the stink of sanctimony

Ever since the U.S. accidentally shit its collective pants on election day, I’ve been seeing a lot of articles that are basically variations on a theme: longtime Democrats who decided to vote for Trump. At first I thought these articles were interesting. Then they became annoying. Now I’m just sick of seeing them.

Politico published one a couple of days ago. It’s entitled It Was My Primal Scream. And like so many of these articles, there’s a ridiculous subtitle. In this case: A lifelong progressive was so disgusted with her party, she voted for Trump. Will Democrats care enough to win her back? The article is grounded in the experience of one woman, Kim McKinney Cohen. She’s a long-standing Democrat, whose grievances against the Democratic Party pretty much echo my own:

She was incensed in May 2007 when Democrats caved to GOP demands to continue funding the war with no deadline to withdraw troops.

She was mad at Democrats for backing Bush tax cuts and bailing out rich bankers while struggling people lost their homes.

She didn’t like the way Clinton, when her husband first ran for president in 1992 and later, as first lady, handled her adulterous husband’s “bimbo eruptions.”

I could add a few lot more complaints against the Democratic Party and the folks who represent it, but who has time for all that? The point is Ms. Cohen, like a LOT of us, looked at the candidates offered by the Democratic Party — both of them — and came to the same basic conclusion: I’m for this Bernie Sanders guy.

[S]he believed Sanders could repair economic inequality, curb corporate greed and weed out special interests in Washington.

I have to admit, I never really believed Bernie could do all that. I mean, Bernie is a great guy, but he’s not Dick Bong–Ace of Aces (and by the way, if you’ve never read Harlan Ellison’s short story Repent, Harlequin, Said the Ticktockman, do yourself a favor — track it down and read it). The reality is there was simply no possible way Bernie Sanders could do all the things he said he wanted to do. But most of us felt he would try to do them. And that was enough; that in itself was exciting.

When it became clear Bernie wasn’t going to be the candidate, I (reluctantly at first, then enthusiastically) supported Hillary Clinton. This is where Ms. Cohen and I part company.

When Hillary Clinton said dismissively supporters of Donald Trump were “a basket of deplorables,” Cohen had heard enough.

“Well, then,” she sighed, “I guess I’m a deplorable.”

And she voted for Trump. She deliberately, knowingly, willfully filled out a presidential ballot selecting Donald J. Trump to be the President of These United States. She was offended by Hillary’s description of some Trump supporters as ‘deplorable’ so she voted for the guy who said Carly Fiorina was too homely to be president, who mocked a disabled reporter, who insulted the parents of a Muslim serviceman who died in the line of duty. What the fuck was she thinking?

When it came down to it, she was angrier at her own party’s leaders than she was appalled by a man who cozied up to white nationalist and anti-Semitic groups. She wanted to throw it back in the face of her party.

“It was my primal scream,” Cohen says. “I wasn’t gonna take it anymore.”

She didn’t like or trust Hillary, fine. Did she like and trust Trump? I’m guessing not, but she decided to vote Trump because she was angry at the DNC. Okay, we’ve all done stupid things when we were angry, right? Stupid, self-destructive, counter-productive things. And afterwards, we’ve all tried to justify our idiotic behavior. Or, if possible, shift the blame our behavior onto somebody else. Which is exactly what Ms. Cohen does.

Cohen doesn’t regret her radical act of defiance. She feels that by helping take the Democrats to rock bottom, they’ve been ‘given a gift’ to rebuild their party. “I wanted it burned down … so that we could build a new, hopefully more equitable one that meets the needs of all, not only the super-rich.”

A gift. A fucking gift. You see, it’s not her fault Trump got elected. It’s the fault of the Democratic Party for not nominating her preferred candidate. If she can’t have the president she wants, then she’ll vote the worst possible president. That’ll show the Democratic Party. And besides, she’s actually done them a favor, if you think about it. She’s given them a gift — a chance to rebuild the party, to start over after Trump has gutted every less-than-perfect Democratic policy. She’s provided the Democrats with the opportunity to remake their party to her specifications. And if they don’t? Who knows, maybe she’ll vote Trump again.

I loathe the smell of burning self-martyr. Worse, though, is the stink of sanctimony from pillocks who’ll piss in the soup tureen if they think you should have used Tellicherry pepper in the chowder instead of Malabar. That whole “You’re doing it wrong — tear it down and start over, and do it right this time. You’ll thank me for it” thing.

I will most certainly NOT thank you for helping elect Trump because you wanted to punish the Democratic Party for failing to nominate Bernie Sanders. I will curse you for being a self-righteous, self-absorbed fuckwit who would sacrifice the well-being of the tens of thousands of marginalized citizens — people who will suffer real and lasting harm because you indulged yourself in a primal scream. Jeebus Vaseline, you have fucked over a lot of people just to gratify your personal outrage.

