There are many stupid reasons put forth by pundits and regular folk to justify their opposition to the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. I’ve picked seven of the most stupidest of them and pointed out the obvious problems with these arguments, despite the fact that rebuttal really should be unnecessary. I mean, the arguments are so idiotic as to be self-rebutting, but we see/hear/read them all over the media, so somebody must think they’re good points.
7. He’s too consistent
Markos Moulitsas (Kos) is especially fond of this one. The argument: Bernie is running his 2020 campaign using the same themes as his 2016 campaign. In fact, he’s saying pretty much the same things he’s been saying since the early 1970s. This is a bad thing, for some unfathomable reason. Because if there’s one thing voters love, it’s flip-flopping politicians. Or something.
The problem: this argument comes nowhere near the outer fringes of starting to make sense. None of the concerns raised by Bernie’s earlier campaigns have been addressed. None of his preferred policies have been implemented. The problems he’s trying to address have only gotten worse, and the need for his solutions has become more urgent. Of course he’s still talking about the same issues and (largely) the same plans. Duh. While other candidates seem to be running for Anemometer in Chief, Bernie stays true to his principles.
6. His plans are unrealistic
The mainstream media is fond of cold, sober analyses of Bernie’s plans and their chances of being implemented. Yeah, yeah, yeah. They make this argument: He’d have only a narrow majority in Congress at best, and even some of the Democrats would be reluctant to vote for many aspects of Bernie’s “radical” agenda. Therefore, he’d be unable to get anything done, and a Sanders presidency would be doooooomed to failure.
First problem: Duh. Who said that a major restructuring of US government was gonna be easy? Who said it would happen in one swell foop the moment Bernie got inaugurated? Who said that the organized forces of evil which are in charge of the federal government now would give up easily? Bernie sure as hell didn’t. Bernie himself is fond of a paraphrase of a statement attributed to Nelson Mandela: “nothing is possible until it happens”. If something is difficult but necessary, are we supposed to just give up? If you’ve ever listened to a Bernie stump speech you know he’s building a movement for the long haul; he’s not just one candidate running for one office in one election.
Second problem: the only alternative is preemptive surrender. On issue after issue after issue, there is no middle ground. There are no incrementalist approaches which have any chance of mitigating any of our numerous crises, starting with the Mother Of All Crises: climate change. Republicans deny objective reality, corporate Dems want incremental, ineffectual, token measures, and Bernie puts the issue front and center where it belongs. With the icecaps melting, the oceans acidifying, and millions of people being made refugees by floods and droughts, we need bold decisive action, not denial, not timidity, and especially not preemptive surrender masked as pragmatism.
5. Nominating someone so extreme would cause a backlash
The argument: nominating a radical socialist like Bernie would risk not only losing the presidency, but also cause losses for the Democratic Party in down-ticket races.
The problem: That’s exactly 180 degrees wrongety-wrong wrong. Half the potential electorate doesn’t bother to vote in most elections. Nominating someone with actual principles will increase turnout. Nominating someone who addresses real issues in substantive ways will increase turnout. Nominating someone who can converse with the disaffected will increase turnout. The Republican core always votes; many of the Democratic-leaning folks only vote when they have good candidates. Many of them are sick and fucking tired of this lesser of two evils bullshit. On the other hand, if the goal is to lose, the Democrats should keep nominating blandocrats who speak condescendingly to the plebians while they do the bidding of their corporate overlords.
4. He’s not electable
The argument: corporate Democrats claim that the way to win elections to to run to the center. And the center is what the corporate media says it is, and the center keeps drifting further and further right.
The first problem: History. Corporate Democrats are masters of losing elections. I’m unconvinced we should be taking their advice about much of anything.
The second problem: there’s really no evidence that “moderate” candidates are more likely to win. Just ask President Hillary Clinton, or President Al Gore, or President John Kerry. Substantial majorities of the potential electorate support Bernie’s positions on issue after issue after issue.
The third problem: polling. Poll after poll after poll has shown Bernie comfortably ahead of Trump, and polling as well as, or better than, more “moderate” candidates. Many, many polls show Bernie polling better with independent voters than Biden or any other corporate putz.
The third problem: What the fuck does “electable” even mean? Seriously, nobody really knows.
