— Rose Roby
July 4, 2016
In May 2015, shortly after Sanders announced his run, the popular leftist blogger Bruce A. Dixon of Black Agenda Report, put out a piece that went viral throughout the anti-Sanders left blogosphere titled “Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders: Sheepdogging for Hillary and the Democrats in 2016.” Dixon asserted:
“Bernie’s job is to warm up the crowd for Hillary, herding activist energies and the disaffected left back into the Democratic fold one more time. Bernie aims to tie up activist energies and resources till the summer of 2016 when the only remaining choice will be the usual lesser of two evils.”
In spite of its popularity, the thesis was bullshit then and it is bullshit now. It allows the small and ineffective left to wallow in its elitism as it dehumanizes masses of voters and turns them into “sheep” with no minds of their own.
Let’s try to picture the conversation that hatched this diabolical plot:
“Hey Hillary, I have a plan so cunning you could stick a tail on it and call it a weasel! I can save the Democratic Party for you. First I run for president and spend the next year riling up the voters with all that stuff that you and Bill managed to expunge from the Democratic Party when he was king — like healthcare for all, and welfare and fair wages. And peace — don’t forget that one …
“Right! And don’t I deserve credit for mass incarceration? … And what about when I did that great job as Secretary of State, you know, bringing ISIS and mass death to the people of Libya? I can hardly wait for you to expose to the masses how deeply indebted I am to the big banks and Wall Street! …”
“Right you are, my friend. I’ll even make a big fuss over all those bribes, ooopsie, I mean ‘speaking engagement fees’ that Goldman Sachs gave you. Better yet, I can even demand that you release the transcripts, which of course you’ll refuse to do. Then I go and lose the primaries! I order all those mindless sheep we call voters to work their sweet little tuchuses off to get you elected — and they’ll go out and do it! How does that sound, Hilly baby?”
“Cool beans, Bernie baby! Who wanted this whole thing to be a cake-walk for me anyway? I can hardly wait to start disenfranchising hundreds and thousands of voters to ensure my victory. I mean if that doesn’t put the dull-witted, unwashed masses solidly in my camp, what will?”
Sound ridiculous? It is.
It’s not particularly helpful to figure out Bernie’s motive for getting in the race. Sometimes the most obvious answer is also the most logical — he wanted to take a shot at becoming President. Perhaps he thought that even if he didn’t win, the moment was right to re-introduce a more liberal/left vision for a party that’s been moving dangerously to the right for over 25 years. The Democratic Party establishment had purged the principles of a social safety net and economic justice long ago; they hardly wanted Bernie Sanders to come along and promote the kind of humanistic vision that late-stage capitalism could no longer afford.
The Establishment figured they had nothing to fear from a Sanders run. After all, the last leftist to take a shot at a Presidential run in 2008, Dennis Kucinich, was never able to poll the 15% necessary to be included in a single debate. Sanders calls himself a Democratic Socialist (which the anti-Sanders left is always quick to point out isn’t REAL socialism anyway) but the Beltway elite assumed the very inclusion of the “dirty word” would cause the vast majority of the red-blooded, capitalist-loving American electorate to reject Sanders out of hand.
Enter Millennials: Stage Left
The elite hadn’t counted on Berniemania sweeping over the millennials — most of whom had not even come of voting age in 2008. They hadn’t expected the younger generation to be ready and willing to fight against a capitalist ruling class that left them with little more than a mountain of student debt and nary a good job in sight. They never saw the coming of polls declaring that no less than 69% of people under 30 would vote for a socialist, and show majorities of that age group expressing a preference for socialism over capitalism.
So the ugliest vitriol in primary season was directed at millennials; from a million dollar online trolling campaign to spread the myth of the woman-hating “Bernie Bro,” to Madeline Albright’s promise of “a special place in Hell” for young women who rejected Hillary Clinton, to feminist icon Gloria Steinem’s shockingly sexist dismissal of college-age female Bernie supporters as “boy-crazy” bimbos who let their silly girl hormones cloud their political judgment. That the DNC machine played up the myth of Bernie-loving misogynistic young men and self-loathing, dim-witted, Hell-bound young women isn’t surprising given the pseudo-feminist PC cover the Clinton campaign has had to rely on.
Once Bernie started bringing in crowds of up to 30,000 people, the Beltway realized that their imagined cakewalk was not materializing and they would have to pull out all the stops. They disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of voters, and called out their hired guns in the media to parrot the “Clinton is Inevitable” line to hold back the flood.
It’s beyond absurd to suggest that this was the scenario they not only predicted, but wholeheartedly desired and that they were conspiring with Sanders from the start to bring us to this point.
The Black Agenda report is run by prominent members of the Georgia Green Party. This isn’t so obvious based on their particular brand of agitprop, ending each article’s “what is to be done?” section with some variation of “We must take to the streets!” rather than “Join the Green Party!” So when Mr. Dixon smugly proclaims that after the primary season “the only remaining choice will be the usual lesser of two evils.” he “disappears” his own party’s candidate more thoroughly than even the mainstream press!
Misanthropy Now! Misanthropy Tomorrow! Misanthropy Forever!?
The Green Party did indeed have something to fear from a Sanders’ run — namely, their registered members. Their fears were fulfilled! California Green Party’s curmudgeonly Co-Chair Mike Feinstein mourned “The Sanders Campaign Is Absolutely Destroying Us!” in a June 4 article in Mother Jones of the same name. Feinstein notes that the party has lost 30% of its membership since Sanders entered the race.
The charming Mr. Feinstein goes on to say, “They intentionally went after our voters because they are low-lying fruit on the issues,” citing mailers the Sanders campaign sent to Green Party members, and is “apoplectically mad” over it. (Personally, I think “apoplectically angry” would have been more precise, but they say that those the Gods would destroy they first make apoplectically mad.)
From “sheep” to “low-hanging fruit,” many Green Party insiders have an exceedingly hard time talking about their base as actual human beings with their own hearts and minds. Is it any wonder that they weren’t able to inspire enough loyalty to hold on to their own members after Sanders came on the scene?
It’s not just the Greens. In their defense, they actually had something to lose. Then there’s that small but vocal segment of the left, like the secular version of the madman in the park carrying a sign saying “Repent Ye Sinners! The End Is Nigh!” Only their signs say “Wake Up Ye Sheeple! The End Is Nigh!” Their political strategy consists of angry Facebook postings where they revel in their contempt for the “dupes” and “sheeple” the way a pig revels in rolling around in shit. The success of the revolution is based on the number of Likes and Shares they receive, and by only talking to each other, the most eloquent get their empty online validation. The only thing they seem to hate more than the horrors of the GWOT are the pathetic fools who still believe they can do anything about it.
“Get The Hell Off My Turf, You Racist, War-Mongering Kids!”
There is this “gentlemen’s agreement” that you don’t mess with another leftist’s turf, and Sanders broke it big time. So while Green Party leaders lament the fact that the Sanders campaign — the supreme Sheepdogging scheme of the past year — has been stealing their members, other Greens rejoice that — as a result of mass defections — their party has been purified, that the ones leaving were never steadfast Greens in the first place. And now bitter Old Guarders are freaked out that since the end of the primaries, Sanders supporters have been (re)joining the party in droves. Even as many, if not most, Green Party regulars are thrilled by this influx, the bitterest of the Old Guard concede that maybe these Sanders independents have now seen the error of their ways, but they must still suffer an extended period of repentance. At worst, the refugees are returning with their wickedness intact and must be — if not repelled — then carefully quarantined.
What they miss is that thousands upon thousands of Greens made the move to register Democrat only in order to vote for Sanders in the primaries, with the full intention of re-registering as Greens after the primaries were over. They are beginning to do so.
The problem for the Green leaders who want to be welcoming, but at a minimum failed to resist the initial anti-Sanders hysteria, is that it isn’t so easy to hit a switch that turns that hysteria off, and these are truly hysterical times. Yes, people can certainly be manipulated, but they’re not so easy to control.
Additionally, there’s a large segment of the initial Bernie or Bust movement that was either “soft” Democrats or registered Independents. Some are taking notice of the Green Party for the first time. Although Jill Stein initially endorsed the sheepdog line, she changed her tune as the Bernie or Bust movement emerged, and it became obvious that Bernie wouldn’t win the nomination. Dr. Stein promptly did a 180, praising Sanders’ campaign and offering them a Plan B, promising to keep that vision alive in her own campaign, the one that’s going all the way to November. Opportunistic? For sure. Smart? Absolutely!
Ironically, as Sanders people move towards Stein, a new unholy alliance is being forged between the anti-Sanders ultra-left and the Clinton campaign. DNC operatives have been endlessly pounding the theme that Clinton is the preferred candidate of Blacks and Latinos. In perfect harmony, the ultra-left has been reveling in the fact that the Black Establishment — a wholly-owned subsidiary of the DNC — has again delivered the Black vote to Clinton, Inc., one of the principal engineers of mass incarceration and the gutting of the welfare system. It’s not even a surprise that the ultra-left hardly lifts a finger to help Stein.
The Ruling Class Is NOT Omnipotent
The left has a penchant for treating the ruling class as omnipotent. Everything is some kind of plot to serve their ruling interests. This masquerades as a tribute to their own leftish cleverness. They are smarter than everyone else because they more thoroughly root out the schemes, conspiracies and manipulations that the ruling class uses to control the universe.
But in fact, it masks their utter impotence in trying to organize the mass organizations and movements that — out of the other sides of their mouths — they are always calling for. It’s not their fault that everything is hopeless. If all is ruling class controlled, then what’s the use of doing much of anything other than growing antibiotic-free vegetables in their own private gardens?
These pseudo-leftists deny the agency of the working and poor people of this country and this world.
The ruling class, while powerful (that’s why they call it the “ruling” class), is far from omnipotent. Thus when the masses do put up resistance, the rulers connive and conspire to turn that resistance to their advantage. But the very fact that they do so is because they are forced to respond to working class power. They would rather it not have existed at all (e.g., the ruling class did not invent the mass industrial union movement of the 1930’s just to give themselves an excuse to implement Social Security and unemployment insurance). To these pseudo-leftists, the Sanders campaign is less a mortal threat to the ruling class, than a mortal threat to their little masquerade.
For them, perhaps, the end is indeed truly nigh.
So Now What?
As the sun sets on Bernie’s campaign and he signals his intention to get behind Clinton in the general, the Black Agenda Report crew and their ilk are quick to brag about how they told you Bernie was a sheepdog all along. But it doesn’t take Nostradamus to predict what Bernie had promised from the start, namely that he would endorse Clinton if he failed to secure the nomination. Just as the Green Party leadership set certain things in motion that are now out of their control, so Bernie has energized millions around the call for a Political Revolution. Millions remain energized, whether or not he wants to call the whole thing off.
Recent polls show Stein at 7%, a remarkable accomplishment given that she’s only known by 12% of the electorate! Poll after poll shows that over half of Sanders’ supporters won’t be voting for Clinton. Even Donald Trump isn’t scary enough to stampede progressives into squandering the moment and the movement on a vote for Neocon Hillary. At some point, it’s like the boy who cried “sheep” once too often.