THE BERNIE REVOLUTION II: ON SANDERS DENIALISM VS SANDERS REALISM
I’m not endorsing Bernie’s candidacy.
But I am endorsing its right to exist, thrive and continue.
I’m endorsing its very cogent and sound internal logic — which is way more than we can say for the Piyush Jindals, Jim Webbs, Carly Fiorinas all those people we were supposed to consider as Very Serious Candidates.
I am endorsing according to its supporters the same recognition and deference and voice granted to the Jeb Bush supporters, Martin O’Malley supporters and Chris Christie supporters — who were practically ghosts and yet had their expressed preferences granted automatic status of Seriousness and Validity.
I am acknowledging, that, at worst, his campaign would come a close third, making it just as potent as Hillary’s 2008 campaign. And we don’t snigger and sniff at that one, do we? (at best, he’ll be POTUS, so, yeah, some respect is due)
I do think the ‘shaming’, erasure and pressuring of Sanders supporters is not respectful….or useful. They are staking out a well thought out worldview, and the one most in touch with objective realities, I think. Stale liberal/conservative dichotomies aside, what Bernie says about the 1% is factually TRUE. We can have a disagreement on the what next, but his current state analysis is borne out by the statistics. The DNC’s cartoon villain antics on behalf of Clinton are just cringeworthy and produce the exact opposite effect.
There is something ‘old politics’ in the Pavlovian Clinton response of simply asserting the non-validity of the choice a lot of voters are making. Rather than addressing the merits of the choices or arguments. It’s sort of like 2008 all over again. We are electable. He is not. Who says? The voters ask. We are electing him primary after caucus, ergo he is electable (Today’s Tautology — you’re welcome).
Rather than these silly tactics on the Clinton side that failed in 2008 (campaign memos for the Sunday talk show crowd that seek to ‘set the terms of the campaign’ — which the social media-savvy Obama and Sanders crowd swats down like flies, see Twitter #ToneDownForWhat, Bill Clinton making questionable speeches that get quickly ‘read’ for vintage 80s era suggestive subtext politics, super belligerent speeches to organisations that couldn’t care less for a Democrat but that buck the impulses of her base etc etc…why not squarely challenge the Bernie campaign on its basic theory of the case, namely:
- He will arouse and inspire a political revolution of a coalition of old and new disaffected voters.
- That revolution will provide him the numbers to break the entire mold of the US electoral system and, on the strength of the numbers in his revolution ALONE, he will get to be elected POTUS in the face of:
- Dem primaries,
- DNC preferences,
- general election debates,
- a 5 month open period for terrorist events,
- voter suppression and gerrymandering,
- Fox News headlock on defining the political conversation and ‘liberal/mainstream’ media tendency to follow along,
- possible money tsunami from Citizens United types — if the GOP unites, the money will come, etc etc etc.
- GOP control of state legislatures and Attorneys General — who DECIDE who wins in deadlocks — and State Supreme Courts — who RATIFY who wins in almost ALL swing states. With a 4–4 SCOTUS split, those State Supreme Court decisions will stand.
- The arcane and little understood but definitely sh*tty proceedings of the Electoral College and a House vote under the 12th Amendment.
3. When all that is done and he is POTUS, the Revolution will form the core and the spear tip of Bernie’s governing juggernaut which will bring us liberalism like we’ve never seen before (like Trump would say). This will happen despite Senate filibusters, conservative leaning federal high courts, a house majority that has lost its marbles, town hall meetings, NRA, Koch brothers money etc etc etc etc etc etc. The stuff that blocked Obama time and time again.
We can all grant that Bernie has achieved step 1. Say what you will, but he has objectively ignited something and that something has had its proof or existence verified in primaries and caucuses. OK, awesome.
My jury is out on #2. I am not convinced that the raw numbers of a vast kumbaya coalition could really FORCE an outcome even if they won the popular vote but lost the electoral. The last real test of this, in 2000, showed that the liberal crowd isn’t exactly good at forcing facts on the ground. Great for rallies, concerts and hashtag campaigns, but not so much at doing something that will FORCE an outcome in a pinch. So, hold that thought.
My jury is IN on #3. And this is where I part ways with Bernie supporters. Because I don’t ONLY think they CAN’T form some ‘alternate reality #Disrupt governing system hack, they KNOW that they don’t even have any serious plans to do that. And the thing is I would LOVE for some revolutionary thing that could come and break the Gordian Knot of BS that bedevils the American body politic. But it’s not coming. Not in this election season. Whether Bernie is elected or not.
And this is where Bernie supporters are a mite frustrating (in the same way that Obama fans were in ’08) — they de legitimise and foreclose on any discussions/defining/planning of progressive visions, strategies or tactics that acknowledge the existing US constitutional system of distributed government or the truly polarised nature of the electorate and try to equip the Democratic Party to work effectively within the former and to compete effectively for the latter (one has to be able to acknowledge that grassroots GOP voters are not just either asleep or bought and paid for by XYZ Corp or lacking good faith opposition to Dem platforms to be able to strategise on how to capture them).
Sanders denial is not a useful approach, as both the Clinton campaign and the DNC have discovered to their chagrin.
I think one should acknowledge and defer to the validity of the phenomenon… and then challenge and confront it on the basis of its own premises.