Refusal to Accept Clinton as the Nominee is rooted in Misogyny and Racism

This Tuesday as six more states voted, Hillary Clinton made history as the first woman to ever win a major party nomination for president in the history of the United States. Although she has so clearly won by the tried and true method of getting more votes, there are still many democrats that do not believe she won fairly or is deserving of the nomination.

Before I go on, let me put in a mandatory #notallberniebros statement. The vast majority of Bernie Sanders supporters accept the election results. Bernie Sanders, his campaign, and his supporters made a serious and formidable opponent to Clinton and although he came in second, by running he was able to pull Clinton to the left on a handful of important policy positions, will have a say in the democratic party’s new platform, and showed that candidates that run to the left have a viable position with a lot of popular support behind it, something that could encourage future leftish candidates. His supporters might be disappointed that he won’t be our next president, but most understand that Clinton won legitimately. The vast majority of Sanders supporters will likely be supporting Clinton in the fall. These are not the Sanders supporters that I am talking about in this piece.

There is a subset of Sanders supporters who do not accept that the primary is over. They believe that Hillary Clinton stole the election from Sanders. They believe the election was unfair or fraudulent. They want to try to convince superdelegates to switch their vote to Sanders in order to give him the nomination over the wishes of the voters.

I don’t think anyone would disagree that the democratic primary process is convoluted and at times inequitable. A fairer system would have delegates assigned closer to the proportion of votes they actually got. In some cases this would benefit Clinton but in others it would benefit Sanders. A fairer system would allow for open primaries with less restrictions on who is allowed to vote. This would likely benefit Sanders since many of his supporters are not registered democrats. A fairer system would get rid of all caucuses, since less people are able to participate in caucuses due to their time commitment and other factors. Making caucus states primary election states would likely benefit Clinton. The fact is, even if we made the process more fair, Clinton would have still won. There is no “fairer” election in which Sanders would have won.

When people say that Clinton stole the election or that Sanders is the true winner, what they are really saying is that Sanders may not have had the most votes but he had the right kind of votes. This is a theme that has been running through the entire primary. Sanders supporters tell female Clinton supporters that they are only voting for Hillary because she’s a woman. They explain away the fact that black voters are voting for Clinton in droves as black voters just being ignorant when it comes to politics. It’s not surprising that now that Clinton has won the primary on the backs of woman and POC, those same people would loudly proclaim that Sanders is the true winner. They haven’t respected the votes of women and POC through the entire process, so why would they start now?

These same people who ask for a fairer election want to tip the election in favor of white male voters. They believe that Sanders’ voters, which are made up disproportionally of white men, should count for more than the votes of people who voted for Clinton. In a piece this week at The Daily Beast, Barret Holmes Pitner wrote about the white entitlement of Sanders supporters, saying that “the entitlement to believe that you should always win allowed them to overlook how the system in many ways has always been unjustly rigged in their favor because they’re white.” I couldn’t agree more. This is the same entitlement that allows the white, male Sanders voter to believe that his vote should count more than the votes of women and POC who he believes are voting only out of ignorance or identity politics. In his mind, only white men are “unbiased” when it comes to politics, so his vote should be considered more important. Hillary Clinton may have gotten more votes overall, but she lost the white male vote and that’s what really matters. Under that criteria, it makes sense that they would also believe that the superdelegates should override these votes at the convention and give the nomination to Sanders.

It’s time we face the fact that the ability of Sanders supporters to proclaim the whole system rigged because their candidate didn’t win is rooted in misogyny and racism and entitlement. Clinton won and she won legitimately. For all the privilege that white men have, having their votes weigh more isn’t one of them. They can’t win a presidential election on their own. If they could, Mitt Romney would have been our president for the last 3 years and Donald Trump will be our undisputed next president. White men may have oversized influence on US society but they represent only 35% of the electorate.

Luckily the vast majority of Sanders supporters do not fall in this camp. They recognize that Clinton won and they will be supporting her in the fall and helping to defeat Trump. Let’s hope that the subset of Sanders supporters who refuse to accept her nomination and will switch their support to Trump or sit out the election entirely is small. I know I am looking forward to electing the first woman president of the United States come November.

