The Tale of a Stereotypical Berner

A fable of disillusionment from (ironically) a deleted Reddit account.

nowBefore Bernie Sanders, it was Ron Paul. Before Ron Paul, it was Dennis Kucinich. Before Dennis Kucinich, it was Howard Dean. Before Howard Dean, it was Ralph Nader. And so on and so forth back to Eugene McCarthy in 1968.

For nearly fifty years, middle-class white college ideologues have latched onto this candidate or that, firmly believing that their political awakening has miraculously coincided with discoveries of Great Truths that escape the Brainwashed Morons that make up the electorate (and which just happen to align perfectly with their own particular socioeconomic interests), and that this Great Man is going to be the one to take the country to the promised land.

And it’s always the same story.

Of course he is going to win. I like him, and I usually get the things I want. And he’s popular. I mean, everyone I know likes him, and I know all sorts of people at the university I chose because its student body matches my hometown’s income level, ethnicity, region, and politics. And everyone on the websites I visit likes him, and there are millions of people on the websites. (I visit these websites because their user base and content creators mostly match my own identity.) I literally don’t know anyone who supports his opponent. (I do not consider the previous statement to be indicative of my own limited viewpoint, but rather consider it damning to his opponent.)

And look, I voted for him on a bunch of online polls, and then deleted my cookies and switched IP addresses and voted for him again, and again, and again. And he’s totally dominating those polls. See. I knew he was winning. I’ll post about how he’s winning on some websites. And hey, everyone else on these websites is doing the same thing. I bet he’s winning. Of course he’s winning. How could anyone not support my candidate? His opponent is basically the same as a member of the other party! Actually their voting record is >90% identical to my candidate’s. But I don’t really know that much about either candidate. I didn’t really know who either were twelve months ago. But I’m super excited now!

The media isn’t reporting favorably on my candidate. They project he will lose. But they’re corrupt. They’re bought-and-paid-for. I don’t even read them any more. Nobody does. Time to show the world that their lies won’t work. Time for the primaries.

We lost. Fuck. I literally cannot comprehend how this might have happened. The media said this would happen. The media are a bunch of corrupt liars. I guess the system is just as corrupt as the media is. This is not a good story. This is not a good democracy. Fuck this entire fucking corrupt system. I participated but I didn’t get anything what the fuck fuck this noise fucking corrupt bastards and the goddamned cunt for brains sheep that vote for them the entire system is broken the parties are identical the democracy is a sham i’m never fucking voting again bunch of bought and paid for hypocrites fuck this fuck you fuck everything see now there are problems in the world YOU FUCKING DESERVE THE PROBLEMS YOU BASTARDS the people need to rise up BECAUSE THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN why even bother I AM NEVER VOTING AGAIN

Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist. ~ George Carlin

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jay

Jay is Editor In Chief of The Agonist, veteran and technologist.

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    • Not all Bernie supporters. The word “stereotypical” is in the title. (I didn’t write this, but I thought it was insightful.)

      If you haven’t experienced or at least seen first-hand the disillusioned crash that can come at the end of a hardcore activist’s first big election or failed movement, the post seems harsh. The primary Sanders demographic is young, male, under-utilized, very liberal, and a first-time voter. Like sex, every generation thinks they invented this stuff.

      Some of us see ourselves in the frustration expressed by this writer. It serves as a retrospective and a cautionary warning to folks convinced The Revolution Is On – This Time We Mean It.

      The key is to not get jaded. Find a problem worth attacking anyway. Fall down seven times, get up eight.

      • Well…, I Certainly Don’t Fit the Stereotype…,
        I am just an Old…, and I do mean fucking old…, Hippie and I am not crying in my Hamm’s over this…, as you seem to deem it…, devastating loss. It seems that those real stereotypes aren’t either. Bernie has garnered more campaign contributions in a shorter amount of time than at any other point of his campaign after the big loss. The Hillary poured everything she had into Iowa to ensure a win…, the flood gates were swung wide open…, and she barely squeaked by. Today I have seen two polls that it is now a toss up between them nationally. I can already hear those screams that I predicted back in May…, The First Time…,

        Well…, I don’t know just how afraid the oligarchs and plutocrats are of him right now…, but if his common sense approach to the issues starts to resonate with the voters of this country and sparks a bit of a fire…, we could see some real panic in the boardrooms…, not to mention the Clinton bedroom. “NOOOO…, not AGAIN !!!” And that will be before we get out of the primaries.

  • Jay, the fall might be hard

    Democracy Bernie Bro Style
    By Delia Warner

    So you say the Democratic Party is corrupt and the system is broken. You tell me it’s the institution and the establishment and the 1% and that the Democratic Party is filled with shills and the system is rigged. Then on February 1st you come marching into the Iowa caucus with your rag tag little band and your Bernie gear and you think you’re here to start a revolution. You know nothing about how a caucus works because you didn’t take the time to educate yourselves and you treat our good Democratic Party caucus chairs who have been working elections honorably since before you were born with disrespect and suspicion as if they are there to “rig” the caucus.

    Then when it’s all over, you take to the web and start making accusations of voter fraud and demanding recounts. You pretend that flipping a coin to decide something at the caucus is some nefarious Clinton scheme to rob Bernie Sanders because again you never took the time to educate yourselves so you would know that the coin toss is nothing new or nefarious. Then you are silent when it turns out that the real beneficiary of the evil coin toss was Bernie Sanders.

    You post videos all over the net and attack a precinct captain in Polk County for following the rules of the caucus and calling for a vote and then abiding by that vote. You are all over the place telling us that you are what democracy looks like, but when you see democracy in action and it doesn’t give you the result you want you denounce it and tell us that is why we need a revolution.

    more here

    • I Don’t Know Who the “You”…,
      is that is being addressed in this piece…, and I don’t know if Glenn Greenwald is addressing this piece…, but he says in regard to the “Bernie Bro” meme:

      The concoction of the “Bernie Bro” narrative by pro-Clinton journalists has been a potent political tactic — and a journalistic disgrace. It’s intended to imply two equally false claims: (1) a refusal to march enthusiastically behind the Wall Street-enriched, multiple-war-advocating, despot-embracing Hillary Clinton is explainable not by ideology or political conviction, but largely if not exclusively by sexism: demonstrated by the fact that men, not women, support Sanders (his supporters are “bros”); and (2) Sanders supporters are uniquely abusive and misogynistic in their online behavior. Needless to say, a crucial tactical prong of this innuendo is that any attempt to refute it is itself proof of insensitivity to sexism if not sexism itself (as the accusatory reactions to this article will instantly illustrate).

      But truth doesn’t matter here — at all. Instead, the goal is to inherently delegitimize all critics of Hillary Clinton by accusing them of, or at least associating them with, sexism, thus distracting attention away from Clinton’s policy views, funding, and political history and directing it toward the online behavior of anonymous, random, isolated people on the internet claiming to be Sanders supporters. It’s an effective weapon when wielded by Clinton operatives. But, given its blatant falsity, it has zero place in anything purporting to be “journalism.”

      And whoever that “you” is…, he/she isn’t the only one who believes that there are some legitimate questions that need answered in regard to the Iowa caucus:
      The Des Moines Register – Editorial: Something Smells in the Democratic Party

      Once again the world is laughing at Iowa. Late-night comedians and social media mavens are having a field day with jokes about missing caucusgoers and coin flips.

      That’s fine. We can take ribbing over our quirky process. But what we can’t stomach is even the whiff of impropriety or error.

      What happened Monday night at the Democratic caucuses was a debacle, period. Democracy, particularly at the local party level, can be slow, messy and obscure. But the refusal to undergo scrutiny or allow for an appeal reeks of autocracy.

      The Iowa Democratic Party must act quickly to assure the accuracy of the caucus results, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

      First of all, the results were too close not to do a complete audit of results. Two-tenths of 1 percent separated Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. A caucus should not be confused with an election, but it’s worth noting that much larger margins trigger automatic recounts in other states.

  • Personally, I think it’s good to keep things in perspective.
    Nobody – NOBODY – is going to fix what ails us.

    It would require replacing almost all of the House, Senate, Governors and state legislatures; sending about 50% of the upper-level corporate executives to prison; confiscating the ill-got gains of the rentier class; educating an entire generation and surviving until that generation could take over.
    Color me cynical, but I don’t think it’s gonna happen, folks.

    When patients are terminal, the best doctors and hospitals in the world can’t heal them. IMHO we’re into the cultural and political equivalent of Hospice Care.

    • What in the world have “50% of upper-level corporate executives” done to deserve jail?

      Where is the line between gains and ill-gotten gains?

