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Why I Can’t Support Bernie for President

Updated: Jan 21, 2020

January 17, 2020

With relatives and friends urging me to vote for Bernie Sanders for President, and, with just weeks to go before California’s March 3rd primary, it’s time to explain why I’m voting for someone else.

Let me say, first, that of all the Democrats running, Bernie’s political philosophy and the things he would like to accomplish as President, come closest to my own politics and goals. In fact, there’s little I can disagree with in the barrage of articles and arguments I receive weekly in my email, endorsing his candidacy. If what a candidate stands for were the only criterion I used to make my decision, it would be Bernie, hands down. So why, given that, will I not vote for him?

If the United States had a Parliamentary system of government, I’d cast my ballot for Bernie without a second thought. Under that form of government, a wide array of political thinking would be represented in Congress in roughly the same proportions as their numbers in the population. This would be a vast improvement over the winner-take-all presidential system we have.

But given the system we have, the fact that Bernie has the best ideas is not enough to convince me to vote for him.

Like most other Democrats, I believe that defeating the current White House occupant (whose name I cannot bring myself to utter, even in print) is paramount. This is no ordinary election between a Democrat and a Republican, but a defining moment for the Republic itself. Without a doubt, the Bully-in-Chief who temporarily resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is an existential threat to our constitutional system of divided power, where the rule of law is supposed to reign supreme. I will not enumerate his long list of usurpations – as the Declaration of Independence does in breaking from King George’s tyranny – but suffice it to say that ending his so-far successful efforts to turn the country into his personal Banana Republic is the most important goal of this election. Even Bernie supporters agree that putting a stop to this lawless President is critical.

Of course, my Bernie-or-Bust friends and family believe that Bernie is the one who can achieve this number one objective. They point to a number of indicators suggesting that he is the best candidate to win in November, from the number of his small donors, his high poll numbers, and the unparalleled energy he inspires, especially among young voters.

The flaw I find in this reasoning is their gross underestimation of the depth to which this President and his minions are prepared to sink in their efforts to hold onto power. No matter who the Democrats run, the denunciations from the other side will have no limits. Any and all will be accused of all manner of evils, from being Socialists to turning the country over to immigrants, to wanting war. So all are vulnerable to the scoundrels who will run the other side’s campaign.

But two candidates, in particular, will make it particularly easy for them to manipulate public opinion through unrelenting smears: Bernie and Buttigieg.

In the case of Buttigieg, it is the fact that he is married to a man that makes him so vulnerable. It is easy to predict the whispering campaign to remind voters of his “unnatural” acts. Those whispered attacks will link homosexuality to bestiality, to child predation, and to a plethora of other disturbing mental pictures they will relentlessly plant in the minds of voters, as sad a commentary as this is. Indeed, I believe it is his sexuality that is one of the biggest reasons for his poor showing among African-Americans, perhaps the most important voting bloc in the Democratic Party.

As for Bernie, they will of course remind voters of his age and health, not to mention that he is a self-defined Socialist. But that’s only the tip of the foul iceberg they occupy. They will accuse him of being a Communist who chose the Soviet Union for his honeymoon destination. It doesn’t matter that most Americans couldn’t define either Socialism or Communism, and wouldn’t know one if they met one. The accusation alone, repeated endlessly, would be enough to take a devastating toll.

Sadly, they would not stop there, but would tar him with a far more potent and effective denunciation, one that has, so far, only been given voice by the far-right trolls on talk radio: he is a Jew!

Shamefully, turning to anti-Semitism, always latent in America if not overt, to use as a political weapon is a certainty if Bernie becomes the Democrats’ standard-bearer. The scourge of anti-Semitism is an even more virulent virus than homophobia. I wish it were otherwise, but I believe wielding this political weapon would provide the lethal blow against Bernie’s election, guaranteeing four more years of lawlessness, which the country cannot afford. There is a reason no Jew has ever been elected President of the United States.

But even if I am wrong about this prediction, even if Bernie could overcome the malign machine that now runs the country, there are at least two more reasons why I cannot bring myself to vote for him.

