I have to admit it; I actually like a lot of what Bernie Sanders has to say. I am a white liberal, after all. I used to look forward to “Brunch With Bernie” every Friday on the Thom Hartmann Show, and I thought he made a lot of sense.
That was a long time ago and this of us with open minds are built to receive input and process it. And that is why I can’t support Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary process in 2020. If, by some miracle, he wins the nomination, I will support him against Trump or whoever replaces him as the Republican nominee, but I can’t support him in the nomination process. Here’s why…
Start with the “Bernie Stans.” Even though I like Bernie, his strongest supporters are nothing short of obnoxious. They’re not obnoxious for supporting him; I can live with that. It’s the way they support him. Their support of him is not based on any sort of reality. He says all the “right things” in their view, which is a sign of political immaturity. However, worse is the fact that they feel like support for Bernie means they have to trash every other candidate.
Most Bernie Sanders supporters are not Democrats. That would be okay, except for the fact that they’re actually anti-Democrats, for the most part. I’m glad Bernie runs as a Democrat, since the alternative would make it easier for a Republican to win. However, his and his supporters’ constant attacks on Democrats are unfortunate and they go a long way toward helping the GOP win, as well.
Bernie Stans do not understand the primary process or that other Democratic primary candidates are not “the enemy.” The purpose of the Democratic primary process is to choose a standard bearer to go against the actual enemy, which is the anti-progressive Republican Party, at least in its current state. The purpose is not to choose the purest, most perfect Democratic nominee in the history of nominees. The purpose of the process is to choose the candidate who is best-equipped to defeat whoever the Republican Party chooses. Bernie Stans have been undermining Democrats for 40 years. They think the primary process is their chance to choose the most “progressive” candidate to go up against the GOP. Either that, or they think the primary process is to “move the Democrats farther to the left,” a notion that is frighteningly similar to how the Right Wing approaches every election. Until Bernie Stans figure out that the primary process is for everyone, and it is to choose the candidate most likely to win election, and not a way to “send a message,” I’d actually appreciate it if they would just piss off.
Bernie is Out of Touch
In 2016, I really wanted to like Bernie as a candidate, but it was impossible. I realize he’s playing to an audience, but that’s part of the problem; the audience he’s playing to seems to be mired in 1968. He didn’t do anything to increase his base of support. He started off with a stump speech, and his stump speech was essentially the same thing he used to say on the Thom Hartmann Show. I went to a few of his speeches and they were all the same.
As we head into 2020, the Bernie stump speech is essentially the same as it was in 2016. And again, it’s much the same as it would be if this was still 1968. All this talk about “establishment Democrats” and “corporatist Democrats” is absurd and from out of a time long ago and far away. This is 2019, not 1968. Of course, people like Bernie and his stans were instrumental in giving us Nixon, even before they gave us Reagan, two Bushes and a Trump.
Bernie and his Stans Don’t Acknowledge the Democratic Base
The constant refrains of “establishment Democrats” and “corporatist Democrats” is not even close to appropriate, especially when you consider the demographics of the Democratic Party.
You see, the Democratic Party is not a white party at all. And since white people own practically everything, how is it even possible for the Democratic Party to be overrun by “corporatists”? The answer is, it can’t. Likewise, the Democratic “establishment” in 2019 are People of Color. This absurd notion that the Democratic Party is being run by rich white men sitting in dark rooms and smoking cigars is insane. In 2016, the Democratic nominee was a woman and the head of the DNC was a woman. When she was driven out, she was replaced with a Woman of Color.
There is a lot of racism among the Bernie Stans, and frankly, a disturbing level throughout the white liberal “progressive” movement. When Hillary won most Super Tuesday on March 1, 2016 in landslides, Bernie and his followers dismissed the wins because they occurred in “the old confederacy.” It never even occurred to them that the vast majority of Democrats in Southern Red States are Black. The dismissal of the “Black Lives Matter” movement was another terribly racist slight by white liberal Bernie Stans, as was the constant pointing at Nina Turner as “proof” that Bernie’s campaign is “not racist.” Pardon me, but that is at least as dismissive of Black people as Donald Trump’s patronizing embrace of Kanye West.
Bernie’s Positions Don’t Appeal to Most Democrats
This goes along with the last complaint, but listen to the Bernie Stans’ constant recitation of the “most important issues” we face and you have to wonder who they think they’re appealing to. I mean, we all agree that climate change is a problem that needs to be addressed, but the Democratic Party is the only viable political group actually doing anything about it. But listen to the rest of the list:
- $15 per hour minimum wage. Perhaps they have been in a bubble, but most cities where a higher minimum wage wouldn’t hurt most businesses, the minimum wage has already risen to between $12 and $15 per hour. The national minimum wage is still too low, but there are many studies out there that credibly make the claim that $15 would put a lot of small business in small cities and rural areas out of business. Hell; by now, even Walmart and McDonald’s have increased their minimum to $11 and Amazon’s minimum is $15 now. Yet, here come the Bernie Stans, still touting the $15 minimum as if they were “fighting for working people.” When you listen to them, it’s clear they think only white people work. And if they care about making sure wages rise, why do they do so much to help elect Republicans?
- Medicare for All – This is basically a name shift. They used to scream and demand single payer, until they realized no one knew what they were talking about. Now, they are trying to use Medicare imagery to peddle single payer. I’ve already discussed this in another column, but the issue is NOT “single payer,” but rather, universal healthcare. As progressives, our goal is to make sure anyone who needs a doctor can see one, and to make sure no family loses everything because they get sick or injured. They are actually trying to sell “Medicare for All” as “free healthcare,” which is a lie. Medicare only covers 80% and everyone with Medicare has a “Part B” supplement plan, which they pay for every month.
- Free college – As usual for professional and unicorn “progressives,” they think everything should be free. We ALL agree that those who graduate college do so with too much debt. The solution to that is “debt-free” college, not “free college.” Bernie and his Stans like to harken back to those heady days when states were offering public college educations for free, which is nice and it certainly evokes great memories, but the memories seem flawed. Those colleges that featured “free” in-state tuition were not the finest colleges in the land. Also, at the time, college was not seen as an absolute necessity, which means every student didn’t have to go to college to get a decent job that paid the bills. Also, the facilities needed at most universities is far more expensive than before and colleges these days implement many more programs than they had to back in the 1960s.
Bernie Sanders and his stans doesn’t seem to live in the same world as the rest of us. I say that because everything costs money, and the unicorn progressive Bernie Stans seem to think we can just raise as much as we want from the rich and pay for everything everyone needs. I urge them to speak to some legislators and ask them how hard it is to raise taxes on everything. The Bernie response of “taxing the rich” sounds great, but it’s not very practical. Even when the top tax rate was 90 percent, few rich people actually paid that much. It would be nice to put the tax code back to where it was, but that will take decades and cause a lot of pain.
Lastly, it’s impractical and unrealistic to imagine that Bernie Sanders can win. If he actually won the presidency, he would one the oldest person to be inaugurated, ever. In September of his first year, he would turn 80. Right now, the office is filled with a fat, obnoxious 72-year-old with no energy. Trump followed the most energetic and vibrant president we have had in decades, and that is what most voters will be looking for in 2020. “Another old white guy” will be at the bottom of the list of attributes Democratic voters will be looking for in the primaries.
Democrats will be looking for someone fresh and new, not an 80 year old white guy who sounds like he’s leading a group of hippies on a march. Younger, more vibrant and in tune with what’s happening in the country in 2020 will be key elements of a successful Democratic campaign. That, and an all-out appeal to People of Color, and not a rank dismissal.
All of this is why the Democratic nominee will not be Bernie.
Also published on Medium.