Blaming Sanders: Why Democratic Party Unity is Officially Impossible


I’m not going to suggest that people shouldn’t like Hillary Clinton if they adore her, and many do, but for her champions to continue the arrogant argument that she is anything more than a smug politician with a big stick, i.e., a cozy relationship with corporate America and the military industrial complex, is silly obfuscation.

Such denial flies in the face of reality given Clinton’s attachment to and her unmovable faith in the neoliberalism of our age, which more-progressive thinkers—never mind the remnants of the Left—see as problematic.

The would-be pragmatists, the nose-holders who have embraced the “lesser-evil” mantra in the panic to stop Trump, have either forgiven her sins and moved on or never saw the sinner in the first place. Importantly, these people are settled-in and at ease with what were once called, when I studied them in school, “current events.” As a mass they cling to the “center” like a life preserver. They have an abiding faith in the way things are now playing out, have easily overcome any tinge of doubt about U.S. imperialism and our terms of perpetual war (are we winning?), the environment, and rampant poverty and inequality, to name a few of the things Hillary Clinton abhors talking about or glides over like an ice skater.

They are generally adept at conveniently pushing their minor worries and fragmented discontent aside. Peace is theirs—bless them.

To borrow an inspired observation—was there ever really a true progressive among them?

A woman who has never been an environmentalist is suddenly being lauded for her supposed willingness to be a newly-born steward of the land? That’s like saying the donkey pulling the cart is old and tired, but it’ll find a new spirit as soon as you feed its ego.

This conflation concerns a woman who supports fracking and Big Oil and all of its ramifications therein, the corporate world’s Madam. More astoundingly, a woman who has never sought peace through moderation and/or diplomatic acumen is suddenly a peacenik? Or is that just hoped-for potential yet again?

To quickly summarize as a man, the technocrats have us by the balls and aren’t letting go.

As for Bernie Sanders, some portray his thinking as reckless “ideology,” with a pejorative usage here based on the rise among self-satisfied Americans who can’t distinguish between progressive policy and Hillary Clinton’s record. Or perhaps they can, but it doesn’t bother them. The point is that many voters are content with the way things are now; any and all suggestions that the status quo ought to be altered are dismissed out-of-hand. Neoliberalism has been kind to many while raping many others.

Sanders’ thinking is frightening to a wide swath of comfortable middle-class voters—and not just Republicans—who have avoided the inherent disasters of recent policy decisions that have angered and outright economically ruined many in our country as well as large portions of the global population.

As a descriptive word, “ideologue” now resonates with the same modern abstraction as “liberal” and “conservative.” What does the word even mean anymore? Does it mean, on one side, that to be a Clintonite is to swear that ideology doesn’t drive her bandwagon?

Or does it mean that she is the chosen one, magically cleansed of all impurities, while Sanders is the ultimate interloper and therefore an ideologue? Does it mean Clinton is the only one with a grasp on the fundamental nature of things? Is she the embodiment of, to use another word with a flat tire—Realpolitik—while Sanders is the curmudgeonly fool?

All of the above?

So what is actually happening?

Here is my guess. To be an ideologue now means that you have a difference of opinion with somebody else. Another convenient label, it has become the combined punches of invective and accusation in a hoary prizefight. It’s like having a disagreement with your buddy at the bar, and now he won’t buy the next round—because, he says, you have become an “ideologue!”

You no longer fit his bill, except as a liability. You no longer entertain. You have become a valueless entity. You are to be scorned. (Be careful, your drinking buddy might punch your lights out before you can connect with your own jab!)

Has any other word, formally embedded amid and embraced by economic elites, ever been so abused and misused within the mainstream? I can think of one—“Freedom”—but we don’t have to go there.

Regarding the calls for Party unity, the lapping sounds from the vicinity of the feeding bowl are overwhelmingly noisy.

The shaded-right centrists running U.S. policy initiatives are going to win again, of course. (To give her a little credit as a campaigner Clinton isn’t talking about “hope and change,” either. That poison need not be consumed again, and it never fit her style.) According to the loudest Clinton supporters who believe Sanders needs to fold his tent for the sake of the Party, the Vermont Senator’s continued presence in the process appeals to dumb kids, dreamers, aging hippies, and people who can only think in “black and white” terms, whatever that means.

This is not very dismissive at all, ha, ha, but it is gathering steam. Sanders’ supporters are ideologues, and not very bright, you see? I’ve seen it writ in the papers and on the blogs!

The deeper one probes into any issue not sanctioned by mainstream U.S. politicians and their huckster Washington Post and New York Times and other gigantic media appendages, the less meaning this imprisoned word—ideologue—has. It has become a dry cliché that sums up the election of 2016—name-calling and spite ala carte, served from high above the fray.

(I was a waiter once; I found it a dreary job and prone to the ordinary abuses of power.)

