There’s One Way Bernie Sanders Can Still Win — but It’s Not How You’re Thinking

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By Jake Anderson at theantimedia.org

 

Op-Ed  Let’s travel back in time to January 20th, 2009 — the day of President Barack Obama’s inauguration. It was momentous, epic. People cried. People huddled in groups…and cried. The nation had stood together and fought back against the Empire, and now it was time for the Chosen One to go to work.

Imagine, if you can, later that night, after the festivities died down. His daughters and wife went to bed. Obama kissed Michelle and said, “I’ll be there soon, I promise.” He had one last appointment, a meeting with a group of ‘insiders’ he had never met. Obama didn’t know who they were; he’d only met some of their representatives. But his advisors told him the people who set up the meeting were as aggressive as they were mysterious.

The men came in and they sat next to the fireplace in the Lincoln Room. A few of them were dressed like Secret Service officers; one of them looked kind of like the Cigarette Smoking Man from The X-Files, and another resembled the paralyzed and sinister Mr. Roque from David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. One of the men’s faces was obscured in shadows — and it was this figure who spoke.

“You’ve done well. Congratulations, Mr. President.”

“Thank you. If you don’t mind my asking, what’s the purpose of this meet–”

“It was all very cute. The people are very…happy. You’ve done well.”

Obama paused and swallowed hard. “Thanks.”

“Now let me tell you something and I want you to listen very carefully,” the man said, leaning forward into the light so Barack could see the tip of his decrepit nose, his softly glowing eyes still recessed in the shadows. “You have a sandbox you can sit in. We will let you know which toys you can play with and which toys you can’t. But you will not leave that sandbox, ever….because you are a good father and you love your family.”

It probably wasn’t that direct or dramatic, and it likely didn’t happen in one night. But at some point during that first year of his presidency, Obama was told what he had probably always suspected: the president is just a Director of Operations for the Deep State; the president sings the national anthem at the baseball game. And if he doesn’t, he goes the way of JFK.

You can see it in his eyes now. The look has been there for years. He wants to tell us how bad it is but he can’t. The bank where he works is being robbed, but he won’t press the panic button. Now, he and Hillary flaunt a kind of nauseating ‘wink-wink, I’m going to change it from the inside’ mentality. Unfortunately, we know only too well now that the inside is a point of no return; once you reach the singularity of the black hole, you can never escape. There is no changing the system from the inside. It’s a bloody, viscera-strewn zombie pit. And unlike The Walking Dead, no one emerges undead.

The same, sadly, would be true of Bernie. To return to the previous analogy, Bernie might hit the panic button. He might really rile some nerves on Wall Street and in some of the halls of power in Washington. But the corporate infrastructure and hierarchy would remain intact; the central banks greasing the wheels of the great international heist would continue to flourish, and the military-industrial complex would continue shaping world history.

What’s really at the heart of the 2016 presidential election is that for the first time, the establishment knows that we know that the system is rigged, and we know that they know that we know. There is a standoff going on, but for the first time, most of us finally know who the enemy is — and the establishment, on both the left and the right, is shitting in their pants.

True momentum will not be sustained by sending a democratic socialist into the bank as a negotiator; he will just become a hostage. In fact, the Bernie movement is more powerful and verdant with Sanders not in the White House.

The Sanders movement is more about grassroots organizing than top-down governance.

Bernie Sanders has already accomplished the unthinkable. He has rivaled the financial power of SuperPacs with grassroots organizing. He has shown that when enough individual contributors rise up, they can challenge the political influence of big money. There is simply no way to overstate how incredible this is. The Sanders campaign has generated 7.4 million contributions from 2.4 million donors, totalling $210 million. This makes even the groundbreaking Obama campaign pale in comparison. As much as we like to think of Obama has having risen to office on a grassroots populist wave, small contributors donating $200 or less only provided 32 percent of Obama’s war chest. The rest came from Wall Street, SuperPACS, and special interest money.

The Sanders campaign is single-handedly challenging the corrupt influence of Citizens United and the unchecked flow of corporate money into elections. This legacy would be greatly tarnished by the ugly realities of the top-down governance that would ensue once he was in the White House and forced to compromise with the same special interest forces that are antithetical to his entire movement.

