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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/3/16

Hillary Hawks, Bernie Bros And Political Intolerance

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Political discourse in the United States has become so crude, coarse, demeaning and intolerant that is now arguably the most divisive in American history. And the 2016 presidential elections is the backdrop for these hardened positions and line drawing in the political sandpit. These days, you're either a Hillary Hawk or a Bernie Bro on the Democratic side or a Trumpeter on the Republican side. All of these political divisions have turned a once important activity into a degeneration into sheer petty spitefulness, belligerence, and unprecedented intolerance.

In recent times we've become accustomed to experiencing insane irrationality and subjectiveness within America's social, economic and political groupings, even when members presumably share the same goals. Witness the case of the Republican Party: At the party's superstructure, its mainstream establishment group, that include party elders, are mostly at odds with and do not support its own presumptive 2016 presidential nominee, Donald Trump. This inherent contradiction is demonstrated by the fact that the party's base is firmly in Camp Trump, thus setting up a now open struggle between the Republican base and its superstructure.

On the Democratic side of things the party's establishment is totally behind Hillary Clinton its presumptive nominee. However, for the party's superstructure, its superdelegate cadre, and establishment groupings, that support has come at a cost: its alienated the party's base -- working and middle class Americans and disenchanted youths. Therefore the pre-presidential election struggle WITHIN the Democratic Party is how to "unite" the party - its warring base and superstructure - to take on the Republican opponent and win the United States presidential elections.

The danger for BOTH parties is if these contradictions are manifesting themselves in amplified tribalism that can create irreconcilable fractures that can erect permanent barriers to unity in whatever form. Should efforts to find common ground and compromise fail then long-held animosities will spill over as warring factions perceive of each other as "members of another tribe." In this scenario reason and common sense are thrown out the door to be replaced by spite, revenge, and hatefulness. This, of course, helps to harden and cement opposing positions. And in within these groups this behavior runs counter to the causes that they originally claimed to support.

In today's highly-charged political climate and environment its is near impossible to hold an objective, reasoned political discourse since positions have already been staked out and have boiled down to "I love Hillary -- so screw you!" and "I'm a Bernie Bro -- so you can go!" In this scenario there is no discussion, no warranted criticism, and no facts that can cause tribal members on BOTH sides to even countenance a simple discussion. Maybe I can empathize with Donald Trump's supporters for their lack of education, but I find that to be the case even among educated Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporters who have deliberately put on blinkers when it comes to their respective candidate.

Like Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is now "above criticism" and any attempt to inject a reasoned dialogue about her is met with immediate testiness and a willingness to immediately erect "a wall of facts" to drown out and thwart any view of her save a favorable, genuflecting, and "Our-Savior-in-Chief" narrative. This is particularly telling among members of the Black community. Whereas both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have to work for the Jewish, Hispanic, and white vote, the Black or African-American vote is written off as in the Democratic Party's pocket and taken for granted.

To me there's nothing wrong with an individual selecting or supporting a candidate of their choice to vote for. And, there is equally nothing wrong in attempting to persuade others why they should support the candidate of your choice. In the old days this is how politics in America worked. Supporters of a candidate should and are expected to be enthusiastic, passionate, and committed, not only to keep intact that candidate's support base, but to sell their candidate to those who have not yet made up their minds and to give opposing supporters cause for pause and review.

Equally, there is nothing wrong with directing, when necessary, criticism at the candidate one supports, and against the one opposed. People ought to know why the candidate one supports is a better choice than the opposition. That's called candidate comparison. However, this has now been totally corrupted by the tendency to personally identify with a chosen candidate that creates irrationality. When that happens the candidate becomes "OUR candidate" (Hillary, Trump or Sanders) with the result that we set aside healthy skepticism and a willingness to constantly and critically evaluate our chosen candidate.

This phenomenon then causes us to focus exclusively on an information narrative that is supportive of our candidate and simultaneously tune out and dismiss any real or perceived information that does not. Intentionally or not we start to view our candidate in unrealistically positive ways reinforcing the "Savior Has Come" candidate who is going to wave a magic wand and "save us all from a life of misery." It is in their context that Hillary Hawks, Bernie Bros and Trumpeters believe that their candidate can do no wrong. Here obvious shortcomings are dismissed, rejected, and are "blocked out" of our sense of reason. A totally subjective political narrative, stoked on my an enabling mainstream media, take priority over provable facts.

Right now in this 2016 Presidential Election cycle these warring camps have all become unwilling to even consider criticism of their candidate from others. Its like the "others" are criticizing them. The Hillary Hawks, Bernie Bros and Trumpeters do not want nor like to be reminded that their candidate might be flawed or have certain shortcomings. It's a reflex mechanism and reaction that kicks in when criticism of their candidate suggests that their decision was faulty and as such their commitment to said candidate is wasted. In this context, the Hillary Hawks, Bernie Bros and Trumpeters get defensive and lash out in a counter attack strategy to justify their positions.

If this were all to it -- the coarsening of the political discourse, the spitefulness and tit-for-tat nature of the political counter-attacks, and the intolerance of opposing camps -- then the adversarial nature of the American political system, may be able to withstand it as it has over the past 100 years or so. It may be even able to correct it -- as far-fetched at that seems. However, the clear and present danger looms large when the members of each political tribe start to demonize each other. Indeed, it is one thing to criticize an opposing candidate; it is quite another to attack -- verbally and physically -- that candidate and his or her supporters for the offense of supporting another candidate.

This rationale and discourse degenerates into characterizing supporters as "dumb," "bad or nasty people" (Donald Trump) and "rioters" and "violent people" (DNC on Bernie Sanders supporters). But the good news is that the individual can choose to take the high road and not let political demagogues drag them through the dirt. People and voters on BOTH side of the political divide can choose to understand that the supporters of Bernie Sanders are under no illusion that his chances of winning the Democratic Party's nomination are slim to nil. And just like Hillary Clinton's supporters they have the RIGHT to support a candidate of their choice.

They MUST reject the scapegoating that has already started within certain tribal sections of the Democratic Party that are "blaming Bernie if Trump wins" arguing that he's remained too long in the race. This completely and totally illogical assumption rests on the supposition that should Senator Sanders get out of the Democratic primary race his supporters will automatically flock to Ms. Clinton's campaign "because they have no other place to go." There is -- they can stay home.

This flawed reason would take aim at a candidate who has used the spotlight of the election cycle to highlight the inequalities of American society today -- that are bigger than any president -- that have been ABANDONED by the Democratic Party. I submit, respectfully, that income inequality, economic equality that drives class privilege and racism is the most important issue of our times.

Even if, and its now very likely, that Senator Sanders does not win the nomination there are millions of his supporters that can influence the outcome of the November general elections and who now have the chance to drag the Democratic party's shift to the right back to the ideals of the New Deal. That's the impact of the Sanders campaign on the 2016 presidential elections.

Hillary Clinton is the most qualified candidate now in the race for President of the United States. I'm not ignoring her tremendous (I'm borrowing Donald Trump's favorite words) assets and achievements, particularly her long struggle for women's rights. But I'm not going to limit myself to only the sources of information that confirm my support for Hillary Clinton or my rejection of Bernie Sanders. That's like coming to a conclusion and then building the premises and narrative that support such a conclusion.

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MICHAEL DERK ROBERTS Small Business Consultant, Editor, and Social Media & Communications Expert, New York Over the past 20 years I've been a top SMALL BUSINESS CONSULTANT and POLITICAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST in Brooklyn, New York, running (more...)

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