Bernie Inspired (tweet thread)
Sally Albright

“Bernie “inspired” his flock with magical thinking vs. critical thinking, wishing vs. strategizing, and dreaming vs data. Thanks Bernie!”

Was that ever clearer than when he said this in an interview with Chris Matthews?

MATTHEWS: But you get elected. Let’s say you get elected, you take off next January 20th. And you walk up to the Senate and you meet with the leadership and say, I have a program here. I want to have free — I mean, government-funded tuition for public universities. There’s things I want done on Social Security to increase benefits and things I want done on health care, so it can become like Medicare for life.
You’ve got very strong positions.
MATTHEWS: And Mitch McConnell looks at you the way he looked at President Obama and says, “Forget about it”.
SANDERS: And then you know what I say? I’d say, “Hey, Mitch, take a look out the window. There’s a million young people out there who don’t want to be in debt for half their life for the crime of going to college. If you want to antagonize those million people and lose your job, Mitch, if you don’t want to lose your job, you better start listening to what we have to say.” That’s the point. That’s how change takes place.

So, when asked to explain how he would manage to circumvent the obstruction that kept Obama in a box for most of his eight years while pushing through an agenda quite a bit further to the left, Bernie cites as leverage a revolution* that hadn’t even materialized.

I imagine McConnell must have given a smug chuckle when he heard that exchange. Mitch, unlike Bernie, knows the difference between dramatic dorm-room revolution fantasies and the voting patterns and demographic realities in his own state. Machiavelli lives on the ground; you don’t put the fear into him with threats from Cloud Cuckoo Land.

But your point couldn’t have been made any clearer. This is the perfect example of “magical thinking vs. critical thinking, wishing vs. strategizing, and dreaming vs data.” And it’s easy to see how appealing it would be, especially to the young political neophyte.

By the way, it turns out McConnell did look out his window and see a million people — mostly women — marching in “the largest single-day protest in U.S. history” the day after Trump’s inauguration and it didn’t mean squat to him as evidenced just a few weeks later when, far from being chastened by the breathtaking spectacle of the Women’s March, McConnell shut down Elizabeth Warren on the floor of the Senate in perhaps the most blatant sexist political display in recent memory. We don’t have to wonder how much better young people marching for tuition-free college would fare in McConnell’s scheme of things.

(Just to be clear, this is a critique of Sanders’ offering up protest as a political shortcut and not a critique of protests themselves. The Women’s March and the immigration protests were the most powerful displays of public will since the Vietnam War and I believe they were just the beginning.)

*Sanders always made two category errors when invoking his “revolution.”

  1. That political supporters are revolutionaries based on the agenda their candidate is espousing.
  2. That electing a leader through conventional electoral politics can ever be defined as a revolution.