Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Can't You See This Is All About Me?

A commenter on aimai's excellent post had this to say:
You have learned absolutely nothing about the Sanders campaign/movement. It has always stood for something more than the man. Always.
Okay. So let's take a look at Bernie's demands:
Sen. Bernie Sanders called Tuesday for a “fundamental transformation” of the Democratic Party that would include new leadership at the Democratic National Committee, electoral reform and a progressive agenda....

Sanders also called for open primaries -- in which independents could vote for Democratic candidates -- and for doing away with superdelegates, the party officials and leaders who are free to vote for the candidate of their choice at the convention. And he argued for same-day voter registration. [emphasis added]
So Bernie's conditions for helping stop the most dangerous major-party nominee since the Civil War are a) getting rid of a party chair he has a grudge against, b) changing the process in ways that would have helped his campaign, and c) adopting his positions and making his issues the highest priority.

But it's not about him.

Keep in mind that there is nothing at all principled about his 'electoral reforms'. If this were about principle--about making the process more democratic--he would call for eliminating caucuses, the most egregious form of voter suppression in the whole primary system. Open primaries are more likely to favor moderate-to-conservative Democrats in future elections--especially if they're in states where the GOP primary is closed. Same-day registration is a good idea on the merits, and diminishing the role of superdelegates might be, but that's not why Sanders is supporting them; he's supporting them in order to retroactively validate his own campaign.

You could say his call for a "progressive agenda" isn't all about him (though it does seem to assume his role as arbiter of all things "progressive", as opposed to give-and-take about how best to achieve progressive ends), but every other demand is all about him and his campaign.

As I said before, I think he'll ultimately be irrelevant. But it is galling that, thinking himself irrelevant, he would threaten the whole anti-Trump effort for nothing more than his own ego.


aimai said...

Oops. Didn't mean to bigfoot you, Tom. I'm going to try to delete my next post and put it up later, to keep the blog rolling.

Unknown said...

Bernie is right on all counts

aimai said...

This is what we are talking about. Bernie is not "right on all counts." That's a meaningless assertion. Party Primaries are not "right" or "wrong." They are designed by the Party to benefit the Party and get it to its goal. In this case it is to try to get the most people who identify as Democrats to choose their own future leader. This can be more inclusive or more exclusive, easier or harder to do but its not "right" or "wrong."

aimai said...

I really wanted to write a long piece about narcissism--not just the narcissim of small differences but the kind of enormous, ego death, some of Bernie's more fervent supporters seem to fear when they lash out over being held "to blame" if Clinton loses to Trump. I have to keep explaining to people that no one votes because they fear "being blamed" and they ought not to vote because they want praise, either. These are flip sides of the same, strange, childish, egocentric, twining of the candidate with the voter. Its just a vote. A vote in a complicated system to run the government. Will Hillary Clinton dissapoint me? No doubt! Will she have to make compromises and perhaps use some of the aspects of power in a way that I wouldn't have? Also no doubt! Is Bernie the antidote to this? Of course not! Bernie has voted for weapons of war, and for war policies before now--what is the proof that he wouldn't do it again if he felt he had no choice? Of course he would! He's a perfectly ordinary person, and a rather ordinary politician. Just because his shtick is rude, backwoods, untutored, truthtelling, raw, angry, socialist doesn't mean that he really is all those things, or will continue to be those things if he ever got his hands on some real power. But saying this to his followers is like killing their puppy, or their faith in god. And they react hysterically.

Tom Hilton said...

Gerald Lillpop, what is the democratic argument for caucuses? What is the progressive argument for open primaries that are most likely to dilute (not enhance) progressive representation?

When I see someone say something like "Bernie is right on all counts" I have to assume that they think he's right not because they have weighed his positions against their own values using logic and evidence, but because they think he is always right by definition and are thus willing to defend any position he takes regardless of logic and evidence.

Also, what aimai said.

(And no worries--it's easy to accidentally cross-post on this platform.)

aimai said...

I've tried rescheduling it until later this afternoon, in an hour. Lets kick this caucus/primary thing around until then!

Victor said...

Caucuses are the least democratic of all ways to elect someone.
They're open to people who are autocratic, pushing their own and their candidates agendas in ways that elections don't allow.

