Bernie Sanders and his supporters are not good for Democrats, and they will only empower Republicans and the likely nominee, Donald Trump. It’s time for moderates to show their passion for making a real difference as opposed to just making noise and call Bernie and his fans out for what they are: bad for Democrats; a corrosive, unrealistic, unhelpful insurgency against real Democrats and real change; and a possible precursor to a Democratic Tea Party. It’s time to fight FOR Hillary and AGAINST self-indulgent naïveté.
Originally published on LinkedIn Pulse February 18, 2016
Mark Kauzlarich / Reuters
I earlier posted this at the end of a recent article titled “This Map Proves Sanders’ Political Revolution a Delusional Fantasy, or, My 1 Question for Bernie,” but I felt this needed its own post, so… Also, I am my own man, have never been paid by or formally associated with Hillary Clinton’s campaign. I just exercise critical thinking, thank you very much… and here are my April 29th terms for peace with camp Sanders!
AMMAN — Jay Michaelson, writing a column for The Daily Beast titled “Dear Bernie Fans, a Vote for Him is a Vote for Donald Trump,” basically wrote a sugar-coated, kinder version of what I have written, and more or less says the same thing New York Times columnist Paul Krugman says at the the end of one of his pieces, noting that the white, college-educated, privileged liberal core of Bernie supporters should consider the far less privileged people who would truly be hurt the most by the dramatically-far-increased-risk of a Republican (Trump?!) victory a Bernie Sanders nomination creates, to think about how all the policies and programs these people depend upon would be negatively impacted by such an outcome.
AP/John Locher for photo without text
It’s a truly excellent piece, but I think aim is strategically and tactically wrong. Strategically, Michaelson seems to be trying to win over Bernie Sanders supporters, and tactically, his approach is to engage them in reasoned dialogue backed by data. Unfortunately for his approach, he seems to have discovered that Sanders supporters aren’t interested in reasoned dialogue backed by data, as this post-article Tweet by Michaelson demonstrates:
This matches my own experience with Bernie supporters for some time now: there is no point in discussion, and research and data unfavorable to their fantasy are simply not acknowledged at best or are outright dismissed at worse. I often hear the line “We’ll see!” as if data-driven approaches are just some outdated method for winning as if data and research were not major components in the Obama campaign’s impressive victory over Romney in 2012, not even four years ago.
The truth is, Bernie supporters are not worth engaging because they don’t want a discussion, at least not one the basis of data and details about moving forward: they’ve found their prophet and savior and are supporting him no matter what in true cult-like fashion, thinking through and consequences be damned. Some of them will support Hillary if she wins the nomination, others will not. As Michaelson notes in his Tweet, and as I noted earlier, neither of these groups can point to data that supports Bernie’s viability as a candidate (the type they do point to, early-election-season general election polls, are as a rule demonstrably wildly inaccurate and are therefore irrelevant and will continue to be so for months until much closer to November). As is obvious, and as I pointed out at length in my last piece, the main reason for this is that such data does not exist. But, even worse with my own experience with Bernie supporters and pro-Bernie “alternative” media is that there is not even an attempt to seek out such or even to ask the tough questions needed to translate any candidate or social movement into anything other than a fad.
Bernie and his supporters asking me and others to support him based on the far-fetched hypothetical possibility of the virtually impossible is not responsible politics and is not a recipe for a successful social/political movement. This is basically asking me, other Democrats, and many other Americans to take a huge gamble on someone who has not proven himself capable of doing what he says he wants to do or done the legwork to maximize his chances of victory. Sorry, I can’t respect a “movement” that hasn’t put in the time and effort to organize and build up a following over time, as other successful social/political movements have. To say that this Sanders democratic socialist “movement”—now only months old—is rushed is a dramatic understatement.
The hubristic mentality Berners exhibit is that they are somehow a silent majority or will be able to convince Middle America to hop aboard the democratic socialist love-train, which is most definitely an express train with very few stops along the way. That train passed the realm of rational discussion long ago.
So, no, my main goal is not to engage Sanders supporters. I see them as the harbinger of something new and dangerous for the left: a possible delayed (equal?) opposite reaction to the movement of and forces behind the Tea Party. Just as the Tea Party is doing incredible damage to their long-term goals and the Republican Party without realizing it, this new group of Berners may very well be situating themselves to do the same for progressive liberalism.
