The Response – Not The Call.


WATCHING THE SLOW descent of Bernie Sander’s campaign is a depressing reminder of democratic (and Democratic) political realities. The most brutal of these is that Newton’s Third Law of Motion applies with equal force to politics as it does to physics. “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

Call yourself a “democratic socialist” and everyone who feels threatened by democratic-socialism will mobilise against you. The anti-Sanders mobilisation has taken some time to resolve itself into a single challenger, but former Vice-President Joe Biden’s, runaway victory in South Carolina has finally cleared the centrists’ path to the nomination.

No matter how thrilling Sanders’ wins in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada may have been, the brute arithmetic of the primary process remained constant: the combined strength of his opponents was always greater than his own. As the captains and the kings of the Democratic Party centre depart, with Pete Buttigieg leading the way this afternoon (2 March 2020) the inevitability of a single opponent standing athwart Bernie’s path to the nomination is now clear.

“Super Tuesday” (Wednesday, 4 March NZT) will winnow the field with even more force than South Carolina. The departure of Amy Klobuchar and (probably) Mike Bloomberg, will leave the field clear for Biden’s folksy homilies. Elizabeth Warren will likely remain in the race, drawing votes from Sanders in expectation of being rewarded with the Vice-Presidential nomination. At some point well short of the Democratic Party Convention in Milwaukee (July 13-16) Sanders’ campaign will falter and fade away. Many on the left of the Democratic Party will settle for the half-loaf that is Biden-Warren – especially if it means driving Donald Trump from the White House.

“No! No! No!”, the Sandernistas will cry. “That must not be allowed to happen!” But the angry protests of these young, idealistic progressives will not avail them. At some point in electoral politics, the moment comes when you must remove your fingers from your ears, open your eyes, and take in the terrifying spectacle of your enemies’ tanks rolling towards you. Whether you believe in it or not, the Third Law of Political Motion is very, very real.

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Why is the Democratic Party leadership so terrified of Sanders becoming the nominee? Because they know the size and ferocity of the forces his nomination for the Presidency would unleash. Sanders supporters rail against the Democratic establishment – accusing them of doing everything within their power to undermine their candidate. And that’s true. They are. Not because they’re against Medicare For All, or even the Green New Deal, but because the billionaires Bernie denounces, whose enormous power and wealth are directly threatened by his policies, will move heaven and earth to keep him, and them, out of the White House.

Democratic Party stalwarts, the people who have spent years navigating the treacherous waters of the United States’ political system, have priorities very different from Sanders’ most vociferous supporters. They are only too aware that even if, by some miracle, Bernie won the White House; the Almighty is most unlikely to add a second miracle to the mix.

Yes, a President Bernie Sanders could achieve some important gains by Executive Order, but he couldn’t deliver Medicare For All, or a Green New Deal, or the writing-off of student debt, or any of the other radical measures he is promising, without solid majorities in both the House of Representative and the Senate. Truth to tell, securing the passage of such radical legislation would be a long shot even with substantial majorities in both houses of Congress. Without them, however, Bernie’s programme is a pipe-dream. As unrealistic as expecting the God of History to deliver the Democratic Party not one, but two, political miracles at the 2020 elections.

Stripping away all the ideological bunting, there is only one unequivocally popular prospect the Democratic Party can hold out to the American electorate: a White House cleansed of Donald Trump and all his evil brood. But, bringing together an electoral coalition powerful enough to secure Trump’s defeat in the Electoral College will not be easy. Far from offering voters the bitter rhetoric of class war, the Democratic Party’s candidate will need to speak the language of inclusion, reconciliation and national renewal.

The sentiments of America’s Founding Fathers should be turned against the constitutionally illiterate Republican incumbent. Recalling for voters all the great and redemptive moments of American history, the Candidate should then invite them to contrast the moral strength of America’s best leaders with the abject moral squalor of its worst.

Bernie Sanders and his followers have done the United States the inestimable service of bringing together all the planks necessary to construct the most progressive Democratic Party platform in a generation. To implement the Sandernistas’ progressive dreams, however, the voters of United States must first be persuaded to abandon the ruin of unreasoning and mutually destructive partisanship. First and foremost, America needs a healer.

If History has taught us anything, it is that revolutions inevitably open up new wounds – even in those rare instances when they succeed in closing up old ones. Always, the true believers cry: “Let Justice be done – though the heavens fall!” But what sort of justice has ever emerged from the ruins of paradise?

Let the equal and opposite reaction to Donald Trump’s hate be love. Allow him to initiate the action that will bring him down. The Democratic Party can only win in November by being the response – not the call.



  1. It would be great for Bernie to make president but feel that those in his own party might prefer Trump to him.

    I mean where would all the political donations come from, with him in the party and the “charitable” Trusts might be ruled illegal and the practice closed down…

    IT would be politically better for the Democrats to allow him to take a top place in the party, but when political donations and money is now considered more important than votes in modern politics, then that does not look likely.

  2. Best laugh in a long time. Trump is going to trump them all again, while the Dems go down the gurgler like Corbyn in the UK. The Dems cooked their goose with the impeachment fiasco and their refusal to reign in the despised ‘squad of four’. Trump is pulling hundreds of thousands to his rallies…the media just don’t report it. By what stretch of the imagination do the Dems project ‘love’? Dream on.

  3. The reality is that if Bernie did somehow gain the nomination, a lot of Democrats would vote for Trump rather than have Bernie win.
    That is the sad miserable state of the Democratic Party.
    I wonder if Bernie will consider standing as an independent?

  4. Sorry to dsagree again Chris, I think the ‘Any blue will do’ mentality to defeat the tangerine monster is the one thing that is dying. I feel that the American public have had enough of the elites of both major parties who mostly stand for the same thing (lobbying at the highest levels, corporate welfare, more funding for wars, environmental rape, escalation of manufacture and use of weapons of mass destruction, absolute reliance on the intelligence services and media to empower themselves, paranoia over not being the world’s economic power resulting in trade wars, blaming other countries for their failings such as losing elections, allowing corporate machinery to destroy the social fabric of US healthcare and education and law and order, sanctioning poor countries of different faiths and ideals, murdering innocent civilians, and on and on). These things will take generations to bring back into the hands, hearts and minds of the good people, if they can be wrestled from the wealthy at all. Bernie is one of the only candidates that can start dismantling their broken system from the inside.

  5. I think the days of the “sensible centre” are over – too much water has gone under the bridge, and all in the same corporatist direction. After all, didn’t Obama posit himself as a “healer” after first getting himself elected as a “change” candidate. You may well be right in your claim that the establishment will once again thwart Bernie, but neither Biden nor Warren, loaded down with baggage as they are, will prove to be a healer, but a rather sullenly endured, cashed-up usurper. And I would not be so sure that the imperative to get rid of Trump at any price is widely held – the Dems, if they succeed in their usurpation, will insist that it is so, but those thwarted may not agree. Having accepted austerity for the masses since 2008, the Dems have relinquished their position as “least worst” option, and Trump may well continue to look like the better deal to many, and get his second term. In fact recent results in the UK and US, and to a certain extent Australia, suggest that the working class are becoming the swing voters, on the basis of choosing which of the two main parties, neither of which has their interests at heart, they think will do them the least harm.

    I would like to be wrong, but I think the best you can hope for from a centrist usurpation is a PR front for growing establishment authoritarianism, matched by growing popular resentment. Certainly not the healing you seem to think is still possible. I just hope that the Bernie’s supporters are able to make their presence felt enough to give them pause.

  6. I note Chris sometimes repurposes posts from his Bowalley home to TDB, so permit me to repost my contribution here…We will all have a better handle on where this is going after Super Tues.

    Real Politik is often seen as being an expression of the possible, and regularly also morphs into classic defeatism. If you fight you might lose–if you do not fight, you are certain to lose! In some situations a circuit breaker is needed despite the risks presented by failure. Yes the Primaries, Senate, Congress and Electoral College are a quagmire for opportunists and reactionaries to navigate, let alone Democratic Socialists. Voter suppression and legal State and District level Gerrymandering compound it as do 100 million alienated eligible non voters.

    The Sanders Campaign has said all along it comes down to turnout and building support with face to face networking. They know it is a high risk strategy. If they do not get the numbers it is over. Whereas the other candidates operate on largely ruling class cash and massive media support. Joe Biden has not had one rally the size of Bernie Sanders recent ones. Careful camera work was required to make his overwhelming victory celebration (one after 32 years!) look like more than campaign staff were in attendance. There is not a top House African American vote herder in remaining states as there was in SC.