Also, if you want to vote in a primary, register with the party you're liable to vote for.
And check the deadline for doing so.

The alternative is open to ratfuckers from the other side of the aisle coming in and skewing the results away from a more progressive candidate, to one who is not so progressive.
Think Rush urging his listeners to vote against certain Democrats.
Get it?
Got it?
And if not, well, are you really as smart and liberal as you think you are?

Tom Hilton said...

I think the best illustration of how undemocratic caucuses are is the results from Nebraska and Washington, which had both caucuses and (non-binding) primaries....and opposite results in each.

Tom Hilton said...

And let's stipulate that the huge number of millennials who register independent (decline-to-state, no-party-preference, whatever) is a problem for the Democratic party. Open primaries are not a long-term solution. The long-term solution is registering more of them as Democrats.

Sweet Sue said...

Get rid of caucuses and open primaries.
Is it such a startling idea that Democrats should be the ones who select Democratic candidates?
Sanders says he wants to reform the Democratic Party; he wants to destroy it.
That's one camel nose that should never have been allowed in OUR tent.

aimai said...

Agree Tom. Precisely. The Democratic Party and the Republican Party have a problem getting people to realize that Politics is a year round, every day, struggle. More people are registering as Independent in the same way that fewer people identify as Religious. Its a natural progression in a country with fewer and fewer communal ties pushing you to affiliate with something as amorphous as the Church of a Political Party that seems to meet every four years. The reality is that we need people to be active Democrats all the time, but especially at mid terms. An every four year orientation, like that shown by Jill Stein or Nader, is anathema to really getting anything done at any level of government. And government itself is incredibly important--everything from school committee to dogcatcher are important jobs. We have to stop being so focused on the one true hero model of politics.

Michael Ly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Ly said...

The media is so bias its ridiculous at this point. This morning you've got the saying that Trump claimed Obama had something to do with the shootings, which is absolutely not true. I'm not saying I support Trump, but when you've got websites soliciting poll votes against him (like you really can't trust anything you read anymore. Its depressing.

Unknown said...

I'm calling bulls**t on that, Nat. First of all the word would be "biased," which is an adjective, not a noun like "bias."
Then, of course all your other sh** it wrong. Trump is, of course, implying that Obama is to blame for the shootings. Then, in a completely predictable, tedious, and cowardly way, he will deny he was doing any such thing if pressed on it by the media. It either takes an idiot or a troll to not see that. Which one are you? You are indeed supporting Trump by furthering this plausible deniability crap. I agree that it's depressing. I hope you are at least getting paid some of that sweet Trump gold for trolling lefty websites.

Gerald Parks said...

This FACT remains Bernie IS NOT A MEMBER of The Democratic Party!

Is is and has been an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate!

With THAT said ...Senator Sander read and understood the the "rules" to play the game. If he did or did not is on HIM and Him alone!

Next ...Sen Sanders played to win. He did NOT!

Soooo ...why in the Fuck does he think HIS platform MUST be accepted and acted on by THE winner?

Has he not heard "you attract more bees with honey"?

As for those who support Sen Sanders ... grow up!

Really ...grow up!

The US is a TWO Party political system!

Your team lost THIS battle ...NOT the war. Learn from it and jump in and help the Democratic Party win the war.

You WILL get more done to further your aims, policies and goals from WITHIN the tent than outside of it.

Oh ...and stop being a whinny bitch about it


YOUR Fellow American!

Gerald Parks said...

Let's WIN the war ... easier to get your aims, policies and goals done from within the tent IF you are THE winner of this war!

Unknown said...

It seems to me that the rabid anti-Bernie commentariat is trying to have it both ways. On the one hand, he's been rejected by the voters, he has no continuing importance, he's been exposed as a small petty man, etc. On the other hand, it's crucially important that he endorse Hillary, immediately and enthusiastically. The fate of the nation depends on his loving (or convincingly faked facsimile thereof) submission to Clinton!

