Reading through the ongoing barrage of tweets that flow through Twitter brings about a fascinating, if bizarre observation -- how vitriolic the partisan supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have long-become. It's as if the candidates were polar opposites. I certainly understand high passions during a political campaign, when you believe so much is at stake and know only that one candidate can win. But a couple of oddities are mixed into the exchanges.
The first is that Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are not even remotely polar opposites. They don't agree on all issues, and sometimes completely disagree. But when they do disagree, most usually it's a matter of degrees (like that Sanders wants Single Payer health coverage, and Clinton wants a strengthened Affordable Care Act -- or he is for raising the hourly minimum wage to $15, while she wants to raise it to $12), not the overriding principle. And the larger reality is that they actually seem to agree in general on the majority of matters.
The second is that when sending blistering broadsides at their favorite candidate's opponent, there seems to be an blissful unawareness (or forgetfulness) that one of these two is going to get the nomination. So, to say that one of them is just negative and doesn't support America, and the other can't be trusted seems wildly counterproductive, especially given that it's a fair bet that both Clinton and Sanders supporters likely would be sickened by a Trump or Cruz presidency. I understand harshly criticizing your opponent, even within a party, But when your "anger" is fulled by your diehard support of one person, rather than the substance of the other, and when you';d probably be just fine supporting the other, if that's the choice, it seems wildly counter-productive
I read a comment, for instance, how it was "absurd" that one of these two (it doesn't matter which one here, since the concept can flip on a dime over another matter) didn't support what 58% of Americans on for a particular issue. Now, it might be short-sighted, or bad politics, or surprising...but when you support a position that 42% of people do, that is not actually "absurd." It's reasonably rational. It might even be noble and proper, depending on the issue.
Of course, it's not just the Twitterverse. On Monday, the outgoing progressive Susan Sarandon appeared on MSNBC and explained why so many Bernie Sanders supporters might not vote for Hillary Clinton in the face of Donald Trump, if those two were to become the party nominees -- and wouldn't herself commit to voting for Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump. “She’s accepted money from all those people," Ms. Sarandon said of Clinton's fundraising.. "She doesn’t even want to fight for a $15 minimum wage," Right, she only wants to increase it to slightly less. At the expense of seeing Donald Trump as president.
All in the Name of Impassioned Principle. The thing is, life is full of principles. And choices. And myopia. And results. Is the Principle who gives you money -- or how you govern? Is the Principle raising the hourly minimum wage to $15 or raising the minimum wage? (All the while keeping in mind that the cost of living varies significantly across all corners of the country, as does the current minimum wage. In some states, a $15 minimum wage is critical for that local economy. In others, it's irresponsible.) Indeed, for any issue, is it problematic to push for somewhat less and get it, or push for more and not. That's not a pejorative question -- sometimes you go for the unattainable to make it easier to get the next time. And sometimes you go for what is attainable in order to create a foundation on which to build even higher the next time. But the most important question is whether inflexibility on any issue worth a Donald Trump as Commander-in-Chief and leader of the free world? Especially when on most positions the two candidates are respectably close.
This antipathy bordering on hatred tends to be coming more from the most overly-fervent Sanders supporters, though it does exist in the far-edges of the Clinton partisans, as well. I suppose that's to be expected when you have one candidate with a more missionary appeal. But with a candidate who would be a "first-ever", that also brings with it its own zeal.
In the end, I completely understand why Bernie Sanders supporters perceive nobility in their candidate and love him in favor of Hillary Clinton. And I understand why supporters of Hillary Clinton love her career, achievements and qualifications over Bernie Sanders. I also understand whey they each have reasons they strongly disagree with the other candidate. It's all fair. But the two candidate really, actually are on the same side, no matter how much they have different ways on some issues for moving society forward. And hatred of the "horrific" is another matter entirely. You want absurd? That's absurd.
I wrote that among most Democrats, if not pretty much all, neither Bernie Sanders nor Hillary Clinton are really, truly horrific candidate that their opposing Democratic partisan supporters are painting in their frenzied passion. And if any of them thought that why I'm saying here is not true, I suggested that they simply look across the street and see Donald Trump and Ted Cruz -- who are, in fact, horrific. Actually horrific. So much so that the Republican Establishment and much of the moderate party supporters are going nuclear ballistic total freak-out over. That is horrific. And being able to step back, taking a breath, and having some perspective is A Good Thing.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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