What Sanders and His Supporters Accomplished

Unlike many Sanders supporters, I was neither surprised nor troubled by Sanders’ endorsement of Hillary.

It was something he ultimately had to do. If he didn’t endorse, his position in the Democratic Senate caucus would have been miserable, so his only other logical choice was to accept Jill Stein’s offer of the Green Party nomination and declare all out war. That mat not have been a terrible choice, but I get his thinking.

The challenge, really, was to extract the highest price he possibly could for that endorsement. Did he succeed?

Looking at the Democratic platform and hearing his and Hillary’s speeches today, he was paid handsomely for that endorsement. He left precious little on the table.

Interestingly, this really wasn’t about beating Trump. That’s a foregone conclusion. Regardless of how many Sanders supporters stay home in November, Hillary Clinton will beat Donald Trump. And, if somehow the Republicans engineered Trump stepping down, a different reality would take hold: Regardless of how many Sanders supporters voted for Hillary, she would lose in November.

Sanders’ endorsement was more about the down ballot races and fundraising than it was about the Presidential election.

But those down ballot races are plenty important to Clinton, so she had to pay the price for Sanders’ endorsement.

What about Sanders’ supporters? Could they have strengthened his hand more than they did, especially those in the supposedly crazy “Bernie or Bust” camp? I doubt it. To say that group enhanced Sanders’ leverage in the negotiation for his endorsement would be to say the Siberian winter is kind of chilly. Unwittingly, Hillary supporters helped Sanders out on this front as well. When they started up with the Bernie Bros garbage that angered the Bernie crowd, Sanders’ endorsement became more critical to Clinton, and the price of the endorsement increased.

Will any of this matter after November? In a narrow way, no. When the BlueMeanie mocks the significance of the Party platform, he’s not entirely wrong. Clinton will do after November whatever she decides will increase her chances of re-election in 2020, platform be damned. If that means leasing the Atlantic shelf out to ExxonMobil and giving Netanyahu enough cluster bombs to wipe out the population of Gaza, she’ll do it.

But here’s what Sanders (and his supporters) may have accomplished and, if I’m right, it’s YUGE. Yes, President Clinton will be guided by the 2020 election and little else come January. But Sanders I believe changed the dynamics of the 2020 campaign. Because of the groundwork Sanders laid, there’s no way progressives will be as tolerant of Clinton’s transgressions in 2020 as they were of Obama’s in 2012. So, yes, Clinton would lease the Atlantic shelf to ExxonMobil if that would get her re-elected, but now it’s far more likely to cost her the election rather than win it for her. That could be a very big deal. Of course, if Clinton isn’t sufficiently sensitive to this reality, a Republican even worse than Trump to defeat her in 2020. The price of progress, I guess.

None of this is to say, in any way, that Sanders’ supporters must act on his endorsement. They supported him for President, but they never agreed to take instructions from him. They need to do their own thinking. Most will land on Clinton, but some won’t.

Really, when you think about it, Sanders’ supporters did better than Sanders himself. They can take credit for the huge part they played in what Sanders just accomplished. But, unlike Sanders, they didn’t have to sell their souls. They still can vote as they see fit. Will it make a difference in the outcome? No, but to some, the pain of casting a vote they don’t want to cast is not insignificant.

Of course, it likely still will take an uprising to effect real change. Sanders, and his supporters, may have helped lay the groundwork for that as well. Four years ago, I opened my post The Case for Socialism, with this:

I truly believe that by drilling down just a little into the job numbers and put[ting] them next to the assault on unions and the increasing concentration of wealth and income in the top one percent, there’s a strong case to be made that we should be embracing socialism instead of demonizing it.

Sanders has made that case for socialism. Enough have embraced it that the revolution is within our grasp. Here’s hoping.

15 responses to “What Sanders and His Supporters Accomplished

  1. captain*arizona

    bernie did what he had to do and bernie’s supporters will do what they have to do. the democratic party is a coalition it turns out the republican party was one too. as for white liberals vs black americans ever here of goodman, cheney and schwerner or viola luisso? as for whites in the black movement look up john brown and what malcolm X, d.e.b.dubois fredrick douglas, harriet tubman and h.rap brown among other black americans said about this white man.

