Democratic Primary to Be as Debased as GOP’s?

Hillary Clinton Democratic PrimaryI wish politics were more kind and honest. But I hardly expect it. What I would hope is that at least the “liberal” party could have a presidential primary in which we didn’t get lost in fantasy. I’m not talking about Sanders’ proposals, which are fantastic to one degree or another. I’m talking about pretending to be outraged because you’ve chosen to read a bit of data in a way that will allow you to be outraged. I am, of course, talking about what Washington Blade reported over the weekend, Clinton Surrogates Pounce on Sanders Over ’82 Marriage Resolution. Is this what the Democratic primary has come to?

I am trying to be very even-handed in this Democratic primary, and this afternoon, you will see an article I’ve written that is very critical of Sanders’ chances in a general election. But this story is just ridiculous. Back in 1982, while Sanders was mayor of Burlington, he signed a document for “We Believe in Marriage Week.” The third part of it says that marriage “should be viewed as a lifelong commitment between husband and wife filled with mutual respect and open, honest communications.” Aha, say the Clinton surrogates! Christine Quinn tweeted, “@BernieSanders says he pure on #lgbt.Cites 80’s Pride March-omits yr before as Mayor he signed reso affirming marriage ONLY btw man/woman??”

Really?! I don’t read it that way. This sounds so much like most of what you find in So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed? When I wrote about that book (and elsewhere), I noted that most of the cases of outrage were just people insisting upon seeing a statement or tweet in the worst possible light. In those cases, it is just people who so want to feel superior and love the rush that outrage brings with it. Here it is just a political game.

Attack Bernie SandersNote that same sex marriage was not always a gay rights issue. There was a strong contingent of the LGBT community that was distinctly uninterested in the matter. But regardless, does anyone anywhere think that such a milquetoast resolution in 1982 would have explicitly included same sex marriage? The first state to allow same sex marriage was Massachusetts in 2003. And regardless, not explicitly including same sex marriage is not the same as excluding it. Quinn’s statement is factually wrong. You could say that it “only affirmed marriage,” but you can’t say it the other way around. And that is the point: to make it sound like Sanders signed something like DOMA.

Does This Help Clinton in Democratic Primary?!

In addition to all of this, I really wonder how this all helps Clinton in the Democratic primary. After all, it is Clinton who is worse on this issue. It was her husband who signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. (And who is, right on cue, doing his crazy husband act.) Sanders voted against it. Clinton was still in favor of it in 2000 when she ran for Senate. She didn’t come out in favor of same sex marriage until 2013, which is, let me see now, after my 80 year old father did. And for the record, I was ranting rather loudly back in the early 1990s about the lack of same sex marriage being an explicit form of government oppression. Still, I don’t care one way or another about when either of these candidates came around.

Let’s face it: they both exist in different political environments. Sanders has been in a smaller league where it was easier to be bold. But he didn’t have to be bold, and he should be given credit. Clinton has been in the major league for decades, and her positions indicate that: from the Iraq War to same sex marriage. But I think she too needs to be given credit, because if she had acted as Sanders, she wouldn’t have been a player; she would have been like Eleanor Roosevelt: beloved by liberals, but sidelined.

Just the same, this attack on Sanders is nonsense. This is exactly the kind of thing that I did not want to see in this Democratic primary. It’s not even submental. It’s too practiced for that. It’s demagoguery of the most facile kind.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

7 thoughts on “Democratic Primary to Be as Debased as GOP’s?

  1. I keep thinking this is because there really is very little to hammer the two of them on that isn’t snoozefest policy wonkery or hasn’t had a billion words written on it already.

    Of course I get a pass on the DOMA issue because I was only 17 when it was signed. Had I thought about it though I probably would have said it was constitutional (as I did in 2003-4 when I supported Dean who really did put his political career on the line for it) to have marriage equality since contracts are supposed to be able to move between the states and marriage is a contract with feelings.

    The two campaigns have this narrow line to walk through-they have to hit each other with attacks that are polite and respectful while at the same time not too dull to make people pass out from boredom as well as not do too much damage for the general when the $2 billion Republican Hate Machine (which isn’t pretty at all) gears up to blast whoever wins our nomination.

    • Slavery was at least considered constitutional until it wasn’t. We have a fundamental problem in that we don’t have the greatest constitution. So there are lots of horrible things that it allows — especially when you look at the history of people who sat on the Court.

      • This is true-sometimes you have to be super duper uper clear to people before they get it.

        I forgot to mention it yesterday but the political process did become less violent and hateful after women got the right to vote. So your frequent refrain about how women civilize men is true even in politics.

        • That’s a nice way to put it. You could have quoted my many times of saying that if women were left alone, the worst ones would rise to the top. Then again, I could be right. It could just be that the worst women are not nearly as bad as the worst men. Maybe Margaret Thatcher was the female equivalent of Hitler. That would be an improvement.

          • Since women’s chemical make ups are different then men, I think that Thatcher is probably our worse lacking a woman like Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed who was probably insane.

            Even in societies where being violent was praised, women tended to not be “stand atop the piled heads of my enemies” that men were.

    • I understand. But, for example, she hated Kennedy (For good reason!) and he still became president. That’s all I’m saying: she wasn’t a power broker. Then again, given the time, I’m not sure that she could have been.

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