Reality Check

Markos Moulitsas aka “Kos” is the founder of the liberal/progressive web site the Daily Kos, which many of you read religiously each day. I don’t think that any of you would seriously question the liberal/progressive credentials of Kos in the positions he taken over the years.

Screenshot from 2016-02-11 12:39:46As you may recall, Kos was particularly brutal to Hillary Clinton in her race against Barack Obama in 2008.

Which makes his recent posts about Bernie Sanders and his insurgent campaign all the more fascinating. It seems that Kos has had quite enough of Sanders’ antics. A couple of weeks ago, Kos wrote 11 reasons why Bernie Sanders lost this thing fair and square. Here is the lead paragraph:

Bernie Sanders exceeded all primary season expectations and was en route to building something of a real movement. But rather than locking in those gains and settling in for a long-haul effort, he’s opted for a legacy-busting temper tantrum instead, heading out the (primary) door in a cloud of whining, conspiracy mongering, and blame casting. It’s a bizarre finale to what was undoubtedly an incredible run. So here are some observations, not because it matters—he’s lost—but because his claims of victimhood are absolute bullshit and need to be corrected.

Kos then dissects and analyzes the Sanders campaign in a sometimes brutal 11 point takedown. You really should read the whole post.

Kos concludes:

Quite simply, for a campaign that argues that the elections should be overturned in his favor, the Democratic electorate is increasingly in disagreement. Last week’s antics won’t help reverse those trends. Heck, they may accelerate them.

The system can be beat. Barack Obama just did it eight years ago. Donald Trump did it on the Republican side this year. Technology now gives insurgents a huge advantage over more stodgy establishment candidates. The smart ones with a winning message can take advantage of that, and the ones with an insufficiently winning message can’t.

Being a sore loser won’t change those facts, that reality, or the fact that we have bigger issues to deal with than Sanders’ insane temper tantrum.

The Sanders campaign strategy of a “superdelegate coup” to overturn the popular vote and delegates awarded in the Democratic primaries — Hillary Clinton currently leads comfortably in both categories, and will continue to do so after the June 7 primaries — has been a theme for Kos. A Sanders superdelegate coup doesn’t need to be motivated by racism to be white privilege and Sanders continues delusional push for superdelegate coup:

You know what’s ironic? (1) Either the voters matter and he already lost, or (2) they don’t matter and a superdelegate coup is on the table, so who cares who wins the upcoming contests? You can’t have it both ways.

Either way, superdelegates willing to overturn the democratic process and flipping to Sanders:

Zero.

Are the “Bernie Bros” going to attack the liberal/progressive credentials of Kos the way they have with New York Times liberal columnist Paul Krugman for his critical commentaries on Bernie Sanders? Is this really a case of “you’re either with us or against us” and treating anyone as an enemy if they have said anything critical about Bernie Sanders?

That makes so-called progressives no better than the Trump thugs at his rallies. Is that who progressives really want to emulate? (This is why the media is able to perpetuate its false equivalency of the “crazies on the left and the right.”)

Well fine. Here’s another opinion that Sanders supporters can get their panties in a twist over from Washington Post policy commentator Stephen Stromberg. Enough with Bernie Sanders:

This is the place where a policy-oriented Washington commentator like myself is supposed to offer Bernie Sanders supporters some sort of olive branch. For example, I could point out that he has highlighted some real issues. I am angry about money in politics, too. I believe that income inequality is a problem, too. I think the safety net needs strengthening, too. In other words, I am supposed to indicate that I get why Sanders has a movement.

But the truth is that Sanders does not deserve a movement, and his losing campaign does not deserve unusual deference and concessions. His tale about American oligarchy is simplistic, his policy proposals are shallow, his rejection of political reality is absurd, his self-righteousness and stubbornness are unbecoming. And, yes, he has lost. Here are some simple points worth repeating:

• Sanders’s path to the Democratic presidential nomination is essentially nonexistent. His only hope rests on convincing Democratic “superdelegates,” nearly all of whom back Hillary Clinton, to swing his way. They will not do that. It is incoherent for Sanders to ask them to do so, given that he has attacked superdelegates as non-democratic actors in the nominating process and that Clinton will almost certainly end the cycle with more votes and more pledged delegates. It is also staggeringly arrogant that Sanders would think that superdelegates, the Democratic “establishment” sorts that he has spent the whole campaign cartoonishly attacking as tools of Wall Street, would be open to his entreaties.

• It is politically reasonable for the superdelegates to stick with Clinton. The poll numbers Sanders cites to argue that he would be a stronger nominee do not reflect the impressions voters would have after the Republicans engaged in a sustained anti-Sanders assault — the sort of thing Clinton has endured for decades. Polling shows that Sanders does not, in fact, do unusually well among true independents and that many of these crucial swing voters have not formed an opinion of him.

• A Clinton nomination would be wholly legitimate. Sanders zealot Seth Abramson writes, “While not rigged, there is no question that the Democratic Party’s primary process — which uses superdelegates to create an appearance of pre-election electoral inevitability and closed primaries and onerous registration requirements to exclude many new, independent, and party-switching voters — has dramatically favored Mrs. Clinton.” This is nonsense, considering that Sanders has benefited from weird, anti-democratic quirks of the nominating process. FiveThirtyEight ran the numbers and found that “Clinton has been hurt at least as much by caucuses as Sanders has been hurt by closed primaries.”

