Bernie Sanders writes an "apologia" for his campaign in today's Washington Post. It opens with this statement:
"As we head toward the Democratic National Convention, I often hear the question, “What does Bernie want?” Wrong question. The right question is what the 12 million Americans who voted for a political revolution want."
That has been the problem. Bernie still has not one idea of the impact of his own personality, foibles, paranoia and unwillingness to work with others. It is not what the 12 million people who voted for him want. He didn't lead a "political revolution." That is a grandiose statement. He led a political campaign. And his efforts to cast his quest for the Presidency as a "revolution" are part of the problem. He told people what he wanted. They liked what he said. They followed him. He didn't follow them. This is hubris, plain and simple. There is a sense of "we" versus "you" not "we" are part of a greater "us." He acts like he only represents the 12 million people who voted for him and not the needs and aspirations of the whole party and country. And it's a minority not democracy the way he formulates it.
He still puts the campaign in terms that absolve himself of responsibility for a firm stand or mistakes and cast the fight as "me"/"us" versus them. With the "them" including most of us Democrats.
We Want Real Change
WE want real change. But he acts like it is only himself and his followers.
"And the answer is: They want real change in this country, they want it now and they are prepared to take on the political cowardice and powerful special interests which have prevented that change from happening."
What do "they" want?? 12 Million people voted for him because some of us saw him as a champion. He talks about "political cowardice" when it has been his own unwillingness to work with others or accept personal responsibility that drove him to not win another 12 million votes. He deliberately shut out those of us who supported Hillary or those of us who weren't impressed with the vagueness of his solutions or his attitude. They wanted a champion who had the courage to challenge the NRA. Maybe he started to develop that. But not until he ran for President. It's not just the 12 million voters who pulled the lever for him, it is an entire population of Americans who would have liked him to include them in his thought. It's not about what his 12 million followers want. It's about what is good for the country.
Campaigns as Education
Bernie then admits that his followers still don't understand the political issues or what to do about them.
"They understand that the United States is the richest country in the history of the world, and that new technology and innovation make us wealthier every day. What they don’t understand is why the middle class continues to decline, 47 million of us live in poverty and many Americans are forced to work two or three jobs just to cobble together the income they need to survive."
And that is the problem. After nearly a year of Bernie, they still don't understand! What are we going to do to reverse the rentier assault on the very pretense that working people should be able to pretend to be middle class? After this campaign his followers should understand exactly why the middle class has lost out to the mega rich and what needs to be done about it. It's not a "They" issue. It's a WE issue. And you'd think that Bernie, would concede that. But he doesn't.
He's going to change human nature?
It's still 'poor little me' and he's offended his allies.
"What do we want? We want an economy that is not based on uncontrollable greed, monopolistic practices and illegal behavior. We want an economy that protects the human needs and dignity of all people — children, the elderly, the sick, working people and the poor. We want an economic and political system that works for all of us, not one in which almost all new wealth and power rests with a handful of billionaire families."
Okay, and folks like John Lewis and the rest of us Democrats have been fighting for that all along. It's not just Bernie and his 12 million voters who want that. It's something that our whole party has been fighting for for more than 60 year. It's Roosevelt's 6 "New Bill of Rights" concept, Johnson's Great Society and the program of Carter and Clinton. Is he saying that the rest of us don't want that?
Fighting to improve Campaign Finance Reform
And again, he's preaching to the choir when he says:
"The current campaign finance system is corrupt. Billionaires and powerful corporations are now, through super PACs, able to spend as much money as they want to buy elections and elect candidates who represent their interests, not the American people. Meanwhile, we have one of the lowest voter turnout rates of any major country on earth, and Republican governors are working overtime to suppress the vote and make it harder for poor people, people of color, seniors and young people to vote."
"What do we want? We want to overturn the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision and move toward public funding of elections. We want universal voter registration, so that anyone 18 years of age or older who is eligible to vote is automatically registered. We want a vibrant democracy and a well-informed electorate that knows that its views can shape the future of the country."
"Our criminal justice system is broken. We have 2.2 million people rotting behind bars at an annual expense of $80 billion. Youth unemployment in a number of inner-cities and rural communities is 30 to 50 percent, and millions of young people have limited opportunities to participate in the productive economy. Failing schools all around the country produce more people who end up in jail than graduate college. Millions of Americans have police records as a result of marijuana possession, which should be decriminalized. And too many people are serving unnecessarily long mandatory minimum sentences."
No mea culpas. No admission that when mandatory minimum's seemed a good idea to a young legislator from Vermont he was for them. He's preaching to the choir. But would you know that there are probably 20-30-40 million plus people who agree with this and that a lot this problem is the result of what "seemed like a good idea at the time" prior mistakes -- that can be rectified if we fight for it.
"What do we want? We want a criminal justice system that addresses the causes of incarceration, not one that simply imprisons more people. We want to demilitarize local police departments, see local police departments reflect the diversity of the communities they serve and end private ownership of prisons and detention centers. We want to create the conditions that allow people who are released from prison to stay out. We want the best educated population on earth, not the most incarcerated population."
Again, that is more than 12 million people. And another place where he acts like he and his followers are alone against the world. Revolution? No we need evolution.
What Are you going to do about it?
And he lists a list of ills and issues, but he doesn't have the courage to talk about the costs of addressing those issues.
"The debate is over. Climate change is real. It is caused by human activity, and it already is causing devastating damage in our country and to the entire planet. If present trends continue, scientists tell us the planet will be 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer by the end of the century — which means more droughts, floods, extreme weather disturbances, rising sea levels and acidification of the oceans. This is a planetary crisis of extraordinary magnitude."
Again, all boiler plate Democratic causes.
"What do we want? We want the United States to lead the world in pushing our energy system away from fossil fuel and toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy. We want a tax on carbon, the end of fracking and massive investment in wind, solar, geothermal and other sustainable technologies. We want to leave this planet in a way that is healthy and habitable for future generations."
And this sounds good until you consider the costs. Bernie acts like there is no cost to ending fracking or any of the concrete proposals he wants to push. He was perfectly content to take votes from Hillary on the issue of closing coal mines. It costs money to end dependence on oil. the resources diverted will lead to suffering for some unless other measures are taken to help those in the north stay warm and the south stay cool. Climate change is going to flood large sections of the coast, whether or not we take draconian measures. He doesn't explain, he complains. And he got away with it because he'd let her take the heat for the suffering caused by these measures. Moral Cowardice??
Democracy or Oligarchy
And as usual he implies that his followers are about Democracy while the rest of us are somehow supporting Oligarchy.
"What do we want? We want to end the rapid movement that we are currently experiencing toward oligarchic control of our economic and political life. As Lincoln put it at Gettysburg, we want a government of the people, by the people and for the people. That is what we want, and that is what we will continue fighting for."
Tell that to John Lewis.
We or "You"
The trouble with this post is that he acts like the rest of us don't want the same thing. There is no statement in here that "We are confident that Hillary and the party will fight for these things. On the contrary, he sounds like he wants to go into the convention and shoot it up. Like the nearly 15 million people who voted for Hillary don't count. He says "we" in this, but his attitude is "us versus them." And that is the trouble with Bernie Sanders and much of the far left. No "we, you, us."