Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Dogs Bark But The Caravan Moves On

I really just felt like using this as a blog headline. I also considered

"There is a Tide..."  and "Bernie Or Bluster." I was really hoping to be able to use "Nothing in his life became him like the leaving of it..." but, alas, he won't go.

His dead enders are still squalling around in the dkos diaries explaining to everyone how Bernie's genius plan is receiving plaudits and accolades from President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer (they have put a ban on mentioning Raul Grijalva and Elizabeth Warren who have become unpersons. Much the same way Hillary Clinton's actual name and status were treated as if she were Voldemort by Bernie himself). The obvious fact that the Democratic Party is regarding Bernie like the crying tantruming toddler at someone else's birthday, who must be offered the first piece of cake and an extra present just for showing up, is apparently beyond them.  But the entire discussion of political strategy and tactics in this election, if Bernie comes up,  has devolved into the kind of analysis and fatuous teen snark that enables the same people to tell you Hillary Clinton is a corporate whore of a war monger and also that she is a skilled and gracious politician whose lead should be followed by her voters because she has recognized Bernie's superior power, worth, and historical importance.  Some poor, innocent, soul put up Hillary Clinton's 2008 concession speech to Obama, with a few words changed so it could have been Bernie speaking, and his fervent fans swarmed it attacking the guy for having the temerity to suggest that Bernie would ever have any need to be gracious, that no person would ever have given such a speech, that Bernie's world historic run means he is above and outside the normal rules of good sportsmanship or campaigning.  The teenage snark part comes in when several Bernie supporters swarm the comments to chant "if she's won why are you still talking about him???"

Really the best comment on what is going on was written by some Clinton supporter with a long history with environmental groups. Unfortunately I can't locate it but he or she pointed out that the politics of the environmental groups can be split into those who followed the philosophy of Rachel Carson (we all want basically the same good things for each other and the planet and we need to make coalitions to get what we want together) and the Edward Abbey-niks who organized around the principle that most people were lazy, apathetic, ill informed, or indifferent and that environmental protection would happen only when a committed, aggressive, revolutionary band made it happen.  I'm paraphrasing, of course.  I think its obvious that the Bernie people, at least the most noisy of them, fall into the Abbey style of politics.  People from these two wings of political thought just can't really do politics together. For the Carson-ites/Hillary people, politics is about creating coalitions, discovering people's needs, working short term and long term to satisfy those needs while the Abbey/Bernie people are about big visions, large society wide changes, little attention to detail, no coalition building and no deviation from the original vision.  Hillary people prize winning and governing, Bernie people prize being right and staying on message, whatever real world events interfere. What strikes me about the Bernie people and their attitude towards the electorate is that they are simultaneously elitist and pseudo populist--they represent themselves, to themselves as being by and for "the people" but when the people reject them as they have in this primary, the people are found wanting and need to be dissolved. **

In the short and long run I don't think Bernie matters very much.  Sad to say because I am extremely progressive, myself, and I love the idea of an out and proud progressive Democratic Party, pursuing dominance in all fifty states.  But Bernie didn't have a clue how to make that happen--he's a visionary curmudgeon not a hard worker, down in the weeds, paragon of organizing.  Even his latest attempt at revolutionary relevance is nothing more than a rehash of Dean's 50 state strategy with added griftiness.  Is he fundraising off this page and off this gesture?

Bernie is announcing that he managed the incredible feat of putting up a web page that enables his supporters to click "I will run for office" or "I will volunteer" and he got 6,700 people to click a button.  This is all of a piece with earlier revolutionary acts by his supporters like "liking" Bernie's facebook page and keeping tabs on how many more likes they had than Hillary's facebook page. So who are these 6,700 people and what did they really "sign up" to do? Because if its 100 people in 67 college towns, all proposing to run for the same offices, they rather cancel each other out.  Don't get me wrong--I think its critically important that progressives commit to running for office, support each other, and build a better Democratic Party from the inside out.  But I don't think Bernie's "new" Congressional initiative is going to be the way it happens because I just don't think Bernie or his team can herd their own cats.  (I give Bernie and his team props for running a very successful campaign, but history is littered with pretty good campaigners and their teams, just as the cemeteries are full of indispensable men).

Bernie doesn't matter--or won't by the time the convention rolls around, because he sold the most excitable and unreliable and least informed voters in the country--young people--a bill of goods. He taught them that passion mattered more than strategy, that long distance goals were more important than short term goals, that attacking your allies and co-workers was a viable way to build alliances, that intensity matters more than numbers, that people who don't agree with you on tactics are identical to enemies who don't agree with you at all, that everyone but Bernie is corrupt and deceitful, and that ideological rigidity and boorish behavior is the same as honorable authenticity.  Its being reported that as we head into the convention Democratic voters are "coming home" to Hillary and that Bernie's own delegates are no-showing at the meetings where they would be helped to get housing and information about the convention.  If the rest of Bernie's campaign is any indication Bernie himself probably doesn't have the slightest idea how many of his troops will follow him into battle at the convention.  I wouldn't be surprised if Bernie ends up not showing up, for one specious reason or another, and if he doesn't his delegates won't either.  The purity pouting will be epic, biblical, and if his online supporters are any indication of the generally spiteful attitude towards the Democratic Party if Bernie sulks at home so will his delegates.  Its all of a piece with the "you'll miss me when I'm gone!" arguments the Bernie/Jill Stein wing has been making.

**The strong conviction that the Bernie voters (at least on Kos) have that they are both identical with "the people" and embattled against the people who actually voted, in a landslide, for Hillary Clinton, is what makes them simultaneously mawkish and aggressive.  They are, as I've observed elsewhere, perfect examples of Fred Clark's "persecuted hegemon."  They see themselves as a majority, or at least a majority of righteousness, and simultaneously as persecuted, misunderstood, and vulnerable.  Once you recognize that this is how they understand their position in US society and the Democratic primary everything that they do and say as they follow Bernie down the garden path makes sense. Especially their viciousness against Hillary and her voters.

Cross Posted at No More Mr. Nice Blog


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