That’s Not How It Works

Look, I know people aren’t going to be happy about this, but I’m not feeling it where Bernie Sanders is concerned.

I like Sanders, really I do, I’m glad he’s in the Senate. I’m glad he goes on and on about “billionaires” and such. But he seems way out of his league where presidential politics is concerned. And while the stuff he says shows that we agree on what’s wrong, it just smacks too much of him telling progressives what they want to hear. None of it is grounded in reality, in the reality of what a president can actually get accomplished. Have people been asleep for the past 8 years?

I spent some time going through his January Twitter feed. Mostly it’s him railing against Wall Street and such, serving as a progressive cheerleader: “We will no longer tolerate an economic and political system that has been rigged by Wall Street to benefit the wealthiest Americans.” That’s fine, every candidate needs their fist-pumping moment. Rally the troops, etc.

But then there’s some stuff that’s just undiluted, Trump-like bombast. It’s, “I’m gonna wave my magic wand and change will just happen by virtue of my awesomeness!” Dude, that’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works!

For example:







None of these are things a president can actually do. Surely he knows that his Supreme Court nominee, assuming they get confirmed, can’t just magically undo Citizens United, right?

How can anybody take this guy seriously? Jamelle Bouie at Slate tried. Bouie took Sanders’ “revolution” rhetoric at face value and concluded that it will take more than that for Sanders to accomplish any of the stuff he says he wants to do.

Let’s set aside reality and pretend for a moment that Bernie Sanders wins the White House. As Bouie notes,

…the world where a self-described socialist wins the presidency is a world of tremendous political change, where untapped and new voters flood the polls to lift Sanders—and his Democratic fellow travelers—to victory.

But even if thousands of new people show up to vote on election day and lift Sanders to an unprecedented win, that doesn’t change a gerrymandered House, it doesn’t change partisanship, it doesn’t change the country’s ideological divide or the Republican Party’s intransigence, it doesn’t change the Tea Party’s existence, it doesn’t change any of that. The idea that by merely electing Bernie Sanders (and down-ticket Dems) we’ve created the change that will usher in the progressive agenda is just such horseshit.

Please don’t tell me that it’s going to be different this time, that Bernie Sanders is a transformative candidate who brings all of these new people into the process, the “millennials” and such. Yeah, those same millennials who can’t be bothered to vote, ever, until we invent a cool app for them. Look, that’s what we said about Barack Obama. And yes, Obama got elected — twice! — and we also lost the House, the Senate, a whole bunch of state legislatures, and saw the rise of the Tea Party.

So I just can’t take this shit seriously. I’m a pragmatist and a realist. I don’t have time for fairy dust and magic wands.


Filed under 2016 Presidential Election

27 responses to “That’s Not How It Works

  1. Randy

    There is merit to your argument, of course. Ultimately for the changes you reference to be made to the current system a lot of old white men will first have to die. Unfortunately for me I’m an old white man. So…what do you propose as a more realistic alternative?

    • That’s the point, isn’t it? We need to have a conversation about that. We need to talk about what can be realistically accomplished and how do we do that? Because pie in the sky BS is going to leave everyone disappointed. For me, that means voting for the person who can realistically get more incremental changes done, and perhaps harnessing the energy of this so-called “revolution” to make sure it happens. But let’s not think for a second that a President Sanders will be breaking up big banks in his first year in office or overturning Citizens United with his first Supreme Court nominee.

      • Jim in Memphis

        Do you think the person that can get things incrementally changed is Hillary Clinton? Do you see the Republicans working with her on any of her ideas?

      • I don’t know. They sure didn’t work with Obama, even when his ideas were THEIR ideas (Obamacare, cap and trade, etc.) But she could at least get elected. And I think there are a lot of centrist Democrats who would work with Hillary who wouldn’t work with Bernie. When you come in and just say, “I’m gonna do this big grand thing!” without the power to do it, you look like an inexperienced fool and will be treated as such. I think Hillary is savvier than Bernie on the politics and will be able to muscle more things through. She certainly has been dealing with RW assholes for the past 20+ years and negotiated with plenty of hardliners as SoS.

      • Randy

        I don’t think nuanced debate is a hallmark of the U.S. electorate. Our brothers and sisters like blockbusters, spectacle. I’m not saying that’s desirable I just think that’s reality. Regardless of who wins the upcoming election a good half of the electorate will hate them. And at the risk of sounding conspiratorial I think Wall Street is quite content with perpetual gridlock.

