Feeling the Bern, Taking a Stand, and Zealotry

Bernie Sanders is my guy.  He is a true politician no question and to see he is without strategy would be incorrect, but that strategy I think is an honorable one.  He is trying to have important conversation about real problems that are impacting this country.  He puts forth solutions to those problems.  They are from the perspective of democratic socialism.  As a Canadian I adore democratic socialism, but I can tolerate people having different points of view on the matter.  There are those who have different political ideas.  I would love to see more politicians like Bernie Sanders coming from different sides of the political spectrum.  Actually they exist in the likes of candidates like Gary Johnson and Jill Stein but for a large part, well you know what kind of candidates we got this election cycle – panderers, double-talkers, hypocrites, liars, and those who are ethically questionable at best.  It’s a real problem.  Should we all fall in love with, what I think is at least a good model of a politician.  While my heart tells me yes, I know it’s only because I agree with him.  In the end, for many, it’s still a hard thing to do if you disagree with his ideas.  As I wrote before, among his qualities, ideas and principles I admire is that he tries to be inclusive.  He has reached out to evangelicals, he has spoken in some very conservative areas that some democrats dare not go, and he has even tried to empathize and connect with Trump supporters.

So why should such a man have supporters who are much more extreme than the man himself?  As I’ve watched his message reach people and move people there is no question that he is reaching many people on both an intellectual level and an emotional level.  Ultimately, Bernie like any politicians does play to people’s emotions too.  And there is nothing wrong with that.  While I do think he also have some very intellectual things to say, he knows that to move a large group of people in favor of your ideas it isn’t all going to be done with logical arguments.  It’s going to have to start with emotion.  Many of the things that Bernie Sanders talks about are things you should be mad about, are things you should worry, are things you should be passionate about.  But as I’ve watched people “feeling the bern” over the course of his primary run it’s been interesting to see how many Bernie supporters have become very similar to Trump supporters.   I know I am going to get backlash for saying that.  But many pundits, writers, and just people in general have noted how much anger one gets any time there is criticism of Bernie.  First I’d like to say that I’m not criticizing Bernie, I’m criticizing a portion of supporters who worry me a little bit.  Now let me also qualify when I say “like Trump supporters” I am not saying that you’re racist, misogynist, or stupid.  It should also be noted that such a generalization of Trump supporters is not that helpful, but I am speaking in terms of stereotypes intentionally.  What I mean by “like Trump supporters” is quite simply zealotry.  A zealot is a dangerous thing, regardless of how righteous the cause.  You can be 100% right about something and still be a dangerous person.  If you’re in a state where you cannot be reasoned with or compromise, if you’re in a state where you are willing to go to any length for your cause, if you are in a state where someone is quite simply for you or against you just because they disagree with a portion of your argument, that’s a dangerous place to be and it can be extremely destructive.

I have seen the emergence of the Bernie or Bust movement and I honestly find that movement a little troubling.  People have chosen to take their stand.  Taking a stand at times is very important, but I think we need to ask ourselves, whenever we take that stand, “what do we hope to gain?”, “what is the best way to make my stand?”  and “what are the consequences of taking that stand?”  I truly believe that Trump is an extremely dangerous man to have as president.  His policies, if enacted jeopardize religious freedom, increase the suffering for the poor, minorities, and women. Refusing to vote Democrat carries that consequence.  Are we ready to hand over the judiciary branch to the conservative platform?  Refusing to vote Democrat carries that consequence.  And there are a lot of important issues that get decided by the Supreme Court as we have seen over the past decade.  We know how important the supreme court has been for issues like gay marriage, the ability for public teachers to unionize, gerrymandering, affirmative action and health care. And who knows what decisions might get overturned.  Roe vs. Wade?  Marriage equality?  I am not trying to convince you through fear but only ask that we all carry these ideas in our heads and understand the full weight of our decision.  Also can we not make changes even if Bernie doesn’t get elected?  Can we support more grass roots candidates for the legislative branch?  At the municipal or state level?  Can we do a better job of participating in mid-term elections?  Does the DNC really think they need to make changes when most establishment politicians are already rich, and even when not in the majority still enjoy a great deal of wealth and power? Again maybe Bernie or Bust is the best call right now, but I see less and less reasoning and weighing of the evidence by Bernie supporters as this primary comes to a close and it looks like Bernie will not be the choice to run as president for the Democratic Party.  So again I only ask that we carefully weigh the pros and cons of sticking by our guns at all costs.  Bernie was never going to be our savior.  At best he is sowing the seeds of some positive change and if he became president we could see those seeds grow a little bit more, but we would still be a long way from seeing the flowers bloom.

