When Revolutions Fail

The New York Times Editorial Board, this morning:

Mr. Sanders’s own political career illustrates what can happen when a revolutionary has no ground troops. For 25 years in Congress, Mr. Sanders has held fast to his progressive message and principles. But he hasn’t gotten many big things done. As an uncompromising political independent, his outsider status has largely prevented him from attracting the support that would be needed among Democrats to turn into law his liberal ideals on health care, on college education and on fighting poverty and climate change.

Bernie Sanders’ supporters need to stop and consider for a moment what a losing Sanders campaign will mean for the progressive movement. If Bernie Sanders is the Democratic nominee and loses to a Republican — any Republican, but dear God imagine if he loses to a crackpot like Trump or Cruz — what will this mean for progressives, the progressive agenda, and the progressive “wish list”?

I can tell you what it will mean. It will mean the death of the progressive movement for an entire generation.

Sanders is campaigning as the “outsider” — I know it’s his “brand,” it’s the thing Sanders’ supporters like about him. But when you’re an outsider and you lose, you’re irrelevant.

It’s not the same for Hillary Clinton. Hillary isn’t the outsider candidate, she’s the “establishment candidate,” and as such has the entire establishment behind her. If she loses to the Republican, the establishment won’t fold up its tent and go home. That’s kinda the point of being the establishment. Oh, I’m sure progressives will blame her for not being populist enough, for not being liberal enough. But the benefit of being the establishment is that you’ve got the party structure behind you.

A losing Bernie Sanders general election campaign will send the message that progressive ideas are losing ideas and progressive activists are failures. Nobody will listen to progressives on anything. We will not have a place at the table and we will be shut out of the conversation.

Something to think about. Because if Bernie Sanders is the Democratic nominee? His supporters better get their asses in gear and make damn sure he wins, or else you’re staring at your own irrelevance for the next 30 years.

In other words, your fucking revolution which has failed to manifest thus far had better show up.

Just a thought.

25 Comments

Filed under 2016 Presidential Election

25 responses to “When Revolutions Fail

  1. Great blog piece. We have to have a candidate who has the best chance of winning in November, and that ain’t Bernie Sanders.

  2. J R in WV

    While I support most political positions Senator Sanders appears to support, the more I see the Senator, and hear him speak, the less I like the guy. He seems to strive for unlikeability as hard as Ted Cruz does, and Senator Cruz doesn’t even seem human.

    I hope Hillary wins the Democratic nom, and then wins election by an huge margin against Cruz or Trump, one of whom seems bound to be the Republican nom. I don’t think she’s the greatest candidate, I think she has poor fundamentals as a candidate, but I think she will make the best actual President of all those running for the office this cycle.

    I also think the sexist blizzard of strange non-factual hysterical attacks that will be hurled against her will dwarf the racism we have seen used against the best President I have ever seen, President Obama. That will be sad to see and hear, but I think she will deal with it well and go on to lead the nation well.

  3. mcearlgrey

    Hey real quick can you show me a single poll where Hillary does better than Bernie against any Republican?

    • There’s this. But it’s important to remember that general election polling involving Bernie Sanders is basically meaningless right now. The average American voter has no idea who he is. The same holds true for someone like John Kasich or Marco Rubio. Most typical Americans don’t live, eat and breathe this stuff the way activists do and have no clue who these people are.

      Hillary on the other hand has been in the public eye for over 20 years and has already weathered every Republican smear they could throw at her. She’s a known entity. Bernie is not.

      And oh, it will be so much fun to see the smear campaign they are readying for Bernie. The butthurt coming from Bernie Bros right now every time someone says something mean, the way they blame Hillary Clinton for everything from his ugly brown suit to the old clip of him praising Cuba’s Castro. Everything is Hillary’s fault, of course. It’s kinda cute. But if y’all can’t handle a primary? The general election is going to be a series of constant outrages for you guys.

      Like I said, if Bernie is the nominee, you’d better batten down the fucking hatches and get some thick skin. You’d better toughen up, leave the fainting couches at home, and work your asses off. Bernie losing the general election won’t just be a loss for Bernie, it will be a loss for the entire progressive movement. So you’d better make sure he wins. And honestly, witnessing the bratty behavior coming out of that campaign these past few weeks? I’m not sure he can do it.

      • Democommie

        If Bernie gets the nod, I may have to get Ted Cruz’s ticket (or was that the Dongald’s–they all look alike–shitbags–to me) to Canada?

      • Prup (aka Jim Benton)

        The recent discovery of the tape where he praises Castro and the Ortegas is bad enough without the Republican lies that will get attached to it. The occasional, recurrent far left fad of praising what are, in fact, left wing caudillos has never made its practitioners that popular on the adult left, not to mention America as a whole.

        Bernie hade made surprising progress in teaching people that socialism and communism are distinct — and usually mutually hostile — ideologies, but for most Americans, seeing that tape will erase that progress. And his weak defense, that he was merely arguing against American attempts at regime change — irrelevant for Cuba for over a decade — would have been unconvincing even if it hadn’t been belied by his words elsewhere on the same tape.

