Saturday, July 2, 2016

Bernie Sanders Gambling With America's Future

Yet again Bernie Sanders has said he will fight all the way to the nomination. Yesterday I saw a supporter claiming that he will be the Democratic nominee. It's kind of strange, given that he believes the Dem Party to be rigged and thoroughly corrupt. I guess the idea is to change it from within. And, in the name of democracy, over-ride millions of voters who don't believe it's rigged. 

On June 9 Politico ran an article saying "After meeting with Obama, Sanders gives strongest sign yet that he will soon bow out. But he's going to compete in D.C. primary first." That was understandable  in the light of how optimistic Sanders was that he could win D.C. by a large margin. However, he said after the meeting with President Obama that "Donald Trump would clearly, to my mind and I think the majority of Americans, be a disaster as president of the United States.

"It is unbelievable to me, and I say this in all sincerity, that the Republican Party would have a candidate for president who in the year 2016 makes bigotry and discrimination the cornerstone of his campaign.

"In my view, the American people will not vote for or tolerate a candidate who insults Mexicans and Latinos, who insults Muslims, who insults African-Americans and women.  Needless to say, I am going to do everything in my power, and I will work as hard as I can, to make sure that Donald Trump does not become president of the United States."

Sincerity is as sincerity does. He will work as hard as he can? He could if he wanted to but he didn't then and he still isn't. 

President Barack Obama. Joe Biden. Elizabeth Warren. Hillary Clinton. All of them passionate, courageous, supremely smart, knowledgeable, experienced, articulate, focused and able to maintain dignity and purpose in the face of huge challenge.

All of them aligned against a thin-skinned, misogynistic, racist, narcissistic bully addicted to power and adulation and getting his way by any means, unable to control his temper, his mouth or his fear of criticism, unable to take his head out of the sand or handle a simple press report. Backed by a party that despises him but has painted itself into a corner by supporting him and foolishly believing it could control him.

The absentee is, of course, Bernie Sanders who is in reality doing everything he can to promote his revolution no matter what the cost, with the occasional outburst against Donald Trump to keep up the myth that he's doing everything he can to make sure Trump doesn't win. The truth is that he's doing everything he can, short of articulating it openly, to make sure that Hillary Clinton doesn't win.

In June Sanders was convinced he would win D.C. and that was his rationalization for carrying on. He lost by one of the biggest margins in the Democratic primaries. And he carried on.

Now he's back to saying—again—that he will carry the fight all the way to the Democratic convention. The longer he refuses to endorse Hillary Clinton the more myths are perpetrated about her. Ultimately that will be what gives Donald Trump the edge. In a recent Bloomberg poll 22% of Sanders supporters said they'll vote for him. Their hero will have a Congress even more dominated by the GOP. He will be powerless to effect the slightest change. And the Supreme Court will be conservative by majority. So a minority of voters will make the decision for the majority and affect the lives of everybody's children for possibly decades.

It's impossible to entertain the idea that Sanders is unaware of that 22% or of how irrational they are. They keep repeating the same categorical statements generated originally by the far right GOP and now backed by memes that can be disproved in seconds. It's mindless! There are few things more dangerous to a healthy democracy than mindless rage. People consumed with it will avoid any truth that doesn't give them a justification for vitriol and punishing somebody.

The frightening thing is that Sanders isn't saying to this group "we'll fight to force Hillary Clinton into the most progressive agenda possible, but guys, we are going to vote for her because she is the only way to defeat Donald Trump."

He can't say it, can he? Because then he can't blackmail the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton. So he's taking a gamble. For it to succeed he needs to carry on whipping up the mindless rage, tacitly endorsing the stories that Clinton is a child-and-women hating, war-mongering monster who has been bought by Wall Street, large corporations and a thoroughly corrupt Democratic Party. Presumably his plan is that when he's got what he wants, he'll exert benevolent control over that mindless rage so ultimately all his supporters vote for Clinton.

Good luck with that, Bernie Sanders. We've just seen the centenary commemoration of the Battle of the Somme when a million men were wounded or killed. Two years later World War I was over. Never again, everybody swore. Twenty years later World War II broke out. After that war ended, everybody swore, never again would the world countenance another Hitler.

Now throughout the West the far right is rising in power. We don't learn from history. I wonder if we can even learn from history that happened a week ago when UK voters chose an option that had been driven by bigotry and that has plunged the country into disarray on every front.

And opened the door even wider for the far right. America faces the same dilemma. And Bernie Sanders is gambling?

Photograph: The Cardsharps by Carvaggio, c. 1594