3. Other Dems have adopted portions of his platform
The argument: since other Democratic candidates have adopted pieces of Bernie’s platform, they’ll siphon off his support and render him irrelevant.
The Problem: Puh-leeze. Do people want a cheap-assed copy, or do they want the real deal? Do they want a candidate who parrots a line because it’s polling well at the moment, or do they want someone who has consistently supported the position for decades? One quick example: Medicare for all. Bernie has been a consistent, vocal supporter since the early 1970s. Other candidates have wishy-washily advocated some form of something vaguely resembling Medicare for all for a few months. Bernie Lite, like all lite versions of everything, is watered-down and flavorless. Color me unimpressed. I sincerely doubt I’m alone in this.
2. He’s snatching votes from Elizabeth Warren
The argument: Bernie should end his campaign and endorse Elizabeth Warren so that the two most progressive candidates don’t split the lefty vote and allow a conservadem to win the nomination.
First problem: Sanders’ and Warren’s constituencies are very different; they’re not really competing for the same voters… at least for now. Warren’s supporters are whiter, more affluent, and older. Sanders supporters are younger and more diverse ethnically. If one of them were to drop out, their supporters wouldn’t necessarily slide over to the other progressive. Sanders supporters would likely slide largely to Tulsi Gabbard; Warren supporters might lean more towards Kamala Harris.
Second problem: Bernie built his enormous, dedicated army of supporters after Warren decided not to bother running in ’16. He’s supposed to turn over the whole apparatus which he built because… I really have no idea.
Third problem: Warren needs Bernie in the race. Part of the reason for Warren’s rise is that she’s seen as a “compromise” candidate. She’s far less threatening to the corporatist neoliberals who currently run the party. If Bernie were to drop out, she’d be the only viable left-ish candidate, and she’d have to face the full brunt of the red-baiting, “socialism” scare mongering, and patronizing pseudo-pragmatism of the legions of talking heads on the corporate media. Does she have the backbone to stand her ground in the face of this inevitable onslaught?
Fourth problem: after the voting has begun, and one of the progressive candidates has established electoral superiority over the other, the loser can still instruct their delegates to vote for the other at the Democratic Convention. The delegates from the states are assigned in proportion to the vote in that state, so two candidates receiving 20% each get 40% worth of the delegates in total, and, once the two campaigns have consolidated, the total delegate haul for the ultimate winner is the same. There is no hurry for either of them to drop out. For now, they are working well together, and getting the progressive messages out better than one candidate would flying solo.
1.He’s not a “real Democrat”
Ahhh… the Grand Prize winner, one of the dumbest arguments on any topic ever!
The Argument: Bernie should not be allowed to run for President in the Democratic Primaries because he’s not a “real” Democrat.
First problem: How do we define what a “real” Democrat is? Is it solely based on a person’s willingness to kiss Chuck Shumer’s ring? If that’s the case, I hearby promise to never ever vote for a real Democrat for anything, and many millions of voters that the Democratic Party really really needs agree with me. Is it defined by positions on issues? If that’s the case, Bernie is the most democratic-est politician out there. He takes bold principled stands on issues that are supposedly fundamental to the party, yet most Democrats only pretend to give a flying fuck about them. As the corporate leadership drifts ever-rightward, Bernie sticks to real Democratic principles. Is it by raising money and campaigning for other Democratic candidates? If so, Bernie is tops. But wait, he campaigns and raises money for progressive Democrats, rather than corporate fuddy-duddy Democrats… maybe that doesn’t count.
Second problem: Hardly anyone cares. The people who make this argument are a tiny group of hyper-partisans who only care about their faction of their party winning. A larger group of voters cares more about issues than partisanship; they completely do not care about this dumb dumb argument. Another, even larger, group actively dislikes the two party system; Bernie’s independence is a plus for them, although it’s unlikely to be the determining factor for many.
Third problem: Fuck the two party system. If we’re going to give the two parties a stranglehold on our alleged democracy, they may not be run as private cliquish clubs.
Fourth problem: It’s the hypocrisy, stupid. If Bernie were to listen to these people who say he shouldn’t run as a Democrat, and run an independent campaign in the General Election instead, what people would be squealing the loudest? The same damn people saying he shouldn’t run as a Democrat, that’s who. Fuck ‘em.