Bernie Sanders is still trying to win the Democratic primary—since every bit of support he gets between now and the end will help him influence the platform at the convention—but let me tell you, the media does not like it. I watched in fascination last week as pundit after pundit lectured Bernie—using the same arguments, and even the same language—for having the audacity not to roll over and die.
Because, you see, it’s Bernie’s job to pretend that Hillary Clinton has lots of momentum (she doesn’t), that Democrats are unified behind her (they aren’t), that she cares about progressive policy (nope), and that she’s a stronger general election candidate (currently losing to Donald f’ing Trump). If he goes so far as to say the system is broken, and that Clinton is a symptom of a broken system, well then…my God, people might think it’s true! DANGER! DANGER! Last, it’s his job to police every single one of his supporters, and to make sure they don’t get angry about anything, ever, because passion is dangerous and the best way to secure real change is to ignore all our problems and trust that they’ll somehow get better.
The tide of pundit disapproval was so overwhelming that I quickly began to fear I wouldn’t be able to catalogue it all. No sooner had I copied and pasted one link then two more sprouted up, like a goddam hydra of establishment groupthink. I’m sure—heartbreakingly sure—that one or two slipped my grasp. But reader, I don’t want that to happen to you. To keep you on top of every hysterical call for decorum and/or capitulation, I have compiled a murderer’s row of punditry. Each of the articles below is like a glorious finger wagging in the face of anyone who dares to dream of a progressive future, and they were all published within the last week.
Enjoy them, and please remember that hope is for children, while adults quietly and politely bow to authority and find a silent corner in which to die.
Eugene Robinson writes:
Bernie Sanders is playing a dangerous game. If he and his campaign continue their scorched-earth attacks against the Democratic Party, they will succeed in only one thing: electing Donald Trump as president…I say this as someone who shares much of Sanders’s political philosophy; I, too, for example, see health care as a basic right. He has run a remarkable and historically significant campaign, pulling the party to the left and pumping it full of new progressive vigor…the Sanders campaign is behaving like a 2-year-old who can’t have ice cream for breakfast. All along, Sanders and his aides have claimed that the party establishment was unfairly tipping the scales in favor of Clinton. Now the Sanders people have gone further and are deliberately stoking anger and a sense of grievance — less against Clinton than the party itself. This is reckless in the extreme, and it could put Trump in the White House.
Translation: If Bernie tells the truth about how Clinton and the centrists don’t give two shits about progressives, they might not vote for her. He should lie, so we can stay entrenched in whatever rotting halfway-to-hell system we’re in now. Also, I completely agree with Bernie, but here are 1,000 words demonstrating that I’m too much of an establishment hack to stand by my convictions.
Jamelle Bouie writes:
When he derides most Democratic primary voters as everything wrong with a party of “limited participation and limited energy,” when he looks for ways to nullify Clinton’s popular vote and pledged delegate majority, when he touts his support among working-class whites and dismisses (predominantly black) Southern Democrats and their votes, Sanders is attacking the coalition that elected Barack Obama—the coalition that arguably made his progressive movement possible—whether he realizes it or not…And all of this is counterproductive to his stated goal of pulling the Democratic Party to the left. If Sanders is going to have any influence—if the Sanders coalition is indeed the Democratic coalition of the future—then his supporters need to see the party as a viable vehicle for their interests, a place where they can win victories and move the needle in their direction, which isn’t possible if they view the entire political system as irreversibly flawed.
Translation: Bernie needs to convince to his voters that it’s totally possible to push progressive reforms through the Democratic establishment, even though his entire campaign is predicated on the obvious truth that no, it clearly fucking isn’t. PS Bernie is racist.
Jonathan Chait writes:
Sanders has his reasons for staying in the race. They may not be entirely terrible reasons. Maybe he wants the chance to continue speaking about his policies through the last primary, or perhaps he wants the leverage to push through changes to the nominating process. But, given the overall stakes of his behavior, his decision is also maddeningly narcissistic…It’s remarkable that the opponents to Donald Trump, who (accurately) depicted him as a con artist, an authoritarian, and an existential threat to their party’s character have all stepped aside, even in the face of mathematical odds less daunting than those of Sanders, who continues to fight on. It’s possible that both Sanders and the Republican opposition to Trump care less about stopping Trump than anybody expected.
