The New York Times publishes an op-ed by a Sanders voter (“Let’s Grow Up, Liberals,” by Kevin Baker) and he repeats exactly the same arguments as Paul Krugman or Andrew Rosenthal or virtually every NYT opinion writer in the past several months. I haven’t seen a single NYT opinion piece from any Sanders supporter explaining why they will vote for Clinton in November on lesser evil grounds, but would have greatly preferred Sanders. Instead, the focus has been on Sanders for having the temerity to point out her flaws.
The pragmatists at the NY Times think it is pragmatic to pat themselves on the back as mature and infantilize both Sanders and the people whose votes they ostensibly want. Baker pays lip service to the idea that Sanders was right about Clinton’s flaws, but it’s a throwaway line meant to give the rest of the piece credibility–it doesn’t fit with the part where he describes how awful Sanders is even when he supports Hillary. Party unity has a totalitarian feel with people like this. Baker was published because he says he voted for Sanders and now regrets it, making him the only type of Sanders supporter the Clintonites really want. Some Clinton supporters who think they can win without the Sanders voters state it openly and gleefully.
This isn’t about issues or pragmatism or about making the world a better place or even about saving the world from Trump. It’s tribalism pretending to be something better. They don’t want the votes of Sanders supporters who fail to renounce any criticism they ever made of Clinton. If Clinton loses they want a scapegoat–in fact, they are acting like people who would almost rather have a Clinton loss with Sanders as a scapegoat than a Clinton victory with the help of people who are deeply critical of Clinton. They can’t really think this if they are that (rightly) fearful of Trump, but on the emotional level their hatred of Sanders and his supporters runs deep. The left wing criticism of the Democrats really bites–they want people who think that way utterly discredited and you can see that if Trump wins they will turn on the left with all the hatred they gave to Nader, even though Sanders did exactly what people had said Nader should have done.
There was an intense debate on the platform committee over fracking, TPP, global warming, health care, college tuition, and Israel-Palestine. The Sanders people pulled them to the left on the tuition and health care issues to some degree. They lost on the others. Pulling the Democrats to the left has been the purpose of the Sanders campaign even if he couldn’t get the nomination. If the “liberals” at the NYT actually cared that much about some of these things they’d have written about them in detail, but they haven’t, because they are much more interested in demonizing Sanders and to the extent they did write about it they wrote about it as a contest between groups, not as if the issues actually mattered.
I wouldn’t mind if they sided with Clinton on some of the issues–she might be right sometimes. But they only wrote about issues if they could portray Sanders as an impractical nut. I didn’t expect this behavior from Krugman last January–I thought he’d support Clinton as the more pragmatic or electable candidate in his view, but didn’t realize just how much he still despises people to his left. But he does, just as much as he did in the late 90’s when he was constantly bashing the (poorly named) antiglobalization movement, and so do the rest of the people who write the opinion pieces for the NYT. This is all about discrediting people who want to challenge the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party. If you want to read about the struggle over issues within the Democratic Party, you’re going to have to read something other than the NY Times.
People familiar with the iron law of institutions will understand what’s happening in the Democratic Party structure and NYT editorialists who obviously see themselves as part of it. One thing that surprises me slightly is how much people who are not part of the power structure identify with it. Before the internet I never would have guessed how many ordinary folk described themselves as “pragmatists” and had such a strong identification with rather sleazy politicians–I had thought most people simply picked the one they thought was better based on whatever values they had, but on the internet there are a vast number of people who act like paid partisan hacks and David Brock’s minions aside, I’m sure most do it because they really think this way. Maybe this is a self-selected group–people who identify so strongly with someone like Clinton would naturally go to the comment sections of political websites and pledge their fealty.
That’s the Rosenthal piece I mentioned. Clinton supporters at the NYT have been almost uniformly nasty– they hate Sanders and don’t bother concealing it. Ultimately his policy based critiques of Clinton terrifies them and they don’t want him or the movement he represents to have any credibility even if he endorses Clinton, because he hasn’t retracted his critique. And yes, this does tie in with the Israel-Palestine conflict, because Clinton support for Benjamin Netanyahu flatly contradicts liberal ideals, so she either does this for the money or because she is a militarist like Netanyahu or both. (I think both). They tiptoe around that.