Saturday, April 16, 2016
Never Felt the Bern
When this nightmarish comedy called the 2016 presidential campaign started I actually liked Senator Bernie Sanders. He seemed to offer a vision of the United States where working and middle class folks would regain some of the economic leverage they began losing in the 1980's. Somewhere along the way his vision morphed, or better yet mutated, into something just as unrecognizable as it is unachievable. At the same time I had some interest in Sanders, I was lukewarm to Hillary Clinton at best, an attitude that quite frankly started way back in the 1990's.
Even though I voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 my politics soon diverged with me spending several years afterwards supporting the Republicans. Bill was a damn decent president but his escapades while living in the White House left an extremely sour taste in my mouth. No, they were not impeachable offenses but as the 2000 campaign approached, I felt a house cleaning was in order.
That being said, it's funny how a war built on lies and a political party hellbent on descending into a bizarre corporate-sponsored, proto-fascist madness can change a person's politics but that is what happened to me. The political circuit breaker that changed my views was the fact that absolutely no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq after the entire Bush/Cheney administration all but bet their collective firstborn children they not only existed but that Saddam Hussein was eager to give them to Al-Qaeda. Throw in a realization on my part that all the Republican talk about “family values” comes from closet theocrats little removed from the Islamic extremists they hate. When you also consider these conservative politicians are financed by a whole spectrum of billionaires who don't even pretend to give a rip about the Republican Party's precious God-based principles and you have a contradiction someone with an IQ over 50 would be hard pressed to ignore.
Given everything the Republicans had screwed up and with me still nursing a distaste for Hillary, when the 2008 presidential campaign started I immediately jumped on the Obama bandwagon and have stayed there ever since. Not only do I think Obama has been an excellent president, he has shown nothing but decency and an intellectual superiority that puts his opponents to shame. And yes, during his time as president Obama has made some mistakes while in office but I would without a doubt vote for the man again if that was an option.
But since that is not a possibility, that left me with the choice of Hillary or Bernie Sanders. As I wrote, at first I had little enthusiasm for Hillary, even though right from the start she was the one candidate of the two with enough national name recognition to be a serious challenger to the supposed initial Republican front runner, Jeb Bush. However, given my own political convictions I should have jumped on the Bernie bandwagon almost as quickly as I did with Obama, but that didn't happen.
Right from the start I had a problem with the messianic zeal his supporters regularly displayed. Whether they were on some video feed or writing something online their statements could be summarized as to say if Sanders is elected we would immediately have utopia. That on his inauguration day, daffodils and daisies would spontaneously rain down on Washington DC like manna from heaven as entire legions of unicorns pranced in front of the United States Capital and sprayed the adoring crowds with rainbow-colored farts. Immediately following Sanders being sworn in, he would then proclaim himself Presidential-Wizard-In-Chief and wave the magic wand he had secretly kept and turn all 535 members of congress into fairies with magical wings who would then zoom off to their districts and home states to see that his Will would be done.
Given that we were talking about Democrats here, not Republicans forever on the lookout for the Second Coming of Reagan, I was surprised to find out to voice any doubt about Bernie Sanders or the certainty that he could single handily fix all the problems the country faces was to commit heresy. This was an especially weird reaction for me since at the time I was going with the idea that either Hillary or Bernie would be far superior, as well as the only truly sane choice, to the array of batshit crazy being offered up by the GOP.
Numerous times I saw on social media people just write that “no matter what vote blue in November” only to be castigated as secret members of the Hillary/Bill cabal out to perpetuate the evil establishment. Adding a dash of salt to the wound, it was normal for one of Bernie's drones then to say that Hillary is really no better than Trump or Cruz, who by this time had sweep Jeb Bush away like a dead, dried up cockroach. (On a side note, that's pretty much my opinion of the entire Bush clan, so much that I have these barely coherent fantasies of a Terminator being sent back in time...)