Translation: Sure, maybe there’s a super logical reason for Sanders to stay in, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a raving egomaniac who lacks the integrity of all those Republicans that don’t oppose Trump anymore.
Jeff Stein writes:
It’s time to accept a harsh truth: Bernie Sanders is not going to win the Democratic nomination to be President of the United States…Of course, it’s technically possible for Sanders to still get the nomination. But what he would have to do would take some Herculean efforts. He would have to pull off multiple landslide victories…Sanders will likely get a few symbolic wins over the next few weeks in states like Kentucky and Oregon, which vote on Tuesday, and later in North Dakota and South Dakota. Every time he wins a state, a rush of stories will come out that give the impression Bernie is building momentum in the race…Don’t let them confuse you: Just because Bernie is still running doesn’t mean he’s still in the running. It’s time our national conversation reflected that reality.
Translation: Here’s some incredibly basic math-y shit you already knew about how Hillary will win the pledged delegate count, and if you’re wondering why I’m stating the obvious again, it’s because me and my bosses at Vox are angry that a guy who started polling at two percent has now won 45 percent of the votes, and people are talking about him. Stop talking about him! There’s nothing to see here! Ignore the angry progressive man, take this pill, and slip into the cool comfort of the status quo.
Michael A. Cohen writes:
I’ve had with it his moral preening. I’ve had it with his simplistic, one-dimensional view of American politics. I’ve had it with his labeling anyone who supports his opponent as fundamentally corrupt and a handmaiden of the 1 percent. I’ve had it with his never-ending list of excuses for why he’s not doing better. I’ve had it with the exaggerations he tells his supporters about his chances of winning. I’ve had it with his refusal to demonstrate any leadership as these same supporters crudely attack Sanders’ political opponents…
...the only way one can argue that Republicans are winning a majority of working class voters is to ignore working class blacks and Hispanics, which appears to be what Sanders is doing. I suppose they don’t count because they are overwhelmingly backing Clinton…considering the importance of non-white voters to the Democratic Party, how Sanders thinks he can prevail among party leaders to support him for the nomination when he is dismissing this group is mind-boggling…I have little doubt that Sanders will disregard the many calls for him to cool the rhetoric, end the attacks on Clinton, and focus on the fall campaign against Trump and electing more Democrats to Congress. I have equally little confidence that Sanders will acknowledge defeat after the last primaries and instead will take his fruitless battle to the convention. To follow a better course would require Bernie Sanders to be a different person and his campaign to be less of an embarrassment than it has become.
Translation: First, I AM AN ESTABLISHMENT PUNDIT ARMED WITH RIGHTEOUS ANGER! TREMBLE BEFORE ME! MY WORDS SHALL LAND LIKE WAR HAMMERS UPON THE SOFT SOIL OF YOUR HIPPIE BRAINS! Second, Bernie is racist, and any time he advocates for working people he’s actually just hating all minorities. Third, I don’t agree with progressive politics, so here’s me whining like a coddled baby until it becomes obvious that even the slightest challenge to my prevailing worldview sends me into a peevish little fit.
Kurt Eichenwald writes:
Yeah, these are exactly the kind of people who Americans want to have as the next president’s base—vicious, sociopathic misogynists. And their threats of violence at the convention is just another sign that Sanders could go down as one of the most destructive forces in American history. Riots and flames at the convention—a repeat of the chaos of the 1968 Democratic Convention—would help open the White House doors for Donald Trump when compared with a nose-holding coronation by Republicans at their gathering in Cleveland…Meanwhile, Sanders reacts with mealy-mouthed mumbles, saying he doesn’t support violence while doing literally nothing about it and claiming that—contrary to the statements of witnesses, reporters and video recordings—his violent supporters aren’t violent. Trump would be proud of the disingenuous delusions vomited up by the candidate.
Translation: (I actually have nothing here, because this was hilarious. “Vicious, sociopathic misogyniststs”? “Disingenuous delusions vomited up by the candidate”? That’s gold. How many keyboards did this guy pound into pieces while writing this article? I mean, even by the standards of the hysterical pundit class, Kurt Eichenwald needs to find some chill. I’m a little worried about him, actually. But mostly entertained.)
