“We Loved Sanders — Until It Mattered!”

Bernie SandersA lot of the liberal blogosphere is dumping all over Sanders — and this has largely been true since the beginning. This is partly because, as an older guy, I read a lot of older bloggers. And being older, they tend to be Hillary Clinton supporters. And that’s great! Bravo! I have no problem with people supporting Clinton. But let’s be honest about the reasons.

My prime example is PM Carpenter, who has spent the last decade telling the world that he’s a democratic socialist. But the moment Sanders became an actual threat, Carpenter posted, Why This Democratic Socialist Opposes Bernie Sanders. The short answer: because America is not ready for a socialist. Well, maybe one particular American whose initials are PMC. But he isn’t alone and it’s gotten to annoy me.

I’ve decided their slogan should be, “We love Sanders — as long as it doesn’t matter!” Because that’s the thing. As long as no choice had to be made, he was great. But the moment it was a decision between actually standing against our unjust economic system and just going along and treating it as a problem no more pressing than same sex marriage, their decision was clear.

As Matt Bruenig has pus it: the Baby Boomers just don’t like the idea that they are the conservative ones now. Here’s my usual caveat: I like Clinton. I don’t have a problem with people supporting her over Sanders. But I think it’s about time that these Clinton supporters admit that they prefer her because her policies are more to their liking — not because he is unrealistic or some of his supporters are jerks. Or because America isn’t “ready.”

When Clinton Was Sanders

It is, of course, ironic that when Clinton was in Sanders’ position in 2008, she acted very much like he is now. Of course, things are different between then and now: things were closer then. But they certainly weren’t categorically different. And just as Clinton claimed it was a good idea to stay in the race in 2008 because Obama might be assassinated, Sanders could certainly argue that he should stay in because she might be indicted. As far as I know, he hasn’t said anything that vile.

Sanders is very likely to get the Jackson treatment. Will he be offered the VP spot if he drops out after the last primary and endorses Clinton? I rather doubt it.

I’m not thrilled with some of the things Sanders is doing right now — just as I wasn’t thrilled with Clinton in 2008. But the main thing is I feel that yet again, the liberals in the Democratic Party are being told they must get in line or else the boogeyman (insert whatever Republican is running) will be elected and the world will end. And I’m tired of hearing it.

Sanders Is Jackson

Also, other than 2008 when (as I said) Clinton behaved very much as Sanders is now, we have to go all the way back to 1988 to find a Democratic primary that was anywhere near this close. In that primary, Dukakis won 1,792 delegates (42.4% of the popular vote). Jesse Jackson won 1,023 delegates (29.4% of the votes). And my recollection is that Jackson was treated very badly. And I say that as someone who worked on Dukakis’ campaign. But Jackson played nice and in the end got… nothing. There’s a history of this. The left is just supposed to remain silent and show up to vote for whatever candidate the establishment wants.

Clinton had a far better reason for (finally) playing along in 2008. I mean, hell, it got her a party elite that wanted to just give the nomination to her in 2016. But Sanders is very likely to get the Jackson treatment. Will he be offered the VP spot if he drops out after the last primary and endorses Clinton? I rather doubt it. And I wonder if this hasn’t already been made clear to Sanders.

The main thing is that it is hard to believe that Sanders will be treated well in the end given that the main complaint I’ve heard against him since at least January is that he isn’t a real Democrat and he refuses to raise money for other candidates. Because, you know, that’s what voters care about the most: the party’s fund raising problems. Actually, I think the conservative wing of the party thinks what it always thinks of us liberals: we have nowhere else to go.

Honesty About Sanders

But getting back to our liberal blogging friends, my complaint continues on because everything done by Sanders is always painted in the worst light possible. I think this is what you get when years of writing makes you someone who ought to support Sanders. You can’t make the policy argument, so you make the argument that he is unfit for the office. Josh Marshall has determined, apparently based on a polyp in his anal cavity, that all the negativity in this campaign comes straight from Sanders himself.

Personally, I’m willing to wait and see if Sanders will refuse to endorse Clinton as Steve M claims at No More Mister Nice Blog. But that’s probably because my belief about policy goes along with my support of Sanders. I don’t have to troll around looking for any excuse to not support the candidate who I always claimed I would support should they been on offer.

Afterword: It’s Personal Too

I also don’t like the fact that Sanders supporters are painted with such a broad brush. I do not think that I’m an outlier in terms of Sanders supporters. I think the people misbehaving are the outliers. And it bothers me that this is exactly the same kind of thinking that reinforces racist steteotypes. Over ten million Democrats have voted for Sanders and they are all just like those idiots in Nevada. With one or two exceptions, of course.

