Saturday, July 9, 2016

Appeal to Bernie supporters

Bernie Sanders says he is not throwing in the towel, and he's taking his campaign all the way to the Democratic National Convention. On the other hand, he has made some conciliatory remarks that he will vote for Hillary Clinton if she is nominated; not quite an endorsement, but the promise of one. Also, there is a planned campaign event on Tuesday, which should give any of his following cause for concern.

I'm going to plead my case to Bernie supporters as to how you should handle a Clinton nomination. Even though I am now a Trump supporter, you'll have to trust my intentions are virtuous. That is, my goal is not to convince Democrats to weaken their ticket so my preferred candidate can waltz into office. I would prefer a strong and respectable Democratic ticket with high chance of winning, to a terrible one that makes Trump's run more viable. The virtuous part of me wants the best people running. The non-virtuous part of me does not seek to derail the Democratic run. No, the more cynical part of me despises our federal government and actually wants to see the election become a national trainwreck. That part of me wants Clinton in office, because really I see it all starting to fall apart if that happens. I am ready for a return to states' rights, or even balkanization in America if need be. So the good part of me, and the bad, have no intent to "trick" Democrats to get Trump elected. I've never claimed Trump is a perfect candidate. I mostly find myself defending him frequently because the narrative is so far off. I've done the same when I thought Republicans were unfair to Barrack Obama, even though I've never supported him.

This post will detail my personal support of Sanders, why I think he has failed us, and what I think Bernie supporters should be doing.

My support for Sanders

I have been a Bernie supporter from early on, even before he announced his campaign bid. After he announced, I frequently posted in his favor on facebook, trying to spread the word about his run. Not only did I support much of his platform (I've since backed off on a lot of that) but I was really, I'm mean really appalled at the notion that Hillary Clinton, with nothing but a long record of corruption and incompetence behind her, not to mention a lot of testimony from former secret service, police, and others assigned to her detail of her caustic and even cruel personality, could pick up the Democratic nomination with no opposition. So when Bernie, who rails against cronyism more than anything else, offered to run against the most brazen crony we've seen, well there was reason for excitement. It was really a ying and yang kind of match-up.

At some point I started to lose my excitement for his candidacy. The actions in Syria, which I was closely following through sources outside our mainstream media, convinced me that, while our presidents campaign mostly on domestic matters, their true influence is over our foreign policy. Obama had to work Congress to get his signature healthcare legislation passed, but our actions in Syria, Libya, and elsewhere were entirely under his authority. When we elect a president, he (or she) may be president from our perspective, but from a global perspective he is more akin to a world emperor. But Sanders is concerned with just one or a few domestic issues; primarily social equality and corrupt governmental, corporate, and financial institutions. He doesn't offer much in the way of foreign policy insights. I decided that Bernie wasn't interested the most important decision made by the elected leader of the world's only superpower.

As my support was beginning to wane, I attended a Bernie event in my town. Listening to him speak, I was not at all excited, but all those around me were. I couldn't shake the feeling that most of his promises were just to use public tax money to buy votes. So in effect, I was repelled by his lack of a foreign policy, and became cynical of his domestic policy. And yet his anti-corruption core remained, and although I was becoming a Trump supporter, I still voted for him in the Missouri primary. I felt that exercising my vote in the Democratic side would have a bigger impact in improving the integrity of the general. I still support Bernie as the Democratic candidate, just not to win the general.

Bernie failed to do his job, and will betray his supporters

While many people support Sanders because of his leftist politics, a big part of his success has been his stance against corruption, when the front runner has clearly demonstrated she lacks even a shred of dignity. Despite that mandate Bernie refused to attack her character. Instead he decided to make the run "about the issues facing the American people." This was a fool's errand. Hillary's greatest skill, outside her ability to enrich herself through cronyism, is to craft a political narrative through extensive use of polling and focus groups. That is, by having no moral compass, she can easily navigate her position to most closely match the opinions of the public on those issues. If the election is "just about the issues", then she wins.  But this also exposes her Achille's heel: her lack of integrity, and all its manifestations, opens a huge flank for attack. And Bernie expressly refuses to press the charge. He will only battle on the grounds that favor his opponent. It's like he read Sun Tsu's The Art of War and opted to do the complete opposite. Even if his goals are stellar, and his ethics impeccable, Bernie is a loser, seemingly by his own choice.

