If hubris and the successful pursuit of headlines were genuine indicators of political aptitude, perhaps Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would actually be the Svengali he’s presently being sold as.
Of course, Sanders, like our president-elect, the Marigold Manchurian Candidate, can rightly lay claim to scoring huge, albeit majorly melanin-deficient, crowds that found kinship in campaigns rallying against a corrupt political system. Unfortunately, only one of those men could seize a major political party’s nomination with a mostly white vote. So, while Sanders was successful in pushing political foe Hillary Rodham Clinton to more progressive stances, he was never a real threat to her campaign. Not only that, but he failed to make real inroads with the folks whose backs the Democratic Party stands on. This is the part where you conjure an image of a black auntie.
After doing so, riddle me this: Who in the hell is this Democrat-come-lately to scold Democrats on all they’ve done wrong?
Following the stunning win of the hatemonger and Republican nominee for president in the 2016 election, Sanders regurgitated the very rhetoric that made him a distant-second-place primary loser in the first place. Indeed, Sanders spoke against “identity politics” while simultaneously repeating the falsehood that Clinton lost because she didn’t appeal to the “working class.” The problem with such viewpoints is that they conveniently gloss over the notion that “Make America great again” is one of the most successful campaigns of “identity politics” in contemporary political history.
Sadly, Sanders can’t stop, won’t stop, doling out bad advice. Moreover, much like the Colby-Jack Führer-in-waiting at his first press conference as president-elect, Sanders can’t stop taking shots at Clinton. Perhaps losing the popular vote is that damaging to one’s ego.
In any event, speaking to NPR’s Morning Edition, Sanders argued, “Look, you can’t simply go around to wealthy people’s homes raising money and expect to win elections.” The Vermont senator went on to declare, “I happen to believe that the Democratic Party has been not doing a good job in terms of communicating with people in cities, in towns and in rural America, all over this country.”
This is the same man who lamented that having so many Southern primaries in the early months of the Democratic primary “distorts reality.”
Hillary Clinton ran an unsuccessful campaign, but to say she ran a bad campaign is disingenuous. Should she have campaigned more in black neighborhoods? According to the results of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, sure. Could she have made greater attempts at reaching out to rural voters, even though they’re not exactly Democratic strongholds? It’s fair to say yes.
That said, Clinton had nearly 3 million more votes than our president-elect and lost by about 80,000 votes in three states heavily affected by voter suppression, an issue that the likes of Sanders and others failed to truly speak on, at their own peril. Clinton achieved this feat despite a media consumed by a nonissue about her email server as it gleefully reported on stolen material secured through hackers so ordered by the Russian government.
Political losses should yield a real examination of what went wrong, but Sanders is someone who, on par with a robot, just repeats what’s already been programmed. The man is not saying anything new or remotely insightful. Clinton performed far better than he arguably ever could have with a diverse coalition that he never enjoyed or made a real effort to build.
Sanders’ lil’ media tour, in which he sings another sad love song like he’s Toni Braxton, is good for Bernie Sanders, but what about the party, and what about the rest of us?
To wit, during a recent town hall with CNN, Sanders was asked if the Democrats, like the Republicans immediately following the swearing-in of President Barack Obama, should obstruct the new commander in chief. “I don’t think that’s what we do,” Sanders answered. “I think where Trump has ideas that make sense that we can work with him on, I think we should.”
Where exactly is that? Trade policy, a grievance shared by both men, came up, and Sanders said that he would be “prepared to sit down and work on a new trade policy which is based on fairness, not just on corporate greed.” One of the great loves of the reality-TV version of Ebenezer Scrooge’s life is greed, so what is the point of saying this?
Republicans were wrong to obstruct Obama, especially when you consider how willing he was to compromise for the sake of the greater good. We see how well that turned out. Now, as we look at a man building an administration very much in line with the demagoguery and exploitation his campaign was known for, Sanders is scolding Democrats based on mythology while pretending that he can get something down with the bigot ruler-in-waiting.
Not surprisingly, when asked if he would run for president again in 2020, Sanders wouldn’t offer any definitive response. He likes the attention too much for that. Although Sanders may be sincere in his stances on the evils of classism, for all the admonishment he’s offered Democrats, he’s shown no sign of learning about his own shortcomings. At this point, he very much just enjoys the sound of his own voice and the attention.
And in hindsight, I wish I had never donated to his campaign. I should have put that money toward a catfish dinner. It would have been a lot more satisfying than he’s turned out to be.