I’ve been having conversations recently with Bernie Sanders supporters and have felt a kind of desperation coming from them. Like if Sanders doesn’t win (and most of them are still holding out hope for that unlikely outcome) they will be very depressed or angry. Some are saying that they plan to vote for Trump if Sanders doesn’t get the nomination, and many of them are saying that they just won’t vote.
It isn’t like I don’t understand. I feel depressed and angry when I think about Donald Trump becoming president. Ironically, the Sanders supporters I’ve talked to all admit that Trump is much worse than Clinton, but that doesn’t seem to matter.
Is the prospect of Hillary Clinton becoming president really that horrible? Up until two years ago, Bill Clinton was the favorite president of most Democrats. But recently his popularity has been slipping. What’s going on?
But today I read an interesting article by Barrett Holmes Pitner titled “The White Entitlement of Some Sanders Supporters“. Now, Pitner is a Sanders supporter and even interned for Sanders. But he is noticing the same things I have — Sanders supporters trash talking Clinton, talking about how “Killary Clinton” has stolen the nomination, that she is cheating, and that she can’t be trusted. But Pitner has a theory:
The main source of their frustration was merely the fact that they had lost. The fact that she is ahead in the popular vote, has won more primaries and caucuses, and has earned more delegates was to them a minor nuisance. They had their absurd talking points and were unwilling to deviate into reality.
The more I reflected on them, the more I realized the key point: They felt entitled to win, and a defeat meant that someone must have cheated or that their opinions did not matter, which of course couldn’t be true. They preferred to suspend reality and fabricate injustices rather than concede that Sanders has lost fair and square.
Essentially, we disagreed on what America supposedly promised or owed us. They felt success was promised to them. The entitlement to believe that you should always win allowed them to overlook how the system in many ways has always been unjustly rigged in their favor because they’re white.
This could explain why Sanders supporters are predominantly white, while most minority voters favor Clinton. Could it be that Sanders (if even unintentionally) is benefiting from the same white tribalism that appears to be the driving force behind Trump’s appeal?
Well, I expect some of my readers to strongly disagree with this idea. I’m not even totally convinced of it, but so far it is the only explanation I’ve heard that makes any sense.