When it came time to cast vote in the Texas primary I made it no secret that I was voting for Bernie Sanders. This wasn’t out of some attempt to say Hillary wasn’t good enough, in fact she was easily more qualified on paper and I was pretty sure she would be our next president or, at the very least, that she would win the nomination.
We expected a run between Jeb and Hillary. Those were the people that the parties wanted to support going in and I can’t really remember if Jeb was still in the race by the time it came our turn to send the conventions our pick for candidates.
But I liked what I heard about Sanders and what he was saying. I thought that his ideas deserved some looking at and I thought that, maybe without the racist sentiment that haunted Obama we could sustain some of the policies that had managed to come out of the last presidency and build on to them. We had fought pretty hard for healthcare and equal rights over the last eight years, after all.
Looking back over the nine months since the inauguration of Trump and seeing the split in the Democratic Party, I’m willing to admit that I was wrong. The different things about Sanders that keep piling up at best make him out to be someone who kind of wants to fight some of the good fight, but that’s okay with those who support him engaging in terrible stuff to get there. At worst he’s actually a sheep in wolf’s clothing that attempted to use the Democratic Party as a stepping stone to build his own party with a platform of some progressive policies. I say “some” like that because his calling Planned Parenthood part of the “establishment” and his endorsement of an anti-abortion candidate paint him as a little less on the progressive end of the spectrum when it comes to women’s issues. Which is what brought this whole thing up because he is the opening speaker at the Women’s March and people are asking why.
Back in late November he also slammed what he called “identity politics” (which is a phrase I take a bit of issue with — more on that later). On Twitter and Facebook whenever there is a discussion about politics there’s no shortage of people popping up to tell you how Sanders speaks for them, even when they claim to fall under the umbrella of policies that he seems to be willing to shed in order to look more appealing.
There in-fighting that plagues the Democratic Party right now boils down to a fight about what happened. Hillary Clinton, a woman who has been in the political spotlight almost all my life, lost an election that she shouldn’t have. Some people think Bernie would have stood a better chance, even though Bernie didn’t win the primaries, even if he was pulling votes from people on the fence about Trump. The fact of the matter is that if you asked me who Bernie Sanders was in 2014 I wouldn’t know who the Hell you were talking about. Clinton has put in the work over the years trying to get healthcare reform, working at the national and state levels of government and more often than not pushing for policies that I agree with and that a lot of people seem to agree with in the Democratic Party. Most of the hate for her extends from leftover ammunition that was loaded into the gun of the Right Wing political machine that has only grown more nefarious with the rise of Breitbart and the proliferation of Fox News.
Bernie Sanders might not have loaded that gun himself, but he used it as cover fire where he could. He drew from their playbook in criticizing Clinton and when things didn’t go his way he attempted to march on Washington. He’s even attempted to hijack the party itself, a party that he really isn’t part of. He’s stolen the spotlight from Randall Woodfin, a black mayoral candidate that won an election in the Deep South who was a Hillary supporter and who ran a pretty successful campaign before Sanders’ group’s involvement. Overall Sanders backed candidates are losing, but you wouldn’t know that from the sound of things in the media. It’s like Sanders can do no wrong.
Another part of my problem with Sanders is the tone of some of the support he gets. It seems like some of it comes from alt-right types that just couldn’t get behind the blatant idiocy of Trump. You see a bit of that Gamer-Gate-Intellectual-Atheist crowd showing up to debate about free speech without seeming to realize that free speech doesn’t mean what they think. People who punch actual Nazis in the face aren’t violating the first amendment. And angry that people protest “anti-identity politics” speakers on college campuses aren’t either no matter what fucking Bill Maher says.
Well, there’s the problem. Identity politics is a conservative issue too. When you look at the fight over Confederate statues that’s tied to a racial identity in the South that has huge roots reaching back to slavery, the Jim Crow era, and the Civil Rights era. The Christian identity of the country is another hot button issue for conservatives. So this idea that it’s impossible to win elections when drawing praise from these things just doesn’t hold water. One entire political party does it and the parts of that party that don’t identify with those things ignore the parts they don’t like.
I don’t think Sanders deserved the nomination and I don’t think that he could have won. I don’t have any solid proof of that, but neither do the people claiming he would have coasted to victory. This country is racist enough against Jews that even we denied them Visas during WWII and it’s still racist enough that there’s never been a Jewish president and you can still find countless people peddling bullshit theories about the Jews doing evil things. A guy at Starbucks came up and started talking to me about Jewish mind control. That’s not even a rare thing.
And I don’t blame Sanders for the entire election loss. There is a lot things that went wrong including voter suppression, Russian intervention in the process and propaganda, and Hillary’s own decisions to campaign in certain places over others. But I do believe that Sanders being slow to back her and his march on Washington during the DNC had some affect and I think that now his attempt to gain popularity runs the risk of costing Democrats the 2018 mid-term and the possibility of Trump getting elected to a second term.