Time for Sanders Supporters to Grow Up?

Well, recent troubles with the party management and power structure of the Democratic Party illustrate that they seem to be as busy as the Republicans at tearing their party apart. A Salon editorial by Sophia McClennen published last spring, is one of the most articulate expression of the resentments of a substantial portion of the Sanders wing of the Democratic Party. This group seems bent on re-litigating the primary campaign and destroying the party apparatus for its perceived “bias,” rather than focusing on big tent outreach.

Maybe the strategy will work as well as for this wing of the Democrats, as it did for the Tea Party in the Republicans. (Yes, they were successful at dragging the policies of the US vastly to the right — but in the process of that victory, they have broken their party, and damn near the whole country). But I hope the Sandernistas will stop focusing on their resentment for a moment, and regain a laser-like focus on resisting, recruiting, running for office, and generally making themselves a legitimate counterbalance for the Republican Party and a force for rebuilding their own.

Don’t get me wrong: I love Bernie Sanders!! I believe his 2016 campaign was smart, attractive and wildly successful. He helped decriminalize the word “liberal” and even “socialist” in our political discourse. He rediscovered the economic terrain that powered the greatest economy in the world: the rise of the American middle class enabled by policies of corporate regulation, income redistribution, and the “safety net.”

In almost every case, Bernie conducted himself with admirable honesty and integrity. His concentration on policy may have been the better long term campaign strategy than the one chosen by Clinton — however prescient she might have been in focusing on the clear and present danger (and now demonstrably true) of her opponent’s unfitness for office.

That the resentment lingers with the Sandernistas and is directed at Clinton and the DNC — and still NOT the Russians — is proof of how thorough and effective that hacking really was.

It’s just that Bernie’s supporters seem to have gotten stuck in the trap laid for themselves and Independents (and the press!) by a sophisticated Russian Fake News/Wikileaks election hack. The Wikileaks hack essentially created several months of slow-release “news” out of a nothingburger. On the Fake News side, they made smart use of the many flaws in our social media networks and their “algorithms,” as well as their astounding information trove which allows unprecedented “micro-targeting” of voters. (Facebook, Twitter and others — fearful of greater regulation as ‘media’ outlets — are still trying frantically to underestimate the effect viral lies had on the election.)

That the resentment lingers with the Sandernistas and is directed at Clinton and the DNC — and still NOT the Russians — is proof of how good the Russians have become at burrowing into our doubts, magnifying them to hatreds, and exploiting them to turn us against each other. McLennen’s editorial walks through the garden of resentments that were carefully planted and nurtured by the Russian hack and cultivates each one!

The shock and anger the Bernies (and, again, our own national media) felt at the DNC leaks is based on an absurd notion that politics must somehow be “clean” and wholesome. Angered by their “betrayal” by the DNC (Democratic National Committee), these Bernie supporters can’t stop reliving the horror (the horror) that the DNC — an organization which had been built, nourished, and maintained over the last two decades at least partly through the untiring efforts of Hillary and Bill Clinton — might somehow have a natural inclination toward her, and a corresponding lack of enthusiasm for Bernie (-come-lately) Sanders. How COULD this be???

And all the leaks taken together only revealed that politics — as represented by the inner workings of the DNC — is a profession of idealism/rank cynicism; policy/unseemly tactics; private opinions/public pronouncements; honor/manipulation in equal measure.

Any honest campaign veteran will tell you the same is true of every campaign — from presidential to city council — in human memory.  How did the Russians surmise that releasing the normal political workings of one party —and not the other — could cause so much damage? How naive are we as a people that this could possibly have worked? Questions for a later time.

Cut to the chase: Did Bernie lose because of Democratic Party shenanigans? Answer: No.
It is simply undeniable that Clinton won the POPULAR vote AND she won the Superdelegate vote fair and square. Why? Well, not because Debbie Wasserman was a not-so-secret Clinton supporter! (The email leaks make it clear that she actually tried hard to keep the primary process fair, in spite of internal attitudes of her staff!)

