Tuesday 3 March 2020

The Response - Not The Call.

The Equal And Opposite Reaction To Bernie: Call yourself a “democratic socialist” and everyone who feels threatened by democratic-socialism will mobilise against you. The anti-Sanders mobilisation has taken some time to resolve itself into a single challenger, but former Vice-President Joe Biden’s, runaway victory in South Carolina has finally cleared the centrists’ path to the nomination.

WATCHING THE SLOW descent of Bernie Sander’s campaign is a depressing reminder of democratic (and Democratic) political realities. The most brutal of these is that Newton’s Third Law of Motion applies with equal force to politics as it does to physics. “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

Call yourself a “democratic socialist” and everyone who feels threatened by democratic-socialism will mobilise against you. The anti-Sanders mobilisation has taken some time to resolve itself into a single challenger, but former Vice-President Joe Biden’s, runaway victory in South Carolina has finally cleared the centrists’ path to the nomination.

No matter how thrilling Sanders’ wins in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada may have been, the brute arithmetic of the primary process remained constant: the combined strength of his opponents was always greater than his own. As the captains and the kings of the Democratic Party centre depart, with Pete Buttigieg leading the way this afternoon (2 March 2020) the inevitability of a single opponent standing athwart Bernie’s path to the nomination is now clear.

“Super Tuesday” (Wednesday, 4 March NZT) will winnow the field with even more force than South Carolina. The departure of Amy Klobuchar and (probably) Mike Bloomberg, will leave the field clear for Biden’s folksy homilies. Elizabeth Warren will likely remain in the race, drawing votes from Sanders in expectation of being rewarded with the Vice-Presidential nomination. At some point well short of the Democratic Party Convention in Milwaukee (July 13-16) Sanders’ campaign will falter and fade away. Many on the left of the Democratic Party will settle for the half-loaf that is Biden-Warren – especially if it means driving Donald Trump from the White House.

“No! No! No!”, the Sandernistas will cry. “That must not be allowed to happen!” But the angry protests of these young, idealistic progressives will not avail them. At some point in electoral politics, the moment comes when you must remove your fingers from your ears, open your eyes, and take in the terrifying spectacle of your enemies’ tanks rolling towards you. Whether you believe in it or not, the Third Law of Political Motion is very, very real.

Why is the Democratic Party leadership so terrified of Sanders becoming the nominee? Because they know the size and ferocity of the forces his nomination for the Presidency would unleash. Sanders supporters rail against the Democratic establishment – accusing them of doing everything within their power to undermine their candidate. And that’s true. They are. Not because they’re against Medicare For All, or even the Green New Deal, but because the billionaires Bernie denounces, whose enormous power and wealth are directly threatened by his policies, will move heaven and earth to keep him, and them, out of the White House.

Democratic Party stalwarts, the people who have spent years navigating the treacherous waters of the United States’ political system, have priorities very different from Sanders’ most vociferous supporters. They are only too aware that even if, by some miracle, Bernie won the White House; the Almighty is most unlikely to add a second miracle to the mix.

Yes, a President Bernie Sanders could achieve some important gains by Executive Order, but he couldn’t deliver Medicare For All, or a Green New Deal, or the writing-off of student debt, or any of the other radical measures he is promising, without solid majorities in both the House of Representative and the Senate. Truth to tell, securing the passage of such radical legislation would be a long shot even with substantial majorities in both houses of Congress. Without them, however, Bernie’s programme is a pipe-dream. As unrealistic as expecting the God of History to deliver the Democratic Party not one, but two, political miracles at the 2020 elections.

Stripping away all the ideological bunting, there is only one unequivocally popular prospect the Democratic Party can hold out to the American electorate: a White House cleansed of Donald Trump and all his evil brood. But, bringing together an electoral coalition powerful enough to secure Trump’s defeat in the Electoral College will not be easy. Far from offering voters the bitter rhetoric of class war, the Democratic Party’s candidate will need to speak the language of inclusion, reconciliation and national renewal.

