Thursday, May 14, 2020

Is Your Hate Pure?

There's an article at The Hill from yesterday about how Bernie Sanders is being "urged" to hand over his donor list to Joe Biden's campaign.  It isn't the Biden organization that is doing the urging, however: so far they're being diplomatic according to the article, praising Sanders for his cooperation and help.  They're "been pleased with how Sanders committed from an early point to rallying his supporters behind the presumptive nominee."

The complaints in the article come from not one but two unnamed pissy Democratic "strategists," too cowardly to speak on the record under their own names.  The article gives adequate space to a couple of named progressives, who
noted that the pro-Sanders super PAC Our Revolution was given access to Sanders’s 2016 email list and was only able to raise a fraction of what the campaign raised because it didn’t resonate the same way coming from a different source.

“That email list only works for Bernie Sanders and we’ve proven it,” Rocha said. “The strength of the list isn’t the list itself. It’s Bernie Sanders. If Joe Biden had four Bernie lists, he couldn’t raise much money off of it. That’s not a critique of Joe Biden. It’s just that Bernie is the reason that the list works.”
And scoffed:
“The idea that all Bernie Sanders has to do here is turn over his email list so they can pillage it and batter it until it spits out gold coins is absolutely ridiculous,” [Democracy for America strategist Neil] Sroka said.
This is true.  I'm still making donations through Sanders's list to progressive candidates for downticket races.  (I doubt that Biden, whose billionaire boosters evidently aren't coming through for him, would do as much.  He prefers to take money to support Republican candidates.)  If I started getting pleas the from the Biden campaign through Sanders's list, though, I would unsubscribe immediately, probably after sending an abusive email condemning the move.  Comments on Twitter indicate that other Sanders voters feel the same way.

I noticed, however, that a number of avowed Sanders supporters misread "urged" as "already has given Biden the list, and is cackling and rubbing his hands together gleefully."  They accused Sanders of selling out, and while one could make a case for that more generally, he evidently hasn't gone as far as they want to think.  (They must want to think it, since they chose to fantasize a falsehood.)  Malignant stupidity is not, alas, confined to Trump supporters and Democratic Party loyalists.

I would be upset, even angry, if Sanders shares his donor list to the Biden campaign, but not all that concerned.  As Sroka and Chuck Rocha, the other named Sanders associate, say, it would not do Biden much good, and might hurt him even more.  It would also hurt Sanders, who has already angered many of his supporters by declaring Biden to be a "decent" man.  Of necessity, as Nietzsche wrote, the party man becomes a liar.

But contrary to centrist delusion, most Sanders supporters are not personality cultists.  We support him because the principles and policies he stands for, and if he abandons them, we will abandon him.  He's not, contrary to the fantasies of some of his fans, the One without whom there is no hope.  And I must say, I was not pleased that he chose not to show up to vote against the new bill giving more surveillance power to the executive branch.  That's not as bad as voting for it, as ten Democrats did, but it's bad enough if you believe, as Sanders has said he does, that Trump is the most dangerous president in history.

Someone tried to counter criticism of Sanders on this matter by posting at least twice that Sanders "is over 65 and there's a pandemic going on."  I replied that he'd just described most of the Senate, so that doesn't give Sanders a pass.  I confess I hadn't fact-checked myself.  Today I did, and I found that 48 Senators are over 65 years old (as against 147 Representatives).  I am abashed, but if 47 other elderly Senators were able to brave the pandemic to vote, so could Sanders - especially since the bill only passed by one vote.

I'm not all that surprised, though.  I regard Sanders as a lesser evil.  He's good on some issues, terrible on others, especially in foreign policy.  I'll cast my vote for him in the primary next month, make the occasional donation, and continue to criticize him as seems appropriate.