The Two Bernie Sanders Camps

Bernie Sanders CampsI had a brief interaction with Ramona Grigg at her blog the other day. She playfully chided me for referring to the Democratic Party as the “Democrat Party.” It was a typo. I’ve dealt with the issue before (In 2013!) What’s With “Democrat Party”? But she said something about the Democratic Platform and Sanders not having much of an effect on it that made me think that she is perhaps weary of the Bernie Sanders movement. And it got me thinking that there really are two Bernie Sanders camps.

Some have said I am very rare among Sanders supporters in being so ecumenical. Maybe so. The truth is that I genuinely like Hilary Clinton. I think she will make a fine president — probably much like Obama. Now that doesn’t mean that I’m thrilled with that. It probably just means that I’m in my fifties and I don’t have the highest of expectations of American presidents — especially when it comes to foreign policy.

But I am also very practical, and if Donald Trump picks Scalia’s replacement, it will be terrible. If, on the other hand, Scalia is replaced by Merrick Garland, we are looking at a starkly better court for at least a decade — one that will make the lives of regular Americans better. In this way, I am entirely typical of what is by far the bigger of the two Bernie Sanders camps. People in this camp range from people even more positive toward Clinton than I am to people who consider her barely acceptable and may even hate her personally (in as much as they can actually know anything about her personally).

Hillary ClintonThe second of two Bernie Sanders camps are those who really do want a political revolution. I like them. I salute their idealism! But far too many of them have bought into tired lies about the Clintons brought to you by the Conservative Book Club in the 1990s. I’m pretty sure this comes after the idealism. It is a natural reaction to vilify whoever stands in the way of your noble goals. So it’s understandable but not acceptable.

Naming the Bernie Sanders Camps

I think it is pretty clear what to call the two Bernie Sanders camps: the Pragmatists and the Idealists.

Many of the people in Camp Idealist think that four years of Donald Trump will cause a political realignment. But as a member of Camp Pragmatist, I am certain they couldn’t be more wrong. What would most likely happen is what happened with Ronald Reagan. The economy would tank after he got into office. But it would come back by 2020 and Trump would win re-election. Americans don’t do political revolutions. Even our own Revolutionary War wasn’t what we now think of as a revolution. Before and after the war, the same people were in power; the British had simply been pushed out.

Quick question: which of the two Bernie Sanders camps is Bernie Sanders a member of? Camp Pragmatist.

The best examples of the two Bernie Sanders camps are the internet shows Majority Report (Camp Pragmatist) and The Young Turks (Camp Idealist). I don’t want to denigrate Camp Idealist, because there are many members of that camp who I greatly admire. But The Young Turks seem to just get more stupid as their popularity increases. But this may explain why Camp Idealist is so much louder than the much bigger Camp Pragmatist.

The Loudest Mouths

The Analyst sent me the following video clip from The Young Turks a couple of weeks ago. It isn’t about Sanders, but it is typical of why I haven’t watched the show much at all for a few years:

The Analyst wanted to know what I thought about it. I responded:

I don’t like this kind of reporting. I think it acts as societal apologetics. We live in a deeply racist society. So we freak out when some idiot starts spewing out racial stereotypes. I’m far more concerned about my own unconscious racist biases than I am that someone hired to be eye candy on Fox Sports thinks that Jews are cheap.

And how can anyone say that she isn’t good at her job? Does anyone think she was hired because of her depth of knowledge of sports and its history? Again: we come back to the same thing: the problem is the society that puts her in a position of power; not what she does with the power. Not that I care that she’s lost her job. And not that she’ll have trouble finding work: she’s pretty and she speaks well.

In general, I think the analysis of The Young Turks has gotten much worse over the last five years. Cenk Uygur is the only one on the show
who ever surprises me with a good point. (Not that I watch much.) I couldn’t believe it when they hired Wes Clark Jr — a man who has never had an interesting idea in his life.

My Fredrik deBoer Moment

He responded, “I think it was horrendous and filled with self-righteousness, showcasing a lot of the “moral meritocracy” [Fredrik deBoer] talks about in the context of modern American liberalism.” That’s quite right and interesting that he should mention deBoer — certainly a member of Camp Idealism. But it isn’t deBoer like minded intellectuals who make Camp Idealism seem so big.

But that highlights my point. I’m not as interested in the differences in the camps as I am their very existence.

I feel similar to Fredrik deBoer who recently wrote about his annoyance with people saying he was against Hillary Clinton because of some kind of pathology. I’m sick of Sanders supporters being seen as a monolith, when they are overwhelmingly strong supporters of the Democratic Party. Now you can make the case that there are more than two Bernie Sanders camps. What you can’t say is there is just one.

Oh, by the way, Camp Pragmatist just keeps growing. So maybe one day it will be a monolith — just not one that Clinton supporters can complain about.

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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.

4 thoughts on “The Two Bernie Sanders Camps

    • I suspect he just doesn’t want to get drawn into a debate about it. I wouldn’t doubt that his whole episode with Sam Harris didn’t help. I’ll read it now.

  1. Bernie is supposed to fully endorse Hillary in a speech on Tuesday. He is emphasizing the common goal of stopping Trump…… I don’t think he has much faith in the republicans doing so.

    SLIGHTLY off topic…… I just rewatched The Dead Zone (1983). Yeah, stopping Trump comes to mind.

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