And that brings me back to the subtitle of the Politico article:

A lifelong progressive was so disgusted with her party, she voted for Trump. Will Democrats care enough to win her back?

Win her back? No, thank you. There’s already a political party that serves citizens who make rage-based stupid decisions. There’s already a party grounded in temper tantrums. Ms. Cohen chose that party when she voted for Trump. So no, I’ve no desire to see the Democratic Party try to win her back.

Don’t get me wrong. The Democratic Party has consistently disappointed progressives. I don’t like it; it pisses me off. But I understand why it happens. Republicans, for the last twenty years or so, have played to the extreme members of their base  Democrats, on the other hand, have attempted to appeal to a wide swath of the populace. That means progressives rarely get exactly what we want.

And here’s the thing: we shouldn’t get exactly what we want. Nor should mainstream Democrats or conservative Democrats. Nor should Republicans. We should ALL get a bit of what we want. That’s how democracy ought to work.

I want steadfast progressives like Bernie Sanders. I want people who’ll fight hard for progressive policies, and if they don’t get the candidate they want, they’ll fight hard to make the party platform as progressive as possible. I do NOT want progressives who pout and act out of spite.

“I hope I never have to vote for a Republican ever again,” Cohen said.

You didn’t have to vote for one this time. You chose to vote for one. You think the Democratic Party should try to entice you back? Here’s an idea: go piss up a rope.

9 thoughts on “the stink of sanctimony

  1. There is, of course, another way of looking at this. (I’m one of the Sanders supporters like Greg Fallis who voted and advocated voting for Hillary.) THe point of departure or at least one point of departure, is right here: “It’s the fault of the Democratic Party for not nominating her preferred candidate.” Well, no. I read it more like “It’s the fault of the Democratic party for not even claiming to stand for much of anything at all, where at least DJT claimed to stand for something.” You have to admit, the DNC just didn’t get it at all, and apparently still doesn’t. Even those of us who thought Bernie could not do all the things he wanted to do (and he didn’t think he could do them alone either), at least believed that he knows what he believes. That just isn’t true with Hillary, or at least it isn’t true that people believe she knows. AND that is the real difference.


    • I have to disagree — at least in part. You may be right that the DNC hasn’t demonstrated much political backbone, but Hillary has been remarkably consistent (for a politician) in the things she believes in. You can read her commencement speech when she graduated from Wellesley in 1969 and see she was still hitting the same themes in her failed presidential campaign.

      But you’re definitely right that a LOT of the public have been convinced that she doesn’t have any strong core beliefs.


  2. There was another (of many, I would surmise) article about the alleged disconnect the Dems have with ‘middle America’. The special interests would love nothing more than to have the ‘coastal elites’ be disconnected from the blue-collar counterparts- what better way to see the Democratic Party fully implode?

    I call BS on Ms Cohen’s rationale, frustration rather than sheer ignorance, and the over-riding fallacy that ‘coastals’ are out of touch with the Heartland. Further, I call BS to the Nth degree that Trump and the current Repub Party in particular, represent them or intend to offer the ‘middle class’ any true course to financial stability.

    While coastal elites (ha!) may feel more opportunity, it is because they either were born there or moved away from the failing areas known as the Rustbelt. Its not because of advanced degrees or working on computer screens instead of steel mills that they feel ‘included’.

    So where is the failure of the Democratic Party? Messaging- imo, Joe Biden should have been Obama’ champion- conducting himself in much the same way that Trump did but with the benefit of actually acting on the Obama campaign promises. This may have also been HRC’s error, I believe that Robby Mook did a terrible job in promoting HRC.

    There’s another aspect to the whole issue of ‘Middle America’ and its continuing downward spiral. I’ve had the fun / stress / need to travel across this country for my business and in said course, I’ve seen dozens and dozens of ‘your-towns’ shuttered. Towns, cities, townships- on the by-roads of rural America, all showing store fronts boarded up, gas stations closed, mom & pops gone.

    And- in having lived in both ‘coastal’ cities and the heartland, it strikes me that there’s a twisted perspective that its ~OK for towns like Gary, IN to fall on hard times. Look at the violence and gun crime- ‘they’ can have their town die- but NOT OURS!!! And that’s where I think Ms Cohen and her ilk lie (and lay).


    • So much I agree with here — but I’m not convinced that the failure of ‘messaging’ was that critical a factor, simply because of the flood of ‘fake news’ that washed over just about every message.

      That said, Hillary was, sadly, a fake news magnet. I’d assumed that the sheer number of ridiculous, fact-free pseudo-scandals, all of which came to nothing, would sort of inoculate her against new gossip and rumors. I was completely wrong.


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