THE (WHITE) ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: THE PRIVILEGE OF THE #NeverHer MOVEMENT Bob Andres / firstname.lastname@example.org I have given it serious thought and now I think it’s time we address the white elephant in the room that is this Presidential primary cycle. I’m not talking about the mammoth of the Republican race, with his white supremacist message and his brash, unapologetic demeanor and propensity towards insults, threats and lawsuits. Everyone can see him and there’s no denying its presence. It’s ugly, it’s vulgar, it takes up too much space, but we are all talking about it. What I am talking about is a smaller, subtler creature, seemingly harmless in comparison, but becoming harder to ignore. Let me reveal to you the elephant that has taken a nice, cozy corner in the Democratic race (in case you haven’t seen him): there is a big racial chasm in the Democratic electorate. We have a big white privilege problem. There I said it.This white privilege problem is best exemplified by the #NeverHer movement. Basically, the #NeverHer movement is comprised of fervent supporters of Bernie Sanders who say that if Sanders does not win the Democratic nomination, they will either abstain from voting or purposely sabotage the Democratic Party by voting for the Republican candidate, in order to prevent a Hillary Clinton presidency. It mirrors the #NeverTrump movement from the Republican side but, unlike the #NeverTrump movement, which is supported by a number of Republican officials and has even been promoted by some of Trump’s campaign adversaries, the #NeverHer movement has not been embraced by Bernie Sanders or any other Democratic official. At first it is not apparent how this movement has anything to do with race and privilege, but a deeper look into it reveals very important aspects of how different racial and socioeconomic groups approach elections and how the results of elections impact them at a personal level. First, we must understand the role that race has played in the primaries so far. Hillary Clinton has won minorities by a landslide, especially black voters, who have supported her in similar proportions as they supported Barack Obama in 2008. This has given Clinton a huge advantage in delegate-rich states, such as Texas and Georgia, putting her well ahead of Senator Sanders. Sanders, on the other hand, has struggled to get traction with minorities and his base consists mostly of white young liberal voters. In order to minimize the psychological damage caused by the final delegate tally from Super Tuesday, which puts Secretary Clinton almost 200 delegates ahead of Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Senator’s supporters are spreading a narrative that augurs well for his path ahead. They argue that Sanders is behind because so far the terrain has been unfavorable for him and that after March, the campaign will be moving towards friendlier ground for him. Some dismiss Clinton’s big wins in the South arguing those states are inherently conservative backward states that would never go for a Democrat in the General Election. Others suggest black voters have been manipulated and brain-washed by their religious congregations into voting for Hillary Clinton. Most are confounded by the fact that minorities seem to be voting against their on interests and needs. These narratives are all extremely problematic and every single one of them is helping widen the racial chasm that already exists in the election. By dismissing or underplaying contests hardly fought and won by Clinton in the diverse South and putting all the importance in the future whiter states, Sanders supporters are undermining the importance of the minority voter population and the voting power of millions of people who have already cast their ballots. Sanders supporters are telling minorities “You voiced your opinion. Your opinion is irrelevant”. Suggesting black voters are only voting for a candidate because they are following the orders of their religious congregations is an insult to the intelligence of the African-American community and the integrity of their religion. Finally, suggesting minorities are voting against their interests implies that Bernie’s supporters, the majority of whom are white, know what the needs of minorities are better than minorities themselves. It’s a very condescending attitude and what minorities hear is: “We know better. Let us guide you to the light”. This attitude of superiority and entitlement is exactly the attitude that minorities have been resisting and fighting against for decades in this country. Sanders supporters must realize that these attitudes are pedantic, egocentric and alienating towards minority voters. They just reinforce the “us vs. them” narrative and help unite and strengthen the coalition of minorities in support of Hillary Clinton. By continuing these arguments, Sanders supporters are energizing their competition and sending minority voters straight to their battalions. This brings me back to the #NeverHer campaign, the