Friday, June 24, 2016

"Berxit" Begins

No, that isn't a typo. I'll be writing more about Brexit (a/k/a "The Failed Neoliberal Project Comes Home to Roost") in a later post.

This is about a different exodus.  Bernie Sanders made "Berxit" all but official this morning, telling MSNBC that he'll definitely be voting for Hillary Clinton this November.

But be heartened, Bernie-or-Busters. Just as it will take Prime Minister David Cameron a little while longer to finally skulk off in abject defeat, so too will Berxit be a gradual process. Just as Cameron doesn't want to upset the Market God by bolting from Number 10 too precipitously, before his successor is officially named, so too does Bernie not want to completely alienate his own supporters before his big prime-time consolation speech at the Philadelphia convention late next month.

These things must always be eased into delicately. Sanders has been giving none-too-subtle hints of his coming endorsement of Clinton, announcing just the other week that Priority Number One in his "revolution" will be "joining with" Clinton to defeat Donald Trump. How much more nuance can we stand?

That "joining" has now gingerly advanced into voting. The voting will soon evolve into endorsement and an official nomination ceremony. The nomination will morph into a honeymoon of Internet fund-raising, and TV ads, and campaigning for - or perhaps even with - Hillary on the stump. It's not so much a revolution, it's a transition toward lowered expectations.

I don't know about you, but I much prefer my band-aids to be ripped off in one quick tear. All of this incremental teasing the adhesive off of the scab that Sanders is playing at just prolongs and intensifies the agony.

You see, just because he is voting for Hillary. Bernie still doesn't want you to think that he's abandoned you, let alone dropped out of the presidential race. He delivered yet another barn-burner of a speech to supporters on Thursday, ticking off each and every progressive policy demand for inclusion in the Democratic platform. He titled it "Where Do We Go From Here?" in apparent homage to the last book written by Martin Luther King Jr before he was assassinated. King, too, tempered his own radicalism by urging pragmatism to the "militant" Black Power movement leaders. Change doesn't happen overnight, he said, nor does it happen with any one politician's election. And violence never gets you anywhere. Of course, King was writing in the days of the Great Society and the civil rights legislation born of his own brilliant activism. Neoliberalism -- control of societies and economies by unelected oligarchies and banks -- was still a distant nightmare back in the 60s.

Bernie Sanders just seems to be having a clumsy time evolving from his role as a presidential candidate who raised millions of dollars and won millions of votes into the perceived role of non-affiliated radical movement leader, following in the footsteps of Dr. King.

Although King, too, had urged his often-disappointed followers to run for public office, he had never sought or held office himself. He was never co-opted by the Democratic Party. And not only didn't he ever vow personal political fealty to Lyndon Johnson, he spoke out vociferously against Johnson's militarism, imperialism, and the Vietnam War.

Bernie is not speaking out against war. Although a vague critic of "regime change" and CIA dirty tricks, he actively supports President Obama's drone assassination program and has voted for billions of dollars in military appropriations in his capacity as senator. Posing as an outsider his entire political life, he is nonetheless a consummate insider -- despite what his colleagues and the mainstream media like to pretend. He's voted with Democrats more than 90 percent of the time.

Yet the pundits are still complaining about Bernie's continued "failure to concede". 

What does Bernie even want? is their tired, constant and agonized refrain. For every day that he stays in the race, he's only hurting Hillary and boosting Trump, for crying out loud!

Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times delivered the latest appeal (published only hours before Bernie went on Morning Joe to all but smother Hillary with kisses), urging him to stop it already with the wishy-washiness. A girl can't wait forever for the engagement ring, especially if she is "less adept at campaigning." Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Hillary from Rosenthal, but still:
Bernie Sanders is making his exit from the Democratic primary campaign in such slow motion that it’s starting to feel like he might still be in the race at Christmas.
Rosenthal then pivots to the standard media Bernie-diss of comparing him unfavorably to civil rights icon John Lewis, a "real" revolutionary who continued the struggle this week by staging a sit-down strike against gun violence (and paradoxically supporting the continuation of the anti-democratic No Fly List while he was at it.) Lewis still has the scars on his head to prove his bona fides. All Bernie has is a head of wispy white (white! white!) hair. This is identity politics run amok, served up by the Times to obfuscate the class war of the feral rich against the rest of us.

"The chilling scene in the House was just a taste of what Sanders followers will risk if they do not throw their undeniable enthusiasm behind Clinton and other Democratic candidates, and the G.O.P. holds Congress and wins the White House in November," Rosenthal scolded.

Bernie just can't win, no matter how valiantly he tries to passive-aggressively throw both himself and his supporters under the neoliberal bus. The pundits will probably still be asking him what the hell he wants 20 years from now. If there is, in fact, such a thing as 20 years from now in a United States of America.

Even in the wake of the mass outrage and disgust and despair evidenced by the Brexit vote and the rise of Trumpism on this side of the pond, they just don't seem to get it. They're still unwilling to acknowledge their own complicity in the creation of the worst social and economic inequality in modern history. 

Brexit, Berxit: The leaders of the free world are still stuck in the desolate room which Jean Paul Sartre described so brutally in No Exit. Nobody's willing to acknowledge the reasons for their own damnation, other than to say "mistakes were made." Even when salvation in the form an open door is offered to them, they refuse to leave, preferring instead the safe misery of each other's own dead company. "Hell,"wrote Sartre, "is other people."  

Our planet is alternately frying and drowning from a lethal overdose of capitalism, yet the smartest people in the room still waste precious time kvetching about a rapidly cooling Bern.

Their own insecurity is showing. Panglossian denial of the awful reality no longer suffices.


Pearl said...

What Martin Luther King Really Thought About Lyndon Baines Johnson

The release of Selma has sparked controversy about the former President's role in the Civil Rights movement. A 1964 LIFE article written by King hints at the complexity of their relationship

Jay–Ottawa said...

What's the thinking behind Bernie's slow fuse burnout? Well, maybe Bernie or Debbie Wasserman came across an old issue of Popular Psychology in an airport lounge. Or, maybe somewhere in the annals of Freudian lit––great stuff for a political consultant to know––there's an insight that goes something like this: if you switch gears suddenly, change your mind without notice, turn on a dime, spring a surprise––abrupt moves like that––then you give other people a jolt. People don't like to be jolted, whether in the back seat of a car or running full tilt behind a revolutionary bandwagon that just slammed on the brakes.

Most people would say in disgust, "Huh?" or shout out "WHAAAAAT??!!" Surprise can lead to anger. But there's a better way to bow out, which is to s l o w l y b o w w o w o u t, slowly drop a word now and then that you might ease up in the great cause of peace and unity as you lay off staff one by one, day after day. Over the course of a couple of months Bernie in this fashion can morph into a Hillary stalwart. Only time-lapse photography might clue in those who let themselves be berned.

Buyers remorse, regret and disappointment in Democratic ranks will be less of a problem for the DNC than outrage. So Bernie heads into the sunset to tilt against Trump; and the sheep, most of them, will bleat, but not all at once. In July they will sort of mill around the periphery of the Philadelphia Convention Center in a bit of a daze. By November, they'll be ready to vote TLOTE.

There's a professional way and an unprofessional way to run a con, to bait and switch, to sheepdog, to Pied Pipe, and, now we know, ladies and gentlemen, Bernie's a pro. He can do it in a kinder, gentler way. And, of course, he'll continue the good fight quietly inside the Democratic Party. Real s l o w.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

I feel sorry for the progressives. We keep getting our hopes up . . . first Obama, then the Occupy Movement and now Bernie. We keep waiting for a leader or a movement to save us.

The only hope I have at the moment is the movement Ralph Nader is trying to start.

I'm so over Bernie.

On to Brexit.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Bernie's so passé; the new attention-getter certainly is Brexit, which may become Brexnot, or Brexin. Whatever, just give the elites a little more time to turn the Brexit vote around.

Cameron says he's going to resign late next fall. Right! Does it take that long to clear out your desk? Could it be there will be a change of mind among the people by then?

So say more and more writers the morning after. The punishment of neolib-induced and neocon-induced headaches are about to crown the people's vote. Your money on a rollercoaster. It's 2008 all over again on the eve of another big US election. How long until the Brits and everybody else say "Uncle (Sam)" and crawl back to the "stability" of the USA's EU cum NATO?

Pearl said...

From Tim Canova:

I’m outraged this evening to report to you that the Democratic Platform Committee -- which was stacked with establishment hacks by Debbie Wasserman Schultz -- voted down progressive values like Medicare for All, an indexed to inflation $15 minimum wage, a moratorium to ban fracking, and an amendment to stop the TPP.

This is disturbing because, once again, Wasserman Schultz has succeeded in plunging the Democratic Party further to the right on behalf of her huge corporate donors.

How many times are we going to let the establishment completely ignore grassroots activists and working Americans who are fighting to create a country that works for everyone?

It’s time for us to rise up and take back our party -- and I agree with Bernie Sanders that the only way we can accomplish that is by electing new Democratic Party leadership and ensuring the end of Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s corrupting influence in our party.

Make an express contribution of $10 to our campaign to join the fight against corporate greed and influence in the Democratic Party. Together, we can show Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her establishment friends that this party belongs to us.
Anything is possible when people come together around a common goal, and, together, we’re going to reclaim the Democratic Party from the corporate establishment hacks.

In solidarity,

Tim Canova for Congress

It seems like Bernie Sanders' influence is still needed. Pearl

Patricia M. said...

Pearl - I nearly always agree with you. And I do this time, too. I think all of us are still needed - and it seems the only way we can get the attention of the powers that be is to simply not vote for Hillary Clinton.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

This from Common Dreams By Lauren McCauleyvia Truthdig

"During a 9-hour meeting in St. Louis, Missouri on Friday, members of the DNC’s platform drafting committee voted down a number of measures proposed by Bernie Sanders surrogates that would have come out against the contentious Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), fracking, and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. At the same time, proposals to support a carbon tax, Single Payer healthcare, and a $15 minimum wage tied to inflation were also disregarded.

"In a statement, Sanders said he was “disappointed and dismayed” that representatives of Hillary Clinton and DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz rejected the proposal on trade put forth by Sanders appointee Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), despite the fact that the presumed nominee has herself come out against the 12-nation deal.

"“Inexplicable” was how Sanders described the move, adding: “It is hard for me to understand why Secretary Clinton’s delegates won’t stand behind Secretary Clinton’s positions in the party’s platform.”

YEAH, RIGHT, Bernie! What a shocker that Hillary mouthing platitudes to get some of your supporters over to her camp is openly ignored by the DNC. Like anyone with a brain couldn't see that one coming!

I think this shows how much Bernie is going to move the Democratic Party to the Left. It ISN'T going to happen, people!

Bernie's supporters need to vote with the Green party. Writing in Bernie is a waste of a vote. The Green's may not be perfect but they are the only party out there that is remotely interested in changes that matter to me. We won't win, we aren't fooling ourselves. But we can get the matching funding if we get enough voters and the powers that be cannot continue to deny us access to the ballots if enough of us vote and kick up a stink. I don't love the Greens but if we are looking for a Lesser of Two Evils option, the Greens are it.

And don't worry, thinking Republicans are NOT going to vote along party lines for a buffoon like Trump. They will cross over and vote for the REAL Republican candidate, Hillary Clinton.