Bernie lost because of two key, but very obvious, issues: 1) he lost the South by huge margins early in the campaign, and 2) he continued to have trouble attracting people of color to his campaign, so he was unable to earn enough back in the bigger cities where he had his base. In the democratic party, those two losses are fatal. Because of the Democrats assignment of proportional delegates in each state, the fate of the Bernie campaign was essentially sealed after Clinton’s huge Super Tuesday performance.

In spite of these remarks, I do continue to hope that the Sandernistas, whose idealism has helped re-envigorate the Democratic party and unabashedly espoused the liberal, redistributive sentiment that drove FDR, can come to recognize that the big tent, the melting pot, the agitation for ideas, not against people, is our path toward the light. And I want to thank them for their admirable energy and devotion.

  1. I have family members who have been strong Bernie supporters..All I can say is that there is a unifying theme in terms of who they are..None of them are high achievers..None make much of a living..Most, if not all, pay nothing in taxes, none own homes and most dont work very hard as far as I can tell..Sweet people, but they have little personally invested in sweat equity in anything.The have chosen to opt out of the rat race…So, they want a guaranteed income..So they want me and probably you to fund this by paying our fair share. There is no social program they have heard of that they arent in favor of.. The world needs to be saved from the US.. We earn too much and dont need income anyway because we could live like they choose to do..So it is ok if Bernie takes away what we have and gives some of them part of it..They give lipservice to community service but I have yet to see any of them working at shelters, and when I pull out money from my wallet when a homeless person comes up to me, I dont see any of them doing the same..Moreover, most of them arent shy about asking me to fund some of their trips or other pleasurable activities. All of them know how hard I have worked over a lifetime to get where I am now..And most of them are aware of the countless donations and help I have quietly offered to many in need.. I am a total believer in paying it forward and in personal direct action when you see a need, not for any kind of recognition or award, but because I believe that is what we were put on earth to do
    That wasnt their choice and I respect them for that..
    Throughout it all I smile and do what I can to help them because they are blood and I love most of them .. But I want to shake some sense into them but know it would be wasted because they are fully invested in Bernie’s Snake Oil..

    Until there is mutual self sacrifice; until there is community service in lieu of taxes; until there are 2 years of some kind of service instead of the draft for ALL kids 18-20, until EVERYBODY pays some income taxes, not just some of us… until then,… in the immortal words of John Lennon,..”Brothers and Sisters you can count me OUT..” If you want me to give more, show me how you are giving something- not just taking, and how you perceive shared sacrifice..Until then, I am voting for the status quo politically, and going on trying to make a difference in the way I know how best..



    1. Shal,
      Good comments. I think there are very good reasons for a universal draft — among them citizenship, a sense of contribution to the common good, and a “bank account” so to speak for times of need. I would see it as not exclusively a military service, but would include WPA style infrastructure building and preservation, Peace Corps duty, our national peace corps (can’t remember the name right now) but they help rebuild and serve distressed communities, education and medical paras, etc. Of course, being an old geezer past the age of the draft, it’s easy for me to think that.
      Your resentment of people who are “takers” is understandable. That was always the genius of the FDR programs: you PAID for Social Security, your mortgage assistance through tax deduction was not an obvious giveaway, and presupposed you were productively contributing to the economy, the GI Bill which housed and educated a whole generation, was enacted for those who participated in defending the world during WWII. Etc, etc.
      Regarding the economy, however, I think, despite the optics, there are good reasons to have a redistributive tax and estate policy — a 90% tax rate and confiscatory estate tax policy through the Eisenhower years kept building our middle class, our infrastructure, and our capacity to innovate into the marvel of the world. Perhaps the key is HOW to redistribute without sapping the motivation or self-respect of the recipients? That’s where I like your idea of universal service!
      Finally, I also believe that Global corporations and larger businesses are expert at depressing wages and evading regulation, so to some extent the Marxist notion of them as exploiters of labor is based on some observable fact. Again, this makes redistribution a reasonable economic policy, but HOW it is done becomes the key discussion.
      Thanks so much for your thought-provoking comments…


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