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).

Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Paul Street
None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Martha Rosenberg
Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
Franklin Lamb
Could “Tough Love” Salvage Lebanon?
George Ochenski
Why Wild Horse Island is Still Wild
Ann Garrison
Nikki Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the Rest of You Too
Jonah Raskin
What’s Hippie Food? A Culinary Quest for the Real Deal
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Brian Wakamo
We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture
Patrick Higgins
Children in Cages Create Glimmers of the Moral Reserve
Patrick Bobilin
What Does Optimism Look Like Now?
Don Qaswa
A Reduction of Economic Warfare and Bombing Might Help 
Robin Carver
Why We Still Need Pride Parades
Jill Richardson
Immigrant Kids are Suffering From Trauma That Will Last for Years
Thomas Mountain
USA’s “Soft” Coup in Ethiopia?
Jim Hightower
Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
David Yearsley
Midsummer Music Even the Nazis Couldn’t Stamp Out
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail