Much earlier in the Democratic primary season, I wrote about the problem of falling in love with one Great Man of History who is going to magically save us. What’s happened since then has provided a good example of what I was talking about.
Many, many Pagans (and other Americans!) fell head-over-heels for Senator Sanders as a candidate. They liked his message about breaking up big banks, providing free college education, providing single-payer health care, and so on. And, of course, all those things sound desirable. It turned out that he didn’t really have much of a plan for how to bring about those changes, other than, “And then the revolution will force the Republicans to vote our way,” but, OK, by the time he gave that disastrous interview, many of his supporters were too committed to back off. Maybe he’d figure it out once he was in office.
They were also willing to overlook some of his sketchier positions. OK, he’d voted for gun manufacturers, weapons manufacturers as long as they provided jobs in Vermont, and:
Sanders supported Bill Clinton’s war on Serbia, voted for the 2001 Authorization Unilateral Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF), which pretty much allowed Bush to wage war wherever he wanted, backed Obama’s Libyan debacle and supports an expanded US role in the Syrian Civil War.
Somehow, that meant much less than the fact that Secretary Clinton had “voted for the war,” when Bush wanted to invade. (Insert requisite disclaimer: I wish she’d voted against Bush’s war, even though that would not have made any difference.) It’s just different when women are hawks.
And, over the past few months, many of us have watched as many Sanders’ supporters became not so much in favor of him as they were diametrically opposed to her. No old Republican talking point was too fantastical to warm over. No sexist attacks on her were out of bounds. No progressive, Democratic organization was beyond reproach if it made the mistake of supporting Secretary Clinton over Senator Sanders: establishment, uninformed, part of the massive conspiracy to deny (the man one of my friends calls) Blessed Bernard of the Snows his rightful place in the White House. Senator Sanders won’t release his tax returns? No worries! Senator Sanders professes ignorance of affairs in South and Central America? He’s been busy running for president! Senator Sanders really doesn’t get sexism, racism, and homophobia and turns every question about those issues back to his class-war talking points? Why do you hate Bernie????
It all got extremely silly. The really sad thing is that Senator Sanders began to drink his own Kool-Aid.
At first, he attacked the Superdelegates. Even though they’d switched their support from Secretary Clinton to then-Senator Obama when the popular vote favored him, Senator Sanders initially insisted that they were anti-democratic and would throw the election to her in spite of his success in the (then-early) primaries. Then, when it turned out that millions of voters preferred Secretary Clinton to Senator Sanders, he switched his tune and began to insist that the Superdelegates should ignore the will of the Democratic voters and throw the nomination to him because: reasons.
Senator Sanders continued to fundraise from his supporters based on more and more counter-factual scenarios in which he won more and more unlikely large percentages of primary voters.
When he won caucuses (which disfavor women, poor people, parents, old people, etc.) caucuses were the answer . When he won open primaries, all primaries should be open; anyone who wants to choose the Democratic candidate (including Republicans and Independents who will never vote Democratic) should be able to pick the Democratic nominee. When he won mostly white voters, the problem was allowing states with larger African American populations to vote. When voters his own age wouldn’t vote for him, the answer was younger voters. His answer to how he could win was to ignore women, Hispanics, and African Americans and to focus on “white, working class” voters, as if Hispanics, women, and African Americans don’t also vote.
Sanders used campaign funds to fly his family to the Vatican in a desperate attempt to get Catholic support. He made fool of himself announcing that he and Trump were going to debate without that woman.
And all along you watched good, gullible people get suckered into posting Facebook memes about how evil Secretary Clinton was and about how a bird landing on Senator Sanders’ podium (birds inside are an omen of a coming death) meant that he was definitely going to defy the odds and win not only the Democratic nomination but the presidency.
Finally, when his supporters went overboard in Nevada and, instead of simply saying, “Of course we condemn violence and threats,” Senator Sanders complained about his own treatment, you began to watch some of the saner people start to peel off. “OK, Bernie. You made your point about big banks. Having a riot at the convention and handing the election to Trump isn’t funny.”
Now, where are his supporters? Those who fell in love with him, who saw him as just the latest in a long line of Great Men of History, are disappointed. You start out in love with the next great man who’s going to save us and you wind up defending a guy whose message has gone from “Break up the big banks!” to “Let’s tear down the Democrats!”
Meanwhile, at every local level, there are races for local positions playing out under the radar. The other evening, Landscape Guy and I went to the local Dem caucus to pick Board of Ed candidates. There were 4 candidates for two slots. It took half an hour’s research to figure out that we’d vote for the one woman already on the board and for the progressive woman trying to get on the board. All the local candidates were there, ready to talk to voters. I traded viewpoints with out local DINO.
You can have MUCH more influence in your local races than you’ll ever have falling in love with some Great Man of History. We’re Pagans. We should do something about this.
GIF found here