Tuesday, March 1, 2016

When Bernie Loses

Today is the day of reckoning for American progressives, because, hard as it is for me to say, it'll be the day that Bernie Sanders loses.

I'm going to get out there and vote in the Virginia primary, and Bernie Sanders has my vote.  Why?  Because his vision of the best possible future for America most closely aligns with my own.  His domestic agenda would make the United States a little more like our genial friends to the North, and that'd be a good thing, eh?  America could use a little less anger and anxiety, and a little more politeness and integrity.

His foreign policy agenda is remarkably measured and realistic, with positions that make him...ironically enough...the most authentic foreign policy conservative candidate running for office.

But he isn't going to win, and today will be the day that reality is driven home.

There's just no meaningful path to the nomination, not if you pay attention to the real.  The polling and metapolling shows a probabilistically insurmountable lead for Clinton.  She has the carefully cultivated support of her party leadership, those much maligned "superdelegates" that make it hard for a charismatic leader from outside the party to take it over.

 The GOP is wishing it had more superdelegates lately, I'll wager.

But Clinton is also winning on the ground, throughout the Southern states that will vote en mass today and in the big Democratic states that will follow.  Sanders does not have the brilliant Southern and caucus state ground game that Senator Obama used to wrest those delegates from Clinton.

No amount of idealism will change that reality now.  It just isn't going to happen.

None of that changes my commitment to vote my conscience.  None of that changes my profound respect for Sanders as both a person and a candidate.

But it means I'm looking past today, to the very real battle that will follow.

Approaching this constructively is going to be a challenge for the apocalyptic left.

Because within the echo chamber of the far left, the campaign demonization and Othering of Hillary Clinton has been intense.  She is despised as corrupt and calculating, a machine politician in the camp of the one percent, an agent of an oppressive establishment.  She is a creature of Davos and Aspen and Martha's Vineyard, of the networks of a liberal power elite whose failure to both serve and mobilize the used-to-be-working class is written in the Trumpian yarp of the abandoned masses.

Sure, some of that sticks.  But much of it is just good ol' fashioned political demonization, the sort of propaganda that motivates through anger and fear and resentment.  The left is just as prone to that as the right.

And it leads to a question: how much does ideological purity matter?  When the nomination is done, and the dust has settled, and it's a egomaniacal reality television charlatan demagogue versus Clinton?

"Maybe he should win," the thought whispers.  "Maybe that's what we need."

The temptation to let it all blow up, to smash and destroy so you can start afresh in the ruins is strong.  Let things go to heck in a handbasket, and then and only then will everyone realize just how right you were all along.

That is a Ralph Nader delusion, a hallucination born of an ideological isolation chamber, and it does damage.

Life in the ruins is far harder than our imaginings.  Just ask a Syrian, or a Libyan.

Absolutism and binary thinking never work in the real world  They just never do.  Neither do they transform reality for the better.  Because reality is non-binary.

And this is the only reality we get.