Readers who don't live in Seattle have asked for a clarification. Here goes: the Washington state Democratic caucuses are this weekend. We held our endorsement until pretty late in the day—our print edition came out on Wednesday—and we ran with two covers. We actually printed two papers. About 3/5 of the run had Bernie Sanders on the cover and a Bernie endorsement inside and a 2/5 had Hillary Clinton on the cover and a Hillary endorsement inside. We distributed Hillary papers to the areas of the city we figured she would have the most support and Bernie papers to the parts of the city with the most Bernie support. And we didn’t put anything online when the papers went out. So people saw papers, and figured "YAY! THEY BACKED MY CANDIDATE!” or “BOO! THEY DIDN'T BACK MY CANDIDATE!" Some Sanders supporters initially insisted the Hillary cover they were seeing pictures of online was a hoax — and vice-versa. At 1 PM on Wednesday, six hours after the paper went out, our endorsement went up online. Readers who clicked on our endorsement got a popup window that read, "Please take this quick survey before seeing the content you requested!" There were three choices: "17-30," "31-118," and "I will not answer this question." People who clicked on 17-30 went to the Sanders endorsement, people who clicked on 31-118 went to the Clinton endorsement, and people who didn't want to answer the question went to the Sanders endorsement. Our readers had feelings about our dual—and somewhat obnoxious—endorsements. Yesterday the Stranger Election Control Board unpacked the endorsement — why we did it this way — in a long AMA.
Stranger Election Control Board members are standing by—barely awake but very nearly caffeinated—ready, willing, and able to answer your questions about our endorsement(s) in the Washington State Democratic Caucuses. Post your questions in the comment thread and we will answer as many as we can in the body of this post. Hey hey let's go kenka suru!
To get things rolling: Why did the table of contents in the print edition say the endorsement was on page 14 when there was no page 14 in the issue? Why was the endorsement at the back of the issue on an unnumbered page? WHYWHYWHY?!? It wasn't an attempt to bury or hide the endorsements, contra some conspiracy theories we saw on Facebook, but a print error. There was some confusion at the print shop due to "belly band configuration" and the print shop decided "to move pages rather than re-plate." The SECB doesn't know what that means exactly—we are not printers—but they shouldn't have done that. And that thing they shouldn't have done resulted in pages being moved around and page numbers being dropped. Very frustrating, we agree, and not intentional.
So who did you actually endorse, deep down in your pot-addled hearts? Hillary Sanders or Bernie Clinton?
The Bernie vs. Hillary debates inside SECB meetings were long, passionate, and divisive, just like the Bernie vs. Hillary debates going on outside SECB meetings. Instead of shutting down that debate, we decided to inhabit it—we decided to let the debate we were having be this issue of the paper, instead of pretending that this issue of the paper (and our endorsement) could somehow end that debate. Also: since caucuses aren't winner-take-all affairs, we figured... just this once... our endorsement issue didn't have to be a winner-take-all affair either. And we wanted to drive home an important message about this year's Democratic contest: a good, affirmative case can be made for either of these candidates. (You really can't say that about any of the douchebags running for the GOP nomination.) So you can feel good about supporting whichever one gets the nomination. (That's why this week's spineline reads, "DON'T BE AN IDIOT: VOTE FOR THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE THIS NOVEMBER.")
But who did we actually endorse, deep down in our pot-addled hearts? Bernie Sanders got more votes—Sanders got one more vote than Clinton. And that's why Bernie got more than half the papers: 10,000 more copies of this week's paper have Sanders on the cover and the Sanders' endorsement hidden somewhere inside. (Oy, printer. Why did you have to fuck up this week?) Likewise, two of the three options for people who came to the website looking for our endorsement took people to the Sanders endorsement. Sanders got more issues of the Stranger this week, and more people read our Sanders endorsement online, just as Sanders is likely to get more delegates this weekend. — DAN SAVAGE
Were there really no women caucusing the SECB for Hillary? I thought we were a more pragmatic gender than that.
All the women on the SECB voted to endorse Bernie. I personally felt that Bernie (unlike many of his followers, it should be noted) better represents my feminist principles over Hillary. Bernie primarily addresses structural oppression through the lens of economic injustice. This isn’t a complete analysis, but it’s a start. Hillary believes that social progress can be made using the same tools of the existing patriarchal, capitalist system (i.e. Lean In feminism). I don’t agree with the latter.
P.S. To all the Bernie supporters outraged about the SECB doing two covers, I encourage you to scroll through some of the comments, especially the ones calling Hillary “Shrillary.” Your people have some serious work to do. — SYDNEY BROWNSTONE
I'm so glad you asked this question. Yes, there were really no women caucusing the SECB for Hillary. Here is how the vote broke down in the room at the end of the day: Angela Garbes, Heidi Groover, Ana Sofia Knauf, Sydney Brownstone, Jen Graves, and Ansel Herz for Bernie Sanders (we had the majority) versus Dan Savage, Tim Keck, Christopher Frizzelle, Eli Sanders, and Rich Smith for Hillary Clinton (Sean Nelson was present but abstained).
As for the question of pragmatism, I think it's a good one. My take—and the other women should join in with theirs here, because I'm certainly not speaking for all of us—is that Hillary is not necessarily a pragmatic choice at all, because she could easily lose in November for many reasons. And this is a caucus. Beyond that, for me there is of course the problem that there is nothing pragmatic about the current machine, which Hillary embodies and shape-shifts to match.
Casting Bernie as the impractical, pie-in-the-sky candidate plays into the hands of those who'd like to see this country continue its accelerating race to the right. I liked what Charles wrote this morning: "Enough is enough. The press in the US and UK needs to stop lumping Sanders with Trump and other loonies. Sanders is not saying crazy things. He might be the most normal presidential candidate in the history of the United States. All of this lumping business is about distorting this obvious fact—he is a very rational, very sane politician. Hillary Clinton is madder than Sanders."
I want to be part of a crew that at least tries to help remind people that Sanders actually is the pragmatic choice. — JEN GRAVES
Is there a link to your actual endorsement not based on the age question?
Nope. — DAN SAVAGE
Does it feel good to finally be to the right of those hippies at the Seattle Times?
We talked about the Seattle Times endorsement of Bernie Sanders—their surprise, out-of-left-field Sanders endorsement—during SECB meetings. It's no secret that Republicans want Bernie Sanders to get the Dem nomination; it's also no secret that the Seattle Times almost always endorses Republican candidates. Rather than evidence of some newfound progressivism at the Seattle Times, we saw their Sanders endorsement as a dirty trick—an effort to help the candidate the GOP would like to run against in the general election. The Seattle Times has one agenda, and one agenda only, and that's slashing taxes—particularly the estate tax. So what seems likelier: the Seattle Times pulled a complete 180 on the issue they care most about.—and they want to see Frank Blethen's taxes go way, way up—or they're bullshitting. Our money is on the latter.
That said: If Bernie and Trump both make it through to the general election, the Seattle Times will probably endorse Bernie. But if John Kasich, the Republican the Seattle Times endorsed in the GOP primary, should makes it through to the general election, without a doubt the Seattle Times will endorse Kasich. And guess what? Kasich's tax plan looks nothing like Bernie's tax plan. So, yeah. They're not hippies. They're liars. — DAN SAVAGE
Why the age-ist endorsement widget on the website? I'm in my 30's and was "lucky" enough to finish graduate school, student loan laden of course, just as the economy tanked. With a degree in one of those fancy STEM fields that was supposed to guarantee me a perfect life instead of an endless series of contract positions and no job security... In other words, my age actually has very little to do with my selection
Damn. I feel you on those student loans. But here’s my answer: According to exit polls from states that have already had their primary caucuses, Bernie Sanders is winning, unequivocally, across one category—17-29 year-olds. That’s even true for many of the states that Hillary ultimately won. But the age widget could have been a zip code widget, or really any other demographic switch. The point, though, wasn’t an ageist endorsement ("EVERYONE OVER 30 SHOULD VOTE FOR HILLARY!" Come on). It was commentary on the public’s tendency to only read things that already affirm their world view, including the views of their chosen candidate. Have you seen the outrage in the comments? What’s the point of doing endorsements if the only people who read them expect to find an endorsement of a policy or politician that they already support? Newspapers should strive to be independent, not dogmatic. This election in particular has created polarized worlds of Facebook sharing where conspiracy theories and bad information flourish—yes, even among liberals. If that’s the world you want to live in, where reality changes based on the link you click, you should actually really like the way we did our endorsements. If it isn’t the world you want to live in, we should all strive to be better informed—and support good journalism. — SYDNEY BROWNSTONE
So who did you actually endorse, deep down in your pot-addled hearts? Hillary Sanders or Bernie Clinton?
