Keep Your Trickle-Down White Male Socialist Revolution

[Content Note: Sexual harassment; white male privilege.]

I don't really know what else to say about the allegations of former Bernie Sanders campaign staffers, regarding sexual harassment and gender-based pay disparities, while working on his campaign, other than that I wish the mainstream media had vetted Bernie back in 2016.

It looks like that's finally being done, so, better late than never I suppose. (Related recommended reading: Aphra Behn's Looking for Bernie series, here at Shakesville).

The central message of Bernie's 2016 campaign was about ushering in a political revolution for ordinary people, a revolution that put economic issues at the forefront, certainly ahead of so-called identity politics.

Since then, the #MeToo movement has reiterated the reality that sexual harassment is a labor issue that disproportionately burdens women and our economic livelihoods.  Simply put, rape culture rigs systems of economic and political power against women.

So, how was it that Bernie Sanders, champion of the ordinary worker, had by his own admission "inadequate" procedures to deal with sexual harassment for the many ordinary people working on his presidential campaign?

Could it have been that Bernie seemed to think that the outcome — the revolution — could trump process; that is, how the revolution was won?

Now, some folks are waiving away these allegations by saying that women are harassed on all campaigns, but that strikes me as an argument to hold our leaders more accountable, not less. I would think the standards would be especially high for a politician, like Bernie, who consistently frames himself as not residing in the same swamp as the rest of America's political class.

Regarding the allegations, Bernie initially said he was "a little busy" running for president to have known about them or a $30,000 discrimination lawsuit payout during his campaign. He has since given a longer apology, but his initial reaction doesn't inspire confidence that he understands the cultural zeitgeist right now or the actual gravity of the problem, especially since some of us remember that he did make time during his 2016 campaign to jet to Rome to meet the Pope, which has to be *chef kiss* something close to peak patriarchy.

Particularly since that bird landed on his podium, many Americans saw Bernie's run as almost divinely ordained. They took it for granted that he was, quite simply, a better human being than his opponent, with voters having consistently perceived him as more honest and trustworthy — virtuous some might say — than Hillary Clinton.

And yet, why?

These assumptions about Bernie's virtue were not widely interrogated by many in the mainstream media who harped on Hillary's likability, transparency, and accountability "problems," many of which they manufactured while posing as objective just-telling-it-like-it-is umpires, while acting awestruck by, and gleeful about, Bernie's "insurgent" campaign that threatened to overtake Hillary's.

A good rule to examine a movement by is, to quote Melissa, ask whether the revolution "implicitly and explicitly include[s] a rejection of misogyny and other intersectional marginalizations. Because if it doesn't, "then you're not staging a revolution: You're staging a change in management."

Jeff Weaver, Bernie's campaign manager, has admitted, “Was [the Bernie 2016 campaign] too male? Yes. Was it too white? Yes."

That about sums it up.

The Bernie revolution simply wasn't designed for women and/or people of color, not specifically or with our meaningful engagement. The thought process largely seemed to be that the white men who disproportionately held the top, highest-paid positions would lead the revolution, which was defined as "Bernie winning." Then, Bernie would generically fix our economic system and the benefits would trickle down onto women and people of color, and boom, the specific problems that women and people of color disproportionately experience would consequently be resolved.

It is such a nice coincidence that keeping white men front and center also aligns with fixing everyone else's problems!

Much of this revolution was magical thinking, but it was precisely what a lot of white people, and cishet white men in particular, wanted to hear. I think that's also a big part of why Bernie got an accountability pass and almost no mainstream vetting in 2016. He was left untouched because he could fulfill the role of the one virtuous candidate in the race, which could be used as a narrative against the woman.

I don't say any of this to gloat. It's true I'm not a fan of Bernie Sanders. I remember precisely when I began disliking him and it was the moment he called his female opponent, Hillary Clinton, "unqualified"  as though she were a generic political candidate, rather than the most qualified presidential candidate in recent history who was nonetheless facing barriers that he, as a white man, has never encountered in his political life.

And, the more I learned about him and listened to him, the more I came to dislike him.

I resent him, now. I resent that he stayed in the 2016 primary for far too long, certainly after it was clear that he had lost. I resent his crusty, one-note stump speech, and I don't want to hear it for two more years — not when we've just had relatively successful 2018 midterm elections with dynamic, new energy. I resent that he never shut down the narrative that the woman only won by cheating. I resent that a lot of his momentum was, simply, because he wasn't the woman.

But, I'm mostly just tired.

I want progressive men to give a fuck about sexual harassment and identity-based pay disparities even if they don't get anything out of it, like say, a second chance to run for president, be a comic, write for TV, or all the other things men get to do more than women because our shit-hole rape culture simply stops mourning the collective loss of women's potential when men abuse them out of the public sphere.

It should have been self-evident to a 70-something white male socialist who was granted, and took, the mantle of America's one true progressive leader that not having effective sexual harassment procedures, and having a "too white" and "too male" campaign, were major problems in 2016.

That he is appearing to somewhat-comprehend this only now, while gearing up for a presidential campaign that he never truly abandoned mostly tells me that Bernie Sanders is simply not the future of the Democratic Party.

Not now, not ever.

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