“You Claim To Support Progressive Values”

So, a Bernie supporter, signing with the name “A. Progressive,” wrote in to say the following (among other things) as a response to my second “Dear Bernie” appeal:

You claim to support progressive values, but support a candidate that is no more progressive than Bill Clinton was during his tenure. If the DNC continues with pushing “centrist” candidates, they do so at their own peril. Winning elections at the cost of abandoning the progressive values it espouses is hypocritical.

As I told A. Progressive, such comments annoy me. “You claim to support progressive values….” Claim. Claim. Claim. We know what that means, of course. I’m not really a progressive. I’m only pretending to be. Yeah, well.

Since I’ve said just about all I can, both publicly and privately, to earnest Bernie folks, I thought I would allow the great Kevin Drum take a stab at it. In a piece published today on Mother Jones (“Here’s Why I Never Warmed Up to Bernie Sanders”), Drum made most of the points that I have been making but, let’s face it, he’s Kevin Drum and I’m not.

Drum starts out by consciously provoking Bernie people by saying the following about their beloved candidate:

I think he’s basically running a con, and one with the potential to cause distinct damage to the progressive cause.

The great progressive writer then goes on to make the point that many have made about the lack of a revolution and the lack of conditions to even get one started in the way Bernie keeps describing it from his imagination. Drum cites two examples, and there are only two, where one could plausibly—Drum admits he is “stretching things a bit”—describe historical developments as amounting to an “economic revolution”:

  • The destruction of the Southern slave economy following the Civil War.
  • The New Deal.

The first of these was 50+ years in the making and, in the end, required a bloody, four-year war to bring to a conclusion. The second happened only after an utter collapse of the economy, with banks closing, businesses failing, wages plummeting, and unemployment at 25 percent. That’s what it takes to bring about a revolution, or even something close to it.

Obviously, as Drum points out, “We’re light years away from that right now.” The conditions, relatively speaking, are just too damned good for most folks to get them to buy into a game-changing economic or political revolution. Unemployment is fairly low, wages, though in a stagnant phase, are pretty good for the average family (“close to $70,000”), and “90 percent of the country has insurance coverage.” And finishing this point with a mike-dropper, Drum says:

Dissatisfaction with the system? According to Gallup, even among those with incomes under $30,000, only 27 percent are dissatisfied with their personal lives.

That leads us to the most important point, the point that is hard to get ideologically minded folks, especially young folks committed to the things Bernie talks about, to understand:

Like it or not, you don’t build a revolution on top of an economy like this. Period. If you want to get anything done, you’re going to have to do it the old-fashioned way: through the slow boring of hard wood.

I like that metaphor. “The slow boring of hard wood” is exactly what it takes, in this country, to make real progress. There simply isn’t a substitute for it. That’s the way our political system is designed to work. That is, generally, the way Americans prefer change to come. Americans, except on the fringes, tend to prefer things to move a little slower than the average Bern-Bernie-Bern fan, or the average Ted Cruz or Drumpf fan, would like. Drum:

…if you want to make a difference in this country, you need to be prepared for a very long, very frustrating slog. You have to buy off interest groups, compromise your ideals, and settle for half loaves—all the things that Bernie disdains as part of the corrupt mainstream establishment.

That’s a hard message. But it is absolutely true. That’s our system, like it or not. If you want to change it, you first have to get inside of it. You can’t blow it up from the outside. That simply won’t do. You have to get in and work at it.

The problem with all this is that we aren’t just talking about an academic exercise. There can be real harm done by all the loose talk, as Drum points out. He says that rather than telling his people that there is a long slog ahead, Bernie

promises his followers we can get everything we want via a revolution that’s never going to happen. And when that revolution inevitably fails, where do all his impressionable young followers go? Do they join up with the corrupt establishment and commit themselves to the slow boring of hard wood? Or do they give up?

That’s a damned good question. And like Drum, I fear that some of them will give up:

They’ve been conned by a guy who should know better, the same way dieters get conned by late-night miracle diets. When it doesn’t work, they throw in the towel.

What I have been trying to warn people about, in terms of what Bernie Sanders has done and continues to do, is what Drum hits on toward the end of his piece:

…there’s a decent chance that Bernie’s failure will result in a net increase of cynicism about politics, and that’s the last thing we need.

Yes, dammit. There is too much cynicism as it is. That’s the kind of environment in which a Drumpf can rise and flourish. And, as progressives, real progressives, we shouldn’t allow such cynicism to creep into our camp. We should fight for our principles, but fight for them knowing the fight is necessarily long and difficult and often frustrating. We should fight for them knowing that there are lots of other Americans who don’t have any affection for our vision of the future. We need to understand that some folks, maybe our neighbors or friends or family, are downright hostile to it. That’s what makes the fight so hard and what makes it so long and frustrating.

And as Drum says, the last thing we need is someone on our side, on the progressive side, generating the kind of cynicism that could put someone like Donald J. Drumpf in the most powerful office in the world. Enough is enough. Let’s get our progressive act together before too much damage is done.

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  1. King Beauregard

     /  April 29, 2016

    You want a good laugh? Former Bernie staff are forming a PAC (yes, a PAC) called “Brand New Congress”, with a goal of sweeping out every single legislator who doesn’t agree with Bernie’s platform. You think I’m making this up, well I’m not:


    Here are some fine quotes from their page:

    So let’s run one campaign to replace Congress all at once (except those already on board) that whips up the same enthusiasm, volunteerism and money as Bernie’s presidential campaign.

    Our candidates will be working people from many backgrounds and fields who:

    Are good at what they do.
    Are proven servants to their communities, families, friends.
    Have consistently passed on opportunities to sell out.
    In general, have never held or sought public office.
    Agree completely on a unified economic, social justice, and climate change platform.

    Do psychologists even have a word for that level of delusion?

    I will give them credit for slowly, slowly coming to realize that Congress plays some mysterious unfathomable role in getting progressive legislation passed, but why does it take these people months or years to take baby-steps of understanding that a bright teenager could grasp in seconds? Hell, this campaign of theirs is arguably a step backwards, since it’s exactly the sort of “fucking retarded” noise that Rahm called a group of progressives on back in 2009.


    • The only funny thing is how you characterize this as “Bernie’s platform” as if nobody cared about any of it before. I get that you parrot Duane’s delusion without understanding, but like Duane I don’t understand what either of you are actually afraid of?


      • King Beauregard

         /  April 29, 2016

        Funny how you accuse Duane and me of being delusional and afraid. What do we possibly have to be afraid of: should we be frightened of Bernie’s stunning primary success? Or maybe his idiot supporters who think they can find hundreds of candidates who all meet Bernie’s purity tests, and then push them to victory in 2018?

        Team Bernie is the nuttiest thing I’ve ever seen. And I watch Mexican television.


        • I know you’re afraid because you do a terrible job of hiding it. Why you’re afraid is my question too. You huddle here with Duane whining about Bernie every day. It’s truly pathetic, ESPECIALLY in light of the fact that he was never going to win. The pathetic, whiny, downright cowardly nature of Duane’s posts about Bernie were my only point from the beginning. But why are you afraid? I just don’t get it!


          • King Beauregard

             /  April 29, 2016

            I think you’re confusing “contempt” with “fear”.

            Elsewhere on the Internet, someone was asking how Hillary could best embrace Sanders supporters; I suggested she use a hungry squid.


            • No, but you would prefer me to think that. Anger always looks justified, which is why Republicans used to be successful. In any case, if you prefer to do without 20~30% of Democrats, that’s basically concession. Like Duane, you should vote for Drumpf. He’s more your style.


              • Look, my man. If you want to sit it out and thus vote for Drumpf, do it. That’s your call. But you ain’t blaming it on me. You and other Bernie folks who don’t vote, or who vote for Drumpf like some say they will, will get credit on this blog for any Drumpf victory, I can assure you. I’ll champion your win quite loudly.


                • I’ve been blaming you for a while now and that blame sticks to you well because you ignore too much of it. This isn’t the first time I’ve said this: Trump is your candidate, even if you don’t vote for him, he inspires all of your personal qualities. Ever time you post an attack on Sanders, it’s in support of Trump not Clinton whom you predictably fail to defend. You even make excuses for not defending her which is an indirect admission of her status.

                  She is the anointed candidate. Do you know what it means that Clinton is the anointed candidate? You’ve never acknowledged this fact, not even to deny it. Do you know that this is what she is? What sort of people anoint candidates? How are people supposed to react to having an undesirable candidate forced down our throats?

                  Honestly, these major points that you never acknowledge are the reason why people don’t suddenly stop supporting Sanders despite your insane ravings.

                  If you honestly don’t want Trump to be president you had two choices: 1) support Sanders or 2) push Clinton to move toward Sanders materially and collect the people who would have supported him. What you actually did was attack Sanders, even if that meant losing the election. In your view Clinton doesn’t need to do anything at all, she’s perfect, above criticism. The fear-driven delusion makes the loser except in the Republican Party. So if you thought that your fear-driven delusion was going to get you a win, then you are a Republican and therefore a Trump supporter.

                  All the #NeverTrump Republicans inevitably fall in line because that’s what Republicans do. They don’t care if their candidate is moral or stands for anything, as long as they win. So when you support Clinton in this way, you are filling the conservative mold. You don’t care that Clinton won’t do anything, she just has to win because Democrat.

                  Your cowardice is ablaze with one specific fear that Clinton will lose, not the Democrats. In your view, it’s acceptable if Trump wins as long as Sanders loses because that’s all you ever talk about.

                  As long as you don’t understand that Democrats believe in democracy and will not “vote” for a crowned Queen, you have no authority to criticize anyone for voting against your wishes. You are ignorant of what’s going on, your fear blinds you, and your prejudice places us all at risk.

                  You’ve been trying and failing to blame Sanders, his supporters, everyone but yourself. You don’t understand your own error because fear blinds you. From day one you’ve been pathetic whining coward and only when you realize that and accept blame for your wrong-headed stance, you are still to blame. Just because you don’t blame yourself, you are still to blame. Just as Bush supporters in 2004 were to blame for the Iraq War, you are to blame for either one of these corrupt piece of crap being president: Clinton or Trump.

                  Ralph Nader supporters were not at fault for Al Gore losing or Bush winning. Only a moron believes that. Clinton isn’t owed anyone’s votes, especially because she’s anointed.

