South Carolina Primary Wrap-Up

[Content Note: Racism; misogyny.]

image of Hillary Clinton standing and smiling with her hands clasped together, against a backdrop of a US flag and supporters holding 'Fighting for us' signs, to which I've added text reading: 'Machiavellian ice-harpy Hillary Clinton wins South Carolina; clasps hands in evil glee as she prepares to devour your soul.'
History's Greatest Monster.

Hillary Clinton resoundingly won the South Carolina primary on Saturday, beating Bernie Sanders by 47% and winning virtually every demographic. Maybe now we can stop with the "no one's enthusiastic for Clinton" narrative?

To note that Clinton won large majorities of black voters and women voters is important, because it resists the rhetorical disenfranchisement that's embedded in commentary like "millennials support Sanders" and the shit I saw some dude on CNN saying after the South Carolina primary: Clinton is better in bigger states and Sanders is better in smaller states. That is, ah, not the primary difference between, say, Vermont and South Carolina.

I have a real problem with voters who are disproportionately likely to be disenfranchised at the ballot box also having their support invisibilized in the public conversation about voting.

As @kerryreid observed on Twitter: "Saying 'nobody likes HRC' then looking at who's voting for her gives me an instructive glimpse into what some 'liberals' consider 'nobody.'"

Clinton gave a pretty good acceptance speech, highlighting love and kindness, a turn of phrase that has long meant something to Clinton: "We need more love and kindness in America. Our best years can be ahead of us if we stand with each other."

There was, however, also this mess: "Our country was built by people who had each other's backs. Who understood that, at our best, we all rise together." That's a terrible line, disappearing enslaved black people and indigenous people, much in the same way the ubiquitous "we're a nation of immigrants" does. I hope the Clinton team has heard the criticism and pushback on that line, and will remove it from future speeches. Or, better yet, rework it to acknowledge the history of oppression and pivot to saying that freedom of oppression should and will be built in future.

Lest anyone imagine that Clinton was able to win a decisive victory without being subjected to misogynist bullshit from the media, NBC's Chuck Todd helpfully offered: "Clinton now has new challenge if Super Tuesday looks like tonight: beating Sanders without alienating his supporters." Of course.

Remember, ladies: Winning hurts men's feelings. I hope Clinton's sensitive enough to make each Sanders supporter a sandwich.

By way of reminder, when Clinton eventually conceded to then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008, Obama was not expected by the media to do anything special to reach out to Clinton supporters. Instead, Clinton was expected to do everything she could to bring her supporters with her into his camp. Which she did, by immediately endorsing him and campaigning with him.

Sanders, for his part, tried to spin his crushing defeat by calling the contest a tie so far: "We won a decisive victory in New Hampshire. She won a decisive victory in South Carolina. Now it's on to Super Tuesday."

Except: The thing about Sanders implying it's a virtual tie is that it isn't. Clinton also won Iowa and Nevada. Plus she's got the vast majority of the superdelegates.

The "basically a tie" narrative upholds the pernicious dynamic in which women have to do twice as well as a man to be considered half as good.

So, yes: On to Super Tuesday. But, please, Senator Sanders, do not trade on misogynistic tropes. If a woman is thumping you, it ain't a tie.

That was, unfortunately, not the worst of Sanders' remarks. He immediately flew to Minnesota, one of the states with a primary tomorrow (Super Tuesday), where he told the crowd awaiting him: "There's no way we're going to lose Minnesota. I can see that. You are just too smart."

Zoinks. That is a remarkably shitty thing to say to a largely white crowd after just losing in a state with a significant black population who went overwhelmingly for your competitor.

The following day, he then tried to reframe it: It wasn't that he was saying black voters are too stupid to vote for him, but that southern black voters are too stupid to vote for him.
On This Week, Sanders telegraphed more Super Tuesday defeats among black voters in the day's southern primaries, but suggested black voters outside the region would be more likely to support him.

"I think you're going to see us doing — and I think the polls indicated it, much better within the African-American community outside of the Deep South," Sanders said. "You're going to see us much better in New York state where I think we have a shot to win, in California and in Michigan."

There is a lot to unpack in that statement, a ton just in the phrase "the African-American community outside of the Deep South." Shark Fu had the perfect one-sentence unpacking: "I mean, the Great Migration makes this pivot messy as hell."

I wonder if there is any point in this campaign at which Sanders' most bullying supporters will reconsider the wisdom of screaming down critics who said he needed intersectional analysis and more inclusive messaging.

Probably not.

Especially not when their candidate has given them the perfect scapegoat: Those darn "low-information" black voters in the Deep South who just aren't smart enough to appreciate his sophisticated campaign.

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