    The Sanders Campaign has shifted the Democratic Party debate left a little–but Bernie would not be running at all without the support of “extra Parliamentary” groups and movements which have been growing apace since Dubya’s time. That is what the pundits around the world miss–both wilfully and blissfully unaware in some cases. Bernie is not running for you. He is running for the third of Americans who run out of money before the next pay day. And all the other grim realities of life in the land of the free.

    Picking the moderate candidate is not an answer in 2020. Trump cannot outflank Bernie on the left with rhetoric, the working class pickup truck drivers that date close relatives, and support Trump, should really be voting Bernie when you look at the transfer of wealth to the US ruling class and how those rust belts have actually fared since 2016. Bernie would represent a stark choice, Trump will rip the others up for the proverbial.

    Trump’s machine is formidable particularly because of the alliances he has with Religious zealot gatekeepers. Trump may be the most despicable individual to hold high office in a long time, but there are millions of religious nutters out there celebrating the man that will shortly legislate against the right of 50% of the US population to control their own bodies. That is what the Democrats are up against and placating those forces that think the world is 7000 years old, including Trump’s VP, is just not possible. Beating them with a massive voter turnout is the only way.

    • Sanders has to over win by 1991 Delagtes to nullify the effects of Super Delegates and Bidens victory in South Carolina has seriously deflated the smart money backing Sanders.

  7. Yes, Bernie has done the US a favour; but the unfortunate and realistic truth is that his electability against Trump is doubtful. What he has done is move the conversation leftwards, and made it more realistic for Biden to move a little in that direction — your thought of a Biden-Warren ticket could prove a winner (not sure what Elizabeth might feel about having been labelled ‘Bernie-lite’, though). A difficulty is the fact of Trump’s awfulness as a person may be counteracted by (1) a continuing good economy (but beware a certain virus) and low unemployment, and (2) the rump of voters to whom his awfulness is unseen, or doesn’t matter. A middle-left combo as in Biden-Warren — both self-evidently decent people — would need to pull in the now up-for-grabs middle-field votes of Pete and Amy, and the hoards of disaffected young ‘feeling the Bern’, if indeed Bernie falters.

    By the way, rather fascinating that Bernie’s older brother Larry is a UK Green politician, is it not? An interesting and insightful interview with him from 2015 [], which touches on the effects of the holocaust, losing both parents at a young age, and the influence of FDR, on his younger brother’s political development.

  8. I agree that the conservative element of the Democratic Party will do everything to stop Bernie from becoming the presidential candidate . However he seems to have the broadest appeal to all voting segments /demographics and has the most realistic chance of deposing Trump. Heres why.

    The impact of c-virus aside , what will defeat Trump is the Democrats ability to inspire the 40% of the US population who don’t vote ,to actually show up and cast a vote . They won’t do it for Biden ,hes too establishment , same old same old billionaire bullshit , but they very well may do it for Bernie and the prospect of real and lasting change .

    In my opinion its not the current voters who will decide the outcome , its all those people who currently don’t vote . I wouldn’t bet 10 cents cent on Biden but you give 100 million silent citizens a reason to turn up then I really think Bernie can win .

  9. Superb @ Chris Trotter.
    Now? How about we and the rest of the worlds population all chip in and build a wall around the U$A?
    And once contained therein we can douse them in E and LSD.
    God only knows, the poor souls need something other than tarnished bling and brain farts from tasteless billionaires with orange, mushroom shaped penises.
    I wonder? Did Bernie Sanders say ” Lets do This? ” He should have given it a go.

    But never mind the U$A. Lets just move slowly away from the U$A. Quietly now, or they’ll know something’s up. Shhhhhh….? Let’s just slip out of the grip their criminal banking enterprises has us held by, lets ease ourselves from underneath the weight of their insurance scams and slide right on out the door…..
    Now. Run! Run! Run! Run like fuck!

    Whew! OMG ! What a beautiful day it is outside?
    Hello Portugal? Hello France? Hi there Finland? Gidday Luxembourg ?
    Lovely to meet you!
    Decriminalised all drugs. Drug related crimes/addictions/death by accidental overdoses have all but disappeared.
    Strong as fuck general population who are proud to fight back against the crafty narcissistic neoliberal egotists with gusto!
    A fabulous roll model for us citizens to emulate.
    Awesome socialist democratic woman prime minister pushing for a four day working week after learning that workers are more productive the less hours they work. ( Look it up?)
    Free public transport. Free. I know. Free.
    The U$A.
    A toxic mishmash of narcissistic egotists who’s only export of choice is debt via their eye wateringly corrupt banking systems.
    Wall Street is the enemy of not only the people but of our biosphere. The sub prime lending swindles leaning drunkenly over the cowering and terminally indebted working class is an abhorrence only the terminally brain dead can ignore.
    We? Us AO/NZ’ers should avoid the U$A as one would a coughing, sneezing Chinese national on an overcrowded AirNZ flight heading from Auckland to Queenstown.
    The U$A isn’t working.
    Capitalism isn’t working.
    Neoliberalism is simply a complex word for crooks.
    Communism isn’t working.
    Dictatorships don’t work.
    Autocracies don’t work.
    What does work is social democracies.
    But that’s what we’re watching die at the feet of the above. Our greatest vigilance must be during long periods of peace. Someone said that. Not me.
    That’s why, make voting compulsory dumbasses.
    That, I said.
    A paid day off during the week when you MUST vote. A Friday or a Monday. A nice long weekend. As a reward for your awesome self helping to maintain your social democracy. Keeping our Paradise safe and healthy.
    Or? You will get a dumb ass, mushroom dick-head making your life a living Hell.
    Right Americans?

    • Nice answer Country Boy, possibly not quite the one our learned Mr Trotter was seeking!

      Really, there will obviously never be another Bernie, or chance like this for awhile for the US working class and allies to make a come back.

    • “Unemployment isn’t working” (I saw this painted on a wall in a lower socio-economic community)

  10. The US voting system is deeply rigged, and this by a wide range of institutional regulations and sometimes absurd situational case-to-case action.

    Fundamental preconditions of representative voting are manipulated or completely by-passed, e.g. equality of the vote (one person, one vote), spatial reference units of electorate (gerrymandering), equity in funds and other support available to a candidate, actual participation in the vote.

    It shows the intensity of public brain-washing that such obviously central violations of any fair and just election process can be regarded as being democratic.

    As long as these fundamental distortions are not corrected, everything is possible, at the same time nothing actually moves, and the attempt of a rational discourse is often not much more than intellectual firework at afternoon tea.

    Breaking present political paralysis of the public through the voting system would probably only be possible by overwhelming mobilization of past non-voters.

    So or so, a defeat of Bernie Sanders will have further negative effects on a number of global issues, first to be mentioned are internationally coordinated efforts toward GHG reduction and for meaningful climate adaption.

    In several countries international support teams for BS are active.

    ….a logical step in disregard of narrow nation-state reasoning.

    • Manfred Staab: “In several countries international support teams for BS are active.”

      I don’t understand this. Unless such people are eligible to vote in US elections, why would they bother? It makes not a whit of difference what any of the rest of us thinks.

      In addition, no president will be allowed to interfere with the direction of US foreign policy. That has been so for all of my longish life. Even were Sanders to get the Dem nod, and to win the election, he’ll be as hamstrung in changing foreign policy as has been the incumbent.

      In all these years, the only president who has apparently seriously threatened the foreign policy status quo was Jack Kennedy. And look what happened to him.

      • Kia Ora, D’Esterre.

        Thank you very much for the feedback. I learn that you have aggregated plenty of life experience and I do sincerely acknowledge the relevance of your comment.

        Those Bernie Sanders support initiatives may have different functions, pending on the mandate that they usually establish by their own:
        1. Motivation and information of US citizens abroad to facilitate voting for their candidate,
        2. Information of the wider public on the candidates policies, especially those with potential regional or global effects,
        3. Networking on selected thematic issues of global impact that can be relevant for the election, e.g. green economy, climate change, etc.

        In my opinion such initiatives are a good opportunity becoming a bit more than a remote newsreader to the events.

        … the end of the day many decisions made in the WH do severely effect populations of other countries. Better public ways have to be found for those to be heard.

