Friday, November 3, 2017

The DNC revelations, Bernard Sanders, and the American messianic impulse

Oh why, why did this have to have gone this way?

To me, what this shows starkly is how much the big money has dominated the Democratic Party and the big money is out of touch with the people. Neither party was listening to the people, which left the field open to demagogues.

Which leads me to a very hard question: is Bernard Sanders a demagogue? No question about Trump. But what about about Sanders? His rise was made possible by the unresponsiveness of both parties to the needs and will of the people. He believes in what he says and he says some pretty good things. But his most ardent followers don't seem to listen when he tells them they have to be their own revolution. They want a messiah and they will have their messiah, even over their messiah's objections. So perhaps he has been made into a demagogue against his will. I am reminded of Frank Herbert's Paul Atreides, who became the unwilling leader of a jihad.

How did the world's first modern democracy come to this pass? And what do we do about if, indeed, there is anything to be done? It seems that, somehow, the concept of civic responsibility has withered, or perhaps it never grew as the Framers hoped. This is a big and difficult question, suited to a historian of the stature of de Tocqueville or a philosopher of the stature of Karl Polanyi. It demands a major research project, well beyond the scope of anything this cynical old bird has undertaken. But it is terribly important that we do address these questions, or the future will be grim.

As to the Democratic Party: oh, how could you? And even so, even if you are a rickety fortress, you are the fortress of American democracy. To everyone who is not a fascist, and to anyone who is starting to suspect that fascism is not the answer: join up and let's get to building.


yellowdoggranny said...

Bernie is not a democrat, and has one destroy it..he's like the old man in his underwear waving his arms yelling get off my lawn.

Raven Onthill said...

If Sanders had wanted to destroy the Democratic Party, he could have made a third-party run. There were many destructive things he could have done once he realized he had a national following, and he didn't do any of them. He could have concentrated on Clinton's emails, instead of consistently shutting down that discussion; that would have gotten him great press. He could have gone full-out oppo on Clinton. Instead, he stood for the Democratic nomination, kept the oppo to a normal primary level, and when he didn't get the nomination, he supported Hillary Clinton.

If he made a mistake, it was trusting the good sense of the American public and the good will of his supporters. (And so did I.) Apparently we still have not achieved the informed electorate that Madison spoke of. Instead, a faction of his supporters shared the impulse to smash things out of frustration that elected Trump (and sexism, mustn't forget the sexism) and so, here we are.