Not All Sanders Supporters Are Bad — But They’re Sick

Paul Krugman - Sanders SupportersAchen and Bartels wrote an interesting article last week, Do Sanders Supporters Favor His Policies? It makes the point that political movements are not so much about ideals but about tribalism. It says that this is as true of the Clinton campaign as it is about the Sanders campaign. But it is also still as much of a hit job on Sanders as it can be while still seeming vaguely scholarly.

A good example of its bias is the contention that Sanders supporters are “disaffected white men.” It quoted a study that found that Sanders supporters were more pessimistic than Clinton supporters when it came to “opportunity in America today.” And they were less likely to think that concrete policy changes would improve things. I don’t really disagree with this, but it seems to me to be entirely the result of the youth and poverty of Sanders supporters. And certainly the quoted study did not control for these factors.

Paul Krugman was quick to jump on this article, The Truth About the Sanders Movement. (A title fitting of National Review!) Rather than summarize the article, he just quoted the most inflammatory section and then provided the Sanders ecosystem with “a short list based on my own encounters.” His own encounters! I’m sure he is basing this on all the food stamp recipients that he hangs out with. Or it could be just what he sees on Twitter. Either way, very illuminating!

He breaks Sanders supporters down into five groups. Not one of them includes me. What’s more, I think that not one of them includes 69% of Sanders supporters who say they will vote for Clinton in the general election (a larger percentage than Clinton supporters got in 2008). I think his list is actually the Sanders dead-enders or the “Bernie or Bust” types. They are:

  1. Genuine idealists;
  2. Romantics;
  3. Purists;
  4. Clinton Derangement Syndrome (CDS) folk;
  5. Salon des Refuses

The Romantics are just hedonists who love being part of a political movement. You know the type: the women dance on the grass and the men join the drum circle. The Salon des Refuses are policy intellectuals who feel marginalized. But every group is demonized. Of the “Genuine idealists,” Krugman says they “are ready to dismiss practical arguments about why all their dreams can’t be accomplished in a day.”

In the past, I’ve been angry while writing these articles about Krugman’s biases. But I actually find this amusing. Krugman has gotten to the point where he’s just silly. And the truth is, he is right that there are these kinds of people who support Sanders. In particular, there is more CDS than I would like.

But you could, of course, go through and pathologize Clinton supporters in the same way. Who cares? What’s interesting is what Krugman’s article unwittingly shows: his skewed view of Sanders supporters. It’s all about the “Bernie or Bust” crowd. It doesn’t even occur to Krugman that his analysis totally ignores the vast majority of Sanders supporters.

But I can be generous. Krugman is, like many intense Clinton supporters, concerned that Sanders supporters won’t vote for Clinton. But he doesn’t seem to know that 69% have already said they will. I actually feel sorry for Krugman that his faith in Clinton is so tenuous that he can’t see reality. Of late, Sanders is the main thing that Krugman writes about. Of his six most recent posts, one is his Friday evening music, two are about what a great guy Krugman is, and the remaining three are Sanders hit jobs.

If things were reversed, Krugman would be the worst kind of “Clinton or Bust” idiot.

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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.

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