Tired of Democratic Infighting? How Much of it is Sexism?

So—Elizabeth Warren released her very progressive K-12 Education Plan yesterday. As soon as it was released, I got a text with a link to the plan, which I read, top to bottom. Just as I have read the other K-12 education plans.

I get texts about all of Warren’s plans, as soon as they’re developed. I assume this is because I donated to Warren. Actually, I have donated to six candidates this year (those tiny little donations that candidates claim they treasure). One of them has dropped out, but I gave money to two men and four women. Warren is not my preferred candidate—although she’s certainly in my top three. She just seems to be the one with the target on her back. Or, more likely, her head.

I get plenty of email and texts from all of these candidates, some more than others. I delete the money requests, but I read the plans. Because I am interested in what candidates see as political priorities.

Not that any of them, individually, has the political muscle to leverage a full-blown transformation of public education, a totally free national health program, tuition-less college and cancelling student debt. I am a mature, well-informed citizen who pays attention to politics. I’ve known better than to vote for the candidate with the most tempting promises since the 1970s.

That doesn’t mean that policy briefs don’t matter. They certainly do. But could we please stop doing line-by-line comparisons of campaign platforms, looking for miniscule differences? Let’s look for the highlights, the goals and principles of good governance– and more important, the smarts and stamina of who endorsed them.

The fight for what we really get (or don’t get) comes later. Much later. The issues and sub-issues will be hammered out, one by one, in the 2021 Congress. And it would be a shame if we weren’t on the same page then, when it really does matter. Anybody notice how the make-up of Congress is shaping the news these days? Let’s put some attention there.

I was working on another—probably better—blog this morning. I took a break to look at the ongoing conversation on social media. And it was beyond discouraging.

This is awful stuff to read, on friends’ pages. It’s not because we have ‘too many’ Democratic candidates. It’s not about the flaws in Democratic party power-wielding. It’s not about who has strongest platform or policy ideas—because those are just…ideas. It’s because we’re back in boots-or-flipflops mode, obsessing over the polls, the public fights, the personalities. Some of us love the infighting, but it’s dangerous.

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On the morning of November 9, 2016, as I was moping around, red-eyed and sleep-deprived, I said to my husband: I wonder when America will be ready for a woman president.

He thought I was over-simplifying what happened, that maybe America just didn’t want Hillary, not anywoman, to be president. He suggested it wasn’t incipient sexism underlying the most stunning loss since Dewey vs. Truman—just a lack of enthusiasm, or some other ephemeral reason—James Comey? The Russians?

But now that we have multiple outspoken, qualified women candidates, it feels like déjà vu—nobody wants to be perceived as sexist, but there it is. Let me go out on a limb here and say that I would very much like to have a woman in the White House before I die. Even if she’s pedantic or not perfect on health care or didn’t do well in one of the debates. It’s time.

I am about to return to that better blog, which actually is about a single topic, with a point to be made. Unlike this blog, which is nothing more than free-floating resentment. Sorry.

I think Warren’s K-12 plan is a good as it gets for any unrealistic grab-bag of Democratic dreams.  She promises to support unions. She talks about the folly of testing. She apparently understands how underfunding has harmed schools. Best of all, she provides a full-throated defense of genuinely public education. Have at it.

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2 Comments

  1. There is nothing wrong with “infighting” during a primary. That’s what a primary is for. I’m sick of these phony calls for unity which favor centrist establishment candidates only. We need to vet these candidates thoroughly and we should not hold back because Trump sure won’t. I don’t agree that criticism of Warren comes from sexism. My criticism of her comes from her history, strategy, policies, and funding. But, I’m sure, as I was about Hillary, my comments will be labeled by some as sexist. She did not do well in the last debate, and did not appear strong, where she was, for the first time, attacked directly. Under pressure from “out in left field” questions, Warren seems to go blank and sometimes answers a different question than the one asked. If she can’t handle the democrats, she will also be able to handle Trump. And there is no “target” on her back–right now she is a mainstream media darling and gets mostly favorable press, especially compared to the vilified Sanders.

    There are major differences between her and Sanders, the candidate fans of identity politics mistakenly consider as equal. She does copy him while keeping at least one foot firmly placed in the establishment. There is a real concern that she will be like Obama and run as a Progressive and govern like a moderate Republican (and his ed policy especially reflected that). She is also not as likely to fight for Medicare for All, which is the number one issue for many. She did not list it on her website for a long time and she seems uncomfortable defending it in public. Only the most committed candidate, with a huge movement behind them, would have any chance of getting that implemented.

    So, yeah, I think Bernie is way better, and I don’t care so much about Warren’s public education plan because I remember how much Obama’s shifted to the right after his election. I did not see Arne Duncan coming then, but I learned to look for the signs of that now and I see the potential for that again. If she is so big on public education than why did she have a charter school lobbyist introduce her in California? Why is her ed advisor a TFAer? Warren is far from the worst candidate running in 2020 and I think she genuinely wants to enforce more rules on Wall Street, but call me sexist all you want, I reject that and I’d much rather have Bernie (and sorry, but Hillary did unconscionable acts as Secretary of State–check out Honduras and Libya, and I would not drop a friend for calling that out. And I hope you don’t support the remarks she made about Tulsi).

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    1. Thanks for your comment.
      There are plenty of counterarguments to the ones you made here, but I’m not interested in a point-by-point wrestling match over Bernie vs. Liz. Both of them are on my short list of candidates I would/could heartily support, should they get the nomination.

      My point in writing the blog is that I don’t hear Warren fans (or fans of other Democratic candidates) going after Bernie so relentlessly and viciously, or for specious reasons. I do agree that primaries are about testing plans and honing arguments. But underneath, there should be a commitment to party loyalty–especially this year, when Anybody But Trump must prevail.

      Five Thirty-Eight had an article (linked in the blog) which said that 59% of Democrats polled do NOT want Bernie to be the candidate (not surprising, given that he only becomes a Democrat when he’s running for President–and that his support is strongest among very young voters who have a low turnout rate). My question is this: If (and it’s a big if) Warren captures the nomination, will Bernie fans continue their diatribes against her? Or their speculation that she is saying one thing now but will govern differently? That’s dangerous. IMHO, of course.

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