Bernie or Bust, Really?
Supporters of Bernie Sanders face a very important political reality test this coming November.
August 1, 2016
The Bernie Sanders revolutionaries are upset and disappointed. Their hero, the intrepid Bernie Sanders who has fought for the working class and social justice for 40 years, has ended up endorsing Hillary Clinton.
That is the same Hillary who sold herself to Wall Street bankers! The “crooked Hillary,” as Donald Trump calls her every time he speaks! And also the warmonger Hillary who voted for the disastrous war in Iraq and promoted the failed policy of “nation building.” In short, Hillary the liar and hypocrite.
And the woman who received a collective groan from Bernie supporters keen on disrupting the Democratic convention.
Clearly the lesser of two evils
“We’re not afraid of Trump!” declare the brave revolutionaries – who make up a small but perhaps still decisive faction of the electorate. They promise to either vote for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for the White House, or to write-in Bernie on their ballots.
“No more wolves in sheep’s clothing!” they proclaim. And the express the hope that “Maybe Trump would be so bad” that America will rebel against its plutocrats.
Funny – this is what they said when George Bush the Second was winning his second term. Alas, there was no rebellion despite the disastrous war in Iraq, the ruined reputation of America in the world and the resulting Pan-Islamic terror.
Enter the proto-fascist revolution of Donald Trump and the quasi- “socialist” revolution of Bernie Sanders. Unfortunately, Sanders lost the primaries – the status quo lady Hillary Clinton won.
Realists and purists
Now, the Bernie forces are split into realists and purists. The former have held their noses and promised to vote for Hillary. The latter seem intent to rebel and they accuse Sanders of betrayal.
This manifestation of purists could help Trump into the White House – and the purists understand that. But they don’t care. “Better Trump than Hillary!”
Meanwhile, under pressure from Sanders, Hillary Clinton has made significant concessions to his political platform, including a $15 minimum wage, Wall Street reform, electoral reform, social security expansion, opposition to death penalty, a climate plan and price on carbon, a tougher language on fracking, free state colleges for most Americans, some health care improvements and legalization of marijuana.
“Hillary will not keep her promises! Hillary will ignore the platform!” scream the purists. Will she? Well, that depends. If the purists take their heads out of sand and support progressive legislators, then Hillary will have to implement at least some of it.
But that alternative is not good enough for the purists.
Nevertheless, many progressive voices, including those of Robert Reich, Noam Chomsky and Bernie Sanders himself, advise the revolutionaries to heed the lessons of history.
Dangerous historic parallels
During the 1920s, when German communists under Stalin’s directive sided with the Nazis against Social Democrats, they helped Hitler to become Chancellor and start a world war that cost the world 60 million lives.
This parallel between Germany and the United States is ignored by the purists. “Trump is not Hitler and the United States is not a Weimar Republic,” they say. “We have the system of checks and balances of the Legislative, Executive and Judicial powers. Trump would be blocked by the Congress.”
The irony in them making this argument is self-evident: In their own words that system is rigged. So why do they now all of a sudden rely on its proper functioning?
“If Trump wins the election, the responsibility or stopping him would fall squarely on the shoulders of the Democratic Party, not us,” they promise. “Our conscience would be clear.”
Well, their conscience may be clear — but their legs may be broken by Trump’s vigilantes.
Mr. Trump is playing to the lowest instincts of the mob: the hatred of foreigners and intellectuals, the intolerance of civic discourse and the primal violence disguised as militant patriotism.
The barbarian at the gate of the White House
In a clear case of the messenger bleeding into his message, Trump claims that “The barbarians are at the gate!” Of course, he is the real barbarian. He wants to turn the United States into a fortress and build an Iron Curtain around it.
I was born and lived behind such a curtain in the former USSR. It was no fun, but at least we had government-funded housing, education and health care.
Rest assured that Trump will not allow those programs behind his curtain. But he will make sure that corruption will be institutionalized, just as it is in the world of his new friend Vladimir Putin.
On the other hand, if Hillary wants to win the election, she should change her foreign policy and stop the failed nation building strategy. If she wants to defeat ISIS, the best move she can make is to make peace with Russia and Iran.
One must hope that by now the Democratic Party’s candidate for the Oval Office realizes that Americans are tired of endless wars and the world is tired of the American democracy that is raining down with bombs.
Trump claims that, “the barbarians are at the gate!” Of course, he is the real barbarian.
Bernie forces are split into realists and puritans. Realists promised to vote for Hillary. Puritans accuse Sanders of betrayal.
Trump will make sure corruption is institutionalized, just like in the world of his friend Putin.
If Hillary wants defeat ISIS, the best move she can make is to make peace with Russia and Iran.