Update

I just saw Krugman’s newest, “Questions of Character.” He really is the king of the anti-Sanders filter. And I think he’s done great damage to his reputation. On Economist’s View, he is hounded in the comments for his knee-jerk Sanders slamming and for his stupid new claim that, “Reality has a well known center-left bias.” It just shows that Krugman now believes that he is keeper of Reality™. It’s sad, but it isn’t surprising. Great fame and wealth drives people crazy. It’s one of the under-appreciated aspects income inequality. But at least Krugman isn’t drugging and raping women — as far as we know.

Update 2

I haven’t read Krugman’s newest column. But I saw Mark Thoma’s edit of it. Apparently, in “Obama’s War on Inequality,” Krugman spends a good deal of time bashing Sanders. But as Thoma removed all the Sanders stuff. He’s done it lots before. And what you see is how easy it is to edit the Sanders slams out — because they aren’t central to what he’s writing about. Krugman just can’t help it. This is what we in the editing business call “bad writing.” I run into it with my own writers all the time where they get sidetracked about something they care about. Krugman is the new Jonathan Chait: if anything is more to the left than he is, it’s Wrong™.

Update 3

I found this article by Steven Attewell very interesting. Just as an aside, he mentioned that moderate Democrats “were happy enough to be for single-payer when it wasn’t going to pass.” This is what I’m talking about. There’s a big group in the Democratic Party that claims to be liberal for purely rhetorical purposes. If it were 1965, we’d find out suddenly that all their support for the Voting Rights Act vanished as soon as they were expected to vote on it.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

23 thoughts on ““We Loved Sanders — Until It Mattered!”

  1. “The main thing is that it is hard to believe that Sanders will be treated well in the end given that the main complaint I’ve heard against him since at least January is that he isn’t a real Democrat and he refuses to raise money for other candidates. Because, you know, that’s what voters care about the most: the party’s fund raising problems.”

    This isn’t a trivial concern. From 2009-2010 Democrats controlled both of the political branches of government, and despite turds like Lieberman doing their best to thwart progress we had a historic rush of progressive legislation; you’d probably have to go back to the mid-sixties to find its equal. But for the next five-and-a-half years, we had a moderate-liberal president and an unbearably reactionary Congress, and exactly jack shit has been accomplished legislatively since then. A president can’t accomplish it all alone, and I worry that Sanders and his movement are too focused on the presidency as the be-all-end-all of politics. So helping allies in the legislature is an important part of the process. I do like the idea I heard on Maddow recently that the Sanders campaign infrastructure is going to be converted to a Congressional machine and run progressive candidates in every congressional district simultaneously come 2018. That’s something I’m on board with, and it doesn’t lend itself to the “left-wing spoiler” idea the same way presidential elections do. I hope it works.

    For me, I was neutral on the primary. I shared a lot of Sanders’s ideology, but it seemed to me like he wasn’t very knowledgeable about issues outside his core focus of income inequality. I liked his running without big money donations on principle, but on the other hand if he had gotten the nomination the DNC would be supporting him, which means he would have still indirectly benefited from those big donors. I didn’t like a lot of Clinton’s tactics in 2008 and said so at the time, and I don’t like Sanders doing similar things today. The straw that broke the camel’s back was his response to the Nevada near riots. He can’t be responsible for all of his supporters, just like Clinton can’t be responsible for the jerk working for her starting the “birther” rumor in 2008, but his response was offensive to me. Basically “LOOK HOW CORRUPT THE PARTY IS though of course people shouldn’t use violence BUT THEY’RE BEING TREATED SO UNFAIRLY!” It seems to me that Sanders has choked under the pressure of a national campaign, and I worry about how he would act as a president.

    Of course, as you say, people often make decisions unconsciously and rationalize them after the fact. It could be that I assumed Clinton was inevitable early on and started finding reasons to support her. It could also be that if she were in more danger she’d be resorting to under-handed tactics as well. All I can say for sure is that I like her now a lot better than I did in 2008, whereas Sanders is striking me as not equal to the movement he inspired. My greatest hope is that the people who were inspired by Sanders do not give up on politics once the convention is over.

