When you reach a certain age it’s difficult to imagine wanting to see time actually speed up. And yet there hasn’t yet been a word or phrase coined in the English language that would allow me to properly express to you just how badly I want it to be July 29th already. That’s because, beginning on that date, the morning after the end of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, I likely never have to write the name Bernie Sanders ever again. The convention will be over; Hillary Clinton will have accepted the Democratic nomination and given an address that both called out the grave threat facing the country in Donald Trump and declared unity to be the only way forward; and Bernie Sanders will have been relegated back to the Senate, where, if his recent behavior is any indication of his inevitable fate, he’ll be ostracized and rendered powerless for trying to hijack the Democratic party and putting the country at risk in the name of satisfying his own ego. Hopefully, smart, sane people will prevail and Sanders will have fucked himself.
It didn’t have to be like this. I say this as somebody who’s genuinely astonished at the ways in which, during this election, Sanders has gone from being a principled, honorable crusader for progressive values to a bitter, arguably unethical — yes, unethical — spoiler in the Ralph Nader vein, drunk on the hero worship of his rabid disciples. About those disciples: For a while now, there have been those saying that Sanders shouldn’t be blamed for the behavior of the delusional “Bernie or Bust” crowd: the shrieking, frothing goon squad that descends both digitally and, more recently, in the flesh whenever anyone shows support for Hillary Clinton or simply isn’t adequately “feeling the Bern.” You know who I’m talking about: the tantrum-prone Veruca Salts, oblivious to how politics actually work, who traffic mostly in wrong-headed memes and meaningless buzzwords; the furious dead-enders who over the weekend turned the Nevada State Democratic Convention into a madhouse because they weren’t able to bend the rules in favor of their guy; the simultaneously shameless and shameful fanatics who then responded to not getting what they wanted in Nevada by inundating the state’s Democratic chairwoman, Roberta Lange, with voicemails calling her a “cunt” and threatening her life. Yeah — those pricks.
Maybe there really was a time when Sanders couldn’t be held accountable for the actions of these people, who now bear more than a passing resemblance to Donald Trump’s dangerously overzealous following. Those days are gone, though. The beginning of the end was marked by Sanders’s refusal to immediately denounce surrogates that were trafficking in conspiracy theory and character assassination. From there, it moved to Sanders sanctioning a protest in East L.A. where his supporters shouted obscenities at men, women and children who’d come to a Clinton event, forcing them to run a gauntlet of verbal abuse. Now today there’s this: Bernie Sanders’s offensively haughty and indifferent response on Tuesday to his followers’ unhinged, even violent extended outburst at the Nevada Democratic Convention and his laughably tepid “condemnation” of the misogynistic intimidation tactics that have followed. All of it over a decision by Nevada’s Democratic party that cost Bernie Sanders just four delegates, a thoroughly meaningless number when he still would’ve been behind Clinton by 278 delegates.
At first, Sanders wasn’t even willing to talk about Nevada. When he was asked about it by an NBC News correspondent early on Tuesday, Sanders abruptly ended the interview, saying, “Okay, I think we’re going to leave that there,” and walking away as the correspondent continued to try to get an answer from him. Later in the day came the official statement, and boy was it a doozy — a veritable masterclass in responsibility-dodging and defiant blame-shifting. “It is imperative that the Democratic leadership, both nationally and in the states, understand that the political world is changing and that millions of Americans are outraged at establishment politics and establishment economics,” it begins, right off the bat putting the onus on the Democratic party to tolerate Sanders’s disciples’ inchoate rage rather than calling upon the disciples themselves to behave like adults.
From there, Sanders traffics in either ignorance or a willful denial of reality. “Within the last few days there have been a number of criticisms made against my campaign organization. Party leaders in Nevada, for example, claim that the Sanders campaign has a ‘penchant for violence,'” the statement reads. “That is nonsense.” Given what we saw on Saturday, with chairs being thrown and at least one person knocked to the ground, this claim is nonsense. It’s offensive in its blindness to fact. The statement follows that up by doing two things that are just ridiculous: One, it tries to turn the tables and allege equal victimization by claiming that months ago a Sanders campaign office in Nevada was shot at and an apartment used by Sanders’s staff was broken into. Two, it feeds, not refutes or at least mitigates, the conspiracy theories Sanders’s supporters in Nevada used to justify the chaos they created on Saturday. The Sanders campaign is now actively sowing discord by dealing in bullshit it knows its rabid fan base will latch onto with both hands. As for repudiating the threats, the misogyny and the vandalism against the Nevada Democratic Party following Saturday, well, Sanders offers a timid condemnation of “any and all forms of violence, including the personal harassment of individuals,” but then immediately goes on to make himself a victim as well.
Given that the Nevada Democratic Party has filed a formal complaint against the Sanders campaign for the outrageous behavior it appears to countenance, you would’ve thought Sanders would do a hell of a lot more than issue a mere statement (and an absurdly cavalier one at that). But this is where we are with Sanders now. He has no path whatsoever to the nomination — he’s basically a dead candidate walking — but instead of doing the responsible thing for the good of the party he chose to adopt and the country he purports to care about, he’s lashing out the same way his dogmatic true believers do. And if you think his campaign had nothing to do with the chaos in Nevada and he’s only sanctioning it ex post facto, CNN has obtained an audio recording of a senior Sanders aide speaking to his supporters last week and encouraging them to “take over” the convention. “You should not leave,” Joan Kato, the national delegates director, said to Sanders’s supporters. “I’m going to repeat that, unless you are told by someone from the campaign … that you can leave, you should not leave.”
Late Tuesday night, Sanders’s victory speech in Oregon gave away the plot. He had just won the state by about six points, with Clinton eking out a win in Kentucky for an utterly inconsequential net gain in delegates for Sanders. He’s still on track to lose; taking Oregon didn’t change that at all, as none of his victories have since March 15th. Yet his speech was as insanely mutinous as his earlier statement on Nevada, with a fiery Sanders painting the Democratic Party as corrupt if it wasn’t willing to let “the people” in. As Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo reports today, it spoke volumes about Sanders’s thinking. “Sanders narrative today has essentially been that he is political legitimacy,” Marshall writes. “The Democratic party needs to realize that.” Marshall’s overall point: that according to his sources — and Marshall is one of the best in the business — the hostility and toxicity in Sanders’s campaign is coming straight from the top. From Sanders himself. He’s lying to his supporters, telling them he can win when he can’t. And if he can’t, he’s telling them that the election is being stolen. This is where we are now.
Knowing which way the winds are blowing and taking into account, you know, things like reality and facts, it’s almost certain that Sanders’s more clear-headed supporters are beginning to turn their support to Clinton, being that she’s the presumptive Democratic nominee and the alternative is a sexist, racist, xenophobic, compulsively lying, demagogic monster. What we’re seeing now then is the death-rattle of a failed “revolution.” A revolution pushed on by an angry crank and nothing more. Granted, it was a movement that always had the potential to be both honorable and powerful to the extent that it would change the conversation and result in a high-profile seat at the Democratic table moving forward. That goodwill is likely now history, though — smashed on the rocks of Sanders’s narcissism and his most rabid acolytes’ delusional insanity. The Democrats will still honor Sanders’s vision. But if this keeps up, they’ll just do it without Sanders.
Sorry, Bernie, but you fucking blew it. And you have no one to blame but yourself.
Updated to include new Talking Points Memo information.
Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.