Do not welcome the sovereign

The antics in Nevada by some Sanders supporters irk me. Reading this piece by Edwin Lyngar in Salon, I’m flummoxed. Because the people who are throwing epithets and threatening party officials are doing it about a person. About someone around whom they seem to have made a cult of personality. And not a coherent political philosophy. Instead, they’ve rounded on the Democratic party and attacked its machine.

ttitelblatt_1750_leviathan_thomas_hobbsOn the whole, I hate conspiracy theories.They drive me up the tree and tend, usually, to explain everything while explaining nothing. Such is the state of some horrid minority of the Sanders base right now.

Here’s my stand on what’s happening and happened to Sanders. He’s run the greatest campaign I’ve experienced in my adult life. Brilliant. There is no question that I want him to win, that he is the best candidate for working Americans, and that his consistency and years in the Senate give him intimate knowledge of how government works. He has the vision to know how it must work. And many people–in fact all of the supporters I personally know–want to create a world where men and women in this country take better care of one another. Period. Full stop.

I’ve been in the Green Party for the last 8 years and switched last year so that I could get on the primary ballot and be written in to become a supervisor. My heart is hardly with the Democrats as an institution. They are the party of neoliberal social liberals who pay more attention to the neoliberals than they do our civil and environmental rights and responsibilities. It’s appalling.

Talking to me last year, I was less than thrilled about the coming election. Hillary Clinton was going to become president. Let me count the ways that she inspires me less than my university’s former president. Hawk? Check. Fossil fuel booster? Check. Big bank lover? Check. She’s the machine today. Just the pr0-choice and pro-civil rights machine. Could it be worse? Sure. It could be Ted Cruz or Donald Trump. And those choices are starkly and horridly different.

That handful of Sanders supporters out there and the old white guys crawling around on my Facebook page saying things like, “Id [sic] rather vote for trump [sic] and let him put the final nail in the coffin of the Republican party and the Democratic party than to watch Hillary continue the failed ethos of the Democrats.” I only know one of these people. But I live in a kind of cloistered place. Scour the internet and you’ll see a lot more. Go ahead. Search for it.

Needless chaos and petulance have no place in adult politics, especially when there’s so much hard work to be done. Hard work in our own hearts, our communities, and our nation. Pettiness will bury all of us and spite will cut off more than our noses. We can’t flip the chess board and storm off. That, as Jeb Bush rightly said, invites a chaos candidate. Don’t get me wrong, Peter Baelish  is a great character in Game of Thrones, but his notion that “Chaos is a ladder” mustn’t be in our playbook. It makes us a mean and Hobbesian people, a people ripe for the domination of the sovereign, a world where our rights are taken away and we are subsumed under the sovereign’s vision of the right society. That is the world of the egomaniac and the demagogue. That is the world of Donald Trump.

But some of Sanders’ supporters are treating him the way Trump wishes to be treated. They are making him the sovereign. And that’s exactly what he’s decried. Right now Sanders is the figure at the head. And it looks as though he can’t take the highest office in the land. So what now? Give into desperate anger and the thrill? Get caught in the mosh?

“O, that way madness lies; let me shun that; No more of that,” says King Lear. Is this really where Sanders wants us to go? I very much doubt it. If you value the hard work of people working for other people, then you can’t throw acid on the Clinton campaign. You’ll have to fight it for now and if the time comes…Let me say this again. IF–I…F…–the time comes then we remake the Clinton campaign as hard as we can. Make Clinton move to us. Make her do it.

Rework every down ticket so that progressives take it. Take her administration to court on energy. Stand with powerful women and minority leaders. Drag her, hard as it will be, to the left. It can be done folks.

We marshal ourselves, march with conviction, love, and truth, and move this ship. Look at how much we moved Obama on energy. Look at the way that things like Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, and No Keystone XL have changed the entire conversation. We are legitimately arguing about racism, policing, and incarceration, about breaking up big banks, income inequality, and overturning Citizen’s United, and about the distorting power of fossil fuels and the unfolding climate catastrophe before us.

Once again, Bernie Sanders is only the most prominent voice. If he loses the nomination–which seems statistically very likely–then we must carry on because it is OUR movement to carry. And that is what Sanders has stood for. That is our work, together.

If you think you can’t do that without Bernie, then you weren’t interested in working for change. You wanted someone else to do something for you.


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