Wednesday, June 7, 2017

"Who is this person who demanded a candidate they agreed with 100%?" a guest post by Avedon Carol

Avedon left this as a comment here. I thought it deserved more attention, and she has given me permission to share it.

Who is this person who demanded a candidate they agreed with 100%?

by Avedon Carol

I see people arguing with a straw man and working themselves up into a self-righteous frenzy over something that doesn't exist.

Who is this person who demanded a candidate they agreed with 100%? I have not seen this person even on the internet, let alone in real life. I have not seen evidence of a single Sanders supporter who agreed 100% with him on anything except maybe free college and some version of government-funded health care for all. (That's not Medicare-for-All, btw, because a lot of us have looked around and seen that the whole world has better health care systems than Medicare, but we know expanding Medicare is probably the best we can hope for in the US at this time. See? We're *pragmatic*.)

We all agree, as do most Americans, that the rich need to pay higher taxes, but Bernie's prescription didn't really demand enough of them. Sure, they'd pay a bit more, but not enough to stop them from being more powerful than some state governments. No one should be that powerful.

Sanders knows perfectly well that with a fiat currency, taxes don't have to be raised to pay for college and health care - Stephanie Kelton is one of his advisors, ffs! - and yet he still talks as if we need to raise taxes to pay for services. He's not going to fight that fight any time soon.

And then there's his foreign policy. Have you ever heard anyone say they loved Sanders' foreign policy? No, of course not, because even though he is better than everyone else who ran in the 2016 primaries, his foreign policy is still essentially in the same ballpark as theirs. Bernie was definitely the least toxic on foreign policy, which we were willing to accept because he was still far and away the best on domestic policy. The Republicans were fairly insane on foreign policy, as usual, but the biggest warmonger of them all was unquestionably Hillary Clinton, the woman who tried to prevent the Iran deal and pushed Obama into Libya and *still* shows signs of wanting to start a war with Iran for no apparent reason.

NO ONE who supported Bernie Sanders was/is an ideological purist, because no ideological purist would be satisfied with someone who had no critique of neoliberalism, no objection to the pretence that we are still on the gold standard, and meekly went along with the basic assumptions of our foreign policy package.

But we supported Sanders in the primaries for three very good reasons:

1. He intended to move the country back on track to a more equalitarian levelling and restore basic rights to Americans, expand our social safety net, and improve our economy.

2. He had shown in Vermont that it was possible, over time, to change the entire legislature if they would not go along with popular policies. No other candidate even believed this was possible, and yet he had already done it, and it was exactly what was needed if anything was going to be possible. Obama lost both houses of Congress and his own popularity declined as he made it clear he had more in common with Wall Street than he did with mainstream Democrats and even half of registered Republicans. Hillary Clinton was not going to win back Congress, ever. Sanders knew how to do it.

3. He could win the general election. It is extremely rare for a party to retain the White House after eight years in power, it's only happened once in my lifetime and then only because the economy appeared to be doing well in the moment - a moment that didn't last long, thus treating us to the also-rare experience of unseating an incumbent president. But Obama's policies had left half the country in a depression, wiped out black America's wealth along with impoverishing large swathes of minority communities as well as many whites, and left women in a lurch. People had voted for positive change in 2008 and gotten the reverse. They still wanted that positive change. When Bernie entered the race, it meant there was actually hope to win the election for our side.

It would have been nice to have someone who had a real critique of American foreign policy, who would explain to the public that we already *have* the money to pay for free college and free health care, that the US government *can't* go broke, who clearly understood just how badly Clinton and Obama had screwed us, and who was younger. But we didn't. Bernie wasn't perfect, but he was all we had, and it might just work.

And Bernie, though hamstrung by his refusal to truly go on the attack against Clinton, would have no such handicap in the general election. He has never hesitated to unleash the fire when it comes to going after Republicans.

Sanders consistently polled better against every Republican than Clintnon did. That wasn't surprising, because even if she hadn't campaigned as Obama's third term, she was even more a symbol of the odious status quo than Obama himself was. Her campaign technique actually emphasized her fealty to the moneyed class, her big-ticket fund-raisers standing in stark contrast to Sanders and Trump, who were talking to crowds of ordinary voters.

This is what some people never get. We had ONE CHANCE to win the election and get America back. It was not Hillary Clinton. Clinton couldn't win, especially not against Trump, who her campaign was completely unprepared for. He made everything about personalities and she played right into his hands. Sanders was not going to return the favor when Trump ran around calling him names, he was going to talk about what he wanted to do for Americans. All that was required was for Democrats to get on board and say, "Yep, we can do that." But no, we had the entire leadership of can't-do Democrats acting as if free college and free health care were fairy dust, even though we used to have lots of good, free colleges in America, even though the whole world has been showing us since WWII that free health care requires no magic.

Sanders had no support from the party leadership or the media, who dutifully repeated every poisonous Clinton campaign talking point, ("doesn't connect with minorities" - a lie), and yet his support shot up from 5% to 45% as people got some exposure to him. This *should* have made voters think twice about whether he was "unelectable". But Clinton and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz remembered all too well what high exposure had done for Obama in 2008 and deliberately gave up millions of dollars worth of free television air time that would be vital to generating enthusiasm and activism for the rest of the campaign (and the party), hurting not just Sanders, but the Democrats' general election position, by delaying and curtailing the debates that had so helped Democrats win in that year.

We lost the election the minute DWS announced the debate schedule. And when I say "we", I mean you, too. Everyone. Because if Democrats had stood up behind our ONE CHANCE to win, he almost certainly would have won.

ETA: A linkfest for Clinton fans who are still in denial