Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Friday, February 12, 2016


I like how when Bernie Sanders isn't complaining about how awful President Obama is he likes to try to steal his moves.

He has a new vapid ad out about bringing the country "together." His last vapid ad seemed to me hard to distinguish from a car commercial. No words, open faces. You may vaguely remember it. People seemed to like it.  Like sweet ice cream, already it is melting away...

I happen to think Sanders should maybe inflect his old-school class analysis with an intersectionality that foregrounds white supremacy if he really wants to deal with the forces that are tearing this country apart at the moment. But, you know. "Together."

Maybe he should have supported the president rather than calling for someone to primary him last time around? Honestly. You know, grandstanding isn't fighting. You do know that, people, right?

It's actually a bit of a scam, when it comes to it. Nobody who actually knows anything about revolutions or cares anything about the revolutionary thinks voting for a president of all things is a revolutionary activity -- any more than buying a new cellphone or a different soda pop is revolutionary. That doesn't keep PR assholes from saying otherwise, but presumably we are all savvy about that sort of nonsense. Right? Sanders voters like to think of themselves as savvy, isn't that right?

You know, I have always liked Senator Sanders and I think he is very fine as the very progressive Senator of a very progressive, homogeneous white postage-stamp of a state, Vermont. Sure, even Vermont couldn't get the single payer he is claiming he will magically somehow get for the whole nation which is why Hillary Clinton who fought so arduously and publicly for universal healthcare and then got the S-CHIP program that became the bridge to the passage of the ACA is supposedly evil compared to him and so on and so forth blah blah blah, but, oh hell, why bother? Who needs facts or context? It seems already we're moving on. Time now to demagogue the mostly but not entirely terrible 1994 Crime Bill (which included an assault weapons ban and the Violence Against Women Act, which is why so many Republicans fought it at the time) that Sanders voted for but Hillary Clinton did not. That makes sense.

It's a funny thing, but it occurs to me that President Obama accomplished more in two years than Senator Sanders accomplished in over two decades in Congress. I guess we aren't supposed to notice things like that, or the fact that all the people who actually know Bernie Sanders the politician best are all endorsing... Hillary Clinton. And I do mean pretty much ALL of them. I mean, by a flabbergasting disproportionate extent, but, hell, I guess they are all the Establishment... the establishment of that awful Democratic party that Bernie Sanders never deigned to be a part of until the day he decided he should be THE LEADER of it. If only it were possible to accomplish let alone maintain progressive achievements without sustainable fighting organizations that constitute "establishments," wouldn't that be swell?

And who even knows if Sanders will continue to consider the Democratic Party worthy of his membership as Senator if he happens not to win its nomination for the Presidency. It would seem that that is a question the answer to which can be neither asked nor answered.

It's funny. I'm a democratic socialist just like Senator Sanders says he is -- not always, mind you, but often enough for Republicans to put it in devastating ads that will help Trump or Cruz or "moderate" (he's not -- AT ALL) Kasich ascend to the White House to demolish the Obama legacy and create a reactionary Supreme Court that outlives me. Anyway, as I was saying, I am a democratic socialist, too, hell, I'm an eco-socialist feminist queer, and I have plenty of friends and colleagues who agree with me intellectually on many political questions with which majorities of Americans would not when it comes to it. As it happens, none of those democratic socialist friends and colleagues seem to me any more electable when it comes to it than I think the grumpy disheveled superannuated avowed tax-raising socialist Senator Sanders is (all of those traits of his I share, let it be known) -- but of course you might not notice this right about now, since Republicans are refraining from actually attacking him on these obvious grounds in the wild hope that idiots on our side actually nominate him instead of Hillary Clinton. And, you know, quite apart from electability issues I happen to think none of my friends or colleagues would make good Presidents either. And I think Presidential campaigns are job interviews not some form of self-indulgent feel-good wish-fulfillment cabaret.

It's a curious thing, I guess, but I don't think making lectures about how good single-payer healthcare would be in a world disconnected from the institutional terrain and stakeholders of actually-existing healthcare provision is the sort of thing that makes a good President. I think lecturing well makes you a good lecturer. I'm one of those, you know. That's how I make my living. Lecturing. In a potential President, though, I am impressed instead by things like Hillary Clinton's years of experience, respect from all the relevant stakeholders in the policy-making domain, instant command of complex details on disparate issues, calm demeanor in the face of stress and distraction, organizational ties to a host of stakeholders and players inevitably at the table when the deals relevant to policy outcomes I care about are under discussion. I don't see Bernie Sanders offering up even a smidge of any of these things. At all.

