The Annoyance That Is Democratic Pragmatism

donkey-fightIt’s not a secret. I support Bernie Sanders. I support his platform.

I don’t mind debating actual policy with Hillary fans, and I’ve met one or two who actually debate, rather than just blindly follow.  Most will debate economic issues, or Bernie Sanders’ existence, but other issues, like immigration, are ignored.

I understand. You want to avoid an issue in which Hillary Clinton is terrible. No one wants to admit that Clinton wants to deport children and moms back to violent countries in which they will face even more violence. The simplistic “I support Comprehensive Immigration Reform” line is pretty much ineffective when we have tens of thousands in freezing private prisons and deportations are being stepped up. We want to hear solutions.

As Bernie Sanders steps up his game on issues, especially immigration, the Hillary fans are now coming up with new material:  We can’t afford Bernie’s ideas; We can’t pass it in Congress; We can’t!

In other words, Clinton will work from the middle to the right to convince Republicans, as if this worked for President Obama. The fatalism that has penetrated supposed liberals in defense of their candidate is quite sad.

That I first noticed these chants around the MLK, Jr. holiday makes it even sadder. Martin had a dream, remember? Suppose white allies back then told him he couldn’t get all he was calling for.

Oh, that’s right, they did.

“First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action; “who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”

Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

Now, I won’t dare compare Bernie to MLK, but we can agree that ideas of social and economic justice are quite similar. Recently, even Chicano scholar Dr. Jose Angel Gutierrez stated that Bernie Sanders’ platform is similar to that of La Raza Unida Party as he endorsed Sanders. Ideas and pronouncements that brought thousands to Washington, DC and that once empowered and excited Texas Mexican Americans enough to vote in huge numbers are once again being discussed because of Bernie Sanders. Yet, “we can’t”?

Frankly, the oft-stated “she can get things done” quote that Hillary fans are selling is also pretty annoying. It’s a reminder of the last eight years in which the Obama administration gave away the store to the Republicans prior to beginning negotiations on any given issue. Immigration reform is a great example as President Obama stepped up deportations (numbering 2.5 million) as a means of convincing Republicans that Democrats were “tough” so they would pass reform. Watered down legalization was discussed over citizenship. Instead, a co-opted immigration reform movement looked weak, and Democrats even weaker and inhumane when they didn’t call out the administration for the deportations and human warehousing of children and mothers in private prisons. And all efforts failed. Meanwhile, we’re left begging the Supreme Court for deportation relief for a few without any real rights for the migrants who might benefit. I’m sure Hillacrats are secretly mortified that the Supreme Court may side with the administration and “hurt Hillary’s chance.”

Now, all of us who want justice are being told to wait our turn, and to elect someone who can supposedly pass (watered down) legislation. If it’s in the same way as President Obama, then we’re sure not building an excited progressive base for 2016. Let’s recall that we had an excited base in 2008 only to return to failed Democratic pragmatism, thus demoralizing said base (I give you the 2010 midterms as an example of what happened). If you want to excite voters, then you must call for what is needed, not for what we can maybe, sorta get, if even that. Let’s excite the electorate and win big, then we can negotiate later with the backing of a committed base. But we need start with what we want.

Instead, Bernie Sanders’ opposition seems to want more of the same. And this needs to change. Because “We can’t!” should not be in our political vocabulary as Democrats. If that’s the response to Bernie Sanders, then, spare me.

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3 responses to “The Annoyance That Is Democratic Pragmatism

  1. Pingback: This is why Bernie Sanders will get the minority vote

    • After college and after a little gainful employment, I was finally able to pay for a $100 a plate liberal fundraising dinner. I thought, “FINALLY! I can go rub elbows with the establishment.” Now, they tell me they’re not the establishment. I think I want my money back. 🙂