A Bernie Sanders ad appears on my Facebook feed asking: “Can we count on you to be part of our political revolution?”
No New England cottage socialist for me.
I was born into a charismatic rallying cry of “socialist revolution” and blind feverish support even as governance took a totalitarian turn. All the destruction that came after didn’t work out so well. Still can’t dig ourselves out of that 57-year-old hole.
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It’s not that I disagree with most of Sanders’ positions.
There’s heart, fairness and good intentions in the senator’s promises of free higher education, modernized living wages for all, and bold initiatives to deal with climate change. His voting record against the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act and the Iraq War can even be called visionary. I can understand why millennials are inspired and rallying behind his progressive agenda.
But Sanders and his overly passionate followers scare me the way Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and their flock do, too. Okay, maybe not as much as the ultra-conservatives fighting to become the Republican nominee frighten me when I envision their dogmatic America. But Sanders suffers from a similar ailment: Extremism. Radical talk. Too much anger followed by too many grand promises to turn our world upside down — as if just brash talk and bravado would make everything all better.
In a post-Obama world, is all that posturing really necessary?
Shouldn’t the Democratic Party be focused now on fine-tuning the change that has already occurred with smart incremental moves that make a difference in people’s lives, and are sustainable in this fractured society? Shouldn’t the Democrats be more worried about shaping electable congressional representatives with intellectual heft and bipartisan ability to get things done in Washington?
We’re a long way from needing to call for all-out revolution. Sanders sounds like the flip side of Trump. That only sends people into protective corners. Who wants an even more escalated right-wing vs. left-wing fight in Washington?
All indications are, however, that we need to take Sanders at his word and his candidacy more seriously.
The Iowa caucus dead heat has confirmed that the grandfatherly Democratic candidate dubbed “the Bern” for viral effect has captured the under-40 fancy, and with frightening fervor. Only NFL-like coin tosses in some Iowa precincts gave Hillary Clinton a slight edge. The final tally for delegate equivalents: Clinton 699.57; Sanders 697.77. Predictions are that he’ll sweep New Hampshire.
A Sanders Democratic nomination is a risky bet against youthful Republicans.
In swing-state Florida, Sanders would need to win over independents and Lincoln Republicans who detest Rubio, Trump and Cruz. Sanders would need those voters who now say they’d “rather vote for Hillary” than for any of the troglodytes trying to set back women’s and gay rights.
But you don’t hear them say they’d “rather vote for Bernie than . . .”
Sanders brings needed competition to what appeared like a shoo-in nomination for the better qualified and politically savvy Hillary Clinton, also a progressive but a grounded one. His loud challenge makes her candidacy stronger. Their respectful debates, substantive on issues — so far — have been a refreshing change from the entertaining but non-presidential Republican eight-ring circus.
But that’s where the Bern love ends.
It’s a long road back from a failed revolution.