To be fair, there was a similar messianic zeitgeist attached to candidate Obama for a while back during the 2008 campaign, which evaporated long before the 2010 mid-terms. This inconvenient timing ensured a successful conservative backlash thus making everything President Obama had to do far more difficult. Yeah, it was simply too hard for all those poor Millennials, who even now make up the shrill backbone of Bernie's support to break away from their video games to vote. Once again to be fair, it wasn't just the unwashed Millennials who utterly failed to maintain a true “progressive agenda”, there were other segments of the Democrat coalition that failed to show up at the mid-terms. So as to not offend every member of my political party, I'll just stop there for the time being.
As the campaign continued I soon noticed that Bernie himself started showing signs that he too believed in his own Christ-like awesomeness. Hey, I admit when you're the lone voice of opposition to some seriously stupid shit being enacted in the halls of congress I can see how a little national attention could go to your head. And you would think that during those lonely years in the wilderness the guy would have spent a little time figuring out how to enact his policies if he ever got the chance.
The problem that kept nagging me about Sanders is that he is an one issue candidate. Yes, economic inequality in this country is the number one internal issue we face but as numerous presidents have found out, often from the day they took office, that the larger world often derails their finely planned agendas. Frankly, Bernie's past is high problematic for me, so much that after listening to his speeches on television I have doubts he has the capacity to make the correct decisions when it comes to defending the United States and the interests we have defined for decades as vital for our survival.
That one statement automatically makes me an enemy of his camp who see the world in glasses far more rose-colored than I could ever hope to achieve. Without a doubt, George W. Bush radically destabilized the entire Middle East region on his ignorant, criminal, and ham-fisted crusade in Iraq but that does not negate the fact that there are bad people in the world who wish to do the United States and our allies harm. In fact, as perverse as it sounds even to me, with the political situation of the world in such as sorry-ass state of flux because of Bush, these times will often require a strong show of force.
Contrary to the views of many progressives, there is no nascent peaceful world order waiting to take the global stage after the fall of the “American Empire.” I cannot tell you how much I truly wish there was budding planetary awareness but we unfortunately live in a world where regional powers are once again actively jockeying for dominance at the expense of weaker nations and are willing to go to war to ensure their success. Bernie's admonishments of global economic inequality will do absolutely nothing to deter Russia tanks rolling westward to regain what they see as their Hitler-like right to eastern Europe nor stop China from building fortified military islands in the South China Sea to control the shipping lanes. In fact, Bernie's misplaced 1960's attitudes might invite more conflict just as Neville Chamberlain's ineptitude did as he waved around the piece of paper with Hitler's signature did back in1938.
As Bernie has continued to show he is in no way ready to be president my opinion of Hillary has changed for the better. Because I believe Hillary offers the right balance between a realistic view of the world and the desire to change it for the better I now enthusiastically support her. This opinion has come with a price since I have now alienated a number of people who I use to call friends.
The fact that, in my opinion, seems to allude both Bernie and his followers is that democracy is an ugly mess full of dirty compromises and clumsy cooperation with people who hardly agree on any issue. That's just the nature of the beast and for any candidate to stand up on a podium and say with religious-like certainty that he will change the basic nature of the country in the space of a few short years suggests some combination of massive ignorance and/or outright delusion.
Bernie says his movement is a revolution, the problem with that such events have a dismal record. The American Revolution did succeed in a way, but it was less a massive overthrow of the existing regime and more of a replacement of the English aristocratic system with an enlightened landed gentry. As the decades passed, the American republic slowly and awkwardly evolved more enlightened and democratic practices with the Civil War one of the glaring exceptions as entrenched interests and an uneducated population fought to maintain an unjust and inhuman system of bondage of fellow human beings. The true notable revolutions that took place in France, Russia, and China saw the imposition of long reigns of terror that in the case of Russia and China results in tens of millions of deaths.
I truly wanted to like Bernie, but as the campaign has proceeded the sympathetic old man acting as the conscious of the nation while espousing coherent reforms has been replaced with a disgruntled fool basking in his failed past while sowing only discord and unrealistic expectations. The core ideas Bernie started with still matters and very much need to be addressed, it's just that the messenger has been fatally flawed from the very beginning, and things have only gotten worse.