No, Hillary Clinton Is Not Costing Democrats Anything

I finally read that nonsensical article complaining that Hillary Clinton is Not Happy About Having the Election Stolen from Her. The article’s author is mad Clinton has the unbelievable gall to point out this a bit in her various speeches.  Which of course means she will destroy the Democrats’ chances on November 6, 2018.

What utter crap.

Michelle Cottle acknowledges that Clinton hates the media and then goes on to show exactly why Clinton is 100% justified in this.

Cottle doesn’t cite any studies, any polling, anything really other than a few politicians who are as tired of the media harping on Clinton as she is.  Instead Cottle focuses on what the Republicans will do.  After all they are the sole arbiters of reality these days for the media.

The Republicans have decided to run against Hillary Clinton. She isn’t on the ballot anywhere. She doesn’t endorse candidates. She does hold fundraisers but usually she does so well away from the news. She has a PAC that does not even give to candidates. Instead it is a clearing house for various groups so that way no candidate runs the risk of being seen with her. (Granted plenty of the women running would be thrilled if she showed up.)

What will the Republicans run on?  Partly on tying their primary opponents to Clinton.  The other part? Abusing their power as much as they possibly can against her. Once again, Clinton will be investigated to the nth degree while every part of it will be leaked to the press. The press, which has not learned a damn thing since 2016, will endlessly repeat whatever is leaked ignoring how it is a gross abuse of power.

After all, it is Hillary Clinton.  It is perfectly okay to treat her like shit.  You might get some push back from her fans on Twitter.  Some emails.  This article calling the author a jackass.  But nothing like the “have to go into hiding because she said something bad about Republicans or Bernie Sanders.”  I have rarely heard of Clinton fans threatening to kill someone for being a jerkface to Clinton.

But in addition to Ms Cottle being a jackass jerkface, Ms Cottle is wrong.

Let me show with some actual evidence.  In December of 2017 there was a hotly contested Senate race.  And for the first time in almost 40 years, a Democrat was within reach of winning a seat in ALABAMA. Not simply because he was running against a child molesting crook who was forcibly removed twice from elected office for flouting the law but because he was focused on local issues and helping his people out.

Clinton gave speeches and interviews from December 1 to the 12th.  She even edited a copy of Teen Vogue. The very day of the election she had a book tour stop.

Doug Jones beat Roy Moore in one of the best wins in a very long time for Democrats in the South. Hillary Clinton going all over the place and talking to people and saying things the press loves to twist wrong, her doing so had no impact on the race.

Hillary Clinton is not a factor in any general election race anywhere in the country.  Even though the media and the Republicans dearly wish she was.

 

A Final Word on 2016 (I Hope)

Again and again the media makes the claim that Hillary Clinton lost the easiest election ever.  By Damon Linker (twice).  By ostensibly professional Democratic partisan Jon Favreau. Chris Cillizza of course. They often do this because they assume her campaign was terrible and she did nothing right.  They often do not not explain exactly what her campaign did that was so terrible except that she did not go to Wisconsin. After all, Cheato was the worst candidate in history therefore it must be her fault.

But this isn’t true.

The Fundamentals Were Against Her From the Start

When it comes to any given election, there are a group that will always vote Democratic and a group that will always vote Republican.  The rest of voters are what need to be persuaded.  In the 2016 election many of these were individuals who had voted for Obama but were ready for something new.

This is what is called third term fatigue.  Generally, a third termer can win when the opponent is one of two things: bland and boring, or simply bad at campaigning.  History gives us three examples.

In 1940, Republicans nominated as a surprise candidate when their convention deadlocked a former Democrat Wendell Willkie.  He was a tough campaigner, but he was indistinguishable from the Democrats based on what he was proposing.  He lost.

In 1948, Republicans nominated a very bland but popular governor of New York who was an extremely lazy campaigner who did not even endorse his party’s platform.  But he was beloved by the media (sounds familiar) and they gave him all sorts of advantages in the press.  Meanwhile Truman was barnstorming the country and giving rip-roaring speeches.  In the days before real mass media like TV, he was a good in person entertainer.  He also was the current president who in a masterful stroke, called the majority Republican Congress back into session to pass their priorities as listed in the platform.  They failed.

In 1988, Democrats nominated Michael Dukakis.  He was a passionless fellow who had a couple of problems. First, he had no passion. Second, he was governor of state where a black guy was given a furlough and killed a woman.  George H.W. Bush seems like a sad old man now but he okay’d using a racist ad against Dukakis and it won him the election. (Racism will return again and again in this story.)

