FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Super Tuesday: “Snatching Defeat Out of the Jaws of Victory”

I was not disappointed as elections results from Super Tuesday began to come in. In Western Massachusetts, where my wife and I had been invested in every aspect of the Sanders campaign, the votes were in Bernie Sander’s favor. In the Boston area, he lost to working class voters and people in the Black community. There are many, many theories as to why the later happened, but after weeks of a substantial campaign presence in the state, only 1% separated Sanders and his Democratic Party rival Hillary Clinton. Following the results of this past weekend’s vote in South Carolina, with an overwhelming Clinton victory, a commentator on Facebook observed that one of the reasons that Sanders failed to attract segments of the population in that state was that the candidate surrounded himself with the wrong kind of supporters in photo ops? How absolutely ridiculous!

On Wednesday, March 2, on Democracy Now, Donna Murch, professor of history at Rutgers University talked about how she has seen the makeup of the national Sanders campaign and how that demographic clearly is made up of a rainbow of leaders. Unfortunately, that rainbow does not extend to national political leaders from Washington, D.C., and across the country who are beholden to, and represent the extreme wealth that has so distorted the economic, social, and political landscape in the US for over three decades. A fellow Sanders campaign worker, a theater director, said it best while we stood with campaign signs for Sanders on a busy intersection in Pittsfield, MA on Super Tuesday. He was reacting to my observation that in early morning canvassing of nearby neighborhoods, I found very few people at home. He said, “These folks are all working three jobs to stay afloat, so it’s no wonder there’s no one at home.”

Many, on the day after Super Tuesday, are calling for Sanders to drop out of the race. But as Senator Sanders has repeatedly said, including in speeches following Tuesday’s voting, that this campaign is about a movement and not just about one election. I was heartened to hear Sanders say, in the same campaign speech, that one of the policy issues that remains in this election cycle is the question of peace. It seems that the issues of war and peace and how the political and economic system has been distorted by trillions of dollars spent on war has until now been a taboo subject in the campaign.

Can the movement that was launched by Bernie Sanders capture the imagination and energy of those who support him and especially the tremendous coalition of young voters who have been energized by his campaign? Can Sanders extend that energy to natural constituencies that need to address the problems of income inequality, the hate and discord spread by the Republican Party, a rapidly decaying environment, the criminalization of poor communities of color, and the issues of war and peace? Will an organization survive to address these issues when the final votes are cast in November?

Bernie Sanders knows that his campaign is not an end in itself, and it must remain organized and active. It must continue on through the current election cycle and the November general election and far beyond. The stakes are simply too great to allow this great harnessing of the energy of the disaffected and those who realize that a disastrous chasm awaits us if inaction and the status quo remain the order of the day. One social media comment from a person who identified himself as a socialist said, “Go to the phone banks!” The latter was a cynical response to those who were working within the Sanders campaign as one way to transform this society. So, yes, we will phone bank, walk the streets knocking on doors and talking to people about these pressing issues, vote, and form coalitions with others in and outside of the electoral process. High ideals and ideas about change are not enough. Those ideals and ideas must meet real people in the real world and seek to forge change.

In keeping with the words of the late left icon and political organizer Abbie Hoffman, “The left can snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory,” a completely bizarre email reached my inbox two days after Super Tuesday. In Massachusetts, the campaign came within 15,000 votes of beating Clinton (A David vs. Goliath scenario if there ever was one in terms of the power of wealth), but some Sanders supporters wanted to push the nonsensical idea of signing a petition to have Bill Clinton arrested for campaigning at a polling place in Boston on primary election day. At the CNBC website, the article that accompanied the email read, “More than 45K sign petition to arrest Bill Clinton.” The email also asked that campaign workers and campaign supporters attend a rally in Boston protesting Bill Clinton’s appearance at the polling place, which is technically a violation of election laws in Massachusetts. There must be better things to do with the pent up energy in the face of decades of political reaction.

More articles by:

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).

September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail