The Collegian
Thursday, July 09, 2020

OPINION: Yes, Bernie got screwed again

A 2020 progressive post-mortem on why progressives need their own party

<p>Graphic by Annie Scalet/The Collegian</p>

Graphic by Annie Scalet/The Collegian

Editor's Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of The Collegian.

Most progressives gave the Democratic Party’s blatant, undemocratic primary practices a pass in 2016. Firstly, the party’s highly inequitable superdelegate policy gave Democratic establishment officials the ability to vote against their represented constituency. In New Hampshire alone, Bernie Sanders received 60.4% of the popular vote, to Hillary Clinton’s 38%, and yet they both received an equal amount of delegates.

Furthermore, during the 2016 presidential campaign, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, then chair of the Democratic National Committee, provided significant support to the Clinton campaign, while also attempting to stymie Sanders’ momentum, especially in southern states. It’s clear that the DNC actively pursued nefarious, systematic and undemocratic acts designed to thwart the will of the American people and anoint Clinton as the party’s nominee instead of Bernie Sanders.

Progressive voters disregarded these pro-Clinton practices by the DNC partly because they perceived the “Clinton Machine” as already unbeatable; and based on the primary results of 2016, this perception ultimately proved to be 100% accurate. Thus, in hindsight, any true defender of democratic principles can only applaud the ultimate demise of the “Clinton Machine” in 2016 as one of the real beacons of “hope and change” for our American democracy, as we move forward together into the 21st century. We should all strive to have a president that arouses our desire to vote for them without the need of such backhanded nefarious activity.

In 2020, the Clintons and their “goons” have seemingly not played a major role in the Democratic primary, at least not in front of the camera. Yes, there have been some sour-grape comments by Hillary Clinton directed toward Bernie Sanders. Also, political consultant James Carville, the man who championed (accused rapist) Bill Clinton into the presidency, saw fit to take a potshot or two at Sanders’ unyielding character. But overall, any blatantly undemocratic acts coerced by the “Clinton Machine” have been marginal (or at least yet to be unearthed).

So, with the Clintons out of the picture, who’s to blame for the 2020 Sanders screw-job? What 2020 screw-job, you ask? I speak of course of the shock-and-awe kowtowing to Joe Biden after the South Carolina primary. If the Democratic 2020 primary were indeed democratic (and not some corporate-led dog and pony show), Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar would not have dropped out and immediately supported Biden within 48 hours. If you don’t believe me, look at every American election before 2020, and see if you can find anything as reprehensibly unprecedented as what we bore witness to in 2020. 

Yes, the blatant, puppet-like parading of the many corporate, status-quo, NAFTA-loving, Democrats before Super Tuesday had a drastic effect on the election. Though shameful and undemocratic, it’s correct to say that this subservient display wasn’t outside the rules of conduct found within our current political milieu. So, I guess we (progressives) should all just suck it up, accept defeat and “vote blue no matter who” in 2020, right? Nah…not so fast.

The old saying — that George W. Bush so eloquently attempted to promulgate — “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me,” is now more substantive than ever. 

In more concise terms, it’s now unquestionably clear to progressives that the Clintons are just one malignant strand within an ineffectual political party. Solutions that embolden the American people will not — and more significantly cannot — be procured within an institution so corrupted and maintained by the beneficiaries of global hegemonic gains. 

Beyond 2020, progressives need a party of their own, completely devoid of the Democratic Party. The American people need a 50-state party that strives to represent the interests of all its citizens, whether they call themselves progressive or not. We need a party that is propelled by our principles: healthcare should be a universal human right, every American should be represented within their place of employment, elections should be publicly funded, the existential threat of climate change should be taken seriously, etc. 

Furthermore, we need a party that prioritizes itself and its constituency over any given politician. We cannot continue to remain reliant upon individuals like Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others to propagate our agenda. As we’ve seen in 2016 and 2020, even the most inspiring of progressive candidates can be easily defeated once the current Democratic establishment coalesces.

But what is a progressive to do in regard to the November 2020 presidential election? Right now, it’s perfectly acceptable to feel quasi-nomadic when considering the infinitesimal differences between Trump and Biden. Those expecting a potential president Biden to be an agent of change for the working people of this country are in for a rude awakening. Biden himself assured a small group of wealthy Democratic donors last June that “nothing will fundamentally change … if I win this nomination, I won’t let you down. I promise you.”

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So, with this in mind, should we still “vote blue no matter who?” Leave our ballots blank? Write in Bernie Sanders or any other name that inspires our true progressive values? Beats me. 

Ultimately, a progressive’s vote (or lack thereof) in 2020 will be ideological in nature. We clearly won’t be voting for a person — how could we? And I for one don’t want to waste time and energy watching debates, or listening to hollow mainstream punditry, when choosing between the lesser of two evils.

The only outcome of any real significance beyond 2020 will be the potential emergence of a substantive Progressive Party, founded around the principles and candidacy of Bernie Sanders. A coalescence of this degree is not unprecedented. The Democratic Party was founded by supporters of Andrew Jackson, and the Republican Party began as an opposition campaign against the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. 

Who's to say the groundswell of support for Sanders cannot be used to procure similar results?

Contact contributor Andrew Massa at andrew.massa@richmond.edu.

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