Bernie is now hinting that he will endorse Hillary, and at that point I lose all remaining respect for him. He states his reason is that anything must be done to stop Trump. And the thing is, even if Trump was as bad as liberals says he is, he still wouldn't be as bad as Hillary. So Bernie will sell himself out to stop the boogeyman, when he wouldn't even dirty his hands to stop an even worse candidate, who is proven to be a liar, to be corrupt, and to be incompetent. Trump is a wildcard, but Hillary is known to be rotten. Bernie fights against the corruption and unfairness of the 1%, yet he's willing to endorse a candidate who has enriched herself to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars during public "service". If he endorses her, it will be a betrayal to his anti-corruption principles, and to all who support him for those principles. If he does so, even after the convention, he is nothing but a fraud.

So what options do Bernie supporters have?

 Contested convention

The Democrats best bet is a contested convention. Trump could beat Clinton in the general election. Which is fine by me, but I truly can't believe the Democrats are so willing to support her. Do they really think this is a good idea? I bet any liberals or Democrats reading this post disagree with me here. I hardly know anyone who is an open Hillary supporter, or a radical feminist making it all about gender. But, I was truly astonished when I saw the behavior of the House Democrats in the Oversight Committee's recent panel with FBI Director James Comey. They just don't seem to care who is about to become their nominee. They should, and Democrat voters need to be pushing back on these people relentlessly. My conclusion: the Democrats are better off staging a coup at the convention to get a better candidate than to unite around Hillary.

Third party options

I have voted third party in every general election, or abstained. I always respect anyone's decision to vote third party, even if it takes votes from my preferred candidate. I think a third party vote carries a lot of power, because those parties really need your vote. Jill Stein is much closer to Bernie, both politically and ethically, than he is to Clinton, and she hasn't been afraid to call for her indictment! Now I don't agree with her liberal politics a ton, but I do respect her ability to call a spade a spade. I would be perfectly fine if the Democrats abandoned ship en masse and made her president. And certainly the Hillary gender card becomes useless against a woman with some actual integrity.

The case for Trump

Now I'm not going to try to convince you Trump is the greatest candidate ever or flawless. In fact, let me open up by describing some of his flaws.
  • Bumbling. He doesn't speak eloquently. His campaign speeches are maddingly rambling. Realize also this is part of his charm. People are tired of slick politics. Trump is not slick, and that is no longer a political liability. Also, he's new to the game of politics, and he insists on not taking short cuts. Sure Obama sounds real eloquent reading off his teleprompter, and Hillary can at least get through it, but Trump has opted not to use one. My guess is he wants to improve his skills at speaking naturally to the American public. This may pay off in the debates later this year, and you certainly have to have some respect for his decision to wing it.
  • Thin-skinned. His glaring, maybe fatal flaw is his ability to maintain self-discipline when insulted, and he has even admitted as much. Granted, he has endured a great deal of unfair, often blatantly false insults, but that is no excuse. He must be held to a high standard. He had better do some yoga or find his chi or whatever it takes before the general. Because Hillary, the shrewd sociopath, won't be thrown off by personal insults like he is. A strong ego is probably a prerequisite to run for president, but he needs to get this in check. If he wants his finger on the nuclear button, he needs to demonstrate to the public he can remain cool while under attack.
  • Bombastic. Trump speaks his mind and courts controversy. When criticized he is as likely to double down as anything. We tend to like bombastic people when they are on our side, and despise them when they are not. They might irritate us at times, but someone needs to be the mouthpiece. My preference would not be for a boastful person. But at the same time, our president is basically elected by the mob. What do we expect? Look at Romney. He was...whatever the opposite of bombastic is. And he generated little excitement. Trump has criticized his inability to hold media attention throughout the election. So if you want a president who represents you, you're going to have to accept that he or she has to court attention in our particular system of government. It's not ideal, but nothing is.
  • Politically inexperienced. Trump is not a politician. He's made some blunders. He'll make more. And when in the presidency, which will be a much different environment that the campaign trail, he'll make more. That is simply the other side of the coin when you bring in an outsider. You take the bad with good. I don't suspect he'll be the same kind embarrassing "amateur hour at the White House" we've seen from the similarly inexperienced Barrack Obama, but I don't doubt at all that mistake will happen. But in today's political environment, where almost everyone hates establishment politics, it's not a huge liability.
 If people can't get past these issues, or some other sound reasons, I understand. But the point I really want to make is this: Bernie supporters, please consider that the mainstream narrative you hear about Trump is not accurate. Where not outright false, it is twisted, taken out of context, slanted, or spoken with a sneer. This should not be hard to imagine. Every Bernie supporter knows that Bernie has had a similar, although less harsh, treatment by the media. We all know he was completely ignored early on, for as long as they could ignore him. And even when they finally acknowledged, they were quick to remind us that this election was really all about Hillary. Ron Paul supporters saw similar treatment in 2012. When he could no longer be ignored, he was always portrayed as a kook. And all Democrats should know that the widely held belief that Jimmy Carter was the worst president ever is total nonsense. Yes his presidency was mostly ineffectual, but this narrative about him being so terrible is the remnant of the media smear campaign done against him in the 1980 election. Yet Democrats have no trouble believing the smear campaign being done against Trump.

