Friday, December 02, 2016

Ranting On...Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D...wait, it's apparently I again-VT)
It's been almost a month since the election.  We are now in December, and in some ways things are getting back to normal, or at least we are now adjusting to the new reality (I suspect that normal is going to be a word that no one really utters for a while).  We have stopped talking about Hillary Clinton's emails (the most ridiculous story of 2016), and suddenly it seems like everyone predicted Donald Trump would win the White House, based on how certain they are about why Hillary Clinton lost.  We are now cowering in fear at every cabinet rumor (for the love of God, Heidi Heitkamp, resist the temptation), and are alternating between snark and terror at what happens next.  But I need to release a few demons still of the election, and one of them is related to a certain cantankerous junior senator from Vermont.  Bernie, we have beef, and I need to get it out before we are forced to be on the same side against Trump.

I did not #FeeltheBern earlier this year.  Like, at all.  I like some of the ideas of Bernie Sanders' campaign, don't get me wrong.  I do think that we should seriously examine how much power we give to large banking institutions, and that there is a clear disparity in wealth allocation in our country.  I don't agree, for the record, with some of his plans.  I don't think that college should be free.  I think that there shouldn't be student loans that you're saddled with for your entire life, and I agree with President Obama that there should be free community college (at least part of it), particularly for people who are looking to change career fields.  I feel this is a critical component, in fact, to a number of other issues that Sanders has espoused on the campaign trail, particularly in fighting climate change (easier and better access to community college for people in declining industries is the best solution, in my opinion, for getting climate change without having to be bogged down with the (very real and important) aspect that states like Kentucky, North Dakota, and Oklahoma rely upon fossil fuels for a critical part of their economy).  But I don't think that you get there in the ways that Sanders espoused, and felt that his economic policies were too quick to cast blame and too expensive to be practical.  I wanted to take portions of his platform (which was never going to make it through Congress), and his attitudes toward foreign policy, but I thought he was the wrong messenger and that it was impractical to expect the country to sign up for such a leftist agenda.

I, however, am an adult.  I understand how the world works, and was more than willing to move past that if Sanders was the nominee rather than my preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton.  I did this in 2004, because a love of Wesley Clark wasn't more important than beating George W. Bush.  I did it again in 2008, because President Obama's foreign policy inexperience wasn't worth putting Sarah Palin within a septuagenarian's aging heart's length of the nuclear codes.  I am someone who lives in the real world, where two politicians with polar opposite views of the country cannot remotely be considered the "same."  Those people are stupid.  I try to avoid being stupid.

Bernie Sanders may have campaigned for Hillary Clinton, but he acted like a spoiled, petulant toddler, in many ways mirroring Donald Trump, when the primary ended.  I'm sorry, but it's true.  He knew weeks before he actually conceded, at the convention, that he was simply damaging Hillary Clinton.  We in the party, who had been around long enough, knew that he was doing untold damage to those who were tepidly going to support Clinton, but might have become more enthusiastic with their leader intact.  I saw Jill Stein (whose 130k votes in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, were a larger margin than what Hillary needed to beat Trump, for the record), use Bernie Sanders as a tool to recruit jaded former supporters, claiming there was no difference between Clinton and Trump.  Sanders wasn't ready for this level of support, and it clearly went to his head, but his wavering mattered.  The fact that his supporters were booing major speakers like Madeline Albright and Leon Panetta at the DNC mattered.  When normally we were being told to suck-it-up and come together, Sanders decided that he needed another month of media and adoration.  That mattered in an election this close, where the margin of victory Clinton needed was essentially the population of Hammond, Indiana, and one where she won by as many as 2.5 million votes in the popular vote.

If you are one of those people, you cost us the election, and you elected Donald Trump.  If you couldn't bring yourself to vote for Hillary Clinton, and instead went third-party or voted for Bernie Sanders as a write-in, you are the reason that Mike Pence will get to torment gay people for the next four years.  You're the reason our first amendment rights are at risk, and that climate change is ignored.  You did this, and you can say oh so many excuses to try to recuse yourself from such an action, but unless you voted for Clinton, you voted for Trump.  There is no other way to interpret that action.  No state in the country has IRV, so you don't get to vote for Clinton over someone-it's either one or the other.

It is very, very hard for me to get into the foxhole with such people, to believe that they care about anything other than their own ego.  I will be forced to-I know that we need to add to the coalition, and these voters are probably going to be easier to gain back than hardcore Trump supporters.  But it's hard for me to fathom that level of ego and hubris and stupidity.  I can't believe that those people care about the issues they espouse, because they don't.  Only children have temper tantrums when things don't go exactly their way.  I understand if you wanted Bernie over Hillary, but that wasn't what the contest was-it was Hillary or Trump.  Any progressive or someone who believed in the issues Sanders' espoused on the campaign trail should have known that there is only one correct answer there.  Sanders himself understood that, though he took too long to get there.

And I don't want to hear Monday morning quarterbacking from the Sanders camp here, saying we should focus more on economics and less identity.  You think that would have won over LGBT voters, black voters, Latino voters?  You think that going further left somehow would have made moderates more susceptible in areas like Wisconsin or Michigan?  You think that Trump wouldn't have demonized Sanders with vitriol and bigotry?  If you do, you don't know politics, and you don't understand what just happened.  Hillary Clinton was the right messenger to take on Trump-she was experienced, accomplished, and someone who could sustain a ridiculous number of attacks from the media with fierceness.  She was also better than Trump.  If you didn't vote for her, you don't get to call yourself a progressive.  You can call yourself remorseful, obstinate, stupid-those are adjectives that fit.  But you aren't a progressive.  Progressives care about the issues more than they care about their burned pride.  You're petulant-you aren't a progressive.

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