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Confederacy of Dunces 2: The Democratic Establishment is Sleepwalking Toward Disaster, And Sanders Supporters are Letting Them Do It

John Atcheson

Bernie Sanders is trying to start a revolution, and if ever there was a country in need of one, the US is it. But his defeat in South Carolina and the polls heading into Super Tuesday suggest the revolution is in jeopardy.

A quick look at the other candidates in the race tells you how desperate we, as a nation, should be for this revolution to succeed.

Republicans: Unleashing our National Id: The last Republican debate in Houston was literally frightening. Can you honestly imagine any of this collection of crazed and deluded – not to mention deluding – hatemongering, fear-frenzied misfits running our country?

Endless war; racial division; economic ruin – all await the US if one of them should win. Well, Kasich might just spell economic ruin – those rosy job numbers he boasts about are attributable in part to Obama’s bailout of the auto industry, which he opposed. But the rest? Apocalypse now.

The Republican establishment – which is to say the uber rich and the corporatists – who, since Reagan have fed the national id with a toxic brew of fear, hate and greed masquerading as wedge issues, seems shocked that the wedge issues have eclipsed their precious conservative values. The drown-the-government in the bathtub, trickle-down neocons have been left at the alter of unconstrained of capitalism and uber-patriotism, jilted by the very forces they unleashed.

Which brings us to the Confederacy of Dunces in the Democratic Establishment: They’re busy pushing Hillary, the one candidate who could lose to this collection of Dr. Jekylls. The fact is, Sanders does better in head-to-head races against Republicans than Hillary does. A lot better. He also better represents the views of the people who make up the Party.

Clinton has done a hard left turn the likes of which has rarely been see in American politics, and she’s busy mischaracterizing Sanders positions on a host of things, aided and abetted by the establishment elite in the media, unions, and think tanks.

But this free pass will end if she becomes the candidate, and her high unfavorability ratings, high distrust levels, and her record of flip-flops and bizarre statements will make her a sitting duck in the general election. Remember, for example, Clinton’s weird claim to have landed in Bosnia under sniper fire – a claim she double and triple downed on – until tapes showed her and her teenage daughter being greeted on the tarmac by a young girl with flowers? Or the claim to have been penniless when leaving the White House?

African Americans are a major source of Clinton’s base, although that support is slowly eroding as leaders in the community become familiar with Sanders positions and switch to him. Moreover, as Michelle Alexander noted in The Nation, a review of Hillary's positions, from the Crime Bill to Welfare Reform, shows the policies she’s backed “decimated” Black America. After all, Sanders was marching with Martin Luther King at about the time Hillary was abandoning her position as President of the Wellesley Republican Club.

So Why is Sanders’ Revolution in Danger of Stalling? Sanders base of support, young people, aren’t showing up at the polls in the numbers he needs to win.

Writing in the Huffington Post, Scott Conroy quotes a student who was attending a Sanders’ rally in Iowa, who, when asked if he was going to caucus, said, “I was going to, but we have an intramural basketball game, so I can’t make it out.”

Sanders’ whole revolution is predicated on getting the dropouts to reengage in electoral politics, or to engage for the first time. To succeed, it requires a big turnout.

Yet while Republican caucuses and primaries are setting records for turnouts, Democratic turnouts are down.

The Worst are filled with a passionate intensity, while the best lack all conviction. In fact, The Democrats in general need a big turnout to win. If 2014 – which featured the lowest turnout for any elections since World War II – taught us anything, it’s that Democrats get creamed when voter turnout is low. The 2014 mid-terms saw Republicans seizing both Houses of Congress, most of the state Legislatures and most of the governorships – and they did far better than any of the pundits and pollsters predicted. It was an epic rout. And it could happen again if Democratic turnout stays low.

The Establishment embrace of Hillary Clinton guarantees a low turnout. Basically, the Democratic establishment is shooting itself in the foot with their support of Hillary. With the New York Times and the rest of the media in the tank for Hillary, those voters who dropped out see the same ‘ol, same ‘ol money-driven election in which the PACsters win and the people lose. So why show up, if the fix is in.

Sometimes cynicism reflects an accurate assessment, not a misanthropic world view. One definition of cynicism is, “believing that people are motivated by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity.” Well, the steady drumbeat of fallacious establishment misinformation – Hillary is the most electable; Hillary knows how to govern; Bernie and his supporters are dreamers – is custom designed to keep the justifiably cynical from showing up, thereby guaranteeing a low turnout -- the one thing that could cause a Democratic defeat in the general election.

We can’t have a revolution if no one shows up, so get up off your asses and vote. We cynics gotta believe. In Bernie Sanders we have a shot at snatching our country and our government back from the PACsters. It’s possibly our last shot. So get the hell up off your ass and vote. Even if you think it’s futile, do it.

Here’s the thing, and it’s the only thing that matters. If enough of us do, we’ll win.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
John Atcheson

John Atcheson

John Atcheson, 1948-2020, was a long-time Common Dreams contributor, climate activist and author of, "A Being Darkly Wise, and a book on our fractured political landscape entitled, "WTF, America? How the US Went Off the Rails and How to Get It Back On Track". Follow him on Twitter @john_atcheson. John was tragically killed in a California car accident in January 2020.

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