News from Netroots Nation

[Content Note: Racism; war on agency.]

So, this weekend at the Netroots Nation conference, a couple of interesting things happened.

1. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton didn't attend.

2. Senator Elizabeth Warren delivered a keynote speech in which she "detail[ed] all of the ways that progressive values are mainstream American values" but failed to include a single mention of reproductive health and rights, prompting a critical letter from reproductive activists at the Reproaction Blog.

I don't know how many different ways we can tell these politicians that abortion is an economic issue. Controlling our reproduction—having access to contraception, having access to abortion, having the access to reproductive healthcare, having access to the institutional resources needed to support parenting healthy children—is the most important economic issue for many (if not most) women. (And for lots of men, too, even though cis men only tend to talk about it when they are expected to father a child they helped create but don't want.)

If you fancy yourself a progressive economic populist, but you don't talk about reproductive health and rights, you aren't a very good progressive economic populist. Since you're ignoring a major issue right in the heart of economics for half the population.

I deeply admire and respect Senator Warren, but this is absurd. It really is.

3. Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley "stumbled" (as I have seen it routinely and charitably described) when a panel was interrupted by #BlackLivesMatter activists who want race centered in this campaign. O'Malley said, "Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter." Oof. Sanders got testy, as he has a wont to do:
After Gov. O'Malley left the stage, Senator Sanders came out. He, too, was shouted down and interrupted repeatedly. Unlike Gov. O'Malley who allowed the protesters to be heard, Sanders was visibly irritated, saying things like, "If you don't want me here, I will leave." He even shushed them at one point.

At times he plunged on, talking over the protesters as if they weren't there. While he is largely a supporter of civil rights and is, in general, right on the issues of the Black Lives Matter movement, he came across as a self-important know-it-all who has better things to do than to listen to uppity black kids who are disrupting HIS speech. In the end, he took off his microphone and left the stage without as much as a wave to the audience.
Suddenly a lot of progressives are discovering that Bernie Sanders has the same sort of, uh, "diplomacy problem" for which we (rightly) criticize Chris Christie. It turns out that some of us have raised that concern about Sanders for reasons other than being stupid bitchcunts in the bag for Clinton. Huh!


As you may recall, Clinton said "All lives matter" at an event in Ferguson last month, and was roundly criticized for it, and rightfully so.

I wrote when she announced her candidacy that she's not confident or comfortable talking about racial issues, and she's done better this time around, but the aforementioned is a perfect example of that, and of her evident failure to understand the specific context and need of #BlackLivesMatter.

It's my opinion that it's crucial to call that shit out, whether you intend to vote for Clinton or anyone else, or whether you even have a likely chance of voting in a Democratic primary.

Luckily, lots of people did call her out. (And, yes, I'm aware that there were lots of white people calling it out just to shame Clinton and not because they actually give a shit about racial justice.)

The fact that Sanders and O'Malley just did the same goddamn thing, O'Malley even using the same criticized phrasing, means they're not even paying attention to what's happening with Clinton's campaign and what her critics are saying.

You know. The people who ostensibly might want to support one of them.

But people with principled critiques of Clinton's failures around race tend to be women and specifically women of color and most specifically black women, who are the most important Democratic voter bloc in presidential elections.

And Sanders and O'Malley aren't paying a damn bit of attention to us, even when we're criticizing Clinton, and thus are Sanders and O'Malley replicating the same harm.

That's not just a failure of basic decency; it's a failure of competent and effective politics.

And that should concern everyone, especially their supporters.

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