Increasingly, I find supporters of Bernie Sanders’ Presidential campaign arrogant, condescending, and narrow-minded.
Sanders himself is an ordinary career politician. He has spent most of his adult life in political office. The only time he’s ever held a “real job” has been when he was between political jobs. I don’t object to career pols the way some people do. I prefer to vote for people who know what they’re doing. You don’t hire an individual to run your company because he just graduated from university and thinks “running a company would be cool.” You ask that individual to show you a CV that demonstrates the ability to run your company. Only in politics is ignorance of the job’s duties, and no demonstrated ability, considered a virtue, by some. 1 Sanders has demonstrated the ability to keep the political bacon fried to tasty perfection for his state: Vermont, sixth smallest and second least populous of the 50 states, with the second highest proportion of non-Hispanic whites and the forty-eighth highest proportion of blacks. In regard to the latter number, the 2010 Census puts the black population of the state at 1% of the total population, or 6,260-odd in a population of 626,000. 2 Only one state has a higher proportion of white folks, and only two states have a lower proportion of black folks.
The open question is: How has his thirty-year career in the national legislature, working the bacon grill for Vermont, prepared him to be President? One ought to be able to ask for a CV that shows leadership within the Congress on any of the important issues. Did he lead the fight for financial regulation? Did he lead the fight against military intervention in Iraq? Did he lead the fight to make health care legislation more inclusive? In what legislative battles, over the past 30 years, can the figure of Bernie Sanders be seen in the forefront? Well, the answers are no, no, no, and none. He has spent nearly his entire adult life in an elective office, or running for one, and yet, never has bubbled up to the top of the pyramid, never been the go-to guy when help was needed.
Which is the reason why, if you ask a Sanders supporter for an example of Sanders’ leadership on an issue — any issue — the response will be in the form of talking smack about Hillary Clinton. No Sanders supporter appears to have the plain, old-fashioned gumption to admit that support for the candidate is based on emotional attachment and not on rational evaluation. Nor will the Sanders supporter admit that, when push comes to shove, one of the core beliefs of the Sanders supporters is that “any idiot can run the country.” It doesn’t take skill, experience, or knowledge, to be President. Anyone who can get the votes can do it. In this instance, that “anyone” is Bernard Sanders, erstwhile Senator of the sixth smallest state of the union.
I believe that one of the reasons that Sanders supporters are so nasty to Hillary Clinton supporters is that she has the record Sanders lacks. She has the CV of leadership, skill, experience, and knowledge, that make her a credible candidate for the Presidency. Many people say that her position on this issue or that disqualifies her from that office. She voted to support the war in Iraq, or she opposes the dismantling of the “war on drugs,” or she changed her mind about gay marriage; and, therefore, she should not be President. That’s fine — one can support or oppose a candidate on many issues. Sanders is an opponent of gun control3, which is one of my hobby horses. I could, following the paradigm of the Sanders supporters, denounce his candidacy on that point alone. That’s not how I roll.
One of the lessons I have tried to teach my kids is, “You can’t make yourself look good by making someone else look bad.” Sanders supporters didn’t get that lesson, or it didn’t take. As a result, there’s no effort by his supporters to convince others that he’s the right guy for the job. There’s simply a relentless personal smear campaign to make the other candidate look unfit. The operational paradigm is that Sanders’ undistinguished record will look good, if Clinton’s record can be obscured by personal animus. It might work.
There might be a President Sanders sworn into office in January 2017. The result of that swearing in will be a colossal failure of “progressive” politics. Although it is considered axiomatic in American politics that a politician “will say anything to get elected,” Sanders supporters have been adamant that their candidate is different, and he’ll do everything he says he’ll do. Well, — no, he won’t. We won’t have single-payer healthcare in America in my lifetime (which is drawing to a close). We won’t see an end to private prisons in the next decade. We won’t see a decline in gun violence under President Sanders, nor will we see greater restrictions placed on firearms buyers and sellers. We won’t see any improvement in American schools, or a decline in child poverty, as a result of a Sanders Presidency. We won’t see banksters in jail, and we won’t see the big banks broken up.
As a result of Sanders’ failure to keep his promises, progressive politics will be sent even further into the wilderness for another generation. And, really, that’s what I most get angry about. Because, in my view, the Sanders campaign is born out of the intellectual laziness and emotional immaturity of supporters who want some political Moses to lead them to the Promised Land, so that they won’t have to struggle in the desert. Real, successful progressive politics always works from the ground up. Unions work because they’re organized by, composed of, and run by, the people in the communities where they exist. The Civil Rights Act was not a hand-me-down from some “leaders” in the national government. It was the government’s response to relentless pressure from progressives — real progressives — on the ground, in the communities. Those progressives moved the national consciousness, the consciousness of voters. Voters brought about changes in the law, not Messianic legislators.
Bernard Sanders is a Jew, but he’s not Moses. The Promised Land to which he promises to lead us, is a myth. I can excuse him for getting caught up, and believing his own press releases. He’s a politician. I can’t excuse his supporters, for their uncritical acceptance of everything he says as Biblical Truth. The very first rule of responsible citizenship is, Question Authority.
Old saying: You can fix the blame, or you can fix the problem. At the end of the Sanders regime, banished and humiliated “progressives” will return to fixing the blame, because fixing the problem is hard work.