    • I’m not saying that money doesn’t matter. I am saying that to the voting public, it doesn’t matter. It makes sense for the party establishment to be skeptical towards Sanders. That’s one of the reasons I was so disappointed when Sanders started talking about super delegates. If you are Bernie Sanders, you have to win the nomination straight without the insider support. That’s the main reason I called the election back in February. There are two parts of this nomination fight. And unlike a lot of people, I don’t really see the super delegates as being a bad thing. This is a party after all. (I do, however, have a huge problem with the electoral college system, however.) But this is also why I think that 45% of the vote won’t cause the Democratic Party to give Sanders much.

      But I think that the need for money is overstated. It’s become more and more clear that money beyond a certain point is just wasted. I don’t think it is money that corrupts our politics; I think it is the belief that money is critically important that corrupts the system. There are a lot of liberals (who I like) who I think are kidding themselves by believing that if we get money out of politics, everything will be okay. I think it would help more to have politicians who weren’t convinced that they needed excessive amounts of money than to remove money from the picture, because there are a lot of ways to help a candidate other than money. But that’s a very big subject that I can’t go into here.

      I have nothing against Clinton and I will proudly vote for her in November. And if Sanders ends up acting as badly as so many people are predicting, I will turn on him. I’ve always seen him as a being a very strong advocate for Clinton in the general election. I think people have a tendency to forget that primaries usually do get nasty. But in the end, everyone kisses and makes up. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll be surprised and disappointed. But I don’t think anyone has any actual evidence that this will happen. People trot out polls saying that Sanders supporters won’t support Clinton in the general election. People always say that and almost never do it. I think that all this speculation about Sanders and his supporters is ahistorical. Maybe things will be different this time. But I doubt it.

      Finally, I do not say that people “often make decisions unconsciously and rationalize them after the fact”; I say they “always make decisions unconsciously and rationalize them after the fact.”

      • I don’t think it is money that corrupts our politics; I think it is the belief that money is critically important that corrupts the system.

        This reminds me of one of my pet peeves: the quote is NOT “Money is the root of all evil” – it’s “The love of money is the root of all evil.” And that, I think, is very very true, regardless of whether you have any religious belief or not.

      • “ally, I do not say that people “often make decisions unconsciously and rationalize them after the fact”; I say they “always make decisions unconsciously and rationalize them after the fact.””

        If that’s true, then I don’t see the point of all these articles. Why bother writing thousands of words explaining your reasons if it’s really just “my brain chemistry makes me do it?”

        • Because it isn’t all just brain chemistry. It is the totality of the universe. People can’t help but make the decisions that they make, but that doesn’t mean they would make the same decisions if I weren’t in the world. The absence of free will does not justify anarchy. Also: people make decisions; they just don’t make decisions in the rational way they think.

  2. Would someone care to actually be specific about what Sanders has done or said that is reprehensible? And especially about what they think happened around the convention in Las Vegas (“near riots”, “those idiots in Nevada”)? I mean something besides vague insinuations and dark mutterings. (Fair warning: I’ve spent every day for the past week looking into this media shitstorm and the events behind it.)

    The Nation (who endorsed Sanders) just published a hit piece by Joan Walsh that left me flabbergasted. Walsh didn’t surprise me — she identifies with Hillary. But the magazine — putting aside the lies and slanderous language, the gist of the article was How dare Bernie actually try to win instead of helping Hillary to win! All I could think was, “They didn’t believe him when he told everybody what he stood for and what he was trying to do. They thought he was just faking it — like them.”

    • https://berniesanders.com/press-release/statement-nevada/

      I found this to be a weak and irresponsible statement that seems like it would fan the flames of anger. If there’s violence or threats against public officials in your name, you should unequivocally condemn it. You should not issue a statement which is ninety percent evasion and justification. None of this “well they’re angry at corruption” nonsense- there’s no justification.

    • Oddly, given the Clinton campaign line that anyone who voted for Sanders is a sexist, I don’t recall in 2008 this same argument being used against Obama supporters. It seems those voters were only mildly misogynists. At acceptable levels, like the amount of fecal matter in ballpark hotdogs or everybody else’s germs. Germs! GEEERRRMMMSSS!

      What the hell should we do with the Sanders supporters who originally wanted Elizabeth Warren? I guess they were vicious sexists, too. Pushing the party to the left had nothing to do with it.

      The Walsh piece is something else. Apparently now Barney Frank is a a “progressive,” that’s news to me.