                  Figure out what anointed means. Seriously, look it up.

                  Nobody is at fault for not swallowing for a piece of crap shoved down their throats. The person doing the shoving, you, are to blame.


                  • I don’t really know what your problem is, since I’m not a doctor. But unless you are a doctor yourself, if I were you I’d stop lobbing around charges about people’s mental health, especially mine. All it does is reveal your inner Drumpf.

                    You mostly don’t know what you’re talking about, which has been made fairly clear to anyone bothering to read your rants. Just one recent example: About Clinton you said “the party chose her exclusively and the average person has no choice.” Now that is not only goofy and false, it is demonstrably goofy and false. She has almost a 300 pledged-delegate lead over Bernie, much more than Obama had over her in 2008. How do you suppose she got those delegates? Goddamned votes, that’s how. People voted for her—more than 12 million people, which is more than 3 million people who have voted for him. What’s so fucking hard to understand about that?

                    I’ve been beyond patient with you, hoping against hope that you weren’t just a troll—calling me a “pathetic whining coward”and so on—but someone who could at least engage in a civil conversation, no matter our differences. You have proven you can’t. As I said, I’m not a doctor so I don’t know if your inability to engage in a civil conversation is pathological or simply a protracted trolling experiment. If it is the former, good luck to you. If it is the latter, the experiment is over. Move on.


          • Anonymous

             /  April 29, 2016

            They are “winning”like Charley Sheen was winning. They fear the independents and Democrats supporting Sanders, won’t be excited enough to vote for Hillary in November. Instead of appealing to Bernie supporters, they ridicule them. That way they can blame them when their candidate (which 59% of the general electorate finds unfavorable) loses to the likes of Drumpf. Just like Hillary’s supporters in 2008 formed the PUMA (party unity my ass) organization, it’s their way or the highway. I expect they will cut off their noses to spite their faces.

            Liked by 1 person

            • There’s one curious fact about Duane’s blog, which I’m not sure if he’s capable of acknowledging, is that he doesn’t support or defend Clinton in any way. There was one post from more than a year ago when it wasn’t even clear if she was going to run yet, but everything since is just attack after pathetic attack on Sanders. And the ironic part is how he himself is guilty of far worse than what he accuses Sanders of, being negative and making attacks.

              If he was really afraid of Democrats losing instead of just Clinton, I’d expect him to lead with strength, from the left. Hillary Clinton should have ran in 2004 when the right was strong. The age of right-leaning Democrats is over because the age of the far-right is over. It was over in 2008 when she lost to Obama. The only reason she’s a viable candidate now is the same reason she’s the anointed candidate. The institutional members of the party think it’s still 2004. Duane does too. He’s afraid of far-right conservatives still having unconditional Republican voter support. With Drumpf in the lead, it’s hard to believe such an argument, really hard, but somehow he believes it. The Democratic party establishment believes it for the same reason the Republican party establishment hates Drumpf: they want the far-right to still be in control even though they’re obviously not.

              Every attack on Sanders is a defense of the right more than a defense of Clinton. Every attack on Clinton weakens the right because that was their shtick when they had too much power they didn’t know what to do with it. Clinton has always been right-leaning, so it helped them pull further right. Democrats have done so poorly for the past few decades precisely for this right-leaning stragedy of letting Republicans get whatever they want and letting the whole country drift to the right.

              This silly pretense of having “contempt” for Sanders is laughable. If there’s anyone to have contempt for it’s the wimpy right-leaning establishment Democrats who anointed Clinton, supported tax cuts for the wealthy, and accept huge donations in return. I fully expect a Democrat to win with half as much money as the Republican. If you think you have to have more money to win, you are a Drumpf voter, go and vote for him.


              • You have a point about my not defending Clinton much. Why? First, because I didn’t start writing again until way after the race had started. Second, because we pretty much know who she is. Whether you like her or loathe her or are somewhere in between, what she is, who she is, is out there and has been out there for a long time. There’s no real need, for people who follow politics, to define her. She is a left-of-center pragmatist on domestic policy, and a centrist on foreign policy, at least a centrist as it used to be defined before the isolationists came roaring back from the roaring 20s and 30s.

                You think she is a right-wing nut job, as far as I can tell. That’s ridiculous. But you persist. Fine. I am finished trying to persuade you otherwise. But I will try, one last time, to tell you how naive it is to think that Drumpf, even though he is on some issues not a true conservative, can’t win. He will start this upcoming general election with 45% of the vote. The only way he won’t is if a serious conservative challenger from a third party, someone with a lot of money and organization and conservative institutional support, makes an effort to get on the ballot in the various states. If that happens, Drumpf can’t win or get close to winning. But that scenario is hard to see right now.

                You said, “Every attack on Sanders is a defense of the right more than a defense of Clinton.” Every attack I’ve made on Sanders relates not to his left-wing agenda or to anyone’s agenda, but to his collaboration with the right, including Drumpf, on attacking Clinton’s integrity. I find that reprehensible for a fellow Democrat. But then he hasn’t exactly been much of a fellow Democrat, has he?

