By Lorie Shaull from Washington, United States [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Aaron Blake of the Washington Post published a desultory piece this morning (4/20) about Bernie Sanders’ supposed “curious” behavior. He mentioned how strange he found it that Sanders didn’t endorse Ossoff for the Georgia special election; that Sanders still didn’t call himself a Democrat; and that he had the audacity to reiterate the notion that Trump didn’t win the election, but rather the Democrats lost. He even criticized Bernie because he (gasp!) “differed” from DNC chair Perez on some points.
Blake’s article could be summed up as follows: why isn’t Bernie doing and saying what the establishment wants?
It is not curious, but it is bemusing, that Blake and other establishment pundits and politicians still somehow expect Bernie to fall in line, and still don’t get why he won’t. The most telling moment might be Blake’s take on Bernie saying he didn’t endorse Ossoff because he didn’t know much about him. Blake says it’s odd, because Democrats have invested so much “money and blood, sweat and tears” in Ossoff.
As if Democratic money should equate to Bernie’s knowlege.
Blake’s piece collapses once you take Bernie at his word: that he didn’t endorse Ossoff, because he doesn’t know much about him. That’s just Bernie acting with integrity, like he always does. All of Bernie’s other supposed ‘curious’ behavior is similarly un-curious once you apply that understanding – his daring to differ with Perez, maintaining his Independent status, and continuing to voice his (widely shared) view that the Democratic Party screwed up the election. In fact, Blake’s piece could be seen to illustrate why Bernie remains an independent: he is not willing to endorse every candidate or idea that the establishment holds up, no matter how much they try to bully him. Funny thing; that’s why he had the audacity to run for President in the first place. Why would anyone suppose he’d change now?
What is in fact curious is Blake’s failure to mention the special congressional election in Kansas, where a candidate that Bernie endorsed went essentially unsupported by the Democratic establishment. Trump had named the former occupant of the seat, Mike Pompeo, to head the CIA; Pompeo had won by 31 points in November. James Thompson, the Democratic candidate, ended up losing the special election by only 7 points – prompting a new round of ‘what might have been’ had the establishment given him some real backing. But the reality seems to be that establishment Democrats don’t want to support truly progressive candidates, who might upset the status quo. Pundits like Blake are doing the party’s work for them. Howard Dean’s recent absurd savaging of Tulsi Gabbard is more of the same. It’s their party, and we’ll all cry so they can keep it that way.
The Democratic party’s argument during the election was “we must stop Trump, so fall in line”; their argument now is, apparently, “we must stop Trump, so fall in line.” Blake’s piece says, “we must stop Trump, so why isn’t Bernie falling in line?”
It didn’t work then; and it won’t work now. Especially because it’s so obvious that their real message is, “we’re in charge, so do what we say.”
The establishment understanding Aaron Blake’s piece represents is the real problem. Their tragic inability to grasp Sanders, or the movement he inspired; their continued attacks on it, and him; and yes, their unanimity in lining up behind the second-least liked candidate in history - that is what gave us Trump. Their ongoing inability to acknowledge their mistakes, or their complicity, is what could keep him and his oligarchy in power.
Someday when that sinks in they are going to start losing a lot of sleep. It’d sure be nice if that happened sooner rather than later.