The run-up to the New York primary was basically the last straw. The spectacle of so many Bernie Sanders supporters screaming that having to be registered as a Democrat to vote in the Democratic primary was somehow a crime of unspeakable proportions – when their own man wasn’t registered as a Democrat this time last year – was an instructive spectacle, as is the proliferation of “Bernie or Bust” types – the millennial equivalent of our own Gen-X and Boomer morons who genuinely thought there was no difference between Gore and Bush and that voting for Nader would only hasten the onset of the revolution.
That isn’t how this shit works.
We go through this over and over. One side commits itself to its deepest true belief, supposedly brings in a lot of new participation and energy, convinces its stalwarts that they’re going to change the world – and then they go out there and get their ass handed to them. Goldwater. McGovern. Jerry Brown in ’92. Ralph Nader in 2000. Barack Obama is no exception; had he gone out there as a white guy named Barry O’Brien, he would have been acclaimed as an inspiring yet pragmatic alternative to a cripplingly-flawed candidate.
“So what changed since 2008?” I hear you ask. A couple of things. For one, there’s less of a Lurleen Wallace feel to the Hillary crew this time: they are not running the same 1990s DLC playbook, they are not in thrall to the white working class Southern vote, Mark Penn is far away from the controls. For another, four years as Secretary of State gives HRC real honest foreign policy credibility of a type you can’t get as a mere Senator, especially in the New York Senator Pothole seat once held by Al D’Amato (not to demean that spot, because the emphasis on local issues and constituent service made it possible for Clinton to establish real workhorse-not-showhorse bona fides and experience). And honestly, it was chastening and a learning experience. She’s not relying on inevitability this time; she’s going out and hustling.
But the thing that really tipped it for me was the hot sauce.
Hillary Clinton is a hot sauce fiend. Famously, for anyone paying attention the last twenty-plus years. She had hot sauce in her bag when Beyonce was still filling her diapers. And yet, because it plays into the meme and the narrative, no sooner had she mentioned it on a trip through Harlem than it became yet another convenient excuse for a lazy media to club a woman they’ve had it in for ever since the 60 Minutes interview and the “standin’ by my man” remarks that happened while I was riding a bus in Central Europe waiting to hear the results of the Redskins’ last Super Bowl appearance. That long.
And for me, something snapped.
And comes now Bernie Sanders, self-avowed socialist from Vermont, reliable Democratic vote but not a Democrat until he decided to run for President, whose most eager supporters seem intent on turning into the 21st century Ralph Nader: the last honest man, the only alternative to an undistinguished mass where Democrats and Republicans are the same and there will be no difference in electing Trump or Hillary.
I’ve said it so many times it hurts, but I’m going to scream it again: POLITICS IS THE ART OF THE POSSIBLE. IF YOU WANT DREAMS COME TRUE, GO MAJOR IN THEATER.
There is no finish line. There is no place where the lion lies down with the lamb, there is no land of milk and honey and fried catfish for all. It never ends. Election day isn’t the end, it’s the beginning, and the disappointment with Obama about which people are crying crocodile tears is the precise result of thinking that a successful Presidential election means we can all go home because the war is won. The war is never won, because that’s what politics means. People get out there and say they hate politics and politicians so don’t vote for Hillary – the alternative to politics isn’t fucking Kumbaya, the alternative to politics is Somalia.
It’s a job, and a thankless one. You go out there and grind away at the coal face day in and day out, and at the end of the day, your arguing and horse-trading and blood and sweat and tears gets you half a loaf, and then you come back the next morning and punch the clock and do it again – forever. That’s how the political system works, in this country and in every other that isn’t some sort of autocracy. Maybe you don’t get everything you want, maybe you have to take some stuff you don’t want to get some of what you do – that’s how it works. That’s the reason why the people screaming bloody murder about the 1994 crime bill are so full of shit – yes, there was bad stuff in there. There was also good stuff in there, and taking the bad stuff you didn’t want was the price of getting the good stuff you did. That’s why the people complaining about Obamacare are full of shit – yes, it would have been nice to have single payer, and yes, it would have been nice to have a public option, and yes, it would have been nice to have Medicare For All, but the fucking votes weren’t there. You take what you can get, and you come back the next day and fight for more.
Bernie Sanders may understand this. He may not. Increasingly, his supporters sure don’t seem to. I don’t know how many of Hilary’s understand this, and the Democratic party establishment has its own set of issues and could use with a good mucking out (and to be honest, I wouldn’t mind giving Howard Dean the controls again, because his 50-state planning is the reason Obama even had a majority to work with for as long as he did). But you know who does understand this?
Hillary. Rodham. Fucking. Clinton.
I’m with her.