At BNR, we’ve argued that Bernie’s path to salvaging his personal brand is to help Hillary defeat Trump. There have been encouraging hints that he gets it. But now ABC’s “This Week” teases an upcoming interview in which Bernie tells host George Stephanopoulos that voting for Hillary vs. Trump would be “voting for the lesser of two evils.”
When Stephanopoulos asks Bernie if “the lesser of two evils” is how he’s describing voting for Hillary, Bernie deflects, saying it’s not him saying that, but “the American people.” It is truly unreal that, at this point in the campaign, Bernie is calling the Democratic frontrunner “evil.” And despite his protestations to the contrary, it is indeed him saying that.
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) May 21, 2016
[Transcript available at end of post.]
Three million more people have voted for Hillary than have voted for Bernie, and she has high levels of enthusiasm among her supporters. We don’t think she is “evil.” His contention that “the American people” speak with one voice about Hillary, in order to justify his ugly characterization of her, is deeply deceptive.
Further, as we have previously pointed out in this space—and will no doubt be obliged to keep pointing out—Trump has a high unfavorable rating because of what kind of person he is and the things he has actually done, while Hillary’s high unfavorables are largely a function of nearly three decades of persistent negative media narratives with their roots in both classism and misogyny.
Bernie is not a stupid man. He knows this. And yet he is willing to cynically and opportunistically conceal this false equivalence while in the next breath asserting that he’s running a campaign that centers justice.
That is some breathtaking irony, right there.
And let us not fail to acknowledge that there is a particular gendered context to calling a woman “evil” that simply doesn’t exist for men. His words, which he disclaims as his own, invoke ancient narratives about women which have underwritten the seething hatred directed at Hillary—and her female supporters, in particular—by many of his supporters.
He caps off a week in which he has failed to meaningfully address the attacks on and threats against female Democratic officials by using language that demonizes women.
Frankly, at this point, that rhetoric can no longer be dismissed as mere carelessness. It’s unforgivable.
Bernie knows better. And Democrats deserve better.
Sanders: We need a campaign—an election—coming up which does not have two candidates who are really very, very strongly disliked. I don’t wanna see the American people voting for the lesser of two evils. I want the American people to be voting for a vision of economic justice, of social justice, of environmental justice, of racial justice. That is the campaign we are running, and that’s why we are getting the support we are.”
Stephanopoulos: Is that how you would describe Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump—as the lesser of two evils?
Sanders: Well, if you look— No, I wouldn’t describe it, but that’s what the American people are saying. If you look at the favorability ratings of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, both of them have very, very high unfavorables.