"Bernie Sanders - Caricature" flickr photo by DonkeyHotey https://flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/49474224473 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

The Battle for Democracy

There were six people on stage last night for the ninth Democratic debate. That was a welcome sight, at first, knowing that each candidate would get a little more say. I missed seeing Andrew Yang, my favorite person in (now out of) the race. I missed seeing Tom Steyer, too, whom I would describe as the better billionaire candidate. I still miss Cory Booker being up there, he’s a joy to watch. I didn’t miss Tulsi Gabbard or Marianne Williamson, and I won’t miss Joe Biden or Amy Klobuchar when they are gone.

Soon, I hope. Let Nevada be their swan song.

But I said it was a welcome sight “at first” because it was a vicious night. I know this is how it works – I lament it, but I get it. In the primaries you eat your own. Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican or a Democratic Socialist like Bernie or a Pub-in-Dem clothing like Bloomberg or truly independent like – oh, I don’t know – like me, you bash the field you’re running against and then rally around the winner when it’s time. We saw it with Hillary and Don both in 2016. Even Ted Cruz became a lapdog to Trump after the nomination. Rabid opposition-turned-ardent supporter is the American way.

I can understand it and still dislike it.

So, last night we had an uncrowded stage and a bitter, vitriolic fight. Everyone jumped on Bernie right out of the gate, because he’s the front-runner. Then everyone jumped on Michael Bloomberg, because he’s a misogynistic, racist plutocrat like his pal Trump. But no one was immune. Pete attacked Amy and Amy attacked Pete and Joe attacked to his left and right and Elizabeth Warren attacked everyone, clearly with the knowledge she has to get off the ropes.

And she did. This was Elizabeth Warren’s best debate, despite the jabs, and she won the night.

But where does that leave us, gentle reader? I was really ramped up for last night, like a Rams playoff game-level of ramped up, and I walked away disappointed. I’m disappointed in my favorite contender, Bernie Sanders, for a subpar performance against the concentrated assault of his peers, and for flip-flopping on his medical records. I’m disappointed that Bloomberg was allowed on the stage with nothing but money. I’m disappointed that Biden and Klobuchar are still in the race. I’m disappointed by the vitriol.

I’m disappointed in myself.

This morning I was prepared to mark my ballot and mail it in. I’m registered NPP (no party preference) but I requested a Democratic Party ballot so that I could pick Bernie over, well, anyone. He’s got the best ideas. He’s got the most integrity. I respect the hell out of him. And yet…

Here I am, vacillating. My hand floats unsteadily over the bubble to the left of Bernie’s name. There’s Pete Buttigieg, Tom, 8 spaces down. Him. No him. Or her? I could really sock it to the establishment and go ahead and vote for Andrew Yang, anyway. He’s still on the ballot. Maybe I could even draw a little middle finger next to my vote.  🖕

What is it about Pete, though?

He’s steady as a rock. Charismatic. Eloquent. Persuasive. He’s a moderate democrat by his own admission, which means he might be more likely to get things done. But what things? The nation needs universal healthcare, gun reform, college for all, and a Green New Deal. Will Pete fight for those things or compromise them? Bernie won’t compromise, he’s been the same crusader he is today his entire life. We know that about him. We know who he is.

But is his inflexibility a burden or a boon?

I’m going to need a few more days with this.

And that’s fine, I have a few more days. Super Tuesday is March 3rd, twelve days from today. Bernie or Pete. Bernie AND Pete would be ideal. The cantankerous, anti-billionaire crusader and the unflappable, charismatic dealmaker. I’ll vote for that.

I’ll vote for anyone, come to think of it, running against Donald Trump. With the possible exception of Mike Bloomberg, who may just be a more sinister, smarter version of the charlatan we have now. In the battle against authoritarianism and plutocracy it might be better to have a buffoon than a schemer. Might.

I’ll get back to you on that.

But that’s where my head is today, in the battle for democracy.

