Bernie Sanders and the Cannibalization of the Democratic Party

The Democratic Establishment and Bernie Sanders, over the past year, have developed what can best be colloquialized as a love (and primarily) hate relationship. Bernie’s messaging has most elegantly elevated the liberal political dialogue which has been good for the party, but in a manner that is both unapologetic and often militant. While many establishment Democrats refuse to embrace Sanders, opposing him is not a task for the feeble at heart. Rejecting Bernie cannot be done autonomously from implicating the incredible grassroots movement he has amassed, and truthfully, his supporters are a key voting bloc for the pending election. Rejecting Bernie, to his supporters, is one in the same as affirming the various social inequities his platform opposes, particularly the misapplication of money and wealth. Even the act of viewing his platform through the lens of objectivity, for the purpose of accountability, takes on the unintended guise of moral compromise. For fear of political backlash, the Democratic Establishment has carefully curtailed their communicative interactions regarding the Vermont Senator.

The “Establishment” whether Democrat or Republican is termed as such due to their inability to implement major party values through conventional methods despite tenure; all the while, party outsider(s) excitedly rally their political base around less moderate concepts and through more volatile means. Though Bernie has been in congress since 1991, he is in every sense of the word an ‘outsider.’ Four of the elected representatives he succeeded in Vermont were all Republican. Winning an election on a liberal platform may have been an insurmountable feat; however, he was able to win as an independent. The convenience of such a bid meant that at no point would he truly be held accountable by an organized constituency and, enviably so, he would be one of the few congressmen allowed to blur the party lines with his votes and proposals. With only 1 senate endorsement and less than 10 from the U.S. House of Representatives, Bernie has so brilliantly relegated his lack of support by fellow Democrats to the moral high ground less traveled on his anti-establishment journey.

And here is where the cannibalization of the Democratic Party begins. Bernie has ironically chosen to exploit the Democratic National Convention, a party he is self-assuredly misaligned with, because it is his most viable path to the presidency. Initially, Bernie conveyed that his goal was to elevate the political exchange by running on a platform that would excite necessary ideas; however, once his candidacy had near officially lost a path to nomination, he should have made the courageous decision to suspend his campaign and use his amassed influence to ensure party unity ahead of the general election. After lagging behind Clinton in super-delegates, pledged delegates, and the popular vote he has determined to incite vitriolic rhetoric among his movement giving birth to campaign slogans including “Never Hillary,” “Bernie or Bust,” and “Drop out Hillary.” A telling moment of the depths Sanders is willing to descend for the ultimate prize of becoming president was seen on April 13, 2016. During a rally in New York’s Washing Square, healthcare activist and Bernie Sanders surrogate, Dr Paul Y. Song sought to distinguish Hillary Clinton from Bernie Sanders by referring to her as a “Democratic whore.” As the crowed of nearly 27,000 cheered in response, the onus was on Sanders to reject the appeal to vitriol and misogyny. He of course waited until the next day to apologize once it had been made clear, that the Democratic electorate as whole, did not agree with his base. Still, many of his supporters propagated the sexist term across social media as a cry of solidarity against all who oppose Bernie (within the party he hopes to lead but has never been apart of). At this point, his insatiable lust for self-promotion and unintentional sabotage of the Hillary campaign proves to be the rationale fruit of a movement that has always been independent.

His incessant vilification of Establishment Democrats and Hillary at a point where the likelihood of his nomination is most improbable incites a measure of curiosity into why he had not run as an independent. Why does Bernie want to coalesce with a party his rhetoric continuously denigrates? Bernie has sponsored an impressive 352 bills, many of which were introduced to Democrat controlled congresses, and only three have passed (two of which were proposals to rename post offices). There seems to be a hint of antagonism in seeking to lead a party one is incapable of collaborating with.

The Bernie campaign has said that he won’t “play spoiler” to Hillary’s White House bid if he loses the nomination. An obvious question rebuts; at what point will he accept that his campaign has lost, and will there be anything left to spoil? As the presumptive nominee, Hillary has incurred the vast majority of Republican attacks. Her abilities and qualifications have remained center stage of Republican debates and advertising. Republican whip, Kevin McCarthy unintentionally implied that congressional hearings had been politicized to delegitimize Hilary’s presidential campaign. And alas, Bernie has repeatedly implicated Hilary as having corrupt ties to special interests. The war of attrition Hillary has faced on all fronts may give the impression that Bernie is more suited for the presidency as he touts his higher favorability and “vs. Trump” polling. In reality, his lack of presidential viability by his opponents and the fear of retaliation from his grassroots movement by his “party allies” has simulated a faux reality that disproportionately contrasts his campaign from Hillary’s, unintentionally fueling his cannibalism.

Bernie has destabilized a party he needs for the purpose of pushing an agenda that will die without that party; and like the cannibal he is, he communicates the responsibility of taming the beast his movement has birthed as the responsibility of the opposing ally he has defamed. This is not the sentiment of a man who cares about “his” party. This is the sentiment of a man who has used divisive politics to advance a message that a divided party cannot accomplish. While Hilary has helped raise many millions of dollars to help elect the peers she needs to pass her progressive agenda; Bernie has done very little in comparison for the DNC he will need if elected. This is the behavior of a man who cares very little about “his” party. This is the behavior of a cannibal.

Whether Bernie feels he has a moral obligation to stay in this race or whether his faith in his chances for winning the nomination remain; he must indulge in the culpability of his actions. Which candidate has the better agenda, experience, and qualifications has already been debated and the people have chosen their nominee. The fate of the Democratic Party now depends on its unification, and every day Bernie stays in the race, he inhibits the Democratic Party from doing so. The question Bernie and his supporters must ask themselves is what they value most: the party or a personality. If the answer is the latter, Bernie and his supporters should unite with Hillary, the Democratic choice, and hold the party accountable for including agenda items that Bernie and his undeniable movement have prioritized. The Democratic Party’s highest propensity for success depends greatly on this. Otherwise, the chief accomplishments of the Obama administration and their socio-economic progress will be all but reversed during a Trump presidency.

(originally posted 5/15/16)

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