The Cult of Bernie

The obsession with Bernie Sanders is easily the most puzzling thing in American politics, especially when it comes to the progressive “movement.” The most puzzling aspect of the Bernie cult is how isolated they seem to be from reality.

Not long ago, Bernie himself Tweeted the following:

He Tweeted that statement along with an NBC News article declaring that the “Bernie Wing” of the Party somehow “terrifies” the moderates in the Democratic Party. And Bernie touted this as a good thing. Apparently, according to the Bernie Stans, the way you get your agenda passed is to make the majority of the populace fearful of you and your power, so that they – what exactly? Seriously, what do they expect to gain from this nonsense? Better yet, when do they wake the hell up and realize it is not working? Progressives have been losing ground for almost 50 years now; whatever the loudest of us have been doing has been failing miserably.

That Tweet has so many elements that show the hardcore Bernie Stans and even Bernie himself, to be completely out of touch with the reality that surrounds us and envelops us every day. I mean, if you can look at what’s happening in this country politically right now and think the problem is Democrats, you need to put down the pipe and re-enter the real world. Of course, what else should we expect from a group who thinks an 80-year-old white guy is the future of a country that is becoming increasingly younger and less white every day? 

The Democratic Party is a big tent. A huge tent, in fact. Except for white men, every other demographic in this country occupies a segment of the Democratic base. Democrats have always welcomed “new people” into the party, which is why People of Color now make up its base. Yes, that’s right, Bernie fans; the Democratic base is made up of Black people, Hispanic and Latino people, recent and not-so-recent immigrants, LGBT people, and pretty much anyone who does not feel full acceptance into our culture. Therefore, when someone from the Bernie Cult, including Bernie, says Democratic Party has to “open its doors,” the fact that you can’t imagine how insulted many minorities feel about that proves my point.

You see, “white people” is the only demographic that is not a part of the Democratic Party’s “base.” It’s the only demographic Hillary lost in 2016. That is because “white people” overwhelmingly vote Republican. It’s also interesting to note that self-described “white liberals” too often vote third party and register “independent” and are, in fact, among the largest groups of non-voters in the land. Yes, that’s right; when push comes to shove, the white “liberals” who make up the largest segment of the Bernie Cult are among the most likely to stay home of any demographic in the land. Imagine that; the people most likely to lecture us on their “duty” to the body politic and who are most prone to define “democracy” for us are also one of the groups most likely to stay home on Election Day.

There is one thing I will give the Bernie Stans, though. They seem quite adept at conning the “mainstream media” of their nonsense. Over the last few weeks, I have had to counter a number of articles in the press declaring that Bernie Sanders is leading the Democratic Party and that the “Democratic establishment” (as if there is such a thing) is being taken over by them.

That is such a line of bullshit, it’s hard to take seriously. First of all, Bernie Sanders is not popular among Democrats. Oh, sure, we liked him when he was appearing all over “progressive talk radio” and spouting his wisdom, but progressive talk radio has never been particularly popular and he has never been taken seriously, politically speaking. Why would he? He has no strong legislative record to speak off and his ideas usually fall by the wayside. Anyone can say anything they want; as the old saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. It’s what you actually do that matters. And while Bernie Sanders says all the things Bernie Stans want to hear more than anything, he’s never actually done any of it. He hasn’t even started any of it.

Why would Bernie be “the most popular Democrat in the country,” as several mainstream outlets are touting him? First of all, he’s not a Democrat. Now, in fairness, Vermont doesn’t register voters by party, so he can’t join the traditional way. However, he could take a greater hand in working with the Democratic Party. Instead, he and the Bernie Stans stand outside the Party apparatus and shout at it, demanding it change for them.

If the Bernie Stans think “fear” of them is a sure path to victory in their efforts to take over the Democratic Party and make it do their bidding, my question is, again, when do they begin to notice their strategy isn’t working?

I mean, we progressives do have an enemy in this political climate, but it sure as shit isn’t the Democratic Party. I mean, the Republican Party has been taken over by a right wing ideology that has no basis in our system of government, our laws or our shared vision of what a democracy should be. While Bernie’s Tweet somehow implies that Democrats embrace the “one percent,” meaning the richest people in the country, the current incarnation of the Republican Party absolutely fellates them. There is nothing they won’t do for them.

You see, the Democratic Party does everything they can for working people. The reason we have Citizens United is that Republicans have always been jealous of the heavy support Democrats have always received from organized labor, and they wanted to be able to counter that support with dark money.  The problem is, Contrary to reality, Bernie cultists can only think of white guys with a tool belt wearing a dirty t-shirt when they think of “working class.” They can’t grasp that not every working person is white. In fact, it’s likely most working people are non-white. Meanwhile, they also seem to be politically stupid, as well. They seem to believe the best way to get what they want is to trash other Democrats during the primary. There is no thought given to the damage they might do to the Democrats in the General Election; they only care about getting their “point” across, such was it is.

If you want to know why we have been stuck with too many Republicans in office over the past 40 years, this is a major reason. As noted, these morons have an uncanny ability to attract attention, but they don’t use it for a good cause. Instead, they lie about Democrats, to make them seem as odious as Republicans. Somehow, they have gotten it into their tiny little brains that the best way to “win” is to bring down the other candidate on the same side. Again, this has never worked, so why they keep doing it is beyond comprehension.

This is a key reason we have watched many of the progressive advances we made dissipate over time. What’s worse, they follow up stupid with even more stupid. For instance, in 1996, Congress passed “welfare reform,” which essentially gutted the support system we put in place for the poor. The effects on the short-term were minimal, but the effects over the long term have been devastating. Welfare no longer exists for most poor these days; in fact, more than three-quarters of those living below the poverty line get ZERO cash assistance these days. Also, the buying power for those getting SNAP (Food Stamps) assistance keeps dropping and is available to fewer people than ten years ago. Yet, do Bernie Cultists talk about how much the Republicans are screwing the poorest of us? No. Instead, they talk about a $15 per hour minimum wage, which is a good idea some places and a bad idea others, and they talk about “free college,” even though that will offer essentially no relief to the poorest of the poor. 

And this is the problem with the Bernie Cult. Like right-wingers, Bernie Stans decide on a meme and they stick to it, no matter what. It doesn’t have to be plausible or even relevant to the people we in the progressive movement are supposed to care most about; if they like it, they will go on and on about it, ad nauseam.

Listen to their constant pimping of “single-payer,” which they have re-branded as “Medicare for All,” for example. Now, all progressives want universal healthcare. When someone gets injured or sick, they should not have to go into the poorhouse and lose everything in order to get well. However, there is no such thing as “free healthcare,” so the implication that anyone would get to see a doctor without paying into the system is absurd.

However, when you listen to the Bernie Cult, that is what they tell us.  It’s just a matter of expanding Medicare to everyone who is currently under 65, and that’s all there is. Of course, they forget a few things. For one thing, as it stands right now, to be eligible for Medicare, you have to be 65 and it is assumed you have worked and paid taxes into the system for at least 30-40 years. Most people under 65 have not paid into the system, and many in their 20s, who would be given full coverage under the #M4ALL, have never paid a dime into the system. Therefore, the question of where we get the additional $2-3 TRILLION it will cost to cover everyone is a very important one; one that Bernie Stans simply blow off. If we are going to pay with taxes, federal and state taxes will roughly have to double. Good luck with that. And no, “the rich” can’t foot the whole bill. And if you have a “buy in” provision, the insurance will likely be significant every month. Who will cover that? Employers? Okay, but what provision do you make for those small companies who can’t afford a $15 minimum wage and $1,000 per month for Medicare? While it sounds great to claim only whose making more than $250,000 will see a tax increase, by now, most people know that’s bullshit. Details are important, and Bernie Stans never provide those. 

They also forget that Medicare only covers 80 percent of medical costs, which means someone (employers? workers?) will have to come up with money for the other 20 percent. After all, 20 percent of a major treatment that costs $100,000 is a lot more than most have in their bank accounts at any one time. That means coverage will have to be expanded in some way; either a supplemental plan or taxes to pay for the 20 percent Medicare doesn’t cover.

Then, there is the practical side of things. Essentially, if you implement something like “Medicare for All,” or any other “single-payer” system, you are requesting that everyone give up their current insurance and trust the government. Have you met Americans? How readily do you imagine a majority will accept that demand? Some will, but a whole lot won’t. Imagine the outcry when the government “forces” everyone into “government healthcare.” And if you don’t imagine an outcry, well… there’s a reason I refer to Bernie Stans as politically stupid. The elderly vote in large numbers and anything that messes with Medicare or Social Security will come under fire from them, for sure. 

The other practical side of switching to a single-payer system should be thoroughly troubling to every progressive in the land, given what keeps happening with the federal budget, as well as with the budgets of red states. With a 100% public insurance system, you essentially give the United States Congress control over all healthcare dollars. Even if you do something smart, like set up a separate trust fund for Medicare, you still open up the likelihood of shenanigans on the part of “fiscally responsible” lawmakers. While it is true that Social Security and Medicare have never added anything to the national debt, they have been used to fudge those numbers quite a few times, and the funds have needed bailouts in the past.

Also, consider; private insurance companies cover contraception and abortion, in part because they don’t have anyone to answer to. In a single-payer system, how long before the morality police make certain medical procedures unavailable? Right now, private insurance is often willing to consider experimental and alternative treatments. With Republicans in charge of the healthcare budget, can you imagine that continuing at all? 

The biggest problem the Bernie Cult poses is, they don’t live in the real world. They are much like the far right, in that they don’t seem to have a sense of the real world. And the results of their efforts is to perpetuate right-wing Republican rule, which we can’t afford these days. They serve as the greatest impediment to getting rid of the GOP, which is a necessity if we are to move beyond the current era. 

One more thing:

Bernie Sanders will never be president. There, I said it. I feel better, how about you?

Also published on Medium.

About Milt Shook

A writer with more than 45 years in the political game (and let's face it, it is a game). I am a liberal because facts have a liberal bias, and I really like facts. If you like facts, you'll like this blog. If not, you'll have a hard time.


The Cult of Bernie — 2 Comments

  1. I agree with you 100%. They never gave their support to HRC but chose to believe or even collude with those who pumped fake narratives and made-up scandals about HRC. The media (namely the like of MoJo and Andrea) gave the most fee time to Trump, allowing his bloviating to go unchallenged. They encouraged the most vulnerable among us to sit home or vote for Klein, some eve encouraged voting for Trump rather than vote for HRC. What we are faced with now in addition to those you identify in you local area are the so-called “progressives” who refuse to confess their error and instead are now doubling down on their idiocy. There is no way we would be crying over children in cages, or scared shitless that we are going to lose our Obama health care had HRC been elected. I as so fearful for what might happen if Democrats do not take over the House and Senate in 2018 and the Presidency in 2020. We will not be able to put the evil genie of fascism back into the box with courts we will have and the SCOTUS. Work hard, RESIST! Vote like your life depended on it because it does.

  2. Milt, why is it, time and time again you seem to be the only political writer who knows what the heck is really going on and calls it like it is? What I do not understand is as you said in your article, the MSM very willingly keeps this “Bernie terrifies the Democratic Party” crap going. Do we have to have another 4 years of Donald Trump to get it through the so-called Progressives thick heads that Bernie is not a God and any Republican would kick his butt in a General Election? What is it about this guy that some people have become fixated on and see no wrong in him? His supporters are like Trump supporters in reverse. I would not vote for Bernie Sanders ever. Thank you for this important post.