FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

My Hail Bernie Pass

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.

More articles by:

Fred Baumgarten lives in Sharon, Connecticut.

January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Glenn Sacks
Teachers Strike Dispatch #8: New Independent Study Confirms LAUSD Has the Money to Meet UTLA’s Demands
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposable Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail