Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Feelin' the Bern... now what?

Once again... I'm feelin' the Bern.  Bernie Sanders is the first truly progressive Democratic candidate for president in memory (Obama, the Clintons, etc. are essentially center/right politicians - look at their policies).  His views fit with mine more than any other candidate I've had the opportunity to vote for.  And come the California primary, I will vote for him assuming he is still in the race.  And I'm not willing to concede there is no hoe for him to get the nomination at this point. 

But... it does seem pretty likely that Hillary will get the nomination.  Hillary is not my candidate.  She is too cozy with the monied elite for me.  She is too hawkish.  Her economic policies are too far to the right for me.  There are areas where we agree or at least she is much closer to my hopes than not and even on those areas where we are far apart, she is still closer to my dreams than any of the Republican possible choices.  So... if she is the Democratic nominee I will vote for her.  There re two basic arguments why...

First, I think Bernie has begun something important within the Democratic party.  He has re-energized a real progressive movement there that has the seeds of real change in the party.  Since Carter, the Dems have been turning away from working people, worrying more about practicality than what is right, and far too willing to play the role of military strongman in the world.  I felt some hope with the Occupy movement but all too quickly it fizzled out.  This movement has challenged the seat of power in the Democratic party.  Over the next few years, the demographics have shown that the Republicans will have virtually no chance of national offices.  Given that they have doubled down o racism and xenophobia with Donald Trump, this is even more true.  This election will be the last gasp for the Republicans on a national level, we have the opportunity to reshape the only party that will have a chance of electing presidents.  If we pull out of the party, we will lose our leverage.

At the same time, if we remain faithful to the party, Bernie will go into the convention with significant power.  He has already changed the conversation... at the convention and afterwards, he will have power to impact the platform and the agenda the Democrats set for the next few years.  If we stay involved and engaged, which means supporting the Democratic candidate, we have the opportunity to begin significant change in the institution.  If we step back, then like children who've taken their ball and left the playground because we didn't get our way, what happens on the playground will be completely out of our control and we will have squandered the influence this movement has built.

There is a second argument that is equally important: the possibility of a Trump presidency along with a Republican legislative branch and consequently a "conservative" judiciary for another generation.  Trump has built his campaign on racism, xenophobia, sexism, and jingoism.  That is attractive to too large a swath of the American electorate and has energized a group of folk who have been sitting out elections for some time.  If we progressives sit out because we're unhappy with Hillary, Trump just might win.  Let me say that again... if we progressives sit out because we're unhappy with Hillary, Trump just might win.  The same is likely true if we write in Bernie.

Now, I don't think that Trump was the worst Republican possibility... but I still don't think we could characterize a Trump presidency as anything other than a disaster for our country and for the world.  On a personal level, I was embarrassed that George Bush was my president.  I will be mortified if Donald Trump is. He personifies all of the worst things in our culture and I honestly do not see anything of value that he would bring to the job.  Nothing.  Zero.  Nada.

I have heard progressives argue that a Donald Trump is just what we need to push things over the edge and bring about the real revolution.  I find that the most cynical and offensive argument I have heard.  Indeed, it is only an argument that could be made by someone who has life too easy and won't have to endure either the direct fallout of a terrible presidency or the real pains of a revolution.  It is an argument made by a secure middle class white person... not someone whose family is split apart by a president who sends the parents back to El Salvador, a Korean family who are sent off to interment camps because of something done by North Korea, a poor family whose children no longer have school lunches, a woman who cannot make decisions about her own body, a military person sent off to one more unnecessary war only to return home (if he/she returns home) to find inadequate supports provided for their long term needs brought about by participating in war, an individual with a pre-existing condition who suddenly finds themselves without medical insurance,  a retired person who loses medicare AND social security... you get the point.

Like Bernie, I am a Democratic Socialist.  He is my candidate as long as he is a real choice.  If Hillary gets the nomination, I will support her.  I will vote for her.  I will argue for her election.  This election is simply too important to waste with a protest vote or to sit out and allow the Republicans to tear part the social fabric progressives have worked so hard to weave.