The sentiments of America’s Founding Fathers should be turned against the constitutionally illiterate Republican incumbent. Recalling for voters all the great and redemptive moments of American history, the Candidate should then invite them to contrast the moral strength of America’s best leaders with the abject moral squalor of its worst.

Bernie Sanders and his followers have done the United States the inestimable service of bringing together all the planks necessary to construct the most progressive Democratic Party platform in a generation. To implement the Sandernistas’ progressive dreams, however, the voters of United States must first be persuaded to abandon the ruin of unreasoning and mutually destructive partisanship. First and foremost, America needs a healer.

If History has taught us anything, it is that revolutions inevitably open up new wounds – even in those rare instances when they succeed in closing up old ones. Always, the true believers cry: “Let Justice be done – though the heavens fall!” But what sort of justice has ever emerged from the ruins of paradise?

Let the equal and opposite reaction to Donald Trump’s hate be love. Allow him to initiate the action that will bring his administration down. The Democratic Party can only win in November by being the response – not the call.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Tuesday, 3 March 2020.


Tiger Mountain said...

Real Politik is often seen as being an expression of the possible, and regularly also morphs into classic defeatism. If you fight you might lose–if you do not fight, you are certain to lose! In some situations a circuit breaker is needed despite the risks presented by failure. Yes the Primaries, Senate, Congress and Electoral College are a quagmire for opportunists and reactionaries to navigate, let alone Democratic Socialists. Voter suppression and legal State and District level Gerrymandering compound it as do 100 million alienated eligible non voters.

The Sanders Campaign has said all along it comes down to turnout and building support with face to face networking. They know it is a high risk strategy. If they do not get the numbers it is over. Whereas the other candidates operate on largely ruling class cash and massive media support. Joe Biden has not had one rally the size of Bernie Sanders recent ones. Careful camera work was required to make his overwhelming victory celebration (one after 32 years!) look like more than campaign staff were in attendance. There is not a top House African American vote herder in remaining states as there was in SC.

The Sanders Campaign has shifted the Democratic Party debate left a little–but Bernie would not be running at all without the support of “extra Parliamentary” groups and movements which have been growing apace since Dubya’s time. That is what the pundits around the world miss–both wilfully and blissfully unaware in some cases. Bernie is not running for you. He is running for the third of Americans who run out of money before the next pay day. And all the other grim realities of life in the land of the free.

Pick the moderate candidate is not an answer in 2020. Trump cannot outflank Bernie on the left with rhetoric, the working class pickup truck drivers that date close relatives, and support Trump, should really be voting Bernie when you look at the transfer of wealth to the US ruling class and how those rust belts have actually fared since 2016. Bernie would represent a stark choice, Trump will rip the others up for the proverbial.

Trump’s machine is formidable particularly because of the alliances he has with Religious zealot gatekeepers. Trump may be the most despicable individual to hold high office in a long time, but there are millions of religious nutters out there celebrating the man that will shortly legislate against the right of 50% of the US population to control their own bodies. That is what the Democrats are up against and placating those forces that think the world is 7000 years old, including Trump’s VP, is just not possible. Beating them with a massive voter turnout is the only way.

petes new write said...

Probably the last hurrah for Bernie, but a centrist democratic Party is needed to cleanse America of the poison of Trump Mania.

Tom Hunter said...

Let the equal and opposite reaction to Donald Trump’s hate be love.

Ha, ha!

Yes, that would be the best angle of attack. The trouble is that in making it the Democrats would have to rely on people forgetting how much hatred they've unleashed against Trump supporters in the last four years, much of it bound up in the aspects of "Woke" that you have so written about yourself.

There was a time when GOP voters could shrug their shoulders and assume that the hatred was truly directed against the likes of Reagan and Bush because of who they were and what they did.

