the liberals want you to “be reasonable”

#MarchForBernie in Oakland, CA — Jan. 23rd, 2016 (photo by me)

Conventional political pragmatism is not now nor has it ever been my game. But what’s very interesting about the current Democratic primary is that by no observable measure is Hillary Clinton​ a more ‘reasonable’ progressive choice than Bernie Sanders​, and yet the entire roster of Democratic Party functionaries is scrambling to proclaim an impending doomsday scenario should she lose.

Just on the surface: Clinton has lower favorability than Sanders among Democrats and independents in the two states that have had a chance to compare. She does worse against all leading Republicans in national polls. She is widely seen as untrustworthy and corrupt by large swaths of the country, on the left and on the right. She is under federal investigation. She has shadowy financial ties to all sorts of unsavory characters, not least of which are members of the royal family/executioners of Saudi Arabia, under whose rule a woman was recently sentenced to 200 lashes for being sexually assaulted. Her campaign coordinator is from Monsanto. She served on the board of Walmart, perhaps the most loathed company in America after Monsanto (see previous sentence). Neoconservatives prefer her foreign policy over that of leading Republicans. She has no moral legitimacy to unify anyone outside of a small group of Party true-believers. She has a political platform that is at once frantically chasing after Bernie Sanders but also containing just enough caveats for her to not be bound to pursuing any of it. And yet somehow, magically, we are supposed to delude ourselves into thinking that this is the realistic champion of a progressive political agenda, because a bunch of Washington suits wag their fingers at us and tell us “…or else.”

It’s really quite fascinating. Every four years the opportunists come out of the woodwork to lament that, “Oh, if a true progressive stood a *real* chance at winning I would *love* to support her or him, but sadly this just isn’t the reality. Don’t you see that this corporate Democrat is just the best we’re going to get this year? You’ll have to suck it up and support our candidate, otherwise you’re helping the Republicans win.” And this has somehow been a fairly effective strategy for the Party, until now.

If Bernie Sanders is good for anything, it’s to show the Democrats’ feigned sorrow about the status quo as nothing more than a cynical routine to keep the progressive and radical ambitions of the Democratic base in check. When push comes to shove, the Party hacks have chosen continuity with the current unjust order over even the most tame attempt at progress and human decency. And we know that because they have that choice. Right now. At this exact moment. And it’s not even a fucking risk. Sanders is a more electable candidate, if only because he isn’t hated by 60% of the country. Even people who despise his politics add the caveat “…but at least he’s honest.” This is not that hard to understand. And yet, the politicians, the “donors,” and the intelligentsia are rallying as fast as they can behind their profoundly unpopular, fantastically uninspiring custodian of neoliberalism, austerity, and injustice. Because behind the liberal façade, they are firmly committed to nothing changing.

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