gulliver

Smell that?  It’s smoke.  Smoke pouring out of the ears of establishment Democrats.  It’s not because they Feel the Bern.  It’s due to two reasons: (1) they are furious at Sanders; and (2) their mental wheels are continuously grinding, creating massive internal friction, as they come up with one inane reason after another to blast the senator from Vermont.

You all know what I am talking about.  The endless stream of articles and posts pouring forth from the commentariat of the Democratic establishment, as well as the self-righteous comments by Clinton supporters on articles about Sanders, not to mention the vituperative remarks on Twitter.  Here’s an example from yesterday’s Washington Post, by Stuart Rothenberg, “How Bernie Sanders missed his moment.”  It’s worth quoting at length because it contains many of the accusations that are hurled at Sanders.

Apparently, getting five Sanders supporters on the Democratic National Committee’s platform committee wasn’t enough for the senator from Vermont. He still wants more. Of course, he always wants more. Whether it is ego, vanity or simply a political miscalculation, Sanders has over-read his mandate. . . .

Sanders pushed his agenda for months, contrasting his priorities and values with Clinton’s. Yet Democratic voters gave her more votes and more delegates. Now, Sanders is fighting for a platform that Clinton must run on. In other words, he is trying to win through the platform what he couldn’t at the polls. . . .

No, Sanders isn’t merely running for president. He is running to change the Democratic Party (to which he hasn’t even belonged) and to bring his progressive, democratic-socialist values to America. But the Vermont independent ought to realize that the Democratic Party also includes Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.). Indeed, they’ve been part of the party longer than he has.

Delaying a full-throated endorsement of Clinton until delegates arrive in Philadelphia won’t make Sanders more influential. It will merely make him look irrelevant and delusional.

So, Bernie is ego-tripping, or he’s a lame politician.  He is unwilling to heed the voices of the voters who have proclaimed Hillary the winner, and in doing so shows an insufficient respect for democracy.  Further, he’s doesn’t understand the big-tent nature of the Democratic Party.  He looks increasingly irrelevant, even delusional, as each day passes because the Democrats have moved on with Hillary and he refuses to get on board by endorsing her.  But of course Rothenberg is not alone in the continuing criticisms.  For example, just two days ago we learned from Chris Cillizza that Sanders is now being condescending and dismissive of Clinton.

These Democrats doth protest too much.  Why?

The criticisms are easy enough to refute, especially since they often contradict each other, and we will turn to them shortly.  But point-by-point refutations run a danger here: we will lose the forest for the trees.  So, first, a word about the the main reason that the Democratic Establishment is so angry at Sanders.*  It’s an old story, going back at least to the elections of 1968 and 1972.  After these elections, Democrats became obsessed with the notion that rifts in the Party are fatal.  In this regard, they keep fighting the last war and haven’t learned yet that history doesn’t repeat itself so easily.  Afflicted with this phobia, people in the party think that anything or anyone who threatens the illusion of harmony and unity among Democrats must be stifled.  You know: we are one big happy family, while the GOP has taken over the Roman Coliseum.

The Democratic Party currently has significant rifts, which are in part the outcome of Bill and Hillary’s Democratic Leadership Council taking charge in the 1990s.  Pretending that they aren’t significant will be catastrophic for the Party down the road.  A patina of harmony isn’t harmony.  For example, the Party can not depend on big money, Wall Street, and claim to champion Main Street.  Thus far it hasn’t been required to face this challenge in presidential years because the other party, the GOP, has been increasingly out-of-touch, and is once again running a weak candidate.  However, avoiding the tensions will no longer be possible because of increasing inequality, among other issues.  Bernie’s  candidacy is a constant reminder that all is not well in Never Never Land.  And he knows something important: if the Democrats prove unwilling or unable to address the Party’s internal tensions, the Party will eventually crumble like a stack of cards facing a Blue Norther.

Now, about those criticisms:

1. Sanders refuses to heed the will of the voters and is trying to win through the Democratic Party’s platform what he lost at the election box.