Deep down in my pot-addled heart, I endorsed our duty to our readers. Hah! But seriously. Washington doesn’t vote, it caucuses. Washington’s going to split its delegates among Sanders and Clinton. In this context, the most useful thing for us to do was to arm readers with the best arguments for each candidate, all in the hopes of a more sophisticated caucusing day for all. (The vitriolic comments don’t bode well.) Age seemed to be the most reliable way to determine whether one would caucus for Bernie or for Clinton, so I agreed with the group to use that quality as the way to determine which readers would see what. The SECB held a mini-caucus of our own, realized we were split 6-5 in favor of Bernie, thought it’d be more useful to endorse caucusing instead of a particular candidate, and then thought the double-cover idea would be the only and the best way to express this idea in print. Though the packaging of the concept is challenging and tongue-in-cheek, the sentiment at the back of our endorsement is, for me, an earnest one: here’s the best ideas we got, take these ideas to your caucus site and argue civilly with your neighbors! — RICH SMITH
Whose idea was it to alienate your entire readership, regardless of age, by pulling the survey endorsement stunt?
Savage’s. — ELI SANDERS
At the bottom of the Hillary endorsement, you said that the decision was not unanimous by the Board. Who voted for who?
As Jen Graves mentioned, when the SECB made its final decision last week, a majority voted for Bernie Sanders: Angela Garbes, Heidi Groover, Ana Sofia Knauf, Sydney Brownstone, and Jen. (I was out of town last week, but I’d made my choice clear—Sanders, duh!—in a meeting before I took off.) In the minority were Dan Savage, Tim Keck, Christopher Frizzelle, Eli Sanders, and Rich Smith for Hillary Clinton. (Sean Nelson was present but abstained.)
I have three comments about how things turned out:
1. Stop e-mailing us your frothy outrage, for god’s sake. Share your feelings, by all means, but activate your brain first. The response to the endorsement has definitively proven, on the whole, that Bernie supporters are more insufferable than Hillary supporters. But I judge a candidate on record and policy, not supporters. Seriously, people: Our endorsement comes from something called The Stranger Election Control Board. We’re sincere and discerning (hopefully) in our political choices, but we don’t take ourselves more seriously than we should. Neither should you.
2. What’s fascinating to me is that the Hillary endorsement, written by older white men, picks out one minority demographic—Black voters—and claims that we must honor and go along with their majority support for Hillary. This is not unlike the condescending commandment from Gloria Steinem, an older woman, to young women that they must support Hillary Clinton—for which she later apologized. While most Black voters have supported Clinton in the primaries, Blacks cannot be reduced to pro-Hillary monolith. Ta-Nehisi Coates is voting for Bernie Sanders, along with many others. Just as masses of white voters can be deluded in thinking Republicans will advance their interests, so too can masses of black voters be wrong about Hillary, whose record on racial and economic justice is far from stellar. And, um, this is about the race for the Democratic nomination. If Bernie gets it, I kinda doubt Black voters will vote Trump instead.
3. Hubris is a dangerous thing for any publication. — ANSEL HERZ
Ansel, you've confused Gloria Steinem with Medeleine Albright in your... very complex analogy. (What Steinem actually said, and later apologized for, is that young women are backing Bernie because "the boys are with Bernie.”) All feminist icons are not the same! Fight #sexism.
Also, what the Hillary endorsement actually says is that Bernie and his supporters "should reflect" on their failure to inspire a diverse coalition. A “political revolution” that isn't winning massive support from minority voters is a political revolution that’s missed some fundamental first steps.
Finally, you wrote:
Just as masses of white voters can be deluded in thinking Republicans will advance their interests, so too can masses of black voters be wrong about Hillary, whose record on racial and economic justice is far from stellar. And, um, this is about the race for the Democratic nomination. If Bernie gets it, I kinda doubt Black voters will vote Trump instead.
Charles M. Blow wrote a great column for The New York Times last month about the way white Bernie supporters like yourself sometimes talk about the choices black voters make.
— ELI SANDERS
Why did you decide to NOT make the endorsement articles for both democratic candidates available to everyone? I find myself exceptionally pissed off that I can't read both because of how your website operates. I guess I could find a different computer, and lie about my age, but really why make me jump through those hoops? I am mostly on one side of this argument, but I really want to read the type of well reasoned shit you guys generally write to help solidify my decision. It's hard to feel shut out of the conversation by you, Stranger. That's never been my experience with you. Jesus, my feelings are actually hurt.
Another commenter beat us to the answer: "Hi Mom. If you open an incognito window, clear your cookies, and click on the link you'll be able to see the other article. If you don't know what I just said than I can't really help you." — DAN SAVAGE
Are you all indeed, too cool for school?