Donald Trump Was A Formidable Candidate

Next, the fallacy that Cheato was somehow a terrible candidate.  He didn’t do what he needed to do of course. He didn’t fundraise. He only did one event a day. He was and is extremely stupid. He had to fire two campaign managers mid-campaign. (Lewandowski and Manafort)

He was a formidable candidate for other reasons-he was entertaining as a clown often is. Because of that, he got almost 5 billion dollars in free advertising. Much of it was negative but all of it was free.  Hell, his podium got more airtime than Clinton even when she was making major speeches.

He had the clear assistance of Russia. From direct help in the form of stolen information, active interference on social media, and of course indirect assistance by way of pouring money into the NRA, the entity that spent 30 million dollars for Cheato’s win.

Russia is also the group that handed Wikileaks most of the non-Clinton emails to be dropped for the media to blather relentlessly and pointlessly over.

He was not a normal politician so didn’t care about the general.  Remember, before the general, Cheato had to face 15 Republicans, some of whom were extremely good politicians.  Despite Rubio’s whining, he has been elected numerous times in Florida.  He even won re-election in 2016 while complaining about how much he hated being a senator.

John Kasich was no joke when he ran. Kasich is one of those smiling Republicans who gut you while you are complimenting them on how nice they seem. He won re-election in 2014 by thirty points. Even now he is above 50% as governor despite Ohio’s economy not being that great.

Ted Cruz was another major contender who had no reason to suspect he would lose.  He had, after all, been the guy who gave one of history’s biggest political upsets with his surprise win in 2012 in the Texas Republican primary. David Dewhurst, his then opponent, had what appeared to be an insurmountable lead after the initial primary in May when he got 10 points over Cruz but was flipped by the runoff election in July. That is a shift of over 10 points in two months.

Jeb Bush was always going to suck.

But with those three other opponents, it should have been simple for them to beat Cheato.  Why didn’t they?

I believe a large part of it was Cheato simply didn’t care enough to moderate his tone for the general.  Republicans had been playing with fire since 1972 and the invention of the Southern Strategy. They use racist policies that they paper over so those who have zero interest in dealing with it can pretend that no, the Republicans are not the home of white supremacy.  Their news organizations (Fox, Sinclair, and others) go to a great deal of effort to magnify racial tensions by overreacting to the slightest expansion of rights of non-whites while steeply underreacting to real world racist results.  In addition, Republican state legislatures have been openly racist for years with the North Carolina legislature being so racist a court took extreme measures to point this out.

The national politicians (including Kasich, Cruz, Rubio, and Bush) had long been playing cute, so they usually were using dog whistles to hide the racism.  2016 and Cheato blew past the dog whistles and gave the Republican base what they wanted-a racist candidate who was happy to play up all the same conspiracies that they had been fed for years by Fox News.

But wait! What about the fact that many voters voted for Obama before they voted for Cheato?  Racial resentment plays a large part in this. It is dressed up as “cultural anxiety” but it is plain ol’ racism.

“I voted for Obama but Black people didn’t stop demanding things.”

A co-worker said that to me.  I don’t know why it is weird that they would demand to not be shot but then I try to actively work on my privilege.

Let’s Talk Sexism

The 2016 election was one of the ones where cultural issues hold great sway.  Why?  The economy was humming along okay, the world was mostly at peace, and there wasn’t a sense of urgency like there had been in 1992 and 2008.  Both of those years had pick ups by Democrats because the US was worried about the economy. 2008 was bad enough that a guy named Barack Hussein Obama won in a landslide.

The 800 lb gorilla in the room that is rarely spoken about except by Hillary Clinton fans like myself is the sexism.

It is extremely hard for a woman to run for President of the United States.  Here is a table of only the national party candidates who got at least on the nominating ballot at the convention.

evidence 276

Of the 10 women who have run for the national parties, only Margaret Chase Smith, Shirley Chisholm, Hillary Clinton, and Carly Fiorina have been taken seriously enough to win delegates. And of those four, only one has made it to the general election.  Every other woman has been a third-party candidate who was there mostly for symbolic reasons.

Gee, looking at it like that shows it is kind of hard does it not?

Further, we have numbers to back up the fact it was sexism and not simply Hillary Clinton being somehow uniquely unlikable. We also have confessions from Republicans.

Let us look at the numbers for Hillary Clinton and her “likability”:

Evidence 275

 

If she was not running for anything and was a subordinate to another person, Clinton was popular for a politician.  She hit a peak of 60% in 2011.  But then Benghazi happened, and she decided to leave office, which the media assumed was so she could run for the White House.  The Republicans, as confessed here by Kevin McCarthy, decided to abuse their power once again to try to stop her.