Joan Walsh writes:
The defections of some supporters, the increased skepticism of even once-friendly cable hosts, and a rebuke by Politifact isn’t fatal to Sanders’s campaign, of course. What will be fatal to Sanders’s future as a mass-movement leader—as opposed to the messiah of an angry, heavily white, and male cult—is his continued insistence that his enemy now is not so much the corporate overlords, or income inequality, or the big banks, but a corrupt Democratic Party, epitomized by Wall Street flunkie Hillary Clinton, that has “rigged” the election to thwart him—as he raged in a tone-deaf speech Tuesday night, as cable news was showing the texted death threats to Roberta Lange in the background (which Sanders did not even mention)...
I don’t accept the presumption of moral and ideological superiority from a coalition that is dominated by white men, trying to overturn the will of black, brown, and female voters or somehow deem it fraudulent…If you’d told me a year ago that we’d go into Philadelphia with 45 percent of the delegates committed to a socialist, as a firm flank on the left, backed by the many millions of Clinton supporters like myself who also identify with the left, I’d have said we were on the verge of transforming the party into a vehicle for racial and economic justice. Now I’m afraid of what’s coming.
Translation: Instead of talking about actual political problems, Bernie Sanders should go on a nationwide apology tour to answer for some text messages that he has no control over. PS, Bernie is a racist and misogynist. PS, on paper all this progressive support looks great, but who knew they’d have to be so impolite to the establishment? Why can’t we try to change things without being critical?
Thomas C. Bowen writes:
Yet Sanders and his supporters carry on. This is enormously frustrating for those of us who call ourselves Democrats and have participated in the party for years…Elected officials who support Sanders and consider themselves Democrats have a larger responsibility to their party and to the constituencies they represent. Every minute Sanders continues to forcefully challenge Clinton — and every dollar he forces her to spend contesting him — is benefiting Donald Trump…those Sanders supporters who consider themselves members of the Democratic Party should be horrified by what Sanders supporters are doing and should forcefully condemn it. Further, it is their responsibility to step up and bring their colleagues together to back the party’s nominee for president…But it is not a choice that should be met with silence from those of us who consider ourselves Democrats. It’s time to step up, back our nominee and end this divisive contest.
Translation: Same shit as before, but more boring because it’s the Chicago Tribune, a tepid joke and a hollow shell of a newspaper. I miss Crazy Kurt Eichenwald.
Clare Foran writes:
But in the long-term, the same strategy could undermine Sanders’s goal of creating a lasting political movement. If the campaign suggests the primary election has not proceeded fairly, its supporters may give up on the idea that political reform is even possible. The Boston College political science professor David Hopkins describes the risk this way: “Complaints about a rigged system may breed more apathy and cynicism than motivation to remain productively active in party politics,” he wrote in an analysis of the Nevada convention. “If the lesson drawn by Sanders and his supporters from the 2016 nomination race is ‘the fix is in’ rather than ‘good start—let’s get ’em next time,’ it will be harder to sustain momentum for their agenda within the Democratic Party and the electoral arena more broadly past the end of this campaign.”
Translation: I keep reading all this concern trolling about Sanders supporters being too passionate, so how about I flip the script and concern troll about how they might not be passionate enough at some point in the future? Either way, we can all agree that he should stop all this “the system is corrupt” nonsense and fall in line.
Sally Kohn writes:
It’s also too easy to suggest that Sanders’ supporters are a different kind of angry than Trump’s. Are we entirely sure about that? The populist right may be more inclined toward misogyny and xenophobia, but the populist left is not immune from these afflictions. And as I’ve written before, when you see progressive white men—many of whom enthusiastically supported Barack Obama’s candidacy—hate Clinton with every fiber of their being despite the fact that she’s a carbon copy of Obama’s ideology (or in fact now running slightly to his left), it’s hard to find any other explanation than sexism. Either way, the brutish, boorish behavior of Bernie Bros (and their female compatriots, too) was a huge reason I was reluctant to seemingly side with them in endorsing Sanders—and has been the only reason I have ever questioned my decision to do so since…Let me be clear: I am all for populist mass social movements and even anti-elite revolutions. The sooner the better. But what I am not for is hate and violence in the service of those ends, movements that seek to lift up their marginalized base by marginalizing others.
Translation: I am a level ten concern troll because I’m also a Bernie Sanders supporter, even though I wrote the most pro-Hillary Bernie endorsement ever and got rattled by a few boos. The only reason white men might have an issue with Hillary is sexism. There are no differences between Trump supporters and Bernie supporters. I’m all for revolution, as long as it’s a totally abstract concept that doesn’t rear its ugly head in the real world. Yay Bernie!