online movement of people who will not back Hillary Clinton if Sanders loses the nomination. Not only are they perfectly okay with Donald Trump winning the nomination, they actually desire the outcome if Hillary is the nominee. They argue that a Trump presidency would be so disastrous that people will turn to someone like Bernie in 2020. The #NeverHer movement uses this as a threat: “Vote for Bernie, or else…”, even in a case where Hillary Clinton wins the nomination simply because more people voted for her and chose her to be their nominee (after all, Hillary is way ahead in the popular vote at this point, with almost 1.5 millions voters ahead of Sanders). This is coming from people who seem to advocate for fairness and democracy. What the #NeverHer movement implies is a punishment against the Democratic Party and millions of people who voted for Hillary Clinton, a retaliation of sorts for not choosing their preferred candidate. It’s a childish reaction, but one that must be taken very seriously. We are only so lucky that, in case of a Trump nomination, the rival party will be suffering a similar fate. This whole #NeverHer affair got me thinking: what would make someone prefer the potentially disastrous consequences of a Trump presidency (consequences that we cannot even fathom or predict at this point) than the more predictable consequences of a Clinton presidency which, at worst, would preserve the status quo for another four years? After all, a Clinton has already been President and, though not perfect, his Presidency was anything but disastrous. Clinton might not be Bernie Sanders but she is also no Donald Trump by any means. Then it hit me: the #NeverHer movement is white privilege at its finest. For most people, presidential elections are of little consequence. Presidents after all have very limited power and our checks and balances serve as insurance against terrible presidents. Big political shifts hardly rock the socio-economic middle, consisting of mostly white middle to upper middle class. If you are white, straight and middle class, you can probably ride a bad President like you ride a bad flu. It’s not pleasant, you might have some moments when you think you are doing pretty bad, but eventually you recover and get back up. It is not so for the fringes of society. The weakest members of society, the poor, the minorities are the ones hit the hardest by changes in legislation and policy-making. In fact, while some hardly notice the difference between Presidential terms, except for every four years when there’s an election, these other communities are directly affected in very significant ways. A white middle class straight man has little to lose in a Trump presidency. But the #NeverHer movement needs to think about the muslim woman who gets bullied for worshipping her God. It needs to think about the Mexican child who sees his family marginalized and deported. It needs to think of the gay couple who worry about the future of their family. It needs to think about Trump’s threats to silence his critics and dissent. It needs to think about the poor pregnant woman who was raped and doesn’t live at a driving distance from an abortion clinic. It needs to think of the thousands who rely on Obamacare to guarantee their health and will be left uninsured and in the cold if ACA is repealed and nothing is put in its place. Freedom of all religions, tolerance, equality, compassion, free speech, women’s reproductive rights, fair healthcare with access for all. These are all progressive values that Bernie Sanders supporters claim to espouse. These are all values Hillary Clinton espouses, even if her approach is slightly different and even if her history of championing them has evolved throughout the years. What Bernie Sanders supporters have to admit is that Hillary Clinton is more similar to Sanders than they would like to think and that, although not perfect, she is a much better alternative to Trump in order to preserve the progress we have made in made in the past eight years. As a happily married gay hispanic, I have been witness and beneficiary of some of that progress. It scares me that the same people who championed for my rights throughout these years are also the people who are willing to blow it all to pieces now just because their candidate happens to lose the primary. This is an appeal to all those #NeverHer adherents who believe in progressive values and equality for all people: Now that we have our victories, don’t abandon us when we have to win the war. Think of those of us who, as minorities, have less numbers and power to turn elections. I believe Bernie Sanders is a very good and decent man. I also believe with all my heart that the last thing he would want is to see Donald Trump in the Oval Office. Bernie Sanders would be disappointed in those of his followers who, for a temper tantrum, became accessory to the throning of man like Donald Trump and put into gear a process to reverse the progress this Nation has made and “Make America Racist and Unequal Again”.