|Obama with Debbie Wasserman Schultz at a September 2008 campaign event|
It's needless to mention the many ways that that hopeful feeling has been shattered by Obama and the rest of the Democratic elte since then, but as of today, as their decision to stay on the same old Clintonian path is made official, there's no chance it will be back for this year. This is a party that no longer represents their own supporters or the democratic principles that political institutions are needed to be based upon in order to hold power legitimately, and whether you plan to vote for Hillary Clinton this year, they have no long-term future.
But what many are failing to see is that this is a good thing.
Let's delve into some political science fiction: it's earlier today, and the delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia are doing their role call vote on who to pick for the nomination. Against expectations, the superdelegates actually consider their votes from the standpoint of someone that wants to help the future of their party. They think of the polls that show Donald Trump gaining on Hillary Clinton both nationally and in battleground states, the millions of angry Sanders supporters that plan to never take part in their organization again, the clearly illegitimate primary results, and the overwhelming public will towards real change, and at the last minute, they nominate Bernie Sanders.
The establishment Democrats object in every way they can, claiming that it was a coup and demanding a revote, but in the end, they're the ones that need to fall in line. Bernie Sanders beats Trump by about ten points as Democrats take the overwhelming senate majority and membership in the Democratic Party suddenly rises from 29% to around 35%. It only gets more popular from there during his administration.
But eight years later, President Sanders, despite having ended America's perpetual wars and passed several notable reforms to health care, energy, education and the financial sector (and also, of course, blocked the TPP), he has not changed the Democratic Party. He remains one of the only politicians with the moral convictions to not accept donations from big business, and despite his repealing Citizens United, the political system is still very much controlled by private interests.
The DNC, which refused to support his goals from day one, eagerly pushes a corporate Democrat to replace him in the 2024 primaries. From then on, the Democratic Party leadership quietly distances themselves from the most popular president they've ever had, going right back to their neoliberal past and destroying Sanders' legacy over the next several decades. Things return to the old, destructive paradigm of two utterly dominant parties fighting each other to create the illusion of choice while working to serve their donors at the top.
Another unintended consequence of having one activist representing the Democratic Party is that it would make most of the other activists, the ones outside of politics who really have the most power when they are united and committed, to not be as motivated. Aside from doing his best to change the system from within, a President Sanders would become a tool for the rest of the party leadership to keep the people from wanting to help change it from the outside. Because as far as the average person can see, with a Democratic Socialist as president, there can't be much work left for them to do, right?
At that point, it starts to sound a lot like a repeat of Obama's presidency.
To be clear, I very much believe that a Sanders administration would hold positive results. I'm merely saying that no one person, however much integrity and principle they have, can redeem something so fundamentally corrupt as the Democratic Party. In terms of long term change-and I'm talking about fifty or a hundred years from now-it may well be better at this point to let the DNC continue on the path of corruption so that it will implode as soon as possible, making way for a third party alternative.
In short, when you move beyond the notion of having a messianic figure taking over the system and changing everything, which I admit is what I imagined a potential victory for Bernie Sanders would be like to a certain point, it was never meant to be. Given the behavior of the DNC officials, the media, and the rest of the establishment during this rigged contest, to take it over would make no sense.
Our best option, which, it turns out, was always our only option, is not to work with the DNC but to fight it. Vote for the moderate Republican that they've forced on us if you want, but after this election is over, the game will be different. The enormous absence of a Bernie Sanders-like figure that the Democrats caused, as well as the absence of support for both major parties, will lead to the rise of a party which truly focuses on the needs of the people and the planet.
The idea of a Bernie Sanders Democratic nomination is, in spite of all his differences from Obama, a desire to relive that moment of hope we all felt eight years ago. But as long as true progressives try to achieve change by taking control of the Democratic Party, they won't really succeed.
There was an ironic genius in what Bernie Sanders did, though, because while he created a movement that will end up destroying the Democratic Party, he could only reach this point by running for president as a Democrat.
The repeat of 2008 we've all been wanting is in fact here. It just doesn't involve any Democratic presidential candidate.