The question is, will the Democratic Party become beholden to Berners the way the Republican Party has become beholden to Tea Partiers? That is what the Clinton vs. Sanders contest is all about.
So my goal? Point out how, like the Tea Party, all but those who are flirting with Bernie have become a destructive force within the left, a force that, like the Tea Party, will drive voters away in big national elections. As Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death should remind us all, elections have very real world-consequences. So my goal is to drive away any voters who are not in the Bernie camp away from that camp’s self-destructive, self-indulgent, delusional nonsense by exposing it for what it is, bluntly and harshly and rightly so. I’m basically declaring war on Camp Bernie because it declared war on the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton months ago, not wanting to participate in the Democratic party but to hijack it Tea Party-style. I’d like to win over the light Bernie supporters, those flirting with his candidacy, and undecideds to our side in this nomination contest before it’s too late, making anyone not under this Pied Piper’s spell realize how inane and ridiculous his message and followers are. It’s not enough to say “Well, enough Bernie supporters will come around to Hillary in the end.” Because the more normal Democrats calmly act like that will happen and the more we stand by and don’t fight back, the more people will think it’s not extreme to support Bernie, the more people will be attracted to his candidacy, and the greater the chances that Bernie could actually win the nomination.
If however, moderates unite and loudly denounce Camp Bernie for the unhelpful, destructive camp it is, then undecideds will see our passion andour reason and come to us. But if we are quiet with our passion, Camp Bernie has too great a chance for my comfort to win out with their passion over our quiet reason.
The time to act is now. One of George W. Bush’s greatest faults was his long support of his secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, who refused to admit to himself, his boss, and the American people that U.S. forces in Iraq were facing a metastasizing insurgency drawing increasing support among the disaffected and malcontents of Iraq. The consequences were disastrous, and we are still living with them today. Eventually, they drove Iraq to a period of-near civil war, in which many normal Iraqis found themselves tangled and transformed, even to the point of becoming violent malcontents themselves. Well, the Democratic Party needs to recognize the insurgency in Bernie Sanders it has on its hands now, call it for what it is, and stop treating it with kid gloves. Rick Perry called Trump “a cancer on conservatism.” That cancer appears to be terminal. Sanders is on liberalism’s chances to affect real change. Time for some chemo.
Don’t get me wrong; I like Bernie Sanders, agree with him on many issues, and know his intentions are good; I can say the same for many of his supporters. But history shows us far too often alone are not enough to succeed, and are no substitute for a practical plan that both incorporates an understanding of the pressures that place limits on the currently possible and addresses reality it exists, not as we wish it to be; “Politics is,” after all, “the art of the possible,” to quote the great nineteenth-century German statesman Otto von Bismarck. And at a time when the Republican Party has, for years, been acting irrationally, has lurched far to the right, and increasingly disdains both compromise and governance, now is not the time for the Democratic party to lurch to the left; now is the time to broaden the Democratic Party’s practical, rational, centrist appeal, to draw centrists and liberal Republicans who are horrified by the far-fight turn of the Republican Party and the rise of Trump. For decades, no Democrat has run as a liberal and won the White House: Carter in 1976, Clinton in 1992 and 1996, and Obama in 2008 and 2012 all ran as center-left candidates. Under President Obama, Democrats have worked hard to cultivate a brand that is centrist, rational, non-extremist, and non-ideological; it would be more than foolish to abandon this very clear contrast with Republicans that Democrats can provide to voters in favor of Sanders’ extreme, narrow, and polarizing approach to politics.
The battle lines are drawn. Time is running out. And it’s time to fight. Now is not the time to show that, like the Iraqi Army then and even now with ISIS, that moderates don’t want to fight, that only the extremists have the passion to really fight. That is how we lose support to the Sanders Insurgency.
U.S. Department of State
Hillary Clinton is a fighter. I’m with her.
If you want to win and help people in real life, you should be, too. Join us, join us now, and get ready to fight, or get ready for President Donald Trump.
Don’t be a Berner.
UPDATE April 29th: See my terms for peace with camp Sanders
Hillary for America
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