Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Against Bernie Sanders

(Open Source Dem, aka J. R. Behrman, infrequent poster here, former SD-13 committee chair, former presiding judge of the Harris County EVBB, former chair of the Texas Democratic Party's Progressive Populist Caucus -- among other honoraria -- posted this to his Facebook page after sending it to me.  I offered him my deepest condolences on the loss of his wife last week.)

I oppose the nomination of Bernie Sanders, Senator from Vermont. 
That is a surprise to some who fancy me a "left-wing" member of the Democratic Party. After all, I supported George McGovern back in the day. I supported Howard Dean there for a while. Moreover, I did not just support Barack Obama in 2008, I fought the pro-Clinton state party establishment tooth and nail through the highly contested primary and convention process. 
No, Belinda and I are so conservative we come around from the other side to a sort of traditional liberalism. 
Moreover, I have grave reservations about Secretary Clinton and her "permanent campaign" entourage, not least their reprise of the "inevitable" campaign. It is not doing her any good now, and it will be a burden for her when she challenges whoever or, dare I say, whatever the GOP comes up with. 
So why my change now? 
First, it will take not a "village" but an entire national party to defeat the GOP at all echelons of government today in 50 gerrymandered states and dozens of rotten Congressional Districts. 
Sanders is an independent and has kept his distance from the Democratic Party -- unlike, say, Howard Dean. Our nominee must first take the reins of the Democratic Party. 
Second, Hillary Clinton has been an altogether loyal and constructive contributor to the administration of President Obama. 
Sure, Sanders' socialism is somewhat attractive to me, as far as it goes. Labels do not scare me. But, President Obama is not a socialist (or a Muslim). He has pretty much exhausted the limits of what can be done in just one of the nine echelons of our dysfunctional government and politics. These accomplishments do not deserve Sanders' conceited dismissal. 
No, his socialism is almost a museum piece and does not even begin to provide a robust intellectual foundation for future governments. As Paul Glastris at Washington Monthly says, Sanders is "intellectually consistent but not intellectually honest." 
Even venerable socialist governments and even the formidable Green parties in Europe or charismatic leaders like Yanis Varoufakis are struggling to dump obsolete or delusional intellectual frameworksto govern their own parties, and to fix a broken socialist international. 
Finally, Bernie Sanders is simply a novelty. Sure, he is charming and attractive to political junkies who are disillusioned with and critical of our party and government. 
(Yes, that could be said of me.) 
But I stand with those like Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown, who expect to see more actual progress from a Clinton administration than a Sanders crusade. 
In any event, here is what I would like to do: 
Build a strong party 
Sanders would need and Clinton will need a new kind of political party to actually govern. This is where the most radical of new ideas can flourish, because a political party is "lightweight" -- a good thing in engineering -- even "flimsy". It is easily transformed almost overnight. No negotiations or "deals" with the crazy-right are necessary or even possible. 
Not a lousy claque 
A political party is not, actually, an extension of government, though you would not know that here in one-party Texas with its kludge of cornpone state and county parties. No, my party should be a check on government and an instrument of the people. In our case, that is a party rooted in republican principle and built on democratic aspirations. 
Make it work 
This means that the Sanders and Clinton supporters will have to have a voice in party affairs, will have to cultivate party loyalty, and will have to stop political exit on the left that is manifest as despair and apathy. Otherwise, right-wing extremism will just keep growing and poisoning everything. 
Right here, right now! 
There is actually no better place to start that transformation than Harris and eight surrounding counties in Texas. It will take strategy, planning, and finance. That is where I hope to play a role. 
But not for a while. 
The wheels are off my life right now, following Belinda's death. I will sign in at the desultory Senate District Convention, but not attend the silly state convention. 
After the national election, it will be time to consider robust reconstruction of the post-Reconstruction Texas Democratic Party. It is now just an antique facility for bi-partisan concession-tending that is no longer viable at any echelon of government or politics.


Gadfly said...

He is, of course, incorrect about Sanders not really being a Democrat. That said, maybe this is a petard that's coming back to hoist Sanders.

Gadfly said...

He's also wrong about Green parties in Europe, or Socialist ones, if we take the return of Old Labour with Corbyn, who has to face the British equivalent of people like J.R.

Am I blogging about this? Hell yes.

paintedjaguar said...

I honestly can't get past the cognitive dissonance incurred by trying to follow this brand of logic.

"an altogether loyal and constructive contributor to the administration of President Obama"

Yes, loyal to the most corporate and conservative administration the Democrats have ever installed.

"Clinton will need a new kind of political party to actually govern. This is where the most radical of new ideas can flourish"

So the candidate who most embodies the status quo of 20 years ago and surrounds herself with similar people is going to give us a radically new party?

"will have to cultivate party loyalty and...stop political exit on the left"

And he thinks that Hillary, who is oblivious to the current populist sentiment and is still "proud that I was a Goldwater Girl" is going to accomplish these things?

"my party should be a check on government and an instrument of the people...a party rooted in republican principle and built on democratic aspirations."

And to lead such a party he would choose a social climber who is fond of militarism and incarceration, is famously dishonest, and explicitly rejects democratic aspiration to anything better than the corporate-approved status quo?

I give up, this is making my head hurt.

meme said...

I agree with all of the above, nothing like having Trump as president to make people rethink what they did. Florida 2004, maybe no Iraq war if people just thought about what is worse. It is not always about what is best but about what the better of the worse.

Gadfly said...

My aforementioned blog post will be up at about 1:30.

paintedjaguar said...

"the most corporate and conservative administration the Democrats have ever installed."

This was a silly thing for me to say, if only because the Democrats have always been conservative and business-friendly -- I let irritation get the best of me. But I stand by the rest of it.

Gadfly said...


joshuaism said...

The Democrats became a center-right wing party so gradually it barely gave me whiplash.