Four significant problems with this line of criticism:  (1) Clinton’s ostensible victory is not necessarily a reflection of the beliefs of the majority of Democrats, for example, on universal health care.  She may have won because people thought she was a stronger candidate or found voting for a candidate who would break a glass ceiling compelling.  Her victory does not tell us what a majority of Democrats may actually prefer in terms of a platform.  (2) It is a mistake to overplay her “victory.”  Many of her votes were wracked up in the South before most voters had learned about Sanders or his politics.  There have been serious irregularities in the voting in many states, and caucus states don’t get counted properly in the total popular vote.  Further, we know that the Establishment pulled out all of the stops to get her nominated, and this certainly assisted her at the start of the primary season.  And let’s not forget the false charges of sexism promoted by Hillary’s camp, for example, the false stereotyping of Sanders’ supporters as white male Bernie Bros.  (3) We need to be careful with transitory appeals to the majority by those with personal or ideological agendas.  For example, you can’t complain, on the one hand, that Bernie is not heeding the will of the majority of Democrats by staying in the race, and then say, but let’s not worry too much about the majority because we must accommodate conservative Democrats, who are in the minority.  (Rothenberg is effectively making the last point when he suggests that we must respect the voices of figures who are to the right of most Democrats.)  And, lastly, a minority—assuming Sanders represents a minority for the sake of argument—doesn’t stop pressing for change because the majority has spoken.  Think here of the dedication of those opposed to segregation when faced with election results favoring policies that supported segregation.  To simply roll over because of an election undermines democracy, which requires continuing and active debate.  One should fight through established procedures for principles that one believes in, and to change procedures when they are unfair or biased.

2. He is trying to change the Democratic Party and he’s not really a Democrat.

Wrong way to frame the situation.  The question is not whether Bernie is a real Democrat, which is a weird litmus test.  The question is whether his proposals currently reflect the will of the majority of Democrats and Democratic leaning independents.  If they do, then he is not changing the Party—it is the leadership that is out of step with the Party’s members.  He would only be trying to change undemocratic mechanisms of control.  And if he is currently in the minority, he should try to change the Party.  That’s politics.

3. Sanders is becoming increasingly irrelevant and out-of-touch.

Well, if this is the case, why has the stream of articles and comments criticizing him for not getting on board with Hillary not stopped?  We have even heard that Hillary doesn’t need Bernie supporters any more because she will be able to appeal to moderate Republicans.  Joan Walsh writes in a Nation column on June 27, 2016.

There are many Republicans available to Clinton, particularly women, if she decides that’s her best audience. As one Clinton supporter close to the platform negotiations told me: “It’s really up to him: He can determine if she does this with a progressive mandate, one that she has to be loyal to. But if his voters snub her, and she has to go to anti-Trump Republicans to get to 51 percent, they’ll have much less leverage.”

If you think he’s not relevant and not needed, then get off his back.

4. Sanders is on an ego trip.  Driven by an inability to accept defeat, he selfishly carries on with his campaign, questing after more when he has already been given enough.

Talk about misreading someone’s personality and history: Sanders has lost elections many times and the losses didn’t lead him to whine or behave childishly.  He moves on and tries again or tries something different.  Further, Sanders’ campaign has been about bringing people together to work for change, something he has been trying to do his entire adult life.  (Funny how people working to do this are often accused of selfishness.)  It is shameless to try to delegitimize someone who has been fighting for certain principles based on crude psychologizing and ad hominem arguments.  Of course, it’s an old tactic.  If you can’t understand principled actions or disagree with specific principled actions, just accuse those you disagree with of base motives.  (Go back to comments made about Martin Luther King, for example, and you will see attempts to offer demeaning personal and psychological explanations for his passion for justice, especially after he tied civil rights to the Vietnam War.)

5. And then there is the criticism, not mentioned by Rothenberg, but explicitly stated by others, that he is somehow hurting Clinton.

If Clinton is doing well against Trump—and as Hillary and her allies claim, Sanders’ supporters will come around— this has become an outdated line of attack.  (Does anyone really believe that Sanders is going to cost Clinton the election?  No, not at this junction.**  At most, his followers might cost her a big win if she appears to be tacking too far to the right.)  And for those who still support this outdated line of criticism, the question must be asked: how exactly is Bernie hurting Hillary?  He’s not attacking her personally.  The only way that he might be hurting Hillary is by keeping alive policy debates that she would prefer not to have on center stage.  However, if this is the case, he has a moral obligation to continue.  The Party’s goal can’t simply be to get Hillary into office on any terms, especially if she is going to govern to the right of where she has positioned herself during the primary.  Her feet need to be held to the fire.  If Bernie is now hurting Hillary, it is in the same way that Socrates “hurt” the citizens of Athens, by shaming them when they failed to live up to principles they espoused.

 

_______________________

*There are certainly other reasons.  One suggestion that has been made is that Bernie is creating a guilty conscience among more progressive Democrats who know that his policies should be those that the Party supports.  See “The Psychology of Why Hillary Clinton Supporters are Still So Angry at Bernie Sanders,” by Shane Ryan.

** This is not to say that Clinton has the election in the bag.  If a Black Swan event strikes—for example, she or her aids are indicted—then all bets are off.  But this obviously would not be because of Bernie and his supporters.

 

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9 thoughts

  1. The media is trying hard to keep Bernie down and help HIllary get elected. The part they got wrong is the candidate they are backing. The will of the people will prevail this year and Bernie will be our next president.

  2. You may wish to pay particular attention to Paragraph (b), which explains rather clearly that Clinton is legally disqualified from holding the office.

    CRIMINAL STATUTES
    18 US Code 2071 concealment

    (a)Whoever willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys, or attempts to do so, or, with intent to do so takes and carries away any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document, or other thing, filed or deposited with any clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office, or with any judicial or public officer of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

    (b)Whoever, having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; ***and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.*** As used in this subsection, the term “office” does not include the office held by any person as a retired officer of the Armed Forces of the United States.
    https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2071

    (1) Clinton flatly refused to cooperate with the Inspector General’s investigation, which, when complete, found that Clinton had deliberately circumvented and failed to comply with clearly specified State Department Rules and Regulations designed to secure, protect and preserve all correspondence, and to comply with the Freedom of Information Act.

    (2) When complying with the FBI requirement to present herself for questioning, (Voluntary Appearance=”You can show up or we’ll be happy to send a couple of agents with a pair of handcuffs”) Clinton, herself a lawyer, was accompanied by her team of FIVE ADDITIONAL ATTORNEYS, David Kendall, Cheryl Mills, Heather Samuelson, Katherine Turner, and Amy Saharia.

    (3) The latest cleverly plotted Clinton stunt (at the expense of the Attorney General’s career and reputation) is what’s known as Misdirection and Deflection. A sleight of hand trick. It draws your attention away from the FBI suspect interrogation. You’re paying more attention to Bill and Loretta’s outrageously inappropriate airport meeting than you are to Hillary. But that still won’t change the outcome.

    UPDATE: 07/04/16
    Huma Abedin admits under oath that Hillary burned daily schedules.
    “Clinton has admitted to destroying “private personal emails” as secretary of state. But Abedin’s admission that she used so-called “burn bags” — a container that material is placed in before it is destroyed — for some of her schedules is the first time anyone close to her has disclosed destroying public records.”

    http://nypost.com/2016/07/04/huma-abedin-admits-that-clinton-burned-daily-schedules/

  3. I am 55 years old and this year I realized I live in a Banana Republic. Horrifying to say the least. Bernie Sanders has opened my eyes, ears and heart. He has made me aware of the reality of this country. He is my hero and every American should be standing up for this man. Our country is run on greed and power. The corporations buy the politicians, get what they want and the people get screwed. All the while, the news on TV covers up the whole thing. This year is also when I realized our news is only censored propaganda. Horrifying again. What do you do? You get involved. Like Bernie said, everything starts from the ground up. I’ve joined local “berniecrats” in my community and we meet once a week. We are active in politics in town. We are putting together a list of “Bernie approved” candidates that are running for office and we will copy the list and canvass them around town. Get active, get involved. When we fall asleep at the wheel, the crooks tip toe in and take over. #StillSanders #NeverHillary #IndicteHillary

