop you right there. There's two things, talking about this from a red state, blue state— I mean, that does seem to me a little, um, a little bit of misdirection, insofar as general election electorates are different, right? And also, it also seems a little dismissive of, say, the good folks in Alabama, right? I mean, it's not Alabaman Democrats'—
Sanders: Oh no, yeah.
Hayes: It's not Alabaman Democrats' fault that they don't have a majority of voters in Alabama! [chuckles] They can't do anything about that, except, you know, make more Democrats. Um, and, and that—that links up to a deeper issue here, right? Which is there is a stark demographic divide happening in the states that Clinton is winning and the states Sanders is winning. Exit polling showing Bernie Sanders losing black voters by eighty-five to fourteen; losing in those states with very high percentages of black voters across the South. I mean, it just seems impossible to me for someone to win the Democratic nomination in the age of the Obama coalition who is losing by those margins among black voters.
Sanders: Well, the age of the Obama coalition was two thousand eight. This is two thousand sixteen. And we'll see either the Sanders coalition, or the Clinton coalition. Uh, I think that it's— You're absolutely right; we need to reach the, uh, the African American voter better. As I said, they're not that familiar with them—with Bernie. What we've done is, um, try to reach the working class voter, uh, the middle class voter, and not go, uh, not divide and, and, and reach out to individual sectors of the community. The Latino community, the African American community, the women, the men, the—the young. Um, but we have to do a better job on that. Um, and we know that, and we are going forward. I think if you look at the, uh, election results of yesterday, you'll see that we were—we had increased, uh, significantly with the Latino vote. Um, and in terms of the wide discrepancy, the same discrepancy holds true with Bernie against Clinton in terms of anybody under 30, no matter what race, what ethnicity—
Hayes: Yeah, there's a huge disparity.
Sanders: —they are. Yes.
Hayes: All right. Jane Sanders, from Burlington, Vermont. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
"So," McEwen continues, "a couple of quick thoughts," which are
1. I find it really gross when Sanders won't even say Hillary Clinton's name, but instead refers to her, for the first time in the interview, as "the woman that has been in three presidential campaigns—two of her husband's and her own already." What the fuck.
2. Black voters just haven't heard of Bernie Sanders. That old canard. This line of bullshit is problematic for a whole lot of reasons, not least of which is the implicit circular racist shitshow that is: Black voters aren't informed and, if they were, they would definitely vote for Bernie Sanders, so the fact that they aren't voting for Bernie Sanders proves they're uninformed. For fuck's sake.
3. "The age of the Obama coalition was 2008." Uh, nope. That was the beginning of the age of the Obama coalition. And that coalition is the future of not only the Democratic Party, but of the country. The fact that the Sanders campaign has failed to realize or accept this fact is exactly why they're losing.
4. The Sanders campaign is trying to reach out to working class and middle class voters irrespective of race, because they don't want to be "divisive." Hoo boy.
5. It is flatly not true that Sanders wins with "anybody under 30, no matter what race." Sanders wins with white voters under 30, and, in some contests, only white men under 30.
That is hardly a comprehensive accounting of everything wrong with this interview. Again I say: What the fuck is the Sanders campaign even doing?
Credit McEwan for pointing out that Bernie Sanders has not been scoring as well with minorities under 30 as he has with whites under 30. Other than that, she is inaccurate or a bit strange.
Jane Sanders never stated "black voters just haven't heard of Bernie Sanders," but rather "people across the country might not be as familiar with Bernie as they are with" his opponent. That is not only demonstrably accurate- and understandable- but is critical to understanding how far off-base Ms. McEwan is. Sanders did not refer to "black people" but to "people," inasmuch as the former First Lady, US Senator, and Secretary of State is far better known than her rival. Moreover, she did not say that people "haven't heard" of her husband; merely that they aren't as familiar with him as with Mrs. Clinton.
One reason Mrs. Sanders remarked "the age of the Obama coalition was 2008" is because it was 2008. A major portion of that coalition was youth, now voting in numbers more heavily for Senator Sanders than for Mrs. Clinton. Additionally, Mrs. Sanders was responding to a (sort of) question, "it just seems impossible to me for someone to win the Democratic nomination in the age of the Obama coalition who is losing by those margins among black voters." She might have, as McEwan would have preferred, responded with "white voters count too, you know" or "yes, we are getting our rear ends kicked among blacks." That probably would not have been wise.
Jane Sanders referred twice to Clinton (albeit once to the "Clinton coalition") and probably would have more often if her purpose was to run Clinton down rather than to promote her own candidate. Admittedly, McEwan is exorcised that Sanders' first reference to her husband's competitor is "first that the people across the country might not be as familiar with Bernie as they are, uh, with the woman that has been in three presidential campaigns—two of her husband's and her own already."
It's unlikely that Sanders referred to "the woman" to denigrade Mrs. Clinton. Rather, it's likely it was an effort by a highly-educated woman to emphasize that any indvidual who has been in three presidential campaigns, two of them of her spouse, would be better known than a member of Congress from the tiny state of Vermont, generally inconsequential in both presidential primary contests and general elections.
McEwan complains "The Sanders campaign is trying to reach out to working class and middle class voters irrespective of race, because they don't want to be 'divisive.' Hoo boy. "
Merriam-Webster has no definition of "hoo boy" but the Urban Dictionary defines it as a phrase which may "express stress, frustration, distress, or any other negative emotion that comes to mind." So it is unclear whether the deeply thoughtful McEwen used "hoo boy" to suggest that she doesn't believe the Sanders campaign is avoiding race or that it is doing so in order to be divisive.
In either case, her frustration with Mrs. Sanders' statement reflects a deep divide between the two campaigns. Clearly, many Clinton supporters- and the candidate herself- are uncomfortable with the emphasis the Sanders' campaign has placed on economic concerns while not disregarding racial inequities. Perhaps there would be less annoyance if Senator Sanders were fairly conservative and/or dismissive of Black Lives Matter concerns.
But he is not, and it may be unbearable to see someone who recognizes both the nation's lingering problems with race and Mrs. Clinton's coziness with Goldman-Sachs. Though denied by some Clinton supporters,it is critical to establish a balance between identification with the aspirations of racial minorities and those of the non-wealthy, no matter where their ancestors may have come from. of whatever ethnic group.
Bernie Sanders has sought that balance from his earliest days actively involved in civil rights causes through his campaign for the presidency. And he has spoken out in favor of progressive causes not only to his own supporters or to the masses of Democratic voters, but also to others, such as in his speech to an assemblage at the evangelical Liberty University last autumn.
A truly progressive coalition cannot exclude non-minorities as more people undersand that they are falling behind in the global economy. It is not "class envy" or "racist" and need not be divisive. It's a strategy the corporate masters fear and must prevail, lest the nation suffer.