By Julianne Malveaux (NNPA News Wire Columnist)
For all their dueling ideologies, Senator Bernie Sanders and “presumptive Republican nominee” Donald Trump are two sides of the same coin. Both of them are angry, so intensely so, that they are inciting a destructive anger among their followers. When Republicans brawled and pushed and shoved at Trump rallies, I never anticipated the flip side – the fisticuffs and rhetoric at the Nevada state Democratic convention, the likes of which might have put Trump terrorists to shame. Both the Chump Trumps and the Burning Bernies are being led by whining, angry, entitled White men, separated by ideology, but joined by both outrage and naiveté.
I don’t think either Bernie or “Duh” Donald planned to get as far along in the presidential process as they have so far. Senator Sanders proudly carries the redistributionist flag with rousing rhetoric about social and economic justice. His agenda seems to have been to raise these issues aggressively and he did. His presence in the campaign pushed Hillary hard to the left and made her engage with constituencies she might otherwise have ignored. For all his success, I don’t think Sanders expected to have more than 1500 delegates to his credit. And now that he has them he doesn’t know what to do with them. Both he and “Duh” Donald are publicly floundering, signaling that they never had a winning, or graceful losing, plan.
Secretary Clinton and her followers shouldn’t be so hard on Bernie, though. While they should not demand that he get out of the race, he is well advised to tone is rhetoric down. I sat with women at the 2008 campaign who sobbed their way through then-Senator Clinton’s concession speech and appeal for party unity. I debated a PUMA (Party Unity My “Hind Parts”) activist who swore she would not support nominee Obama. In 2008, Hillary devotees were as passionate as Bernie devotees are now. The kumbayaa moment comes in July in Philly, not just yet. It reflects poorly on the Hillary camp to dismiss or ignore those who are passionate about Senator Sanders.
At the same time, it is important to note that extreme anger is a unique privilege of White men. Imagine then-nominee Obama raging at Hillary in the way that Bernie has. His temperament would have been sliced and diced and parsed and inspected and he would have been so damaged by the conversation that it might have affected his electoral results. If Secretary Clinton ever managed to get her voice to Bernie’s decibel, if she every managed to project such rage, she’d be written off as a crazy lady and peripheralized. But when the angry, White men yell and scream and whine and lie, they are celebrated not condemned. That sounds like a double standard to me.
Both Bernie and “Duh” Donald are whining about rules they say are rigged against them, but the rules may have favored them. Donald Trump has garnered a greater percentage of delegates than votes because of the way some states have chosen to award delegates. He wants more, but he failed to invest as much time learning the rules as some of his competitors did. Senator Sanders says he should have more delegates, but if he had to play under republican rules, he’d have fewer. Democrats are more likely to award delegates on a proportional basis, which means that a close race might give each candidate nearly the same amount of delegates. Sanders has no standing to call the system rigged. He has kept his distance from the Democratic Party for most of his career, never participating in the rules process. If he wanted to write his own rules, he should have run for President as an independent.
Sanders and Trump have positioned themselves as outsiders, but they want insiders to roll out the red carpet for them, because they jumped into a game they haven’t mastered. They haven’t worked at establishing a foundation, but they are demanding the keys to the house. They aren’t wiling to put the work into reforming our flawed, two-party system. Instead, they are finding unfairness when none is there, whining when work might make a difference, and leveraging their angry, White maleness into voter approval.
Julianne Malveaux is an author and economist based is Washington, D.C. Her latest book, “Are We Better Off? Race, Obama and Public Policy is available via amazon.com and juliannemalveaux.com.