    • I am fairly well versed in Black History and I certainly know about Freedom Summer, etc… There were whites who stood up for black people throughout our history. Sadly, the percentage is very, very small.

    • I am fairly well versed in Black History and I certainly know about Freedom Summer, etc… There were whites who stood up for black people throughout our history. Sadly, the percentage is very, very small.

  2. Excellent post, Mr. Lord.

    I would not say that Bernie “sold his soul” given that he cut the only deal possible. The Clintons don’t reward their enemies, so I’m sure he wasn’t expecting an influential appointment in her administration. Those will go to people like Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, those who enthusiastically support the Hillary’s political ambitions.

    The non-binding Democratic platform was the only opportunity for Bernie Sanders to affect the next four years, for there to be some kind of return on the enormous investment that he and his supporters made in his campaign. At least the platform is documented, and when Hillary fails to deliver or is incapable of delivering, there will be this road map that may become the foundation for a more aggressive effort by the people to flush out the old guard and release their stranglehold on the Democratic party. That sounds impossible, but that is what has to happen.

    Without Bernie, Hillary would have walked the red carpet straight to her coronation with the DNC throwing rose petals in her path. That was their vision, that the Queen would finally get what is rightfully hers, because she has waited so long, because she was denied in 2008. THIS is why she is going to be the president, and there will be plenty of backlash. Her SoS email problems are a sneak preview into what is likely to come, same as with Bill Clinton, one thing after another. The Clintons versus the great rightwing conspiracy.

    I guess we’ll see, but my expectations are very, very low. It wouldn’t take much for Hillary to exceed my expectations. Let’s hope she gets a few things right.

  3. Patricia Tursi

    It may be true that the electorate is less likely to tolerate betrayal, as with Obama, but HRC does not pay attention to what is sensible. She goes after what she wants and that’s a neolib agenda. The platform is worth the paper it’s written upon. But there may be hope in the law suits, if there are any uncorrupt courts left. A Clinton appointed judge dismissed Judicial Watch lawsuit last AugustI HRC will follow what she has always followed…the drumbeat of the One World Order.

    • White liberal hatred for President Obama, as you alluded to in your reference to his “betrayal”, is one of the major obstacles to unity among left leaning Democrats. That is to say, white liberals and black folks are not getting along very well.

      I could go into this further, but I haven’t the time right now. However, allow me to leave you with one thought. Do you have any idea, can you even imagine what it has meant to black Americans to have a black president? You know, black Democrats didn’t get all they hoped for these past 7.5 years either, but even among those who publicly criticize the president, they are in awe of him for winning two presidentials elections.

      I am white, I grew up in the Jim Crow south, northeastern Florida to be exact. It wasn’t Birmingham, but it was the Deep South. It was during the civil rights era, so there was hope, but I have some pretty horrible memories. And I never, not until 2008 when candidate Obama won the Iowa caucus, I never imagined there would be a black president in my lifetime. I do not even have the words to describe what that means to me, so maybe that provides a glimpse into what it means to black Americans.

      Until white liberals understand this, what President Obama means to almost 100 percent of the black folks alive right now, they will continue to make this totally unnecessary political blunder and they will create their own obstacles to the very unity that just might save this country.

      I’m sorry they don’t get it. At the very least, they could be better politicians.

      Anyhow, thanks for the inspiration. I’ve been wanting to say that for a long time.

  4. Unless the Democrats take back the House and Senate, there will be very little progressive legislation in the next two years. And without the Senate, all appointments, including the 75 or so current federal judge vacancies, will be very tough.

  5. So, 2020.

    You think Hillary will even be alive then? We know that her blood is trying to ball up into a lump and get stick somewhere in her brain. She doesn’t look healthy lately, either.

    Sorry, I don’t buy it. People used to claim that Obama was playing 11th-dimensional chess with Republicans when it looked like he wasn’t fighting all that hard and giving a lot away, and as it turns out, he just wasn’t fighting that hard and he gave a lot away. Sanders isn’t manipulating Clinton, he’s capitulating to her, just like what it looks like.