                Which leads me to my final point. You don’t like the Democratic Party. That’s okay. Bernie doesn’t like it much either. So, don’t like it. Hate it if you want to. But realize that by hating it, by throwing rocks at “establishment Democrats,” you are throwing them on behalf of Republicans. You’re are standing there shoulder to shoulder, with rocks in hand, with people who would, if they could, destroy everything that progressives have achieved since FDR. If that satisfies you, be my guest. Heave away.


                • You have a cartoonish far-right view through the Overton window. Whenever you say you want to give up, I can see the problem is with your view, your blinders prevent you from seeing what I’m saying, and they make you act like a whiny flake. I’ve said several specific things to you which you refuse to even acknowledge, but you repeat back to me things which I’ve long known to be wrong and act like I’m the one who can’t be convinced.

                  Do you even know what you mean by “isolationist”? Are you blind to the rest of the world too? The rest of the world has little choice but to react to American foreign economic and military policy. What you’re denigrating isn’t isolationism, it’s respect for other countries which deserve it and have gone far too long without it. Conservatives are the ones who support protectionist policy, but that isn’t even what the real problem is. It doesn’t matter how low American wages are, you’re way far out in right field on a host of international issues. America bucks international problems leaving other countries to deal with them. What you pretend is isolationist is probably the biggest move towards legitimate internationalism in half a century. The United States pretends to invest more internationally because of it’s disgustingly obese military budget, American corporations expect, without irony, to take virtually all the profit from international trade. They pack up shop if there’s even the slightest hint that their margin won’t be met. Ironically Walmart is the stalwart in international trade, but that’s always how they’ve done business, swooping in and picking up the carcasses of “failed” businesses, even though they only failed in theory.

                  Clinton isn’t a right wing nut job, but she is undeniably center right at a time when there is clear tipping to the left. She’s simply on the wrong side and she will be on the wrong side of history, as will you and other conservative minded folks like you. You need to remove the “Erstwhile” part of your blog title, you’re still pulling to the right and pulling for a right leaning candidate.

                  Trump doesn’t have 45% of the vote now and he won’t ever get it, barring lots of people staying home because both candidates suck so bad. It’s your idea to prop up a candidate who sucks. I blame you. You blame Sanders only for saying what everyone already knows about Clinton, that she sucks. That’s your problem, the problem you burden us all with. Stifling Bernie won’t make Clinton suck any less.

                  All you do is whine about what Bernie says about Clinton, but you don’t defend Clinton. She’s indefensible. Since you are apparently conservative, your problems therefore are sunk cost and hypocrisy. You accuse others (Bernie) of doing what you are doing and you can’t give up on a corrupt candidate because of all the time and effort you’ve wasted on her. But in your hypocrisy you ignore everything wrong with your own candidate, especially merely downplaying her position on war which is inseparable from and symbolic of her total corruption. If there was one issue which you should break with her it’s war, the symbolic problem of the United States internationally. The present mess, whatever you want to call it, grew eight years in Obama’s name, and is to be inherited as a treasure by Clinton, is worse as a concept now than Vietnam ever was. The endgame is outside the scope of any reasonable person, but the inevitable continuance of war is a Light unto the World to the right wing. To you.

                  The Democrat establishment you praise allowed almost everything that was built in the early 20th century to be torn down by leaning right for decades. That’s who we’re against. Didn’t you know? There’s nothing left to preserve by supporting right leaning Democrats any longer. That was always a mistake because the right never compromised. You’re an old guard for an empty structure, a bank picked clean by thieves. We have to rebuild practically from scratch the left wing institution that once existed. Your right leaning candidate and “super” delegates stand in the empty vault preventing the only change possibly remaining.

                  Whining about McGovern? Please whine some more. Whine for me.


            • I don’t ridicule Bernie supporters. I ridicule people who say untenable things like they won’t vote for Hillary because she is corrupt. I ridicule people who say they want Drumpf to win in order to bring about a revolution. I ridicule people who say it is Bernie or Bust. I ridicule people who think the right-wing in this country is dead and can’t possibly win another election. And the reason I ridicule them is because I first tried to reason with them but they wouldn’t listen. So, ridicule is the only tool left in the box.

              Now, I find it interesting that of the two biggest Bernie supporters who I have been arguing with on this blog, one of them thinks that Drumpf cannot possibly win and the other, you, thinks that Drumpf can’t lose. Obviously, you both can’t be right. But you both do share one thing. You don’t understand why those of us who support Hillary Clinton are worried about what is happening in the Bernie camp. I see trouble ahead. And I see it because I can’t now imagine Bernie Sanders coming out with a full-throated endorsement of his opponent the way she endorsed Obama, without any reservations, in 2008. 

              I’ll tell you what I told the other Bernie guy. If you don’t want to vote for her, don’t. That’s your business. But I will at least partially hold people like you responsible, should she lose. If you want a President Drumpf, you may get one. But you will not blame it on me without pushback. This started out as friendly and civil talk. But you guys don’t like to be constructively criticized. You don’t like it when Hillary supporters worry out loud that Bernie is not a team player, especially since he has given us so much evidence that he is not. You don’t like to hear that, as a Democrat, Bernie has an obligation to his party and not denigrate it like it was the most corrupt organization on the planet.