Note that word in there: untrustworthy.

Lies, Damn Lies, and the Truth

Clinton is not much of a liar.  She has had very few outright lies-31 in ten years.  (I disagree with some of Politifact’s characterizations of her statements since obviously some of them were hyperbole that all politicians fall prey to but whatever.)

Barack Obama had 71 in that time frame.  Donald Trump set the webpage on fire. Mitt Romney (they stopped tracking him after 2012) had 32.

In fact, if you want honesty out of a politician, go ask a Democrat.  They usually will tell you the truth.

evidence 277

Yet she is assumed to be lying all the time.  Why?  Women tend to be more honest than men but Clinton has been called a liar since William Safire’s column on her being a congenital liar in 1996 despite her generally being honest.

Which means it isn’t about Clinton’s actual honesty.  It is about the people who lie about her.

Republicans have been doing that since she showed up on the national scene as Bill Clinton’s wife (prior to that, she was her own person but when Bill ran for the presidency, things changed a wee bit.)  The media has usually and gleefully joined in.  This has happened again, and again, and again, and again.

(A good example of this is Judicial Watch who were the ones who sought her emails from her time at State and repeatedly made up claims about them that the media swallowed whole scale. Judicial Watch is not a clean actor.  They have a vendetta against Clinton and the media has never particularly cared.)

Because of this, Clinton spent most of 2015 and 2016 being as precise as possible in her speaking.  She obviously failed since multiple times she had to go back and explain something when it was distorted by the press (who then distorted what she explained.)  She is still having to do that when the brouhaha flared up over her accurate statement in India about where she won and where Cheato won and why.

Yet even though she is no more of a liar then say Obama, she is treated much worse by the press. Even her husband isn’t treated as badly as she is. It is why he is at 45% and she is at 36%. Part of the reason is of course that Fox News has been acting like she is currently President despite her repeated attempts to resign as their President in Fake.

There is also some other data that show it was about sexism that is little looked at.

I have used this before to explain why Clinton lost and I think it is important to look at. Firefighters are one of the last main bastions of white masculinity. The group is mostly white, mostly male.

evidence 266

They voted for Obama at barely more than 50% in 2008 and less than 50% in 2012.  But they dropped to 27% for Clinton. The only thing that really explains both (since they voted for Bill Clinton at a much higher rate) is racism for Obama and sexism for Clinton.

They don’t even hide it. The president of the Firefighters Union flatly stated that they didn’t like Clinton or Democrats being focused on minorities and college educated whites instead of them.

James Comey

And finally, the last part about sexism is James Comey.  He of the impeccable reputation that somehow viewed his women bosses as less than reasonable.  First up is Loretta Lynch.  He thought she had a credibility gap.  Why? There was no reason to assume it this time. He had to use a doctored email that was thoroughly debunked by his own team to assume she was going to be discredited by the partisan press.

Yet the entire time he could have gone to Sally Yates about his concerns because he may have thought that Lynch was not impartial enough. Never went to her. Didn’t go to her again when he found out about the email messages that were on Anthony Weiner’s laptop. Didn’t go to her when she was acting AG with Cheato’s behavior after the election.

(This probably should not be a surprise since the mostly male FBI has a bit of an issue with the sexism against Hillary Clinton being as obvious as the ones against Lynch and Yates:

“Besides, as one bureau official after another has made clear to me in recent months, Comey never expected Clinton to lose. He saw The Letter as the politically expedient thing to do to help bolster the legitimacy of her victory – and preserve the FBI’s apolitical reputation. “The worst-case scenario [in his mind] was she was going to be really pissed [at him],” one executive told me. “But then we’d sit her down and tell her it was her fault we were in this position.”)

Summary

The 2016 election is one that still rankles for so many reasons that we aren’t going to finish grappling with them any time soon.  There are many actors who refuse to take a hard look at their behavior. From the media refusing, almost to a person, to look at what they obviously did wrong;  to average Americans who do not want to admit they were acting in sexist and racist ways; to the lack of caring by Republicans as they have been turned into traitors for Russian money.

Even I have not admitted my errors.  While I was active online campaigning I did little in person and even less phonebanking.  I had reasons. My loss in 2014 made physical campaigning extremely painful, but I should have done more.  That is on me.

Clinton looked at her behavior in What Happened which was a bit self-serving as all memoirs are, but she did look at what she did wrong. She admitted she screwed up.  As far as I can tell, she is the only one who has admitted their screw-ups. Amy Chozick comes somewhat close in her memoir Chasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, And One Intact Glass Ceiling however the excerpts posted online are extremely clueless and self-serving.

