If I had to name the single most vexing characteristic of those who cheer on Bernie Sanders as a Revolutionary, it would be their ignorance. It’s a dangerous ignorance and it’s a fault of laziness. It stems from youth (and you can assume correctly that I’m referring to his millennials) and it stems from privilege (yes, I’m referring to his white contingent), but mostly, it stems from a basic lack of struggle. Those who rally behind him are no more revolutionary than he. Bernie is a Pied Piper of the No Nothing, Do Nothing, Hate Everyone generation.
Bernie exemplifies the false revolutionary. He’s a white man. Face it, this gives him carte blanche that is denied to people of color and to women. He’s a heterosexual married to a professional woman, and this identity provides him with yet more layers of buffer, more avenues for enrichment and acceptability. And he’s been entrenched in the establishment system of electoral politics for over thirty years.
Bernie has the ability to rail against this system without fear that it will evict him. He is the system. His Senate colleagues have abided him and his rants because they deem him harmless. While he screams on about the “corrupt political system,” Bernie continues to reap its benefits. Even as he splits the Democratic Party with his candidacy, his Friends of Bernie PAC continue to raise funds for his Senate re-election. He intends to stay in the “rigged political system.” While he shakes his fist in the air, just remember: Bernie is part and parcel of the government he defiles.
This outright hypocrisy is hard to bear.
When you view Bernie from the perspective of his opposites – black or brown or yellow, female, gay/lesbian/bisexual/trans/queer, unmarried or unconventionally bonded, financially strapped or poor, apart from the system or struggling to exist within it – then his identity as a Revolutionary falls to pieces. Not only do we consider him a fraud, we are insulted that he try to assume this mantle.
I am furious that this privileged white guy dare to inveigle himself among those of us who are truly oppressed by the establishment he keeps alive.
But his cheerleaders just don’t get it. They don’t get that while Bernie is bloviating about Wall Street, the elders of America worry about a cut in their Social Security checks. They don’t get that while he is attacking Hillary for speaking engagements, New Americans are being labeled terrorists. While Bernie is carrying on about a people’s revolution, the GOP in Congress are stripping away the foundations of democratic governance.
Bernie’s kids don’t get that a revolution is not about “demanding” Congress do our bidding. It sounds good. It has the thrill of empowerment. But the plain reality is that we elect representatives and message them with our grievances. These elected officials then work with each other. Sure, there is dirty money and dark money and lobbyists’ money. But the far greater danger to our democracy comes from a misguided prophet who splinters the one political party that can work change.
Bernie’s kids don’t get that real “revolutions” are often bloody. Real revolutions come from outside the dominant power structure. Historic revolutions are coups which replace any and all who do not agree with the usurper.
Bernie’s supporters don’t get that a President Bernie cannot simply demand that Congress or SCOTUS or the pharmaceutical industry or the big banks bend to his whims. He cannot force the House or the Senate to introduce a bill and then enact the law he demands. They fail basic civics when they don’t consider things like separation of powers. They fall into delusional thinking when they condemn the government but endorse the purported head of its executive branch.
This is willful ignorance. It is dangerous. The real enemy of the people is not Hillary Clinton or the Democratic Party. It is the privileged white guy leading the privileged and calling it a Revolution.
Those of us who suffer under straight-white-male privilege know better. We know the true revolution begins when Hillary Clinton is elected President.