Featured Photo by Michael Vadon

Jamie Bernstein

Jamie Bernstein is a data, stats, policy and economics nerd who sometimes pretends she is a photographer. She is @uajamie on Twitter and Instagram. If you like my work here at Skepchick & Mad Art Lab, consider sending me a little sumthin' in my TipJar: @uajamie

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  1. This post does not maintain the standards of reasonable argument that I’ve come to accept from this site. No direct evidence is provided to support the two main claims (i.e. that any Sanders supporters refusal to accept Clinton as the nominee is rooted in either misogyny or racism). Without such evidence, which I would expect to see in the form of public statements from prominent Bernie supporters, the argument appears to be about a strawman.
    Beyond the lack of evidence, the argument appears to make use of inductive reasoning to rule out all motivations beyond misogyny and racism for the rejection of Clinton. But this avoids the main concerns about Clinton that I’ve heard expressed by most Bernie supporters I know – namely that she is a war-monger and a servant of Wall Street. These are concerns that are not based on misogyny or racism, but on her support for military actions in Iraq, Syria and particularly in Libya as well as her deep Wall Street connections.
    Further, the claim that Clinton would have won even if the process was more fair is full of presumption. It’s fair to estimate what the results of more open voting would have been, but it is much more problematic to dismiss the lack of fairness in the years-long approach of the party governance to this race.
    I enjoy reading this website for articles that are based on evidence and reason, and this one is very disappointing.

    1. I don’t know if I have a strong opinion, but I will say “Rooted in sexism” doesn’t mean “Unpaired with valid concerns”

      The main supporting idea is that the popular vote of the election driven mostly by women and minorities should be overturned for the sake of people who like Bernie more who are mostly white men. Mostly.

      And that’s given here. It’s not the strongest case in the world, but it’s not completely without merit as an interpretation of how this primary is different.

      1. I think I could easily make a good argument that the lack of support for Clinton among some Sanders supporters isn’t rooted in misogyny or racism, but that isn’t really the point. The major claims in this article are extremely harsh and damaging, and they should have been supported on logic and evidence even if this weren’t a purported outlet for skeptical thought.

        1. I can accept that. I’m a rank skeptic myself and love evidence and data, but there’s definitely something different about this year’s primary in tone.

    2. You can dislike Clinton as a candidate for policy reasons but these reasons have no bearing on whether or not legitimately won the nomination.

      I’m sure you agree with the article’s claims that:
      – Clinton won more votes as well as more delegates
      – A significant part of this is because she won overwhelmingly more votes among women and POC

      All the funny delegate math doesn’t change the fact that she won more votes so it seems that if you are claiming this was due to an unfair system then the burden of proof is on you to explain how this would have swung the nomination.

      1. I can agree that Clinton has won more votes and more delegates, but I don’t agree that is was because of an ‘overwhelming’ number of women and POC. She out performed Sanders 61% to 37% with women in the primaries, despite Sanders out performing her with young women. This is hardly a landslide, and the differences with POC voters are similarly overblown.
        The article admits that it was an unfair process, but purports to know what the result of a fair process would be. I’d say the burden of proof is on the author of the article.

        1. Actually, 61 percent is usually considered a landslide in national elections. Even more so when you point out that Waders carried a subset of that demographic. Clinton must really be killing it among all other women to get that percentage.

          1. Actually, 61 percent isn’t that significant for success within subgroups. It still means millions of people in those groups supported Sanders. It also pales to the split between Clinton and Sanders supports when you look at family incomes.

    3. Clinton’s hawkishness and possible subservience to Wall Street are reasons to dislike her, but not reasons to insist she didn’t really win the nomination. I mean, people who hate Donald Trump (with good reason) acknowledge that he won the Republican nomination, so why doesn’t Clinton get the same courtesy? Why the attempt to discount her majority of votes and of pledged delegates? It might not be racism. It might be classsism or some other irrational impulse, but there’s clearly something going on here.

        1. The system is rigged, the system is in need of extreme adjustment. But the candidate who got the most votes still won. I cannot see why a fair-minded person would reject her in favour of Sanders – someone who got far fewer votes.

          There’s a case to be made for rejecting Hillary on the basis of the flawed selection process. But not in favour of Sanders. If you want to reject Hillary’s de facto win then the only rational way to do it is to call for a brand new selection process that gives everyone an equal vote. Are people doing that, or is the complaint about the rigged system simply an excuse to undemocratically champion the person with fewer votes over the person with more?

          1. So everyone agrees that the system is rigged, but the results should be respected because Clinton would have won if it was fair? Do you see any possible bias in that assumption? I don’t see why her success in a rigged selection process is more important than polls suggesting Sanders would have a much better chance of actually winning the general election. It seems like the system selected the poorer candidate.