So, enough with the reality-denial. Enough with the sanctimony. Enough with the attitude that only Sanders’s agenda counts. Enough with the dream that his movement is broader and more powerful than it has proved to be at the ballot box. Enough with the paranoid conspiracy theorizing, the lazy attacks on the “establishment,” the platitudes about the right to health care and the right to free college without realistic plans to realize them, the delegitimization of those who disagree, the scorning of practicality, the outrageous negativity about the state of the country and the simplistic narrative of evil 1 percenters who are to blame for everything that is wrong. Enough with the excuses for half-baked policy proposals (It is the direction, not the specifics, that matter!). Enough with the “political revolution.”

Berners can accept reality or sink deeper into delusion. Only one of these options would be good for them and good for the country.

When I was playing team sports, we were always told to “win with grace and lose with dignity.” I want to believe that Bernie Sanders will be a team player and do the right thing. I want to believe that he will eventually be as gracious as Hillary Clinton was in defeat in 2008, when she took the unprecedented act of going to the floor of the convention during the roll call of the states to Nominate Barack Obama and to ask for his nomination by acclamation. That is the way to lose with dignity.

I am old enough to vividly remember the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. That craziness  led to Richard Nixon and the unraveling of the liberal Democratic Party in the ensuing years. A bitter and ugly convention serves no purpose but to give Republicans what they want. Don’t give them what they want.

10 responses to “Reality Check

  1. captain*arizona

    sanders may lose the nomination. that doesn’t stop hillary clinton from being evil. her iraq war vote is like judas kiss. I voted for ralph nader in 2000 and will be voting for jill stein. the last week of the 2000 campaign the liberal media stopped pretending nader didn’t exist and put him on the news shows attacking him for being in the race. if its close they will do the same thing to jill stein of the green party.

  2. For Sure Not Tom

    Sanders keeping up the pressure got him five spots on the Democratic platform committee, including Cornel West, Keith Ellison, and Bill McKibben.

    Those names are as legit as Kos. More so, because while I enjoy The Daily Kos, he’s a blogger. West, Ellison, and McKibben are the people he blogs about.

    Sanders keeping up the pressure is driving Clinton to the left. Or should I say away from the right where she actually lives.

    Sanders is not a noob to politics. He’s been at this a long time, and what he’s always done is this: if you need 50 million dollars for a food program, he’ll ask for 100.

    The real question is will progressives do for a Clinton White House what we did not do for Obama, and that’s keep the pressure on, and make him do the right thing.

    • Debbie Collazo

      Will the Democratic Party unify to elect its nominee or will there by a President Donald J. Trump? Some comments from some Bernie Sanders supporters lead me to believe that unification will be difficult. Kos helped to start a progressive movement before Sen. Sanders did, and now, “he’s a blogger.” Another Sanders supporter here goes ballistic over any criticism of her candidate, even an editorial cartoon! And then the practice of tuning out Sanders supporters who move over to Sen. Clinton because it’s contrived. Another way to look at such a switch is “strategic.”

  3. When this is finally over I want to know what happened to the Bernie we saw at the beginning of the campaign? The Bernie who was gracious, who said he would stick to the issues and not go into personal attacks against his opponent, the Bernie who said defeating the Republican candidate was the most important thing to do in November, the Bernie who said that Hillary on her worst day was way better than any of the Republican candidates. I know he has pored his heart and soul into this campaign but he has lost his way. I find myself wondering if one or more of his advisors has gotten into his head, or if this stubborn willingness to compromise all of his previous goals was always there. We will probably never know. I miss the man I voted for, I welcome the woman I will vote for this November. Please Bernie be gracious soon.

    • Are you one of Hillary’s paid trolls or do you do this for free?

      Seriously. It is so obvious.

      Bernie hasn’t changed, still on message, go stick your head back in Hillary’s Bee-Hind.

      • This reply is probably why people are deciding to leave the Bernie camp, it’s hateful and childish. Just because we don’t fall in line with your candidate of choice doesn’t give you cause to attack. Maybe you’re the paid troll.

        • For Sure Not Tom

          But I can say the exact same thing about the Clinton camp.

          If I don’t vote for HRC it’s Ralph Nader all over again. It’s a vote for Trump!

          FYI, the Nader getting Bush elected story was debunked.

          There’s a meme going around the webs saying Vote For Cluthlu, Why Vote for the Lessor Evil.

          I think that says a lot about 2016.

        • I quote, “I miss the man I voted for, I welcome the woman I will vote for this November. Please Bernie be gracious soon.” If that isn’t the most contrived, bullsh!t statement written by a either a paid troll, a volunteer troll, or a maybe even someone with just a head full of nonsense. Show me the substance of this statement.

          Y’all wanna start unpacking Hillary’s dismal record? It will take awhile.

          No, I’m not a paid troll. But if I were one of Hillary’s paid trolls, I can guarantee you I could do a better job than the ones she hired.

          • I hear you. When they say they used to support Sanders but now support Clinton, I tune out. It’s just too contrived.

    • For Sure Not Tom

      BTW, go back and tell us how Clinton sending her daughter out to trash Sanders on healthcare is being gracious.

      Chelsea Clinton lied and misled. Classy move by a classy campaign.

      Or the “Bernie Bro” fairly tale, based on a few bad apples, and turned into “Bernie supporters hate women”.

      Or how about the million dollars the Clinton campaign is spending on internet trolls?

      It’s a political campaign, they’re usually dirty, and I’d say Sanders has held his cool better than anyone in recent history.