There is a great deal to be learned from the 2016 election.  Some has been with Eric Holder’s group to combat gerrymandering. DNC’s efforts to quietly help campaigns get the vote out. But the problems of racism, sexism, Russia, and the media’s right wing behavior have not gone away and will not any time soon.

Portents of Doom…For Republicans

Another special election has occurred that, more than anything, shows what is building for the upcoming November election.
In the soon to be redistricted out Pennsylvania 18th district, Conor Lamb won the seat as a Democrat for the first time since 2002. Representative-elect Lamb (results are not certified yet) showed that if you match the district to the candidate, you can win. But he needed help along the way.

Republican Help

Republicans gave him that help repeatedly.
First by having the former Congressman have to resign due to not simply having had an affair (practically de rigueur for Republicans these days) but
pressuring the woman to have an abortion. As is the norm with anti-choicers, only abortions that don’t affect them are bad. So his pressuring her caused him to have to resign because her abortion didn’t affect the rest of the Republican caucus. That leaves voters distasteful of Republicans to start.
Then they nominated a fairly boring uninspiring candidate which would normally have won the race because he followed the party line to a T(ea party, yes he was a tea partier first running in 2010 where he barely beat his Democrat opponent twice). When your opponent comes off looking like a dynamic, fresh, and talented guy you would like to see marry your daughter, well, it doesn’t help.
They tried to tie Lamb to Nancy Pelosi. Lamb said he wouldn’t vote for her as the leader (most likely with the party’s blessing). Pelosi’s no fool; she knows Republicans use her as a boogeyman like they have anytime there isn’t an equally competent woman *cough* Hillary *cough* around to bash.
Then the Republicans in the House passed the ACA repeal. Among the many things it did was show how precarious the state of health insurance for people was. Lots of voters didn’t like that.
Then the Republicans passed a giant tax giveaway — The Great Tax Scam Bill of 2017 — to corporations and the rich that took money from the middle class in the form of higher health care premiums. The Great Tax Scam Bill was designed to be signed in 2018 so it would make it politically unfeasible for the Democrats to reverse anything. Instead, the mentally failing Cheato signed the bill right away — in 2017. This caused automatic cuts in popular spending programs like Medicare, which (unsurprisingly) ticked off all the old people.
Finally, in the days leading up to the final vote, the Republicans in the House released the “final” report on the TrumpRussia issue. To no one’s surprise, they freely admitted they are trying to cover up what happened by saying nothing occurred between Russia and Trump’s campaign. Democrats then released a comprehensive list of what the Republicans refused to do. (Now many of the Republicans on the committee are backtracking.)
You could say that the final factor was actually Cheato himself. But he’s an eternal problem that was there back in the early days of special elections.

Democratic Help

Additionally, Lamb benefited from the rage that is still in many Democratic voters who realized that they were too complacent in 2016. We know, now, that the election was likely stolen. The party has started instituting quiet reforms. And there is a great deal of effort to register, ID,verify, and vote among Democratic activists. All of the Democratic committees and subcommittees are working to get our likely voters registered and verified to vote.
We also are donating in small but consistent amounts. While Lamb had plenty of large contributions, 50% of his financial support came from small donors of $200 or less. There are over a thousand candidates generating excitement (in the case of California, too many candidates because of its “top two” voting system) in the congressional races.

The Takeaway

It’s hard not to see Lamb being helped more by the Republicans than the Democrats. Lamb’s opponent, Republican State Representative Rick Saccone, ran as “Trump before TrumTrump before Trump was Trump.”  This might seem like a stupid move, but Sacone didn’t have much choice.
The Republicans have put themselves in a bad situation. Trump is extremely unpopular. But in the Republican Party, he’s very popular. So if Saccone had abandoned Trump, a bit chunk of his Republican voters would have abandoned him. That’s especially true in a special election where it is very easy to decide to stay home.
But this is a problem that Republicans face everywhere. And it will be just as true November 6, 2018. And the Republican Party is freaking out.

The Problem With Ohio

Vox had an article out about how Ohio is trending Republican. They did this boogity boogity thing where they said that without winning the Senate seat this year, Democrats will lose the state in 2020 because Clinton was defeated by 8 points in 2016 while Obama won by 3 points.

Vox is Wrong

Ohio has been a presidential flipper before.  While Obama won both in 2008 and 2012, it went for Bush in 2004 as well as 2000.  In all of those results the numbers were fairly close-2008 Obama won by 5 but otherwise it was around 2-3% for the other three times.  Why they call it part of the blue wall, I don’t know.  Probably due to the fact that Ohio was a fairly heavily union state until the 1990s when it has made the slow decline due to offshoring of industrial jobs.