Bernie_Sanders

There may come in a day where a large majority of us are happy with a more democratic socialist way of life, and today is not the day.  And I’m not trying to just single out Bernie Sanders fans here, it just seems interesting that what started as one of the most thoughtful, passionate, and intellectual movements and devolved into something that it should not in a country that has real problems and needs to work together to solve them.  Continuing on a path of divisiveness and stereotyping the other side doesn’t lead to revolution, it leads to civil war, and I’d rather take a peaceful piecemeal progression towards a better way of life than a bloody one, which by the way, in the end, your side might actually lose.  The idea behind a democracy is not one of…”hey we won…suck it you losers who disagree.” Whoever become President becomes leader of the country, of which, regardless of our political views, we are all citizens and have the right to be treated with humanity and civility by that leader.  We also must demonstrate that towards each other.  Does attacking Trump supporters really teach them a lesson, sway them towards reason or a better way of government?  The most important quality, to me, of Bernie Sanders besides his ideas is his principles for inclusion.  If we truly support Bernie Sanders, I think we must carry that torch more than any other if this country is going to reverse our decline in quality of life and heal a nation which continues to grow ever more divided.

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10 thoughts on “Feeling the Bern, Taking a Stand, and Zealotry

  1. I wish we could borrow Bernie for a few years down here. We need a President (literally, we don’t have one, she’s on 180-day detention for bad behaviour) so the seat is available. Well, there’s a living vampires sitting in it right now (literally, he’s a vampire), but we can have him removed in a second.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Imagine it from my perspective; an Australian who, like Canadians, are used to dull, middle-of-the-road, nothing-too-flamboyant, steady, calm politics. Every single one of these bastards is corrupt. The opposition is as bad, if not worse, than the government, and none of them give a flying crap about the country, just saving their own asses.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah I hear you…that’s sort of how I feel, but I do know the corruption is much worse in Brazil. Or rather it’s clearly illegal corruption but nobody does anything about it. Here is it is legal so somehow it doesn’t seem to get people as upset. Which is almost more upsetting to me. lol But I don’t believe it’s quite as rampant as it is in Brazil. It’s weird when corruption simply becomes part of the culture. It’s like that in India. Like it’s normal to just bribe a police officer and normal for police officers to extort some money from people…umm…okay…sounds fun.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. You know I like Bernie. I like his ideas. I like his personality. I am just afraid he might not have the moxie to win out over Hillary. Either way, whichever one gets the nomination, gets my vote.

    Corruption? Our politicians make their intended corruption legal so they can walk away with the $$ free and clear. Slick as a whistle.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Altandmain

    As a fellow Canadian, I strongly disagree with this sentiment. I’d urge all Sanders fans to vote Green.

    The reason why is because Clinton will ruthlessly exploit the left. The reason is because they can use the “lesser evil” argument, while pushing a very right wing, pro-corporate agenda. They can always say “you may not like me, but I’m less bad than this guy”.

    Let’s look at Clinton’s record.
    – She’s voted for the Iraq war in 2003
    – She pressured the Obama administration into intervening in Libya
    – Her record on free trade (and helping her husband)
    – Her record on defending her husband to dismantle the American welfare state
    – There is also the matter of her accepting tens of millions in speaking fees (read: bribe money) from some very questionable sources
    – She was politically expedient on issues like gay marriage

    She will lie and betray the left. Then the next election, the left will have absolutely no bargaining power knowing that the GOP will never command their vote. Then they will ruthlessly exploit the left over and over again. This has been going on for decades. It’s like Stockholm Syndrome.

