No, I won’t be Thanking Bernie

You control how you vote and I don’t owe you a damn thing.

I’m an American living abroad so while most of you had champagne breakfasts or — more likely given it’s COVID-19 quarantine time and despite all the rumours you probably can’t afford champagne — whatever the hell you had on hand, it wasn’t until about 16:30 my time that I learned Sanders was dropping out. By 17:00 he was making his speech, and by 17:20 I realised I had been a bit too quick to celebrate.

In the words of that little orphan robot from Futurama, “you raised my hopes and dashed them quite expertly.”

As it turns out he’s … not … actually … I can’t even complete this sentence so instead I’ll just link this.

Yeah. That’s Donald Trump aka the guy who is responsible for the deaths of small children at the border and thousands of Americans because of this pandemic and who definitely rapes women and possibly children making more sense than Bernie Sanders. So that’s nice. But he has a point. It really doesn’t make any sense that Sanders is supposedly dropping out if he’s keeping his delegates and also not endorsing Biden.

But this is not just about Trump being more lucid than Sanders. I mean, that’s horrifying and all, but this is sort of a deep fried onion of horror. My apologies to anyone who’s really into deep fried onions. I don’t really object to the idea, it’s just the execution which is a bit Lovecraftian to me.

What really gets me about this is *sigh* manifold and non-Euclidean. Well, probably not non-Euclidean but I’m having difficulty ranking all this and I’m mad so that’s what we’re going with for the time being.

The cost of Sanders’ candidacy was a Trump Presidency and the human rights of at minimum 170 million Americans. And yes, I am talking about Sanders’ original candidacy back in 2016 because no, I’m not going to “just get over” 200 years of women being chattel and then being firmly told by incompetent men to go back to the kitchen. Why do you think onions traumatize me?

If Sanders had dropped out on March 15, 2016, when he’d thoroughly lost then we probably would be watching Clinton soar to her second term having secured universal healthcare, substantially lowered the emission of greenhouse gasses, freed the Ukraine, ended student debt and childhood poverty, and halted COVID-19 with the power of her mind. I’m being a little grandiose, but not terribly so. We would all be in a better position and thousands of Americans who have died since Trump’s election would still be alive today.

And sure, that is directly attributable to Trump, but Sanders’ absolute lack of professionalism or basic decency during the 2016 campaign and his unbridled misogyny emboldened white supremacists in America and was really instrumental in getting Trump those few votes in those specific places. I don’t think anyone is fooled about why Sanders is dropping out this time. Sanders wanted to run in 2012 because how dare a black man be President and he did run in 2016 because how dare a woman be President. He’s only dropping out now because Biden’s a white man.

I am aware that I shared the statistics of Sanders’ 2016 and 2020 bids and made a case for how he’s doing even worse this time around, but that was true in late February. It was true in late February of 2016. It is now April. Of 2020.

Sanders’ stated reason for dropping out is that he was horrified, horrified, I tell you, by how Wisconsinites were forced to go out to vote amidst this epidemic. Cool story, except that also happened in Florida, Illinois, and Arizona at the very least. So I can only assume those didn’t count because they have more brown people. While I gained a great deal of schadenfreude watching Sanders get hardcore rejected by Florida, it was still super dangerous and totally unnecessary. And while “super dangerous and totally unnecessary,” is the Florida state motto — they write it in Latin so you can’t always tell — I get the impression that Floridians want to actually choose whether or not they do the thing. Because you know: democracy. Anyways, Sanders could have saved himself — and the entire state of Florida — a lot of pain by withdrawing in a timely fashion.

But possibly the most annoying bit of this is watching Sanders get to run cackling off into the night having fully appropriated progressivism from people of color and warping it into something that really only serves white men. If you know me, you know this has been my primary issue with him from more or less the get go. Sanders ascribes to the kinda conservative or Republican approach that you can solve all social ails by giving white men more money. And yeah neither he nor the GOP phrase it that way, but at the end of the day the GOP’s resistance to things like Title IX and Affirmative Action and Sanders insistence that all issues are really just economic and there’s no need to look beyond that boil down to the same thing. So yeah, there absolutely are economic inequalities which effect white men, but these issues will be magnified and multiplied for women and people of color.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that the progressive movement — the actual progressive movement — was founded and nurtured and fought by black and brown women and men. Sanders was always at best a visitor in that space and he’s never fully embraced it or even understood it, but now he claims to lead it. And in doing so he is appropriating voices that don’t belong to him and silencing those of actual progressives who might might have a better idea of what we the people actually need.

On twitter right now there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Much of “rose twitter” is swearing they will never ever ever vote for Biden, so there. Others are demanding that all of us “centrists,” be super nice to them or else they’ll start using the n-word again. Now, I was super nervous when some of my black girlfriends started what I believe they actually called a “petty party.” My girls had themselves a podcast and gave out actual petty awards. I’m not kidding here: no prisoners were taken. (Protip: NEVER piss a black woman off.) At the time I was a little unsure that that was a great idea but the thing is — in case it wasn’t painfully obvious — I’m white. So I deal with some silly, but I don’t get the whole offloading of silly that my black peers have to put up with. They had had enough. I have since had enough, but my whiteness shielded me from getting to their point of fed-upness for a few months.

My black girlfriends have PIONEERED progressivism. They don’t need to be pulled left because they are at the cutting edge of left. I’m right there with them, but I’m white so I don’t get hit as hard as they usually do. It’s insulting and disingenuous for Bernie’s largely white, largely male “movement” to say they’re driving us left. It’s insulting for them to say that their votes for Democrats are conditional on our “good behaviour.”

Sanders’ career is largely about interrupting and delaying actual progressivism. Guys, we could have had a female President. We could have had the most qualified person in history as the first woman President. And Sanders messed that up.

So, no. I won’t be thanking him, and I won’t be playing nice.

Doctor of Palaeopathology, rage-prone optimist, stealth berserker, opera enthusiast, and insatiable consumer of academic journals.

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