Sharma: Liberal Hypocrisy

Michelle Obama urged Democrats to take the high road. They’re failing.

by Hansa Sharma | 1/6/17 12:15am

On the night of Nov. 8, I went to sleep early. It would be 3 a.m. in Madrid before the results were finalized. An ardent — albeit silent — supporter of former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton since her first run for the highest office in the country, I expected her to take it home in a landslide considering her poised performance in the debates and good standing in the polls. But when I woke up that cold morning after, I had a sunken feeling of despair that not all was right with the world. The electoral college had failed to accept Clinton as our first female president and now President-elect Donald Trump had taken several swing states.

Having spent the grueling, exciting and nastiest home stretch of the election abroad in Europe, I was physically distanced from the vitriolic atmosphere that divided the nation and pitted my fellow citizens against one another not only in issues of ideology but also of identity politics that plagued the very essence of their being. When I returned to New York City for Thanksgiving, this dissonance and resistance to our president-elect amplified and manifested itself in many forms, including loud, broadcasted protests and small Post-it notes written to Ivanka Trump in the Union Square subway station. Although it was encouraging to see fellow New Yorkers and tourists from around the world engage in their acts of civil disobedience, several of the messages heard in person or online regarding Trump and his family were alarming, to say the least.

Of particular interest is Melania Trump’s libel suit against author Webster Tarpley who perpetrated rumors that she was a high-end escort. Besides these defamatory allegations sparked by the release of racy photos from Melania’s former modeling career, liberals have attacked Trump’s daughter Ivanka and raised suspicions about his son Barron’s wellbeing. Considering the backlash against Trump during the election for his sexually explicit and misogynistic comments, many of his critics seem to be guilty of the same practices they accuse him of: sexism, slut-shaming and disrespect toward the disabled. How can the same people who rallied behind Clinton degrade another woman, especially considering that she’ll be the future First Lady? As First Lady Michelle Obama so eloquently and inspiringly stated at the Democratic National Convention in efforts to galvanize voters for Clinton, “When they go low, we go high.”

Current supporters of the Democratic Party seem to be doing less of that and more of continuing obstructionist practices in retaliation against Republican opposition during the Obama administration. Giving Republicans a taste of their own medicine will not only steer away centrist Democrats from the party but also build further divisions between centrists and progressives who supported Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during the primaries. Many blamed Clinton’s loss on a lack of consistency in message as well as a failure in connecting to everyday Americans. Her neoliberalism has often been faulted with pandering to the same corporate interests other Democrats chastise.

When Democrats run such negative campaigns against their opponents and display the same vitriol progressives try to eliminate, it does not take long to determine that the party has lost its progressive backbone in webs of hypocrisy and corporate interests. It can only re-emerge in legitimacy after committing to a clear message that can rally the entire population instead of engaging in buzzwords that serve to divide rather than unite our diverse electorate. As Michelle Obama has said, it is often beneficial to take the high road instead of participating in the mud-slinging of retaliatory politics.

It is time for the Democratic Party to go back to the drawing board and re-examine its vision after this debilitating defeat. There is hope and a chance to move forward without reducing ourselves to obstructionism and government shutdown. While Clinton lost her bid to become the first female president, other promising candidates won important congressional races, including Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. It is now up to the Democratic Party to choose wisely, and tread the path to 2020 wisely since nothing is ever truly in the bag.