What It’s Like to Be an Undecided Voter in the Democratic Primaries

by April Wolfe

Firstly, let me give you my demographics: white, woman, 34, liberal, feminist, low-income, blue-collar background, no children, in debt, first in family to go to college, living in major U.S. city.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the “issues.” I’m one of those people born in between the Millennials and Gen X. I have no allegiances to either. Sometimes I think this makes me an objective outsider. Other times, I have no idea why people are so blind. In this election season, it feels like both.

Starting with Bernie: he’s Polish. Automatic plus in my Midwestern Eastern-Euro book. He’s not egregiously rich, though if I met him, I’d be like, “Who’s this rich guy with a summer home?” Still, in politician worlds, a not-rich person is a beautiful rarity. Pretty much everything he says about free college and free healthcare gets my reproductive organs hot and bothered. To me, these are very simple things he’s saying—living wages and a country that cares about all of its citizens.

Clinton, on the other hand, is so rich that there’s no denying she’s rich, and I have a little button in my head that turns on the rage machine when I find out how rich some people can be in the US. It’s something I’ve had to work on for a long time. Because if I were to become rich, I might change my tune. Being rich doesn’t automatically dismiss Clinton as my candidate, but it also doesn’t help.

Yet, I am torn. I love everything Bernie is saying, but my rational mind knows it’s all just well-meaning propaganda in the end. In some ways, Bernie is the Fun Weekend Dad in this parenting scenario. He ran for senate in Vermont because he and his wife had bought a summer home there, and he’s been running almost uncontested ever since. So while that spells a good Presidential candidate to many, it does give me pause. Bernie’s never had to be challenged for his authority to have his job. I definitely think being the lone Jewish socialist in the senate made it difficult to be taken seriously, but he never had to fight to keep his job for the people of Vermont. So that means he never needed to run expensive campaigns. And he never needed to take donations, unlike, say, a woman who will need to run a very expensive campaign no matter if she’s a Clinton or a Warren. And while Vermont seems like an advertisement for the virtues of socialist living, I’ve heard some things…

I’m generally skeptical of mostly-white American Utopias. It’s like when I moved to Portland, Oregon, and everyone said how equal and beautiful it was, but the beloved mayor had definitely had sex with a high school boy (statutory rape???), and when I stopped and talked to some black people, they were like, “Uh, no.” So the thing is, I can’t overlook the fact that even though one percent of Vermont is black people (96 percent white), black people make up 10 percent of their incarcerated population, and for a socialist Utopia, that spells trouble, because if that’s the best we can do when there is no opposition, we are all doomed. A lot of people make a big deal out of Killer Mike being in his crew, but I don’t know if “knowing” really translates into doing something about it.

On the other hand, I’m not sure Clinton gets that black people exist. I’m not black, but racial and gender equality is a big issue for me in this election because I can’t see another woman doxxed and another black person shot in the street. I mean, she knows Obama. There’s not a whole lot of great things to say about her on these accounts, partially because the concrete not-great things (red-lining) actually came from her husband (not her), so I don’t know how she would fare on this other than not knowing black people exist. Oh, but I did read an article on her being basically a spy for a civil rights leader in the ’70s, pretending she was a WASP moving into the area to sniff out whether people would reveal the racist things people do to discriminate against another WASP. That was pretty cool. Still, she’s a WASP, and I’m going to miss our black President.

In all of this, the thing I actually enjoy about Hillary—aside from her clearly being the smartest person in the room and having to hide it constantly—is that she’s basically the Mean Weekday Mom in the scenario. Having been raised by a single mom, I can appreciate it. Some harsh truths have to be said, and mom usually has to do it. I don’t envy that job. But I appreciate the harsh truth. Sometimes I would like that better than the revolutionary sugarcoating. I’m not as bothered by her Goldman Sachs speaking fees, because she was talking to this company about how they should hire more women and taking money from men to do it, and because I support Beyoncé and her “get it” Queendom, I can’t really condemn Clinton for the same thing. Still, Clinton is fucking rich, you guys!

Also, foreign policy? I can’t stomach more drones killing innocent people. I also can’t stomach sending more American troops (a friend committed suicide after two devastating tours in Iraq). Yet at the same time, imagining Bernie making difficult decisions about war is not an easy image to conjure. Basically, I don’t ever want to be President.

Now, as a person watching all of this unfold on the Internet? People are crazy. I’ve never seen a bigger case for the existence of confirmation bias. Just this morning, I read a fair but critical article from Politifact about the viability of Sanders’ healthcare plan, which stated, basically, if this were a perfect world, the numbers still seem a little shaky, but if it can get through, it might do some great things, but we definitely do not know for sure. The article right underneath that one had a headline of “Politico Confirms Bernie’s Plan Would SAVE Americans.” And then I see an article repeating that Clinton is the most qualified Presidential candidate in history, and I have to be like, “Wait, back up. Why?”

Also, I’ve seen completely sane, intelligent people sharing pro-Bernie debate clips with very misogynist encoded language in their descriptions. (Like the one saying that Hillary goes totally BEAST, and it backfires on her, but in reality, she’s just talking, and Bernie is the one yelling.) Would these same liberals just post a video with a description if it were racist, coded language? I feel like they wouldn’t, and that’s concerning to me—not what Bernie says, but how he says it (yelling) and how that gives other white guys permission to yell (particularly at women), and the kind of deep, dark stuff I don’t want to know about my friends that they just overlook (calling women BEASTS for having opinions is not cool) that I can’t overlook when it serves their cause. And the “Bernie Bro”? These dudes totally exist and are often your friends. But can we not have a cute name that oversimplifies everything to a meme that shuts down a conversation?

And then let’s get into the whole turning feminists against feminists thing, because that’s actually an easy thing to do. I think Steinem was extremely frustrated that young women weren’t getting behind another woman, and she spoke that on national television and then apologized. But then I see a host of young women trying to dig up information about Steinem to make us realize we should have hated her in the first place because she was once employed by the CIA, yet some of those women have definitely harassed me online for being undecided and not supporting Bernie, because he’s the real feminist candidate.

My head is spinning. Everyone means well, but people are crazy. That’s what I see happening. So as the election draws near, can we all spend a little less time on social media and a little more time remembering why we might like other humans? I’ll be in bed until November. Wake me up when everything’s over, and then we can all be on the same page criticizing whomever we elected for being too ineffective.

Top image: Twitter/MSNBC

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