(ANTIMEDIA) There’s no way to sugar coat it: For the liberals and independents who vigorously opposed Trump in this election, the last two days have been a delirious, nauseated blur of existential despair and recrimination. This anguish, mixed with a healthy dose of Monday morning quarterbacking, instantly produced one unavoidable question — one that will be parsed and analyzed for decades: Would Bernie Sanders have defeated Trump had he been the Democratic nominee? Many think so, pointing to polls that for months showed him beating the controversial billionaire by double-digit figures.
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It certainly seemed that Bernie had the grassroots insurgent swell necessary to rival Trump’s, whereas Clinton represented a corrupt political establishment, a “swamp” that the majority of Americans want “drained.” This may sound overly simplistic, but since when was this a country in which overly simplistic platitudes and polemics didn’t rule the day?
The divergence in tactics — and most notably, the fighter mentality many liberals believe is lacking from the current incarnation of the DNC — was on display when Sanders responded to Trump’s victory for the first time yesterday. Striking a stark contrast between the politically gracious responses issued by the president and former Secretary Clinton, Sanders defiantly pledged to fight for progressive values throughout Trump’s presidency.
Not mincing words, Sanders said, “We will vigorously oppose him.”
Now, to be fair, Obama and Clinton — who are leaving office and no longer in office, respectively — really had no choice, practically speaking, but to graciously concede and offer a harmonious and cooperative transfer of power. After all, Clinton’s camp and the media had lambasted Trump for suggesting there would be acrimony regarding the election results. But their conciliatory tone is emblematic of a Democratic party that forgot how to fight for progressive ideals, or worse, forgot those ideals altogether. As opposed to President Bush, who came into office like a conservative wrecking ball, or Trump, who appears poised to do the same, Obama spent much of his presidency compromising with and conceding losses to the obstructionist Republican Congress. After a while, it became part of the standard operating procedure.
A good part of this can be blamed on the obstructionism. But is that not part of legislative grit?
When Bush was pile driving the Patriot Act, the Iraq War, and the surveillance state into our collective reality, the Democrats mustered a meek, sometimes inexistent dissent. When they reclaimed the White House, Obama perpetuated many of the same draconian, hawkish policies, setting out an agenda eerily similar to Bush’s in many aspects of his foreign policy, domestic surveillance, Drug War rhetoric, and drone war implementation. In fact, Obama took the baton and ran further with the drone war, expanding the program considerably and using it to bomb an additional seven nations in the Middle East.
It is because of this and still other parallels that many believe the Democratic party became equated with the corrupt neoconservative political establishment (many of whom crossed party lines to vocally intone their support of Hillary Clinton), which the majority of Americans wanted removed from the corridors of power. They wanted a rebel, an insurgent. Bernie Sanders was that insurgent, and his response to Trump’s election is further evidence (as if we needed any) that despite what his policies may have ultimately been, he was prepared to aggressively defeat Donald Trump.
Sanders’ full remarks are below. Note that at one point Sanders refers to Trump’s voters as fed up with “billionaires not paying any federal income taxes,” a possible ironic swipe at the proudly tax-dodging Trump himself. It is not the only logical inconsistency in poor and working class Americans placing their faith in a billionaire.
Is this response the neutered hymn of a Democratic establishment singing at its own funeral? Or is this a glimmer of hope that there are still fighters in the DNC who want to “drain the swamp” in order to fight for substantive progressive change? We’ll have to wait four more years to find out, and with Bernie aged 75, it’s a safe bet that a new progressive will be taking up the fight. Let’s hope the DNC-media political complex doesn’t screw this candidate — and the nation — too.
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