I fucking love school. School is all about sitting around together and having meaningful and vigorous conversations about what we think we know. That's what caucusing is all about, too, and, for me, that's what this issue is about. — RICH SMITH
Did you have any idea that people would take this so seriously, personally, and deeply offended by this split endorsement? If so, was this a feature or a bug?
Dear Josh (29),
I don’t think anyone is surprised when some Stranger commenters A) don’t get the joke, B) don’t know that there is a joke to get, C) don’t understand that a joke is often a way of expressing a serious point about a serious subject, and D) are simply wrong in every particular. Partisans will be partisans and the idea that a caucus endorsement is fundamentally different from a general election endorsement, or indeed a primary one, doesn’t seem to matter much to them. See also: Endorsements are overvalued and ideology is the enemy of reason.
As Sydney cited above, social media has turned people into consent-seeking clones. It has also reduced reading to skimming and critical thinking to the counting of other people’s likes. Not that the world before Facebook was a utopia of intellectual ferment, but jesus fucking christ, man. AGEIST? HYPOCRITICAL? Doesn’t anyone know that words at least could have meanings anymore?
Here’s a trigger warning: You actually have to do a little hard work once in a while, read the whole fucking piece, and make a decision about what it means. The fact that people don’t or can’t or won’t understand how our commentary functions as commentary is evidence of the need for such commentary to begin with. It is not our job to explain to you what our commentary means, or how it works. It is your job to try to figure that out for yourself. Or not to read the Stranger.
PS 31. You are not wrong. — SEAN NELSON
Were there really no women caucusing the SECB for Hillary? I thought we were a more pragmatic gender than that.
During SECB meetings, I think Heidi said something to the effect of agreeing with the identity politics of caucusing for Hillary — and I totally agree. I could launch into why I’m supporting an old white dude, but I’d just be echoing Jen’s already well-articulated thoughts, above. I would love to see a woman become the president of our country. But, for me, that woman is not Hillary.
Do I think the attacks on Hillary’s personality are a bunch of sexist bullshit? Absofuckinglutely. Is the fight for gender equality still going to be an uphill battle? Unfortunately, yes. But thinking that I should caucus for a candidate I don’t believe in simply because I, too, identify as a woman is just wrong. — ANA SOFIA KNAUF
My best friend's ex-wife makes $75/hr on the laptop. She has been unemployed for eight months but last month her income with big fat bonus was over $9000 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Read more on this site.....
Please tell me more. Now that the Stranger has hit a new new low it won’t be long before we’re all looking for work. — SEAN NELSON
Anyone who's looking at this race with even a modicum of objectivity—something direly lacking in BOTH Democratic camps, IMO—has a high degree of confidence that Clinton will win the nomination.
This wasn’t a question, but it tees up something that was heavy on my mind: the delegate count. This year’s historic fracturing of the Republican Party presents an enormous opportunity for the left in this country. It’s going to be hard to capitalize on that opportunity while the left itself remains divided between Bernie and Hillary. So it’s important to ask: Who actually has a realistic shot at winning the Democratic nomination, and who does not? The hard reality of the delegate math suggests it’s Hillary who has the more realistic shot at winning the nomination. She’s also assembled a far more diverse coalition than Sanders, which will be important in the general election. With these and other realities in mind, one wonders whether the left loses more from a protracted nomination fight than it gains from uniting behind a clear frontrunner who can take advantage of the huge fissures within the Republican Party. If the long game is reshaping this country’s political debate, then we might actually move away from our stale right-left politics more quickly via a juggernaut Democratic campaign that crumbles the conservative coalition now, while it’s weak. — ELI SANDERS
Had Clinton received the majority of votes, would you have made the same decisions about how you presented the endorsements?
Yes. I had initially proposed we do two dueling endorsements in the same issue — that we play up the SECB splitting into two warring camps (People’s Front of Judea vs. People’s Judean Front), we slug it out in one issue, with one cover, over two separate pages (and we acknowledge who got the most votes in the issue itself). I made that proposal long before we took our final vote. There was one meeting where we took a vote and I believe we were tied—so some Sanders support on the SECB was soft, some Hillary support on the SECB soft. Full disclosure: Hillary’s soft support was a lot softer than Bernie’s soft support. I was, believe it or not, a soft supporter of Hillary myself. If the vote had been closer, I might’ve gone with Sanders. Like I’ve said over and over and over again: I’m for Bernie or Hillary or both. I mean that.
