Hey Berniecrats, You Don’t Need to Destroy the Democratic Party to Launch a Movement
It’s hard to figure out exactly where it all started, this idea that Bernie Sanders supporters need to destroy the Democratic Party to win, to launch a progressive movement of their own. What’s even more baffling is that they still don’t see that they were played in order to weaken Hillary Clinton, that they were manipulated by better strategy, that they were exploited by thousands of Russian trolls to fan the flames of hatred so that by the end, angry supporters did not realize that they were about to act against their own self-interests just to serve that hatred. As we’re seeing with election after election, the energy from the Bernie side is good but it isn’t anywhere near good enough. They scorn mainstream Democrats by calling us “corporate” or “neo-libs,” but their childish belief that our strength is “corrupt” is offensive to centrist liberals.
Such name-calling does nothing but alienate the 66 million of us who voted for Hillary. Lifelong Democrats know the social progress we’ve achieved was hard won. It’s saddening and infuriating for millions of Democrats to be told the party that gave our country Medicare, Social Security, the Equal Rights Amendment, and gay marriage has done so as the behest of the evil establishment. The Democrat establishment provided the foundation for all those advances. That establishment of liberal values is under seige, at grave risk of being dismantled. Seeking to tear down that establishment when the opposition holds so much power is as stupid as deciding to put a new roof on the house in the middle of a violent thunderstorm.
How long is this going to go on? It’s hard to say, but the democrats have to forge a path that doesn’t include them because they are still here to destroy, not build, the democratic party. All thanks to ratfucking.
Not only do many on Team Bernie not realize they were ratfucked, they are still being ratfucked to keep the Democratic Party in what Nixon would call a “perpetual state of civil war.” They never apologized for their inexcusable behavior during the primary. They seem perfectly content to abandon civil and women’s rights to chase white working class, whatever that means, and they are five steps behind the republicans who not only see them coming but have a plan in place already for when they arrive. You see, like Nixon leading the democrats to failure in 1972, the GOP has Team Bernie’s number: make them think they are powerful but know deep down they can’t sell their message to the majority, silent or otherwise.
This is politics 101 — politics Steve Bannon understands. Politics Roger Stone understands. Politics even Vladimir Putin understands. But it’s also politics that Bernie Sanders and his supporters clearly do not understand. They just don’t get it. They were puppets all along and remain puppets. The best and most powerful weapon the GOP has ever had in its arsenal: turn the left against itself and they will be crippled beyond repair.
On the plus side, their movement is strong and passionate. Good for them if they win elections going forward. Good for them if they grow their movement and enact actual change. No Democrat I know disagrees with their goals. But what remains a curiosity is that they had to make Democrats their enemy along the way and still do; why would they alienate the millions that outnumber them almost 3 to 1?
Even if the Democrats manage to build a strong coalition, the Bernie folks will keep nipping at their heels, screaming about the primary and god knows what all— doing Bannon’s work for him. It was a stroke of genius on his part to catalyze the alt-Left movement. They were smart enough to dispatch Trump voters to vote for Bernie in open primaries to make Hillary look bad. They were the ones amplifying the chaos at the convention and because by the end they were saying the same things — the GOP had made the Bernie left their willing accomplices in destroying Hillary Clinton. In the end, as Bernie tried to undo the damage they had trashed the only alternate car they had to get them out of the desert.
Will they get a clue and fast? Will they realize that division is by no means the way forward? Or will we all have to learn the hard way.
Just look at 1968–1972:
In 1968, the Democrats were in the process of a major overhaul, just like now. Was it inspired by seeing JFK’s presidency slide into the morass of Vietnam? A renewed sense of what was possible before Nixon’s election shut it all down? Perhaps. Historians often refer to this as the pendulum swing — it swings one way, then it swings back in another direction. LBJ was not going to seek a second term because his poll numbers were so low and he clearly wasn’t going to win re-election. That left open a spot for a more radically left movement to try to overtake the party. On the one hand you had Eugene McCarthy, a stanch anti-war activist (call him Bernie Sanders for now, except half Bernie’s age with twice the suave). You had RFK — a pretty good bet for the nomination but tragically assassinated. Then you had Hubert Humphrey who took over as the establishment Democrat (call him Hillary Clinton, except with half of Hillary’s fortitude and 10 times more milquetoast). Humphrey was an LBJ Democrat, not radically anti-war and willing to preserve LBJ’s legacy of the Great Society (like how Hillary vowed to protect Obamacare). Humphrey won the nomination, but boy did that piss off the supporters of Eugene McCarthy. Their cause wasn’t fracking and the TPP and health care — it was the Vietnam War.
