Saturday, April 23, 2016

How Will Sanders End His Now Quixotic Quest ?

(Caricature of Bernie and his "bird" is from DonkeyHotey.)

I'm not calling for Bernie to terminate his campaign. If he wants to go through all of the primaries (which last thru June 7th), that is his right. But after that date, it will be time to end his now futile campaign. How will he do it. Will he be a sore loser, and try to destroy his adopted party -- or will he end it with the same kind of grace and unifying fervor that Hillary Clinton displayed in 2008? It could matter -- even if the Democratic nominee gets to run against a weak candidate like Trump or Cruz.

I don't always agree with Charles M. Blow, but his latest column in the New York Times is though-provoking, and well worth reading. He writes:

Hillary Clinton’s commanding victory in New York on Tuesday put yet another nail in the coffin of Bernie Sanders’s candidacy.
As The Upshot’s Nate Cohn put it:
“New York, like every contest at this stage, was a state he needed to win. The result confirms that he is on track to lose the pledged delegate race and therefore the nomination.”
At this pace, Clinton will finish this nomination cycle having won more votes, more states and more pledged delegates than Sanders. Furthermore, Clinton has also won six of the nine general election swing states that The New York Times listed in 2012.
And yet Sanders soldiers on, as is his right.
But Tuesday, Sanders’s campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, told MSNBC that if Clinton doesn’t clinch the nomination by pledged delegates alone, even if she has won the most popular votes, pledged delegates and states, Sanders will still take his fight to the convention. Sanders will “absolutely” try to turn superdelegates, who overwhelmingly support Clinton, and win the nomination that way.
First, barring something unforeseen and unimaginable, there is no way I can see that this strategy stands a gnat’s chance in hell of coming to fruition. It’s a fairy tale written in pixie dust.
But still, stop and consider what this means: The purist-of-principle, anti-establishment Sanders campaign would ask the superdelegates — the Democratic Party establishment — to overturn the will of the majority of participants in the Democrats’ nominating process.
The whole idea is outrageous coming from anyone, but coming from Sanders it seems to undermine the very virtues that make him attractive.
Power — even the proximity to it and the potential to wield it — is truly an intoxicant that blurs the vision and the lines.
Let’s back up and say this: What Sanders has accomplished is nothing short of miraculous. He has gone from a little-known senator from a little state to being a formidable opponent to Hillary Clinton, a person who Gallup called in 2014 “the best known and best liked of 16 potential 2016 presidential candidates.”
And he has done it largely by hewing to a well-worn set of principles and values that he has followed his whole life. This has buttressed his aura of authenticity, particularly among young people jaded by institutions and establishments.
But miraculous feats do not necessarily make messianic figures, and having a meaningful impact does not necessarily create a sustainable movement, let alone a revolution.
That said, Sanders has tapped into a very real populist sentiment on the left, particularly among young people, that shouldn’t be denied. And he has made space for a similar candidate in the future to be more seriously considered from the outset.
He has also shined a light on how differently young people view our democracy, compared with previous generations.
Protests, rallies, marches and, yes, even caucuses, can feel more like direct democracy, where there is no remove between the people and their power. These expressions also offer a crowd-fueled adrenaline rush. This can be particularly attractive to people who have grown up in a social media world of viral videos, where collective outrage or adoration can yield nearly instant results.
Traditional voting is just the opposite. When you vote, you are alone with your ballot, even if your polling place is packed. The vote is private, not a public display of behavior to be instantly liked, disliked or commented on. Voting makes you part of the system, the representative democracy system, on which this country was founded and still operates.
This is not to say that young people don’t vote. They do. But the energy you see at Sanders’s impressive rallies, like those he held in New York, doesn’t always translate into electoral success. There seems to be a bit of a falloff.
While Sanders was campaigning in New York as a movement candidate, Clinton was campaigning as a micro-targeted candidate, appealing individually to each important demographic and burning something into supporters’ memories that they would recall when they were alone with their ballots.
That’s how elections are won. That’s how lasting change is made. It’s not by careening from one movement to the next, spawning of-the-moment hashtags for your activism.
Still, many of these young people have put their trust and faith in Sanders, who may well be a once-in-a-generation candidate, and he and they are loath to wake from the dream of his possible election. But, sadly, every day it feels more and more like a dream, and they will inevitably have to wake up.
Sanders has to figure out how he lands this doomed plane — does he set it down easy so that everyone walks away relatively unscathed, or does he go out in a blaze of glory?
Whatever he chooses to do will say quite a bit about his allegiance to his adopted Democratic Party and about his character. At the end of the day, is his ethos greater than his ego?

1 comment:

  1. I will have a lot more to say in a couple of columns I'm working on -- would have had one in, but one of our cats is on his way to the vet, and until he gets back and is, hopefully ok, I can't really concentrate -- and Em is taking him, so she can't do the editing. Should be nothing serious, I hope.
    But the comment you quote sounds like one I would have written two weeks ago. It's not the column I'd write today -- that seems to be happening a lot. I no longer believe in the Bernie 'ethos' -- if it exists, it is a tiny speck barely visible in the hand=painted mural of his ego.
    I'll try not to 'burn my arm out in the bullpen' because this is precisely the topic I am working on, but I have to ask what those who still believe in a Sanders ethos think it accomplishes.
    There is a tendency to see Bernie as Don Quixote, maybe addled and a little old, but still somehow noble in fighting the gigantic windmill he thinks is a monster. But this just isn't true. There ARE real monsters running around the countryside, and Bernie is accompanied not by the common sense of Sancho, but by a whole retinue of servants, equally driven by his delusions, choosing to obey his commands and attack the windmill, seeing it as the real danger, and not bothering to even aim their guns at the two-headed destroyer that is threatening us. And while Bernie may have none of his enthusiasm quenched as he flies through the air, tossed aside by the windmill, his followers may not have the dedication, the courage, or the stamina to answer the call from the people fighting the real evils.
    An ethos filled with that many lies, that much 'don't YOU dare do it ... but if I do it, I have an excuse so it is okay,' and an attitude that "I'll do everything possible to get my ideas known - and the great nobility that having those ideas shows I possess, except the things actually necessary to even begin to change things so they can happen." Is this ethos or ego?
    I could go on, but I already have aa couple of first-drafted pages on just this, which should make it to Ted's desk in time to be inn tomorrow's posting.
    (And Quint, the Quintessential Cat, seems to be suffering from something minor, which calms one section of my jangling nerves.)


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