That hasn’t been the case though since the 1990s.  It does have a long history of very masculine work industries from steel manufacturing to cars and still is dominated by those industries despite their declines.  That type of workforce has an impact on certain things such as how gender is viewed.

It is a very white state-82% of the state is white although the population is 51% female.  Religion isn’t as important as it was as only 44% of the state has people who consider themselves religious. But it has a fairly high married rate at 50% of the population.

Racism in Ohio

Despite the fact that the state vote for Obama twice, it has a racism issue like many predominately white states.  Even in 2012 there were out and proud racists happily talking to the media. As recently as 1999 they had continuous KKK rallies including a big one in Cleveland who had a black mayor at the time.  And there have been no small issues when it comes to policing and the Black community.

With these problems, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the Obama to Trump voters trend happened in Ohio.  While Obama himself was low key for the most part on racism, the very existence of a Black man in the White House caused a lot of white people to have issues that was expressed in 2016.  Part of the reason they were so expressive was because Hillary Clinton was one of the few national candidates to say to whites “We need to check our own behavior.”  Her private speech calling people who were racists deplorable was another factor because it was pretty obvious she was talking about the racists.

Sexism in Ohio

What is less talked about is the role that sexism played in the 2016 election in the state and elsewhere. While a white woman might consider voting for a Black man because after all she doesn’t want to be seen as racist–voting for a white woman who was telling her that wasn’t good enough was going to make her angry.  Add in all of the other ways that women tend to internalize misogyny against one another and you have the 2016 results.  Clinton only won 39% of white women in Ohio per the exit polls. (She won 92% of Black women because they know better then to take any risk.)

Those twin factors are not going to occur in 2018 with the Sherrod Brown race. He is a white male and while Dems are definitely trending away from white males as candidates, he’s their incumbent and they won’t vote for any primary challengers.  He also isn’t really vocal on the issue with racism.  With him, economics will help.

Why Vox is hyperventilating over this I don’t know.  Ohio wasn’t viable for the Democrats because we don’t shy from confronting racism and while we still have a major problem confronting the sexism on our own side, we are looking like the sane option more and more as Republicans continue to have the stench of corruption all over them.

That, more than anything, will be why we win in 2018 as well as 2020.

What I Didn’t See at the Democratic National Committee Meeting

As a Democratic activist and a host of a political podcast, I have keen interest in the current situation of the Democratic Party. Like any active Democrat, it’s been impossible to ignore reports of the constant infighting between the so-called Bernie Wing and the rarely called Clinton wing.  But I’m also skeptical of these reports.  In the in person meetings I’ve attended in the past, the focus has been on how to better engage with voters to ensure they have what they need to vote.  So, when DNC made the decision to hold their quarterly meeting in Las Vegas, I decided to drive up from my home in Phoenix.

This morning, as I write this, the DNC is holding their general session where they, the entire committee of the Democratic National Committee, will vote as a single body on many of the things that have been brought up by the Resolutions Committee.  Naturally, the media narrative has already been set.  Leading the way is Buzzfeed:

Evidence 78

To only read the Buzzfeed article or this one from the Huffington Post , is to believe that the meeting was full of histrionics and people feeling betrayed.  That attendees were skulking in corners whispering behind their hands to each other, eyes darting around the room to ensure that the evil mastermind of Tom Perez wasn’t listening of their planned coup attempt.  And that Keith Ellison would be sitting all by himself crying into his free drinks because this is Vegas.

Thursday, October 19th

The Native American Council had enough members to become a caucus.  This is important as it gives Native Americans a bigger voice in how the Party is run and provides an opening and opportunity to increase fundraising for Native American candidates like Debra Haaland, who is seeking to become the first Native American woman in Congress.  I attended the Native American Council caucus in place of a colleague who wasn’t able to attend.  There was no drama, even for the election of the chair, but some nice speeches including from Deputy Chair Ellison.

Across the convention area, which looks literally like every other convention area in the US, there were small groups of three to five people huddled talking.  While at the time, it didn’t seem exceptional, I later learned that there were elections abrewing and these people chatting was actually focused on hustling votes.

The elections were for positions in the various caucuses that the party has.  Democrats have a lot of caucuses.  They are the four regional, LGBT, Native American, Hispanic, Black, Women’s, Asian American and Pacific Islander caucuses. And they all had elections.

The second meeting I went to was the Western, which is specific to where I live and vote. I live tweeted it poorly.