 Just think for a minute about who gets smeared unfairly by the media. They are always political outsiders. Now when I say outsider, I don't mean people who haven't participated in politics. Trump fits that description, but Bernie Sanders, Ron Paul, and Jimmy Carter do not; they were politicians already. But I think political insiders fit into one or more of the following associations.
  1. The graft system. Certainly political insiders play the graft game. Whether it's the government-to-industry revolving door (where politicians or bureaucrats are rewarded for favors done), selling access or influence for campaign donations, or other bribery schemes. Sanders lives off his government salary (and wife's income) and gets donations from small donors; he's a world apart from the vast fortune the Clintons have amassed from their government self-service. The Clinton Foundation would be the exemplar of a graft system.
  2. Neocon foreign policy. The neocons promote their "project for a new American century." They seek to preserve America's status as the world's sole superpower as long as possible. I think they have good intentions, you could certainly argue either way about the morality of it, but the point is that neocon foreign policy is establishment foreign policy. If you're unfamiliar, this is a good place to start. The gist is that neocons want to prevent any regional or global powers from threatening the world order imposed by the United States. They aim to do this be enforcing nuclear non-proliferation, by preventing political or economic blocs that might threaten the imposed order, and by punishing or destroying any world actors who refuse to accept US hegemony. I could get real deep into this, but I think I'll save it for another post.
  3. Globalist/progressive ideology. Now holding an ideology doesn't necessarily make someone an insider to the political elite, but not having that ideology sure makes someone an outsider in respect to the media, the academic industry, and to the globalists, like the Davos crowd or the Bilderbergers.
 Bernie Sanders is marginalized because he does not satisfy insider credentials 1 and 2, but he is not attacked the way he'd be if he contravened the third. Similar with Jimmy Carter, although he was still viciously attacked because the stakes were much higher. I bet that if Sanders had become a true threat to Clinton's nomination we would have seen the attack ads and media smearing starting to roll. Ron Paul contravened all three insider credentials, but never quite had the numbers to have a real chance at taking the nomination (even if his energetic supporters did create quite a stir).

In this view, Trump is the ultimate outsider. He has not been beholden to the graft machine, or even to pandering to donors, as a self-funded candidate. This has been huge for his ability to say things a Republican candidate should never get away with. If you told me a year ago that the Republican nominee would blame Bush for 9/11, would make trade protectionism his foremost policy, and would sometimes take the liberal side in the "culture war", such as during the tranny bathroom uproar, it would have been beyond ridiculous. And yet here we are.

Second, he is not a neocon. He wants to make America great in a grassroots way, not a geopolitical chess kind of way. I think he would compromise on this some, but I don't think he'd box in Russia, or overthrow MidEast governments the way Bush and Obama have. He might not be the neocons' worst nightmare, because he is pragmatic, but those who have worked for decades on the neocon project are probably still terrified at the prospect of Trump coming in and smashing the whole thing.

 And he certainly violates the 3rd metric of political outsideness, by being a nationalist, and an enemy of globalism and socialism. This more than anything has driven the shrill response towards him. For instance, his insistence on securing the border. You can't argue against that on logic; of course a nation should secure its borders, and enforce the laws it has. So they can only respond by claims of racism. It doesn't really make sense, but it's the best they can do.

Finally making Trump unique is that not only does he violate all political insider requirements, but he is an actual threat. He broke Republican records in the primary. He brought over all sorts of Democrats. And he has a good shot at taking out Hillary. Usually the media is used as a weapon to destroy outsiders, but he has played them to his own advantage.

So Bernie supporters, if your candidate betrays you by endorsing Hillary, and you're not sure where to throw your support, just keep this in mind: the common narrative against Trump is a weapon of attack, not an attempt at objective truth. And the more you see the media or political establishment working to marginalize or ridicule someone, the more you should consider that the person is on the right side of things. If you think Trump is a poor candidate you may have good reasons for coming to that conclusions. If you think Trump is literally Hitler, you are surely seeing through a lens that has been put before your eyes.

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