Where’s your head at today?

*”Bernie Sanders – Caricature” flickr photo by DonkeyHotey https://flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/49474224473 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

30 thoughts on “The Battle for Democracy

  1. I’m sorry Tom but there is no way in the world Bernie would win the general election. I’d vote for Mickey Mouse over the current occupant, but his ideas are too radical and the middle block is always the one that decides the election. Plus he comes off as an angry old man.

    Whoever comes out of this scrum has to have an electability factor that appeals to a broad base. His is far too narrow

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You may be right, Steve. But that’s what all the “experts” said about Donald Trump not so long ago. So confident were “we” that Trump was a no-way “we” even trotted out the least-electable candidate on Earth to face him. We. Were. Wrong.

      Bernie can win a general election. Most people like him and trust him. Will he? Well, that’s another matter. There is no one in this race, including Trump, who is a shoe-in.

      Anybody standing on that stage, and Donald Trump himself, could win this thing.

      In my humble opinion. 😉

      But since we’ve got all them cards on the table, who’s your middle-block, broadly appealing favorite? Warren is far left like Bernie, Trump is far right (and so is Bloomie, really), so that leaves Joe, Pete, and Amy, eh?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m still sorting it out. I personally think Mayor Pete is smart as hell and has an outsider feel about him that might appeal to the masses. He reminds me a lot of Obama in the sense that nobody knew who he was, the way he comports himself. and of the integrity he appears to have. I just wish he had a little more governmental experience at the national level.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pete or Elizabeth would be the ones I would pick..but I sincerely doubt that “muricans” will vote for a married gay or a woman. They are far too stupid to see what this country needs and the Democratic voters are too apathetic to actually get off their asses and go vote. Sorry, but the way the country is now is so damned depressing to someone who has fought all her life for equality among the races and sexes…my country died when the cheeto was “elected”.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Then your country will rise from the ashes when he is gone. ✊

      And that could be, should be this year.

      The country might have a problem voting for a gay man or a woman, but they had a problem voting for a black man before and they overcame it. In fact, they overcame the reluctance to vote for a woman, too, when they elected Hillary Clinton by +3,000,000 in the popular vote in 2016. Warren can win. Pete can win. Do not give up, Suze. We’re counting on you!


  3. Dems just want someone elected and they’re confused by all the choices. That says something in itself. A gay man? A woman? A billionaire? A radical leftist/socialist? Will the Bible belt carry the election again? Do the Dems overthink these things?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Probably. At this point any party without a set incumbent is overthinking these things. The problem probably is too many good candidates, which is completely different than 2016. And then, they fight. That creates the problem we have right here.

      Oh, and I wouldn’t call Bernie a radical leftist/socialist. A radical leftist/socialist would want government control over the means of production, but a lot of people make that mistake so don’t feel bad about that. I think a better way to describe him is a radical progressive. He wants to preserve democracy, first and foremost, and he wants to use the power of government to ensure that everyone benefits from the rising tide of society, not just the ultra-rich. That ain’t so bad, eh?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I understand that. I think we can either cow-tow the to low-brow, though, or raise the level of understanding. When I call someone by their lunkhead label I feel I’m contributing to the former instead of the latter, so I always make the correction.


    2. Yes! They over think! People don’t know the meaning of “socialist”! Not a good word for the US of A! But to me, there isn’t anyone I would put my money on (sorry guys)!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. America needs a good mix of capitalism and socialism. The whole world needs it. Some nations have already figured it out, but the U.S. could be the world leader and prime example of a just and fair society. We just need to make a few major changes.

        Don’t buy the notion that what good-hearted progressives are bringing to bear is old-world authoritarian communism. It isn’t. It’s new world egalitarianism. It’s freedom for people and freedom from corporate oppression. The modern blueprint, the neocon-capitalist way, has stolen money, benefits, and hope from the majority and given all the money, benefits, and hope to the few. We need to balance the ledgers.