              Finally, obviously you have a strong distaste for Hillary Clinton. As I’ve said many, many times, she’s not my ideal candidate. In fact, there are no ideal candidates. But she is the choice of our people, our Democratic Party people. And she has been for a long time. I know that hurts, but it is the truth. You may not like it, but if you care about electing a non-Drumpf, you have to accept it, as will Bernie, hopefully. If either of you don’t, it’s on you, not me.



              • The problem with you is that you are not actually sensitive to what actual people are feeling. You are feeling your own oats by humping Bernie all the time. In your mind there is a belief that Trump can win, but you have absolutely no idea how that is possible. That’s a religious belief. Clinton is the Anointed candidate. That’s also a religious belief. That’s what you’re admitting here. Not that she’s the best candidate. Not that a majority of people prefer her, but that the party chose her exclusively and the average person has no choice.

                You certainly have no idea what could prevent Trump from being elected but that’s expected from someone who is clueless about what other people feel. The only question is whether the number of people who do not like Clinton for legitimate reasons outnumber those who will vote for Trump out of pure spite. Objectively speaking, only a few people reserve such levels of spite. There is no magical domain of people who will vote for Trump spontaneously, but there are people who will vote for Clinton spontaneously. In order to vote spontaneously, you have to actually feel that your vote will make a difference, and you can’t do that if you have contempt for the concept of change as you do. You don’t feel that feeling at all. You’re voting out of fear which is morally equivalent to voting out of spite. Since you don’t feel it, you don’t understand the feeling itself. You seem to have contempt for anyone who votes based on their feeling, but that’s how most people vote. Only a minority of people vote out of fear/spite. Why did you vote for Obama? Because you knew he wasn’t going to change anything?


          • You know, I try. I really do. I try to take you seriously. But when you say things like, “The pathetic, whiny, downright cowardly nature of Duane’s posts about Bernie were my only point from the beginning,” I have to laugh. I don’t want to laugh. I want to be serious. But that makes me laugh.

            As for what I am afraid of, I’ve told you several times: I’m afraid of President Drumpf. Get that? That’s what I’m afraid of. And if you and Bernie want to see that happen, just keep up the attacks on Hillary Clinton and her “right-wing” views that you imagine she has and her lack of integrity that he imagines she has.


            • Your fake laughs don’t interest me. If you allow Trumpf to win, I’m going to rub your nose in it. You’ll probably stop blogging unless maybe you finally realize that Trump is your candidate all along. Everyone who’s scared is voting FOR Trump. You’re the odd coward voting against him.


    • I hadn’t seen that. And I’m not sure whether psychologists have a word for that level of delusion. But I am sure there is a word to describe that level of unsophistication. But I wont’ use it. 

      You are right, though, that at least there is some recognition, faint as it is, of the reality of how things get done in our government. And I guess that is, at least, a start.


  2. A real revolution is only possible when average people can’t afford food, therefore we have to both wait for people to starve and do the absolute minimum to prevent people from starving so the conditions for revolution can never materialize. This isn’t a revolution except in a metaphorical sense. A tipping point on the other hand, which is what this actually is, is something you come up to rather unexpectedly and with too much momentum. Doesn’t that sound much more familiar? The thing about the end of slavery, it wasn’t caused by a slave revolt. You’re basically in denial about what’s actually going on. You don’t want to see it. The question, a question I’ve wondered about you for months now, is why? Why is this a problem for you? What is Bernie Sanders a symbol of to you? It isn’t enough to just not be “warmed up” to him, you really despise the guy. You try to paint me as a Bernie supporter, but I really don’t care about him at all, he’s symbolic of something, and that thing, that’s what you don’t understand and can’t focus on. You have to distract from that by projecting fallacies on people who disagree with you, which is all you ever seem to do. You’re afraid of course, that’s the basis of all denial, but of what?

    Basically from the moment you started this you’ve been ignorant to the fact that you’re riding on the standard Republican bandwagon to maintain the right-wing status quo we’ve had to endure for decades, and this is presumably because the Republicans themselves have abandoned their own bandwagon out of desperation, something which you also seem equally clueless to. They’re run out of road in the direction they were going. They don’t know where to go from here. Drumpf is symbolic of that. With the chaos in the Republican camp, it’s the perfect opportunity to take a lead in a left-wing direction.

    Going slow is just another way that “revolution” is prevented. You can never go slow enough for the people who want to go backwards. Either you wait for them forever or you leave them behind. Every time I tell you that, what goes through your mind? But why should we go slow when they’re not even pulling in any particular direction against us? We have an unbalanced tug-of-war. Why should the side with far more strength pull slower? What’s our advantage in pulling slower? Taking longer to undo the damage? Why? We’ve got a team united on our side, but they’re in chaos. Do you even see the chaos? If you don’t see the chaos, Drumpf is your man. You should be supporting him. Drumpf is the symbol of denial that the Republican agenda is out of steam. That’s your position. He represents nothing that Republicans have stood for, neither do you.

    Why is it important to you to desperately try to satisfy the most far right nut jobs by supporting a candidate they absolutely hate? Just because she’ll move slower to the left or not at all? They don’t want to go left at all, they want to go right, no compromise. Screw them. Meanwhile most Republicans are voting for Drumpf, who has no agenda to move either way, which is why the diehards on the far right don’t like him either, only people who need to deny that the right-wing agenda is finished, people like you.