  2. I really dislike Bernie Sanders. I like some of his ideas and hope Hilary can incorporate them in her campaign. But as for Bernie, I’ve never “felt the Bern” and I never will.

  3. Kathleen

    I had not seen those tweets. I knew he was tone deaf (criticizing President Obama and running as a Democrat) but I didn’t realize how messianic he is. He’s far worst than I thought.

  4. Shutter

    I’d rather lose with Bernie for all the right reasons than win with Clinton for all the wrong reasons. And as for talking about unachievable ‘grand things’, do the words ‘Hope and Change’ mean anything to you?

    Gender politics disgusts me. And as far as I’m concerned thats the sum total of Clintons appeal. “Its our time”… jesus, its time get out of junior high school electioneering isn’t it? Everythng else aside from gender she brings to the table is grafted onto her by the party apparatus. Appointments, safe senate seats in a state she’s never really lived in, family connections via the hubby… The only thing she’s really achieved is to project the image of an angry, demanding and privileged member of the pre-nobility.

    ‘Pie in the sky bs…” give me a break. At least Bernie is saying the things ordinary people want to hear, things I want to hear — whether or not he can achieve any or all of them only the future can tell but at least he’s SAYING them. Clinton, on the other hand, seems to rely on her political pedigree and gender with a good fat touch of ‘don’t criticize me or you’l feel my wrath” tossed in for those uppity peasants.. the voters.

    If you’re happy with the way things are going now, vote for Clinton — because you’ll get the same thing. Soldiers dying in idiotic wars all around the world? Lap it up, you’ll get more of it. Schools going to shit? Sit back and enjoy. Wall Street barons safe under the wing of the party ripping us off? Better like it, ’cause she’ll give you a heaping spoonful of the same thing. Jobs being shipped off to Swaziland? Enjoy it, Clinton will sign off on your jobs, your pensions, your freakin’ LIFE to secure her family position. She’s been been tone-deaf up to this point, wait until she’s in the White House. Then you’ll really know her for what she is. But, hey, by then its gonna be too late huh? You won’t have “pie in the sky” you’ll be eating crow on a piece of stale bread. And loving it no doubt.

    • “If you’re happy with the way things are going now, vote for Clinton — because you’ll get the same thing.”

      And with Bernie we won’t also get the same thing?

    • Prup (aka Jim Benton)

      Word Press swallowed my first comment, but I think I can duplicate it, because, my befuddled friend, I want to know who you are rooting for, President Trump or President Cruz. That’s your choice, if you’d rather ‘lose with Bernie.’ The Republican Party Establishment would be glad to offer you someone else, the less-awful Christie, Kasich, or Rubio. (After his defense of Rick Snyder, I don’t think anyone wants JEB! any more, like even the religious nuts have given up on Santorum and Huckabee.) Unfortunately, they don’t have the votes — and trump might have been right about being able to shoot someone in broad daylight on 5th Avenue and keep his support,

      And it’s only four years, right? (Except for those three or four SCOTUS appointments — both of your candidates have said they want someone like Scalia or Thomas — who will be around longer. At one time Justices wound up serving 5-20 years before death or retirement, now 30 years is more the norm.) I’m sure you can survive your ‘choice of evils’ but who is it? Is it the orange-haired anti-Muslim, anti-woman bigot who would turn America into a bitter joke among the rest of the world? Or do you prefer the Senator — so personally unlikable that most of his party that have to work with him hates him — who proudly touts his support from Kevin Swanson — who wants to reinstitute the Biblical Death sentence for gays — and from members of the New Apostolic Reformation like Mike Bickle and Lou Engel (whose members believe they are the inheritors of the apostles and who claim the same ‘supernatural’ powers as the original ones — several of which also claim to have raised the dead.) And that’s not even considering his father and surrogate, a biirther with a collection of paranoid fantasies — including Jade Helm — that rivals Glenn Beck’s.

