Thursday, July 28, 2016


Ultimately, it was cowardice that did Sanders in, a cowardice we long saw coming.

One of his key points at the beginning of his candidacy was limiting immigration, especially illegal immigration, as it is so destructive to the employment prospects of the poorer citizens, especially minority (and disabled).  But the SJW’s couldn’t call Republicans racists for anything one of their own major candidates was saying, so that part of his platform just melted away. (Nor did occur to them that the idea might actually be anti-racist.)  BUMP.BUMP.BUMP. He did keep up the fight on the topic of Wall Street and the taxes on the moneylenders, enough that it was his only issue.  Except he never really went after Hillary or Obama on that score, which would have been - how shall we phrase this nicely...friggin' obvious.  He just kept saying the system is rigged, without being too specific about that. And another one bites the dust.

Being a Vermonter, he wasn’t a big gun-control guy, but he changed his mind on that, too, as the zeitgeist of his party was against him. And another one bites the dust...

He had a chance early on with Hillary’s emails but wanted to play nice, or perhaps didn’t want to give even a teeny bit of ammunition to the Republicans, even if it benefited him.  In hindsight this is very obvious, but even then there were public voices pointing out that lack of security can lead to unnecessary wars – a powerful kick against Hillary without even mentioning Iraq, Libya, or Syria, and very much in keeping with Bernie’s more pacifistic stance. Of course, had he kept pushing however softly on the email issue throughout, she would be handing him talking points about competence and honesty without his even having to go after her. Hints and nods would have been fine.  A few more states, a few more delegates, then go ballistic leading into the convention and you are home.  In retrospect, that would coincide with Comey’s report well enough to look like the fix was in in his direction. But even without that good fortune, he would have been solid. Does he not want Hillary to yell at him or something? And another one gone and another one gone...

He kept going with the free stuff for kids program, especially student loans or college in general, and that remained popular. When his wife bankrupted Burlington College it didn’t seem to bother his supporters one bit, so the attacks from outsiders could have been handled by either defending his ideas strongly or defending his wife.  Even if you are wrong and seem hypocritical about the ideas, people will be okay with you defending your wife. They’ll write it off. And another one bites the dust.

He didn’t defend his wife, just quietly changed the subject every time. Avoided talking about it.
In the end his supporters did the heavy outrage work upon learning that another system was really rigged – the nominating process. Bernie just folded like a pressed-metal tray table, spindly legs deforming for no reason. Had he taken Jill Stein’s offer and become the Green Party nominee he would have gotten 15% of the vote and made it a legitimate national party for the next ten years.  Not a bad legacy. And what would it have cost him, really? He ended up defending nothing he believed in. Hey I'm gonna get you too.

The reasons in favor of endorsing Hillary come down to two: he feared she will hurt his career in some way, because he knows she’s a vindictive person.  But what career beyond a few years does he have anyway? He’s 75.  The other reason is disliking the idea of a Trump presidency so much that he would give up anything to prevent it. That will play well in some corners, but not in all. I don’t know what percentage of his supporters believes Trump is so horribly worse than Hillary that they should swallow their electoral voice over it, but it’s not unanimous.  Some of those kids are thinking of the long run and figuring a Trump term can be weathered, but the Democratic machine must be destroyed. Sanders could also have asked his supporters to vote their conscience – or bolted Green and asked them to vote for him.

This seems generation-appropriate for BernieBros


james said...

I hadn't thought of him that way, but yes, it does fit. I'd checked out what his plan and record was, and flagged him as culpably ignorant (at best) and focused my attention on his supporters instead.

Sam L. said...

I'm guessing he was just in it for the money and the adulation, not that he was serious about it.

Ben Wyman said...

At least vocally, he got into it for one reason - he wanted to change the SYSTEM, without a lot of specifics - and then, once he became a sensation, you could feel him buy into it as it went. Yeah, maybe I am the man for the hour. Maybe everyone's right about me. I thought he allowed the emails because he seemed to feel a sense of "what is this? What are we even doing here? Why do I want to score political points off this? We're supposed to be focused on real things." It was the most I ever liked him, because it seemed the most true to themselves anyone had allowed themselves to be in this whole dumb process.

The questions I have pertain much more to his tumbling, graceless exit. Was it that he couldn't let go? Was he too angry to bow out? Or had he refocused and aimed his power at affecting the party's platform (which DID work)? I don't know, but I think narratively, that last one will end up being his legacy.

RichardJohnson said...

Regarding Sanders's cowardice, look at Venezuela.During his current campaign Bernie Sanders has declined to comment on Venezuela. Sanders supporters get infuriated when the Sanders variety of Socialism is compared to Real Existing Socialism in Venezuela. "We mean Socialism as practiced in Scandinavia! How dare you bring up Venezuela! [President Maduro has expressed support for Sanders.]

Yet in previous decades Sanders was an outspoken supporter of Marxist regimes in Cuba and in Nicaragua, a support that spanned decades. This would at least imply support for Chavista Venezuela, whose strongest allies are Cuba and Nicaragua- as in the 1980s, ruled by Daniel Ortega.

In the 1980s, in his capacity as Mayor of Burlington, Bernie Sanders was not so bashful, as he spent a lot of time defending Cuba and Sandinista Nicaragua. After all, it is very important that a small city in Vermont has its own foreign policy. Or at least that the mayor of a small city in Vermont has his own foreign policy.
As Bernie Sanders has declined to comment on Venezuela, he has made no statement about the food lines in Venezuela. However, in his capacity as Mayor of Burlington, Bernie Sanders did make a statement in support of food lines in Sandinista Nicaragua.