    • 1) You may not want to call it a revolution, but Bernie persists. Have a talk with him about his nomenclature. I’m just taking him at his word.

      2) I’m not in denial and I don’t “despise” Bernie. I’ve said it a hundred times now: I started out liking the guy immensely, and I still subscribe to most of his domestic goals. I’ve probably been historically fonder of him than you have been, since I suspect I’ve known about him longer than you have. My problem was first in the way he attacked a fellow candidate’s integrity. Off limits, as far as I’m concerned, unless there is some glaring reason to do so. He just insinuated she was a political whore without any evidence of her turning tricks for cash. My next problem was that he refused to rein in his surrogates’ awful attacks and his refusal to outright say he would unequivocally tell his supporters to support her, if she wins. My final problem is that he is in denial about the outcome of this race and is still taking money from small donors without telling them the truth about his quixotic chase.

      3) I don’t project fallacies on people who disagree with me. I only point them out when they are present.

      4) I’m not afraid of anything, except a President Drumpf.

      5) I have never been “riding on the standard Republican bandwagon” even when I was a Republican. You’re talking to a former champion of Pat Buchanan.

      6) There is “chaos in the Republican camp” at the national level, I’ll grant you that. But there is some chaos brewing in our own camp, chaos brewing because Sanders is brewing it. In any case, chaos or not on their side, Drumpf will start with 45% of the electorate, no matter how nutty he appears.

      7) You asked, “why should we go slow when they’re not even pulling in any particular direction against us?” Are you serious? Do you pay attention at all to what is going on? There is plenty of pull against us, especially against what Bernie is selling. Hell, he can’t even sell it to a majority of Democrats, most of whom agree with his goals. Just imagine how hard it would be in a general election when the GOP machine throws 2 or 3 or more billion at him. It’s just naive to think that won’t happen.

      8) Speaking of chaos, you wrote:

      We’ve got a team united on our side, but they’re in chaos. Do you even see the chaos? If you don’t see the chaos, Drumpf is your man. You should be supporting him. Drumpf is the symbol of denial that the Republican agenda is out of steam. That’s your position. He represents nothing that Republicans have stood for, neither do you.

      That is so chaotic I don’t have the slightest idea what it might mean.

      9) More chaos from you: “Why is it important to you to desperately try to satisfy the most far right nut jobs by supporting a candidate they absolutely hate?” Again, I don’t know what the hell you are talking about.

      10) Finally, you did get something right. I do “deny that the right-wing agenda is finished.” Where were you in 1964, after LBJ destroyed Goldwater and, supposedly, ended the right-wing agenda? We got Tricky Dicky a mere four years later. Then came Watergate and another end of reactionary governance. But whoops, then came the pooh bah of right-wingerism, Ronaldus Magnus in 1980. Bill Clinton’s administration brought us balanced budgets and propserity and 22 million new jobs. Guess what? People turned right to George W. Bush. Then came the Bush economic crisis of 2008 and John McCain still got almost 48% of the fucking vote that year. Then Barack Obama helped bring us out of that Republican-caused crisis and for his trouble the voters rewarded him with only 51% of the vote, giving Romney 61 million votes. So, goddammit, pardon me if I don’t buy your claim that “the right-wing agenda is finished.”


      • The problem is your misunderstanding of what’s happening. We always knew what was happening. You make a fool of yourself by assuming the literal classical definition and attacking that concept.

        You love Bernie, that’s why you tell him to get lost every day and whine because he said the obvious. You whine because other people really love him and give him money knowing he will probably lose. Nobody is fooling themselves, we all know. Clinton doesn’t need that money. That is the point. She’s getting big money from big donors. That’s bad. The reason it’s bad is the example it sets.

        The example the American people need to see is that a candidate can win when underfunded by 50% of her opponent. One dollar is not one vote. Clinton doesn’t believe that. She can’t represent that. Most importantly, you are not seeing that this is the real message because you are so afraid. You’re too scared of losing to risk a candidate who is not beholden to the wealthy and corporations. The problem, the only problem, is that such a candidate is absolutely worthless in terms of the only thing that needs to get done.

        Drumpf is a racist piece of crap. We know this because of the words that come out of his own mouth. Neither Drumpf supporters nor Sanders supporters are relevant. We don’t elect the supporters. You’re an ass and you support Clinton, and there are more like you, so by that account no one should vote for Clinton either.

        The Republican bandwagon seeks to maintain the status quo as it is now because this is as far as their rubber band stretches. This is why I accuse you of being on their bandwagon. Your incrementalism suits those on that bandwagon more than it does Democrats with the exception of those specific Democrats who face re-election and mistakenly believe that it’s still eight years ago. The notion that Obama had his turn now it’s Clinton is part of a sick narrative originating in the Demoratic establishment that we are re-living eight years ago.

        Do you even know why I’m here? Why I don’t go away even though you get tired of me? I actually care diddly squat about Sanders as an individual, I know next to nothing about him personally other than that most of what you say about him is not entirely true or misses the point. I’m hoping your eyes open and you realize that you had no idea what this was all about until just now. But you still don’t get it.

