This will be the last post on this blog about Bernie Stans. I mean the last one. No more. In fact, it’s really not about them; I just plan to use them as an object lesson.
Last night, after Bill Clinton finished his masterful speech reminding us that the Clinton years were actually pretty good for the country and that it was the Bushies who blew it and that Hillary Clinton is quite a caring and accomplished person, I started looking around for news. To my shick and surprise (that was sarcasm), much of the news was about a handful of Bernie Stans who had decided to “walk off” the floor and go have a hissy fit because they didn’t get their way. “The media” decided that 30-40 people outside the hall were more important than the thousands inside actually making history by nominating a supremely qualified woman as President of the United States. That shouldn’t surprise anyone, really.
I clicked on a few of the interviews with these people and I found them highly entertaining. It was hard to take them seriously because their claims were so ridiculous, but one really caught my eye. This guy, who was decidedly not a millennial – he was probably in his 40s – actually claimed the Democratic National Committee was “trying to silence Bernie supporters.” I had to Tweet about that, it was so funny. I even added a #wtf at the end.
As I have noted previously, Bernie Sanders was never going to get the nomination. In fact, Bernie himself said he only entered the race to influence the debate. And he did that, in spades. Consider the fact that the Democratic debates featured all three candidates arguing primarily over which one was more progressive. When the hell has that ever happened? I’ve been closely involved with Democratic politics for more than 40 years now, and it’s never happened before, to my mind. Even when two liberals ran in 1980 (Carter and Kennedy), they largely avoided using the “L” word (liberal!), let alone the “P” word. In 1988, when several liberals were running, they couldn’t say “bipartisan” often enough. Bill Clinton was actually very progressive when he ran in 1992, but after 12 years of ReaganBush, those words were dirty. Even in 2008, Edwards was the only viable candidate to call himself progressive (“viable” meaning not Dennis Kucinich), and he was drubbed by two progressives who portrayed themselves as centrists (which is not a pejorative). In 2016, it’s now cool to be progressive and the country is moving in that direction, and we have Bernie Stans claiming that the Democratic Party is trying to silence them? Again I say, #wtf.
In actuality, the Clinton campaign bent over backward to appeal to the (white, well-off, mostly male) progressives who make up the Bernie Stan caucus. Clinton did much the same as Al Gore did in 2000, when he tried to appeal to Naderites and they slapped him down and helped give us the Bush presidency. Once Clinton won enough delegates to get the nomination, she and the DNC reached out to Bernie and gave him a prominent presence on the platform committee and, as a result, we have the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party.
Silenced? Does that sound like they were silenced? Bernie HIMSELF said he was pleased and that he got about 80 percent of what he wanted. Do you know how amazing it is to get 80 percent of anything in a democracy? It’s a miracle! Bernie was able to put Cornel West on the goddamn platform committee! Does that sound like anyone was “silenced”?
If you’ll look closely at this blog, or my Twitter or Facebook feeds, I have never put down Bernie. I love Bernie, and I love what he brought to the debate. But some of his staunchest followers are insane. At the very least, they are naive and politically ignorant. How can you lose a nomination, have the winner concede 80% of the platform to you and walk away feeling as if you’re getting screwed and call yourself politically astute?
The key word there? “Feeling.” Pardon my language, but when it comes to politics, fuck your feelings. ISSUES can be about “feelings.” When a police officer kills an unarmed black man, or a sniper picks off a bunch of cops who are just doing their duty, I feel really bad. In fact, I get sick to my stomach. When it comes to gun laws, which I have been actively advocating to reform for more than 30 years, I have a visceral reaction when I realize that we have technology available TODAY that could eliminate at least a third and as many as half of all gun-related deaths, but we do nothing. I feel really bad that we have allowed the Republican Party to have enough power to eviscerate the welfare system to the point that three-quarters of people in poverty get no assistance whatsoever.
However, that’s not politics.
Politics is about what we do about all of the above. Politics is not about your feelings. Feelings can motivate you to act, but feelings have no place in politics. None. Zero. Thinking that your “feelings” should determine how politics works is much like a surgeon thinking that his motivation to be a surgeon should be sufficient to fixing someone’s heart. Sorry, but I’d be more comfortable if he went to medical school and had practiced for years before cutting me open. That is the politics, folks. It’s how you come up with practical solutions to societal problems. If you think your feelings should be sufficient as “activism” is akin to thinking that praying away cancer is the same as actual cancer treatment. Why the hell do we have doctors, if all we have to do is plead to an invisible being in the sky to repair our hernia, or take a bullet out of our spine, or cure our cancer?
Your feelings should motivate you to want to do something, of course. But effective action requires more than feelings. Just as importantly, you have to realize when you’ve been effective. The Sanders campaign was not built to win; it was built to deliver a message and that message was heard. Seriously, when did some (again, mostly white, college educated and well off male) self-described “progressives” get this idea that, because they love a candidate or a cause with all their heart, that should be sufficient for getting 100 percent of what they want? No one ever gets 100% of what they want.
And as an aside, who the hell ever told these that marching and protesting was sufficient to getting societal change done? I said something similar to that yesterday and a Bernie Stan damn near took my head off. They thought I was pissed, but I was laughing my ass off.
Let me tell you Bernie Stans a secret.
No societal change has EVER happened as the result of a march or protest. Period. Not a single one. I know, you imagine Republicans cowering in fear when they see huge mobs of people walking down a street, but let me assure you, that’s not happening. Marching and protesting and demanding is how you START to make change happen. At some point, you have to make laws that actually put the changes into effect. That was what has been so amazing about President Obama. Remember when this branch of “progressives” was demanding that he just ignore “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”? They gave him loads of shit because he refused to simply ignore the law and instruct military officers to not kick anyone out. But he stuck to his guns, and look what happened; DADT is history, Because he knew we had to change the law. If he had just ignored the law, as they asked, the next Republican president could have actually not only reversed that, but they could have pointed out that, since Obama had ignored it, the law had essentially been rendered moot and he could have instituted the old rules again.
You can’t stop the Iraq War by protesting about it; you also need a Congress that is made up of a party willing to oppose the Iraq War. The civil rights movement wasn’t successful because Black people marched in the streets. Obviously, that’s the case because discrimination against them continues. The reason same-sex couples can get a marriage license now isn’t because gay people marched in the streets; it took political action to make it happen. Do you want a higher minimum wage and debt-free college? As long as you’re trashing the Democratic Party, you will never get them because, without a majority in every legislature that matters, they can’t do it for you. And we all know that the current incarnation of the GOP doesn’t give a shit what you think.
In politics, no one cares about what you “feel.” It doesn’t matter. Politics is not emotional; politics is about cold, hard strategy. Bernie Sanders gets that. What he did was more than most people thought he could do, and he leveraged his relative success to get as much as possible from it. If you’re still butthurt over the fact that Hillary Clinton got the Democratic nomination and you are still spouting anti-Clinton rhetoric because you didn’t get your way 100 percent, all I can say is, grow up. I supported Martin O’Malley this year, and you don’t see me whining about it. That’s because I know for a fact that the Democratic Party is more willing to listen to reason and the Republican Party doesn’t care about anyone, really. If your “feelings” are hurt to the point that you can’t support Hillary Clinton, stop calling yourself “progressive” because you’re not.
Petulance is not progressive. If you “feel” that way, you have more in common with the toddler in the Walmart parking lot having a hissy fit because mom didn’t buy him an ice cream than with a savvy political progressive mind.