FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

My Hail Bernie Pass

by

shutterstock_292784240 (1)

I’ve changed my mind. In September I wrote that I would not be fooled by another salesman named Bernie peddling hope and change. I deplored his foreign policy, and I still do. I questioned his commitment to bringing about greater equality, and I still do. His “socialism” is fake. At best, as others have said, he is a “social democrat.”

Up until now I planned to sit this election out. For me, it is a matter of conscience. Lending my support to any person who will use power to kill innocent civilians, at home and abroad, physically pains me. Lending my support to a broken electoral system just perpetuates it. Personally, making a decision to vote for Sanders, or virtually anyone else, is extremely difficult.

But here I am, the day of the Iowa caucus, ready to vote in my home state of Connecticut when the primary rolls around. “Probably,” because if by the time of our primary Bernie has already been done in by the broken voting system, which for no good reason gives Iowans and New Hampshirites more power than most of the rest of us, then I will return to my previous position and opt out.

Among the legions of CounterPunch writers I admire, I owe a lot of my decision to Dave Lindorff, who had a similar epiphany, if I may call it that, in January. I don’t want to go over the ground he covered so well. Suffice to say I am convinced Bernie is qualitatively different, certainly from Obama, and substantively from other “outsider” challenges.

What has pushed me over the line is the tone of the attacks on Sanders that have hit the media in the past week or two. They are clearly indicative of the political establishment circling the wagons to guard against a viable threat. That alone says Bernie’s arrows are hitting home.

Predictably, the euphemisms used include that Bernie is not “credible,” not “qualified,” and not “pragmatic” enough to get the “job” done. Aside from being absurd on its face, since he has been an elected official for most of his adult life, these attacks are really about someone who might just stick to his beliefs and fight for them, rather than compromise them away to oblivion. That’s the dead end track we’ve been on. “Experience” is code for “with the program.” Terrified are those who think Bernie might actually carry through on his policies and politics.

A more disturbing challenge is represented by a recent article that equated Sanders’ “anti-establishment” stance with “misogyny.” The gist of the author’s polemic is that Hillary Clinton can’t, by definition, be a member of the – white, male – political establishment, and therefore Bernie’s calling her a representative of the establishment is wrong and misogynistic. I admit I was pulled in by the argument, until I realized a few things:

(1) The author places much emphasis on Obama’s role as the first black President. By being “more than a symbol,” his presidency has “changed the establishment forever.” Not so – as those of us who refused to vote for him in the past could see even before he was elected. It’s possible to yearn for an African American President, or a woman President, or an African American woman President (I sure do!) and still believe Obama has been a tool of the political establishment.

(2) The author passes over the fact that Hillary has done quite well in politics, thank you, even if the Oval Office has been denied her, and as a woman has held positions of power.

(3) From the point of view of Hilary’s political leanings, neoliberalism, war-hawkishness, Wall Street backing, and a host of quotations very well chronicled here, it is simply not credible to consider her anything but part of the “political establishment” (i.e. the duopoly), notwithstanding that her being a woman puts her in a difficult position. I can no more vote for Clinton than I could for that empty suit, Obama.

If a big part of what keeps the political establishment entrenched is corporate control over elections, then Sanders’ financing his campaign with citizen-donations is a real antidote. It is proof that he is putting his money where his mouth is. Unlike any candidate I can think of, he has also opened himself up to feedback and adaptation, as he did under initial criticism from the Black Lives Matter movement. True, it could be a pose; and true, he drew the line at reparations, unfortunately. But, call it a hunch, I think he is genuine.

In response to my not voting for a president for the last two election cycles, and for proclaiming my intent not to vote in this one (as well as for voting for Nader once), I have been regularly and publicly dressed down by friends, families, and acquaintances. I’ve been told that I forfeit any right to “complain,” whatever that means. I’ve been told that I will have no voice at all if I don’t choose a president, I’ll be responsible for a Trump presidency, and I’ll be responsible for a right-wing Supreme Court and all that follows. I have been informed that not only is it my obligation to vote for a candidate, but it’s my obligation to vote for Hillary Clinton, because of course if she doesn’t win, Trump or Cruz or some other cretin will.