        You think I’m in chaos. You weren’t even trying to understand what I was saying before. It’s not my fault that you don’t listen. I know what’s going on in general in both parties at both national and state level. The Democratic leadership is starting to realize that things have changed, why (fairly obvious except to you apparently), and what they need to do, but stalwarts tend to use opportunities rather than move with them. Republicans are starting to realize it too, but they don’t understand what to do about it or if this can work in their favor because it represents the undoing of what they’ve struggled to do for decades. This set of conditions won’t last. If Clinton wins, and this is fairly certain now, it will initiate a paradigm shift in the nature of both parties the likes haven’t been seen since the Civil War.


  3. King Beauregard

     /  April 29, 2016

    Interesting column about cynicism:


    Prediction: it will be completely lost on those who could benefit from it.


    • Very good, KB. I think this paragraph encapsulates the analysis very well:

      Cynicism is a privilege. When practiced by those in a position to do it well, cynicism allows them to criticize the oppressor and sympathize with the oppressed without ever having to move out of their comfort zone. In fact, one of the main objects of this practice of cynicism is to make the cynic more comfortable. He may not, as yet, be wanting for much personally, but he can see the growing misery all around him so he has to think or do something. The cynic solves this dilemma by thinking that nothing can be done!…

      The antidote for cynicism, then, would be compromise, which is the nemesis of the ideologue. Where’s Tip O’Neal when you need him?


      • King Beauregard

         /  April 30, 2016

        This also explains why Bernie has done so poorly with blacks and Latinos: they want solutions, not outrage. They don’t have quite the same luxury of being cynical.

        Plus, as I’ve said elsewhere, cynicism is the easiest way for a dullard to feel like he’s smarter than everyone else.

        Meanwhile, the ninnies at brandnewcongress.org have finally clued into the importance of Congress, but feel that they are owed a quick easy fix. Sorry kids, that’s why you need to vote in midterms, and additionally you need to pick your battles. You need to be prepared to chip away at that wall for however long it takes; I know I am.


        • Anonymous

           /  April 30, 2016

          I think you have confused cynicism for skepticism.


          • King Beauregard

             /  April 30, 2016

            No, it’s not me who has done so.

            Let me throw in some C.S Lewis because it also speaks to the matter:

            The real test is this. Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, “Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,” or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies are as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally we shall insist on seeing everything — God and our friends and ourselves included — as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.


            • Anonymous

               /  April 30, 2016

              Nobody is saying there is no solution, just that there is certainly more than one path. You like Elliot, I like George Bernard Shaw:

              “The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.”

              George Bernard Shaw


      • Anonymous

         /  April 30, 2016

        I would have thought that the “Rational Skeptic” could differentiate between skepticism and cynicism.


    • Obama got it right: “a cynical electorate is a selfish electorate.” Nothing could be truer than that. And the funny thing is, that is exactly what the right in this country has tried to do: make a selfish electorate. Ayn Rand’s distaste for government and her extolling “the virtue of selfishness” is just part of it. The conservative movement in the middle 20th century was, at heart, an attempt to undermine the role of government in our lives. Reagan’s presidency and the movement that both brought it in and flourished under it, made no secret that it wanted the public to lose confidence in government institutions. All of their efforts culminated in the Tea Party movement, where utter disdain for government and its failings was its guiding principle. Unfortunately for Republicans, the disdain isn’t reserved just for Democratic governance these days. Drumpf proves that they hate the Republicans too. The right cultivated cynicism and selfishness without realizing that one day it would swallow them up along with everyone else. It is beyond ironic that National Review, which started a lot of this modern mess, is as disdained by Drumpfians as is The Nation.


  4. Anonymous

     /  May 1, 2016

    The “great progressive writer” that Duane quotes in this post chastising Sanders, has also written on Hillary, which was of course, not mentioned. It is not favorable, he states: “For all their bluster about bombing the Islamic State into oblivion, neither Donald J. Trump or Senator Ted Cruz of Texas have demonstrated anywhere near the appetite for military engagement abroad that Clinton has.” He goes on to say: “our failures in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Syria and elsewhere apparently haven’t given her the slightest pause about the effectiveness of military force in the Middle East.”

    In a Time magazine article Barack Obama is quoted as saying of Hillary’s record that it amounts to: “Bush-Cheney Lite”. He chastised her for “using language reflective of George Bush” when she stated the US could “obliterate” Iran should they use nuclear weapons against Israel.
    The article goes on to state in 2016, because of rising isolationism in both parties, that a GOP contender could bash Clinton for defying public opinion on Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya. (That would be Trump, not Rubio, as they hinted in 2014). Hawkish Hillary in 2008, you will note in the article was overheard by Defense Secretary Gates, confessing to Obama. She stated she opposed the troop surge in 2007 during the Iraq War because the politics of the 2008 primaries demanded it. That’s quite the politician indeed, that you support. Do you not think enough soldiers have been killed, maimed, and psychologically damaged in the last 13 years? The public does, and the GOP has nominated an isolationist that doesn’t want additional casualties in his public panderings. What an election, the DNC nominates a hawk, and for the first time ever both parties’ nominees have unfavorable ratings of 60%. Former President Jimmy Carter is very critical of Hillary’s record as Sec. Of State, and he’s no cynic. I am SKEPTICAL that Hillary will not involve us in another war, or give a damn about blue collar workers, or do a damn thing to rein in Wall Street.


