Feel The Bern? Your Diet Might Require More Green, More Exercise In The Streets

A Trump presidency will be weird. In a bad, bad way. It will be very bad, okay. But the point here is that we're at such a "very, very bad" place in Democrat-Republican politics, it's due time we hit the reset button.

The nominees have been named and the chips are falling in the 2016 presidential race. After the gaffe-fest that was the Republican National Convention, from speech-copying, to endorsement snubs to the most overt fascist salute that wasn’t coming from one of Trump’s many crowds, the Republican Party is looking like it needs answers.

After the Democrat’s own convention wrapped up this week, a very loud contingent of Bernie supporters is getting under the skin of millions who have literally taken the smile from a war criminal to the bank.

The Bernie Bros and Sandernistas are licking their wounds. They were sold out. And while there remain those among them who concoct ideas on how the Brooklyn-born Vermont Senator can still manage to win the presidency, they labor under delusion.

This was all inevitable. Bernie Sanders said all along that he would be faithful to the Democrats. There have been several points along the way that could have served as Bernie’s Rubicon.

The delegate and superdelegate gymnastics. “The meeting” with President Obama. Every time a Republican dropped out of the race and it seemed more clear-cut that Donald Trump would likely be nominated.

Bill Maher, several weeks ago, pointed out that while Trump’s campaign had pulled white supremacists out of the woodwork, and seemed to inspire a vitriol against immigrants and Muslims typically reserved for spaces outside of the actual Republican platform, the campaign of Bernie Sanders had had a similar effect on the Democrats, luring many leftists into the fold.

I harbored respect for the efforts of Senator Sanders in Congress after the Citizens United ruling and the Tea Party takeover of the 2010 midterms. His berating of the greed and collusion between government and the financial sector spoke to millions who felt the essence of democracy recede further under the advance of a bipartisan neoliberal agenda.

We watched Obama’s 2008 promises of getting tough on Wall Street and NAFTA, of closing Guantanamo, of scaling back US aggression and resolving the health care situation turn into broken promises and, to paraphrase Howard Zinn, “compromises of compromises”.

Obama’s defenders argue to this day that the Republican establishment was against him from day one, and he couldn’t get done what he wanted. It’s also ironic that many of the same people also back Hillary and hold Trump’s policies as bullets in a gun to the head of those both on-the-fence over casting a vote for Hillary and those on the other side who aren’t making the jump.

Obama’s utopia could be so easily derailed, but somehow Trump’s nightmare is going to happen in all of the worst ways imaginable. Right.

It remains the strongest case made for opting for the “lesser of two evils”: the most overused cliché in US politics — which should mean something. We should hear the Imperial March in our heads at least, if not picture ourselves being wooed by Darth Vader to join him and overthrow the Emperor. I now sit here imagining all of the parallels to this election and that analogy that I didn’t see at first.

In any case, is “Trump and Die” a campaign strategy for yet another go-round of the Democrats selling themselves as the good guys and the Republicans as greedy, old, white jerks? The Democrats certainly feel that the-the best way to continue is not to sell you their candidate, but to rather use the other one’s Twitter feed to scare the shit out of you.

And it’s not that Donald Trump has merit; he doesn’t. Flat out. He’s been selling high the whole time, like that obnoxious car salesman who owns the ‘yuge emporium of automobiles advertised on every city bus and during every commercial break, always cooking up some sort of financing deal. Wooing you in with the enticement of “nothing down” and driving away today in a brand new MINI Cooper until you realize you’re going to someday pay $300 a month for a MINI Cooper.

Yes. Trump is the pits. But Clinton represents actual policy. Troubling policy which epitomizes the hard Democratic shift to the right over the last 20 years; free trade, anti-union, neoliberalism, pro-war. These issues will be the face of the Democratic Party.

Writing for Talking Points Memo, Katherine Krueger noted a sharp deviation from the script we might expect from supporters of Democratic Party politics and candidates as she reported on the mood of the DNC:

A small faction of protesters chanting “no more war” as General John Allen spoke were quickly drowned out by chants of “USA!” filling the Philadelphia arena.

In her article, Krueger goes on to note how the GOP is now jealous of the machine the Democrats have become which has pulled millions of former members of the “Blame America First Crowd” into the big tent of right wing nationalism.

It stands to reason, while it would be hyperbolic to assert that the Democrats don’t have anything to offer liberal or progressive voters, if lesser-evil voting patterns are proving anything, it’s that this strategy has allowed the Democrats to move right unpunished. Even while Bernie’s supporters hailed the influence of his campaign on the 2016 party platform, there’s no onus for a Hillary administration to abide by it.

