Category Archives: Bernie Sanders

Don’t Count On Bernie Sticking Around For the Revolution

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In a recent post titled: “Brutally Honest Bernie Sanders Tells His Supporters That He Is Not Their Savior“, Jason Easley writes:

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Knowing Bernie’s history as I do, I can tell you this is not some selfless call to his supporters to fight on no matter the outcome of the primary. This is Bernie Sanders preparing to go back to being Senator Sanders; telling his voters that if he loses the nomination, good luck to them because he’s out. You see, that’s Bernie’s M.O.

Mr. Easley writes:

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That is true; in fact, Bernie Sanders has been talking about “political revolution” since at least 1971. That’s the year he joined the Liberty Union Party, and first ran for office in Vermont.

In his first run in ’72, he garnered 1,571 votes,  or 2.2 percent. As noted in a piece by Salon (my emphasis): “…winning was far less important than imparting his views, especially on economic justice.”  Salon reports:

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So this 3rd party, after 4 elections in 6 years, had gone from 2.2% of vote share to 6% … but Bernie Sanders calls it a failure, and walks away. Sanders’ early campaigns may sound familiar:

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But he quit; not because the 3rd party was a “failure”, but because he didn’t get elected, and Bernie Sanders wanted public office. He resigned as Chairman of the LUP in “77, telling the Nashua Telegraph in an interview:

lup broken promise

(Sanders happened to be the Chairman of LUP, so I’m not sure who he thought was supposed to keep things moving.)

Sanders re-branded himself an Democratic Socialist/Independent, and would win the election for Mayor of Burlington, Vermont in 1982. He would be re-elected 3 times. In 1991, he was elected Vermont Representative to the U.S. House, serving there until 2007, when he won his bid for Vermont Senator, the position he still holds today. Sanders’ luster wore off quickly for members of the Liberty Union Party, as this excerpt from a 1999 post on their site shows:

1999 Liberty Union

Bernie has disparaged both parties his entire career, so their disillusionment is justified.

If people want a third party, I say go for it; but history contains a long list of failed third parties. The Libertarian Party, with 400,000 members, and the Green Party, with its quarter of a million members, remain footnotes in past elections.

The difference between Democrats and Republicans is black/white, day/night; anyone who doesn’t recognize that is an idiot. What’s really needed is for the people complaining about the Democratic Party to become engaged, and work within the party.

Liberty Union Party still exists in Vermont today. Considering his current number of supporters, imagine how big LUP could have been after 45 years had Sanders actually been committed to “change”; but Bernie’s about Bernie.

Don’t expect Sanders to stick around when this Democratic primary is over. After he blames the “Establishment” (aka everyone who isn’t him or his supporters) for losing the nomination, he’ll claim the primary was “rigged for Hillary” (even though the fact that she didn’t win in 2008 belies that claim). Frankly, I expect he’ll shit all over the Democratic Party as soon as he doesn’t need them anymore. He’ll go back to being Senator Sanders, flogging his dead horses while refusing to make the alliances or compromises necessary to achieve any measurable progress on them. Problem is, he’ll return to the Senate with a lot less respect than when he entered the 2016 race.

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Bernie Sanders Could Do With Some Humility

Gone are the days of Bernie Sanders as the humble public servant whose mission was to make life better for the American working class. The “Not Me, Us” mantra was tossed away with used campaign signs somewhere along the way. Turns out Bernie Sanders was a (GASP!) politician all along.

In his latest self-important, party-be-damned statements, he rejects the politeness of internal party politics and brushes off the experience of his Democratic rival. As The Hill reports:

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders shied away from agreeing to put Hillary Clinton into his hypothetical presidential Cabinet during a Wednesday interview.  

“There are other people I would probably go to before Hillary Clinton, like Elizabeth Warren, for example,” Sanders said Wednesday during an interview on The Young Turks online news show. 

Sanders also criticized Clinton’s liberal chops and trustworthiness earlier in the interview when the host argued she’s pivoting away from President Obama’s foreign policy after criticizing Sanders for not standing by the president’s positions.

“That’s been the criticism of Hillary Clinton from day one and that’s why people frankly don’t trust her.

Contrast that with Hillary Clinton’s diplomatic debate response to whether she would have Bernie Sanders as VP:

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Well, I’m certainly going to unite the party, but I’m not — I’m not getting ahead of myself. I think that would be a little bit presumptuous. If I’m so fortunate as to be the nominee, the first person I will call to talk to about where we go and how we get it done will be Sen. Sanders.

Here’s Sanders’ reply to that same debate question:

I agree with what the secretary said. We shouldn’t be getting ahead of ourselves. And as I have said many times, you know, sometimes in these campaigns, things get a little bit out of hand. I happen to respect the secretary very much, I hope it’s mutual. And on our worst days, I think it is fair to say we are 100 times better than any Republican candidate.

He just couldn’t eke out the slightest show of party diplomacy. Deference to those more knowledgeable is not a trait one sees in Sanders; it’s this type of arrogance that many Democrats find so off-putting about him. Hillary Clinton’s experience speaks for itself; on the other hand, Sanders’ lack of foreign policy chops is his biggest weakness.

It would serve Bernie Sanders well to show a little respect for his opponent and the party he has co-opted; and a little humility never hurts, either.

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Bernie Sanders’ Free Riders Problem

Free Riders

Not long ago, folks on Twitter were sporting Unite Blue “twibbons” and “Vote Blue No Matter Who” graphics; lately however, the tide has been turning, and not in a positive way. Some* of Bernie Sanders’ supporters are sounding more like a left wing version of the Tea Party, and it’s hurting him with Democrats. More and more social media comments are beginning with “I used to like Bernie, but his supporters… ”

When Sanders first announced his candidacy in April, he said:

Bernie SandersLet’s be clear. This campaign is not about Bernie Sanders. It is not about Hillary Clinton. It is not about Jeb Bush or anyone else. This campaign is about the needs of the American people, and the ideas and proposals that effectively address those needs.

In September he explained why he chose to run as a Democrat:

“What I did not want to do is run as a third party candidate, take votes away from the Democratic candidate and help elect some right-wing Republican. I did not want responsibility for that…”

Then in November he told ABC’s This Week:

“I made a decision in this presidential election that I will run as a Democrat; I am a Democrat now.”

But Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat; as his campaign builds momentum, he’s distancing himself from the party that took him in. Some of his supporters, having spent years with their heads either in their iPhones or up their asses, suddenly see themselves as political authorities. What began as friendly jousting between the Bernie and Hillary camps has devolved into verbal food fights.

Those of us who have been engaged in politics for years are now being lectured to by political neophytes who seem to have no idea how government works. They eschew the word pragmatic, and fancy themselves “purists” who won’t “compromise their principles” by voting for anyone but Bernie. They believe they occupy some type of moral high ground, and would screw the entire country for the misguided notion that Bernie will instantly, magically, change the world. Die hard supporters say they’ll write Sanders’ name in if he doesn’t get the nomination, or not vote at all. Seems the type of Democracy they claim they want isn’t actually worth working for.

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In a Common Dreams piece titled “What the Mainstream Doesn’t Get About Bernie Sanders“, John Atcheson writes:

… the fact of the matter is that “none-of-the-above” has won every election since 1960, with some 40 to 50 percent of those eligible to vote not voting… the dirty little secret is that America is a left of center, progressive electorate on an issue-by-issue basis, and many of these are the ones who stay home in disgust at their lack of choice.

If Sanders is to win, he must get a sizable number of the disaffected and cynical voters to reengage in the political process…

The folks Atcheson generously calls “disaffected” voters are selfish voters; nobody’s talking about MY pet issue, so I’ll stay home. Nobody’s talking about what’s important to ME, so I’ll just sit on my ass and wait until someone comes along who does. Let everyone else do the work, and when the gravy train shows up, THEN I’ll jump on. I can’t be bothered to effect change, I want it handed to me. Those are the “free riders”.

paine-quoteMeanwhile, those of us who have slogged along through election after election are the ones who have gotten us to the point where someone like Bernie can run. We have done the heavy lifting, implementing change piece by piece. The biggest reason we’re not further along in making government work for all of us, is precisely due to the “disaffected” whiners who stay home.  As Atcheson himself puts it:

… change could often be tied to how small changes can trigger chaotic responses which ultimately cause a system – be it political, economic or scientific — to arrive at a new and different equilibrium point that is completely unexpected.

That’s how we ended up with a President like Barack Obama; we did the work. The “disaffected” voters on the other hand, can take full responsibility for our Republican Congress; “Millennials” for instance, are usually MIA in midterm elections. In its report on the 2014 midterms, Nonprofit Vote writes:

Of all demographics, the greatest drop off in voting from a presidential year to a midterm is among young voters under 40. The share of the electorate composed of voters under 40 fell ten points from 36% in 2012 to 26% in 2014…
politics by ageWhile “purists” lecture other voters about “real change”, they haven’t done much to help it along. Look at Progressive Democrats of America, a group formed in 2004, whose mission is “… an inside-outside strategy—to bring outside energy inside the party“. Along with its sister site, People Demand Action, PDA is the perfect vehicle for “disaffected” voters, but they don’t seem to know it exists. After 12 years, PDA has a 90,000 person email list, and a paltry 35,000 members actually participating in the organization.

Instead, the “purists” have simply been waiting. Now, emboldened by their numbers, Sanders supporters feel they have the right to dictate the process. A group presumptuously calling themselves “The People and VOTERS of the United States of America” has begun a Change.org petition aimed at Democratic Superdelegates. They write:

This presidential election is perhaps one of the most important, if not THE most important in American history, due to the inordinate number and severity of issues facing the United States of America today: general post Global Recession recovery and economic and financial dilemmas, the most severe and grotesque income inequality of any industrialized nation on earth, multiple wars ongoing, lack of adequate access to quality, affordable healthcare and dental care for tens of millions of Americans, college and university education costs so high that more and more people can no longer afford to attend even with some financial aid and loans, student debt at over 1 TRILLION dollars, greatly increasing poverty, climate change, and so many other CRITICAL issues, all happening at the same time.

All happening at the same time? It sounds like a meteor crashed into the earth unleashing political chaos on the Garden of Eden. I suppose we should be thankful they’ve come out of hibernation at all, but now they talk as if all of our problems will vanish if we Just. Elect. Bernie.

Sanders’ supporters claim a political “revolution” has begun; I wonder if, should he lose his run for President,  they have the fortitude to build on the momentum. I seriously doubt it. Meanwhile, those of us who participate in the process, expect more than feel-good campaign slogans that state the obvious… we’d like to see a PLAN. We’d like to see Bernie be honest with his supporters about the obstacles he will face, and the years it would take to implement his ideas. Most of all, we’d like him to address their off-putting hateful rhetoric toward Democrats because, as one person put it, “He is a guest in our house”.

As for the Bernie folks, they might want to spend less time trashing people on Twitter and Facebook, get down off their high horses, and start thinking about the country as a whole. If they let Republicans take over, they can kiss their rights, their opportunities, and their asses goodbye.

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*Some: Means exactly what it says; if you’re not one of the folks I’m talking about, then this isn’t directed at you.

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