Also, contra Ansel, I want to point out the Hillary endorsement was primarily authored by someone in his 30s, while the Bernie endorsement was co-authored by someone in her 40s. (Fight #ageism, Ansel! And speaking of ageism: not one of the SECB members under 30 knew what I was talking about when I referenced the People's Front of Judea. Ageist bastards!) — DAN SAVAGE
Echoing previous comments, I'd be curious to know about support for the dual endorsement format itself, amongst SECB members — in terms of, not making any mention of the other endorsement in either paper, hiding the article online for the start of the day, then behind a survey you can't change, making it impossible to share one or the other, etc. Akin to the majority / minority for the candidates themselves, was the decision around the format split?
Majority wins, so the paper should endorse, Bernie, right? I made that argument in the last meeting, but the debate on form dissolved into a debate on the candidates' substance. That said, I'm actually okay with how this turned out. Simply endorsing Bernie would have also tacitly endorsed an army of misinformed (and often sexist) clickmonsters without much real discussion. I think this has led to some valuable talk about how we engage with our political system and why we voted the way we did. Then again, maybe the cookies thing is too difficult. What does the rest of the SECB think? — SYDNEY BROWNSTONE
Why don't you read some fucking polling information? Overwhelmingly, Bernie Sanders polls better than Hillary against Republicans. Quit spreading misinformation about the Republicans wanting to face Bernie over Hillary.
I've made this point on Slog before!
Dan says Bernie rates highly in the polls because he hasn't been the full-on target of the Republican machine yet, which is a totally fair point. My take is Clinton's already attacked him pretty viciously from the right, and that doesn't seem to have brought his favorability ratings down. He’s proven to be a more adept campaigner than most presumed, and I'm not scared of how he'd fare against them. If anything, Trump is so far off the deep end that this may represent the best chance we get in a while to elect an actual lefty Democrat, not a triangulating centrist Democrat. — ANSEL HERZ
For both factions: were there any issues/weaknesses that made you consider supporting the other candidate?
Who DOESN’T love Bernie. He’s a walking embodiment of the protest movements of yore (I MEAN: simon. and. garfunkel.). He’s stern and stubborn, which is refreshing to hear after eight years of Obama’s professorial and compromising tone, which was refreshing to hear after eight years of George W. Bush’s country bumpkin tone. And Bernie's plain right about his lefty economics.
My concern, though, is that Bernie’s policies are ultimately DOA given the House he’ll inherit if he wins. When pressed about how he expects to work with a very red House to get anything done, he says a magical swell of “millions” from the political revolution will swoop in and presumably transform the House into a blue body of progressive action. Full stop. That’s it. No elaboration.
I don’t think that’s going to happen. And if it is, Bernie should start acting like he wants it to happen. Where’s his advocacy for down-ticket politicians in the places he visits? Oh yeah, they’re already in the tank for Hillary.
I think the superdelegate system is unfair. I think Hillary’s hawkishness is troubling. I think she should apologize for calling black children "super-predators." Unfortunately, as Eli mentioned, I think the delegate math is strongly in her favor, and that we may lose more than we gain in a protracted nomination.
The thing that came up a lot during our meeting was this phrase: “Hillary Clinton only acts if she finds it politically expedient to do so.” We all basically agreed, if I'm remembering correctly, but we all had different responses to that fact. Now that Clinton feels like the presumptive nominee in all but name, Bernie can no longer “push her to the left” the way he did early on in the race. I never liked the idea of outsourcing that job to Bernie, anyway. If Bernie drops out, Democrats can spend more time writing articles and writing to reps and vocalizing concerns about Hillary's positions. I think of an earlier Slog post from Dan: "Hillary Clinton's support for marriage equality may be a political calculation. And you know what? We worked hard to change the math so that those political calculations would start adding up in our favor." I think we can do that for economic and foreign policy issues , too. And I think those criticisms will sound stronger coming from her supporters, not from the hoarse throats of Bernie or Bust folks. — RICH SMITH
To borrow from Dan: "Not. Good. Enough." When you fuck up this badly, you apologize. Period. This rationale and excuse-making only offer insult to injury. I'm still waiting.
The wait will be a long one. Eternal even. Because the issue wasn't a fuck up — quite the opposite, in fact. We aren’t making excuses for our dual/dueling endorsements and covers; we are engaging with our readers about it here, on Slog, which was a part of the plan all along. Sharing our thoughts isn’t rationalizing or excuse-making. It’s… you know… kinda what we do on Slog everyday. So, yeah, no. An apology is not forthcoming. — DAN SAVAGE
Is Gary Shandling really dead? If I click through will I be taken to an Aziz Ansari obituary instead?
Garry Shandling is really dead. No idea about Gary Shandling. — DAN SAVAGE