In recent days, three of the biggest progressive organizations have endorsed Hillary Clinton rather than Bernie Sanders, without any input from their members. Those organizations are NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood, and Human Rights Campaign.
On January 4, Ilyse Hogue, President of pro-choice advocacy group, NARAL Pro-Choice America, posted a blog on Medium explaining why her board decided to endorse Clinton over Bernie Sanders.
Hogue’s reasons included Clinton’s leadership on the topic, but four out of five reasons had to do with the fact that Hillary is a woman.
“It’s hard to imagine a more definitive statement that that world is in the past — that women are full partners in our society, and they have full rights to live their own lives as only they see fit — than to elect a pro-choice woman to the highest office in the land.”
A Medium user blasted the endorsement decision as divisive and disappointing.
“I don’t have the freedom of choice while I’m crippled with college debt, exorbitant health insurance premiums, and I’m looking forward to supporting my parents without Social Security. Clinton’s policies offer me nothing that matters … other than possible Supreme Court nominations and that sells me short.
I’m also more than my sex and assigned gender. NO ONE deserves leadership because of their sex or gender.”
Other users cited Hillary Clinton’s ties to corrupt corporations such as Goldman Sachs as outrage for choosing Hillary over Sanders.
Most the comments on Hogue’s blog were from Bernie Sanders supporters.
When Planned Parenthood came out in support of Hillary Clinton, the outrage was strong and the backlash swift. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise, though. The CEO of PP is Cecile Richards, daughter of the late Texas governor Ann Richards. Richards’ ties to the Clinton campaign go back a long way. Their endorsement allowed them to donate up to $20 million to Hillary and other candidates.
Richards’ daughter, Lily Adams, is also a prominent staffer on Hillary Clinton’s campaign as the Iowa communications director.
Reddit user Danielle Muscato, who identified herself as a President’s Circle level donor to PP and a blogger for Bernie Sanders, shared a letter she sent to the organization after learning of their endorsement.
“I just received your email about endorsing Hillary Clinton for 2016. I am very disappointed that you have chosen to endorse Hillary even before the Iowa caucuses, considering that Bernie Sanders also has a 100 percent NARAL rating and is, in my opinion, stronger on women’s rights than Hillary.
As a lesbian, I am also extremely disappointed that you … support someone who was vocally against my right to marry until mid-2013, considering that Bernie Sanders has publicly supported my rights as a lesbian since 1972.”
Muscato ended her email by pledging the maximum individual donation of $2,700 to the Bernie Sanders campaign. Muscato also said that PP did not ask for membership opinions prior to their endorsement announcements, which means it was decision made by its board.
Even more disturbing, various Redditors reported that they had been blocked from Planned Parenthood’s Twitter account for expressing disappointment with their endorsement.
Human Rights Campaign
Perhaps the most embedded in the Hillary Clinton camp is Chad Griffin, the CEO of the Human Rights Campaign. Since 1992, Griffin has worked for or has been associated with both Bill and Hillary. He first worked on Bill Clinton’s campaign and then at the age of 19, was the youngest staff member hired by the new administration. As CEO of HRC, his Clinton roots run deep, and without any input of members, Hillary won their endorsement.
Again, the backlash against the early endorsement was harsh, but Griffin’s endorsement was not unexpected. He announced the Board of Directors’ decision on Monday morning. Clinton’s record on gay rights, however, doesn’t match up to Bernie Sanders’.
On the Issues, an organization that scores public figures on their records, gave Clinton an 89 for gay rights while Bernie Sanders scored a 100 percent. Up until she announced her candidacy, Clinton expressed a belief that same-sex marriage should be a state’s right issue. After she announced, however, she embraced the cause.
On Monday, Bernie Sanders appeared on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.” During a talk that included the debate over the lack of debates, the hurdles the black community faces regarding voting rights and income inequality, Maddow asked him for a reaction to the three major advocacy groups endorsing Hillary.
“I would love to have the endorsement of every organization. I’m very proud to have received the endorsement of MoveOn.org. I have received the endorsement of Democracy For America. I have friends in The Human Rights Fund and Planned Parenthood.”
He also made it clear that he has one of the best records for standing up for women’s and LGBT rights throughout his long political career.
“I challenge anyone with regard to my record on LGBT issues. I am one of the relatively few to oppose and vote against DOMA. I have a 100 percent record on women’s rights. But you know, that’s what happens in politics…We are going to do well, hopefully win, not because of establishment support. What we are doing well at is rallying the grassroots of this country.”
The Defense of Marriage Act was a law that was supported and signed into law by Hillary’s husband, President Bill Clinton. During the same time frame, Bernie Sanders was voting against this bill while also defending the rights of gay men and women to join and fight in the military.
“I’m not going to get establishment support with few exceptions … But the reason that we are doing so well … is not from the establishment, it’s from the grassroots of America.”
Planned Parenthood reacted to his response to their endorsement on Twitter, calling it “disappointing.” Yet, It’s hard to ignore how entrenched in establishment politics they are when the CEO’s daughter is also a prominent figure in Clinton’s campaign. And no one is more “establishment” than former First Lady, former NY Senator and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
[Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty]