The Inane Quest for Political Perfection: The Stans

It’s a simple fact that no one is perfect, under any circumstances. And I can’t think of anyone to whom that applies more than a politician. Any politician. Yes, that includes our beloved Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And it sure as shit applies to Bernie Sanders.

And that’s okay. Actually, it’s more than okay; it’s wonderful. We can’t afford to be like the Trumper Cult. One of that breed told me yesterday that he thought Trump’s “success” had convinced him that we need to elect more business executives as president. Of course, my follow-up was to ask him to name some successes and be specific, and he refused to do so. That is “cult” behavior and makes no sense. We on the left can’t afford to act that way. Our losing streak is too long and that’s no way to reverse it.

I mean, I get it when you choose a candidate and you throw all of your support behind them. However, when you do so, you have to acknowledge the lack of perfection on the part of your candidate and you have to be prepared to support whichever nominee the rank-and-file Democrats choose with their votes, wholeheartedly and without reservation, unless they nominate a far right clown, which they wouldn’t do.

In short, it’s time we learned the real lessons of 2016.

I don’t mean the one in which candidate Bernie was cheated, which is ridiculous. It’s pretty much impossible. The days when fat white men chomping on cigars chose the Democratic nominee have been over for more than a half-century; it is simply not possible to “rig” 57 primaries to favor one candidate over another. It can’t be done.

I don’t mean the one in which superdelegates gave Hillary the win. That didn’t happen. In fact, since superdelegates were created as a fail-safe to prevent a Donald Trump-style candidate from winning the nomination, they have never spelled the difference between winning and losing. Ever.

I also don’t mean the one in which the “rules” made it impossible for “independents” to choose the Democratic Party’s nominee for them. When you register to vote, the rules for voting are on the registration form. If you don’t like them, contact your state legislature and change them. Don’t look at the DNC, for chrissakes. They don’t make the rules.

The 2016 Democratic nomination process was a disaster, but it wasn’t the fault of Hillary Clinton and/or the DNC. It was the fault of the “progressive independents” who form most of the personnel powering the Bernie Cult. They are (at least 95%) white liberals who believe they’re smarter about politics than anyone when the opposite is true. A few of them are Democrats, but for the most part, this strain of lefties eschewed the “two-party system” about 50 years ago, and prefer to try to direct the Democratic Party from the outside, which doesn’t work because it can’t work.

They demand perfection from Democrats, except for the few they choose. In this case, they chose Bernie Sanders because, as a skilled politician (and yes, he is a politician, Bernie Stans), he speaks to his favorite constituents only, and ignores everyone else. Seriously, if you look at it, the similarities between Sanders and Trump are breathtaking. Trump only cares about the 30 percent of GOP voters who are his cultists, and Bernie speaks only to the 10 percent of “progressives” who worship him.

That’s not a problem, as far as it goes. Feeling really strongly about a candidate is fine if you support them the right way. The problem is, a lot of these people are really dumb when it comes to politics. Oh, sure; they can rattle off the names of obscure candidates from obscure districts and tell you how “progressive” they are, based on their definition of the term, but when it comes to actual understanding of how politics works and how you win elections, they’re preternaturally stupid.

Because a lot of these folks have loud voices, and most of them have means, they are able to get their word out to a wide swath of people. And because they are stupid when it comes to politics, they poison the politics. The real lesson that should have been learned in 2016 is that trump won because this very loud group of idiots spent two solid years trashing Hillary Clinton. While there were many factors that contributed to Trump’s win in a squeaker, including Russian Collusion, Facebook’s nonsense, and low turnout, it is impossible to discount the effect of the Bernie Cult on the election, too. After all, she lost the electoral college by a hair; a total of 77,000 votes in three key swing states. Anything could have done that.

However, consider the lingering din of the “why Hillary lost” crowd on the far left. The main claims made by these people are either, “Hillary was a bad candidate” or “Hillary was just not likable.” These are the SAME tropes the Bernie Cult was perpetrating in the 2016 nomination race. They spent TWO SOLID YEARS slamming her that way and yet, they deny any involvement in Trump’s rise to soil the White House by smearing it with shit. They spent TWO SOLID YEARS calling her a “warmonger” and repeating stories that originated with the “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy” of the 1990s and yet, they’ll swear it had no effect because no one listens to them.

Like I said, there were a lot of factors that led to Trump being elected in a fluke, just 16 years after we elevated Bush in much the same way. The main lesson that we should learn from every election since Reagan won in 1980 is, if we get turnout way up, we can eliminate the right wing from power. That was true in 2016, as well as in 2000 and 2004.

I have to be honest here. I see the Bernie Cult being less of a factor in 2020. For one thing, there are likely to be as many as 15 candidates for the Democratic nomination this time, not the one-on-one “race” that happened in 2016. Also, a lot more people are on to the Bernie Stans and their behavior, so they’re a lot less likely to get away with the same crap again. Bernie may not last past Iowa this time. He doesn’t have enough cultists to get much above 10 percent this time. He may not even get 5 percent.

That said, something I saw recently triggered me to write this piece. A prominent professional lefty posted something on social media earlier this week, threatening to “unfriend” anyone who posts anything completely supportive of any single Democratic candidate without “vetting” them first. I liked the sentiment, until I read the comments.

Among the first commenters listed about a half dozen candidates they were considering, but “no more Bernie or Hillary.” The pro lefty who wrote the original post lit into them, chiding them for not keeping an “open mind.” This lefty’s other comments made it clear that THEY were “all in” for Bernie. In doing so, of course, due to their lack of political maturity, they essentially trashed a variety of other candidates, stating it’s because we don’t know what they stand for. This person’s spouse also chimed in, and both were trashing anyone else who wasn’t all in for Bernie and trashing every Democrat who was actually a Democrat. One of them even dug at Al Gore, suggesting that he “lost” in 2000 because he wasn’t “progressive” enough. Actually, that is a kind reading of the comment.

If you support one candidate over another, even if it’s Bernie Sanders, good for you. However, you must realize that it is not necessary to slam all other candidates to support yours. if your candidate is so great, all you have to do it play up their attributes. If you feel like you have no choice but to trash other Democrats, the reality is, your candidate isn’t really as great as you think. No one knows who will emerge from the pack this time, so anything you say against the others can come back to haunts us and give us another Trump term if he hasn’t already been frogmarched from the White House, or another Republican, who will likely be just as putrid.

The bottom line in all of this is, we have one single goal with the next election, and that is to rid ourselves of as many Republicans as possible at all levels of government. Of course, that starts with Trump, but that can’t be the only goal. In 2018, we saw the highest turnout for a midterm in more than 50 years and, if we can did the same for 2020, we can have a new president, a new Senate and an even larger majority in the House, and we can flip a lot more state houses, as well, just in time for redistricting.

However, we have to be aware that there continues to be a force out there that seems intent on hurting Democrats because not all of them meet their personal definition of “perfection.” Here’s a clue, Bernie Stans; neither does Bernie Sanders. If you would apply your definition of perfection to your own cult mascot, he couldn’t pass it, either.

The quest for perfection in politics is a fool’s errand. Ideals should guide you, of course, but it can’t rule you.

Also published on Medium.

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