  4. Is this author on crack? Or does being a “democrat” justify voter fraud? Hillary never “won” anything. A person in her camp even confessed to me it’s rigged, or rather controlled, “by the push of a button.” But you sycophants don’t bother to even look into the person you’re supporting (which you can find her saying the exact opposite within 15 minutes of online searching that your grade schooler could find). And because it doesn’t help Hillary, Bernie should have folded early on … exactly why is that? Anyone can run for president and if people feel that they are being represented then they should have someone to vote for – kind of the concept of Democracy don’t you think? Truth is, you all think Hillary deserves Bernie’s supporters when it is just the opposite. Let’s see what Hillary and the DNC colluded to do this election … altering the composition of the electorate, disenfranchising so that many can’t vote, reduction of reasonable proximity polling places, purges from the electoral roll, provisional ballots, depressing the vote, intimidation on Bernie social media by Hillary trolls, “black propaganda” or misleading information from DNC supported media, misleading or wrong ballot papers, record tampering, machine source code tampering, uncorrected voting machine audits, exit polls that show up to 7% margin of error in states Hillary won where anything over 2% is considered fraud, and the cancellation of exit polls to stop the publicity. These are just a few examples of what the DNC and Hillary have done and if you don’t see it as tyrannical then at least recognize that it corrupts democracy. In addition, changing the laws in the 70’s so that they can “anoint” superdelegates is also oppressive rule. It gives power to the “few” and removes it from the “people”. So I recommend you revist who Hillary is from voting AGAINST the civil rights law, to representing child rapists, to her completely catastrophic foreign actions that now has China and Russia working together and threatening us with war. I know your candidate and that is why I will never vote for Hillary. I also know who Bernie is.

    Bernie, as only a leader with integrity could do, started a movement for every person in our country. He woke many of us up from our capitalistic slave walk, where we kept getting poorer, sicker, dumber, and less cared for by our government in exchange for profit for the banks, executives, and shareholders. Bernie pointed out the loopholes that corporations use to shelter their profits and the deregulation of industries and the workforce that increase them. He said, “A job should lift workers out of poverty, not put them in it.” He doesn’t believe in balancing the budget on the backs of the elderly, the sick, the children and the poor by cutting our welfare system. He want’s us all to have living wages and the ability to live. He doesn’t think you and I should fear bankruptcy when we are unwell. Also, since greed, recklessness and illegal behavior crashed our economy and ruined millions of lives, he want’s to put protective measures in place so that doesn’t happen again. Like breaking up banks and placing the taxes back onto the rich rather than just the poor. In order keep our education competitive, he wants us to have tuition free college. Then with that educated workforce, he wants to stimulate the job market with federal jobs that will address our decaying infrastructure by reversing the decline in roads, bridges, water systems, railways, and airports. He wants to fix our trade agreements so that we don’t keep crippling our middle class with massive job loss and factory closures. By placing our money into our people we don’t have to place it in the prison system. Like the MLK supporter that he is, he wants the complete termination of racism and sexism from our country. “A great nation is one in which justice, equality, and dignity prevails for all.”

    Know your candidate and vote for someone that represents your beliefs. Otherwise, you will never be represented in our government.

  5. I have SEEN NO ATTACK on Bernie Sanders BY ANYONE on the Left/Democratic side of things. Large parts of his agenda were absorbed into the EXTREMELY PROGRESSIVE Democratic Party platform. I have NO DOUBT he will be invited to speak at the Democratic Convention. This big ‘Hillary vs Bernie Knife Fight’ is only happening in the minds of some of their followers. I really believe ‘Bernie or Bust’ itself is a form of obsession bordering on lunacy.

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