At last, the long national nightmare of the Democratic Party’s Presidential Primary race is over. Senator Bernie Sanders, who arguably ran a spirited campaign, albeit, a disingenuous, demagogic and unrealistic one, (though he has yet to formally concede defeat) has finally acknowledged that his path to the nomination is all but over. As a liberal, I know this is a provocative piece and one that is bound to be unpopular among young progressives. Also, given the full-scale efforts with which the Democratic Party “establishment” are courting Senator Sanders, treating him with kid gloves and twisting themselves in knots in the hope that he will quietly go away, I am certain this article will rub some people the wrong way. And of course, I am acutely aware that this website is a ‘shout in the wilderness’ as it is not well known, and I don’t have a lot of followers on social media - a point a “Bernie or Bust” supporter reminded me a few days ago. Be that as it may, my efforts in writing this blog is not for a popularity contest. I write because I don’t believe the national news media, mostly owned and run by corporations with bottom-line as their primary considerations, does justice to political analysis.
For anyone, or more appropriately, the one or two other people who have read my blog, it is clear as daylight that I am not a fan of Bernie Sanders. After the Iowa caucus, I wrote this: Lessons for Liberals and Progressives from the Iowa Caucus. As the primaries progressed, it became clear to me that the Democratic Party was experiencing its own version of “Tea Party” activism and I wrote this: Bernie Sanders and The Emerging Progressive “Tea Party”. The points I made in these articles speak for themselves and are as true today as when I wrote them three and four months ago respectively. My problem with Bernie’s campaign is not that I don’t agree with most of what he was advocating or that they are bad. My problem is that first, they are mere proclamations, some of which are not anchored in facts. The second and perhaps, more importantly, is that they are promises that are devoid of any realism given our politics and entrenched interests. It does not make any sense to compare the practices of the Nordic countries with populations lesser than Rhode Island with little or no diversity anywhere close to what we have here in the U S.
Then there is the sheer bold face lie that the various themes he used as stump speeches at his rallies originated with him. Nothing could be farther from the truth and unfortunately, the news media allowed him to get away with it. Climate Change, Minimum wage increase, universal health care, Free or affordable college tuition – all these are platforms that Democratic candidates have been running on for ages. When did they become the exclusive campaign platform of Bernie Sanders? Hillary Clinton not only have the same or similar positions, she actually has policies that show how they can be achieved within our divided political realities. Sanders on the other hand, at some point, decided that in order to be competitive with Hillary Clinton, he will not only mount attacks on her but also on the Democratic Party itself. Obviously, he took a page from Donald Trump, who had much success painting the Republican Party as corrupt. Bernie must have calculated that as a newcomer to the Democratic Party, he has nothing to lose by going after the party leadership. So when you listen to him, you will come away with the idea that what is wrong with the country is the Democratic Party corruption.
This was great news for the political news media whose sole interest in competitive races is the huge profits they make from political advertising. I must admit I was very surprised at the huge crowds that flock to Bernie’s rallies when he could not explain or show he has a real plan to achieve what he was advocating. This point became very clear when he had to sit down with the editorial board of New York Daily News. He was not able to outline how he will break up the banks or achieve most of what he has been crusading about. The problem with most of Bernie’s proposals is that they are merely sentimental and/or aspirational at best. They are stuff that sounds good to liberals and would ideally be something we favor if we are 80-90% liberals in this country. But the truth is that we share this great country with conservatives, ultra-conservatives, and libertarians. Much as I would like to just ignore them and pretend they don’t matter, that is not how democracy works. That's not to say some of his proposals can never be achieved. It's possible but that’s perhaps over a period of sustained progressive governance, with incremental gains. But incrementalism is a dirty word for Bernie and his loud and violence-prone supporters. To them, ideological purity is the only way to go. So supporting a $12.50 per hour minimum wage is not good enough. It must be $15 or else, you are considered a political heretic.
But perhaps, my biggest pet peeves about Sanders claims is his so called political revolution. He was allowed to run unchallenged with this ridiculous notion, even though the majority of progressive ideas that he espoused were originated by great liberal icons like Paul Wellstone, Gary Hart, Al Gore, etc. He assembled these ideas, called them his own and disingenuously sold it as a new political movement which he hopes would topple the Democratic Party “establishment”. This was shocking to me that after occupying a solo and hollow position as an independent for decades, realizing he has not accomplished anything, he decided to join the Democratic Party for the sole reason of running for president. He then turns around and aimed most of his criticism at the party that gave him a chance. That is the height of ungratefulness.
The truth, however, is that his call for political revolution is nothing but an act of desperation. You cannot galvanize a people against their very dynamic and popular sitting president, which is how liberals and progressives feel about President Barack Obama. Let’s not pretend about it, Mr. Sander’s criticism of the “establishment” is an attack, not only on Hillary Clinton and Debbie Wasserman Shultz but also on President Obama’s legacy. Although some were fooled by him, (mostly the young and inexperienced) most seasoned and authentic progressives, however, did not fall for his fake revolution. While the majority of the items on his agenda are desirable, most cannot be achieved the way he envisioned because he has no plans to execute them as stated. More importantly, the political environment is not ripe for some of his proposals.
As a liberal, I am wary about corporations, but that does not mean I think they are all evils and should be abolished - And I say that as someone who currently have an on-going case against a bad corporation. Instead of mounting a crusade against the big bad corporation, tell me how you are going to change the laws that govern how they operate and that will make it impossible for them to discriminate or harm ordinary Americans in the future. Likewise, education is very high on my priorities, but that does not mean the public should be saddled with paying for unmotivated individuals whose sole reason for going to college is to party. I would rather take the measured approach of Hillary Clinton, who has a detailed plan for debt-free college, which incorporates hard work on the part of participants. Low-income students will virtually attend school for free but wealthy parents would be required to contribute to the education of their kids. I can go on and on with the rest of his proposals and show that while he is able to diagnose the problem we face as a nation, he has no realistic solution, (taking our current political realities into consideration) on how to solve them.
I do not believe Senator Bernie Sanders is a bad man. To his credit, he made the Democratic Party’s nomination race interesting. But I decry his tactics which in my opinion, he borrowed from Trump. I applaud the majority of Democrats who did not fall for his fake revolution and worry about the inexperience and bad judgment of those who did. I know the debate is still going on whether his young supporters will join the rest of democrats to vote for the first woman president of the country. While the die-hard supporters have sworn off their support, I am heartened that about 80 plus percent of them will vote for Hillary Clinton. I believe that is good enough to make sure that Donald Trump never, ever, gets near the White House.