There were 9 spots to be elected-the ones I caught were chair, male and female vice chairs, secretary, treasurer, at large committee spots.  While I had a preference towards the former executive director of my state  Luis Heredia, being elected caucus chair, honestly, both candidates Luis and Jess Durfee were awesome and would do a good job of herding cats.  I mean, Democrats, amirite.

So what was the drama? There were some mix-ups with proxies.  Two of the proxies that were supposed to have been counted weren’t apparently counted.  One of them was Representative Maxine Waters.  Woops!  The upshot was that the two candidates for chair of the Caucus were too good and there was an even split between the votes so they had to do a coin toss. Luis Heredia who HAD won before the proxies were appropriately counted lost the coin toss and the other candidate, Jess Durfee, was elected. They shook hands after and wished each other well. That’s about as dramatic as it got.

Everyone else was just “I’m BORED AND WANT TO GO GET DRUNK” after the fourth vote.  Which is normal.  Having been to dozens of Democratic meetings in the past from the district level to the national, it is common that after a period of time most people are tired of business and want to find something more enjoyable.  Especially when in a fun place like Las Vegas.

One of the highlights was being able to talk to the highly entertaining and extremely competent Chair of California Democratic Party, Eric Bauman. A transplant from the Bronx to California, he has a New Yorker’s knack for easily cutting straight through any noise to the main issue and get things moving. If it wasn’t for the fact that running California’s Democratic Party is a more than full time job (he had an actual assistant!) I would have supported Bauman for chair of this meeting.

Reason to Hope

While the media paints the DNC meeting as a super dramatic week for the Dems, it wasn’t.  The attendees are the chairs and top members of their state parties.  They aren’t going to be throwing fits, they aren’t going to be acting like divas.  They were there to network, share ideas and figure out how to win as many seats as possible, at every level of government.

The state chairs may not be happy with all the decisions of the officers obviously since no one wants to lose but they weren’t going to storm out. If there is one thing that Democrats know, it’s compromise.  There were a lot of great ideas, as well as positive news of getting farm teams of city council and state legislative candidates, efforts to do more in depth person to person canvass and a lot of energy.

Getting those farm teams is important.  By having these positions filled by Democrats you have experienced candidates who have learned to do the basics of governing: talking to voters, holding meetings, voting on laws and ordinances that have the greatest impacts on people’s lives.  Those that do well are able to raise their name ID and move onto larger offices.  Don’t forget that our last Democratic President was a former State Senator.

That’s what I saw at the meeting.

Additional observations: Keith Ellison appears to be a night owl, way more hyper in the evening then in the mornings.  But he most certainly wasn’t sitting crying, drunk in the corner.

How Men Can Support Women Who Are Being Harassed

As the latest revelations of the extent to which GamerGate-related harassment and intimidation of women online were coordinated at the highest levels of right wing and even mainstream media organizations reverberate throughout social media, many men who like to think of themselves as allies, and who are not themselves overflowing with misogyny, are left to wonder how they can be useful to their female friends who find themselves the subject of harassment that has become all too ubiquitous. Below are some useful tips and reminders for male allies.

1. Believe Women: Don’t Fall Into Gaslighting.

If a woman in your life who you know and respect tells you that she is being harassed, believe her. Many men, intentionally or not, have developed habits to question everything, which in many contexts are rewarded. However, in the context of supporting a friend or loved one who is experiencing misogynistic harassment, intensive questioning or interrogation can be perceived by the victim as questioning their lived experience, or gaslighting behavior.

As an ally, your primary responsibility should be to offer support to the victim of harassment or abuse. It is not your job to diagnose the cause of the harassment, or what the victim could have done to avoid the harassment. Your job as an ally is to offer support, which in many cases is as simple as just listening to the victim tell her story in her own words.

2. Remember That Women Are Better At Detecting Misogyny Than Men.

While you’re listening to the victim’s experience, some men may wonder whether the harassers’ motivations are truly rooted in misogyny. However; it is important to remember that we, as men, don’t have to deal with the subtle ways our culture reinforces misogyny on consistent basis. As a general rule, men should trust that, no matter how enlightened we think we may be, our male privilege erects blinders to our ability to perceive the subtle and even not-so-subtle ways misogyny presents itself.

Thus, when a woman says that she is the target of misogynistic abuse or harassment, more often than not, questioning whether misogyny is actually present is gaslighting.

3. Avoid Engaging in Misogynistic Abuse Online (And In Person, For That Matter).

If you consider yourself an ally to feminists, the easiest way to ruin your credibility as an ally is to engage in misogynistic abuse against a woman you disagree with. That is not to say that you should not voice disagreement with people just because they are women. However; using gendered slurs or other forms of misogynistic abuse (such as slut shaming, body shaming or objectifying, etc.) against a woman, even a woman who holds objectively abhorrent views, is not something committed allies should do.