      Sure, we’re both ‘safe.’ I’m old enough and in poor enough health that were Vancouver not be willing to accept me, I’d feel no desire to stick around to see if there even would BE an election in 2020. And I’m sure you are reasonably well=protected against the violence and anger that your chosen candidates would unleash. I;m sure you have a good enough job to pay for reprivatized health insurance, and don’t have any pre-existing conditions that could be uused against you. You don’t seem to be a religious, ethnic, racial, or sexual minority, afaik, Maybe you have Nordic White skin, so no one will see a tinge of darkness and force you to prove you are not a Muslim or other hated group.

      You have enough sexual knowledge that you can prepare and make sure you and your children don’t fall into an unplanned pregnancy, and you can afford to pay for the other services that you could once have gotten from the Late Great Planned Parenthood — the grave is already dug next to the one ACORN is already lyng in. And while I seem to recall that you are a fellow atheist, you’ll have no trouble mouthing the meaningless ceremonies that may become more and more necessary for promotion as the Christian Nation takes over, And you can afford good private school, if you have any kids, so you don’t have to worry about the public schools falling apart around the students, or curricula shaped by the equivalent of the Texas Board of Ed. And you’ll never be homeless — and take it from someone who has twice lived in men’s shelters (out of necessity, not for research) you wouldn’t enjoy the sensation or the company.

      You’ve watched Jindal, and Brownback, and LePage, and Christie, and McCrory, and Bennett, and Rick Scott and Scott Walker, but voting for the party they ornament would be better than voting for Hillary.

      Or maybe you think that ‘things will get so awful it will start a revolution. (Of course, no revolution I can recall started that way. It always starts with a period of slow progress that is decided to be too slow, then we get the Revolutions, American, French, all three Russian, and the anti-colonial ones. (If Rick Snyder causing the second worst American tragedy in American History, second only — perhaps — to 9/11 and one that will be much harder to reverse, if that didn’t cause a revolution, what will?)

      But, on behalf of my gay friends and fellow bisexuals, my fellow atheists and non-Evangelical Protestants, on behalf of my black and Hispanic friends, on behalf of those who were unable to leave the shelter life, on behalf of poor parents and poor people, all I can ask is that, if you are sure that vting for a Republican would be better than voting for Hillary, will yo at least register as a Republican so you can help choose which load of evil you wish t give the rest of us.

      • Shutter

        Jesus, you don’t have a clue do you? Bother to even read my post before your fingers started twitching in response? Or is it simple comprehension problems?

        I never said anything about liking Cruz, Trump or any other republicans. As for the rest of your post since it seems to be based on the idea I’m in favor of some republican, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

        No wonder it got some applause from SB. It says all the right things for exactly the wrong reason. To make it crystal clear, should Bernie get the nomination I’ll be voting for him. Should he not get the nomination I’ll be voting for Jill Stein. Should a meteor fall out of the sky and land on Clinton, pounding her a mile underground I’ll **applaud**.

      • Prup (aka Jim Benton)

        And I would question how many clues you have, or how your reading comprehension skills work. You are what I have begun to call a “Barnberner” who would burn the barn down rather than settle for a second choice — and who will be, once she has the nomination sewn up, be eagerly supported by your own chosen candidate.

        I never said you supported Trump or Cruz. I simply pointed out that the result of your action helped grow the possibility of them winning. I still think it is miniscule, but it also encourages the Democrats to act the way they do too often and not fight as hard as they need to in order to defeat a Republican Congress.

        [I took a break there to handle some ersonal stuff and to watch the returns, and something happens that makes me need to jump to your ‘meteor’ comment, something which is always inappropriate. But a friend dropped by. Last year, a person cheated me out of a couple of hundred bucks, and could have hurt my relationship with my best — and most needed — friend, who was involved as a go between.
        [I was informed that I could not expect to get my money back, because the person who cheated me had died of a heart attack. I didn’t feel the slightest satisfaction at hearing this, only small concern for a family member of his I had met in another context.Am I really that eccentric, that unusual that I could never imagine, over a far more personal thing, having the thought you expressed, And I could go with the oe person who, fifty years ago, did the one thing that I have never found the capability to forgive. Maybe I wanted him to be humiliated, to be exposed — especially after he became ‘important’ enough to be named to a Presidential oomission. But even thinking about his death, writing about it, the way you did about someone who has many of the same goals you do, maybe there’s just something missing in me, but it is beyond me.]

        The slow count has gotten things later. I will return to this tomorrow, but I had to make that point, correct a few missed predictions, and shut down the browser.