        Linda, we need a better way, for everyone. Everyone. Extreme capitalism is as evil as extreme socialism. Words themselves are not inherently evil, only the actions based on those words. We live in an America bridled by an evil form of capitalism, and the propaganda makes us think that the evil is “out there” in socialism. Don’t think of it just with words. Label it differently, call it what you want.

        I want more good things for more people. Donald Trump does not. Bernie Sanders does.

        What is it that you want, for the future of your children and grandchildren?


  4. I skipped watching the actual debates and heard the recap this morning that described Warren, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and, er, I think about twenty other remaining candidates–basically everyone except Bloomberg and Sanders–as a “circular firing squad”. Perhaps the darkest moment, I thought, was Sanders being labeled a “communist”, which he clearly isn’t, but it reminded me of several years ago when someone told me he’d met Jesse Jackson and determined that Jackson was “a communist”.
    “What did he say that made you think that?” I asked. He hemmed and spluttered and vacillated and finally muttered something about Jackson’s belief in universal equality.
    I was also reminded of regular debates I had as a teenager with a family member who kept insisting that socialism and democracy were incompatible. I kept trying to explain that “democracy” is simply a way of selecting leaders and “socialism” is an economic system with a lot of variations, and there are plenty of countries that are both fully functioning democracies and have some form of socialism in place–we in the U.S. only need to look north for an example. And I tried to explain that not all communists are Marxists, not all Marxists are Leninists, that Stalinism isn’t really an example of either communism or socialism, and so on. I finally gave up. As someone who leans toward anarcho-syndicalism I think we get much too hung up on labels anyway without enough attention to specifics.
    Anyway I think where my head is at is in a dark room listening to Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” on repeat, but maybe it’ll get better.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You know, I’ve never heard that song. 1984, eh? I suppose if I had heard it as a youth I might not be the optimist I am today. 😉

      A lot of people make the mistake of mixing up socialism, communism, and authoritarianism. A society can be authoritarian and capitalist, authoritarian and communist, authoritarian and socialist, etc. A society can also be democratic and capitalist, democratic and communist, or democratic and socialist. Also, a society doesn’t have to be WHOLLY any of those things. The United States today is somewhat democratic, somewhat capitalist, somewhat socialist, and somewhat authoritarian. It’s also almost completely oligarchic now, but that’s another story.

      The debate was a bummer, Chris. You’re lucky you missed it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I haven’t picked a candidate yet, and that’s unusual for me… but you’re right. It was like the wild west last night and that doesn’t do anyone any good. Do we really need to eat our own? The hypocrisy of saying they’ll support whoever wins and then going for the throat is getting old. I was for Bernie over Hillary in 2016, but I think he’s missed his window. The cranky grandpa persona is wearing thin and to be honest, I’m not for forgiving all that college debt. I took a mortgage, I had to pay it. I bought a car, I had to pay it. Wiping the slate clean for people who took college loans rubs me wrong. My SIL is 39 and still hasn’t paid hers… though she has a beautiful new house with a pool and a new car every 2 years. Make higher education more affordable and accessible, fine. But screaming free is going to lose him any chance he has of gaining the moderate votes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re not the first to say that about Bernie’s cranky persona in my circle, RG, I respect that. Still, there he is, leading the national polls (by a lot). Our perception of his demise may be premature. If he’s got one more run left in him, and if he’s the guy with the best ideas at a time when we need ’em, I’m willing to give him one more shot. No one else is leaping ahead of him yet, in my opinion, though Warren made a pretty good case last night. And Pete? Steady as they come.

      I hear ya on student loans, I thought that was a radical idea, too. But, on the other hand, student loan debt is stifling and predatory and I was for writing down all the mortgages to their real, current values during the Great Recession, so I guess I’d be open to the idea. It’s not radical, particularly if going forward we’re going to reduce the cost of education so everyone can get a shot at it. Why saddle those who came before with all that debt? Also, it would be an economic boost, because those wasted dollars going to pay old, predatory loans would now be useful dollars for the consumption economy.

