Clinton Supporters are Scaremongering about Donald Trump to Silence the Concerns of the Young and the Poor
By BENJAMIN STUDEBAKER
I started seeing it a few weeks ago, when Daily Kos told its contributors that after March 15th, they were no longer allowed to robustly criticize Hillary Clinton from the left. As Donald Trump continues to win, win, and win some more, it has only intensified. First they asked Bernie Sanders supporters to unite behind Clinton. Now they’re accusing Sanders supporters of being privileged if they resist. And from there, it’s just a small step to calling Sanders’ people enablers of racism, sexism, or even fascism. If you haven’t seen these arguments yet, you will soon. The arguments being peddled are very poorly constructed. They rely on a mix of fear and bias toward the near.
Their argument rests on three fundamental premises:
- The differences between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are not that large.
- Donald Trump is a really mean scary racist sexist fascist bigot–he’s basically Hitler.
- The best way to stop Trump is to unite as quickly as possible around the candidate with the most general election appeal, and this person is Hillary Clinton.
Correspondingly, it makes three errors:
- Fundamental Ideological Divide: The difference between Sanders and Clinton is of a fundamental ideological character–in multiparty democracies, they could never possibly even be part of the same political party.
- Trump Scaremongering: Donald Trump is being deliberately made out to be more frightening than he is by Clinton supporters for political gain.
- Bias Toward the Near: We have strong reasons to believe that supporting Clinton right now makes a Trump victory more likely, and even if this is not the case, supporting Clinton will make it more likely that a Trump type candidate will prevail in 2020 or 2024.
Let’s say a bit about each, and then a bit about privilege too.
Fundamental Ideological Divide
Since the late 1970’s, both major parties have adopted the same economic ideology, which many academics refer to as “neoliberalism”. Neoliberalism attempts to drive economic growth by increasing investment. It does this by distributing wealth away from workers and toward investors. The hope is that this wealth will eventually trickle down. But instead, this results in widening inequalities and it makes it increasingly difficult for ordinary people to continue to provide the ever-increasing amount of consumption the economy requires without borrowing increasingly large sums of money. When these debt bubbles burst, the economy crumbles. The debt-fueled growth provides the illusion of economic success (e.g. Reagan in the mid to late 80’s, Clinton in the mid to late 90’s), but these booms are unstable and produce endemic busts (e.g. early 90’s recession, 2000 stock bubble, 2008 housing bubble).