His supporters should focus on the four years in between elections and how their enthusiasm for social change can be channeled into community-based solutions and diplomatically connecting different movements that share similar characteristics.

#FeeltheBern is transferable and fluid — but only if it remains decentralized.

The Bernie Sanders movement has already served its purpose in this election. It has announced to the Democratic establishment that a storm is brewing. The voter fraud anomalies will transform future elections, and the lack of transparency over Hillary’s Wall Street speeches will transform the political machinations of future politicians. While the Hillary machine may be too powerful to overcome this time around — considering it’s the culmination of three decades of carefully crafted corporate stewardship — future Democrat establishment figures will not be able to get away with coddling corrupt Wall Street entities behind closed doors.

The Sanders movement is now free to intermingle with elements from both Occupy and Black Lives Matter, shaping a powerful force that will change the American political system forever. If Sanders is elected, the movement will be co-opted, defused and reappropriated. All of the Bernie supporters who are currently full of revolutionary anger will be deceived into thinking the war is won, when in fact, it’s just begun. This is what happened when Obama was elected. The revolutionary fervor that heralded his election dissipated, and the movement stopped pushing for progressive reforms. In fact, they stopped pushing entirely, which is how Republicans swept through Congress in the 2010 mid-terms, rendering anything Obama wanted to do impossible (not that it would have mattered, anyway: Obama had two years of a Democratically-controlled Congress and he did nothing with it).

#FeeltheBern is transferable, meaning it can transmogrify into a larger movement with the passion of Occupy Wall Street — but with more cohesive goals. It’s broad enough to be inclusive to other anti-establishment groups and focused enough to filter out destructive elements.

Think five years, think ten years, think 50 years down the road. When people invoke the name Bernie Sanders, what will it mean? Will it be an asterisk in a footnote about failed populist social movements? Will #BernieorBust be blamed for a Trump presidency (while Berners blame the DNC for forcing a fatally flawed candidate into the general election)? Will #FeeltheBern be a darkly ironic euphemism for misplaced idealism, collecting dust on the shelf next to Obama’s “Change You Can Believe In?”

If elected President, Sanders’ agenda would turn into corporatocracy-lite.

As much as the criticisms of Sanders’ lack of specificity with regard to how he would break up the banks are overwrought, the reality is that the forces of Wall Street would unite like rabid demons against his plans for reform. The result would be not only a failure to achieve the objective — the failure would make the very idea of reform look anemic. In other words, we don’t have the right ideological infrastructure in place to combat corrupt financial institutions. They control too much of Washington. If Sanders were elected, he would expend all his political capital passing some kind of permutation of the Glass-Steagall Act, which would probably not have much of an effect on the kind of corruption taking place in our financial sector. It would be the Too Big To Fail version of Obamacare, legislation so compromised it’s unclear if the long-term impact would actually help the working class.

Another point to consider is how tenaciously the tenets of democratic socialism would be fused with the reality of our current corporatocracy. We already have a perverted socialism at work; when it comes to funding war and the police state, the public all chips in and pays, but when it comes to basic human rights — life, shelter, education, healthcare — the public is ensnared in a privatized system that is rigged to benefit a corporate feudal order. The result is socialized war and privatized life. Ever wonder why the defense contractors who profit from our military interventions don’t foot the bill?

Sanders proscription is for political revolution — not actual revolution, and there’s a big difference. His policies would, at best, be pushed toward progressive centrism. At worse, he wouldn’t get anything done, with even Democrats refusing to get on board with anything that even has a whiff of socialism.

President Sanders would be forced to push nationalist pro-military actions. This is what happened to Obama, and it emboldened the pro-war left like never before. If elected, Sanders revolutionary rhetoric would be co-opted, distorted, and destroyed.

The Democratic Party is like the Borg; they assimilate and destroy movements.

The Bernie movement has created a major rift in the Democratic party, so much so that a strong third party run is viable as soon as the next election. If Sanders becomes president, the new left that is emerging will be suffocated under the weight of government malfeasance.

