Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Not Now, Not In This Party, Not In This Country

In his eulogy of Bernard Sanders' presidential run, TA Frank credits the Senator with a "big accomplishment" because he began "as a message candidate and then to what was surely his own surprise, became a serious candidate who posed a genuine threat to his rival." Likely dropping out of the race in the near future, "Sanders will firmly endorse Hillary Clinton, and the party will eventually come together. There will be some hard feelings, but they are mild in comparison to those in past years, including 2008."

Unlike Clinton, Frank implies, Sanders "has a fundamental decency that keeps him from going nuclear on his rivals. " .He "wanted to win, but he never wished to do so at the price of damaging Clinton for the general election. He gave her a pass on her use of a private email server, and he never ginned up a chorus asking her to release the transcripts of her speeches to Goldman Sachs."

Moreover, Frank notes, people who believe if Sanders "had done things a little differently" he would have gained the nomination are kidding themselves because he "obviously had a powerful message that could have been even more powerful if he’d attacked his rival properly. But that’s a bit like saying that a golden retriever would be a great fighter if it just acted more like a pit bull. Sanders is Sanders. He doesn’t go for the throat. "

Frank should have stopped there; better yet, stuck to his argument in the statement above. To the contrary, he writes

Decorum can also manifest itself in weakness. It pains me to echo the Trump line on this point, but when Sanders allowed himself to have his microphone taken away and his own event shut down by two young women in the Black Lives Matter movement last summer in Seattle, he did look ineffectual. It is hard to imagine anyone who was ever elected president—even the relatively peaceful Jimmy Carter—allowing that to happen on the campaign trail. Perhaps Sanders was squeamish about the possibility of alienating black voters, but, if so, that was a poor calculation. Black voters, too, want a president who can stand his or her ground.

Before being elected, the individual has to be nominated, a concept foreign to John Ellis Bush, also.  We don't have the pre-1970 Democratic Party or the party of Jim Webb's imagination.  This is the Democratic Party circa 2016.

When Frank points out "black voters, too, want a president who can stand his or her ground," it doesn't appy to some old white guy telling defenseless (as they would have been portrayed) "children of color" (ditto) to sit down and wait their turn.   Sanders would have been more diplomatic but he would, helpfully, be asking them to wait a few minutes to offer their argument until he was finished speaking.  Distorted, it would have been represented as demanding blacks wait their turn, as their sisters and brothers have been for a long time.

Progressives and the media- left, mainstream, and conservative- would have attacked the Senator, and he would have had to wait till the next ice age or the Detroit Lions to win a Super Bowl before any conservative would have defended him.  If a species known as moderate Democrats remained, it might have  defended Sanders, but moderate Democrats have almost gone the way of the dinosaur. And the powerful core of centrist Democrats, whose raison d'etre is to defend the power and prerogatives of corporations, would be no more likely to defend Sanders against identity politics than would the others.

Bernie Sanders is not being shellacked because of how he handled the Black Lives Matter movement. We have a Democrat who maintains the interests and concerns of non-wealthy people of all ethnic groups are being ignored. He is up against a Democrat who brazenly aligns herself with a) the ethnic groups dominating the Party electorate and b) heavy hitters. The latter includes donors, politicians, and- in the words of Matt Taibbi describing an ongoing phenomenon- "national labor bosses in favor of some party lifer with his signature on a half-dozen job-exporting free-trade agreements."

One candidate emphasizes the danger to everyone (except the extraordinarily privileged) of income inequality and an electoral system dominated by the rich and powerful.  He is losing. Imagine my shock.

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