    • You may be right, Chris. You certainly are about Obama. Sanders did, as you suggest, capitulate. My point was that he extracted things of potential value in exchange for his capitulation. And, yeah, I was trying to put the best spin possible on it.

    • I disagree about President Obama. Trust me, the day will come when you see his two administrations as an oasis in a vast desert.

      White liberals didn’t fight at all. They didn’t get the public option, and they picked up their marbles and went home to spend the next six years spewing criticism.

      Read my comment above. Here’s another issue I should mention. Remember the “birther movement” that ended with President Obama producing his birth certificate? Well, that broke the heart of EVERY BLACK AMERICAN in this country. Where were the white libs? Did they have the president’s back? NO, they didn’t.

      Anyhow, that great divide between white libs and black folks, who are great Democrats by the way, doesn’t heal until:
      1. White libs study American history, not the revisionist version.
      2. White libs develop some emotional intelligence.

      Good luck and keep trying.

      • For Sure Not Tom

        Some good points, Liza. Oasis indeed.

        Ask me how I feel about Obama on Guantanamo, singly payer, jailing banksters, drones, and you’ll get “very, very disappointed.”

        But ask me how I feel about the Obama Presidency?

        The Best President in my Lifetime by Far.

        Ask me how I feel about Obama the man?

        A stellar example of a husband and father, a thoughtful person of immense intelligence.

        And married to someone out of his league. Best FLOTUS ever.

        No doubt we’re going to miss him.

        • I understand the disappointments, Tom, I have a few of my own. But overall, yes, President Obama is the best in my lifetime.

          I would ask white liberal folks to consider something, seemingly unrelated, but actually very related. Go back in time to the 2000 presidential election, Bush and Gore, and try to imagine a Gore presidency. That’s a long time ago, and no one even thinks about it any more. And we don’t know what Gore would have done as president, we have no way of knowing that. Yet, there is one thing we do know. Al Gore would not have invaded Iraq in 2003. That invasion was hatched in a think tank, the Project for the New American Century, under the leadership of Paul Wolfowitz. Al Gore would have told them to go pound sand, just as Bill Clinton did in the late 90s. Next step, imagine this country right now without the invasion of Iraq. It’s nearly impossible to imagine because the damage done has spread it’s tentacles into our culture, our economy, our politics, our international relationships, and just about every aspect of our existence.

          So, there you have it. Al Gore instead of George Bush. Just that one change, no war in Iraq, where would be now?

          If president, there isn’t anything that Al Gore could have done that, relatively speaking, would have mattered nearly as much as this, not invading Iraq. Our entire trajectory into the 21st century would have been completely different.

          White libs who are so critical of Obama and speak of betrayal and so forth probably should give some thought to what was happening in 2008, and ask themselves if they would have preferred McCain to guide us through those times.

          As for FLOTUS, I totally agree. She’s the real deal.

          • And yet the best President in your lifetime appointed Hillary Clinton, for whom you have an almost pathological hatred, to the most important job in his administration.

          • For Sure Not Tom

            Jim, I can’t speak for Liza, but I’ll start out with the list from my lifetime, starting from the first election I really paid attention to:

            Richard Nixon
            Jimmy Carter
            Ronald Reagan
            George H Bush
            Bill Clinton
            George W Bush
            Barrack Obama

            Nixon, Reagan, and W all committed treason and war crimes.

            The first Bush violated treaties and invaded Panama just to bust a drug dealer who was working for the CIA, and invaded Iraq for some reason I can’t understand. He ended up leaving Saddam in power when he realized his mistake. Oops.

            Clinton, along with NAFTA, causing the massive lockup of American’s we see now and throwing poor people under the bus, treats women who do nice things to him like trash.

            GW Bush….

            Carter was a victim of an oil embargo and Reagan’s treason. I’d give him runner up to Obama. He’s certainly setting the standard for former presidents. His post-POTUS work has literally saved millions of lives.

            Obama looks pretty good all things considered.

          • That’s right, Jim Hannan, apparently that’s the deal he cut. It’s politics, Mr. Hannan, that’s they way it’s done, apparently.

            By the way, if you can’t skip over my comments as I have asked you to, then at least don’t reply to me. Seriously, what’s in it for you? (don’t answer)

            Just.Go.Away.