Incrementalism can work if it’s going in the right direction. Hillary’s idea of incrementalism makes one feel like they’re in Back to the Future 2 when Doc and Marty are stuck in a nightmarish alternate future (most people think of Trump in this context, as he was quite literally an inspiration for Bif’s rich incarnation).

Strong third and fourth parties are not only possible moving forward, they are likely in the next election cycle.

via GIPHY

The Obama Syndrome — Sanders’ momentum would hit a buzzsaw.

Our obsessive love for a populist ‘reformer’ has a tendency to crash like a wave on the shores of Washington and recede back into the ocean.

One can see the change in Obama’s face directly before and after taking office. If you listen to some of his rambling post-election speeches, you can practically hear him wanting to tell us what it’s really like…how screwed we really are, how doomed the idea of change really is…this same thing would happen to Bernie Sanders, except Sanders would probably fight back…and who knows where this would lead. One thing it would definitely not lead to is the type of governance his supporters imagine. Look at the opposition Obama faced; by the end of his presidency, he was so desperate he was pitching GOP talking points — and they still wouldn’t cooperate with him.

Is there still a chance Sanders can win the nomination? Yes. But it’s a snowball’s chance in hell. He would have to win 3/4ths of California to pick up enough delegates to even make it mathematically possible. The idea of a superdelegate coup on the convention floor is exciting, but ridiculous. Short of a federal indictment of Clinton, nothing is going to convince the Shillary superdelegates to switch — not polls showing Sanders’ strength in the general election versus Trump, not overwhelming evidence that she has become the very evil that is the greater of two — nothing. The political calculus is too complex for most superdelegates to seriously weigh the risk/reward of betraying the Clinton machine. And the foot soldiers of the DNC gave up on their ideals a long time ago. They don’t even understand most of the points Sanders makes. They just nod their heads and say, “Yeah, yeah – sounds great, but it’ll never happen!

The truth is they don’t want it to happen. They are okay with the Democratic Party having shifted dramatically to the right. The Corporate Pro-War Left runs the Democratic Party now, and it always will. Sanders would do better to run as an independent to keep the movement going.

This is just another phase in a multi-generational realization that our democracy has been completely taken over by a corporatist oligarchy, our economy looted by “free market” vultures and government coffers, and our future mortgaged with toxic assets from the top down. The grim reality is: we need more time. The country really doesn’t have the stomach for political revolution yet.

Why? To be blunt, the Baby Boomers who wield political power must die first. I know, it’s harsh, but you know it’s true. The old guard of neoliberal pseudofree trade policies, deregulation, and military interventionism must be phased out by generations of ferocious young people demanding change and threatening economic kamikaze until there is. The unforgivable sellout of the 1960s must be fully acknowledged and understood before new visions of America’s role in the world can realistically have a voice in the halls of government.

The truth is we really don’t know what the hell is going on in Washington. But all signs point to a complete and total symbiosis of government and special interests. Washington insiders are rotten to the core — every single one of them. A few rebels with shreds of courage — Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, Elizabeth Warren, Ron Paul, and Ralph Nader, for example — have been trying to tell us this for years. For the first time, varied faces of the movements that must unite can see each other across the gulfs of our ideological divides. We’re waving and shooting up flares, and messages are finally being transmitted. But we need more time, and we need people like Sanders and Warren organizing on the outside, not being assimilated by the Borg on the inside. The dead eyes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton should serve as a warning to all true progressives.

The biggest question right now is, “What will happen to Berners once this election is over?” While he’s promising a contested election, which makes me giddy with excitement, it’s definitely time to start thinking of how his supporters will be deputized moving forward. An analogy I can’t shake is from none other than Star Wars. When Obi-Wan Kenobi fights his final battle with Darth Vader, he sees that his protégé, Luke Skywalker, is watching.

You can’t win, Vader,” he says. “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

This is true of Sanders. And while he will fight to the end to inspire his followers, in the end he will put down his lightsaber and allow Clinton to return him to the Force, because ultimately, that’s where he is more powerful: as a navigational beacon in the cultural zeitgeist. Sanders is more transformative as a control icon or, more accurately, as a counter-control icon — a symbol of resistance to the establishment and a voice for tactical reasoning.

