A 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.
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.
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.
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™.
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.