    • I’d rather lose with Bernie for all the right reasons than win with Clinton for all the wrong reasons.

      Then you’re an idiot who’s voting out of feelings of self-righteousness rather than caring about what Bernie is trying to accomplish. Because make no mistake, losing will mean the Republicans will roll back everything he stands for. Winning the election is far more important than which candidate does it.

      • Shutter

        Roger.. “Winning the election is far more important that which candidate does it”. God, what an abjectly sad and ultimately defeatist way to look at it. When did you lose heart? McCarthy? Dukakis and his tank? Betrayed by Obama and now you’ll switch over to republican lite so you’ll never be a sucker again?

        Winning the election and shoving a warmonger like Clinton back into office will not give you the reward you thing you deserve. More likely, it’ll be more of the same slow grind into oblivion you seem content with.

        As for calling me an idiot? >Fuck you<. I'd put that in caps but shouting is rude.

      • Hillary Clinton is the warmonger? Seriously? Are you even serious right now? Under a President Hillary we’re going to have another war, but you don’t think a President Trump would be sending in the bombs the first second Vladimir Putin insulted his precious ego?

        Every single Republican has pledged to tear up the Iran nuke agreement the second they’re in office, the same nuclear agreement that Hillary negotiated when she was SoS. She set that up and left it to Kerry to bring it across the finish line. But HILLARY is a warmonger?

        This just shows how out of touch with reality the Bernie supporters are. And how much so many far-left people have internalized 20+ years of Clinton hate orchestrated by the far right.

  5. Ginny Welsch

    Who ever said “by merely electing Bernie Sanders (and down-ticket Dems) we’ve created the change that will usher in the progressive agenda”? No one that I know. Obama promised the moon but turned into what he always was – Republican light – after actually winning. Good god, he REVIVED a dead Republican party after he won. WTF?

    Since Bush, the Democrats had 4 years when they held the reins of the house and senate and they refused to pass anything even remotely Democrat or progressive. Why? Because they don’t really want to. They want all the goodies of feeding the the trough and none of the heavy lifting to actually implement the agenda they so gratuitously run on, (but don’t believe in), the agenda that actually benefits real human beings. They – the Dems and the Rethugs – are all on the same team.

    Clinton is more of the same, more of the neo-liberal BS Bill ushered in that is literally destroying the world, and made human suffering the norm. Enough is enough.

    Someone needs to articulate a vision, clearly, to start the process of making that vision a reality. Someone has to be willing to get in the trenches and fight for that vision, even if they lose. Someone has to challenge the existing power structure head on, no matter the risk. That is Bernie Sanders.

    I have been convinced since day one that he will be assassinated. Because when the elite realize Sanders has real traction, he is a threat to their place at the top of the heap. So he will have to be silenced. And you will only silence Bernie Sanders if you make sure he is dead.

    I will vote for Clinton if she ends up the nominee, fairly. I don’t want and won’t support Wasserman Schultz or anybody else trying to manipulate the process to protect the status quo.

    Sanders is forcing a conversation that is long past due. A conversation that will hopefully change the Democrat trajectory in these elections. We don’t need more lip service by self-serving Dems. We need a fundamental change.

    It will take time, and faith, and effort, but the sooner we start the sooner will get there.

    • How about the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act?

    • “I have been convinced since day one that he will be assassinated.”

      Funny, I thought that about Obama.

    • “Who ever said “by merely electing Bernie Sanders (and down-ticket Dems) we’ve created the change that will usher in the progressive agenda”?”

      Bernie himself says that! That’s his “political revolution.” What the hell do YOU think that means?

      “Someone needs to articulate a vision, clearly, to start the process of making that vision a reality.”

      How does “my Supreme Court nominee will overturn Citizens United as one of their first decisions” do that? When that’s not how it works? You need a case, the right case, and you need the other justices to vote with you.

      For that matter, how does a Trump Supreme Court nominee do that? But I digress, we’re not talking about electability here, we’re assuming Sanders can get elected (which I don’t think he can, but let’s set that aside for a moment).

      How does “within 1 year, my administration will break up big banks and private insurance companies and take over for-profit credit rating agencies and make them non-profits” articulate a “vision”? That’s not a vision, that’s bombastic narcissism. How different is that from “I’m going to build a be-YOOO-tiful wall”?