The White House is where progressives go to die. We want our rebels on the outside, showing us the difference between corruption and virtuous governance (if such a thing can still be said to exist).

While we need a top-down system reform, this will only be possible with a bottom-up social revolution. Bernie says this explicitly when he talks about social movements. This sounds easy. It sounds like some natural human evolution that will lift us up like a historical tide.

In reality, it will require enormous personal sacrifices. This goes beyond living green, it goes beyond civic participation, agorism, volunteerism, and community-building. All those are necessary, of course, but they must be supported by a popular uprising of anti-establishment fervor as a force of creation, not destruction. When we tear down the infrastructure of the old world corruption, what will we erect in its place? Until we can answer this question, the political revolution will just be rhetoric. But when there is a coherent answer, dramatic change will be unstoppable.


This article (There’s One Way Bernie Sanders Can Still Win — but It’s Not How You’re Thinking) is an opinion editorial (OP-ED). The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of Anti-Media. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Jake Anderson and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. Image credit: Gage Skidmore. If you spot a typo, email [email protected].

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33 COMMENTS

  1. Don’t blame baby boomers for this. There are still plenty of us who have remained progressive over the years. It was also we who started the civil rights and anti-war movements.

    The will of the people has been subverted by big money. Don’t be ageist.

    • I walked for Bernie. I have fought the man and I have not given in. Do not blame Hillary on me. We cannot be divided right now. A movement needs older people for seasoning, younger people for ideas and energy, women for nurturing (I am one, so I can say this), immigrants for different perspectives, Engineers for organized linear think processes…in short, everybody of all genders, sexual identities, races, national origins etc., etc., the bouillibase of humanity.

    • You’re right, but people become close-minded as they age, and look at what old people have mostly said to Bernie’s campaign. Most went with Clinton. The progressive movement is with young people, the issue is that things like SJWs have lead, to 25% of young people not caring about human rights like free speech. We all have to work together, to join the scandinavian countries with a government for the people. Until then, the first priority is climate change, if we all die off, there will be nobody left to challenge the establishment.

      • At 57, I’m more progressive than some of the 20-somethings I know. I fought against wars, helped elect Dems, Civil Rights activists & Womens Rights supporters. Pressured elected officials to keep their promises and shamed them in the newspaper when they didn’t. I’m always willing to lend a hand, support a cause and admit a mistake. We need All ages, colors and descriptions to Change the World. Lose your Prejudice! Remember what happens when you Assume…

    • I’m 63 and I know exactly who/what runs the country and who the enemy is. I agree. Don’t be ageist. I am a progressive. You whippersnapper. lol

  2. WTF AnonHQ… Why is that no fucker ever posts anything… The only reason I’m posting something is that whenever I read something interesting from your site, the comments page has sweet Fuck All on it. What is it with your elfin’ readers that makes them so fucking quiet????

  3. It would be nice to see some annon’s – clearly more capable than I – intercept the feeds on the Time Square digital billboards with a compilation video of every nasty thing Obama had to say about Clinton when he, himself, ran against her. To show the blatant hypocrisy of his endorsement of her now, as he suddenly meets with both Sanders and and Clinton, only to wind up endorsing her and saying “I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office”. Um, yea…he wasn’t saying that beofre, was he?Then contrast it with Obama’s own earlier and valiant efforts for change and the many similarities his efforts and statements have had with Sanders own. This would directly support everything this article says about others pulling the strings. While simultaneously discrediting Obama, showing this backtracking on Hilary as suddenly “being the right person for the job”, clearly meant only to undermine Sander’s own continued efforts.

  4. We know you are working for the “Alliance” Anonymous and we know that some of the people in the “Alliance” are split in their ways of thinking. Some want partial disclosure (100 + years) and other want full disclosure(Immediately). You my good sir have started on the partial disclosure timeline and we have noticed it for the past month or so. Your tone has shifted. There were huge gaps you weren’t even posting articles. There is no need for it, we are ready for full world revolution, this goes beyond political revolution, you know this if anyone. You are pushing hard for it, some much rhetoric in what you said, you are really trying to paint the picture and make us live in it, in this post. Come on give us a break. How about you side with the people in the alliance that want full disclosure. The corruption and secrets and lies have gone on too far all over the world. We don’t need to wait longer people are ready, the energy is building up too much on earth, and we need to channel it into a wonderful world now!

