Bernie, Gravity, and the Democratic Party
Bernie Sanders almost did what everyone thought was nearly impossible just a year ago. He almost became the Presidential nominee for a party to which he does not belong. His independence from the party allows him to be progressive on the occasions that he disagrees with the platform of the Democratic Party, but it also means, to the Democratic Party, that he is outside their clique.
He did not take the course he took without thought and reason. If he were to have tried to do what he did as a candidate independent of the Democratic Party, he would never have made the impact he did. You may wonder why I make that claim when it was always about his message, and those who support him are not necessarily Democrats. You need not wonder. We have a tremendous example.
Many of his supporters are saying they will support the Green Party and its candidate, Dr. Jill Stein. Its platform is most similar to the ideas Bernie Sanders put forth in his campaign, and Dr. Jill Stein is highly capable, highly principled, and highly progressive.
The Green Party and Dr. Jill Stein were always there.
The better question, then, is why did Bernie get so much support running in a party that is so much less progressive than one that already exists, that has a fine candidate, and has a platform that better represents his ideals?
Think about it if you are a Bernie supporter: why were you willing to support a Democratic candidate for President provided that Democratic candidate was Bernie Sanders?
Whether you believe it or not, it was the force of gravity. I am not talking about some figurative explanation of gravity; it was literally the force of gravity.
We are taught that gravity is a force that attracts smaller objects into more massive objects. That is true, but gravity is a universal law and, as such, it affects everything in the universe. That includes thoughts, cliques of friends, and political parties.
Bernie Sanders drew as much support as he did because he was a large part of something larger than himself: the Democratic Party. Jill Stein, on the other hand, who was always there, exceeded Bernie Sanders in that she is a Presidential candidate, but, if she can draw enough of Bernie’s supporters, she will be neck-in-neck with Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate. They are racing for third place.
There is something weird about gravity. It draws loosely similar things together to form something more massive. Just as a meteorite remains distingushable for what it is when it lands on Earth, it also becomes part of what makes Earth and adds to its gravity.
There were many things that comprised the mass that is, or at least was, Bernie Sanders’ supporters. Those things, of course, are people, not all of whom agreed upon why they were part of the mass. Some are Democratic Party faithfuls who want the party to be more progressive; some are young people who like the idea of less costly education; some are veterans who like him for advocating programs to help veterans; some are people who want real immigration reform; some are people who want universal healthcare expanded; some are people who want campaign reform. Some people like combinations of these ideas, and some people have reasons that I have not mentioned including, possibly, attracting a mate.
Gravity is the force that made all these people one huge voting mass known as supporters of Bernie Sanders.
Another weird thing about gravity is it can be manipulated to one’s advantage. Again we have a great example.
The Democratic Party has its own gravity. It is more massive than any one person, including, to our chagrin, Bernie Sanders. Even with all of us meteorites landing on its turf, it was able to manipulate gravity sufficiently to maintain its identity through its chosen candidate. However, it required quite a bit of manipulation, and it only maintained its identity by a slim margin because of the mass of all of us meteorites.
The question now is, will that mass remain together so that it begins changing the identity of the Democratic Party, or will the party regain its much superior relative mass compared to those who want the changes Bernie is advocating? If that mass shrinks itself believing it will have more effect migrating to a lesser mass, such as the Green Party, the Democratic Party will retain its identity. It will also remain intact as competition to the progressive ideas of the more inviting Green Party. It will have won. That is what it wants.
The better way for the mass of people who support Bernie to manipulate the gravity is to defeat the Democratic Party by taking it over with Bernie Sanders acting as the Trojan horse to get the people involved in the party.
That does not mean that any individual need vote for the Democratic candidate this year. I would never tell you to go against your conscience, but I would suggest that people who like Bernie’s ideas run as progressive Democrats and for us all to watch for these candidates and support them.
If there is anything Bernie has shown us with his campaign, it is that his ideas can win districts and states, and those people will become a part of the mass of the Democratic Party that can vote for the changes we support within the party.
Just as there were many reasons people became part of the mass of Bernie supporters, so, too, were there many reasons people became part of the mass of Hillary supporters. Some of those people like to think of themselves as progressive. They are in play in the next election cycles. They also tend to be older, which naturally means they will die off at a faster rate than will the younger people who tend to support Bernie.
If the mass stays intact, it can take over the party and change it, and, by doing so, eliminate one of the huge masses it must contend with by becoming that mass’s identity.
There is a lot of glamor in the idea of starting a third party to compete with the two parties in the system as it has been since 1860, since when only one time has a party other than the Democratic or Republican parties finished in first and second place in a Presidential election. That happened in 1912, and the Progressive Party had Teddy Roosevelt as its candidate. Not only did he not win, neither did the party he split from.
It is just part of the political reality that we must understand if we really want things to change. History repeats itself. The young people who envision this change are not unique. Each generation has believed it is the generation that will do great things. Only the dates change.
Bernie Sanders, I believe, understands this. He has a lot of experience in politics, and he has not sold out his ethics. He has started the revolution. Revolutions take time. Battles are won, and battles are lost. The war cannot be won, however, if losing a battle means giving up the cause.
If you believe yourself to be as ethical as Bernie Sanders, you are likely mistaken. You are also likely mistaken if you believe yourself to be the activist, the humanitarian, or the political strategist that he is. I say that not to insult you, but rather in recognition of what he has dedicated his life to accomplishing. He is a really amazing man.
He almost became the Presidential nominee of a party to which he does not belong.
Some other things I've written about: