I'm feeling depressed about the negativity between the Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton campaigns. I like both candidates very much, and I think they are both important positive influences for the future of this country. I assume that Hillary Clinton will be the nominee (after all, Nate Silver says so, and he's usually right), and I will support her as enthusiastically as I supported Barack Obama in the last two elections. I also think that Bernie Sanders is making a great positive difference in American politics with his surprisingly successful campaign, and I don't see why I can't celebrate both Hillary and Bernie at the same time.
Unfortunately, the candidates and many of their spokespeople and followers don't see it that way. At least not today in New York State, where the April 19 primary is up for grabs. Tensions between the camps are high, and the level of insult and mutual dislike is getting too ugly for my tastes.
I went to a great Bernie Sanders rally in the South Bronx on Thursday, along with my younger daughter and niece (both college students, and both lately feeling the Bern). It was an inspiring event, particularly because of the nice friendly springtime vibe at St. Mary's Park. We heard from Rosario Dawson, Spike Lee and Residente (of Calle 13) before Bernie took the stage, and there was a heavy focus on Puerto Rican politics. I heard for the first time about the resentments and controversy relating to the damages done by a USA military base at Vieques, an island off the coast of Puerto Rico. And I got to see the glowing visage and hear the dulcet tones (he was actually rather raspy, as he'd already done an earlier rally the same day in Pittsburgh) of the man from Brooklyn and Vermont who has inspired so many people this campaign season.
It was a great event, but I was disappointed that so much of the shared anger and emotion at this rally was directed at Hillary Clinton. Rosario Dawson's speech was particularly directed against an "enemy" I have no wish to fight against, and this was to me the least inspiring aspect of an otherwise happy event.
I began to feel better when I considered that in my refusal to take sides between Clinton and Sanders I am being true to my pacifist beliefs. One of the main reasons I want either Democrat to win is that all three Republicans remaining in the GOP race are absolutely awful on foreign policy. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump and John Kasich are awful on healthcare policy too, and on climate change, and women's rights, and taxation ... and along with all of these warped messages, it does seem clear that all three candidates would return us to to Bush-era "show of force" politics around the world. They would probably roll the clock back on Cuba, be no help at all in North Korea, and get us into a new war in Iran. No thanks.
But I'm also being true to pacifist beliefs by supporting both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in a different way, because I am choosing to "rise above" a low-level dispute and try to find greater harmony above. A pacifist often has to simply ignore a fight that's not worth fighting, and when challenged to explain a seemingly paradoxical position, a pacifist may be forced to simply shrug, as I finally did after I returned from the South Bronx rally and a few friends asked me to clarify where I stand. I answered with this tweet.
Sometimes a pacifist feels like a walking paradox, and this is okay. We may as well get used to it, because we're going to have to ignore a lot of little battles to help us win the big ones. Go Bernie and Hillary in 2016!
Super-well said. This is really the first full-on social media election — certainly the first with a non-incumbent — and even though I like Bernie A LOT — the shit I see every frickin day from Berners SO repulses me that I just can't count myself among their number. I don't have that hatred in my heart ... period — but especially for any Democrat. Joe Lieberman is probably the Democrat I've "hated" the most in my lifetime — but my worst feelings towards him wouldn't hold a candle to what I see (and try to avoid) every single day online.
So, thanks for proving by your existence (and writing) that people like you and I exist. I'll be voting in the New York primary — and look forward to enthusiastically campaigning for the Democratic nominee from the convention through election day.
You might say I've gone too far here but, equally unpopular as appreciating both Bernie and Hillary (though I loathe #feelthebern); I'm a Red Sox and Yankees and Mets fan.
The more rabidly people despise Hillary in their Bernie support, the weirder it will seem to switch gears and be 100% Hillary if gets the nomination. (Or vice-versa.)
So much rigidity, so much rage.