Bernie and the Women’s March Conference

Progressives and people of conscience need to be a united front against the insanity that took over the White House in 2016 and has been pervasive in the Republican Party since the advent of Gingrich.

That being said… we all know that is not how progressives/liberals work. We have to engage in endless arguments about the minutia of policy. Which makes our policies better. We don’t work in sound bites or tweets. It takes more than 140 characters just to name an issue much less define it. We have “marshals” at every turn reminding us who is included and who needs to be included. Hundreds of voices from thousands of experiences of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, ability, age… all seek and demand input. I’m proud of that. I am proud that is who we are and how we work. It is also the reason we are vulnerable to simplistic ideas expressed in short phrases. That, and the fact that the Right uses our diversity to divide us. Hell, we do that all by ourselves.

Which is why I hesitate to say anything at all about my argument with Bernie and the Women’s March. We desperately need to be a united front against the travesty of the Trump regime. We desperately need to unite to vote Tea Party Republicans out of office (the no compromise party that puts its extremist values above the well-being of the nation). We desperately need to humanize political discourse.

With apologies to those whom this does not apply, I find Bernie followers to be the worst. I don’t disagree with or deplore their ideas but I know in a democracy ideas are compromised both as part of our tradition of governing and of our legislative process. We cannot afford to mirror the Republican Party in some inauthentic search for purity. None of us is so elevated that we do not need to listen to one another.

Bernie supporters were hacked and played by Russia and many still believe the lies  circulated about Hillary. During the election, many of his supporters behaved like (and were) privileged, cis-gendered, white men. They demanded immediate change, not understanding that change is an ongoing process filtering through laws, family life, work relationships, religious life, community, and political life. Those without privilege could have informed the conversation were not that so many Bernie supporters absolutists. He dismissed women’s issues (e.g. Planned Parenthood) as unimportant and failed to understand the centrality of our issues to his economic and social agendas.

Right now I am angry because Bernie is the opening speaker at the Women’s Conference in Detroit. I’m sorry if you don’t understand. As a feminist of 40+ years I have seen this before. It is not about inclusiveness, it is about privilege. Invite all the men you want, I would welcome them, but let them come to  listen. Imagine a white person being the opening speaker at a Black Lives Matter conference. Could she or he speak as well to the issues as a person of color who has lived them? The choice is tone deaf. I will leave it there.

So now what? I don’t know the answer but let’s start the conversation. It is one thing to disagree, even vehemently, and quite another to dismiss and demean one another. We are ALL needed to turn this horror around. If you are angry that I am speaking my truth, be angrier still at those who are subverting democracy. If you are angry that I don’t trust Bernie, show me that you are trustworthy and don’t dismiss me because you don’t think my ideals are pure enough. If you get that women’s issues are human issues and that no political theory is valid without a substantial critique of issues that effect women then I will work with you. If you begin to listen to those of us outside your wheelhouse, I will work with you. Me and my feminist hoards will work with you.


4 thoughts on “Bernie and the Women’s March Conference

  1. I’m with you 100%. Inviting a man — especially an old white wealthy man, the very picture of privilege — to be the lead speaker at the Women’s Conference… it just boggles the mind. I would say he better show some humility, and some strong support for women and our causes, but I fear his record tells me what to expect on those counts.

  2. “Imagine a white person being the opening speaker at a Black Lives Matter conference. Could she or he speak as well to the issues as a person of color who has lived them? The choice is tone deaf.”


  3. From my position as an outside (Canadian) observer, I agreed with and admired a lot of Bernie’s positions (being about as far left as you’re allowed to get in US politics, while still not approaching much of what we Canadians take for granted). However, I agree with you about the entitled attitude of a lot of his supporters and their vitriol towards Hillary. Inviting him to be the keynote speaker for a Women’s Conference was beyond tone-deaf, just plain stupid — but the fact that he accepted the invitation makes me lose a lot of the respect I did have for him.

    Years ago when our local church congregation was debating over whether to allow women to serve as elders (which in our denomination is the highest position of lay leadership), my dad was asked to serve as an elder and said, “I couldn’t in good conscience take that position when there are so many more qualified women who could do it better but aren’t allowed to.” I think Bernie should have said, “I can only speak at this conference if there’s not a single qualified woman in the country who can do it.”

    The mind boggles.

  4. As a middle of the road white man I find the extremes of both major parties to be off-putting. This is a country of diverse interests and goals and that will be the downfall of the group that fails to acknowledge it by attempting to force everyone in one direction.
    Progressives can be just as scary as tea-party “alt-white- (sorry, I might have said -right) sheet-wearing-don’t-realize-that-it-is-after-Labor Day-reminds-me-of-“IT”-clowns.
    Plan a platform with some centrist allure.

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