In the community where I live, a glance at the local newspaper’s metro and national pages can cause the reader a headache and a fit of ague. An utter protofascism (a truer word for where we are) has overtaken the daily comments there, and its abundance now is nothing if not disheartening.

Much of it comes from the far right, the Trump supporters and racists of every stripe, but Clinton’s folks are no less adept at hammering Sanders’ stubbornness with the same anger they hold for The Donald.

Blasted, because he won’t shut the fuck up!

If all politics are local, where does that leave the rest of the nation?   Here, there and everywhere, you might say, a result of what used to be called the dumbing down process.

In a kind of quicksand of logical fallacies, the nation’s political business—and that is what it is, business, not democracy—plays out like a bad TV loop that can’t be erased. But people apparently like it—bless them again. Reality TV has never been better for diehard escapists.

The stellar and observant Australian, John Pilger, in a recent piece here, places the genesis of U.S. counterrevolutions within the timeframe of the 1968 assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, and that year’s chaotic Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

It goes farther back of course, with the contract-killing of JFK, but in reality it started before the ink was dry on the U.S. Constitution. It’s been the story of our nation all along in other words, a part of U.S. history too many choose to ignore; which brings us to the here and now.

Hillary Clinton’s supporters are the counterrevolutionaries of our time. The nature of the woman’s campaign drives home the snail-like quality of her lackluster, or, more descriptively, minor-league progressivism.

When was it determined, for example, that Sanders and his supporters should go gently into the good night and obediently into HC’s corner?  Who’s calling for this?

Why, the usual power players, of course. They are Krugman, Feinstein, Reich, and others atop the pyramid. Great Pragmatists all. Believe me when I protest that none of these characters know poverty or oppression. If they’ve known it at any time, they’ve forgotten it by now.

Sanders was (is) foolish to say he’ll support Hillary in the end game. His strategy of trying to push the party and Clinton leftward was illusory to begin with and has had meager success. It was never going to happen.  Few U.S. stakeholders budge from their plans, economic interests and comfiture, including the many superdelegates who pledged to Clinton before Sanders even entered the race.

By the way, has anyone recently queried why superdelegates should be so, ahem, powerful? If yes, please do it again and again.

Speaking of personal interests, I had my candidate too, briefly, in Bernie.  His loss is mine, not that he is all of that, because he isn’t.  This is not the first time I’ve felt the pinch, either. I was a Eugene McCarthy man back in the day.

But this also won’t be the first time I’ve ignored my candidate’s opponent.  That’s politics, as much as are the Democratic National Party’s compromises and overbearing rhetoric.  The little show of a faux Utopia that the Clintons and the Obamas and the rest of the centrist-neoliberal political class have set up for themselves and display to the world as our ever-so-rare exceptionalism is quite the dance, just not mine.

Democratic Party unity is meaningless at this time in our historical reckoning. Blame Bernie if you must, but please tell me again, who is thinking in black and white?

I don’t understand (well, I do but I’m not a Democrat) why people are angry with Sanders’ run to Philly—if it goes that far.

As the clamor for Party unity reaches its crescendo I’ll remain free, so my Democratic brothers and sisters please do not tread on me.

I was a Sanders supporter once upon a time. I still like his moxie.  Now that he hasn’t a chance to win the last thing on my mind is to switch to HC.  Are you joking with me?  That ain’t gonna happen. I’ll vote for Stein or write someone in. Or I won’t vote.

There, I said it. I won’t vote. That wouldn’t be a first either.

The last thing I’m going to do is tell Sanders to shut up on behalf of the Queen, the DNC, and the aristocracy.  I’m sure there are more like me; it makes no difference if there are or are not, but I refuse to believe that sitting this one out nullifies the vote of conscience I have every right to uphold by not voting for either a crackpot or a shill.

One can watch the collapse of a glass house from multiple angles and not be harmed.

Looking ahead and seeing areas where the U.S. could use some sensible restructuring, better policy, I’ve determined Clinton is neither capable nor predisposed to provide the answers.

With Clinton there for eight years, the private club in Washington will remain closed to all but the satisfied and the wealthy—a not unexpected development.

For nearly a year, before the ugly hue and cry of Party unity arose, Sanders was the only person talking about economic inequality and other concerns of the working poor and destitute. He didn’t do a very good job of it at that.  But it wouldn’t have mattered. So it’s over; as of now it boils down to a finding peace of mind.

Stay in the thing, Bernie, for the hell of it.  Clinton’s allies disrespect too many, take too much for granted, expect too many miracles, and act out too much like privileged children.

I have a word for it that will never be misinterpreted or fall out of favor in our present political lexicon. What is happening is just plain stupid.

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Terry Simons is the founder of Round Bend Press Books in Portland, Oregon.  This story is excerpted from his memoir of growing up in Oregon, A Marvelous Paranoia.

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