Bernie: My way or the highway!

Demagogue - Image by John Hain
Image by John Hain || CC0


First, I was a new twenty year old—and the beneficiary of the freshly minted twenty-sixth amendment—for the presidential contest between conservative Republican incumbent, President Richard Milhous Nixon, and liberal Democratic challenger, Senator George McGovern, in 1972.

Then as now I was committed to peace. I supported George McGovern that year. Though Nixon barely campaigned, it was a political drubbing. Senator McGovern only won one state (not even his home state) and the District of Columbia. The Electoral College tally was 520 to 17. So, thus began my engagement with politics. That election culminated, for me, in deep disappointment, and disillusionment.

Then, Watergate … blah blah blah.

More disillusionment.

Aspects of 2020 definitely have a ’72 déjà vu feel. Yikes!

Second, I began last week with an admission that I think Bernie is generally on target with his justice goals. I also asserted, I feel trying to base/advance a presidential campaign on a socialist revolution, well, it’s a non-starter with most voters. I hope the timing dimension becomes a bit more clear next week when we begin unpacking specifically why: “Potus Trump wins re-elect.”

New Hampshire

A little over two weeks ago in the New Hampshire presidential debate on ABC, Mayor Pete Buttigieg called-out Senator Bernie Sanders for a campaign of divisiveness, a ‘my way or the highway’ approach to leadership.



Last week I wrote:

I do confess, whenever I hear Republican leaders preen and crow about how glad they are that Trump has shored-up their social/economic privilege, I can feel and understand the anger, outrage, and binary ‘my-way-or-the-highway’ attitude that Bernie and the Bern’ers express.

Nonetheless, politically and practically, Buttigieg’s critique of Sanders’ approach is spot on. Let me be clear, I don’t know if Bernie consciously means to behave divisively and like a demagogue. I do know that for many people his divisive us vs. them (e.g., billionaires) populist approach makes it feel as though he means every bit of it. Still, Bernie’s righteous indignation over injustice is highly commendable. However, if we’ve learned anything from the backlash that constitutes part of the Trump phenomenon, correcting injustice by thin-margin legislative fiat is a time-release recipe for painful conflict—and a compelling argument for never abandoning the filibuster rule in the Senate as most significant change simply requires at least a sixty percent consensus for long term success [to Bernie’s credit, he favors keeping the filibuster]. A significant part of Trump’s coalition consists of folks who have felt left behind. Not just by the economy, but by significant changes in the norms of society, norms that they perceive as timeless. People who have risen-up to claw back those legacy norms. Voters on both sides see this election as existential. 


puppet-Image by Septimiu Balica
Image by Septimiu Balica || CC0

The direction we must go

A very serious difficulty that many people have with the idea of “Medicare for all” also appears to be in the shadow of advocates like Bernie. I’ve written previously about unhealthy Green [FS]’s unconscious affinity with tyranny.  Green‘s zealousness for justice often creates a shadow. Mayor Pete points to the problem in a CNN interview from Nevada:



Of course, the goal of a well-incentivized health delivery system that eliminates its intrinsically market-driven nature and the market-driven insurance layer is a very noble and laudable one. The chief difficulty is that the Medicare for all argument that Bernie marshals subtly treats the medical care system as though its products were commodities. Even if we were somehow able to configure ‘health’ as a commodity, treating the means to health, e.g., ‘medical care,’ the same way won’t work because medical care is also an art and varies greatly. So, the basic Medicare for all argument is reductionist in that it sees the numbers, the deal-making aspect of medical care, e.g., for-profit insurance, for-profit hospitals, for-profit pharma, etc. as the entire problem. Even worse, it presumes [read ‘requires’] that voters see the situation the very same way. I mean, who could have known, but it’s a very complex system.



I’d like to think we could agree that we do not want the “nobody knew” guy working the problem out for us?

Of course, if one argues merely on the numbers, then a market-driven medical system is clearly not the way to go. However, that argument requires we begin in a vacuum. In the U.S., given our history of market-driven medicine, the idea that, like a commodity, one could, simply by fiat, flip a switch and change the system so dramatically fails to account for the existential interdependence of the four emergent dimensions of “health”—subjective || objective || agency/singular || communion/plural.


quadrant-model-4 edited


Some would even argue it would be dangerous with regard to our future care to make such a sudden change given that we have no way of knowing the ripple effects. Would enough people still choose a career in medicine?

Similarly, to argue that single-payer medical systems work in other developed nations is to conflate and reduce all people/contexts to a commodity-like sameness and makes a particular situation like the U.S. an irrelevance. Then, too, and perhaps most significantly, many argue the chances of Bernie passing anything like this through congress are less than  zero.



Minimize the harm?

So far the 2020 election is feeling a lot like the 1972 election to me, e.g., potentially very disappointing and disillusioning. Frankly, I’m on the fence just now about the best strategic move for the Democratic Party at this bizarre juncture in American history. Let’s be clear, I mean what Democrats should do, not for themselves, but in the interest of the country.

It seems clear, with only a few possible exceptions, none of the long list of presidential contenders who have participated in the Democratic primaries appear to have much of a clue what to do in terms of significantly challenging Trump. Even if it weren’t Trump, this is an incumbent president with a reasonably decent economy.

Wondering if perhaps the Democrats nominating someone for president on the premise and intention of flipping the Senate and expanding the House’s margin as a better check on Trump in his inevitable second term might be prudent?

Next week (part 4): ‘Potus Trump wins re-elect

[this post, approx. 1075 words]

Your thoughts?

I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?

Note: Introducing a big-picture idea like Spiral Dynamics (a complex developmental anthropology) in this format is ambitious. So, I’m using a serial-approach. Blog introduction (June 30, 2018). First in series (July 1, 2018).


SD Worldview Color Key

Demagogue - Image by John Hain

One thought on “Bernie: My way or the highway!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s