We have only completed 2 of the state primaries in the elections that will occur, for the Democratic Presidential primary. This is a race involving 50 states, DC, 5 territories and Democrats Abroad (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_Democratic_Party_presidential_primaries). This primary was already one with incredibly high stakes. The Republican party went all in on selling it’s soul for a racist, narcissistic and unbalanced nominee, who encouraged foreign influence to win an election. He has continuously flouted the law, demeaned our institutions, and brought disgrace to the office he sits in.
What is not discussed much is that there is a divide between ideologies in this country. It’s not left and right, as it transcends both sides. This is about whether people believe the ends justify the means or whether they believe, like I do, that they are defined by it. This is not just a Trump or GOP problem. This is an American problem. This is a problem that faces us at every level of society.
Now we have a protracted battle for the Democratic primary, to determine who will be the nominee for President. People lamenting this have one of two goals. One to suggest nominating their candidate will unify us quicker. The other is the media prerogative to stoke the frustration of viewers, and those social media, to demand immediacy for the sake of catchy headlines.
If we make the wrong choice, we stand to lose our republic as we know it. The problem is, no one can really profess to know who will make the best candidate to beat Trump and right this ship. Anyone who does is not speaking in good faith, but rather with a selfish agenda to further their own nominee. Anything can and will happen between now and then. Trump, the GOP, and Russia et al (other adversaries) will push disinformation, and they will relentlessly attack whomever is chosen to be the Democratic nominee.
They will dig up dirt. There will be as many “October surprises” as they can possibly manufacture, no matter how ridiculous they may turn out to be. They will attempt to divide the party through this nomination process and through the election. This is going to happen no matter what. It’s futile, for registered members of the Democratic party, to choose their nominee based on some sort of attempt at predicting who will make it through the inevitable gauntlet and still be standing strong.
It seems to me, that we need an impenetrable way to choose our candidate. Maybe that is by viewing how they run their campaign, as a reflection on the merit of their candidacy. That coupled with their record getting things done for others, seems to be strong metrics. When I say getting things done for others, that can be activism and/or their record in elected office, sponsoring bills that have passed, co-sponsoring and voting for or against legislation, and creating initiatives or agencies aimed at helping citizens of this country.
In this past week, some of the Democratic campaigns are showing their true colors, and they should be red flags for Democratic voters in this primary that has 98% still to go. My first criticism is for Michael Bloomberg. This campaign has really hit every button of being an insidious campaign. Not only is Bloomberg completely unwilling to acknowledge the damage of his stop and frisk policy and redlining, his focus is on quieting the criticism instead of acknowledging it. He uses racist justifications and has not shown any respect for what his policies did to black and brown citizens he was meant to represent (https://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/audio-of-bloomberg-on-stop-and-frisk-emerges-78611525957).
Now it’s clear he’s not just buying his campaign, he’s buying his way toward getting people to support him (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/13/us/politics/bloomberg-campaign-cash.html). It’s disingenuous and it’s an illustration of a white man so sure that he is the one to save us all, he will use his imagined ends to justify bad faith campaign maneuvers.
He’s not alone either. Bernie Sanders campaign also reflects a reckless narcissism, that is frustrating to see. I supported Bernie in 2016, and even voted for him in the primary. I had committed before the convention, to supporting the nominee, and I fully supported Hillary Clinton once she secured the nomination. That was when I also saw the bloom come off Sander’s proverbial rose. He was interviewed shortly after the convention (it may have been the next day).
The question was posed to him, what he intends to do about the Bernie or Bust/Never Hillary crowd. With a straight face he said “I can’t snap my fingers and tell my supporters what to do.” I was able to find that clip on youtube until recently. Now I can’t seem to find it (there are so many Bernie interview clips now and from 2016). He spent months telling them what to do, but now he was taking his ball and going home. His supports decry that he campaigned for Hillary, but it was clear to me the he was a sore loser who didn’t campaign for her, and for the sake of this country anywhere near as hard as he campaigns for himself.
Let me be clear. I would prefer Bernie Sanders to Bloomberg, any day. He is progressive, and I trust him more than Bloomberg to genuinely fight inequity in this country. Bernie has been a loud voice in the Senate, for decades, bringing attention to critical issues. I thank him for that. The problem is, Hillary was right. I’m not sure no one likes him. He’s a pretty likeable guy, from what I’ve seen, but he is very much a “my way or the highway” guy, and that’s not how you get stuff done in a bipartisan government. In his storied Senate career, he has been the original sponsor of 7 bills (https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/bernard_sanders/400357). Two were to name Vermont post offices, and one was for “Vermont Bicentennial Day”. The others were more substantial, and regarding caring for our Veterans.
Beyond his record, his campaign is not as genuine as his rabid supporters would like us to believe. He found a loophole to disavowing PACs, by forming a non-profit one (https://apnews.com/345bbd1af529cfb1e41305fa3ab1e604). As a life long registered member of the Democratic party, I am insulted at Sanders refusing to join our party unless he gets to be in charge. According to Wikipedia he has been a registered Independent from 1978 – present. He switched to the Democratic party in 2015, but switched back to Independent when he didn’t win the nomination. Now he’s back, only because he wants the nomination (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernie_Sanders).
This is opportunistic and not how political parties are meant to work. Commit to the party and work with them to make them reflect what you want the party to stand for, but don’t demand that you will only join the party if you get to be king. I just can’t respect that. I’ve never ascended to anywhere near his level, but I’ve been in the dirt working with the party at the local level. It takes work and commitment. This is a slap in the face to everyone in the Democratic party, who is doing the hard work from the inside, instead of lobbing attacks from the outside.
Finally, his campaign is a hotbed of abusive and duplicitous behavior, for which he barely acknowledges and he fails takes tangible responsibility for shutting down. If he can’t get his base to reflect his campaign accurately, how will he ensure that his Presidency will effectively be healthy for this country? It seems that his is more happy to have the fanfare, and will ignore the cost. Some examples:
Toxic “Bernie Bros”:
One offs that are hard to trace:
As frustrating as it is, I will support them if they win the nomination, but we have a long road ahead. Instead of focusing on who will likely win, by reading the tea leaves of any one state’s primary results, the polls or the noise from the pundits, I suggest we focus on what matters. Their record, the efficacy of their campaign, and how likely they can achieve their platform as President. I would also note, that I notice how the candidates respond to criticism. Some candidates acknowledge the criticism, can show they have learned and have an ability to evolve. Others will deny the criticism, reject its worth, and dismiss it. If a candidate can’t admit their imperfections, how can we trust them to be honest when they make a bad decision?
To me, the ends are defined by the means, and how these campaigns are run speaks volumes.