The Democratic Party presidential primary race has not gone as anyone had expected. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, essentially a Tina Fey-written character come to life, has posed serious competition to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who previously seemed to be on the track for an almost-guaranteed victory.
Clinton scored two major endorsements this past month, which might prove to be crucial in her quest for the Democratic nomination. Planned Parenthood gave Clinton its first-ever presidential primary endorsement Jan. 7. The Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT advocacy group in the United States, gave Clinton its endorsement Jan. 19.
While neither Planned Parenthood nor the Human Rights Campaign represents all women or all members of the LGBT community, their endorsements of Clinton are hugely important.
Sanders knows this and went after both organizations rather aggressively during in appearance on “The Rachel Maddow Show.”
“I have friends and supporters in the Human Rights Fund … [and] in Planned Parenthood,” Sanders told Maddow. “But you know what, Hillary Clinton has been around there for a very, very long time, and some of these groups are, in fact, part of the establishment.”
It is very strange that Sanders would label either group as part of the establishment that his so-called “political revolution” is fighting against. While both groups have been part of the political scene and Democratic allies for decades, they can never truly be establishment, as they fight for progressive values and minority groups that the status quo has always opposed.
Planned Parenthood has been under attack from the Republican Party for years, with many states trying as hard as possible to restrict funding to the organization that often assists low-income women and men. The organization has been under attack by anti-abortion groups, which released distorted and manipulated tapes that blew up in the media. While Planned Parenthood has been exonerated of any wrongdoing, the actions of the right-wing groups show how far the organization’s opponents are willing to go to shut it down. Planned Parenthood is clearly not a part of the establishment.
The HRC is also far from the establishment. While the HRC does have its shortcomings — focusing too much on upper-class and white gay men, for example — the minority group it represents is still fighting bitterly for equal rights in this country. All of the GOP presidential candidates have promised to roll back the many gains made by the LGBT community under the Obama administration. The HRC recognizes this, and thus endorsed the candidate most likely to win the White House and most likely to use their political power to aid the LGBT community, which is not Bernie Sanders.
Hillary Clinton was flummoxed by Sanders’ criticism of Planned Parenthood and the HRC, brought on simply by the organizations’ endorsements for her over him. She correctly pointed out that Sanders has been in Congress for well over two decades.
While Sanders tried to backpedal his criticism of both groups, especially Planned Parenthood, his initial reaction is telling. It shows his unwillingness to work with others. Bernie needs strong Democratic organizations like Planned Parenthood and the HRC behind him in the unlikely event that he wins the primaries.
All in all, we would actually be fine with either Clinton or Sanders as our president, and watching them fight is like watching Mom and Dad bicker at the dinner table.