No more. Exactly as was intended by activists even wearing a MAGA hat can see you physically attacked in parts of the USA now. And Trump knows this as well as his voters do. It's why one of his repeated asides in speeches is that it's not actually him who the Democrats hate - it's GOP voters and Trump is simply in the way, for the moment.

No, in the wake of all this, the "Love" argument will fool nobody. Perhaps in 2024, and even that assumes that a loss in the election this year will calm the Democrat activists down.

David Stone said...

The only Democratic candidate that will beat Trump in November is Bernie. But though they know this you are quite right about the fact they will move heaven and earth to prevent his nomination. Very depressing, but the Democrat establishment for all their public hatred of Trump will facilitate his reelection rather than allow a socialist in the White House.
One day the voters will take charge over there though. They do still have elections. The establishment's control is dependent on dividing the electorate. One day the masses will wake up.


Guerilla Surgeon said...

I hesitate to say this, but a fox news poll has Trump losing to any of the Democratic candidates.

David George said...

David Stone, I'm not sure who the "Establishment" is anymore or how much control they have. Certainly the Dems negativity (overwhelmingly backed by a complicit media) has endeared them to no one. Pelosi's tantrum; tearing up the SOTU speech, exemplified the childish, petulant impotence. The US Dems will be lucky to survive as a party, never mind as a credible future government.
Implementation of The Green New Deal would be an unmitigated disaster; pinning your flag to that fantasy, as Bernie and Elizabeth have, makes you completely unelectable.
Shutting down modern agriculture, the oil and gas industry, mining, long haul trucking, the airline industry, most of heavy industry and welcoming anyone that wanders across the border with free everything and the right to vote would lead to a depression so deep it could entirely destroy the economy, the society and severely impact hundreds of millions of lives. Societal breakdown, austerity and death - can't see the American people signing up for that one.
I'm sure Donald Trump can barely believe his luck.

Tom Hunter said...

Whereas the other candidates operate on largely ruling class cash and massive media support.

I suggest you look a little more into the details of who is funding Bernie. Just a hint: it's not working class people.

Andrew Nichols said...

"Blogger petes new write said...
Probably the last hurrah for Bernie, but a centrist democratic Party is needed to cleanse America of the poison of Trump Mania."

Centrist? Only in the ludicrous US version of the Overton Window. Centre in US politics woulde translate into the far right of the Warren and Sanders would be mainstream politicans here. If the senile Biden goes up against Trump he's toast. The US Plutocracy is very happy with America remaining 80 yrs behind civilised nations in health care and education.

pat said...

and goes to confirm that democracy is a sham

sumsuch said...

You're wrong. Give a demo-crat a pulpit in an oligarchy is the ONLY thing the people can do.

I know your central sayings, you having thought every 3 years for justice since 84.

Is not the turn to the Rich from the 80s intrinsically wrong? The general interest requires a people's party. The self-interest of the powerful has delivered us to this crisis point. You were right -- that the pick-up of the NZ economy after the GFC has delivered the ignorami back to the control of our 'Left' is as short-term as a bowel movement.

Holler for our right ideas. Your political sayings have sent you down south.

Sanders is right, the only right, just one person, not bought or wrestled off by the powerful eg Warren.

sumsuch said...

Kiwidave, you don't think this time requires a war govt? Which is to say, socialism. You're very good about the short-term. Biiiig ups, say your grandchildren.

David George said...

There seems to be an idea about, reflected in some of the comments here, that the rejection of the ideas espoused by Bernie & Co is political.
It's far deeper than that. Americans have significantly different cultural attitudes, beliefs and mythology. The idea that they are some sort of latent socialists is absurd.
Personal responsibility and aspiration are deeply ingrained, they have their own view of the balance between the individual and the collective. It's the height of arrogance to insist they're wrong or "80 years behind".

Left Thinking said...

