By Charles Fredricks
Contrary to what we are encouraged to accept, supporting a politician is not a beauty contest, a horse race, or a marriage. Bernie Sanders may not be a perfect candidate, but he’s certainly the closest to perfect of anyone who’s had a shot at winning since George McGovern (whom I must confess I didn’t support based on the system is rotten beyond repair brand of cynicism).
Gripes over Bernie from the left fall into three categories, ill-founded if you take into account the state of political realities in these dis-united states which you must if you want to be a player instead of a protester. Not saying electoral politics should be one’s focus, certainly not our primary focus considering it’s a game rigged to dissipate anger over underserved human need rather than respond to it, but I favor the advance on all fronts mode to effect political change.
Gripe# 1) Bernie is old and white, and only pretends to care about people of color.
Bernie’s record, from marching with King and working with CORE in the sixties up to the present, reveals these are core beliefs. Unlike other candidates he didn’t get religion on this issue yesterday. Check out his address to the SCLC and youíll see a detailed understanding. The reforms he calls for are comprehensive covering issues of civil justice for blacks and immigrants, but he goes beyond this to address the economic issues that undergird the immorality of civil injustice, something BLM should take greater note of. He doesn’t suffer fools lightly; he’s not one to stand around and argue if you’ve only come to make your own point. That shouldn’t be held against him. Like any pol he responds to being pushed, but doesn’t appreciate being pushed in the direction he’s already going faster than anyone else on the political scene. Still, pushing, if it’s done right, never hurts.
Gripe # 2) He doesnít address the MIC (military industrial complex) directly, or enough.
To me, this is the most valid criticism, but I believe he’s smart enough to know he won’t be able to take on Wall Street without indirectly taking on the MIC. The US public remains only subliminally aware of the fact we’re being used to run an empire. The MIC is more vulnerable over issues of international justice, trade and finance than empire. A direct assault would surely create a backlash significant enough to cause his defeat. He has to give the impression that he might play ball to those who pull the strings, and really run things. What happens if he’s elected, whether he will lead in the best interests of the nation and the world, betraying the hopes of these would-be handlers, or betray the hopes of the rest of us, is a gamble worth putting some energy into considering the rest of the field. Hopefully given political cover he’ll see light in favor of the Palestinians (probably not until after the election). As far as I know no candidate for office (with a rats chance of getting elected) voices anything but support for Israel.
Gripe #3) If he loses the nomination he’ll have to support Hillary: running as a Democrat he’s automatically compromised.
This is morally pure but strategically fallacious. There’s no viable third party, for good reason: the left remains divided and the media remain securely in the grip of oligarchy. By running within the two-party system, leveraged by more massive popular support than evidenced by any other candidate, he forces the media to cover issues no-one else gives prominence to. He’s forced all the Democrats to play catch-up. Despite poll after poll that show the majority of Americans support his views, the media tries to paint him as kooky extremist a Trump of the left. The facts however remain on his side.
The objection that he would have to endorse Hillary when it’s over if he can’t go the distance is the price of admission before the media cameras, in order to raise issues neither party wants to raise it wouldn’t happen otherwise.
Unlike in 1896 when Democrat William Jennings Bryan ran to lose in order to (successfully) deflate the Populist People’s Party, at that time challenging both the Dems and Republicans, the aftermath of an unsuccessful Sanders primary campaign is more likely to lead to the foundation of a populist party than be the death of one. Those energized to support Sanders are free to support Jill Stein or others in the general election. Of course if Hillary is the nominee she’ll play the lesser of two evils card, but we needn’t buy it.
More than any other candidate Bernie acknowledges he can do nothing without the rest of us, before and after the election. More than any other candidate he pledges to address issues of climate, income inequality and civil justice. Any polís promises may be void the day after the election; that’s our system. So the question is, is Bernie Sanders only the lesser of a dozen evils, or is choosing not to support him allowing perfection be the enemy of the good?