The blame-anyone-other-than-Sanders apologists exposed themselves as devotees to a cult of personality devoid of any real political strategy.
“The sense of denial of the calamity staring us in the face— a Biden or Trump presidency in an era of economic collapse and climate catastrophe— is astounding.”
If there was ever a case for voting for the lesser of evils, this was it. Sanders’ platform of Medicare for All, cancellation of student debt, a Green New Deal, and more was definitely superior to the platforms of other candidates. Once in office, the real socialists and broader Left would have needed to keep Sanders’ feet to the fire on domestic issues, and reign him in from doing imperialism’s bidding abroad. The best-case scenario would have been the eventual implosion of the Democratic Party, a shattering that might have led sincere Leftists in its fold to join a new working-class socialist party. Of course, BAR predicted that Sanders would never be allowed to become the Democratic Party nominee, as well as repeatedly reminded us that Sanders is not really a socialist at all.
Sanders has now suspended his campaign to more effectively fulfill his role as sheepdog to Joe Biden. And in the context of the dangerous fantasy that “democratic socialists” can somehow take over the Democratic Party, it is prudent to reflect on how diehard Sandernistas, the likes of DSA/Jacobin & company, have played a crucial role in the Bernie debacle by behaving like a Sanders cult. A look at Jacobin and the DSA national website on Wednesday April 8th revealed the utter lack of analysis concerning why the Sanders campaign failed. Instead of an honest postmortem were paeans to the great leader and the movement he inspired, which will live on. The sense of denial of the calamity staring us in the face— a Biden or Trump presidency in an era of economic collapse and climate catastrophe— was astounding.
“The likes of DSA/Jacobin & company have played a crucial role in the Bernie debacle by behaving like a Sanders cult.”
Over the past year, Jacobin staff writer Branko Marcetic had penned a number of articles excoriating Biden’s reactionary record, including Biden’s serial lying on just about everything. Marcetic even wrote an entire book critiquing Biden, Yesterday’s Man: The Case Against Joe Biden. Yet, in a March piece on the Sanders-Biden debate, Marcetic foreshadowed the non-analysis to come, highlighting the deficiencies of the corporate media for being biased in Biden’s favor. This is now the refrain of the Jacobin/DSA and broader “democratic socialist” crowd in explaining the demise of the Sanders campaign. But as any honest socialist knows, it is standard operating procedure for the corporate media to dissemble for the benefit of corporate interests; this is no revelation. In the case of the Sanders campaign, one only had to think back four years. From the start it was obvious that the corporate media would be a hostile force and that the Sanders campaign 2.0 would have to treat it as such and call it out as a propaganda apparatus of the ruling class. This should have been a critical component of the Sanders campaign. But one might argue that Sanders’ objective was in fact to lose, and thereby once again play the role of sheepdog.
While the Jacobin/DSA crowd put out serious critiques of Biden for over a year, they are guilty of the same disingenuous excuse making they might hurl at Hillary Democrats for losing elections—namely, blame everyone except the candidate. With such an arsenal of damning facts at Sanders’ disposal (articles and Youtubes galore), which his campaign could have easily linked to on his campaign website— indeed which the campaign really had to do given the hostility of corporate media— Sanders instead chose not to expose his “good friend” Joe Biden. It was Sanders’ imperative, not the corporate media’s, to take Biden out. Sanders’ ongoing decision to put his friendship with Biden above his own responsibility to expose a true enemy of the working-class reveals not only Sanders’ utter stupidity as a political strategist (or his identification with being a loser and sheepdog) but more importantly his moral shortcomings as a so-called self-avowed socialist. What sort of a socialist does such a thing? This is the real question the Jacobin/DSA crowd has refused to face.
“Sanders chose not to expose his ‘good friend’ Joe Biden.”
Why did Sanders (NOT his campaign team, which Sanders was at liberty to choose himself) run such a shamelessly inept campaign? Instead of recruiting socialists, Sanders surrounded himself with D.C. players like his huckster campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, and his foreign policy advisor, imperialist jackass Matt Duss. (AOC has demonstrated a similar phenomenon in a makeover of her staff, bringing on recycled hacks who previously worked for political menaces to society like Kamala Harris and Robert O’Rourke.)
DSA/Jacobin & company, as unabashed Sandernistas with a considerable platform, should have been providing ongoing and vocal criticism of the contradictions of Sanders’ campaign—not just providing reasons why other candidates were problematic, or why the corporate media was being the corporate media. This was a collective cognitive failing on par with that of Joe Biden himself. One can find a more honest Left critique of Sanders and other “progressives” on the Jimmy Dore Show, which began as a comedy podcast and now offers some of the more scathing critiques of capitalism served to a popular audience. BAR contributing editor Danny Haiphong was recently featured for a full half hour.
“This was a collective cognitive failing on par with that of Joe Biden himself.”
But the “democratic socialists” would rather not go to such dark places— places that now include how Sanders and other “progressives” voted for a trillion-dollar corporate slush fund even while grandstanding about how it fails working people. To go to such dark places, the blame-anyone-other-than-Sanders apologists would expose themselves as devotees to a cult of personality devoid of any real political strategy. The deity of this cult is a shape-shifting entity that can simultaneously manifest itself in multiple representations, including Sanders, AOC and other “democratic socialist” and “progressive” figures. As manifestations of the deity, all are beyond serious critique.
Sanders’ refusal to expose the existential threat Biden poses will always make Sanders complicit in the suffering of millions. This was Sanders campaign to lose, and he did. His slogan rings true: Not me, us. Indeed, we will be the ones to suffer. Sanders and AOC and other “progressives” will collect their $170,000 salaries, receive their comprehensive free medical coverage, get their book contracts, and continue to perform political theater rather than lead the working-class in the struggle for socialism.
Meanwhile, the DSA/Jacobin crowd should look for a good deal on institutional cult deprogramming if they ever intend to play a meaningful role on the Left.
Quetzal Cáceres is a Xicanx educator and socialist living in Yanga (Los Angeles), land of the indigenous Tongva people.
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