I'm actually embarrassed for the people of good sense and good will who are pretending to see things differently on this score at the moment. Whatever my disagreements and occasional disappointments with the administration of president Barack Obama, he has been the most progressive President in this country since FDR and the most consequential President since Ronald Reagan. That may be an indictment of our history but that doesn't change any of the realities at hand. Senator Sanders is no Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton will support and extend President Obama's legacy. She has that capacity and she says she will, and I strongly doubt Sanders does have that capacity -- if you forgive me for saying so -- and he doesn't even consistently say he will either, which is worse. That's more than enough for me

Sanders had a great first primary. It was a must-win for him and he won it. He outspent Clinton three-to-one and got swarms of independents and first-time voters out. The Clinton campaign was timid, and Bill's frowny face suggests he thinks the campaign should have front-loaded the kick-ass to nip Sanders in the bud. Maybe so, maybe so. Clinton had a pretty good debate tonight. Her closing won the debate and will make a good commercial. The nominating contest is (at last!) about to enter states that better the reflect the demographic realities of the nation and the Democratic base. Sanders voters are about to see, I think, that votes matter more than decibels -- as they have also already seen that responsible people in the organizational apparatus they are so eager to take over actually have some say in the nominating process that will direct so much of their investments and careers. I do think Hillary Clinton will win the nomination -- though it may take longer and cost more than I would like now before she can turn her attention to defeating the white-supremacist patriarchal greedhead gun-nut crazytown GOP. I will be very glad she wins when she does.

If you think I feel this way because I am less righteous or informed or intelligent than you are, well, you just wallow away in that while you can. I hope the weather is nice on your planet. As a democratic eco-socialist feminist queer vegetarian teacher of critical theory I am to Hillary Clinton's left, as I am to any electable president in this country, and as such I will disagree with and fight against and likely pout and post and protest against many things she will say and do... but welcome to the American left, children, that's how it is. Who the hell are you to pretend fighting for anything worthwhile would be otherwise in this sprawling, diverse, insulated, pampered, power mad, bloodsoaked, idiotic, promising country of ours? Do you even know what fucking country you are living in? What kind of privileged oblivious assholes are you people? You wanted to vote for your DreamPrez and then hit the dancefloor? Your radicalism is a consumer fandom, you are being lazy and you are being stupid and I am not being impressed by you.

Sanders supporters need to be mentally readying themselves to vote for the woman they idiotically demonized all this time if (it's when) Sanders loses what may now turn out to be a drawn out affair of determined delegate accumulation. Hillary will win, and then she'll need to win again if we aren't all to lose more than any of us can stand to.


Anonymous said...

I see that you removed the "F__k You" smears from your screed. Perhaps you have a guilty conscience in your hubris for possibly offending blog friends.

--Katie L.

Dale Carrico said...

If I did and you appreciated it, this was an odd way of showing it. Primaries make tempers flare, that's for sure.

jollyspaniard said...

You make some interesting and well considered points. I suspect Hilary might come out looking better through a long drawn out battle with Sanders. She's certainly strengthened as a candidate since she last ran for office and a lot of hard fought debates with and campaigning against a populist blowhard may very well strengthen her in the election.

Dale Carrico said...

It can be hard to keep perspective when you're in the midst of the scrum. I worry that so much Sanders supporter demonization of Clinton is re-activating and consolidating right-wing narratives that will benefit Republicans in the general -- eg, Hillary is "untrustworthy" "unlikable" "not like us" is ways for which no evidence to the contrary can be provided, not least because there is a lot of diffuse structural sexism/ageism at the root of it. Also, while I was initially pleased that Sanders would push Clinton to a left where more voters are and also educate the broader electorate about more radical democratic possibilities in ways that would facilitate future progressive change, I now worry that his campaign is instead mobilizing anti-pragmatism attitudes, fandom-in-lieu-of-organizing, purely symbolic theatricality in ways that do harm to future partisan reform prospects while at once threatening base demoralization and depressed voter turnouts at a time of maximal GOP racist-populism war-on-women antidiplomatic-warhawkery etc. I have long suspected many in the Sanders coalition are phony Dems -- Nader third-party spoilers and Ron Paul adolescent-insurgents, in which case losing them won't imperil Obama/Clinton coalition of the ascendant -- but as the campaign continues on, I'm not sure that slippages are not occurring that threaten to undermine that actually-winning and inherently-progressive coalition at our peril. Not sure if things look scarier from inside than from outside, though. I welcome your observations!

jollyspaniard said...

I don't think your fears are unfounded actually. There certainly has been a lot of anti-pragmatism in the angrier elements of the populist left on this side of the Atlantic which has led to stupidity at times.