Category Archives: Bernie Sanders

Serene or Petrified?

The finagle was in for 2000.

You can read about it in Greg Palast’s book, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.  The Florida state government, in the name of purging convicted felons from the voting rolls, disenfranchised thousands of others, effectively throwing the state to George Bush, who was elected President.

George Bush was an establishment Republican.  He campaigned on the usual Republican agenda of lower taxes and a smaller government.  I had voted for Al Gore, the Democrat.  I was disappointed by what happened, but could accept that the other guy won.  Under President Bush, we got into the War on Terror and war in Iraq.  We were told that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, which turned out not to be true.

Nevertheless, in 2004, Bush was re-elected, fair and square.   He ran on the theme, ‘I will keep America safe.’  His opponent, John Kerry, ran on the theme ‘I am not George Bush.’  It didn’t end well for John.

As I write this on the Saturday morning after Election Day, the results of the Presidential election are still unresolved.  I voted for Trump: I noted why in my last post, and won’t rehash that now.

And the finagle appears to be in process.  There are stories of piles of ballots appearing in the middle of the night, all voted for Biden, and of communities reporting more votes than registered voters.  So far, these stories are all unconfirmed.

The Democrats have changed since 2000.  While Biden presents himself as an establishment Democrat, the kind my parents voted for and I generally supported until about 10-15 years ago, the Democratic agenda has veered sharply to the left.  What used to be the middle of the road is now the ditch alongside it.

There will be recounts and court battles, and one way or another, Trump or Biden will win.  The loser will make a non-concession speech acknowledging the results, and that will be that, at least until Inauguration Day.  (You didn’t seriously imagine the D.C. sheriff coming to evict Trump from the White House, did you?)

I’d like to be able to be serene about a Biden victory and accept that ‘the other guy won.’  I could be serene if the Republicans hold onto the Senate.

But that’s dicey.  Counting the senators not up for re-election this year and the elections already resolved, there are 48 Republicans, 46 Democrats, and two Independents, who functionally count as Democrats (one of whom is Bernie Sanders).  Two of the remaining seats are in Georgia and will be the subject of a runoff election in January; the other two are unresolved as vote counting continues.

If the Democrats win two of these races, they and the Independents will have 50 senators, which is enough, since the Vice President (Kamala Harris, for now) breaks ties.  The Democrats will have their dream of a blue House, a blue Senate, and a blue President.  Unlike Trump in 2017, the leadership will not have to fight the rest of the government as they pursue their agenda.

And then… we’re in trouble.

Under the prevailing Democratic philosophy as I understand it, since I’m white, male, and heterosexual, I’m an oppressor, the origin of evil, and will need to be put down hard.  Hillary Clinton called me (and many others) ‘deplorable.’  Keith Olbermann remarked last month,

And then [Trump] and his enablers and his supporters and his collaborators and the Mike Lees and the William Barrs and the Sean Hannitys and the Mike Pences and the Rudy Giulianis and the Kyle Rittenhouses and the Amy Coney Barretts must be prosecuted and convicted and removed from our society while we try to rebuild it, and to rebuild the world Trump has nearly destroyed by turning it over to a virus.

MSNBC, 8 October 2020

Well, thank you!

As I write this, word has come in that Biden has won Pennsylvania and therefore the Presidency.  It was probably a foregone conclusion: Biden needed only to win any one of the remaining states in play.  The lawyers may continue their battles, but yup, the other guy won.

OK, which is it:

  • We’ve taken a turn for the left, one among many in American history, just like in 1976 and 1992 and 2008.  (I was, in fact, OK with all three of those.)  Things will change, a little bit, but the fundamentals of our country will continue: nothing to get overwhelmed about.
  • The writing is on the wall; the storm clouds are on the horizon.  We’re about to go through a very painful transformation.  And I can’t protect myself against it, as one might board up one’s house in anticipation of bad weather, because the difficulties will be perpetrated by our own government.  (OK, I could stock up on guns and hide out in the woods.  But I still must earn a living, and my wife is a bigger New York City chauvinist than I am.)

Let’s just hope the Republicans can keep control of the Senate.

Demicans

There are lots of ways to organize a world, and many of them work, at least in the short run:

  • There can be such a thing as a benevolent dictator. But they usually don’t last: they either get corrupted by power, or their successors have other plans.
  • When I traveled to Chile a few years ago, I had the sense of it as a country that had gone through the wrenching transformations we are facing now, and come out the other end. But Chile had been under a military dictatorship for over two decades.
  • Soviet Communism had a pretty good run: for a time, they were our only real rival on the world stage. But Soviet Communism carried the seeds of its own destruction, in their belief in educating—really educating—the populace.  After a couple of generations, people realized that they didn’t want to be Communists any more.