Bernie Sanders: It’s funny, sometimes American journalists talk about how bad a country is, that people are lining up for food. That is a good thing! In other countries people don’t line up for food: the rich get the food and the poor starve to death.

Couldn't you just hear a Chavista honcho informing the public that long food lines are Chavismo's guarantee that the rich won't get all the food and that the poor won't starve to death? Funny thing, the longer the lines, the less food there is.

RichardJohnson said...

In 1969, Bernie Sanders wrote a defense of the Castro regime: Vermont Freeman _Cuba: The Other Side of the Story.[pg 5]. He admitted that his "main source of information" was Monthly Review, a journal with a Marxist perspective, albeit a perspective somewhat independent of the USSR and the PRC. Sanders was not a complete shill, as he pointed out that Monthly Review left out some important facts about Cuba.

The facts presented in the article, to be sure, do not tell the whole story of the Cuban situation. They do not tell, for example, about the lack of civil liberties in Cuba..or why tens of thousands (including workers and peasants) have already left Cuba.

Having made that disclaimer, Sanders went on:
They do, however, present a side to the Cuban Revolution which is very rarely presented to the American population; a side which needs to be told if Americans are to gain a more intelligent perspective of Castro's Cuba than they have at present.

In blunter terms, Democratic Socialist Sanders wanted Americans to "gain a more intelligent perspective of Totalitarian Socialism as practiced in Castro's Cuba."

Sanders went on to quote Monthly Review verbatim:
The statistics prove that a revolutionary approach to the problem can bring down sickness and death rates in the short space of eight years in a way that is not possible in Latin America without socialism."

First: As Sanders quoted Monthly Review without comment, he implicitly agreed with what Monthly Review stated. Second: No one will claim that what transpired in Cuba was Democratic Socialism. What transpired in Cuba was unabashed Totalitarian Socialism.

So a more accurate statement from Monthly Review would have been:
"The statistics prove that a revolutionary approach to the problem can bring down sickness and death rates in the short space of eight years in a way that is not possible in Latin America without totalitarian socialism."

Most important, the Monthly Review quote does not correspond to the facts. The percentage reduction in the crude death rate from 1960-1968 was 19.2% in Cuba, compared to a 19.1% reduction in Latin America and the Caribbean. [In absolute numbers, Latin America reduced its death rate by 2.3/1,000, and Cuba reduced its death rate by 1.7/1,000]. Monthly Review's claim that only [totalitarian] socialism can bring down death rates so quickly was and is a false claim, as Cuba's performance was only slightly better than that for Latin America and the Caribbean in percentage terms, and slightly below average in absolute terms. The following countries had a higher percentage reduction in the crude death rate than Cuba for the 1960-1968 period: Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Venezuela of horrid Fourth Republic fame, Nicaragua, Honduras, Brazil, El Salvador, and Colombia.

So-called Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders parroted a false claim about the alleged accomplishments of the Cuban Revolution, in order that Americans "gain a more intelligent perspective " on Totalitarian Socialism as practiced in Cuba.Why would a so-called Democratic Socialist parrot a false claim in the defense of Totalitarian Socialism? Just wondering.

When asked about Venezuela, Bernie has declined comment, probably hoping that his previous stands on Latin America will be forgotten. He couldn't make a statement favoring freeing political prisoners?

Death rate, crude (per 1,000 people), % decline 1960-1968
Latin America & Caribbean (developing only) 19.1
Costa Rica 28.1
Dominican Republic 27.9
Venezuela, RB 24.7
Nicaragua 24.0
Honduras 20.6
Brazil 20.4
El Salvador 19.3
Colombia 19.3
Panama 19.2
Cuba 19.2
Guatemala 18.5
Chile 18.5
Peru 18.3
Ecuador 17.6
Haiti 17.3
Mexico 16.5
Bolivia 13.6
Paraguay 8.7
Uruguay 0.7
Argentina -4.7

World Bank: World Development Indicators.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

This was a common Marxist argument in the 1980's. they had given up on the Soviet Union at that point, but still thought the "harsh but necessary" programs of the Chinese and Latin Americans were worthy of a second look. Well they have to. they have so many years of backwardness to undo that it's the quickest way forward. You just don't understand. They'll surpass the American model, any day now. The tens of millions dead in the Great Leap Forward and ther Chinese revolutions were not yet well known in the west.

Anecdote: Right wing crazies, led by Presbyterian Carl McIntire, picketed the Chinese Ping-Pong team's tour when it came to William and Mary in 1973 or so. They claimed that Mao had killed more Christians than Hitler had killed Jews and we wise students groaned that they could believe such ridiculous exaggerations. They seriously underrated the truth.

Here's your take-home lesson about right-wing crazies; they don't know the tenth of it, but they always think that the emergency is going to happen ten times faster than it actually does. The truth is bigger, slower.

Jonathan said...

My sense was that he wasn't in it to win and thus wasn't willing to do anything that might damage Hillary's chances enough to make the Clinton/Democratic machine his enemy. Thus the pulled punch on the email scandal when he might have scored a knockout. He is old and has enjoyed a safe career in a quirky sinecure he carved out for himself. Perhaps it wasn't reasonable to expect him to charge into enemy fire as his swan song.