Now that I’m proclaiming my support for Sanders, I expect the vitriol to be no less intense, though maybe from some other quarters with different arguments. Secretly my friends will suspect that maybe I’m a misogynist, too, and don’t want a female president. I’ll be accused of being “impractical” and “hopelessly idealistic,” and of “wasting” my vote. And I’ll still be held personally responsible for getting Trump elected!

What’s ironic about this is what my friends don’t understand: that voting at all, even for Bernie, half feels like a surrender to our murderous façade of a system. But I’m willing to throw this one final Hail Mary pass before seeing it torn down completely, as is my most fervent hope.

Fred Baumgarten lives in Sharon, Connecticut.

More articles by:
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
Jeffrey St. Clair
Night of the Hollow Men: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Renee Parsons
Blame It on the Russians
Herbert Dyer, Jr.
Is it the Cops or the Cameras? Putting Police Brutality in Historical Context
Russell Mokhiber
Dems Dropping the N Word: When in Trouble, Blame Ralph
Howard Lisnoff
The Elephant in the Living Room
Pepe Escobar
The Real Secret of the South China Sea
Ramzy Baroud
Farewell to Yarmouk: A Palestinian Refugee’s Journey from Izmir to Greece
John Laforge
Wild Turkey with H-Bombs: Failed Coup Raise Calls for Denuclearization
Dave Lindorff
Moving Beyond the Sanders Campaign
Jill Richardson
There’s No Such Thing as a “Free Market”
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan Moves Against the Gulen Movement in Turkey
Winslow Myers
Beyond Drift
Edward Martin - Mateo Pimentel
Who Are The Real Pariahs This Election?
Jan Oberg
The Clintons Celebrated, But Likely a Disaster for the Rest of the World
Johnny Gaunt
Brexit: the British Working Class has Just Yawned Awake
Mark Weisbrot
Attacking Trump for the Few Sensible Things He Says is Both Bad Politics and Bad Strategy
Thomas Knapp
Election 2016: Think Three’s a Crowd? Try 2,000
Corrine Fletcher
White Silence is Violence: How to be a White Accomplice
July 27, 2016
Richard Moser
The Party’s Over
M. G. Piety
Smoke and Mirrors in Philadelphia
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Humiliation Games: Notes on the Democratic Convention
Arun Gupta
Bernie Sanders’ Political Revolution Splinters Apart
John Eskow
The Loneliness of the American Leftist
Guillermo R. Gil
A Metaphoric Short Circuit: On Michelle Obama’s Speech at the DNC
Norman Pollack
Sanders, Our Tony Blair: A Defamation of Socialism
Claire Rater, Carol Spiegel and Jim Goodman
Consumers Can Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics on Factory Farms
Guy D. Nave
Make America Great Again?
Sam Husseini
Why Sarah Silverman is a Comedienne
Dave Lindorff
No Crooked Sociopaths in the White House
Dan Bacher
The Hired Gun: Jerry Brown Snags Bruce Babbitt as New Point Man For Delta Tunnels
Peter Lee
Trumputin! And the DNC Leak(s)
David Macaray
Interns Are Exploited and Discriminated Against
Brett Warnke
Storm Clouds Over Philly
Ann Garrison
Rwanda, the Clinton Dynasty, and the Case of Dr. Léopold Munyakazi
Chris Zinda
Snakes of Deseret
July 26, 2016
Andrew Levine
Pillory Hillary Now
Kshama Sawant
A Call to Action: Walk Out from the Democratic National Convention!
Russell Mokhiber
The Rabble Rise Together Against Bernie, Barney, Elizabeth and Hillary
Jeffrey St. Clair
Don’t Cry For Me, DNC: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Angie Beeman
Why Doesn’t Middle America Trust Hillary? She Thinks She’s Better Than Us and We Know It
Paul Street
An Update on the Hate…
Fran Shor
Beyond Trump vs Clinton
Ellen Brown
Japan’s “Helicopter Money” Play: Road to Hyperinflation or Cure for Debt Deflation?
Richard W. Behan
The Banana Republic of America: Democracy Be Damned
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail