By Laurie Dobson
As people come to grips today with the Wednesday’s announcement that Bernie Sanders has suspended, i.e. dropped out of, his campaign, a myriad of collective feelings will have to run their inevitable course.
My first reactions are that I feel profoundly let down. In the middle of Holy Week, for God’s sake! While the virus is peaking and people are losing things right and left, how does it help that he does this now?
Bernie has always had terrible timing, a consequence of having bad advisors from the beginning. He always seemed to be reluctant to agree to anything people were crying out for him to say, especially to stop calling Biden a ‘good and decent’ man, his good friend, Joe Biden, the party’s only remaining nominee: an old man with a credible sexual assault allegation recently come to light; a serial plagiarist, a promoter of the worst policies the centrists had to offer.
Let me put this in clear terms: Joe Biden, the Democratic Party choice for President- a man with diminished mental capacities, is going against one of the most ruthless contenders in Presidential history, Donald J. Trump. On Bernie’s watch, and with his participation by concession, the Democratic Party will be utterly destroyed in November, and will have richly deserved it.
Bernie would also not fight back against Warren and her outrageous sexism charge. He wanted his kindly reputation to endure in a campaign that was not supposed to be about him.
In the end, this campaign was all about Bernie. This may not sound very charitable. I could not believe however, that there were no admissions of any missteps in his concession speech. No mention that he could have done more to address the concerns of many people.
For instance, although he said he was inclusive, he did not pay any particular regard to those not in the minority segments or youth age brackets that he was trying to romance. He would not stray from the talking points hammered into our brains, trying to burn a legacy into place, to make the case that he was the originator of these ideas, and, in my view, trying a little too hard to rewrite history.
His last speech as a contender showed him once more taking credit for these ideas becoming mainstream. Although he clearly was a defender, or at least a constant repeater of these ideas, was he helping “build a movement” by stamping his brand all over them? The progressive ideas that he embraced did not belong to him. Occupy was involved in income inequality long before Bernie hitched his wagon to that star.
Bernie did not come up with a tax on speculation on Wall Street (an idea that I supported in my run as an Independent from Maine for US Senate in 2008). It actually came from James Tobin, an economist who won the Nobel Prize. Tobin originated the concept of the STT (Securities Transaction Tax), which would be an optimal way to fight back against the tax breaks and cuts that Congress has showered on the rich for several decades. https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/economic-sciences/1981/press-release/]
The fight for minimum wage has been a progressive effort since I was young, hardly a new idea. Not a Sanders idea, although to be fair, he has strongly endorsed the idea for a long time. The same goes for single payer, or healthcare for all. Others, notably Physicians for a National Health Plan (PNHP) have fought these fights on behalf of the progressive cause.
Bernie adopted those ideas into the progressive platform he ran on. The need was evident, but the ideas are not new and are not his alone. Maybe he has fought for these things in the Senate, and as an Independent from Vermont, which would be a reasonable thing to do to stay in power, since they are among the most popular ideas for change in the country.
I am not impressed that Bernie could not summon the willpower to respond to the efforts of those who wanted him to go to battle. I wrote many columns trying to appeal to him to suit up. I attended ten of his campaign events in New Hampshire this time out and wrote and made videos to support his efforts from the beginning of this second campaign. I have tried to reach the campaign to no avail, to urge them to heighten their response and sharpen their attack on substandard candidates’ ideas.
Bernie was staggeringly passive; he let one opportunity after another go whizzing past with weak responses, if any, in the face of a growing Democratic resurgence determined to destroy him. His silences emboldened the corporate centrists, and confused supporters, who thought he would take the huge advantage they gave him and surge forth, brandishing fury and determination. Instead, he endlessly equivocated.
I have to own my part in this: I was stunned in 2016 when he said Hillary was right and that nobody cares about her damn emails. From the beginning I saw him back down. Everything since then has been consistent: he never went full tilt. He wanted to be loved more than being right at all costs. He was able to be loved again, and forgiven again, and able to let us down again. Yet I went along with it; I still worked on his behalf.