But all of that is beside the point now: our leadership knows the one, the only, and the proper and correct way forward.  They’ve been to college, studied real hard, and unearthed the Awesome Nugget of Eternal Truth.  The news media knows and understands the Awesome Nugget as well, but knowing which side their bread is buttered on, won’t explain it out loud.

And so, whether Democratic or Republican, our leaders subscribe to the same basic tenets:

  • Big government: Since the United States is the world’s most powerful nation, it stands to reason that we should have the most powerful government.
  • Big surveillance: And our big government has its first responsibility to protect us from the evil terrorists.
  • America the global hegemon: And of course, we have the absolute right, if not duty, to throw our weight around the world.  All in the name of freedom, of course, and protecting ourselves from the terrorists.
  • Entitlements forever: It isn’t just that Social Security is the third rail of American politics: contemplating cuts to entitlements would be an admission that we aren’t the nation we used to be.
  • Free trade: The market works most efficiently when it is unconstrained by artificial rules like borders.  So let’s not have any.
  • Open borders: And while we’re having open borders for things, why not people too?  Immigrants do wonderful things for our country: we should be glad to have as many as want to arrive here.  (Having not studied the Awesome Nugget myself, I’m not sure how that’s supposed to work, but I’m sure that’s my own shortcoming.)
  • Fiat money: Money is an abstraction, and deficits don’t matter, if we have a big enough rug under which they can be swept.  Fiscal responsibility is a quaint virtue from another time, like waiting until you get married to move in together.  Tying ourselves to a known scarce commodity (like gold or silver) is a relic of the past, and unnecessarily limits our ability to implement our plans.
  • Too big to fail: Our big government lives in symbiosis with big business.  Just as it would be disastrous if government itself were to fail, it would be almost as bad for a Citibank or a General Motors to fail.   The effects would not be confined to that one firm, and would spread through the economy, to catastrophic effect.  So we won’t let that happen.
  • The Constitution as a dead letter: We can’t say this one out loud: after all, the President’s oath of office still calls for him to ‘preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.’  But the Constitution is really a quaint anachronism, not suitable for a modern superpower.
  • Climate Change: Whether it’s real or not doesn’t matter: without an overarching ‘emergency,’ how else could we advance the rest of our agenda?

Now an individual politician, running for office, might rail against a couple of these points: whatever works to get him elected.  Once in office, however, he will follow the program.

This, then, is the Demican party platform.  You may think of other elements, but I think I’ve covered the basics.

Now, in fact, the two ‘radical’ candidates for President, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, have in fact accepted most of these tenets as gospel.  Each has only really challenged a couple of them.

What makes them dangerous is that, having amassed a following by challenging the Demicans, they might actually follow through if elected.

Feeling the Bern

Every Sunday night for the last three weeks, I’ve reminded myself that Tuesday is Primary Day and I have to vote.  And for the previous two Mondays (but not today), I’ve corrected myself that the New York primary election is on the 19th.

On one level, I shouldn’t care.  I’ve written in these pages previously that all of the candidates are, to put it politely, useless.  And I could reasonably say that I don’t have time: my duties this week have me leaving the house at 0530; I have to catch up with paperwork after hours; the polling place is in a really awkward spot, not near a subway station.

Beyond that, I’m a registered Democrat.  My parents were, and up until maybe 2000, I would consider the candidates for an office and often decide that while the Republican candidate’s views were closer to my own, the Democrat seemed to be less of an arrogant asshole.  I’ve thought about changing, but to vote in the Republican primaries this year, I would have had to change my party registration by last October.  And it wasn’t clear back then that the Republican primaries would be as interesting as they turned out to be.

Still, it’s Election Day, and I have a choice.  And our country is troubled: I have to make the effort, pointless though it may be.

And my choice, for tomorrow, is Bernie Sanders.

I actually disagree with Sanders on many of his policy decisions.  While I believe that there may be room for the rich to pay more in taxes, I don’t believe that we can tax enough to finance some of Sanders’s more grandiose schemes.

But if Bernie Sanders is elected President, with a Republican Congress, the result will be gridlock.  And that is, in fact, a good thing: it means that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats will be able to make things worse.  Gridlock worked for the deficit: after years of trillion-dollar deficits, the figure has dropped to less than half that.

In contrast, Hillary Clinton is just another Demican (Republicrat?).  The Republicans will rail against her, as they do against Obama, but in the end will go along to get along. (And I’ll skip, for today, all the other reasons I don’t believe Hillary Clinton is unsuitable to be President.)

Our country needs a change.  Unfortunately, the change we really need will be necessarily painful and disruptive, especially in the short term.  And the government—even if it were an absolute dictatorship—can’t fix our problems by fiat.  Until we can face reality, then, the next best alternative is a government that does nothing, so that at least it can’t make things worse.

And so tonight, I’m feeling the Bern.

(Or is it that I just had too much to eat?)