          2. Steve, It sounds like you are scrabbling around for any excuse to support a candidate who got fewer votes than his opponents. Far fewer votes.

            I don’t need to be told that the system is a poor one, I know it’s a poor one. But the reason it’s poor is because people’s votes don’t count in the same way across the board, not because it failed to return the candidate you prefer.

          3. How is the nomination selection processed rigged and specifically how is the current voting unequal? There is nothing really inherently unfair with Super Delegates (SD) despite the perception that they are somehow secretly conspiring in a backroom somewhere to pick the candidate you don’t like. They are just like every other delegate with one vote a person and assigned to a state. In some cases, their notoriety or influence may be valuable in an endorsement but they still only have one vote. There are about 712 SDs made up of current and former elected Dem officials such as Presidents, Governors, Senators and Reps along with DNC officials comprising about 15% of the total number of DEM delegates. That is significant enough percentage to be a powerful voting bloc but even in this close primary race between Clinton and Sanders they wouldn’t have changed the outcome. Without SDs, Clinton is 179 delegates short of the nomination, Sanders is 554 delegates short. It’s not really valid to say that Bernie lost because of the “rigged” SD element of the nomination process given that Hillary captured nearly 57% of all votes cast while garnering over 3.7 million more votes.

          4. Fair point, “rigged” was the wrong word. But it’s unfair in that not every person’s vote counts in the same way, depending on the state they’re from.

          5. Madeleine, it sounds like you are scrabbling around for any excuse to support a candidate who is more unpopular with the general electorate. Much more unpopular.

          6. Not really. There are three rational solutions:

            1) Accept Hillary as the nominee because under the rules, she won.
            2) Accept Hillary because under the “one person one vote” system she would have won.
            3) Accept nobody, because the system that chose Hillary was flawed. Rerun the choosing, and select whoever is chosen in the new fairer way.

            I’m not really fussed which one gets done.

            There is one irrational solution: Accept Sanders as the nominee because… because…. Nope. There’s nothing. “More unpopular with the general electorate” is not how either party have ever chosen anyone. If the nomination process was open to the general electorate it would effectively be an election. Which is going to happen in November AFAIK. The way it works is this: the Democrats choose who will be the Democrat candidate and the Republicans choose who will be the Republican candidate. (That one’s gone a bit pear-shaped too.)

            Consider a time trial. The first cyclist takes an hour. The second cyclist is still going after an hour and five minutes, before an overexcited spectator gets in her way and causes her to fall. She gets back on and finishes in 1h20. She could claim that the race was unfair – it was – but at best she could demand a re-run. She cannot claim to be the winner simply because the race was unfair.

            Sanders can ask for the choosing to be re-done. That would be sore-loosership but not fundamentally dishonest. But he cannot claim to be the winner because he’s not. Do you understand that? He lost, and he wouldn’t have won unless the system was even dodgier than it is now.

    4. Oh, and I love how you limit your standard of evidence to “statements from prominent Bernie supporters.” I guess the people who leave condescending comments on the internet don’t exist.

      1. That is an example. If these people exist, and you write a long article about them, you better put some of that in so readers can see what you are basing things on. Skeptics will want you to show your work.

    5. Thank you. I might expect this kind of op-Ed clickbait from some mainstream site that doesn’t vet its sources but this whole piece is rife with unsubstantiated conjecture and condescending bias.

      This makes me sad! ?

      1. Yes, opinions MUST have sources.

        Bernie lost early because of lack of name recognition plain and simple. More debates would have helped but probably not enough.

        Holding your breath until the meanies change their minds will not get you what you want, neither will threats of electing a tyrant. It didn’t work for the PUMAs in 2008, it won’t work now.

        Move on, work to elect down ballot candidates that support your cause and keep working in coming elections. It is what Sanders will do and it is what you need to do instead of huffing about somebody’s opinion. Somebody who specifically said she was not talking about most Bernie supporters I might add.

        Have a bit of a complex, do you?

  2. I don’t think the mechanical problems with the primary process (confusing rules, caucuses, excessive registration requirements, etc) systemically disadvantaged Sanders.

    I do think that the DNC made it seem like they were trying to bias the process in favor of Clinton, with their scheduling of debates at least. I think that was unnecessary and counterproductive.