In fact, it might be a good idea to review your social media accounts for any use of gendered slurs and reflect on why you decided to use such problematic rhetoric. It is all too common for men, particularly when we get emotional or agitated, to blurt out a nasty insult to get our rhetorical opponents to back off. Gendered slurs, slut shaming, body shaming and other forms of misogynistic abuse are ubiquitous because many of us have not seriously grappled with exactly why these rhetorical devices are at the top of our consciousness when speaking with women we disagree with or who have irked us in some way.

Consider that when you call a conservative woman you are arguing with about the merits of Cheeto’s Muslim ban a “b*tch,” you are providing cover for the next Bernie Bro or MAGA troll to use that same slur to your friend or loved one.

If you’ve done this in the past, own up to it. No ally is perfect. We all have done and said things that we wished we hadn’t (like, for example, that time I referred to Susan Sarandon as a “b*tch,” which I apologized for in Season 2, Episode 4: Mistakes Made). Being defensive or explaining why what you said was different is not going to come across well. Speaking from experience, the best way to deal with being confronted with a past transgression is to accept responsibility, reflect on why you did it, and pledge to be more careful with your words and actions int he future.

4. Call Out Misogyny And Harassment When You See It.

There is a remarkable disparity between how men and women view online harassment. According to a recent Pew poll, seven-in-ten women (70%) say they see online harassment as a major problem, compared with 54% of men. If online harassment is going to be taken seriously, we need to work on closing that gap.

In my opinion, a big reason for the gap is that some men just don’t see harassment of women for what it is, so we have to show them.

5. If You Choose To Get Involved, Do So With A Purpose.

If you do choose to white knight, this article is a good resource for tips and strategies.

National Organization for Men Against Sexism (“NOMAS”) spokesman Ben Atherton-Zeman wrote this article from Ms. magazine:

Clearly there’s no one “right” way to intervene, but I’ve already heard several suggestions. Men, we can’t remain silent any longer. Let us:

1. Listen to women’s experience of online abuse and threats by men. Let us read articles about it – the ones linked here are a good place to start. Instead of suggesting solutions, we can take in how hurtful the comments are.

2. Reach out to the target of the abuse. Ask her what she’d like to you do, if anything.

3. Write, “I think you’re right,” in Comments sections of articles, Facebook postings etc. of feminist women.  Whether or not they’ve been harassed or attacked, agree with them and do so publicly.

4. When men harass women online, speak up. We can say something like, “As a man, your harassing comment offends me,” in the Comments sections.  Say how it hurts you rather than speaking on behalf of the target.

5. Name the specific silencing tactic being used: name-calling, focusing on a woman’s appearance instead of her argument, etc.

6. Use humor. We can post something like, “Dude, put down your club–your caveman is showing!” Search online for feminist comedians of all genders who have done entire routines on this.

7. Watch for “professional trolls” from the “Men’s Rights” or “Father’s Rights” groups. They will often use terms such as “misandry” and refer to the feminist movement as anti-male or the domestic violence movement as an “industry.”

8. Send supportive emails, letters, candygrams, etc. to feminist women. Thank them for the good work they are doing–not just when they are targets of online harassment, but all the time. “If you see someone doing good work, you can be sure they’re being told they’re fat and ugly,” says Emily May. “Nice emails counterbalance the noise.”

9. Flag Facebook posts (or pages) when they’re abusive. If it’s a comment, click on the X to hide the post.  You then have the option to flag it as abusive.

10.  If the perpetrator isn’t an individual but a company, boycott the company. Write negative reviews of it on “Yelp” or other review sites, or  suggest policy or legislative changes.  (See the Ecological Model for Social Change for the philosophy behind this.)

 

The Abusive Press

To what seems to be a few years ago but turns out is about 13 years, I was going through an All Things Molly Ivins phase.  This was shortly before she passed away from breast cancer, that continuing scourge of women in the United States. She had released multiple books with collections of her essays and one essay was titled “Sex, Death and Media Ethics” which discussed the behavior of the press.  The media published multiple stories about a man named Michael Dorris who ended his life rather than have what happened after his death happen.

She notes two rules: 1) “is there any good reason to print this story?” and 2) is there any good reason not to print this story?

Most of the time the answer to the first question is easy and most of the time the answer to the second is not so easy.  The media has a lot of power in this country.  What is reported can instantly cause total destruction of people’s lives.  The wrong story told at the wrong time can cause people untold misery while at the same time the right story at the right time can spur action and make lives better.

