Wednesday, February 20, 2019

On "Bernie vs. Centrists"

I obviously have not chosen a preferred 2020 candidate yet and it would strike me as absurd to do so this early.

Generally speaking, it would be great if someone could put me in a cryo-pod and wake me up in about 50 years. I say that because Bernie Sanders is running again, and while I would vote for him over Donald Trump, I almost certainly would not vote for him in a Democratic Primary.

With progressives running, including Elizabeth Warren, it's hard for me to see the point of him running. His entry makes me wary for multiple reasons. He stayed in the 2016 race long after it was clear he had lost, suggesting he will likely do so again. His campaign was aided by Russian agents and he's praised by Donald Trump. He didn't "almost" win in 2016 and yet many people continue to think he did, or that the DNC and Hillary Clinton bamboozled the win away from him, while he just silently lets people think that.

I think Sanders does have strong appeal for leftist, moderate, and rightwing people, particularly white ones, who both dislike Trump and are uncomfortable with voting for a woman and/or person of color for president. So, that's something, and it's not even a small thing. But, I'm not sure that's enough to win a Democratic Primary.

I also suspect that Sanders and his team know that in a diverse field of candidates, misogyny and racism will do a lot of heavy lifting in Sanders' favor, although it's nothing he/they would ever acknowledge, as Sanders habitually condescends like a white male college freshman when pontificating about representation in politics.

 As I've noted on Twitter previously, the mainstream media often frames the Democratic Party as consisting of the so-called Bernie left vs. Centrists, ceding that Sanders is the standard-bearer for progressivism in the US and that everyone who doesn't like him is simply "more conservative" than him and his supporters.

It is endlessly infuriating and gaslighting.

This article is a good example of the way so many in the media falsely frame the Democratic Party as consisting of the so-called Bernie left vs. the establishment centrists, which is a frame that is largely pushed by Bernie supporters.
Meanwhile, the many people who are both progressive and distrustful of Sanders, and his die-hard fans, are almost never mentioned, nor are our reasons for being distrustful, such as prominent leftists' history of misogyny and racism, and Sanders' habitual gaslighting with respect to identity politics.

The Bernie left vs. Centrists frame erases literal millions of voters and Democrats. It's simply not grounded in reality. Some people are neither Bernie fans nor centrist, but the very term "leftist" has come to be centered around Bernie Sanders in the US.

We will never have a broad, united progressive movement if that reality is not acknowledged. And, unfortunately, I question how many members of the Online Left even care about building a broad movement. Why do that when you can dunk on "centrists" all day for not liking Bernie, after all?

Relatedly, almost every feminist blogger I know still has leftist online stalkers/harassers who hate us for not liking Bernie Sanders.

I also question the oft-stated Internet nugget of wisdom that Sanders has single-handedly moved the Democratic Party to the left. But, let's concede that point for the moment. If "Centrist Dems" are indeed following Sanders like lemmings off a socialist cliff, then he should bear the brunt of the blame if/when Trump successfully red-baits all of the purportedly latent-socialists-in-waiting/economically anxious ordinary white people who comprise the Trump base into voting Republican once again.

I know a lot of Internet leftists barely pay attention to Republicans, since they are keen to thinking Democrats are The Real Enemy,  but Republicans are rightwingers are already amping up the anti-socialist propaganda. Rightwing Christian and JD Vance fanboy Rod Dreher, for instance, is currently pitching an anti-socialist book. The Fox News crowd has a regular hate-obsession with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Democratic candidates better start putting a strategy in place beyond thinking that everyone will just agree with them if people only learn more about socialism.

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