I’m not gonna lie — today is a really sad day. Not only because it’s the deadliest day of the COVID-19 outbreak, but because my fears have been realized. Much as I predicted in 2016, there is a substantial chance Trump will be re-elected. Hope is dead.
Since 2015 I have been a proud supporter of Bernie Sanders. There is a reason he is consistently voted most popular U.S. Senator. He is unabashedly the antithesis of every other politician in there. He doesn’t serve to line his own pockets, or to pander to special interests. His entire career has been spent to try and improve the lives of other citizens. If you don’t believe me, go watch his public access tv show from the ’80s. He is exactly the same, even his hair.
Bernie’s authenticity is the reason he has been so successful. And that is why this defeat is so soul-crushing. His supporters dared to believe that there was a transformational alternative to the usual corrupt (or at least sketchy) politicians who serve other interests above the average person, and then later claim, “Sorry, it’s just to difficult to do now. We’ll try for some incremental change.” See, e.g. Biden’s policy positions on healthcare, student debt, climate change, marijuana, et al., Every Debate 2020. And once again, the growing hope that this year was our year — that decency and values would win out over the craven self-serving goals of the Establishment — was crushed.
We are now being scolded to fall in line behind Biden by the same people who screamed “Vote Blue No Matter Who” until Bernie won the first three states. What the “Fall In Line” crew doesn’t understand is how much hard-earned money Bernie’s supporters gave him. He raised $5 million in the last two months just to help hard-hit Coronavirus nonprofits. They don’t realize how many phone bank calls were made and doors knocked because no other candidate even came close to that enthusiasm. And Bernie’s people have done it twice. How many people did that for Joe Biden? 38?
It always hurts more when you start to believe that your dreams will finally come true, and all the hours, and time, and money you spent to achieve them turn out to be for naught because you were never going to be allowed to have what you want. It was always going to be yanked away from you in the end. But for the time you actually believed in it, it was magical.
[Pause for vitriol about Bernie Bros and conspiracy theories. Save it. You can’t tell me that the candidate who won the first three contests didn’t scare the bejeezus out of the Establishment so that they had to engage in serious shenanigans to prop up the candidate who didn’t finish higher than 5th in those elections.]
The calls to unite overnight are setting the stage for what is inevitable. Presumably in anticipation of the weakest candidate the party has nominated since Mondale getting humiliated in a debate and ultimately losing, the narrative is already being painted. Much like Trump, the blame never falls where it should. It always has to be about bitter Bernie voters not showing up, when in 2016 Hillary received the majority of votes but took the swing states for granted. We have not been given a chance to even process this loss and it’s already started.
I can’t say I’ll vote in this election, for the first time in my life. Being in a solid blue state, my vote doesn’t matter. I also firmly believe that if progressives continue to just fall in line, this will continue to happen because the Establishment knows we will fold. We will never have greater leverage than in this moment. If a pandemic doesn’t tell the country that Bernie was right (once again) about the need for Medicare for All (which Biden said he would veto) then this revolution needs to get ugly. The economy is cratering and we need New Deal style leadership. We need to drag the party left out of necessity. The planet won’t wait 4 more years. The revolution will continue; we just need to get a little more disruptive and demanding. (Or build some guillotines on the National Mall. I nominate Mitch McConnell for first sacrifice.)
But there is no greater way to ensure that Bernie supporters do not show up than to insult their intelligence and make no attempt to earn their vote. Simply scaring us to vote against the Republican is not enough. Lesser of two evils is not enough. It didn’t work for Hillary, or Al Gore, or John Kerry, or Mondale. Scaring people without inspiring them is not enough to drive out turnout. Barack Obama sold voters on a message of hope. We are entering a completely changed world after this virus. A campaign slogan of “Let’s go back 4 years!” is not a strategy for victory. No one wants to have an old man constantly lamenting about the good old days. Either find a new message or get used to the Deranged Tangerine for another four years.
*Caveat: I will, however, vote for Biden if he picks Cuomo as a running mate, because I don’t think Biden is fit enough to finish out a term. And I think Cuomo would get under Trump’s skin and kick his ass on the campaign trail. I mean Chris Cuomo. But I guess Andrew is ok too.