I've been watching the debates and town halls for the past two months, and Sanders' righteousness knocks me out. My heart is with him. He has brought the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations to the ballot box.
But it is not enough to be a candidate of anger. Anger is not a plan; it is not a reason to wield power; it is not a reason for hope. Anger is too narrow to motivate a majority of voters, and it does not make a case for the ability and experience to govern. I believe that extreme economic inequality, the vast redistribution of wealth to the top one percent — indeed, to the top one percent of the one percent — is the defining issue of our times. Within that issue, almost all issues of social injustice can be seen, none more so than climate change, which can be boiled down to the rights of mankind against the oligarchy that owns oil, coal and vast holdings of dirty energy, and those who profit from their use.
Hillary Clinton has an impressive command of policy, the details, trade-offs and how it gets done. It's easy to blame billionaires for everything, but quite another to know what to do about it. During his 25 years in Congress, Sanders has stuck to uncompromising ideals, but his outsider stance has not attracted supporters among the Democrats. Paul Krugman writes that the Sanders movement has a "contempt for compromise."
Every time Sanders is challenged on how he plans to get his agenda through Congress and past the special interests, he responds that the "political revolution" that sweeps him into office will somehow be the magical instrument of the monumental changes he describes. This is a vague, deeply disingenuous idea that ignores the reality of modern America. With the narrow power base and limited political alliances that Sanders had built in his years as the democratic socialist senator from Vermont, how does he possibly have a chance of fighting such entrenched power?
I have been to the revolution before. It ain't happening.
On the other hand, Hillary Clinton is one of the most qualified candidates for the presidency in modern times, as was Al Gore. We cannot forget what happened when Gore lost and George W. Bush was elected and became arguably one of the worst presidents in American history. The votes cast for the fantasy of Ralph Nader were enough to cost Gore the presidency. Imagine what a similar calculation would do to this country if a "protest vote" were to put the presidency, Congress and the Supreme Court all in the hands of the extreme right wing that now controls the Republican Party.
I love this line, " I have been to the revolution before. It ain't happening."
I love it partly because it reflects the argument I made to my daughter just the other night, and also because it is undeniably true.
I think a lot of us here well remember the revolutions from the past that perhaps we also supported with all of our hearts, only to have those hearts broken as once again the revolution fizzled out with only minor changes taking hold.
The thing you learn over time is that change is slow and incremental. We are always moving toward progress, but it never comes as quickly as we want.
That is not to say that Bernie Sanders will not have an impact, he will. Just like the Occupy Wall Street protesters had an impact even though many have labeled the movement a failure.
However OWS helped give rise to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Though on a more unfortunate note there are those who think they also paved the way for Donald Trump.
However as Jann Wenner so eloquently says this is not the time for a revolution.
Instead it's the time to make sure we hold onto the White House, and increase our numbers in Congress.
And let's face it, the person with the momentum to do that is not Bernie Sanders, it's Hillary Clinton.
P.S. Make sure to click the link at the top to read the entire Rolling Stone article. There is a lot there, and I only shared a relatively small sample.