        Now give Corsi and the speedboaters a chance to weave that in with his being arrested along with a member of SNCC and a few other loose threads that will certainly pop out of a long and radical life, only this time their books will have Trump financing behind him.

  4. Kathleen

    Bravo, Ms. Beale! Also, too, what JR and Jill Meyer said.

  5. SB, I completely agree. If Sanders is the nominee, the millions had damned well better rise up. Clinton has taken abuse for over 20 years and is a battle-hardened veteran. How will Sanders handle the shit that will be thrown his way? I don’t know. Maybe he’ll turn even more shouty and point and wave his arms more.

    Also, I’m with J R. I don’t like Sanders. He’s far too convinced of his own righteousness to suit me. At least, Clinton will admit when she’s wrong and apologize. Has anyone ever heard Sanders admit to a mistake or a wrong vote? Perhaps I missed it, but I never have.

  6. SB, I completely agree. If Sanders is the nominee, his millions damned well better rise up. I don’t like him, either, and it is visceral. He’s too shouty and far too convinced of his own righteousness to suit me, but I will certainly vote for him if he wins the nomination. If he is elected and delivers on 10% of his promises, I’ll be greatly surprised.

    Clinton is a battle-hardened veteran of over 20 years of attacks and lies. How will Sanders handle the shit that will be thrown his way? I don’t know. Maybe shout and wave his arms more?

    Polls that show results of hypothetical match-ups between various candidates before nominees are chosen seem quite iffy to me, and I don’t put much stock in them.

  7. Bob Fischer

    I’m pretty sure the dynamics of this election have changed since January. I certainly respect Hillary’s supporters right to support her and certainly have no intention of demeaning their legitimate choice of her differing views from Sanders on the issues. I do have some issue with being constantly demeaned, and as such will closely examine my vote in November. If it turns out that the tactics used on both sides of the isle are the same, then it’s time to re-examine the two party system. I don’t see the value of vitriol within the ranks of Democrats.

  8. I remember 1972 when the Republicans and their media destroyed one of the most decent and serious men to have ever gotten the nomination, George McGovern, and his past statements gave them nothing to make the pantomime of him that the country was duped into rejecting in the general election. And that was with a media that had broadcast standards, the Fairness Doctrine and community service requirements in place. If Bernie Sanders gets the nomination they will use his own identity as a socialist and his past statements in much the same way.

    I think it’s always necessary to distinguish the real left who want to get something done and to avoid the worst happening from the play-left who are more about striking poses and getting attention and feeling good about THEMSELVES. Too many of the Sanders people are play-leftists, many of whom are affluent enough to not be directly and seriously impacted by another Republican fiasco. They are the same crowd who supported Nader in 2000 and, even more so, 2004. At our caucus I heard a number of the Sanders people say they would vote for Jill Stein, the let’s pretend candidate of the let’s pretend party which sponsored Nader and had their greatest impact in politics by enabling the imposition of Bush II on the country.

    I say this as a socialist who is to the left of Sanders on a number of issues, such as guns. I’m a socialist who knows that avoiding harm to the least among us is the first imperative of a real left.

    • Bob Fischer

      So far, Sanders campaign seems to resemble Obama’s more than Nader’s. I’m not trying to be dismissive of your opinion, but the numbers suggest a changing dynamic within the electorate. Many Sander’s supporters are ashamed of what we’ve let this country become while we were busy raising our kids and see this election as a real opportunity to set things back on the right course. We feel it’s the least we can do for the next generation.

      • Given the history of such candidacies which were proposed watershed moments, Obama’s from what I’d call the center to right of the so-called middle is the only one which has gained office. You have to gain office to make it real instead of a failure.

        If there were ten Berne Sanders style socialists in the Senate I’d say it was a realistic prospect, as it is I don’t think even those aligned with the Social Democratic faction of the Democratic house caucus are all on board with the Sanders campaign.

        Recent electoral success is a bell weather of change in the near future and I don’t see that for Sanders. He would need such people in the congress to do any of what he proposes to do, if, by some miracle, he was elected he would have to withstand a reaction that would make that to the pathetic programs of Obama’s first two years seem like a mild breeze.

      • Right, and then there’s the fact that so many Democratic members of Congress have endorsed Hillary. Even Al Franken, and I remember when he had Bernie Sanders on his radio show every week. There’s a reason that elected Democrats endorsed Hillary not Bernie, and it means that they will work with her. You can’t come in from the outside and expect to wave a magic wand and everything will get done. Hillary will at least be able to get things done.

      • Bob Fischer

        What Sanders can do is not sit still for gridlock. He can criss-cross America and stump for policy, that way, instead of like Obama who has run into repeated gridlock during the last half of his presidency or making constant deals with the devil that don’t quite work out the way we thought, like Clinton, he can build a coalition in Congress by popular vote and spend the last part of his presidency enacting policy instead of dealing with shutdown. Speculating on Sanders potential for failure , at this point, is a pretty lame argument. If it were correct, he wouldn’t be this far.

      • Obama did that, though. He criss-crossed and gave televised addresses and did all of that stuff and got labeled “lecturer in chief.” Without Congress, really, you can’t do much.