  11. Disagree entirely. Have you seen Biden?

    You remind me of the woman tutor who attacked my mother relentlessly for putting the case for a student raped by a tutor in an 80s polytech. All hell let loose on my tutor mother and this woman, who because she herself had been raped, fiercely thought it was wrong what my mother was doing to the student so sided with the powers.

  12. “The sentiments of America’s Founding Fathers should be turned against the constitutionally illiterate Republican incumbent. Recalling for voters all the great and redemptive moments of American history, the Candidate should then invite them to contrast the moral strength of America’s best leaders with the abject moral squalor of its worst.”

    Er…are you suggesting that Biden would be such a candidate? Good grief….

    Biden and that odious son of his have Form over corruption allegations in the Ukraine. And he was VP to the awful Obama – which, of course, is how he and Biden jnr came to have that grubby entanglement in the Ukraine.

    A fortiori, Biden shows signs of emerging dementia. He reminds me of nobody so much as Reagan, certainly in his second term and arguably in his first.

    A member of this family hopes that Biden will be the Dem candidate, and that he beats Trump. Said family member is of the view that US citizens richly deserve Biden.

    I laughed at that, but pointed out that the rest of us surely don’t. And we’re all of us negatively affected by US foreign policy, despite the fact that we have no say over its development and implementation.

    “…all the great and redemptive moments of American history…”

    And those would be…..? None that I can recall in my longish lifetime.

    “…the moral strength of America’s best leaders with the abject moral squalor of its worst.”

    The best? With the possible exception of Jack Kennedy (who was, as we now know, a hard dog to keep on the porch), in my lifetime, going right back to Eisenhower, they’ve all been awful. The crown for worst would probably go to Lyndon Johnson, closely followed by….um…all the rest of them, right up to the incumbent.

    If there were honourable US presidents, it would’ve been before I was born.

    The Washington Establishment will not allow any president to upset the foreign policy applecart. Thus Trump’s being prevented from pursuing détente with North Korea and with Russia. And the false flag incidents which have white-anted his attempts to halt the endless wars and bring US troops home.

    The recent assassination of Soleimani was almost certainly not Trump’s call. That sort of tactic hasn’t been his style to date. It has Bolton’s fingerprints all over it, chickenhawk that he is.

    As to a more redistributive domestic policy, as proposed by Sanders, Obama came to power promising similar strategies. Some time into his first term, Sarah Palin twitted him about it: “all that hopey, changey stuff: how’s that working out for you?” As we all remember, he abandoned it pretty damn quick. Even Obamacare was a disaster: that particular cock-up was at least in part the reason why Trump was elected.

    The status quo domestically is in the interest of the oligarchs who fund the Democratic party. This is why they will brook no change of the sort envisaged by either Obama or Sanders.

    And that’s why Biden will almost certainly be the Dems’ candidate for the next election.

  13. Given my comment here I can understand why Chris disallowed my comments on the same essay at Bowalley.

    You furious and right refuters of Trotter’s case here, it’s the same, to a lesser degree, in NZ. Turn your torches on Labour. Otherwise Stephen Mills will write our history ( ‘the looney Left’) — see the media take on Mike Moore. The people’s view will be white-washed out of the struggle since ’84. The relative plenty since the end of the GFC has encouraged the self-benefiting morally disproved 84ists to reclaim acclaim.

    • The reason I didn’t post your comment at Bowalley Road, Sumsuch, was because it – unlike the comment you have posted here – was completely unintelligible.

      • Now, that you’ve posted it , the completeness of the unintelligibility can be judged.

        I realise I get too shorthand sometimes, but I think you’re playing on that.

        The post-GFC return to relative comfort has allowed the old ‘Left’ (84) to retake control of Labour, to clarify my only dark sentence.

        I see you’ve doubled down on ‘politics is the art of the possible’ and ‘justice though the heavens fall’ in your latest Bowalley column about American politics.

        No chance of success attacking a Scot, though Cromwell as the exception conquered us relatively easily. And pointless, since we come entirely self-defeating.

        Don’t know the real reason why you didn’t print my comment, but I’m agin you doing short term realpolitik rather than talking our ideas. You’ve been wrong so many times about that but you pump my lungs up whenever you talk for truth for all. And that is the most realpolitik you can do.

  14. Oh well. We’ll know the full result in a few days and we’ll know the score. Thats 14 States and Samoa outta the way! 32 to go!

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