But unbeknownst to them and everyone else, Nixon had been quietly doing ratfucking behind the scenes in 1968 (and more importantly in 1972). He was hiring dirty tricksters (Roger Stone and Karl Rove among them) to divide and destroy the Democratic Party by posing as protesters. The election was painfully close. Humphrey almost won that election but Nixon squeezed it out with 43.4% of the popular vote to Humphrey’s 42.7%. George Wallace ran as an Independent and ended with 13% of the vote. He, like Gary Johnson, took votes away from both parties, but he pulled off more Democratic support as the Democratic Party nationally began to shift its focus away from rural whites and towards expanding the rights and opportunities of people of color and women (sound familiar?)
That narrow loss caused a massive split within the Democratic Party. And why wouldn’t it? Nixon didn’t end the war — he escalated it to a nearly criminal degree. The Democrats had a chance in 1972 to take him down, but Nixon was going to make sure that didn’t happen (as Trump and Bannon and co. are going to do in 2020). Nixon sabotaged every candidate except for George McGovern because he felt confident he could take down McGovern. McGovern was one of the “reformers” — the early days of “the Greening of America,” and he was considered the grass roots, no-compromise candidate that had people like Warren Beatty swooning. He had students wearing his t-shirts and ignited and excited like never before. This was going to FINALLY IT, not just taking down “the establishment” but putting in a man of progressive ideals, a no-compromiser, not like Humphrey — Bernie Sanders of the 1970s. For his part, Humphrey fought McGovern every step of the way, arguing that a mainstream Democrat was the better choice. Nixon was pushing for McGovern and wouldn’t you know that the end result was this:
After this dramatic loss the democrats put in the superdelegates. They put them in to prevent anything this horrifying from happening again. Now, thanks to the GOP nudging them along, the democrats are acting as though there is no need for superdelegates because in their minds that’s why Bernie lost. As if.
The feminist movement had been barred from putting abortion on the platform in 1972 because it was seen as too radical. The McGovern movement had also shifted away from civil rights, which caused the black power movement (the Black Panthers) to increase their own activism independent of the party (sound familiar?). It seemed the Democrats were at last doing everything right: they weren’t compromising. They were going against the establishment. They were rejecting big money. They were following the leadership of the inspired youth activist movement.
Although Nixon won in a landslide, the Democrats took back Congress, which allowed them to boot Nixon from office and eventually get Jimmy Carter elected in 1976, But more happened than just that — Roe V. Wade happened, proving that the feminists really didn’t need to put abortion on the platform to build their movement. The radical counter-culture movement went on without the presidency, and perhaps was fueled by it — though American culture would also experience things that ended that movement — the Manson murders, Kent State. But people like Warren Beatty dropped out, tuned out, and turned away from politics mostly after the McGovern loss. It was as though they put everything they had into McGovern and when he lost, the feeling became “why bother.”
We are going through the same thing right now. The only difference is that many of those who embraced McGovern back then learned their lesson and backed Hillary. But how painful it must have been to watch as the Democrats became divided anyway. Once Bernie Sanders entered the race and began attacking the Democratic Party establishment itself, straight out of the 1960s counter-culture handbook, the election was lost.
Now, just like in 1972, the Bernie movement wants to once again pull the party too far to the left so that even an asshole like Trump threatens to take (and will likely win) a second term. This idea that they have to cannibalize themselves is not helpful going forward. Sticking together is really the only way to beat what we’re up against. The progressives can’t be the Tea Party. They aren’t backed by billionaires, aren’t willing to sell themselves out to serve billionaires and thus, have all passion but no strategy. People like Charles Koch have been planning this takeover for decades. And they’re finally gotten the government they want.
We know that it will have to cycle through and that will mean a guaranteed loss in 2020. But there is no way to tell people not to try, not to push for what they want. This is a democracy, after all, and we’re all allowed our input. It’s just that the Republicans are better at realpolitik: they have no moral objection to spending billions on ads and will utilize every dirty trick in the playbook to win. The Democrats won’t. And they will lose. Eventually they will remember what it takes to win. I hope by then it isn’t too late.
There is another way — and that is for the Bernie Sanders movement to not destroy the Democratic Party, but to exist as its own movement with its own candidates it runs for office. They are angry that they keep losing elections and when they lose they blame Democrats — and the establishment — instead of facing the truth about voters. They don’t know how to lose graciously and they don’t know how to win. They must realize sooner rather than later that at this point they aren’t going to change the Democratic Party. All they are going to do is help Republicans win and win and win again.
Why did Nixon win again in 1972 despite the McGovern movement? Because he offered peace and stability and they offered more chaos, more protests, more disruptions. Their movement, as Nixon smartly observed, echoed what was happening at college campuses and on the streets. Can you blame the public for being afraid? Democrats must offer the same:
At this point it doesn’t look good — they will protect and defend Bernie’s ego at all costs — even at the cost of the environment, the safety of black citizens, women’s rights, and handing Supreme Court to conservatives for decades ahead. It is just Bernie, Bernie, Bernie. They will keep destroying until we have such a massive loss as we had in 1972 that they finally learn the lesson that unity and incremental change is the way to go, only to have a few generations rise up after them who will have to learn it all over again.