      • Was it really the Clinton campaign that said that? I really don’t know. And it is certainly the case that Clinton has a boatload of profession surrogates. So it seems more reasonable to hold the Clinton campaign more responsible for them than the Sanders campaign for idiots on Twitter. I’d be satisfied if we stuck with only what the candidates say. But that doesn’t seem to be in the cards. And I doubt it would matter. Did Sanders say that Clinton was the lesser of two evils? No. But that hasn’t stopped me from being inundated with claims that he did. But to be honest, I don’t see what Sanders could say that would be worse Clinton’s Bobby Kennedy comment in 2008. I’d like to see the whole thing over, of course. I mean, really, what is the Clinton campaign complaining about? She’s hard as nails. And it’s turning out that Sanders is too. I really do wonder if the true point of all this is that Bernie should just disappear so that Clinton can make her big turn to the right and get all of those #NeverTrump folks. Except, of course, that she’s not going to get them because they were never really serious in the first place.

        • Ha — I’d forgotten that Kennedy comment. Which anyone who’d followed Clinton’s career immediately realized was a reference to a historically contentious Democratic nomination race, because she’s a political history buff — not at all the way that statement was blown up to imply something else. But that’s our political media doing what it does. Sometimes it seems like they’re actively trying to make entertainment gossip shows look less frivolous in comparison . . .

          • Yeah, they aren’t trying to do that. They are just trying to compete for the same audience. Go fourth estate!

            • The NYTimes is whining that she isn’t saying the same terrible crap that Donald Trump is saying. That woman cannot win.

                • Based on the current media noise; yes, yes they will.

                  Although I haven’t seen as bad an article about Clinton as the one where the author whined she gave Socks the Cat to someone after Bill developed an allergy.

                  • I heard they killed the cat because it knew too much. Seriously; WTF? We had to give away a parakeet when I was little. We didn’t eat it, we gave it to someone! How is that even a subject for a post?

                    • God, the Clintons aren’t just sneaky killers, they’re LAZY sneaky killers. Why do you have to drag a cat corpse? It can’t weigh more than a few pounds. Just to be mean, I guess. Typical!

                    • It’s a question of consistency. Sure they could carry the cat to the park. But with their long history of dragging bodies to the park, they want to stick with it.

                  • My younger sister is a radical cat defender, so she would probably say, “Get rid of the husband, not the cat!” But I’m sure she would be fine as long as the cat went to a good family. I once loaned my sister thousands of dollars to get her cat treated for cancer. The shocking thing is that the treatment actually worked.

  3. The Baby Boomers just don’t like the idea that they are the conservative ones now.

    This line keeps playing in my head. Like that old saying, “The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.” The Boomer psyche remains a mystery to me – my mind keeps wanting to reduce them to a group of spoiled children who grew old without growing up, but that can’t possibly be the whole story. And yet every time I start to give them the benefit of the doubt, someone turns around and delivers an old chestnut like, “I’ve worked hard for what I’ve got!” (because I’m a lazy entitled Millennial, you see) and I’m left thinking, “Of course you have, but your hard work has paid out because you did it in a world managed by your parents.” It’s too simplistic to be the whole truth, but the really seem to be utterly lacking in self-awareness. And now my personal dislike is showing through so I’ll end it here.

    • The truth is that people don’t get notably more conservative over time. It’s just that the Baby Boomer generation was never all that liberal. They got that reputation because of the Vietnam War. But they weren’t actually liberal. And once they had power, they showed it. The country got more conservative at exactly the time when the Baby Boomers got power. It was, after all, Clinton who ended welfare as we know it (that is, welfare). But it was the first generation that was keenly aware of its image (or brand, if you prefer). And they got a lot of goodwill out of the war and also heroic people like Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner who got killed.

      I’ve been thinking of writing an article about ceiling vs floor thinking. I think the Baby Boomer generation is mostly a very selfish generation. And that’s why they are obsessed with ceilings — not stopping people from going as high as they can. That’s admirable. But setting floors (not allowing people to drop too far) are far more important.

      • I like what you’re saying. Semi-related, I just read an interesting article about The Graduate and how Dustin Hoffman was a reluctant revolutionary in that movie, often crossing paths with the great events of his day, but mostly a Bromidic salt-of-the-earth type until boredom and Mrs Robinson came his way. Is this still the definitive Boomer movie? I might have to see The Graduate now.

        • That’s a good question. I’ve always disliked the movie, but it is hard for me to see it in context. I do like the ending on the bus where the two of seem totally lost. That does sum up the Baby Boomers. They didn’t know what to do. So they went out and made money. In plastics!

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