After flying over one of the most dazzling political season of his career, Bernie Sanders finds himself unable to commandeer his plane filled with millions of his supporters to a safe landing. The Democratic establishment wants him silent or to shift his focus into supporting Hillary Clinton, the “handpicked” candidate unofficially known since the start of the season. How does he do that without committing the biggest political blunder of his life? Sanders, whose political conviction and well-articulated message have won the heart of America, can ill-afford to turn back on his supporters and play the conformist card by falling into line.
To some of his supporters (perhaps millions), emotions run high; and to others, consternation reigns supreme. To sanders himself, finding a landing strip is now key to his political survival and most importantly to the survival of his “Feel-The-Bern” movement. The world woke-up this morning under the cacophonous shriek of the establishment media, heralding a historic meeting at the White House between Bernie Sanders and president Barack Obama. One thing was in the agenda: Party Unity. Really?
According to news sources, Bernie flew from Vermont this morning and was quickly taken to the White House, circumventing an army of news reporters ready to launch an assault of questions on the Vermont senator. After hours of waiting, Bernie Sanders with his wife Jane by his side, walked out of the White House to meet with reporters.
In a carefully worded statement, Bernie Sanders told the world that he “expects to work together with Secretary Clinton to defeat Donald Trump.” Sanders went on to reiterate his campaign message on economic justice, social justice, corporate greed etc. “These are some of the issues that many millions of Americans have supported during my campaign,” Sanders said. “These are the issues that we’ll take to the Democratic national convention in Philadelphia at the end of July,” Sanders continued.
Can he land safely?
If you read between the line, you’ll see that these words are designed to appease supporters as the campaign reaches a grinding end. Despite the rhetoric, Bernie Sanders—under intense pressure from party establishment—will ultimately do what he swore he would never do just few weeks ago.
Sanders is a very clever man. He knew for some time his chance at securing the Democratic nomination has been foreclosed. When he switched the focus from winning it all at the ballot box to making a pitch before the superdelegates, I was completely baffled. It feels like trying to convince a biased, uncompromising jury that has already decided against you.
The people to whom Sanders intends to bring his case never share his vision. They’re mostly opportunists bent on clinging on to the Clintons in order to safeguard their position of privilege in society. Bernie Sanders, whose message is a direct rebuke to establishment politics and establishment economics, is viewed as a threat, not a guarantor to lumpen bourgeois, as Professor Cornel West calls them.
To secure the landing strip, the Vermont senator is now relying on the very individuals who have long declared their support—whether overtly or covertly—to Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama, who is now praising Sanders, has long been sending a clear signal as to whom he thinks would best uphold his legacy as president. His speech last February in Springfield, Illinois, could not be clearer. The president, who still calls himself a progressive, sounds quite displeased with Bernie’s democratic revolution aiming at taking the progressive agenda to a higher plateau. Speaking on the issue of making concession to achieve political end, Obama says, “We wouldn’t bend our deepest-held principles, but we were willing to forge compromises to achieve our goals…….If you were willing to listen, it was possible to bridge a lot of differences.”
Adding insult to injury, soon after the meeting with Obama and just one hour after Sanders speaks to reporters expressing his commitment to continuing the fight until at least Tuesday, White House releases a video in which the president publicly endorses Hillary Clinton. What a slap in the face! This is a backstabbing designed to pierce deep into the hearts of those who long for the poetic justice.
I have to say that I disagree with Bernie’s exit strategy, despite my admiration for what Noam Chomsky calls his “new deal” approach—his strait talk and his profound conviction in his fight against what he calls “the oligarchy of billionaires.” The shower of praises for Bernie, all of a sudden, bears a hypocritical stain that is impossible to erase; and if Sanders is now being eulogized is because they understand he still has the political leverage to force things…..
Bernie Sanders is not a revolutionary, despite his highly praised progressive views. It is impossible for any revolutionary movement to stem out of the belly of the one-party-two-names system. Field-The-Bern can survive, but only if it ceases to be the black sheep or the rebellious child of the DNC and transforms itself into a viable alternative to millions of Americans yearning for social justice.
Remembering Du Bois
The struggle for participatory democracy in the United States is nothing new. W.E.B. Du Bois of Haitian origin and the most influential African-American scholar of the 20th century tells us “I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no “two evils” exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say.”
In an impeccable indictment of US politics published on the Nation on October 20, 1956, W. E. B. Du Bois explained why he won’t vote in the upcoming Presidential election. Du Bois condemned both Democrats and Republicans for their indifferent positions on the influence of corporate wealth, racial inequality, arms proliferation and unaffordable health care. More than 50 years later, his assertion still stands. Here is what he said about the election cycles:
“In 1912 I wanted to support Theodore Roosevelt, but his Bull Moose convention dodged the Negro problem and I tried to help elect Wilson as a liberal Southerner. Under Wilson came the worst attempt at Jim Crow legislation and discrimination in civil service that we had experienced since the Civil War. In 1916 I took Hughes as the lesser of two evils. He promised Negroes nothing and kept his word. In 1920, I supported Harding because of his promise to liberate Haiti.”
Du Bois went on to say that “We can make a sick man President and set him to a job which would strain a man in robust health. So he dies, and what do we get to lead us? With Stevenson and Nixon, with Eisenhower and Eastland, we remain in the same mess. I will be no party to it and that will make little difference. You will take large part and bravely march to the polls, and that also will make no difference. Stop running Russia and giving Chinese advice when we cannot rule ourselves decently. Stop yelling about a democracy we do not have. Democracy is dead in the United States. Yet there is still nothing to replace real democracy. Drop the chains, then, that bind our brains. Drive the money-changers from the seats of the Cabinet and the halls of Congress. Call back some faint spirit of Jefferson and Lincoln, and when again we can hold a fair election on real issues, let’s vote, and not till then. Is this impossible? Then democracy in America is impossible.” You can read the entire text by clicking on this link: Why I Won’t Vote
Note: Dr. Ardain Isma teaches Research at Embry-Riddle University. He also teaches Cross-cultural Studies at University of North Florida (UNF). He is the Editor-in-Chief for CSMS Magazine. Ardain Isma is also a novelist. To read a synopsis, you can click here: Books