Bernie Sanders claims he’s got Clinton scared. The New York Times is reporting that Clinton is having to fight for Iowa. Politico says that Sanders is pulling ahead.Vox tells us about the 11% lead Sanders has over Clinton among voters 18-35.
Hillary Clinton is still, of course, the establishment candidate of the Democratic Party, but I’m starting to really wonder. And I still support her candidacy wholeheartedly, but I recognize very much that she is a reviled figure, both on the left and the right. Progressives utterly despise her. She is a Neoliberal, a soulless, pandering, elitist technocrat whose only real goal is to uphold globalized capitalism.
American progressives are foolish because they take too much for granted. They think that if Sanders were somehow elected, that he could really turn the country around. That if he were given the ability to make his case as President, then Americans would understand what needed to be done, and everything would fall into place. None of these things would actually happen. If Bernie Sanders were to clinch the nomination (as would seem a distinct possibility at present), the first thing that would happen would be compromise between the Party and the Campaign. Bernie is running a classic anti-establishment campaign, but if he wants that Party organization and support, he’s going to have to make compromises with the establishment. If negotiations go poorly, the division could cost the Democrats the election, and diminish their standing in society. But even if the relationship between the Party and the Campaign is harmonious, compromises made on the part of the candidate will be bitterly resented by many of his supporters. Which brings me to speculate on what would happen on the off chance that Sanders did win the White House in November.
Paul Ryan is Speaker of the House, and he is not fucking around, not even a little bit. If Bernie Sanders were President, Paul Ryan would break him. He would force the President into a confrontation, win, and then humiliate him in the settlement. And it would likely lead to a long and terrible recession. For which Sanders would be blamed! Come 2020, a Republican would be, at long last, brought into the White House.
Not that I expect anyone to be persuaded by that argument. Most of the folks who support Sanders don’t really know what they want, only that they are so very tired. I suppose what they really want is sleep! And good dreams.
Hillary Clinton is not telling bed time stories. She may sometimes be tone deaf and hamfisted, or we might be hypercritical of a woman who would be President. I confess I sometimes cannot tell one way or the other. But she is leading a Presidential campaign. And the establishment at least appears to be supportive of her. Should not that count for something?
It does count for something, but it counts against her for most progressives. Indeed, pointing out that Sanders is a populist candidate is denounced in Jacobin. He’s a populist, but of course he should not be in a category with Donald Trump, who is obviously pure evil, whereas Bernie is the answer to progressive prayers.
Towards this view I can only express a kind of ambivalent despair. So many progressives are simply blind to conservatism. They cannot understand nor imagine why conservatives are conservatives, but confronted by the failure reasonable argument against their political foes, will shrink into bitter cynicism. Cynics don’t vote, because they already know the system is broken. And what scares them most isn’t someone breaking the system, but fixing it.
Imagine, for a moment, if the US economy was a perfect and genuine meritocracy, accurate and kept up-to-the-minute, where everyone knew where they and everyone else was in terms of income and earnings potential. Would the constant measurement and ranking not drive us all insane? And would not the distribution of merit reflect the arbitrary concerns of some anonymous technocrat anyways?
But Progressives instead assume that the economy should be a meritocracy, and that politics distort the distribution of income. In this way, individual achievement can be celebrated while failures can be ascribed to systemic failures. Notice how close this is to basic libertarian positions. The problem is not with the system, it is rather that the system exists at all.