Bernie Sanders supporters may share some common ground with constitutional conservatives beyond just our history of being callously, cavalierly, and constantly screwed by the entrenched political establishment, and being rendered incapable of doing anything about it due to their Praetorian Guard of ink-stained political operatives who pretend to be journalists. (Did anyone get a load of Scott Pelley’s smooch-fest with Hillary on “60 Minutes” the other night?)
Maybe we aren’t as far apart as those same ink-stained self-designated warriors for truth would have us think. If that’s the case, maybe we have something to talk about, and this might just be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
But first, Bernie supporters should note three things well about the uncool, unfair, and unconscionable sabotage they have been subjected to by Debbie Wasserman Schultz: If WikiLeaks had not tapped into and then publicized the Democratic National Committee emails, she would have gotten away with it. Wasserman Schultz is no criminal mastermind (to say the least): She is a functionary doing exactly what she knows she was expected to do, a small cog in a much larger machine. Third, her bad-faith malfeasance would have been exposed much earlier if a press that was interested in revealing the truth rather than turning a blind eye to it (because they approve of the goal) had done its job, or half its job, or maybe a tenth of its job
This is no isolated incident. It is exactly the kind of “thumb on the scale” cheating, aided and abetted by a complicit, complacent media, that folks on the Right have been victimized by over and over for decades.
Now You Get Why We Complain
Sanders and his supporters knew all along the DNC was in the tank for Hillary, that Wasserman Schultz and others were working diligently and effectively, like practiced second-story men, to make certain they got the outcome they wanted. Sanders and his supporters knew it, and the fact that hard proof of it was both elusive and necessary made it all the more exasperating.
They might find it enlightening, and maybe even helpful, to acknowledge for a moment that the feeling they are currently enduring is exactly the feeling that arises in their political opposites by such things as Fast and Furious, the IRS scandal, the Benghazi debacle, the utterly preposterous notion of calling the outrageous and probably criminal personal enrichment scheme known as The Clinton Foundation a (wait for it) charity. You know, all those things and so many more that conservatives have been howling about for, like, ever.
It’s all about knowing things are happening but being up against a wall of denial that is practiced and powerful, highly skilled, and essentially impenetrable.
For example, it is not unclear that the Obama administration launched a cockamamie scheme to hoodwink U.S. gun sellers into cooperating with a supposed undercover gambit whose real purpose was to set the sellers up as patsies for a gun control maneuver; and that it was so ill-conceived, politically motivated, and stupidly implemented that it resulted in a litany of horrors including the unforgivable death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent. Maybe someday a Wikileaks file will finally slam the door on their ability to deny it, just like it was slammed, finally, on Wasserman Schultz.
It’s completely obvious that union-minded IRS agents did everything they could to tip the scales in an upcoming election towards the candidate they saw as being in their corner. It was entirely political and, by everything the Constitution holds holy, filthy dirty. Maybe someday a WikiLeaks file will mean, finally, they cannot deny the obvious, just like Wasserman Schultz can no longer deny the obvious.
A few weeks before an election hinging on convincing the American public that al-Qaeda was “on the run,” a highly inconvenient attack on an American embassy occurred. For entirely political reasons, to see to it that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton remained in power—some kind of “greater good,” no doubt—a few Americans had to die, including an ambassador. Maybe someday a WikiLeaks file will reveal the obvious about Hillary Clinton in the same way it revealed the obvious about Wasserman Schultz. Maybe someday in the Great Beyond, Hillary will be confronted by one of those guys and he will get to say to her face, “Are you kidding me? You sacrificed me and my buddies for your freakin’ career?”
So, yes, Bernie supporters, we’ve been there, where you are. We’ve been there for a long time.
We All Care about Honesty and Fair Play
That’s what got me to thinking: For a while now I’ve realized that some of my oldest and dearest friends are Bernie supporters. None is particularly politically minded. They live their lives, go about their business, and are nice. Just that: they’re nice people; friendly, compassionate, charitable. They pretty much just treat people the way they like to be treated themselves, and that includes with dignity and respect.
They have come to know in their hearts and souls that something is very wrong in this country. They sense it in the way Thomas Jefferson said they would, that they could be relied upon to do. They have developed a strong attachment to Sanders because he seems to have a clear view of where the problems lie and, yes, guess what? He’s honest. He isn’t lying to them.
That’s it. That’s all it takes: someone who “gets it,” meaning someone who understands their very real concerns—not things they’ve picked up from watching TV, but things they’ve learned from living their lives, and in Bernie they find someone who is willing to be truthful and, dare I say it, honorable. What a concept.
Guess what else? If you think the Right detests Hillary Clinton, it can’t hold a candle to the way these people feel about her. It may be the result of nothing more than the flip-side of the intuitive way they know Bernie is trustworthy. They know Hillary is not, and they don’t need any WikiLeaks revelations to confirm it. They know, and they resent utterly the profoundly underhanded—dishonest—way she has turned a fair fight into a scam. They resent not only the con itself, but even more so the willingness to engage in it. Who does she take them for?
Talk to them a little more and, if you are a constitutional conservative, you will find that you and they are concerned about the same things. Sure, you consider them hopelessly naïve. You want to ask them, “What part of Venezuela is unclear?” They consider you wicked because they are conflating your beliefs with those of mainline Republicans, and, worse, Wall Street.
But what they care about and what you care about track with each other. In very large measure, it’s all about fairness. They feel people should have an equal shot at things, an equal chance. Everybody. You won’t find any constitutional conservatives who disagree with that. Sure, there can be discussions about what constitutes “fairness,” but that’s a legitimate discussion and probably a healthy one if conducted in good faith.
We All Agree about What We Want
People of any race, color, sexual orientation, or religious faith ought to be free to pursue their own happiness within the context of genuine freedom and equality. You won’t find a constitutional conservative who disagrees with that principle. Is same-sex marriage the only avenue to genuine happiness and legitimate mainstreaming? Maybe. But maybe not. There’s a fair discussion to be had, if it’s done in good faith.
If somebody has the ability to succeed and could benefit greatly from a college education, he or she ought to be able to get it. You won’t find any constitutional conservatives who disagree with that. People who work hard ought to be able to earn a living wage. You won’t find any constitutional conservatives who disagree with that, either. Is the best way to accomplish that a minimum wage law? A legitimate discussion can be had, in fairness, with a shared goal in mind—and the goal is shared: it is identical.
The question is not what’s desired: It’s how to get there. The perfect world of a Sanders socialist and a constitutional conservative would be largely indistinguishable because the freedoms conservatives implement would unleash capabilities and accomplishments that would obviate the need for social programs the Sanders socialists are now reaching for. If they could get what they want through a different avenue, would they take it?
Hillary supporters? No; they have a narrower, more self-directed agenda concerning control and letting the smart people run things for all of us.
Bernie supporters? My sense is that, with exceptions (for sure), their motives are honest and genuine. They simply want things to be better for people who have it rough, and would be willing to be open-minded about how to make that happen (socialism) or allow it to happen (conservatism). Their concept of “conservatives” has been shaped by a steady diet of vilification and mischaracterization from people who have an interest in making sure they don’t jump the political corral. A little dialogue, especially now that they are in the midst of a full dose of left-wing progressive duplicity, might go a long way. (If only we had a conservative running for president, alas…)
Listen, I get it: With Hillary supporters, at this late date, there’s really nothing to talk about. Anyone who can find a way to not see—or not to care about—her historic dishonesty and corruption is so manacled by intractable belief persistence as to be unreachable.
But Wasserman Schultz might have done the rest of us a favor. If we can let Bernie supporters know that we feel their pain, because we share a similar pain, in our own way and our own arena, maybe it could be the start of a broader conversation. I love my Bernie-supporting friends. They have big hearts, and they are smart. Bernie’s policies won’t get them where they want to go. Constitutional conservative approaches will. Maybe it’s time to have a chat.