Friday, August 28, 2015

Got It Wrong

I suggested a few posts ago that I suspected a hidden third group among Bernie Sanders supporters: In addition to farther-left, OWS voters who really, really dislike the system, plus those who distrust Hillary, I wondered if there was an underground support for those Democrats who are fed up with illegal immigration but were reticent about exposing themselves to criticism on that account. Sanders has been clear that he considers the Koch Brothers (cue music) and Republican employers to be behind support for increased immigration, which depresses wages. (That's partly true, but protection of illegal immigrants is an overwhelmingly liberal cause in most of the US.)

As I know lots of Sanders supporters where I work, I though that if I engaged them and asked them straight out why they liked him I would sniff out some hints of this.  I could not have been more wrong.  Not only did none of them mention this, even obliquely. None of them even knew this was Bernie's position on immigration. Several of them assured me that I must have misunderstood and gotten this wrong, as they just didn't believe that Saint Bernard could hold such a deplorable view. All of them were behind Sanders because he is really big on taxing the rich and corporations, getting them to kick in a more equitable amount. Secondly, they think he is honest, unafraid, and not owned by corporate interests.  Well, maybe.  He's ahead of Hillary, Joe Biden, and Elizabeth Warren in terms of not being owned.  James Webb and O'Malley are probably better however, as George Soros is coming in heavily on the Bernie train. (See Billionaires for Bernie - which has some weaknesses, but is largely true.)

Those conversations did confirm a less-original theory of mine, however.  Not one of the Sanders supporters mentioned what we could do for the poor, or the relief we could give the working poor, or the excellent programs we would have.  These are, I acknowledge, two sides of the same coin, so that in every individual case we cannot accuse the speaker of simply wanting to stick it to the rich. But when coin flips come up heads twenty times in a row, something is amiss.

Note: In the play, this is a sign that the universe is spinning out of control, foreshadowing that the characters have no chance of escape.


james said...

The flip side isn't always as easy to deal with. There are plenty of mathematical problems that have an equivalent dual statement which is much easier to solve.

"Getting back" at the rich isn't the flip side of helping the poor anyway. They're nominally both planks in the same party platform, but you can do one without the other; and building requires more thought than demolition. And demolition is more exciting.

Most of those you and I meet aren't poor. They can feel aggrieved by the actions of rich cronies and easily imagine that some of their circumstances are somebody else's fault. But they have a more abstract notion of the sufferings of the poor; maybe have a little trouble with real empathy for them. (I wonder, do they have more empathy for animals?) No prize for guessing which way the passion goes.

Grim said...

The Sanders supporters I know really are socialists. They support Sanders without regard to immigration because they want the government to take over large parts of the economy and direct American life in a more Northern European fashion. Oddly enough, most of them are academics, which means they already work in a sector of the economy broadly controlled by the government both in terms of supply (public sector universities) and demand (Federally guaranteed student loans). The government controls the bulk of these universities outright, and via the Office of Civil Rights at the DoE, the Federal government is exercising direct control on the tone and method of all American universities in ways that the faculty finds increasingly distressing. I assume you've been following The Chronicle of Higher Education on this Title IX business:

Christopher B said...

I'm still leaning towards the idea that Sanders supporters tend to be those who feel in some ways unsatisfied by the last eight years. I'm not surprised that they don't know his positions because they aren't making a logical choice (I believe x therefore I should support Candidate y). They know the positions Bernie takes that rationalize their choice.

I'm willing to be that these are the folks tend to be those who feel that we just haven't progressed enough, who wish firmer stands had been taken, and less compromising done.