New York Times columnist Charles Blow didn’t go far enough: frankly, anybody who subscribes to the “Bernie or Bust” mentality needs to have his or her head examined. I’m sure such scans are covered by Obamacare (i.e., the shameful corporate compromise by that closet Republican in the White House!).
It is unfathomable that so-called committed progressives would selfishly sit out the 2016 general election because they can’t get over the fact that their preferred candidate did not win the Democratic nomination. It is unconscionable that those who claim to want to move America forward would allow the country to race backward over the next four to eight years. It is unbelievable that anyone with a halfway-rational mind thinks “Bernie or Bust” is a good idea.
The hatred that the “Bernie or Bust” camp holds for Hillary Clinton defies logic: how can one love Sanders and loathe Clinton? Both candidates are among the most accomplished public servants of the past half-century: despite their differences, they are united in their compassion for America’s shunned, stigmatized and suffering.
Sanders clearly respects Clinton, but for some reason, a critical mass of his supporters have nothing but disrespect for the former Secretary of State. These supporters have fallen for the false narrative that Clinton worships the wealthy and pleases the powerful–and that Sanders is the only morally sound candidate in the race. The Hillary-as-corporate-sellout meme is just as jaw-droppingly dopey as the argument that there was no substantive difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush sixteen years ago. What did Santayana say about those who don’t learn from history?
By the way, what exactly do the “Bernie or Bust” folks mean when they call Clinton a “corporatist”? Isn’t “corporatist” an inscrutable insult, not unlike the use of the term “politically correct” by right-wingers? I doubt any member of the “Bernie or Bust” crowd can provide a non-convoluted explanation of the term “corporatist.” The term is all sound and fury, signifying nothing.
What will these holier-than-Hillary folks say if Donald Trump is elected President–and his hate-filled rhetoric leads to more Mexicans being mauled by the malevolent? “Oops”? “My bad”? “I wasn’t thinking”?
Neither Clinton or Sanders are saints: Clinton is as imperfect on fracking as Sanders is on firearms. Yet I don’t see Clinton’s supporters threatening to stay home if the Vermonter is victorious in the Democratic primary.
The “Bernie or Bust” folks are just as irrational in their quest for ideological purity as the Tea Partiers who went after Dede Scozzafava, Bob Inglis, Mike Castle and Richard Lugar were. By choosing to stay home in the general election in the event Sanders loses the Democratic primary, these folks could effectively rig the game against the middle class for good.
In addition to harboring a heightened hostility towards Hillary Clinton, the “Bernie or Bust” crowd is notorious for its obnoxious opprobrium towards President Obama.
How many times have you heard the #NeverHillary types lambaste the 44th President as a compromising “corporatist” who stabbed progressives in the back at every turn and genuflected to the 1 percent? (Even Sanders himself bought into this odd narrative: why else would he have called for Obama to be primaried in 2012, knowing full well that such a primary would have weakened Obama in the general election, just as Ted Kennedy’s 1980 primary challenge to President Carter made the incumbent easy prey for Ronald Reagan?)
I’m not exactly sure where the “Bernie or Bust” crowd got the idea that Obama was supposed to be the ultimate progressive warrior: his famous speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention made it clear, to everyone who actually paid attention, that Obama was a pragmatist at heart, someone who believed that reaching across the aisle was a moral duty, someone who was committed to the idea that the red, white and blue, involved, well, red and blue.
That speech–an insight into Barack Obama’s soul–was not a particularly progressive address, and anyone who expected Obama to govern from a perspective of progressive purity apparently failed to grasp the true tenor of that speech. Having said that, progressives made gains during the Obama administration, as Paul Krugman has noted. Too bad some of those progressives don’t seem to appreciate it.
I argued last year that “a compelling case can be made that Barack Obama is one of the greatest presidents of all-time.” Sadly, it appears that Obama will not get the historical props he deserves for his accomplishments–not only because of the revisionist history of the reactionary right, but also because of the revisionist history of the self-righteous “Bernie or Bust”-ers on the left, the Union of the Ungrateful that fails to acknowledge Obama’s victories on economic reform, equality, climate change and health care, among other issues. This time, the cliche is appropriate: if Obama walked on water, progressive purists would say he couldn’t swim.
Like Prince’s parents in “When Doves Cry,” the “Bernie or Bust” crowd is too bold and never satisfied–and they will find new reasons to be disgruntled if Sanders upsets Clinton in the Democratic primary and becomes the 45th president. They won’t be happy once President Sanders compromises with Republicans and conservative Democrats, as he must in order to govern. They won’t be happy if President Sanders authorizes drone strikes and sanctions the strengthening of the surveillance state in an effort to incapacitate ISIS. They won’t be happy when President Sanders makes it clear that he cannot fully, or even partially, implement his economic vision.
Presumably, they will then turn on Sanders and denounce him as another traitor to the cause, another sellout to the “Democratic establishment” (cue the horror music). They will never acknowledge the truth: that governing is hard work and requires compromise. Bill Clinton understood this. Barack Obama understands this. If he succeeds Obama as President, Bernie Sanders will understand this. However, his most fervent supporters won’t–because, at bottom, they do not understand that in this world, you can’t break an appointment with disappointment.