    There’s a conflict between what voters consider the function of the Democratic party to be and what party elites think their function is. I think most voters think that they should decide who the party’s nominee is from a level playing field of candidates. The DNC appears to think that its job was to choose the best candidate beforehand and help that candidate get nominated.

  3. An additional factor in the denial among fringe Sanders supporters I know (including some who are not-male, not-white, or both) is that they’ve discovered all of the anti-Clinton conspiracy theories right-wing commentators have been spreading since the 90s. Of course, those are partially rooted in sexism themselves (because come on, what has Rush Limbaugh ever said that wasn’t?), but they’re also rooted in old, toxic, far-right memes about Democrats being corrupt and hating America, which I used to believe were restricted only to a certain fringe of Republicans. It’s incredibly frustrating to see the public face of my preferred candidate increasingly being conspiracy theorists.

    1. I’ve definitely been frustrated to see the right-wing conspiracy theories being adopted by some Sanders supporters. Not only is it toxic misogynistic bullshit, but it takes away from the real criticisms about Hillary Clinton and her policy positions. We need to be having those conversations instead.

  4. What a load of rubbish. This is little more than unsubstantiated, gutter smear tactics. Choosing not to vote for the corrupt, establishment, neoliberal Clinton does not imply racism or misogyny. It’s EXACTLY claims like this that will alienate Sanders supporters even more…

      1. The refusal of anyone to accept Clinton as the nominee has not been shown to be rooted in misogyny or racism by your work. If this was not intended to smear those who still hold to the faint hope for Sanders, what was the purpose?
        You admit the process was unfair, you must know the process doesn’t end until the convention, yet you seem to want people to agree with your evidence-free assertion that the holdouts are motivated by irrational fear. It is your motives that I find suspect.

        1. Again, I’ve written nothing about “irrational fear” or basically anything else you assert here. Are you conflating my piece with something you’ve read somewhere else? Or perhaps just reading into it what you want it to be about?

          1. Are you now suggesting that racism and misogyny are rational? Are you suggesting that you pointed to any evidence at all to support the central claims of your post? I know a lot of Sanders supporters who are happy that he hasn’t conceded yet, and I don’t see any evidence at all that they are motivated by the things you suggest are common. Mostly, they are hopefull that he can still drag the party into more progressive positions.

  5. We’ve certainly seen enough appalling sexism to justify plenty of attention. But ‘racism?’ Is Bernie magically Whiter Than Clinton?

    Is there any way to tease apart the gender-based hostility towards Clinton from the generic death-wish of pseudo-progressives? We’ve seen elections all over the world thrown to the benefit of dictators and reactionaries by ‘leftist’ splintering and back-stabbing.

    Deukmeijian would note have been Governor of California without a Vanguard Party in SF hijacking the Peace and Freedom Party vote. (See, I managed not to put Hitler first!) The Nader effect in 2000…

    1. Though I do believe there has been sexism aimed at Clinton, that’s not what I wrote about here. I also did not say nor mean to imply that somehow Clinton is getting racist resistance.

      What I’m referring to here is the way the voters of their respective candidates are treated. The fact that Clinton has won overwhelming support from the black community in particular has been explained away using racist reasoning by the same people who now refuse to accept that she won with a coalition that included many black voters. This piece in the NYT was influencial towards my thinking on this matter: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/11/opinion/campaign-stops/stop-bernie-splaining-to-black-voters.html

      Does that make what I was saying make a little more sense? Sorry if it wasn’t clearer.

      1. Over on the Great Orange Satan, the Clinton supporters are still whining about Hillary losing in 2008. They’ll do it in couched terms, of course. Like “Finally! After eight years!”

  6. …or it might have something to do with the millions of excessively narcissistic Clinton supporters. Like the ones who sent Facebook groups of Sanders supporters child porn. Yeah, you lost the moral high ground with that one. I was ready to vote for her…until that.

    1. If you judge a candidate according to what some random supporter does on the internet, how do you manage to vote for anyone ever? After all, some Sanders supporters sent death threats, so by this standard he’s clearly out as well.

      1. I have an ulterior motive. One of Trump’s Supreme Court picks is Allison Eid. Her husband was the first federal prosecutor to talk about overturning Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe. (tl;dr: It left a jurisdictional vacuum wrt: crimes committed by whites against Indians on reservations.)