Franz Fanon-1952- "I am fighting for a human world....In a fierce struggle I am willing to feel the shudder of death, the irreversible extinction, but also the possibility of impossibility."
Go Bernie: Do the impossible!

David Stone said...

@ Kiwidave
I haven't made a study of the Green New Deal , Is that what it involves? Obviously those things are not going to happen whoever gets to be US president. But the alternative position for a left wing candidate, even in the US , of being a climate change sceptic would make you unelectable anyway. It would be one of those things you would have to lie about.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant piece! Proved correct by the Super Tuesday results.

David George said...

Sumsuch and David Stone, there is no evidence that man made global warming is anything more than over-hyped nonsense; certainly not a threat to humanity much less the planet. I'm far more concerned with the mad ideas (like the GND) being proposed and then reinforced with fear and propaganda by a complicit media.
US congresswoman and GND proponent Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, when it it was explained that there was no existing or scale-able technology to replace all the things she was promoting being shutdown, replied "we'll just, like, invent stuff". Well no.
The chances that clowns like that and Sanders can effect wholesale social and structural economic change without it turning into a complete and utter disaster are zero.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"there is no evidence that man made global warming is anything more than over-hyped nonsense"
It always amazes me when people prefer to believe the unqualified who simply tell them what they want to hear rather than people who have been studying stuff for years. Perhaps it shouldn't.
As Isaac Asimov once said "Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge' ".
So all those climate scientists are wasting their time then?

David Stone said...


I share your view of man made global warming. That doesn't mean i think that our position on that is politically sustainable. It isn't. But neither of us is standing for election. For the foreseeable future no left wing politician could admit to doubting MMGW and hope to be elected. It has become a religion.

sumsuch said...

kiwidave, put proven reality first, and then your opinions of such. Doubting our best scientific estimates about the future diminishes your credibility to zero-ish. Rationalisation is the primary attainment of consciousness, reasoning as distant a second as 'fairness' is to 'getting on' for Scots. Why H.s.s's time of dominance will be the short and sharp 10,000 years versus the 70 million (?) of those dullards, the dinosaurs.

David George said...

GS: "people prefer to believe the unqualified". When you have some of the greatest scientist of our age (Professor Emeritus William Happer or acclaimed mathematician and physicist Freeman Dyson for example) questioning the climate orthodoxy then yes, I'm prepared to listen.
I don't believe in belief Guerilla Surgeon and it certainly has no place in science and neither does consensus. There is simply no evidence from the historic or paleo record that changes in atmospheric CO2 has any significant or even measurable contribution to changes in global temperature.
Unfortunately we have been so bombarded with propaganda that it's impossible for the average punter to get a balanced perspective. Stuff, the Herald and TVNZ are among 170 news outlets that have signed up with "Covering Climate Now" to ensure that that situation continues. It would therefore be impossible to get elected with a sceptical view of the question as David stone has pointed out.
Back to Bernie; I'm pleased he is failing, while his Great Leap Forward (GND) might not prove as disastrous as the original you have to question the sanity of a man of his age believing that nonsense in the first place.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Kiwi Dave, you seem to be under the mistaken impression that there is something called a "scientist" that knows all about "science". Not true. Scientists don't necessarily know shit about anything outside their own area of expertise. In fact these days almost certainly don't because everyone specialises so much. Leonardo da Vinci they ain't.

Neither of these two are climate scientists. As far as Happer is concerned he is nowhere near a climate scientist, but as far as I know specialised in optics. He's also been involved in some very dodgy business, including applying for the job of president Trump's science advisor, and calling Trump "technologically literate" or something. Not to mention he has been point by point debunked several times by proper climate scientists. I would trust his opinion on climate science about as much as I would trust the opinion of that other famous physicist William Shockley on biology.

Dyson said "[m]y objections to the global warming propaganda are not so much over the technical facts, about which I do not know much, but it's rather against the way those people behave and the kind of intolerance to criticism that a lot of them have."
Enough said. My original statement stands.