I start this essay about that because I am going to talk about the abusive press and Hillary Clinton.  In her recent book she talks a lot about how bewildered she was over the press’s treatment of her emails, her statements about literally anything that could be twisted and her unhappiness at never being able to break through the wall of hate they had for her.

Clear Cut Examples

There are hundreds to choose from but one recently got treatment in Vox which is one of the few media outlets that treated her fairly during the 2016 election.  At least after Ezra Klein sat down and went “holy shit, this woman I have been bashing my entire career actually fucking means she wants to make life better.”  They are also the only mainstream media entity that laid out the Clinton Rules. (By the way, even Vox isn’t perfect since the guy who wrote the Clinton Rules also is the jackass behind Shattered: How the Media Still Doesn’t Admit They Fucked Up 2016.)

In the example Clinton’s attempt to talk to people in West Virginia about how she doesn’t want to forget about helping them since they are going to have their livelihoods destroyed when coal entirely goes away.  But she didn’t say the right thing at the right time and the media pounced.  First it was the right wing media and eventually it was the rest of the media.  But it took her trying to say the truth and twisted it into something to hurt her about.

Another clear example was the reaction of the press to Clinton’s fainting spell on 09/11/2016.  She was powering through like all candidates do at the tail end of a campaign and got dehydrated and fell ill.  But the way the press reacted was as if she had been hiding a diagnosis of cancer crossed with TB and ebola.  All of which we would have noticed by that time yet the press was in hysterics.   They reacted like the only way to avoid being treated like she was literally being carried to the grave was to shove a camera in her face as she drank some water, rested and took some medicine.

This Isn’t Reporting, This is Harassment

It goes back to two those first two questions Molly Ivins brought up-the news did need to report on both her less than perfect delivery of her statement to the coal miners and her illness.  What the news didn’t need to do was act as if she had committed a major crime in not being whatever it was that they wanted from her.  Time and again they would do this. Even those sympathetic to her. There would be something that was a mild hiccup and the media would go insane over it with endless stories about every aspect.  Then, once that was thoroughly dissected, they immediately would jump into if she reacted the right way. “What, you mean she DID try to make amends to the coal miners?  She can’t do that.  We already decided she was forever guilty of somehow hating the coal miners!”  “wait, she didn’t apologize for getting sick?!  How dare she?!  Did she apologize for not letting us shove cameras in her face while she recovered?  No?  THAT BITCH.”

That’s how the media acted again and again.

Everything she did was wrong. If she didn’t hold a press conference it was bad.  They even created timers.  If she did hold a press conference, she didn’t answer anyone’s questions the way they wanted.  She literally could not do a thing right to them.  And they wouldn’t let up on her for an instant.  Instead of saying “wow, it sucks that she was sick” it was “wow, how dare she not tell us in triplicate that she was ill?”

Walking On Eggshells

There are a few signs someone is abusive:

  • Telling the victim that they can never do anything right
  • Showing jealousy of the victim’s family and friends and time spent away
  • Accusing the victim of cheating
  • Keeping or discouraging the victim from seeing friends or family members
  • Embarrassing or shaming the victim with put-downs
  • Controlling every penny spent in the household
  • Taking the victim’s money or refusing to give them money for expenses
  • Looking at or acting in ways that scare the person they are abusing
  • Controlling who the victim sees, where they go, or what they do
  • Dictating how the victim dresses, wears their hair, etc.
  • Stalking the victim or monitoring their victim’s every move (in person or also via the internet and/or other devices such as GPS tracking or the victim’s phone)

Many of these things have nothing to do with Clinton (I left out the sex stuff for instance) but the media told Clinton she could never do anything right, they insulted her, dictated how she could dress, demanded all access at all times to watch what she does and in one thing left off that list-always changed the rules so she could never comply while not enforcing anything like rules for others.

So Clinton tried to thread the needle thin walkway they shoved her on while also not showing the obvious frustration one feels at being treated this way.  Along the way, her speech suffered because she was naturally worried about another coal miner treatment.  She tried to not say anything remotely controversial.  She tried to not be too ecstatic that this was the first time women were going to take on the role of President (after all, that meant the media would assume women were only voting for her because she had a vagina.)  She tried to accommodate their insane demands for access.  She tried so hard to do exactly what they wanted so the abuse would stop.

But it never did.

If being president means you must take unwarranted abuse, she showed that she was capable of it with the way they treated her and continue to treat her.  The difference is as I noted on Twitter recently, she doesn’t have to care anymore what they say about her.

She’s free.