One thing that has really been bothering me during the Democratic primary and about Bernie Sanders specifically is the severity of his ignorance and detachment from reality.
Bear with me – I honestly believe that is an objective assessment, not an insult.
At the root of it is a complete ignorance of process and any understanding of how to accomplish something, and how long it will take.
For example, Sanders says we don’t have time to wait when it comes to breaking up banks, banning fracking, getting rid of nuclear energy, and overhauling the medicare system, but for some reason when people are being shot and bombed and having their human rights denied and being forced to flee their homes, Sanders says we need to stop and consider the consequences of regime change.
As Clinton pointed out in the last debate, it’s true that Libya is not in a good place. But we have done little in Syria, and they may be far worse off, and contributing exponentially more to the growth of ISIL.
So here’s a concept: yes the situation in Libya is ugly, but maybe it’s the best situation we could expect. Maybe the birth of a stable Democratic nation can never be without pain and upheaval – it certainly wasn’t in the United States.
Beyond that, there is a level of immaturity that is not surprising coming from the majority of Sanders supporters given their average age, but is astounding coming from a senior with the experience of Senator Sanders.
When we are young, we rush, we hurry, we try to accomplish things in the shortest time possible. And we make more mistakes. We get into more car accidents. We have more injuries. We are more likely to gain unsustainable debt buying things we can’t afford.
As we age we begin to gain a larger understanding. We begin to fully understand the fable of the tortoise and the hare. We learn that the shortest trip does not always involve the most direct route or the highest speed. The shortest route to the grocery store may be Main street, but if Main street is under construction and there is an accident, your trip could take far longer than a route twice the length.
One hundred miles an hour is certainly faster than sixty. But if you try to drive one hundred miles an hour the entire trip from Brooklyn to Newark and get in an accident, or blow your engine, you will not arrive at all.
This is something most older people have learned and come to understand in their lifetimes. This is something Bernie Sanders should understand.
Clinton supporters and progressives who understand process and the U.S. government don’t choose incrementalism out of fear of change or some arbitrary love of being cautious. We choose it because it is the most efficient and quickest route to attain our goals – one with the smallest chance of being undone by opposing forces. It is the route that is twice the length, but will get us there in half the time.
These are the simple facts of life. No reasonable person can deny the point. But an unreasonable one can ignore it. Or a youthful and inexperienced person may fail to understand it.
As a child I spent hours in a U.S. Congressman’s office. I have served on city commissions. I have knocked on hundreds of doors for various causes. I have trained canvassers. Attended protests and demonstrations. Written letters and hundreds of articles. Made phone calls to strangers. Spent countless hours studying our government and it’s processes, and various issues. I have run and participated in SimSoc workshops.
This primary election is the first time I have ever in my life been called a ‘complacent’ ‘fake progressive’, in love with the ‘status quo’, who knows nothing about ‘real change’. Often by political inactivists, many who have never voted in their lives. I even had a well known Asian activist, a Bernie supporter, tell me, a Black man, that my contributions were meaningless and my critique of some BLM tactics was invalid.
I don’t think there could be a clearer demonstration of social dysfunction, when ignorance of history and process, and the disconnection from and disregard for wisdom and experience has become so great, that a so-called progressive leader can get millions on the Left to not only ignore their greatest institutions and their strongest leaders, but to eschew and denigrate them as corrupt, useless, and counterproductive – the “establishment”.
It’s a terrible farce.
Those of us who disagree with Bernie Sanders may be driving slower on a longer route, but I think in the past few weeks Sanders has been hitting heavier traffic. This Tuesday he may find that the road he is on is under construction.