Despite his recent abdication (and, for some of us, his serial betrayal) Bernie Sanders will be remembered fondly, and he will likely be forgiven by the majority of his followers. Jacobin Magazine has written an article entitled “Thank You, Bernie,” making the case that Sanders two campaigns have made it possible to talk about socialism in America. It’s now okay apparently that he will be endorsing and campaigning for Joe Biden, who shamed Anita Hill and is now shaming Tara Reade. I have lived to witness the day this has happened. It is not a joke.
After losing last time, Bernie did an amazing job of trying to convince his hardcore supporters to stay in the Democratic Camp to support Clinton. Why would he not support Dr. Stein in 2016, who endorsed his platform? If he wanted a Revolution, she and the Green Party were the logical choice.
Why does he stay in the race now, collecting delegates which may still come his way this time around? He hasn’t succeeded in explaining this, which leads to the speculation that he is doing this to keep all the possible votes and funding he can collect, to turn them over to the Democrats for political gain, retain his Senatorial standing, and not be hated later like Ralph Nader. That’s why. He says it is to oppose Trump. We must keep following him on this, apparently, even in his absence. I guess he will be out there making Joe’s case for him, since he cannot make a compelling case anymore.
This time, he has left the race early, in April, with half the States not having even voted yet, with supporters that sent him money, who are now without a leader. Bernie can claim that he did not stay and fight his ‘good friends.’
In 2016 I was a Bernie candidate for State Rep., and a Bernie delegate and caucus captain and helped to start and run a pop-up office in York County, Maine and taught area workers how to fight in the caucus for him.
When he dropped out last time and supported Hillary, I protested at a rally and his rally people had me arrested for waving a green scarf in support of Jill Stein. I was literally dragged out by two policemen.
Bernie Sanders has caused me more effort and personal grief for the least amount of satisfaction of anyone I have ever known. No one else has asked so much of me and done so little, and not followed through on their promises.
He said he would stay in the fight. He wants people to support his platform and fight for his delegates at the convention. He just will not do it himself.
He is a consummate politician. He has saved himself and bowed out while we are struggling through a pandemic. Who told him this would be a good idea? He could have just said that he would be there on the ballots so the Democratic Party had an alternative in the event that Biden could not survive the allegations of rape and the demands of leading in a pandemic and staying mentally capable. These are real liabilities.
Sanders dropped out at the last possible point for Joe to make some bizarre case that he could credibly be the Democratic nominee; any longer and Joe would, and will, spectacularly bomb out, leading to four more years of Trump.
Bernie, you were the alternative. You ran the race, you did the work, you deserved to hang in there. You should have fought hard for a better deal and not sold us out in the stimulus package. That was a disaster. Your bright colors are starting to fade in the reality of this crisis. You did not call for an explanation for the allegations of rape against your “good friend.”
You never called out for Julian Assange to be dealt with decently. You sidestepped that issue of conscience. So many missed opportunities to do some good while you had the floor.
I am on a rant. Others will come after, and say other things. We are all pretty mad at you. More than most, I spent time and treasure to help you do the job. Why couldn’t you finish what you began? Not from the Senate. From the Presidential campaign that we contributed funds to, hoping you would lead.
Why, why, why? I will go to my grave wondering what the hell happened that I could believe in you again, be duped the same way again, and still want to see some good in all you did.
It’s just time to pick up and move on, a rather hard thing to do while we are all imprisoned in our own homes because of a bug. The man that could speak for us has just folded his tents. Gone, like a thief in the night. Good grief! Good night and good luck.
LAURIE DOBSON, a new member of the ThisCantBeHappening! news collective, is a veteran political activist, and current Democratic Convention ‘Bernie’ delegate for the Cranberry Isles, Maine, writes for various blogs and is an EMT, USCG-certified captain, landscape design business owner, and columnist. See her website: EndUSWars.org.