    • Let me see. You mean a columnist can’t be a “great progressive writer” if he has something contrary to say about Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy and something contrary to say about Bernie Sanders domestic policy? Hmm. Let me think about that one.

      In any case, we all know that Hillary Clinton is not exactly a dove. I have admitted elsewhere that her tendency toward hawkishness is worrisome. But Bernie’s tendency toward isolationism is even more worrisome. In the end, it could lead to as much or more mischief as doing too much.

      Given the turn of things this election season, Hillary’s positions on America’s role in and reaction to world events looks more conservative and hawkish than we might have interpreted them in the past. People are tired of foreign interventions, that’s for sure. And the conversations we have these days about those interventions are filled with comments about how war-weary Americans are. That does make a difference and it is important to consider. But leadership is leadership. You lead Americans in foreign policy, not follow them because Americans generally are not in a position to think through all the ramifications, in this complicated world, of not acting. They can easily see, though, the results, often messy results of acting. And they can be demagogued on such matters. So, a president has to be careful.

      The truth is, though, as Obama found out, it is one thing to be a candidate running for president who makes remarks about American foreign policy and national security, and quite another to have the responsibility to intervene or not—with your decision either way having consequences of life or death for countless people. One would be a fool to anchor one’s self to positions one takes outside the bounds of power. Having the real power to act, or not act, is different from an abstract discussion about it on the campaign trail. That’s true for every candidate running, no matter their rhetoric.

      It could very well be that a President Hillary Clinton is more hawkish than President Obama has been. Or it could be that she would be less so. Nobody knows. Not even her. As for me, I expect her to react according to the unfolding events, not have a “doctrine” that she follows no matter what. That’s a stupid way to conduct foreign policy, as far as I’m concerned. That sort of thinking may have sufficed during the Cold War, but the world is not so easy to divide these days. The entanglements are much more complicated, the unanticipated consequences are even more unanticipatable [sic] and therefore more dangerous than before.

      Finally, about that last part. You can be skeptical all you want about Hillary’s potential administration. In the end, though, you have a choice to make. It will either be her or it looks like a Drumpf. Hillary Clinton, for whatever you think of her, will appoint Democrats to the two or three thousand jobs in her administration, those who essentially do the day-to-day governing and enforce the law and regulations. If you think Drumpf will appoint the same kind of people, you are mistaken. And if you don’t support the Democratic nominee named Clinton, you will be supporting the Republican nominee named Drumpf. It’s that simple.


      • Anonymous

         /  May 2, 2016


        Regarding the “great progressive writer”, he has criticized both Hillary and Bernie. Who the hell does he support? He appears to be cynical if he just offers criticism of both. You have heard my criticisms of Hillary and you are correct that I think Hillary is a poor choice from the DNC. IMO, there should have been a committee or someone that explained to Hillary that with a FBI investigation hanging over her head, that the possibility, however remote, that charges were brought after the nomination, during the election, or during her presidency were unacceptable, even if you are innocent until proven guilty. I would have happily contracted that job for no fee. A candidate with pending criminal charges would have a slim chance of winning, not to mention the impeachment proceedings if elected. I would have settled for whomever they drafted instead, but Warren would have been my first pick. It is my understanding that FBI investigations that lasted this long, with so many agents, doesn’t end well for the person under investigation.
        Nevertheless, I will be voting a Democratic ticket even if a yellow dog is nominated, as I have previously stated. The alternative as the article I’m copying states: Trump’s election is an extinction level event.


        • I’m glad to hear you will support the Democrat. That is good news. But I am telling you that there are a lot of Bernie supporters, or Hillary haters, who will not vote for her. They will either stay home or, in the case of some lost souls, vote for Drumpf.

          Bernie has deliberately sullied her already Republican-sullied reputation. And it has been shameful in my opinion. He really could have stuck to the issues without doing that. It wouldn’t have been that hard. He could have argued against money in politics without insinuating that she is on the take. And his latest admission that he intends on taking the fight all the way to July is simply nauseating, if one is serious about beating Drumpf.

          I have always been worried about how Bernie can possibly, with any integrity, endorse her in the end. Given what he has said and done, it will be something of a joke. Oh, I know that other candidates have had worse fights and still endorsed their opponent, but it is different with Bernie. He did have a lot of personal integrity and seriousness. It mattered that he, with sterling reputation, called into question her integrity. And it will come off as hollow when he finally has to tell his supporters they need to vote for her. Essentially, he’ll be reduced to saying, “Look, she’s not the most honest person running, but Drumpf is worse.” That’s going to be some endorsement.

          As for that email stuff, you are right that there is some possibility that something negative will come of it. But it won’t be a criminal indictment. She didn’t do anything criminal. What she did was somewhat careless, but there’s a difference between that and criminality. I’m guessing, from what I’ve read about it, that she will get slapped with a finding that she should have been much more careful about handling sensitive material, but that there is no proof she intentionally did anything that jeopardized the nation’s secrets. And, sure, Drumpf will lie about it. But he will lie about it no matter what. And don’t you think he would lie like a madman about Bernie Sanders, if he were to get the nod? Of course he would. And it would probably be much more effective against Bernie because no one has heard anyone talk about him that way. Hillary certainly hasn’t.



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