    The lesser evil argument is completely demolished if you are willing to make sacrifices. The very existence of Sanders for example, has forced Clinton to at least pretend to be left. That is why I urge Sanders voters to go “Bernie or Bust”. You have to make short term sacrifices.

    The reason why the Tea Party is feared by the Republican Establishment is because they stand for what they believe in. I’m not saying the Tea Party is right, but their campaign strategy has given the some real power, as upsets like David Brat’s victory have shown.

    A vote for Clinton would validate all that is wrong, and ensure that the Democratic Party can move more and more pro-corporate, knowing that the left “has nowhere to go”. What would happen in 2020? They’d take corporate money and at best, we’d have a repeat of Obama, at worst, we’d see the US end up like a developing nation.

    It’s why I supported getting rid of Muclair too for the NDP – it was pathetic watching the NDP move to the right of Justin Trudeau. Likewise, it is pathetic watching Clinton supporters explain to me why any leftist should support a candidate that is more right wing on matters like free trade.

    If you’ve been to the Midwest, or Southern Ontario here in Canada – look at the abandoned factories, and the communities devastated. Often the town plant was the sole employer and when they go – the community goes. That is what politicians like Clinton have wrought on our society.

    If you want a competing argument, read these:

    https://www.salon.com/2016/01/17/fine_give_the_gop_four_years_the_liberal_case_for_either_bernie_sanders_or_electing_a_republican_president/

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/06/wall-street-2016-donald-trump-hillary-clinton-213931

    At this point, zealotry may be the only solution. Clinton will only be a slow decline, but it will be a decline nonetheless and the Democrats will not respect the left by passing what they want.

    You gotta make sacrifices. In 2016, if lots of Bernie supporters vote Green, then it sends a pretty clear message to the Democratic National Committee. It also sends a message in 2020. I know that because my generation, Y, will make up an even larger percentage of voters. I just hope that we show up and make our voices heard – both in the US and in the next election in Canada.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comments. I am certainly no Hillary Clinton fan. There is a lot of negative aspects to her as president. She is as centrist as they come. Even moreso than Obama and as a Canadian I definitely prefer more liberal candidates. More than that I don’t like living in a country where centrists are sold as left leaning liberals. In practice centrists have a valid place at the table in terms of presenting ideas and points of view. Hillary Clinton also has many positive things on her resume as well. For me those negatives outweigh the positive in terms of what I think is the best candidate for the position of President. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/9/17/1422403/-Hillary-Clinton-s-Record-of-Accomplishments
      What articles like the ones you posted fail to mention, besides being very one-sided, is what would happen if Trump is President. It’s glossed over as though one term of a Republican government is just going to be a little hiccup. Have you listened to what Trump wants to do? Have you read his plans on his website? Maybe everybody just seems to think he is saying whatever he needs to, to win voters, but I’m certainly not willing to take that chance. His views on immigrants, minorities and women are far to the right. His business acumen which seems to be what many tout has been exposed as extremely flawed. One can see this by his tax plan, which will end up costing much more than anything Bernie is proposing. Then there is the disaster waiting to happen in foreign policy. Many other nations already think he is a joke, and he knows nothing about foreign policy by his very own admission. Because he says, when the time comes he’ll have the right people to talk to about it all. And all this I could tolerate if the Republicans were unwilling to work with this loose cannon as seemed to be the case early on. But the way they are lining up behind him right now makes me very worried that there will be a lot of back scratching and the Republican platform is by far scarier than anything Hillary Clinton can cook up. Yes she will allow the decline to continue by keeping her ties to corporate money. Yes she won’t be as active on the environment as a progressive liberal should, and income inequality will continue. But personally I’ll take the candidate who edges us closer to the cliff, than the one that takes us over, because from that, there is no coming. The lesser of two evils argument is not a fallacious one just not a favorable one. We saw the damage Bush did, and if either him or Romney were the other choice I’d say this is an excellent time to take a stand but not with Trump. Sorry. And I also don’t think the loss of the judiciary branch is something that can be glossed over either. The ages of several justices that are left leaning are too advance to ignore the possibility of their retirement. Even the loss of just Ginsberg, which is a real possibility in the next term could lead to a 6-3 conservative shift in the supreme court which would be extremely detrimental. It could only be worse and it could be worse.
      The executive branch can only do so much, but with a legislative branch behind Trump and a conservative supreme court the damage to liberties in this country can be far worse than anything Clinton can dream up. Bernie, as wonderful as his policies would be quite simply requires more in congress to support him before much of what he wants to do would pass. He has already done this country a great service by shifting the political conversation to the left and ultimately a political revolution has to be at all levels of government to be the most effective. Right now many of the democratic hacks in congress will not have the political courage to support Bernie when their constituents get a little nervous by his progressive ideas. Hell look what happened when Obama tried to close Guantanamo Bay. How many democrats backed out? And that was when the dems controlled the house and senate. The fact that Bernie has had so much impact is partly due to his excellent strategy of joining with the democratic party to get the exposure and the air time that he has gotten…had he ran independent he would have just been another Jill Stein. Had young people went to the polls, Bernie would already be the nominee and no Debbie Wasserman Schultz, or Hillary Clinton robocalling or attacks would have made a damn bit of difference. Maybe those young voters who should have been voting now need to grow up a little to realize how stupid it was for them to not vote this time. Maybe some of those older democrats who are in love with Clinton’s and establishment politics need to die off. I actually have a bit of optimism about this country based on how well Bernie has done. Now maybe I’m wrong about Trump, maybe he won’t be a disaster, but I have no way of knowing that. Right now all signs point to that being the case. With Clinton we know exactly who we’re getting. The enemy you know…