  9. Maybe I’m out of touch, but I still consider Bill and Hillary Clinton and a certain young black senator from Illinois as true blue dreamers and idealists that have fighting hard for the people for a long time. When somebody tells me Hillary is establishment, I question what they could possibly mean by that? She was an incredibly intelligent young baby boomer when she hooked up with Bill Clinton. Together they have forged a path through American politics. Never will forget Bill’s campaign song, “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.” Or for that matter, the glorious inauguration when a saxophone-playing rock and roller was elected POTUS! Even Al Gore was young and cool back that long ago. I remember Hillary as the first woman in history to shatter that glass ceiling in 2008. I was with Egalia and the PUMAs. But, alas, I quickly became just another Obot. Lord Almighty! There will never be a president as cool as Obama. Are you kidding me? Stevie Wonder? Got to love it. Hillary has bided her time these eight long years, even becoming the hardest-working SOS in history. She deserves this presidency, and I can hardly wait.

    Now, the Bush family, Tom DeLay, Dick Armey, Pat Robertson, Pat Buchanan, Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie, Bob Dole, these guys are establishment. The young crazies that pitch themselves as anti-establishment conservatives are actually twice as reactionary and hard-core as their older and wiser counterparts.

    I think maybe us old hippies are the new conservatives today. Power to the people.

    • Prup (aka Jim Benton)

      Where’s an up button when you need it. And that goes for many of the comments above, particularly from Beale — and in the original post — Mimi and JR in WV.

      I started the campaign admiring Bernie, a classic “We have two great candidates, but I like Hillary better” type. But it seems as if every week I find less to admire and more to question. He really doesn’t seem to understand either the powers or the weaknesses of the Presidency, or even what are federal and what are state issues — which fits in with his apparent refusal to campaign with or for any down ballot candidates. (He pays lip service to the ‘my revolutionary army coming to the polls will sweep Democrats in’ but has shown no willingness to work for them.)

      [Memo to Bernie: You are going to be in a position where you need a Congressperson to vote for the good of the country, but against the strong wishes of his constituents. It’s nice to be able to remind them of how you put yourself on the line to help elect them — only you haven’t.]

      It would also be nice to have some idea what your foreign policy would be, especially in the smaller matters, the ones that don’t make the headlines or threaten war every second day — but you won’t even reveal who your foreign policy advisors are. And while we know what you are against, more or less, when it comes to trade, what exactly are you for? “Fair trade, not free trade” could have been the slogan for any protectionist regime in our history. Do you want to go back to tariffs and trade wars? Or just what DO you want?

      • I know, me too. I admired him at first too but every week I lose more respect for him. He’ll say something stupid, like how white people don’t understand what it’s like to live in a ghetto, or something else equally out of touch.

        To your point about the Fidel Castro clip — which the BernieBros are blaming on HILLARY CLINTON can you believe it (yes, they blame her for EVERYTHING) — this is an important read. I happen to know this is very accurate, I have talked to quite a few Venezuelan and Cuban exiles who do not view the word “Socialism” fondly. One Venezuelan acquaintance had his family restaurant nationalized by Hugo Chavez. I always cringe when idiots like Michael Moore would praise Chavez. They had no fucking clue what was going on in that country.

      • Bitter Scribe

        Last year, I attended a performance of the local symphony that featured a guest conductor from Venezuela. In the middle of the concert, the guy turned around and started ranting about Maduro.

        Yes, traveling orchestra conductors are not part of Maduro’s core constituency. But if you are attempting to lead a nation, you simply cannot afford to massively alienate people like that–educated, upper-middle-class people–and expect to be effective. There is a huge difference between people like that not voting for you, and having them believe that you are, in the conductor’s words, “a bloody-handed tyrant.”

  10. Randy

    How in the hell does this battle hardened iconoclast praise Nancy Reagan for her AIDS Advocacy? Don’t pragmatists still have to have boundaries? Or do I just have to admit (again) I’m a whore just like everybody else?

    • She was thinking of Nancy’s Alzheimer’s advocacy, I think. And to her tremendous credit, she didn’t just issue a correction, she actually published a statement apologizing. Republicans don’t apologize for anything, or admit they were wrong. She did both.

  11. Randy

    I think it was a spontaneous remark meant to ingratiate herself to any old Reaganite that might cross over and vote for her. I was alive during the Reagan Admin and I think you were too. There is no cause for praise for that era in this progressives mind. Hillary should be skilled enough (battle hardened) to know her every move is being scrutinized. That’s the kind of shit that will lose her votes come November. The progs I know are not particularly excited about her candidacy. They may just sit at home come election day due to gaffs like that. My 2 cents.

    • I suspect the number of Reaganites who Hillary Clinton believe will vote for her is virtually zero. She’s been the target of the Republican hate machine long enough to maintain any illusions about it. In that I believe she has a big advantage over Barack Obama who for too long seemed to cherish the idea that he could get them to like him. She know what it’s like to be the target of a lie that she murdered one of her best friends, Vince Foster. She’s nobody’s fool on that count.