The first is that I do not believe he could succeed as President; I do not think he could accomplish his stated goals. This is precisely because the current Administration has not fully succeeded in destroying all the institutions that protect us from an imperial presidency, though they have tried mightily to do so. It is still Congress and not the President, which enacts laws and appropriates the money to carry them out; it is still the federal judiciary which rules on their constitutionality, even as this President and his Republican sycophants in the Senate continue to stack the courts with right-wing judges; and it is still a thriving industry of lobbyists who fill the coffers of politicians, and thus who wield enormous power over policy, given that “money is the mother’s milk of politics,” in the words of former California pol, Jesse Unruh.

In other words, neither Bernie nor any other potential president can rule by edict, though this President keeps trying. In a country as divided as we are, I cannot conceive how a President Sanders could convince Congress to raise the substantial new taxes required to fund his policy priorities, nor how he could convince nearly half the population that loves this President to support those priorities, nor to have the courts rule in his favor when the predictable avalanche of lawsuits attacking his “radical” agenda reach them. I say this despite my support for that radical agenda.

There is still one more reason I cannot support Bernie for President, which is this: after four years of the most destructive Administration in my memory – which dates back to the Eisenhower Administration – the country needs a period of calm, time to breathe, a return to some semblance of normalcy, a rest from the lies, the near-daily outrages, the blatant corruption, the unsettling lurch to the fringes of political discourse, the non-stop turmoil that saps our energy. The entire country needs a rest.

This is not an endorsement of Joe Biden, or any other candidate; it is merely a statement of my own need for some respite from today’s political reality. I know I am not alone in wishing for that respite, a need that Bernie cannot supply.

I have not yet decided for whom I will ultimately vote, but perhaps I am seeking a kind of caretaker candidate who will provide some breathing room, a middle ground, before we embark on another tumultuous journey designed to take us from one end of the political spectrum to the other.

P.S. I hope it goes without saying that if Bernie becomes the Democratic nominee for President, I will certainly vote for him. I also hope that my Bernie friends will make the same commitment to vote the current Administration out of office, whomever the Democrats ultimately choose to stand for them.

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4 Kommentare

Robert E. Kroll
Robert E. Kroll
26. Feb. 2020

Michael, I agree in general with your premises -- but your argument suffers a flaw: you are looking only at the "demand" side of politics, not the "supply" side -- that is that it matters less what the defects of a given candidate are than whether voters will go to the polls and vote for her. There is some evidence that of all the candidates running for the Dem nomination, Bernie has the best chance of motivating the most people to cast a ballot at all. Granted, the evidence is not irrefutable. But there is evidence from 2016 that Bernie supporters will not cast ballots for a compromise candidate. The real question is whether a Bernie candidacy would motivate voting…

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23. Jan. 2020

"Dalhi Myers told The Associated Press on Wednesday that she was making the change in part because she values what she sees as Sanders’ strength in being able to go toe-to-toe with President Donald Trump in the general election.

“I looked at that, and I thought, ‘He’s right,’” said Myers, a black woman first elected to the Richland County Council in 2016. “He’s unafraid and he’s unapologetic. ... I like the fact that he is willing to fight for a better America — for the least, the fallen, the left behind.” "In December, Myers, a corporate lawyer in Columbia, was among more than a dozen South Carolina elected officials to endorse Biden, saying at the time in a release from…

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23. Jan. 2020

"Some of the hardest people to convince on Sanders are those who believe in his policies the most—older progressive voters. Because they are so heartbroken and beaten down by decades of fearful politics, they have decided they should settle for something less. Sanders is impossible, they think. Unelectable. They remember the Cold War and fear the word “socialism.” Young people (by the way, under 40 isn’t that young) don’t have the same reaction. The truth is that if we settle for something less, too many people may stay home. Sanders is giving people a vision to fight for, and though they know it won’t be easy, they are ready for the fight." - Zephyr Teachout

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Jan Bourret
Jan Bourret
21. Jan. 2020

"perhaps I am seeking a kind of caretaker candidate who will provide some breathing room, a middle ground". This surprises me Brother. Middle ground is just what we don't need. You think that the repugnicans will give us breathing room? You think the 40% uneducated, stupid people who support you know who will give us breathing room. No they won't. What we need now is guts like we've never seen on the democratic side of the house. I think that Bernie is the best to withstand this kind of harassment. He has before and can again. I hark to the"middle road" some took in 2016 and what we got to show for it. Not again.

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