  5. https://m.facebook.com/questions.php?question_id=849159985216397Add join group stop the lies! Truth! to vote: Please make sure you select in the poll I got this idea I’m kind of tired of the lies so I’m starting a poll my own for voting If today was Voting day and every vote counted who would you vote for? If your candidate isn’t here please add please do not add jokes this is a poll to help bring truth to people about the manipulation of our culture. While I may later add things to debate this is not a debate this is a simple pole please write in your answer #bernie #Poll #truth #trump #HillaryClinton #USA

  6. A great, well-reasoned article. Caused me to remember the old saying… ‘A people gets the government they deserve’. I agree the ‘boomers became complacent and self-interested, they let the team down badly, and I’m a ‘boomer. I hope the ‘revolutin’ has the legs to make real change, time will tell…

    • @ Norm van’t Hoff I am as well. I remember all of these things taking place, and kept thinking to myself. “what the hell are people doing, in not seeing or paying attention to what is taking place?!”.

      And as time went by, and I noticed as they became more brazen in their changing of legislation, and anything else necessary for their corruption to grow. And now, it has become what I had always worried that it might become.

      Lets hope that we can make the necessary commitments now for the better of tomorrow. Not just for us, but for the future of our kids, and grand-kids to have a decent chance at life.

  7. I love this article. It is the inspiration people need to recognize that the change we need cannot be made in one single election’s time. And that at the end of this election we need to become more politically active than we’ve ever been. The end of this election signifies the beginning of our revolution and we finally have a spokes person with widespread support, someone we can trust, that isn’t part of the establishment to concur supporting to get there by the next election.
    #FEELTHEBERN should become our revolutionary slogan, until the change we insist on has been met.

  8. Or what if our election is being stolen… but there are some people on the case including the court system. There are lawyers already working w/the courts to prove election fraud, yet we hear nothing from the media. They’re claiming Bernie has won, wow! You can check these guys out on trustvote.org & Redacted Tonight on you tube has another piece coming out on 6/11/16. This is a serious law suit using the rico act
    & the press is suppressing it just like our votes…. it’s got to stop! Sanders is right to go to Philly cause perhaps by then it will be widely available on MSM that this fraud is going on. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibK4de85IKw

  9. liked the article, just one comment. the article says bernie is “outside” the machine and would become “inside” it if he (we) won the presidency. but he is a u.s. senator, meaning he is already inside it to a certain degree. all i’m saying is the inside/outside distinction is more of a continuum than a binary. if he became president he would be a bit more inside the system, but i don’t think he would compromise his basic integrity the same way obama already had before he became president

  10. Very interesting hypothesis. However, what I understand you are saying is that things cannot be changed from the inside out, that it must come from the outside in. With all of the money and corruption on the inside, and the fact that the 1% can pretty much buy whatever votes there are to keep them on top, it seems to me there is little hope for change at all. With only a few exceptions, the majority of us who support Bernie are considered by the 1% as the underclass that are only here to make them richer. We have been trying and trying and trying to change things from the outside in, but that takes money, connections, money, rich people, money. Give me a real plan to help create a third or fourth party that can challenge the Republicans, the Democrats and all the splinter parties and I will not only listen, I will do my best to work toward the goals you might set. The Wealthy buzzsaw in still there and us “commoners” just don’t seem to have the knowledge, strategic knowledge or skills to go up against the “big guy”. Give us the tools and the guidance and you’ve got a deal. I’m a 76 year old Baby Boomer living in a mountain town of 300-400 year-round residents. I have Chemo-Brain, a bad back and probably am looking only 10 to 15 years left before I become too dotty to be of any use to such a project. But it you think it is possible, just let me know. I’ve got lots and lots of friends around the US who would be willing to give it a try.

