No, Barney Frank Did NOT Call Bernie Supporters ‘Low Information’ Voters

While I’m not totally immune to clickbait as a writer, I try really hard not to grossly misrepresent what public figures say to generate outrage. Not because I imagine myself to be a great journalist (I blog, journalism this ain’t) but because I shouldn’t have to lie to get a story out. So imagine my disappointment when I saw the following from Raw Story: Barney Frank: ‘Low information’ voters are to blame for problems that make Trump and Sanders appealing.

This is a fail on so many levels.

First, while the host Jose Diaz-Balart tries to conflate Trump and Sanders voters, it is screamingly obvious that Frank is ONLY talking about Democratic voters the entire time. His entire argument concerns the people who don’t come up to vote in midterms and then complain that Obama didn’t get things done. No rational person can listen to this and think he’s talking about both liberal and conservative voters.

If conservative voters were as lazy as liberal voters in the midterms, we wouldn’t have the gridlock that’s pissing off liberal voters.

Second, when we use the term “low information voters,” it has a very specific connotation. We mean people who are not informed compared to the general population about an issue (or issues) but still feel passionately about it. Or, in the case of Fox News viewers, misinformed about an issue and feel enraged about it. When a person insists that Obama is a Muslim or that climate change is a hoax, that is a low information voter. On the liberal side, when someone insists that Hillary Clinton is being investigated by the FBI or that Bernie Sanders is getting rich by running for president, that is also a low information voter. At least on those topics.

But that’s not what Frank is saying at all. He’s lamenting, quite correctly, that the people who couldn’t be bothered to vote in the midterms don’t understand or don’t WANT to understand that the lack of progress that’s pissing them off is a direct result of them staying home in 2010 and 2014. That’s not calling people “low information voters,” that’s calling them out on their hypocrisy. “I want X, Y and Z but I don’t wanna have to vote in midterms to get it!” And even though Frank kind of blames Bernie supporters for this, let’s be honest, there’s zero reason to lay that solely at their feet.

The closest Frank gets to calling Bernie followers “low information voters” is when he points out, again, quite correctly, that people don’t understand that building controlling majorities in government takes more than one election cycle. If you want to split hairs, sure, they’re low information voters, but you’re stretching at that point. But it doesn’t matter if you like, love or loathe Bernie supporters, they’re not low information voters in general and, in this context, certainly not any less informed than the overwhelming majority of Americans. No one uses the phrase to denote a lack of understanding of advanced civics which is why Frank doesn’t actually use that phrase in the entire interview.

Finally, the anti-establishment anger of Trump and Sanders supporters are coming from two completely different places and Frank never even remotely suggests that the two stem from the same problems as the Raw Story title clearly says he does. The majority of the anger from the Sanders camp is that America is not moving to the left fast enough. The don’t like Obamacare because it’s not single payer. They don’t like Wall Street reform because it wasn’t strong enough. Etc. Etc.

Trump’s supporters aren’t angry that the country isn’t moving to the right fast enough, they’re angry because it’s not moving to the right at all! Gays can marry! Obamacare hasn’t been repealed! The rich forgot to trickle down their wealth like we were promised by Saint Ronnie! Women still have reproductive rights! Black lives are starting to matter!

To say the two are similar is laughable and Frank never comes close to even an insinuation of it.

You can be mad at Barney Frank for supporting Hillary if you want, but if you have to lie about what he’s saying and why he’s saying it, you’ve already lost the argument.

Here’s the video:


Featured image via screencap