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Bernie Sanders doesn’t pick easy fights, which makes it easy for the legions of do-nothing, know-nothing dead-enders among us to declare that he’s lost even when he’s actually winning.
“Bernie and his army are losing 2018,” proclaims Politico’s David Siders.
“Bernie Sanders is sputtering,” Siders writes. “Two years after his defeat in the 2016 presidential primary, the Vermont senator has amassed a growing string of losses in races in which he has intervened.”
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Bernie has been on the national political scene only since 2015, when he informally announced his candidacy for president on April 30 and formally announced on May 26 of that year.
And yes, Bernie came in second place in 2016, but it was a surprisingly strong second to Queen Billary Clinton — he won 22 states and 46 percent of the pledged delegates (delegates that he had to win in primary elections and caucuses). He pretty much came from nowhere to do that, and he never has been given widespread credit for that.
Bernie Sanders successfully is pushing the needle to the left. That in and of itself is a triumph. For years the Democratic Party has been stuck in the center-right, do-nothing, punk-the-people Clintonian-Obamian bullshit, and that’s finally starting to change. It’s getting harder and harder for corporate whores who call themselves Democrats to continue their scams on the people, and that’s a great thing.
No, the job isn’t done, and yes, the Democratic Party could slip back into its corporate whoredom, but for the time being, progress is being made, even if it’s only in baby steps.
I look to Mexico’s next president, democratic socialist Andrés Manuel López Obrador, for inspiration. He ran for president three times (in 2006, 2012 and this year) before he finally won. Had AMLO, as he is widely called, given up because of the naysayers’ negativity, he never would have become Mexico’s president-elect.
Bernie, like AMLO, is one of those rare types who just does it amidst a chorus of mediocre-at-best pieces of shit proclaiming that it can’t be done.
Like AMLO, Bernie lost his initial races. In the 1970s he ran twice for governor of and twice for U.S. senator for Vermont and he lost all four times. He didn’t finally win an election until he lowered his sights a bit and became mayor of Burlington, Vermont, in 1980.*
Had Bernie given up — and many people would have after having lost four elections in a row — he wouldn’t be in the U.S. Senate right now.
Center-right politics have been stubbornly persistent in the United States of America for decades now, and that dynamic isn’t going to be reversed overnight. But as the more conservative voters finally die, taking their selfish, short-sighted, right-wing bullshit to their graves with them, and our youth — who gravitate toward democratic socialism — more and more take over the reins of power, we are going to see the nation going more and more to the left.
Take a very recent election — yesterday’s special election for a U.S. House of Representatives seat in Ohio. Right now it’s “President” Pussygrabber-endorsed Repugnican Troy Balderson at 50.2 percent of the vote to Democrat Danny O’Connor’s 49.3 percent, a difference of only 1,754 votes out of 201,394 votes cast, with the results of around 8,300 provisional and vote-by-mail ballots still to be officially announced.
Even if Balderson ekes out a win, Pussygrabber won the congressional district by 11 points in November 2016, so in the big picture, the Repugnicans should expect to lose the House of Representatives in November of this year. (Right now, only around 41 percent of those polled say they’ll vote for a Repugnican for the U.S. House in November, while around 48 percent say they’ll vote for a Democrat.)
And because yesterday’s was just a special election, Balderson and O’Connor will run against each other again for a full two-year term in November; even if it turns out that Balderson won yesterday, he will lose the seat in January if O’Connor beats him in November.
Yes, probably most of the vote swing in the Ohio congressional district is due to the revulsion of “President” Pussygrabber, whose nationwide approval ratings remain mired in the low 40s, than to great love for democratic socialism, but the pendulum is swinging back to the left.
It’s not until the end of his piece that Politico’s David Siders more or less eviscerates his own claim that Bernie’s losing, which is a nice and tidy and dramatic — but overall inaccurate — conclusion. Siders quotes two individuals thusly:
“What it is is that most people don’t realize that Bernie Sanders actually won. … What [Sanders] wanted to do [with his 2016 presidential campaign] was mobilize millions of people to get politically involved, and he achieved that in droves. Change is slow. Progress is slow. But it’s inevitable. So, even if we have some devastating losses, we have to stick at it.”
“My philosophy — and I think it’s what Bernie was going for — [is that] the Republican Party, years ago when they couldn’t win elections, they did some soul searching and ran people at the local level. Thirty, 40 years later, they control every level of government. … That’s what the Democratic Party needs to do. They need to get some fresh faces, go back to their roots and reorganize.”