  11. It’s often forgotten but Obama did not have 2 full years with a Democratic Congress because Al Franken’s election was contested until the end of the first session. Then a recess. Then back to it. The senate largely did nothing, I think in session a full 57 days with an actual Democratic majority. THen midterms, and that was it.

  12. While I love this author’s conclusion, the beginning makes me wonder what kind of unholy combination of drugs he/she is on.

  13. Thank you for a thoughtful and readable article. What you say, is ” ¡ Organise ! ¡The time is not ripe for change, but it will be ! ”
    – I am a 79 year old European from Norway, university educated, not a worker. I have watched ‘history’ for more than 70 years, through VW II, the optimistic 1950s and 1960s, and our oil boom, which will soon be over.
    – It appears that that the force that can lead history in a good way, are strong and healthy trade unions. To create and to maintain trade unions, and to keep them out of the hands of Big Money, is a lifelong task. This job can be taken up only by idealists who know what they are doing, and who wish to spend their lives on this worthwhile job. The Internet has led to new opportunities, and it must be kept open, it must keep the freedom that it has today.
    – The keys to a better future, for the US and for the world: Trade unions and a free Internet. – Thank you.

  14. I agree with your point that our power to fight and change government will be from outside the Democratic party. Am hopeful the some unification, or desire for it, by the splinter groups will begin this weekend at the People’s Summit. The desire is washing all over the FB pages with people scrambling to find an anchor. Bernie seems, today, committed to working for change from within. Running as a Dem has allowed his voice finally to be heard and loved by the nation.

    But you are correct, within the party,promises for incremental change are the best hope and the crumbs that they will toss out to hypnotize the Bernie supporters. Those promises will disappear under later arguments and the dems will continue to serve their corporate masters. We must push for growing unity outside the party to maintain our freedom.

  15. I fully agree with the authors premise that change will not come in this election cycle. I don’t think it will come in the next three cycles. The corporate “masters” will not allow it. Hillary is already in their pocket and Bernie would probably be squashed. I don’t think Trump can win the election, nor should he. We “the people” haven’t seen a real candidate in so long, I doubt we would recognize one when he/she came along. The only way to release our country from the establishment is to destroy the establishment.

    The only way to destroy the establishment is to get the populace to grow a backbone and take control away by means of massive civil disobedience. Unfortunately, most of the poor working class are already so disenchanted, they will not do anything to help themselves. I talk to a lot of people I meet about their need to vote and/or stand up for what they think is right. What I usually get back is, “My vote doesn’t count.” or “I’m only one person. What I say or feel doesn’t matter.” I would say 8 of 10 people I talk to feel this way. This apathy is what we are truly up against.

    Change can only come when a true leader rises up to inspire the “little guys” into backing the movement with every fiber of their being. I do not wish to fight a violent revolution, but it may be the only option in the final analysis. Where have all the patriots gone?

  16. 51 year-old boomer here…I have only become more knowledgeable and anti-establishment as I have aged. The revolution needs our voices.

  17. WE ARE THE DEMOCRATIBORG

    LOWER YOUR SHIELDS AND SURRENDER YOUR CANDIDATE

    WE WILL ASSIMILATE AND ADD YOUR VOTES TO OUR OWN

    YOUR POLICIES WILL ADAPT TO SERVICE US

    RESISTANCE IS FUTILE

  18. This was an honestly good read! Thank you. We’ve been following the election here in Norway as closely, and probably at least for as long as you have, and it appears to be an utter farce. I was disappointed that Hillary beat Sanders, but you make good points, and I look forward to seeing if they will ring true. I often joke to my American friends, that your election is influential enough on the rest of us around the world, that it would only be fair if we could vote too! Peace be upon you 🙂

  19. Is this supposed to take the place of hacking the hacked voting machines? Or doing anything helpful to the movement? A few melodramatic musings and references to movies, including one for kids and teens?

    Really, what have you done to right the wrongs of the Clinton machine and the DNC?

    And by the way: Obama was put into office by banksters, so he didn’t need any facts of life stories told him: he’d already signed on for the chance at the White House. Who was paying attention, yet missed that?

    Ridiculous drivel.

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