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2016 Postmortem

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(72,631 posts)
Sat Jul 4, 2015, 08:57 PM Jul 2015

Our Bernie Sanders Moment - Salon [View all]

Our Bernie Sanders moment: This July 4, remember only true independence and revolution ever brings change
Tectonic change comes when people are hopeful and sense something new is possible. Here's how we build on victories

Patrick L. Smith - Salon
Saturday, Jul 4, 2015 07:45 AM PST

Bernie Sanders (Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin/Salon)


I got off Hillary’s bus long ago. Anyone remember November 1999, when, as first lady, she traveled to the West Bank, where she lunched and exchanged ceremonial praises with Suha Arafat, the late Yasser’s wife? On departing she kissed Suha Arafat on the cheek—a kiss of Judas straight out of Matthew, for when Clinton arrived in Jerusalem to shrieks of protest, she thought nothing of denouncing Arafat and effectively denying the gesture of friendship made a matter of hours earlier.

Unforgivable, but that is Hillary. Opportunism incarnate is all I see. To be honest, until Sanders announced his candidacy I could not think of a single reason to vote. We were offered no choice.

In pursuing the Democratic nomination, Sanders has craftily averted all the “don’t split the vote” rubbish one heard when Ralph Nader ran as the candidate of the Greens, the Vermont Progressives and the United Citizens Party. This is exceptionally astute. There is nothing better than winning, but a close second in the current American context is pushing candidates with alternative politics in voters’ faces and forcing them to think about what they have to say.

Such candidates have a cumulative effect, in other words, that can take several election cycles to play out. The rapid pace of recent events notwithstanding, we have to think in terms of a generational project, it seems to me. In repudiating Nader in 2000, those who may otherwise have supported him missed this, so that when the election was over, George W. the victor, Democrats were at square one, no ground gained, as there could have been, in the course of the defeat.

I would support Sanders on this basis alone. In a phrase, he speaks to the groundswell. He is rising expectations, so obvious on this 239th anniversary, made flesh. And in this Sanders stands more or less alone among holders of high office for the moment, unless we count the reticent Elizabeth Warren.

And here is the lesson the Obama administration leaves us with. As expectations rise by way of big victories, we do not need another gradualist who comes out of the policy cliques, or is too weak to resist them, and is hence available to be betrayed in their internecine wars for power. If the successes of the past few weeks tell us anything, it is that transformers, not transitioners, are required if we are to make sense of our time. Obama wanted to be the former but has turned out the latter.

More broadly, we must begin to identify mythologizers and exceptionalists, no matter their professed stripe—and Hillary and her former boss are of this type. And we must recognize the historicists among us, such as Bernie Sanders. If this is what sets Sanders fundamentally apart, I urge we learn from him the importance of the distinction: Unless Americans master the exceptionalist impulse and dispose of all its attendant rhetoric, no battle worth fighting can be decisively won.

Genuine Americans are critical Americans. This is by definition. And they are unceasingly critical of the definition itself. Critical Americans just handed us some excellent news. Happy 4th to them, especially.

Much More: http://www.salon.com/2015/07/04/our_bernie_sanders_moment_this_july_4_remember_only_true_independence_and_revolution_ever_brings_change/

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