      You know, a president can’t just take over a private institution, by himself, or even with Congress, unless that institution and its shareholders want to be taken over. That’s not how it works! A president can’t be Hugo Chavez and just take shit over. A president can’t say to a for-profit company, nope, you’re a non-profit now! Shazam! And by the way, isn’t that what we call Communism?

      I just can’t take this seriously. I’m glad he’s speaking and Tweeting about income inequality but he has absolutely no clue how to do any of the stuff he says he cares about. It’s like he’s the protest candidate who got so much further than he ever expected and now it’s like “oh shit.” Sorta the liberal version of Trump.

      I agree that he’s forcing a conversation that is long past due. Occupy Wall Street did that too, God love ’em. He’s definitely pushing Hillary Clinton to the left, and I’m grateful for that. He’s definitely been a positive in this race, don’t get me wrong. If nothing else, he got people to shut up about the “no coronations” stuff. But again, I can’t take the notion of President Bernie Sanders seriously.

    • Prup (aka Jim Benton)

      Oh, and one minor point. Yes, it is barely possible that, Bernie could be elected, but he’s likely to have much shorter coattails. A Hillary v Trump match-up could win us the House and Senate. To quote Paul Ryan yet again “We COUKD manage to hold on to the House if Trump were nominated.” Even stating it — by the Republican Speaker — shows he or his questioners have serious doubts about what once was a certainty — and still would be if we nominated Bernie. He might even keep the Senate in Republican hands — and THEY have to approve SCOTUS appointments.

  6. I have a young friend in his early twenties who was actually too young to vote in the 2008 primaries. He asked me if I was feeling the Bern? I replied, “Does it really matter who wins the primaries?” without even thinking. After he questioned me I told him that I have always voted in the primaries. I told him that I voted for Hillary over Obama. He stated that he too favored her in the primaries.

    Honestly, I don’t think that the U.S.A. can risk a Trump or a Cruz presidency. I don’t think that anything important would be lost with a Bush, Rubio or even some of the third tier guys as long as they didn’t have a republican congress to work with.

    For the love of the Goddess, we can never risk a Trump presidency. It’s looking like he is the guy that the dickhead party is likely to nominate. In a head-to-head race, Hillary wins. I will go down in history as voting for Hillary.

  7. As an “oldie” who volunteered in the McGovern presidential campaign in the lead up to the 1972 election and witnessed the humiliating 62% to 38% defeat of my candidate to Tricky Dick Nixon, with its disastrous outcome for the nation, including three more years of war in VietNam I can tell you that ideological purity, while it gives you a warm, smug feeling of superiority is no substitute for advancing your agenda with a viable candidate, warts and all, who can win the fight. There is much about HRC I do not like, however, she will not repeal the Affordable Care Act, she will not place another knuckle-dragging Scalia clone on the Supreme Court, she will not institute the kind of religious tests that certainly the end of times evangelicals supporting Cruz would embrace, nor would she destroy Social Security and Medicare by implementing privatized voucher systems and she would not be a belligerent, bombastic, volatile narcissist with no conceptualization of how to effectively govern with his hands way too close to the nuclear button as the scary Republican front-runner most certainly would be. Please, let the Democratic Primary chips fall as they may…then go out and aggressively promote, support and vote for the winner of the Primary, whoever he or she is. Too damn much is at stake!

  8. As has been the case, for at least the last 30 years, I will be voting for whover gets the demo nomination. Any other decision gives the POG a freebie.

  9. Jim in Memphis

    On the off chance that Hillary is indicted for the email issue, does that affect who you support in the primary?

    • Seems like a bit of an off chance alright. As far as I know, top-secret and classified materials aren’t sent over any emails. Don’t they have couriers and attachés for that sort of thing? One might assume that email is used for rather more ordinary traffic. Top secret stuff is regulated. For your eyes only type of thing. Security clearance.

      Surely Hillary used her own email server because of the security risk involved with using the White House system. Who knows how many eyes see that stuff? And not everybody involved with the White House Information Technology Department was necessarily friendly to Hillary Clinton.

      • I wouldn’t bet that Hilary didn’t do something stupid/illegal–it happens a lot, everywhere in gummint. OTOH, indict in her would bring back memories of “Blow job felt round the Congress” and give Hilary a tsunami of free ink.