        It’s actually kind of funny that way, regarding different political stripes’ attitudes toward Indians:

        Left: Doesn’t understand what ‘indigenous’ means (See my comment to John the Drunkard.), sometimes too much Sandanista apologism for my tastes, but generally okay.
        Right: Okay, a lot worse. Like, a lot worse. Reagan thought we were all rich from oil. And of course, they gave us Rios.
        Center: In the time it would take to express my rage toward centrists wrt: Indian policy, a thousand universes would be born and die.

  7. “When people say that Clinton stole the election or that Sanders is the true winner, what they are really saying is that Sanders may not have had the most votes but he had the right kind of votes. ” — Absolute and utter nonsense.

    The process itself does leave a lot to be desired, it’s true. But the REAL problem, the part that most if not all Bernie supporters, including this 68-year old feminist who has worked against racism and all other bigotries my entire life, is best described as a problem whereby Bernie didn’t get enough votes to make up for the flipped voter registrations, or the purged voters, or the lost votes due to the inability to vote because of closed polling places, or to overcome oddly consistent coin tosses, or to overcome arbitrary rule changes that favor the other candidate that were made in an undemocratic manner, or to overcome the suspected vote flipping that seems probably due to huge disparities in exit polling and results, or to overcome the feeling of uselessness in voting when a media outlet calls a primary race based on polling and secrecy.

    There’s an enormous amount of information out there, but here’s just one example: https://goo.gl/z60t3V and here’s a 2+ hour video, should anyone have enough integrity to carve out that amount of time for the sake of intellectual honesty: https://goo.gl/5cXaik AND, should anyone be hit with anything resembling journalistic curiosity, I’d recommend a nifty tool — you might have heard of it — called google. There’s a mountain of very solid information out there.

  8. “When people say that Clinton stole the election or that Sanders is the true winner, what they are really saying is that Sanders may not have had the most votes but he had the right kind of votes.”

    This is not at all what we are saying. What we are saying is that more people voted for Bernie Sanders, because there is overwhelming evidence to support that claim. You want evidence? Look ANYWHERE on the internet.

    Start with http://hubpages.com/politics/California-Landslide-Possible-for-Sanders-After-All-Votes-Counted-Election-Activists-Sue-Media-for-Fraud-Complicity

    and https://soapboxie.com/us-politics/Cheating-Hillary-Has-Not-Won-More-Votes-No-One-Has-an-Obligation-to-Support-Her

    and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ka6SnkbuUPI

    1. Yeah, well, you know how it is. After all, Bill and Hill were big names in the civil rights era. For the other side. (Bill supported Fullbright, a signatory to the Southern Manifesto. Hill supported Goldwater. Oh, and their first date was actually crossing a picket line.)

      It’s not that she’s a woman. It’s that she’s a Very Serious Person.

  9. You really should use more care when you throw around the terms racism and misogny. From the beginning of the election we the democratic electorate were told that Hillary was anointed one. Hillary had 450 super delegates. There is no way that Bernie could win.
    Many of us were annoyed at the barriers that were thrust upon independents to vote in the Democratic primary. Polls after poll has come out and said BERNIE DOES BETTER IN THE GENERAL ELECTION AGAINST TRUMP. Remember in 2008 Hillary courted Republicans to vote in the Democratic primary when she knew she couldn’t beat Obama. I guess it wasn’t misogny or racism when Hillary does the same tactics.
    Many of us have LEFT THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY JUST BECAUSE OF THE CORRUPTION WE SEE IN Democratic Party. In Cuyahoga County county officials, all Democrats, were convicted of federal corruption charges. We see Hillary as a continuation of corruption inside the Democratic party. People will continue to leave the democratic party unless they field HONEST candidates who do not flip flop on every issue.

  10. If it is rooted in misogyny, why are so many turning to Jill Stein? This isn’t about gender or race. This is about a candidate that does not deserve to be president.

    This is about a candidate who used every dirty trick to lie, cheat, and steal the nomination. A candidate who does not support the people, who will put herself and her wealthy donors first. She won because mass media kept Sanders out, made him look like a fringe candidate. Those who get their information from corporate media likely didn’t even know who he was for months, too late to register as a Democrat for the primaries.

    This is about a candidate who puts corporations ahead of people, with her proven positions on fracking, the TPP, Saudi Arabia, the bailout, corporate donations, atc.

    I’m looking forward to electing the first woman president too. I just hope it’s Jill Stein.

    1. Define “so many”? Stein is still polling in the low single digits, and is only getting 5% in the most liberal states. Gary Johnson seems to be the third-party candidate getting the most support.

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