From that day to this, Sanders has taken uncompromising political stands. After being arrested by Mayor Daley’s brutal force, I suspect that any purely political threat seemed small in comparison. He was not alone. Many activists of his generation faced brutal consequences and political ignominy for opposing racism, sexism, ableism – and they won.
Over 50 years later, the House Democrats face the question of how to respond to Donald Trump and the Mueller Report. In 1980, following the election of Reagan in an outburst of reactionary politics, the Democratic leadership decided to move to the right in the hope of attracting some of the reactionaries. The strategy worked, for a while. But the reactionaries, seeing success, continued to move to the right, impeaching President Clinton, one of the leading conservative Democrats. On the advice of William Barr, now Attorney General of the United States, President G. H. W. Bush (the first) pardoned the traitors of Iran-Contra, and the House Democrats did little in response. When W. Bush (the second) came to the Presidency, he pursued an ill-advised war in Iraq, using numerous illegal tactics and, again, the Democrats failed to act, ceding more and more to the Republicans, including, disastrously, the Supreme Court majority.
All through that time, there were explanations that this was strategy, that the Democrats would eventually fight.
Which brings us to the present day, when special counsel Robert Mueller III wrote a damning prosecutorial report on President Trump and his administration. Even what remains of the report, after redactions by Barr, is damning. Administration officials openly defy Congressional subpoenas and orders under the law. And the House Democrats, newly empowered by the 2018 election have done … what, exactly? So far, make public statements.
It is hard to see this as anything but cowardice. If the House leadership had 1/10 of the courage shown by the 1960s activists, they would be acting.
I have come to believe that one reason Sanders has such devoted supporters is courage. Equally, it seems to me one reason the Democratic Party has so little respect among the public is its seeming lack of courage. I am left wondering how much of the slow erosion of democracy in the USA is down to cowardice.