As my colleague Beth Mintz pointed out to me, Bernie’s campaign so far shows that he is an exceptional manager; he has gotten some remarkable things done. If his campaign had quickly flamed out after New Hampshire, maybe we could have said, OK, the ’08 collapse and bailouts, the internet etc. all came together and caused a blip. But the fact that he has sustained a well organized, historically effective campaign against all odds for close to a year now shows that he knows how to assemble a team of excellent folks and get them to work together to accomplish exceptionally difficult and remarkable things. This accords with my experience as one of his constituents for the past 25 years.
But here’s the thing: I firmly believe that a Clinton presidency would be an unpredictable chaotic mess just like a Sanders presidency would. A Sanders Presidency, however, will at least open up new political possibilities (and very significantly will be less likely to pursue murderous foreign policies). The reasoning of this piece in The Atlantic — which is pretty straightforward Clintonism — is not smart, grownup, or rational; it’s rationalizing, too clever by half, takes vague hunches for certainties (e.g., poll trends), and dodges difficult truths (e.g., Iraq). It’s a mode of thought that has for 35 years been associated mostly with weak or bad policy and more electoral defeats than successes (e.g., DOMA, shredding the safety net, Gore, Kerry, the U.S. House). Bernie, with his cheap suits, finger wagging, bad hair, and relentlessly repetitive speech making, is the future.
Jedediah Purdy put it much more eloquently: “The unexpected, sometimes astonishing strength of the Sanders campaign is that it represents a call for a politics that takes both crisis and hope more seriously. In this way, the campaign is utterly realistic, and in quite a different way from the superficial ‘realism’ of anti-Sanders commentators.”