If you're offended by the idea that someone who ran for President might have an ego (something that Hillary could certainly never be accused of!), you can stop feeding Bernie's by ignoring him from now on. He'll slink back to Vermont, the great majority of his supporters will master their gag reflex long enough to vote for Hillary against Trump, and everything will be cool. (At least until Hillary decides to use her special brand of "smart power at its best" in Syria.)

Tom Hilton said...

If you're offended by the idea that someone who ran for President might have an ego (something that Hillary could certainly never be accused of!)

It's not whether one has an ego; it's whether one's ego is so bloated and/or needy that it gets in the way of the political goals one professes to support.

At the end of an ugly primary in 2008, Clinton set aside ego for the good of the party, and (as you may recall) put Obama's name in nomination. That's the way a primary season (even one as contentious as 2008) should end.

Sanders (so far) isn't doing that, and given the nature of his demands it would appear ego is the only reason--and while I don't expect the impact of this to be huge or catastrophic, it's not certain that it won't be, which makes his actions reckless and self-defeating (if one takes seriously his professed political beliefs) in the extreme.

And the other reason it's worth talking about is that he is trying to impose changes on the Democratic party (to which I have belonged all of my life) some of which I think would be deleterious to the party. I think it's important that we who disagree with his self-serving agenda register our objections.

Charon04 said...


" ... On the other hand, it's crucially important that he endorse Hillary, immediately and enthusiastically. ... "

Umm, no. It has been pointed out that enthusiastically would have been what he should have done.

BUT - at this point, he no longer can without appearing (and being) totally phony - considering how blatant he has been at being disrespectful towards HRC and her friends. Now, he can lie in the bed he has made.

Chai T. Ch'uan said...

Here's a quick way to see if your wierd focus on Sanders the man vs. Sanders' poolicy ideas and call to political revolution is based on projection of your own adoration for Hillary the person vs. any concern for Hillary's neoliberal agenda:

Name three issues you feel Bernie's policy proposals are just wrong, and Hillary's are right. Not including, note, personality traits like her "foreign policy gravitas" or "real concern for women", and not "marginally less ambitious, therefore totally doable." Rather hard to do, even for a Hillary fanatic, isn't it?

Charon04 said...

1) Ban Hydrofracking

2) $15.00 Minumum wage

3) Single payer NOW!

Piece of cake.

But that is all minor. The big problem is temperament, Bernie's is awful. Thin-skinned, impetuous, readily angered and acts without thinking or finding out the true facts. (Example: "Unqualified brouhaha.)

Also ignorant and lazy, look at his Daily News interview.

There is a reason HRC has all the Senator endorsements - these people actually know him as he really is.

Tom Hilton said...

Charon04, while I never really considered voting for Sanders I had a more-or-less positive opinion of him up until the Black Lives Matter incident at Netroots Nation. That was eye-opening to me. His peevish, passive-aggressive response to the protesters told me he absolutely did not have the temperament to be President.

aimai said...

This fantasy that Bernie is a serious candidate with serious proposals is just weird to me.

Here's a quick way to see if your wierd focus on Sanders the man vs. Sanders' poolicy ideas and call to political revolution is based on projection of your own adoration for Hillary the person vs. any concern for Hillary's neoliberal agenda:

I don't think Bernie has real policy ideas, just a series of irritable gestures at policy ideas. But in any event I have no problem with Bernie's policy ideas, such as the are. I just don't think he has the slightest ability to make them any kind of reality. And neither did Bernie when he began. Because he began the race with the intention of pushing HRC to the left, so he didn't flesh out his arguments or his proposals because, in reality, he was planning on leaving them like an abandoned baby on the doorstep of America and hoping that Hillary Clinton and the dreaded Democrats would rear them and bring them to maturity.

After Bernie caught fire with his overall melody--thanks to the fact that all campaign rallies are basically just highly choreographed pop star events--he had to come up with some lyrics to his songs. And in the NYDN and other interviews on (for example) foreign policy or his signature issue "da baaaaanks" he revealed that he simply didn't have the faintest idea what he would do if granted the power to do it. Bernie has the vaguest idea of what a President can or can't do of anyone I've ever seen run for that office (aside from Trump). Even Bush II had a better idea, perhaps because his father had been President.