It may seem that the despair of Sanders supporters witnessed on the streets of Philadelphia, and all over social media, has fed the beast yet again. Known as the graveyard of social movements, it can be argued that as Bernie’s campaign drew on so much of the energy brought into the national dialogue via the Occupy movement, with Bernie ceding his endorsement to Clinton and urging supporters to get on the Clinton train, the Democrats might be able to add another notch on their belt.

This will largely come from the election hangover effect which sees the winning side turning a blind eye to less sexy policies they enable. To condemn the Democrats after a win, you see, would entail condemning the self. I’m old enough now to have seen this happen to both parties.

Where liberals and Democrats responded for years with, “What about Bush?!” to criticisms of Barack Obama as the worst president ever, they have long since taken the mantle away from Republicans. Criticisms of Clinton, valid and important criticisms, like her war criminal history, not the made-up Benghazi stuff, will be more pushed aside during a Clinton presidency than they are now.

This is where the “lesser-evilism” becomes big trouble. America elects what it sees as the lesser evil, and then the evil disappears altogether. Like Obama’s expansion of the Bush Doctrine, record number of deportations and prosecution of whistleblowers, the administration’s sanction of the FBI crackdown on the Occupy movement, the expansion of domestic spying programs. Instead, we dote over the FLOTUS giving a tear-jerker of a speech at the DNC. Palestinians also shed tears when they see Democrats on stage. Because those Democrats also enable and allow the occupation of and forced migration from their homes, while virtually silencing antiwar sentiment throughout the course of the Obama administration.

Those let down the most by Bernie should simply abandon the Democrats. While Green Party candidate Jill Stein is an ideologically attractive destination for those who may straggle from the Democrats, the lesson should ultimately be about teaching the Democrats a lesson by getting more exercise in flexing rights more than once every four years.

The scare tactics over Trump are wild and thinly-veiled. There are memes floating around with about every public program its creator could muster, and romantic duty to fulfill by voting for Clinton to defend them from certain ruin under Trump.

Uh huh. So, again, Obama couldn’t do everything he wanted. “He’s just the president, guys. There are rules!” But Trump just gets the green light on everything? Maybe if you sit on your ass for another four years.

A Trump presidency will be weird. In a bad, bad way. It will be very bad, okay. But the point here is that we’re at such a “very, very bad” place in Democrat-Republican politics, it’s due time we hit the reset button.

The fate of four Supreme Court Justices potentially hang in the balance, but what we have now gave us both Citizens United, and marriage equality. And on that last note, democracy was a driving factor. Democracy, via an organized and active population, is going to be our best defense against either Trump or Clinton.

You’re getting the same oligarchy, it’s just a different color. The orange one comes with a sassy Twitter feed.

An exodus of supporters to the Greens sends a direct message to the Democrats. Hardliners can whine all they want about how the Greens play spoiler, evoke the Nader myth, and prate on about how terrible free healthcare is, but they have nobody to blame but themselves. Thanks for the worst candidate in seven decades, but no thanks.

Given the Democrats’ history, there’s a lot to risk by going lesser evil and then immediately forgetting why that choice was “lesser” evil as opposed to not evil to begin with. The steam behind getting large amounts of money out of politics, raising of the minimum wage (which isn’t the best strategy, but at least gets workers thinking about their exploitation), and the war thing. Seriously. War has barely been an issue in this election and that’s terrifying.

We stand to lose the movements behind a lot of what Clinton absorbs from the Bernie supporters. If we can come to terms that there are big risks associated with both Trump and Clinton, it’s the unorganized population that’s going to feel the biggest blows. There’s an old tug-of-war between the concepts of voting and movements on which one gives back the most.

If we’re talking about small contributions to freedom from the movements behind abolition, women’s suffrage, labor, civil rights and antiwar, which won emancipation, the Nineteenth amendment, every damn work law on the books, giant blows to legal discrimination, we might come to realize that we’ve a lot more to gain through organizing and direct action than voting for two awful candidates to begin with.

Derek Scarlino is an activist, teacher and dashing thirtysomething who was born and raised in Utica, NY. He has lived and traveled overseas, and has contributed material to The Inquisitr, Bleacher Report and Groove Korea, as well as his own news/views site (loveandragemedia.org). He's no longer embarrassed to admit that he's a giant fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and currently resides in Utica with his dog Chewie.
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