This is for my friends who supported Bernie Sanders. I suppose it is also directed toward all of my friends who believe that, despite everything, they should support the Democratic Party.
One very general thing I would like to say to this: Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Rachel Maddow, Anderson Cooper, and the like will continue to go the way they are going. Everything in their lives, especially their professional lives as politicians and media figures, determines—almost to a metaphysical certainty—that they have to keep going the way they are going. You, my friends, don’t have to.
Bernie cannot (and will not) say this, but some Bernie supporters will say it: There is a lot more in common between Bernie, at his best, and Donald Trump, than there is between Bernie and the other establishment Democrats.
I realize that very few, if any, of you will support Trump. That’s hardly worth talking about. But will you support the party that said to you, if you are a Bernie Supporter, we don’t care about you, it is more important to us that we defeat Bernie than that we defeat Trump? If you do support this party, then you are supporting that conclusion, and not because this is the best way to defeat Trump. It’s not the best way, and it won’t work in any case.
And to others who were/are not Bernie supporters, will you accept this as how things should work? And will you accept the contempt that this party has for you, where it says, “hey, we know we’ve got you, you have to support whoever we put out there, so we’ll have as our front-runner and presumptive nominee …”?
Even apart from the language of “deplorables” and what you think about that (most of my friends disavow it, or say they do, while having supported the candidate who stuck by her language—but I also know plenty out there who are fine with this language), is it not clear that the Democratic Party has nothing but contempt for “ordinary people,” including those of you in some sort of liberal or left bubble who probably don’t consider yourselves to be “ordinary people”?
This nothing for ordinary people is also evidenced by the fact that the only response by Democratic Party and its “left” followers to the virus crisis is to spew vitriol at Trump and his supporters. Big help!
So why stay in this camp where the people who really control things do nothing but spit in your face, and where everyone is just encouraged to be a bunch of maniacal haters?
(By the way, when I said something about the latter point to a friend the other day, adding that it does not appear that, other than some—admittedly significant exceptions—ordinary people who support Trump are not even remotely haters on this level, my friend responded that he “didn’t know about that, what about calling people ‘snowflakes’?” This really sums it all up, right there.)
Really, though, I am writing this post to ask my Bernie-supporter friends: What’s next?
I’d like to know your thoughts—other than just to tell me that “Trump is so bad that …,” etc. Believe it or not, I have already heard this sort of thing a few times in the last few years. If you’re tempted to write something along these lines (or to think it, for that matter), perhaps consider that this rhetoric is simply the hot air that is the only thing that keeps the anti-Trump movement going. And, if you’re in the “Trump is Hitler” or “… worse than Hitler” camp, I frankly consider you to be mentally ill and an anti-Semite.
I am writing a series of articles on the Covid-19 situation, and various aspects of it, such as the popular discourses of “science” and “expertise.” Here is some material from the first of these articles that relates to the Bernie situation:
The evening before Bernie Sander’s suspension of his campaign, I wrote the following:
For sure, the Democrats are in quite a bit of a fix. The only one of their main figures who is saying anything worthwhile and concrete about the Covid-19 crisis and the attendant economic crisis is Bernie Sanders. (He says some crap, too, but leave that aside for the moment.)
The globalist mainstream of the DP, however, has made clear its everlasting disdain for Bernie, and will not support him no matter how sensible and relevant his ideas. Now they have a problem, though, because OP Dems (ordinary-people Democrats and others who want a Democrat to replace Trump) don’t always ask “How high?” when the DNC says “jump!”—and meanwhile, Joe Biden is giving his own bizarre press briefings from the basement of his house in Delaware.
Much of the time he is lucky if he can put one or two sentences together. Therefore, there’s new hope for the DNC, or what they think of as hope—it’s truly sick—in being able to just concentrate their efforts on spewing vitriolic bullshit about Trump.
Sanders has now provided the Democratic Party a way out of this fix. When I first heard the news, I was hoping that Bernie was doing this as a challenge to Biden—but no. His statement that he is suspending the campaign because he did not think it right to go on with a campaign he could not win will be read in two different ways.
Bernie very likely could have “won” if he had been willing to do what needed to be done, to really tear Biden down and to really rip into the power-structure of the Democratic Party and the social system of which it is apart.
Others will praise Bernie for what he is “doing for the country,” and I am not saying this is completely wrong in the context of the coronavirus, but obviously it is wrong in terms of Bernie’s stated aim of putting the defeat of Trump in the forefront, given that the mainstream of the Democratic Party put defeating Bernie ahead of defeating Trump—and now they have succeeded.
As for how Bernie and his supporters will shape the party platform or a legislative agenda, why would that get any further than the campaign did? Bernie will be told to back down, and for whatever set of complex and deeply messed-up “reasons,” he will do this again, just as he has now, just as he did in 2016. The real question for Bernie supporters is how much longer they want to kid themselves.
For my part, I am very sorry to see Sanders pull out, not mainly because I had great hope in what he could do, but because there could have been a different kind of discussion with him as the nominee, especially regarding the possibilities of populism. I was also hoping such a discussion would also push Trump toward being a better populist. But it is no surprise that the DNC and other power-players do not want such a discussion, and indeed greatly fear anything going in this direction.
Again, I will remind those who have supported Bernie, and even those who are desperately clinging to some justification for supporting the worst of two reactionary parties, the leading party of the neoliberal globalism which is the basis for evermore dangerous pandemics, the party that doesn’t care about ordinary working people and is indeed fine with having them die off, the party that holds you in contempt because it feels sure you are caught in the trap of having to support them…
No, you do not have to support this garbage!
Bill Martin is a philosopher and musician, retired from DePaul University. He is completing a book with the title, “The Trump Clarification: Disruption at the Edge of the System (toward a theory).” His most recent albums are “Raga Chaturanga” (Bill Martin + Zugzwang; Avant-Bass 3) and “Emptiness, Garden: String Quartets nos. 1 and 2 (Ryokucha Bass Guitar Quartet; Avant-Bass 4). He lives in Salina, Kansas, and plays bass guitar with The Radicles.
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