I admire HRC as a woman who has battled feminism's fight against misogyny and against the oppression of poor women the world over. And I admire her as a progressive who has always been quite a bit ahead of her contemporaries. And I admire her as a survivor of some of the ugliest battles of modern politics. And I admire her as an effective Senator and SOS. So, yes, I choose her to run the country. But I could easily have chosen Bernie had I not had such a stellar candidate already on offer. And I think I, and the country, would have regretted it. Because I think Bernie is, in the end, a well meaning but awfully childish, thin skinned, and temperamental person ill suited to a very difficult job.

Charon04 said...

Grandiose self-image, counterattacks viciously at perceived slights or disrespect, holds grudges for extended vendettas (e.g., Barney Frank.)

Popular but difficult to attain goals advocated, but no idea how to go about reaching those goals.

To admittedly a much less extreme degree, but Bernie shares a lot of traits with The Donald.

(I started becoming skeptical of Bernie watching Bernie's body language in the earliest debates - visibly angry and agitated whenever HRC said something about his voting record etc.)

I do not think Bernie is all that worked up about defeating Donald Trump in the abstract - what Bernie wants is "Bernie Sanders defeats Donald Trump."

Improbable Joe said...

I was going to talk trash about Sanders, but he's pretty much irrelevant at this point. His diehards are mostly couch-bound do-nothings who don't vote anyways, so I see little need to bend over backwards for them either.

Unknown said...

Sore losers I get. I don't like it but I get it. They lost.
But sore winners are hard to take.
Is it Trump? Is it that he is considered so easy to beat?
Bernie and his supporters are (fill in the blank).......
They are not needed to beat Trump so blast away.
But the demos will need them come midterms. Or not.
Maybe the demos will sit out another midterm election.
The repugs are releeling. Get them now. Sweep them out like the trash they are.
Don't piss off Bernie and his legions. Use them!
But alas, that will be hard for the ruling demos. For they are much closer to repugs than to Bernie!

pbriggsiam said...

You have a preconceived notion about Sanders and are fitting the facts you cherry pick to fit that narrative. Not convincing. He's no saint but he has been quite a self-sacrificing person to give up so much of the past year to this campaign. You need to look at his record of public service and you can see his ideals are why he did this. He's human and so there is probably and element of "fuck you" involved in wanting DWS out....but that's all you can focus on. Really doesn't do this blog a lot of good with your posturing about how egotistical Sanders is. 43% of the Democratic primary electorate didn't let themselves get fooled. They saw an authentic candidate finally standing up for the mainstream values many Americans actually believe in. Instead of incrementalism, Sanders was offering a much different and yes, achievable vision. He didn't, for the most part, talk out of two sides of his mouth like trusty Hillary Clinton has done all her life.

It honestly floors me that sites like this one and Balloon Juice are so invested in Clinton and so dismissive of people who want something tangibly better. We are in a different time where too many people are hurting and don't have the patience to wait 10 years for a new economy and a new Democratic party. You seem to sit in your own places of privilege or willful blindness (like John Cole and his childish rant against the youth and blind allegiance to his club; read Democratic Party).

If we want to get pure, read Wendell Berry, particularly his "Faustian Economics" analysis:

Sanders and this movement doesn't even touch that. That's pure. Most of us are realistic about what we can do, while aiming for something better. I can't say the same about what I've read here or what the Clinton campaign has shown us. Certainly not a movement for much other than the deep state status quo.

Any chance you people would actually back the fuck off a little and consider writing some more nuanced stuff that takes what you like about our movement seriously. It would help the Democratic Party a lot more I think. It's going to happen anyway with the youth movement that's getting involved. Why not help them out a little with some of your own wisdom instead pissing all over them for reasons I just can't fathom.

Anonymous said...

"But it's not about him."

Seeing as how it's unlikely that he'll run again in 4 or 8 years, no it doesn't seem to be about him. Where is the benefit to Sanders?

Rather it seems to be more about removing what he sees as obstacles so that they won't be there for the next progressive candidate who comes along.

Also DWS is an objectively horrible person who consorts with predatory payday loansharks. That's reason enough to get rid of her. Unless the DNC leadership has to be an ethically monstrous person in order to let other politicians appear pure.