      History shows us that zealotry is never positive, so I can’t agree with you there. And I am well aware of how bad some parts of this country have it, which is exactly why I wrote this post. It is the most vulnerable that I feel are in the most trouble should Trump become President. One interesting thing that also nobody brings up. What does Bernie Sanders want of his supporters? If he loses the primary and casts his vote, in the primary election I’ll bet dollars to donuts he votes for Clinton to avoid a Trump presidency. This is also why I wrote this, because a lot of Bernie supporters are suddenly behaving un-Bernie-like and that I think is cause for concern. That’s not what his movement is about. He’s much more pragmatic than an idealist.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. altandmain

      It will come down to what the US Congress does if Trump wins.

      As the articles note, perhaps the Democratic Party will be forced to obstruct Trump. Certainly such measures will be needed if Trump really is the authoritarian that his critics portray him as.

      If a Clinton victory happens, we can expect the Republican Party to do the same thing they did to Obama. I’m sure in that case, only bills that the right-wing Republicans like, such as war, will be passed, while the rest of the useful bills get stalled. Compounding the problem, a Clinton victory all but assures a devastating defeat like the 2014 midterm elections did in 2018.

      Does a Sanders victory mean a solution? It is not a miracle. Sanders has often talked about having people take to the streets to force the US Congress to pass legislation to benefit the people. In practice, it is untested.

      Sanders will be obstructed for sure. It will come down to if enough people can rally. Note that Obama as of late has actually seen his approval go up a bit. That may be because of the Republican Party getting the blame for obstruction of appointing a Supreme Court Justice in part. If so, then perhaps the image of Sanders doing something good or trying to might rally the left during the midterm election.

      Barring that, I am hoping that the US gets an equal to the Green or NDP. It is one reason I urge left wing voters to vote Green. If they pass the 5% threshold, then they would be eligible for public financing. Sure it would take decades, but they might be able to achieve something. Even with less than 20% of the vote, the NDP has been influential. They haven’t always been successful nor lived up to their ideal, but they have made Canada better.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree though… A viable 3rd party is important… And if I could be positive dems could back the senate 4 years of GOP might be manageable… But the judiciary branch would still worry me. These are lifetime appointments.

        Like

  4. altandmain

    Also, I don’t think you quite understand how desperate people are in the US, especially in the worst places.

    We cannot afford to another Clinton. When people are desperate, they take risks that they would not normally take. That is one big driver of what is happening.

    I see it in the wealthier Democrats too. Here’s a great article capturing that sentiment:
    https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/05/white-workers-bernie-sanders-clinton-primary-racism/

    They are making the usually false conservative accusation about a “liberal elite” that is out of touch, a reality.

    Liked by 2 people

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