Bernie Sanders may have already had his victory

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca in its summer fundraiser today for as little as $5 per month!

Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Bernie Sanders' stirring ride toward the presidency may be near its end. (Or not. More on that later.)

He's lost the lead and his strategies are paying diminishing returns. It has been a great trip, as one said in the 1960s, his formative era (and mine) -- and whether it ends now may not matter that much.

That's because being president comes with strict limits. Noam Chomsky was once asked, during the Reagan years, how left-wing U.S. voters should vote. He said it wasn't terribly important. "If I was president," he mused, as the audience cracked up at the thought, then explained how little he could get passed, given the systemic constraints of wealth and power.

This would apply to a president Sanders -- a Chomskyesque figure. The long march through the institutions could only get started under him. Yet Sanders has already transformed the eventual possibilities.

He did it by showing generations of discontented youth that you can do more than protest: "Occupying" Wall Street, marching against war, etc. You can enter institutions like mainstream parties and fight over them -- without ditching your radicalism.

You don't have to become a young fart like Buttigieg. With luck and work, you may even win. That transformation will take longer than Bernie's lifetime, whether he's president or not. So his main work may already be done.

Not just that. He finally ended the Cold War, by running as a socialist and not being instantly vapourized. That was never a real war; it was an ideological crusade against ideas and options. Now more U.S. youth lean to socialism than capitalism, and Bernie marks the spot. That, too, is transformative.

Most shocking has been his frankness on foreign policy. When challenged for praising Cuba's literacy program -- the global standard for such projects -- he didn't cower as generations of U.S. "progressives" have. He replied in his combative Brooklyn way. He doesn't prattle on about the always noble, if occasionally failed, ideals behind U.S. behaviour. He doesn't even flinch at criticizing Israel.

"Yah, but he's losing now, right?" Faltering, I'd say, but not due to his beliefs. They didn't sink him in 2016 or since -- despite massive blackouts and derision from the mainstream media. This'd be no time to lose your nerve.

I happened to leave the room during the latest debate as he spoke on foreign policy. On CNN afterward, they made it sound like he'd flipped out, regressed to the '60s, and started shouting, "Up against the wall, motherf----s." When I checked the clip, it was a calm statement that the U.S. isn't immune to criticism for anti-democratic coups in Chile or Iran. I can't see that sort of thing doing him in with voters. It hasn't till now.

At any rate, the charge against him hasn't been that voters reject him over his views. It's that they fear other voters will, making him "unelectable."

Why's it still not quite over? The resurrection of Biden's candidacy shifts the calculus. Everyone else has dropped out and it's effectively a two-person race.

Till now, there would likely be no first ballot majority at the convention; then, the unelected party hacks and apparatchiks called superdelegates can jump in and simply crown Joe or Bloomberg on ballot two. But with just two remaining, it becomes mathematically easier to forge a majority on the first ballot, giving Bernie at least a shot at reversing it all again, as Biden just did.

What if he loses? IMO, Sanders has always been a pragmatist, he wouldn't have got this far as a "socialist," if he wasn't. (Even Lenin decided that what the Russian Revolution needed was a dose of capitalism!)

Sanders hung in last time till he got Hillary Clinton to move her platform much farther left than she wanted, then campaigned for her. He has a good relationship with Biden that may yield some effects. Biden himself is such a crock -- his only appeal to his big backers is he's pliable and not Sanders -- that he'll need any and all help.

If Sanders' troops stay in for that fight, it won't be for him, or the party (which he still hasn't joined), but for the future, and their chance to shape it.

Rick Salutin writes about current affairs and politics. This column was first published in the Toronto Star.

Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Related Items

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.