Why in the hell are Democrats still accepting lectures from Bernie Sanders? Although the Vermont senator deserves credit for certain accomplishments—pulling younger people into the political process and pushing the Democratic Party in a more progressive direction—it’s not as if the man had that great a shot at becoming the Democratic Party’s nominee for president. Not when he was 3.7 million votes and hundreds of pledged delegates behind Hillary Clinton.
For all the fairy tales about the system being rigged and the “Mighty Morphin Power” Democratic National Committee going against the will of the people, the reality is that more people wanted Clinton as their candidate.
Last year, FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten and Nate Silver wrote this:
As Sanders fans claim that the Democratic primary system is rigged against their candidate and that Sanders wins when turnout is higher, they fail to point out that Sanders has benefited tremendously from low-turnout caucuses. Indeed, if all the caucuses were primaries, Clinton would be winning the Democratic nomination by an even wider margin than she is now.
Somehow, though, Sanders’ failures as a candidate have convinced far too many people that he can solve all the party’s problems. Sanders may presently be the most popular active politician in America, but that doesn’t mean he has the answers to fix the Democratic Party. And what’s most hilarious about this is that he’s not even a Democrat.
Sanders said so himself Tuesday night during an interview on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes. Sanders is currently on a unity tour with the new DNC chairman, Tom Perez, but when asked about party affiliation, he said, “No, I’m an independent.”
To quote Joseline Hernandez, “Ho, why is you here?”
“If the Democratic Party is going to succeed—and I want to see it succeed—it’s gonna have to open its door to independents,” Sanders continued. “There are probably more independents in this country than Democrats or Republicans. It’s got to open its doors to working people and to young people, create a grassroots party. That’s what we need.”
To his credit, Democrat and Republican Party identification is at an all-time low. Moreover, Democrats do suck at mobilizing on the local level. However, many may call themselves independent, but they do have a specific ideology and, in many cases, obvious prejudices. The problem with the latter is that Sanders refuses to acknowledge just how prominent those prejudices are.
At one of those unity events in Kentucky, Sanders said this about the state of health care in the state: “I suspect that the Democratic Party here in Kentucky has not done the kind of job that it should have done. It’s an investment. If people are getting health care, it’s an investment.”
More than 500,000 Kentuckians gained access to health insurance thanks to Obamacare, only Kentucky Democrats long avoided fully embracing it because of former President Barack Obama’s unpopularity in the state. In 2012 Obama barely won 38 percent of the vote, down from 41 percent in 2008. In the 2012 Democratic primary, “uncommitted” netted 42 percent of the vote against an unchallenged Obama. Last fall, a GOP House candidate in the state posted racist images of Obama on Facebook—and then he, a preacher, not only refused to apologize but denied that the images were racist.
This is the part where some—hi, white readers—will insert that not all white people are racist and note that there could be other variables behind Obama’s popularity in states like Kentucky and West Virginia. Sure, but how many reports have we read since the last presidential election in which Tropicana Jong-il supporters are boastful about voting against their self-interest as they profess to continue to support the con they voted for? And why is that? Let me ask my black-ass friend, my trans sis or this dude I know who prays five times a day. If none of them answers, I can text this Puerto Rican bae I know.
If Sanders is to assess why Kentuckians would literally vote against their own well-being, he needs to not simply fault Democrats for not doing a good-enough job talking to the electorate. But no, as he’s shown again and again, he will continue to deny the roles that racism, sexism and xenophobia played in the election.
Last month Sanders said at a Boston rally with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.):
Some people think that the people who voted for Trump are racists and sexists and homophobes and deplorable folks. I don’t agree, because I’ve been there. Let me tell you something else some of you might not agree with, it wasn’t that Donald Trump won the election; it was that the Democratic Party lost the election.
Let me tell you, as far as American elections go, history tells you that white people are gonna white. Yeah, yeah; not all white people are Sarah Palin or Susan Sarandon. I’m not Ben Carson. I got y’all. Still.
Then he tweets out nonsense like this:
Faux Yoda still thinks “Make America great again” was about the rent and the coal rather than the racism and the sexism and the xenophobia. Yes, there are millions of people getting involved, but many of them are the people facing deportation, increased police harassment and hefty amounts of overt discrimination. The party should be catering to them, considering that if more of those darker folks had voted, we would have a President Clinton and Bernie would be saying we should primary-challenge her in 2020 (as he suggested with Obama in 2012). Sanders says a lot about reaching out to 45 voters, but what about voter disenfranchisement?
Meanwhile, at this same Kentucky event, Sanders was asked about Georgia congressional candidate Jon Ossoff and whether or not he was a progressive.
“I don’t know,” Sanders answered. “If you run as a Democrat, you’re a Democrat.” He added, “Some Democrats are progressive, and some Democrats are not.”
The statement isn’t that bad, but you know, a quick Google search could’ve done wonders. Moreover, considering that Democrats are really trying to get that seat (bless their hearts with this runoff), this still reads as pouring cold water on what’s been a motivating story to folks in the party. But that’s what happens when you let a person who isn’t an actual Democrat speak about Democrats. The same can be said for placing so much faith in a person who can say that about Osoff yet endorse an anti-abortion Democratic candidate in Nebraska.
Sanders acts as if the Democratic Party invited him to shoot a docuseries called Bernie, Fix My Party, when, in actuality, Sanders is someone who showed up uninvited to an event and decided to stay long after the club turned the lights on. Sanders is doing well by himself with this newfound role as self-appointed savior, but ultimately, what good is this going to do for the party overall?
When I wrote, “Shut Up, Bernie Sanders,” a pool of liberal tears flooded my mentions as a bunch of Bernie Bros and their equally annoying homegirls seethed with anger. Criticizing Sanders doesn’t make one a Hillary bot, but y’all can keep up that Andrew Sullivan impersonation as long as you see fit. Nevertheless, Clinton can stay on her “Bitch, I Told You So” tour, and the Clintons can go off into the sunset and enjoy their wealth, for all I care.
Frankly, they both lost, and it’s obvious why each did; but the one who performed even worse than the other election loser has managed the feat of appearing to be the one who knows all. Maybe gender is involved? Please advise.
Whatever the case, if his advice includes continuing to pacify people actively engaged or complicit in multiple streams of prejudice, he can keep it. A lot of us are rightly fearing for our lives, and we’re supposed to further coddle the assholes who helped create our nightmare? Even as they vote against their own well-being, to boot?
A major political party lies in peril, and one very shrewd politician has used it to further boost his own profile. Salute to you, sir, but spare me all the same. I’d rather we not relive the 2016 presidential campaign. That buffoon on the right gets a lot of flak for not letting the past go, but the reality star isn’t the only one who needs to let that show go already. That’s actually what’s most grating about this tour and media campaign: We in the club doing the same old two-step. Fucking trip already.