One of the more irritating aspects of this primary election season is pretty much the same thing that bothered me about 2008. A certain strain of “progressives” seems to have this tendency to deify one candidate and trash the other one, both of which are completely unnecessary and childish.
In 2008, PUBs (Progressive Unicorn Brigade) and the professional left absolutely deified Barack Obama and trashed Hillary Clinton. At first, when right wingers pointed it out to me, I laughed them off, but I eventually figured out they were right. A certain strain of liberals had exalted him so much as “the First Black President”™ that they had elevated him to something close to “wizard” status. Apparently, many of these people thought he should have been able to prevent the economy from complete collapse, close Gitmo and solve every social problem America has, even as he personally transformed the entire health care system into a single-payer system because, well, single-payer systems are magic and create “free” health care for everyone. (more on this later.)
At the same time, Hillary Clinton, whom they had championed as a goddess of sorts when she was running for the Senate from New York, suddenly became “evil incarnate.” You know, because, in their minds, if you have elevate one Democrat to the status of political “god,” then anyone else who opposes that candidate must be “the enemy.” That’s how these people think of politics. Everything is binary; you are either a “god” or you have to be the enemy of their “god.”
Like Obama before him, these same PUBs and pro lefties have adopted Bernie Sanders as their “god” for this election cycle. And they have decided that, because she opposes their “god,” once again Hillary Clinton has to be evil incarnate. If someone is not your god, they must be a dark underlord (or, in this case, underlady?); there is no other option.
And make no mistake; if Bernie Sanders got the nomination, he probably would have beaten whomever emerges from the GOP Klown Kar in the end, and these same people would have turned on him, just as they turned on Obama. And they did.
Seriously, is there anything funnier in the world than a PUB or professional lefty who complains about someone else not embracing Obama? These same people started trashing him even before he took the oath. Do you know why I started my list of Obama accomplishments? It wasn’t because of right wingers; it was because left wingers were coming at me, calling me an “Obamabot” and claiming the President wasn’t progressive. Of course, by their definition, only about five percent of the population could ever qualify as “progressive,” their version is so narrow. And let’s be real here, it’s a democracy; you don’t get anyone elected with five percent.
Consider this column a dose of reality for the reality-deprived.
Bernie Sanders is a hell of a guy and if he won the Democratic nomination, I would proudly vote for him in the General Election. I considered voting for him in the primary Tuesday, until the whole gun issue came up, which I talked about previously. And the Republicans are screwing up so bad, he would probably win that election by a fairly wide margin. But the same people who elevated him to “god” status would turn on him when he tried to fill his Cabinet and his White House staff and he had to turn to the same people that Hillary Clinton will have to hire if she wins. While they harbor fantasies of liberal icons holding all of the positions, the fact of the matter is, to make his Administration work, Sanders would have to hire people who know what they are doing and have a track record of dealing with Congress. In other words, he will have to hire political people. Edward Snowden won’t be his National Security head. His press secretary won’t be Noam Chomsky.
Let me put it this way. The last time a president tried to fill his staff and Cabinet with “new” people with less than stellar political pedigrees, Jimmy Carter failed miserably. Not that he was a bad president, but the people around him lacked the political skill to get many things done. Obama, on the other hand, surrounded himself with people who knew what the hell they were doing, whether they were ideologically left or not. And he got a lot done, even though PUBs and the pro left helped engineer a Republican comeback that left him with the most obstructionist Congress in history.
We all have to stick with the real world, folks, and like I said, here is your dose of reality. I found the following on my Facebook and Twitter feeds, posted by Bernie Stan true believers.
Apparently, according to the people who posted it, someone analyzed 30 Sanders speeches and culled this list. I want to go through these one-by-one and bring them into the real world. These are in order:
- What the hell is “income equality”? Isn’t that pure socialism? In a country so wedded to the almighty dollar, while you can bring those on the bottom out of poverty, how does anyone suggest we take away from the rich and turn them into the middle class in a free country?
- Once again, you can tax millionaires and billionaires more and I’m all for that. But you can’t just take money away from them that they already have. Who would go along with that? Certainly no one in Congress and most states.
- The next two are definitely necessary, but a carbon tax and a plan to rebuild infrastructure must be created and approved by Congress. A president can’t just order such things.
- “Solve climate change”? Really? In 4-8 years? Not happening. If it’s even possible to do so, it’ll take most of the next century and the cooperation of the entire world, which Obama is already part of.
- “Stop oil production”? For a country that is addicted to fossil fuels, again, this will take decades. We’re already making a lot of progress, but this isn’t just a matter of President Bernie snapping his fingers and it happens. It’s also not a move without a downside. We’re already seeing the negative effects of curbing coal usage; coal mining jobs have to be replaced, or we’ll have many more Flint, Michigan-type situations. (and I don’t just mean the water.)
- “Nationwide green energy production” is already happening and happening quickly. Ironically, a lot of the money to pay for it is coming from increased oil production, so there’s that.
- As for ISIS, they are already being destroyed. However, having a strongly pro-Israel president, which Bernie would be, might make the terrorism situation worse without a lot of help.
- Creating a second NATO for terrorism? Why? And who would create it?
- Create a strong military? We don’t already have one? Then what are we spending $600 billion a year for?
- The national $15 an hour minimum wage under Bernie’s plan wouldn’t hit that level until 2022. Hillary’s plan is to hit $12 by 2019 and be indexed to inflation. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. The wage has to go up, but don’t act as if the increase is immediate and the negative effect would be zero if it was.
- What does “strong corporate controls” mean? And he still needs Congress to pass those. Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley are already pretty strong, by the way. What happened in 2008 is already impossible now.
- No one in the entire world has ever found a way to “end poverty and homelessness.” It’s virtually impossible. “Poverty” is relative, anyway. There will always be poor.
- “Free health care” doesn’t exist. Anywhere. Bernie wants single-payer. Single-payer is not “free,” hence the term “payer.” The “payer” has to collect enough money to pay the bills. It increases prices for just about everything and, while it would spread the burden a bit, the fact of the matter is, the vast majority of people get insurance through their employer, who pays most of the premium on their behalf, so they don’t understand how much they pay now. Based on their current situation, many may find themselves paying more, if everything they buy increases in price 10-15%. The next one about stopping crime, etc, through health care doesn’t make sense.
- You can’t mandate “political programming” in the media in a free country. We do need a return of something like the old “fairness doctrine,” but you can’t just dictate programming.
- Getting money out of politics is idealistic crap. There is nothing more democratic than donating to a candidate or cause you believe in and helping them get the word out. There have to be limits, though, so that no one can buy more “free speech” than someone else. That said, full government funding of political campaigns is a really bad idea. Imagine the current GOP having control of the purse strings, if you want to understand why.
- No one is going to replace our prison system. Period. It needs reform, but the reform will be a slow transition, not a sudden overhaul.
- “Free college” also isn’t happening. It should be more affordable, and no one should graduate with six-figure debt for an education. But if you make it completely free for everyone, then the already-rich will have a built-in advantage. Instead of $40k/year for tuition and expenses, what about a $40k/year endowment for a spot for my kid?
- The drug war should end, but the president has little to no say. Congress and states have to change laws. A lot of laws. Including laws against marijuana. And they exist at the federal and state levels.
- We are working on developing high-speed rail, and there has already been a significant increase in transporting products by rail in recent years, but in a free country, we can’t force companies to use it. And trucks will still have to move product to final destinations. The biggest problem we have now comes with the transition we’re making to ordering more products online. Now, instead of one truck moving thousands of products from port to warehouse and warehouse to store, now we have fleets of smaller trucks taking each individual product to a different location. And don’t get me started on the paperboard/cardboard box problem.
- A president can’t just “order” private companies to issue “controlling interest” to workers in a free country. Sorry.
- Likewise, a president can’t order banks to break up unless they are given due process and convicted of something. The government also can’t dictate to individuals what type of banking they can use.
- We’re looking at an elementary and secondary school teacher shortage. Where are we going to find millions of “qualified” teachers for kids from ages one to four? In reality, we are probably requiring our teachers to have too many qualifications as it is. But either way, all schools are local, anyway; the federal government has no jurisdiction over such things.
- One to two years PAID leave? Who’s going to pass this? 6-8 weeks is doable and even a few months unpaid leave would be fair. But, really; a couple of years would be a hell of a burden on a small business and, since most businesses are small businesses, where would this law come from?
- Equal pay for women. Women should get equal pay for equal work. I think even most Republicans would agree with this, at last publicly, in principle.
In reality, not many of Bernie’s most-expressed ideas are particularly original and many of them are not possible. And none of them can possibly happen without a lot of help from others. Presidents can’t do magical things. They can’t close Gitmo without cooperation from Congress. They can’t just pull all of our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan in a day because you want them to. And they can’t act like dictators, by ordering private companies to issue stock a certain way and by ordering them to divest themselves of assets. And they certainly can’t do any of it without due process.
In fact, if you look at the above, it’s a collection of idealistic wishful thinking and dictatorial nonsense. And is that what we think a president should be? An idealistic benevolent dictator?