I wanted to write an elated post-DNC 2016 wrap-up. In so many ways this was a gorgeous week for America and one of its two political parties. In a column this morning entitled The Democrats Win the Summer, conservative New York Times pundit David Brooks spoke to the complete GOP checkmate that was served up in Philadelphia:
“There were an unusually high number of great speeches at the Democratic convention this year: the Obamas, Biden, Booker, Clinton, the Mothers of the Movement and so on…These speakers found their eloquence in staving off [the] demagogue. They effectively separated Trump from America. They separated him from conservatism. They made full use of the deep nationalist chords that touch American hearts.”
For too long, liberals ceded the “proud to be an American” space to an opposing party whose nationalism serves as a thinly veiled cover for the preservation of white male dominance. This week that status quo was literally shattered by the nomination of Hillary Clinton as the first female presidential candidate from a major political party. And the shards were turned into fine dust with a beautiful cornucopia of powerful, patriotic orators and delegates of all genders, colors, religious affiliations and physical abilities. It was quite simply the most heartening and sustained display of democratic passion that I’ve witnessed in my lifetime.
And yet….To continue quoting Brooks (which I can hardly believe I’m doing twice in one piece, but such is the bizarre nature of 2016):
“The Sanders people have 90 percent of the Democratic Party’s passion and 95 percent of the ideas. Most Sanders people are kind- and open-hearted, but there is a core that is corrupted by moral preening, an uncompromising absolutism and a paranoid unwillingness to play by the rules of civic life.”
Yes. The Bernie Bros and their relentless bullshit partially marred a historic and inspiring week. Male privilege interrupted the unadulterated joy of so many women who never believed this moment possible. To watch 102 year-old Arizona delegate Jerry Emmett euphorically report her state’s votes for Hillary Clinton is to understand the impact of the candidate’s accomplishment on female Americans. It should have shut the naysayers up for a bit.
On Tuesday afternoon, after Bernie Sanders’ brother Larry delivered an emotional tribute to his sibling’s 2016 primary success, Bernie finally stepped up to the unification plate. He acquitted himself well with a motion to transfer all delegates to Clinton. It was a satisfying conclusion to what had become a party damaging refusal to acknowledge defeat. Democrats could finally make a united pivot toward keeping Trump from the White House. Or so I thought.
As a liberal American woman who’s tried to punch through a few glass ceilings of my own, this was one of the happiest, proudest weeks of my life. I admit this without mitigation, qualification or shame. I shared these feelings with a network of friends and family throughout the convention, and as expected, women of all political leanings came together to celebrate a communal flash of historical significance. What cheapened the celebration just a bit were responses from men I wrongly assumed were respectful and cognizant enough to skip the mansplaining. Just this once.
On Tuesday night a grade school chum with two young daughters of his own said I wasn’t a real feminist. Don’t get him wrong of course. We’re long overdue for a female President and he’d get behind almost any other candidate. Just not Clinton. Because Benghazi. And she’s a criminal.
On Wednesday, a Venezuelan socialist friend who supported Sanders pissed on the parade as follows: “It will be a long time before somebody like Bernie comes along again. I guess we are stuck with Orange Monster and the Goldman Sachs Slave girl.” I followed up with a private message that included some unladylike language and was dismissed with the conclusion that I’m part of the patriarchy. There are cuts on my hand from cramming a fist into my mouth to muffle primal screams.
And last night when Clinton finally took the stage, myself and millions of other American women enjoyed the release of a full-on, pride-filled cry. Again I shared overwhelming feelings of elation with my community and a fellow writer trolled my feed. Why not Gwen Stefani as Hillary’s VP pick since we’ve given up seriousness? With one rhetorical question the most qualified presidential candidate in modern history, and her legions of supporters, were reduced to snide chauvinist mockery.
The experiences I’ve had with supposedly enlightened males this week are a microcosm of the jeers that disaffected Sanders supporters threw at Hillary as she accepted the nomination. Happily the haters were shouted down by an enthusiastic “I’m With Her” crowd, but why was that necessary? Writer Eleanor Clift of The Daily Beast nailed the hurtful, shortsighted stupidity with one headline: Hillary Clinton’s Big, Completely Underappreciated Moment Is Here.
Misogyny is alive, well and on full display in the Democratic Party. I always assumed that if Clinton lost in November, it would be at the hands of conservative victory, rather than liberal self-defeat. I’m nervous about Hillary’s November prospects, as I’ve always been. But it’s not Trump that strikes fear in the heart. It’s tribalistic, overbearing left male entitlement.
Thanks for the memories Bernie Bros.