Bernie Supporters and the Hillary Problem
One of my favorite stories in American politics involves Norman Thomas. Nobody
remembers Norm Thomas today. A name like Norm Thomas is like being named
John Smith, kind of hard to be remembered. He was the non-Jewish version of
Bernie Sanders, except he never won a political office and ran for the presidency six
times for the American Socialist Party. Like Bernie, he was a democratic socialist
and was lucky to live long enough to see the United States adopt many of the ideals
he campaigned so long and hard for. The roots of the New Deal and The Great
Society can be found in his speeches and thoughts. The son of a Lutheran minister,
he internalized the ethics of Jesus and personified what was known as the social
gospel. (Today the dominant form of Christianity is the gospel of health and wealth).
He was a gentle and good soul, for whom even those who disagreed with him
politically remember with nothing but fondness.
The story goes that during one of his campaigns for the presidency he was going
door-to-door in one of the worst slums in America, the kind of place that you or I
would probably burn our shoes if we had to walk in today. He was in a particularly
horrible section of the slum that looked like a junkyard there was so much trash
strewn everywhere. He walked up to a shack that was so rickety it was hard to
believe it hadn’t toppled over yet. Filthy children, clearly suffering from tapeworms
and malnutrition were playing around it. The place had no electricity and from the
smell of things clearly no indoor plumbing.
Norman knocked on the door. A huge man in a ripped t-shirt and filthy workpants
answered. The man had clearly aged beyond his years from harsh conditions, poor
medical care, and backbreaking labor. Norman was about to go through his spiel
about how he was Norman Thomas, running for President of the United States, and
then go through many of the programs and ideals he was campaigning for would
improve this man’s life. Before Norm Thomas could open his mouth, the man
growled at him, “I know who you are.”
Thomas was pleasantly surprised and a little taken back by the aggressiveness in
the man’s voice.
“You’re that summabi’ch trying to destroy my way of life,” the man said.
Americans don’t like summabi’ches that are trying to destroy their way of life.
They don’t vote for them. I love Bernie Sanders. He is one of my political heroes. I
publically stated that in a town hall meeting in Ames, Iowa, long before Hollywood
celebrities and young people jumped on board, back when it was difficult to hear his
message over the hardening of arteries of his audience. He has been a voice in the
political wilderness since joining the Senate in 1991 and has a lot of ideas that this
nation should consider adopting.
I am also a political realist and recognize that he has a huge uphill battle on his
hands to win the Democratic nomination for president, a party he has not been a
member of until the last year. The Democratic Party has this category called super-
delegates. They are the party’s thumb on the nomination scale.
In the aftermath of Watergate, the Democrats should have dominated the political
landscape for the next generation to come. Even before that in 1972, given that
Richard Nixon was not a pleasant fellow and America was in chaos, they felt they
had a chance to recapture the White House. Instead they got George McGovern,
Jimmy Carter and the Reagan revolution. Elections they should have won turned
into political routs. The problem was Americans don’t vote for men and women that
want to destroy their way of life.
Hence, the super delegates. There are 712 super delegates out of 4,051 total
delegates assigned to choose the next nominee of their party for president. These
super delegates (a slang term) are not democratically chosen but rather handed out
to the party faithful and elected officials to insure that a McGovern and a Carter
never happen again, that sure wins don’t vanish into the typical liberal pipedreams.
They can vote for whomever they wish. (The Republican Party also has super
delegates, but just 168 out of 2,472.)
In other words, the Democrats don’t want a liberal Donald Trump tipping over the
punch bowl and disturbing their prom again. Americans don’t like men and women
who want to destroy their way of life. Does anyone really think that Bernie Sanders,
who had never been a faithful member of the party before last year, was going to get
the votes of men and women who have given decades of their lives to that very same
You can scream that is not democratic, but picking the party’s nominees for the
highest office in the land never has been. It used to happen in smoke-filled
backrooms with a veneer of democracy sprinkled on top and has moved to a more
democratic process. Through processes, procedures and super delegates, both
parties are still able to hang out that old sign, “we have the right to reserve service.”
You can win the majority of delegates and still not be the nominee. It is making sure
practical people still control the process. It is saying you trust your kids, but still
check their cell phone records, the computer, and the mileage on the car. In other
words, we trust our voters but not enough to risk wrecking the car again. No more
McGoverns. No more Carters. Ever again. The American people do not vote for men
and women that want to destroy their way of life.
Hillary Clinton is not well liked. I knew that, but I always thought it was just with
middle-aged white males whose wives no longer find them that interesting. Three-
and-a-half decades of the far right screaming “fire”, even if 99 percent of the time
they are just blowing smoke, has an affect. She is not the politician her husband is.
She is more closed off and protective. Almost all of the Clinton scandals are just
smoke and mirrors and poor handling of things on her part.
Still, I was shocked when I went to see a very famous stand-up comedian who
made his bones on Saturday Night Live and now has his own Netflix show. It was a
younger, urban crowd. (This is Iowa. So, I don’t mean black.) The comedian started
ragging on the Republican field of candidates for president. Lots of laughter, then
with one sentence he made the place explode in cheering. He called Hillary Clinton a
word that is so discomforting I will not even use it in private, that word that a
person uses if they want to have a woman hate them for life. It was the biggest pop
line of the night. Let me make this perfectly clear, it was not men who were standing
and cheering, the people you would expect, but young women, women who
probably have no memories of the Clintons in the White House. In fact, a lot of the
men in the audience were a little uncomfortable. This comedian used the vile of
vilest words you can use regarding a woman and it was women cheering him on. It
truly took me back. It was only then that I realized how disliked Hillary is. I still
don’t fully understand it.
I have had a lot of people tell me if Bernie is not the nominee they are not going to
vote. Why vote for the status quo? Voting for Hillary is not voting for the status quo.
It is voting not to roll back the progress made during the Obama administration. It is
turning the Supreme Court completely over to the Republican Party for the next
.three or four decades. It is somehow imagining that magic pixie dust is going to
make supply side economics suddenly work after four decades of failure.
The problem with Bernie supporters is they are the same people that did not show
up in 2010 and 2014. They are the ones that gave the Republicans control of the
House and the Senate and then were mad that Obama could not deliver on
everything he promised. It is the same old circular firing squad known as the
Democratic Party. The let us push to legalize pot by holding a rock concert
mentality. Liberals feel good about themselves. They have a high horse to climb on
and feel superior to everyone around them, but ultimately accomplishing nothing.
You want a Bernie Sanders-like president? Roll up your sleeves and elect
politicians that embody your ideals on the state and local level. I know that is hard
work, not sexy at all, and means taking time off from your smugness. It means
finding young, charismatic individuals and working your backside off for them. It
means voting and getting your neighbors and lazy friends to vote in every election,
even for dog catcher. It means constantly pushing and not taking your ball and going
home when you lose an election, having to vote for the lesser of two evils, or
compromising on an issue. Americans don’t vote for people that want to destroy
their way of life. Now go out and prove me wrong.