My thoughts and observations after watching the Democratic National Convention last night.
I have so many friends, especially in Indian Country, who are bitterly disappointed that Bernie Sanders will not be the Democratic Nominee for President. I am not bitter, but now that it is clear that some higher-up members of the Democratic National Party were not exactly neutral make his losses in close races heart-breaking. But, this was a bit overblown in the media. Sure, some people said, and maybe did some shady things, but, if you read the e-mails, others in the DNC were objecting or calling them on it. But, it is what it is.
And, I agree with the modern philosopher Sarah Silverman’s admonition at last night’s convention that the “Bernie or Bust” contingent was “being ridiculous.” They literally spent the entire day booing…even their own candidate. Let me unpack the thrust of Bernie’s speech for those of you who were too busy complaining to listen. I will try here, briefly, to help people understand one simple fact: Bernie Didn’t Lose!
Clinton supporters, and democratic establishment types, were angry that Bernie didn’t concede much earlier in the process, even though he had no path to personal victory. Why do you think he did that? If you are a politician, the answer is obvious: LEVERAGE. Bernie is principled. He wants his IDEAS to win. He pushed Clinton from her usual middle to the left during the primary…big time. But, it is common to cater to your base during a primary, only to pivot toward the middle for the general. Bernie knows that. He needed leverage to influence the party platform to include the proposals and principles he and his supporters so gallantly fought for. To keep them from pivoting back to mediocrity. That is a YUGE (as he says it lol) accomplishment. Bernie Sanders moved the Democratic Party platform away from the nebulous middle toward a principled and progressive agenda for the general election and beyond!
But, a platform is a statement that may, or may not, guide action. His next feat was getting Clinton publicly and politically committed to pursuing the policies. Making Clinton ACCOUNTABLE. Bernie, again, had YUGE influence in this regard. Last night, in his speech, one-by-one, Bernie listed the principles that Clinton, and the DNC, have committed to. He made them ACCOUNTABLE.
Further, Bernie maintained his leverage even after endorsing Hillary Clinton Rather than sell-out, he not so subtly pointed out that there would be implications to the DNC and any of their candidates, including Clinton, if they renege on their commitments to this political revolution. He asked his supporters to continue to fight for the ideas and goals, not a single person. It is not about Bernie, he said, it is about the ideas. In doing so, he asked us to engage, and to stay engaged, so as to maintain the pressure on the establishment. It is about LEVERAGE. At no time has Bernie backed off. In fact, it can be argued that he will have even more impact by motivating us to pressure and support candidates up and down the ballot to act on the policies we have fought for.
Bernie is the big winner, not Clinton. That is obvious if we measure enthusiasm. But, Bernie is also a big winner because of his influence on the platform and the candidate and, hopefully , the party. Bernie can only lose if we are too myopic to abandon these principles and too petulant to see the big picture. This leverage only exists as long as Bernie is able to mobilize supporters. Once we move on to the next thing, it is over. It is imperative, then, that we understand the political strategy behind what Bernie did. He understood leverage. In the face of almost insurmountable pressure, he stayed in and made our voices heard. When he could have peeled off for an independent run, he calculated that he could have more effect, more quickly, by hi-jacking an entire political party…and he is! No, WE are. And, that is his main point. Pay attention to the strategy, not the person. Believe in the ideas, not the person. People, like campaigns, come and go. We need to see beyond the person to the possible.
Bernie pulled off a coup. But, change can be fragile. We cannot disintegrate or relax lest things revert. Not until our change becomes the normal. So, props Bernie! And, to those of you who are truly committed to the principles he fought for during the campaign, to whom this was not just a way to act cool and make new friends, keep up the pressure. SUPPORT CLINTON AS LONG AS SHE SUPPORTS THESE POLICIES. And, let her know that you will drop her like a bad habit if she doesn’t. That is how Bernie wins!