PUMA Dupes for Purity

A theme from the 2008 election has been effectively recycled.

In 2008, I voted for Hillary Clinton in the primary. That was not because I preferred her to any particular other candidate. The reason was, in the parlance of Mr. Charles Pierce at Esquire, “ratfking.” Since she first appeared on the national stage, Clinton had been the subject of rodent-ravaging to such an extent that it would grow into a cottage industry. Thousands of trees were sacrificed at the hands of the right wing press in this service. Yet she had weathered the storm.

At the time, I imagined that a newcomer such as Barack Obama would be a big risk. A handful of insignificant statements or activities from the past could be rapidly converted into a closet full of skeletons by an increasingly mercenary media corps.

When the admittedly under qualified Senator won the nomination, many embittered Hillary supporters became a part of the informal “Party Unity My Ass” or PUMA movement. I was not prepared for what would happen next. Many of these heretofore ardent Hillary supporters came to loathe the Democratic Party. That’s fair enough. I thought at the time that an unprepared Barack Obama had been lifted out of obscurity to present a fresh new face by a party leadership more interested in marketing than in policy. But that did not change the fact that his claimed positions were very close to many of the claimed positions of Hillary Clinton. Nevertheless, the importance of delivering a high decibel “F– You” to the Democratic Party became paramount. Rather than aligning with an ideologically similar person or group, many disgruntled voters chose to actively oppose their own interests.

Now, with a closer than expected primary between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, the so-called “Bernie or Bust” movement recalls the PUMAs. In further irony, those whose support of Clinton was strong enough to bring outrage at Obama’s usurpation now hate her with as much passion or more. They have gone all in in support of even the most clearly insane crackpot ideas proffered by an increasingly unhinged Republican candidate pool. And now we can expect their numbers to be swollen by supporters of a self-proclaimed socialist who would rather support an overt purveyor of fascist ideology. Because Clinton lacks the ideological purity of Sanders, some (supposed) Sanders supporters loudly proclaim that they will vote for Trump before voting for Clinton.

That’ll show ’em.

In a way, however, this may show the brilliance of a seemingly unplanned stratagem. The right has striven to allow overt racism and misogyny in Congress to become so overwhelming that government will effectively cease to function under anyone but a white Christian male.