Yup. It’s a long, hard slog to the promised land. We can’t give up now. Expect the naysayers, who never are going to contribute anything valuable themselves, to attack and to try to hinder progress.
Ignore them, and keep on doing what they claim can’t be done.
P.S. I must direct you to this piece on NPR, which ran on June 8 and which pretty much is the antithesis of David Siders’ piece for Politico. It is titled, “Bernie Sanders Is Losing Primary Battles, but Winning a War.” I reproduce it most of it here:
Since most of the congressional candidates that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders endorsed this year are losing contested primaries, then Sanders’ political clout must be fading, right?
“That’s a stupid argument,” Sanders told NPR this week. [I love Bernie.]
“You know, he has a much broader look at politics than just elections,” Sanders’ long-time strategist Jeff Weaver said.
That is evident. The 2016 candidate repeatedly questioned the political value of his endorsements, and even expressed some mild indifference to the race-by-race results of the primaries he’s waded into.
Sanders’ broader goal is to get more first-time voters and first-time candidates involved in the political process, and to keep pushing progressive policies like a Medicare-for-all health care plan into the Democratic mainstream.
If that takes more than one election cycle, so be it.
“I hope they [his endorsees] win,” Sanders said. “Maybe they don’t. But if you get 45 percent of the vote now, next time you may well win.” [Emphasis mine.]
In the U.S. House primaries that have happened so far, Sanders has endorsed six candidates in contested races. Only two of his chosen House candidates have won contested primaries, and one was an incumbent: Rep. Nanette Barragán of California.
Even if many of his hand-picked candidates are coming up short, more of the Democrats who are winning are lining up closer to Sanders anyway. A Medicare-for-all, single-payer health care plan continues to gain support among Democratic candidates, and the $15 minimum wage Sanders made a key part of his presidential campaign has been adopted as a cause by party leaders across the country.
But given his broad success at reshaping the party, the question lingers as to why so many of the candidates bearing Sanders’ personal seal of approval are losing.
This week, another Sanders-endorsed House candidate lost a Democratic primary by a wide margin. Pete D’Alessandro ran Sanders’ Iowa campaign in 2016, which resulted in a virtual tie with Hillary Clinton. This year, the Vermont senator campaigned alongside him, cut a TV commercial for him and helped him raise money. But D’Alessandro finished in third.
“I could be 100 percent in terms of my endorsements,” Sanders told NPR. “All you’ve got to do is endorse establishment candidates who have a whole lot of money, who are 40 points ahead in the poll. You know what, you’ll come and say, ‘Bernie, you were 100 percent supportive of these candidates, they all won.'”
“The candidates that we support, by and large with few exceptions, are all candidates who are taking on the establishment, and are often outspent,” he added. [Emphasis mine. Indeed, supporting a candidate who clearly already is the front-runner isn’t all that hard, is it? You pick the obvious probable winner and then claim that your support was a factor in the victory. Bullshit.]
Sanders and Weaver argue that a race-by-race accounting isn’t the best way to track what the 2016 Democratic presidential runner-up is doing this year.
“The issue here is not that I think a Bernie Sanders, or frankly the endorsement of anybody else, is some magical potion to get people elected,” Sanders said. “Frankly, between you and me, I’m not sure how much endorsements – how significant they are. Sometimes they help, sometimes not much.” [Emphasis mine.]
Two of the 17 candidates Sanders has backed this year say that, in their minds, there’s no question the endorsement helped.
“It did a lot of good for our campaign,” said Greg Edwards, who ran in a crowded Pennsylvania House primary last month. “It increased my name ID, helped me get volunteers, helped with fundraising, certainly. And we got a lot of media attention out of it. I think we got four or five press hits.”
Still, Edwards also ended up third in his race.
But Edwards centered his campaign around policies many voters now associate with Sanders. “Universal health care, Medicare-for-all, around universal preschool, around debt-free college. Around increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15,” he said.
“Many of these issues were considered fringe issues, and now they are mainstream issues that we take for granted that there, of course, are legions of Democratic candidates running on those platforms,” said Jeff Weaver. “Three or four years ago you would not have seen candidates running on that platform I would have considered to be outside the mainstream.”
When Sanders introduced his latest single-payer health care bill last year, it was quickly endorsed by several of the Senate Democrats mentioned as possible 2020 presidential candidates. …
*It’s a common mistake, I think, for someone to run for a big office, such as governor or U.S. senator, instead of running for a lower office and then working his or her way up.