Heyo! Hate to bother you with nitty-gritty presidential politics more than nine months before the Iowa caucuses, but it feels like we’re hitting an inflection point in the Democratic primary race right now. Joe Biden is reportedly ready to jump in, we’re starting to get a liiiiiittle tired of Mayor Pete, some other no-name jabroni announced and immediately joined the ranks of the not-gonna-win-shit crowd, etc. etc.
Most importantly, it seems as if Sen. Elizabeth Warren is hitting her stride.
Yes, Twitter is not real life, and Warren’s poll numbers aren’t exactly surging. But with each plank she sets in her platform — with each question answered in her reassuringly expert, stable tone — she builds more buzz. The conversation has subtly shifted from “Why aren’t we talking about Warren?” to “Whoa, Warren is killing it lately.” Her plan to dissolve a gargantuan amount of student loan debt may be her splashiest policy proposal yet. And I guess, all of a sudden, we’re calling her “Liz” instead of Elizabeth? Sure, I can do that. Of course, to capitalize on this momentum, we’ll need some social media branding. For the fellas on Team Warren, I’m thinking: Liz Lads.
The point is, our sense of how gender dynamics shape these races — and the narratives woven according to that perception — don’t quite align with the facts on the ground. The 2016 election did not teach us that some cabal of communist beardos thwarted Hillary Clinton’s campaign for misogynist reasons; Trump beat her via the Rust Belt and with greater support among white women. Bernie’s base is young and diverse, and women appear to like him at least as much as men do. (He’s currently beating Kamala Harris 2-1 with black primary voters, too.) Meanwhile, the people focused on derailing his momentum represent the Democratic establishment — the older, whiter, male-skewing party structure that Hillary’s camp worked alongside to vanquish the supposed cancer of Bernie Bros.
Now, were some Sanders supporters sexist? Do candidates like Warren, Hillary and Harris need to overcome a nasty double standard when competing against men? Yes, and definitely. That’s just not the entire story, and fixating on it as such offers no clear path to victory.
So, Liz Lads. It’s a great sign that leftist men are now signaling that, even if Bernie remains their first choice, Warren would make a favorable nominee — the two could even share a ticket. This preempts the Hillary holdovers’ growing certainty that Bernie Bros are duty-bound to reject any woman on the ballot, as opposed to having specific grievances against Clinton. It helps to break the destructive lie of gender-determined loyalties, or the crux of “identity politics” infighting that dogs the Democratic field. And, perhaps best of all, it signals how silly and irrelevant the obsession with base-defining nicknames is, whether we’re talking Buttigieg Boys, Kamala Kweens or Deanie Babies. That “Bernie Bro” was ever deployed as a smear — let alone still used in a hostile manner today — indicates an alarmingly anti-democratic streak in centrist liberalism, one further borne out by hard data. It assumes that anyone with an agenda to the left is acting in bad faith.
Which is not a super-constructive stance when we’re theoretically working together to pick and promote someone as a viable alternative to Trump. If you don’t like Bernie, fine, work on elevating anyone else — but don’t imagine you’re getting anywhere with the uninformed or undecided by smearing his committed fans. Besides, you only need to log on to see how many allegedly dogmatic, spiteful and beyond-hope Bernie voters are easily switching over to Warren on the strength of her approach. Even women are taking up the Liz Lad label: Who fucking cares what genitals you have, as long as you hate billionaires and recognize the reality of climate change? We’d all vote for a bowl of oatmeal over Trump, so worry less about stereotyping your least favorite Democrat’s cheerleaders and start making the case for your own damn candidate.