“Now America gets a choice between a rich white man with mental problems, a history of sexually harassing/assaulting women, a long record of supporting racist policies, & a career of taking money from the big banks & financial institutions OR… Donald Trump.”~Lee Camp
So it ends in a whimper.
The so-called “revolution” that Sanders was leading to retake the Democratic Party has been brought to an unceremonious halt. Many primaries still haven’t taken place, and Biden remains short of the delegates needed for automatic nomination, and anything could still happen between now and then (such as putting off the convention itself for reasons of public health), but Sanders has thrown in the towel.
“Not Me, Us” indeed.
Back in December 2019, I penned an essay called, “Do Bernie’s Supporters Know What ‘Not Me, Us’ Means? Does Bernie?”
“At the 2016 Democratic Convention, Sanders famously hushed his supporters, who were rightly protesting the shenanigans going down. That was a “me” not “us” move. Is he willing to fight this time if that’s demanded by “us”? Even if he doesn’t want to himself? This is where I’m skeptical. When it comes down to a fight, I’m afraid he lacks the cojones. But I’d love to be wrong.”
Well, here we are, earlier than the convention but it’s the same scenario. Did Sanders involve his supporters in this decision? Did he ask them to convene local meetings to discuss the question of whether the campaign should continue? Did he even poll them? Nope! So it was just “me.” It wasn’t “us.”
Which begs the question: was it ever about “us”?
Now it looks like that rallying cry was merely a tagline, like “Just Do It” or “I’m Lovin’ It” or maybe—given Sanders’s persistent ties to the military/industrial complex—”Be all that you can be.”
Am I disappointed? Yes.
I haven’t voted for a Democrat for president since 1992 (and never for a Republican) but in February, I found myself thinking that “The 2020 Presidential Election Really is Different” and I became a Sanders supporter. Why? Three reasons:
- The establishment clearly opposed him
- The sorry state of the environment
- The youth wanted him
Hold up any other Democratic candidate and they fail on all three counts. With Biden, for example, we’d be getting stuck with yet another corporate, neoliberal, racist, patriarchal, pro-fossil fuel, pro-Wall Street, pro-pharma, pro-war, status quo shit bag.
The status quo is literally killing us and the planet. There’s nothing “less evil” about any candidate who supports it, as Biden unequivocally does. End of discussion.
Within the realm of electoral politics, we really needed someone who meant it when they said, “Not Me, Us.”
Even more than that, of course, we need mass movements that are all about “us” in the first place and that will rise (or fail) on their own merits regardless of leaders. Can such a movement emerge from Sanders’ supporters? We’ll see, but I’m afraid that for far too many of them (though not all, of course) the entire phenomena was just a cult-of-personality from the get go. That’s too bad.
I’m not going to say, “I told you so.” I, too, thought for a minute that Sanders meant it. Or at least, I wanted him to mean it enough that I went along with it. If it’s the case that I bamboozled myself (again), then what I fell for was the same old trick the Dems have been playing for years: foisting candidates on voters who are empty sets; mere mannequins upon whom voters can project their desires, regardless of the facts (or lack thereof). Obama was the best example of this swindle in recent years; millions of people fell for the baloney that he was interested in justice, peace or nature. He wasn’t. He didn’t give a good goddamn about any of those things. The good reputation he continues to enjoy is entirely undeserved.
So maybe Sanders was merely a bait-and-switch all along too—just a “sheep-dog” as he was called by the late, great Bruce Dixon of the Black Agenda Report in 2016. (If I’m going to defer to anyone on issues of electoral politics, Dixon is certainly one of the best I could pick.)
Even if there was a moment when Sanders wasn’t a sheepdog—when he was actually his own man, really trying to win—that’s over now.