If Obama loses this November you will hear a lot about the Bradley Effect, a strange sort of white guilt whereby white voters tell pollsters they will vote for a candidate of color and then don’t. The press erroneously told its markets that the Bradley Effect was a factor in New Hampshire when, in fact, it wasn’t. There was an unusually large group of undecided, and most of them broke for Hillary. But the press still saw and reported white guilt, because it fit their chosen candidate’s narrative, especially with his surrogate, Mr. Jackson Jr. fanning the flames of racism as he was. Provoking it, really, but that’s another post.
What I want to talk about today is the other Bradley Effect, the Bill Bradley Effect. For those too young to recall, or who were otherwise absent from politics in 2000, a little refresher is in order, and is available, via The Left Coaster. In that primary, Bill Bradley and Al Gore fought it out, and while the race wasn’t nearly as close (poor Bill got less than 400 delegates), it was very similar to this year’s primary race. To wit:
Part of the reason why there were some Bradley supporters who hated Gore more than Bush supporters did was that Bill Bradley, who was running on Honesty and IntegrityTM, had made it a regular practice to lie about Gore and paint him in the worst manner possible with ugly character attacks – whether the topic was Willie Horton, Bradley’s health-care plan or other matters.
The traditional media, with their deep-seated hatred for Gore, latched on to Bradley because of this, picked up the ball from him and ran with it for the next year and a half, trashing Gore and repeatedly calling him a liar – often over their own inventions.
Few who’ve not drunk the kool-aide will argue that that’s exactly what Obama did to Clinton, starting in November of last year. Those who have drunk the kool-aide, and who now operate in much the same way as Bush supporters have, and who effectively ended this campaign with the equivalent of banging on the glass to stop the recount (this time it was the media’s glass, not a local election office in Florida), will tell you in their up-is-down sort of way that the opposite happened. But if you’d paid a lick of sense outside the shrillosphere this primary season, you know that is a lie.
From another LeftCoaster post:
In the year 2000, some supporters of Sen. Bill Bradley turned against Vice President Al Gore after the primary under the completely fictitious pretext that he was barely different from George W. Bush. I saw a more fraudulent version of that in the rantings of Naderites – such as Clinton character assassin and Naderite Barbara Ehrenreich of the “Bush, Gore? Gush, Bore?” fame. What appalled me is not that people might choose not to vote for Gore or choose to support Ralph Nader but the fact that they predicated their actions on transparently false theories of who Al Gore was and what he stood for. I told myself that I would never ever go down that path. (Funnily enough, earlier on in this campaign, it was some Obama supporters who had pre-emptively declared that they could never see themselves supporting Sen. Clinton if she became the nominee. How the world turns!)
Nice piece of irony, eh? Speaking of irony…
I’m a big fan of irony, and I often say, in half-jest, that my life is a case study in it. Because it has been such an evident force in my life, I have come to be able to recognize it with a precision that my husband and friends often envy. Some say I mine for it. And so it is that I share with you the latest gem from my excavations. I’m calling this gem The Other Bradley Effect, because it is due to Bill Bradley, and his completely nutty supporters who left the party for Nader in droves, many of whom fueled the Obama phenomenon this spring, that make it possible for so many of us Hillary supporters to say,
Meh, why do I have to vote Democrat again? Didn’t Nader voters (who were really just disaffected Bradley supporters, on the left anyway) walk away from the argument that any Democrat is better than the newbie with authoritarian tendencies?
I mean, for myself, the thought may not have occurred to me otherwise. I used to argue with these folks back in 2000, and couldn’t understand why they were doing it. I would say to them, “Bu…bu….bu…Democrats are better!” They would argue back that yes, Democrats were better, but not Al Gore. He was different; too wooden, too corporate, and too Clintonian.
But, while I have been deeply dissatisfied with Congress’ actions and lack of actions for a long time, I still clung to the idea that the good guys, the guys who were for the most people getting the most from their lives, were Democrats. That Republicans were the party of destruction for the poor and protection for the rich. They were the party of busy bodies, who sought to control as much as they could, and Democrats were the party of freedom, more of it, for more people.
It took Obama’s campaign and character for me to see that Congress is acting the way that it is precisely because they have adopted Republicanism as legitimate governing policy. They are no longer on the side of the people, at least not in the top eschalons, at least not the Rockefellers, the Reids, the Pelosis, etc. No, those people have clearly sold out, and it’s easy enough to find out to whom online.
In a way, it was bound to happen. I recall worrying that such a thing would happen several years ago. The corruption was so thick and so open in Washington when Republicans controlled Congress and the Executive (really way more out in the open than now, even as bad as it currently is), that I wondered if Democrats would have some sort of Stockholm Syndrome reaction to it all. I put that out of my mind at the time because, after all, this is politics, not the bedchamber, but hell, after the D.C. Madame case, maybe I misjudged. I never wanted to believe that both parties were equally corrupt, but it’s occurring to me more and more. I’m beginning to feel a bit like Tyler Durden about it all…as in:
God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off. [bolding mine]
Also as in, I’d like to kick some ass. But I digress.
So back to The Other Bradley Effect. I guess in some twisted way we have to thank them. I mean, without them, a lot of people like me may not have entertained the notion that Democrats weren’t so golden. We wouldn’t have a recent precedent for leaving the party, the public be damned. Having spent the last 8 years talking to some repentant Nader voter or another, I’m sure it must gall them to know that their ire in 2000, and their taking it out on the public at large, is directly responsible for my willingness to break with Democrats for the first time in 20 years. And all they have to argue back is, “Bu…bu….bu…Democrats are better!” The difference is, Barack Obama really is different, and not because he is a candidate of color. It’s the content of his character that has me worried.