      I still haven’t pulled the trigger. I will, in the next few days, and it will probably be Bernie. But if it’s Pete or Liz instead, I won’t fault me. They’re all worthy in my eyes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Writing down all the mortgages to their real, non inflated values? Fine. But you didn’t cancel the mortgages altogether and say here’s a free house. A loan is a loan, you take it… you pay for it. Sorry, but that’s just how I see it. No one ever cancelled my debts!
        If Bernie is the pick, I’ll support him but if this last election has taught us anything it’s that we need to revamp and update the system. The west has been settled… get rid of the electoral college once and for all and let every vote count equally. I believe Pete is the only one who’s actually agreed.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Good point on the write downs.

        I did have my debts cancelled (except my student loan), but it also set me back several years. But, generally speaking, I don’t try to push for things that just help or could have helped me; a lot of folks need help more than I do.

        I would favor the elimination of the electoral college. Sanders and Warren both want that, too.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It’ll come down to who Bernie picks as his running mate. Elizabeth? I think she’s great, but no way. Amy? Better, more moderate and yet strong. Pete? Maybe. But GeorgeF’s comments remain looming. We’re setting up the next election: 2024 (if, Bernie’s health deteriorates) or 2028.
      So who’s gonna be electable in 2028? That’s the question. And who’s gonna temper Bernie’s hard-left line?
      Additionally, Bernie’s no-nonsense demeanor is just what is needed to combat the all-nonsense IBI. And anyone will tell you that Bernie will have to moderate once he gets in. Starting out wishywashy like Buttigieg will frame him as a push-over. Tough Love is what this country needs. (That and a Dem house and senate!)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a great and loaded response, Mole! 👏👏👏

        The Warren VP chatter has already begun. Some say that chatter is coming from inside the camps, but we’ll see. Pete would be a great “moderate” choice and possible successor. And speaking of successors: AOC will be eligible to run in 2024. 😉

        I like your thinking that Bernie will moderate once in office. I think maybe even before. Once the crowd thins he can begin saying what the rest of the field is saying (and knows): Medicare-for-all is not feasible all at once. There will have to be a transition period. If he can promise, in the general, that folks can keep their private plans while the government rolls out its public option he’ll sweep the states. Sweep ’em. Everyone likes Bernie better and, so far, they’re willing to vote for him DESPITE his uncompromising nature. Bernie with a little give? Unstoppable.

        Unless they convention him.

        At the moment it’s starting to look like the only thing that can stop Bernie Sanders from becoming the Democratic nominee for president is the Democrats. Lord have mercy on us all if they do.

        The billionaires vs the anti-billionaire. This is a battle for the ages.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Why are there still so many candidates trying to take the Democratic nomination? They know that ANYBODY the democrats put up against this IBI will win. ANYBODY. You, yourself, TOMBEINGTOM could run for president and WIN!
    As I thought those words, I pondered how perfect you are for public office. Yes, you TBT, you need to run for office where you live. It’s time for you to use your skills as a social butter knife to better your community, your state and our country.
    Consider it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is a real possibility in the next couple of years. I’m ahead of schedule on my “gets” right now, especially after yesterday, so I think I could run for a local office (or at least get in the equation) soon enough.

      As for the Dems? They like to eat their own and squander their chances. I think, unlike the Pubs, they appeal to too wide a base. Lately, you only need to believe in one thing to be a Republican: Donald Trump is your lord and savior. Democrats have to juggle almost every other American ideology. That’s tough.

      The best thing to do, right now, is rally around Bernie, the clear front-runner. The best thing for Bernie to do once that happens is shift slightly to the middle and pick up a moderate running mate. Trump can be destroyed, but only if the Democratic party doesn’t destroy itself first.

      Liked by 1 person

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