      •   Okay, maybe the 50% number was pulled out of my ass, but there are certainly many who deserve jail time – bankers who committed the fraud that blew up the economy in 2007-2008, who continue to launder drug money and commit foreclosure fraud; execs who deny and/or conceal health risks from their products and fund pseudo-science to that end; those who bribe politicians directly or via the revolving-door process, corruption of the regulatory process, etc. Beyond that, in 50+ years in the business world, I have seen many instances of illegal (but unprovable) actions – firing or refusing to hire or promote for reasons which are not legal (race, religion, etc.), hiding financial info…

          And it says a lot about our society (or perhaps just about human nature) that there are many behaviors which are technically legal but maybe shouldn’t be. Behavior based on or facilitating the winner take all and Devil take the hindermost’ outlook should be illegal as contrary to society at large. I’d have a lot more sympathy with Capitalism’s claims of a meritocracy driven by the Free Market if success were actually based on merit but it seldom is.

           It is often said, usually by assholes who want to keep being assholes (such as the guy who wants to legalize rape), that “You can’t legislate morality”. In fact, however, that’s really what law is – an attempt to enforce some level of ethics and morality on the members of society. Where a society draws the lines and on what basis is a valid area for discussion, but I don’t see much point in pursuing it until those who have undeniably crossed the line have been taken to task for it. When we’ve jailed the banksters (as Iceland did), jailed Exxon-ers for suppressing info on Climate Change; jailed RJReynold et al  for denying health risks; then we can discuss the fine points of usury vs interest, corporate takeover-and-loot, regulating drug profiteering, moving between the professional world and government service, and the zillion other ways the money-hungry and power-hungry (but inventive) elite manipulate the world.

        • As a former Occupier, I’ve been looking at the bankster fraud thing as more info has come to light. It turns out there wasn’t that much illegal going on, or even unethical, at the higher levels. The risk really wasn’t visible from individual desks within the financial system.

          So I looked at the individual financial instruments, and there’s justification for most of them in play.

          There were certainly individual bad actors: banks bending the rules and hand-waving risks to under-qualified mortgage seekers; those borrowers themselves, both in subprime and over-extended house-flippers; mortgage agency robo-signing. The mis-labeling of CDO tranches as AAA is widely considered fraudulent, but there’s data that suggests it was more likely negligence on due diligence.

          Morally, those few that saw what was happening and bet against the housing market are suspicious, but insurance payouts are part of what makes the world go round. If you can insure Beyonce’s butt, I don’t see why you shouldn’t be able to insure against basically any event that might affect your business.

          I don’t love Wall Street and there’s only so far I’ll go defending them. But banks and insurance and all these other financial tools are useful to our economy and growth. They need oversight but not burning down.

          On a related note, the call to “break up the big banks” wouldn’t actually do anything to mitigate the systemic risk, nor would Glass-Steagal. Frank-Dodd is already doing much of what people are demanding, and Hillary’s finance reform proposals are much more robust than Bernie’s, despite popular opinion.

  • Jay, without implying any special financial expertise on my part, I’ve gone through many thousands of pages of research of financial practices during the years leading up to the credit meltdown, even trying to understand the mechanics of the exotic derivatives associated with the worst abuses, and I can tell you there are mountains of evidence of massive corruption, not always illegal but certainly unethical, extending from the mortgage boiler rooms all the way up to the highest levels of government oversight (for a start, just read Harry Markopolous’ research into the SEC, which was spending most of its time looking at porn).

    Just a random example that pops out was an official complaint to the DOJ signed by tens of thousands of housing appraisers through their membership association claiming they were being basically blackmailed into inflating housing prices by mortgage lenders. As another example, the very same federal attorney (now a professor of economics and law) who helped bring down Charles Keating during the S&L debacle has been adamant about the justification for widespread prosecution of fraudulent practices associated with the 2008 crisis.

    If you have more recent evidence to refute this historical record, I say more power to you, and I would be interested to hear about it. Two comments regarding claims that the repeal of the Glass Steagal played an insignificant role in the crisis, since it was the investment banks that experienced most of the fallout: if the act had been in place, the investment banks would never have been designated as bank holding companies and therefore eligible to obtain loans from the federal discount window, which helped save them from insolvency. Secondly, as noted by an ex-Goldman Sachs account executive, the mere eligibility of commercial banks for speculation certainly provided competition that pushed the investment banks to seek riskier investments . In addition, breaking up the big banks might not have any immediate effects, but given their current size, the biggest banks have been cited as virtually impossible to regulate without tens of thousands of inspectors. Frank-Dodd is a positive step forward but has some major flaws as well as enforcement issues that are subject for another conversation.

    All the above being said, I’m very glad that you’re expressing views that sometime run contrary to those traditionally predominating (myself included) at this web site. I know it’s been observed in past comments that we spend a lot of time talking to ourselves, and your posts provide more opportunity for in depth discussion. I have my biases, but I’m always interested in learning something new.

      • Jay, As expressed in the debates, I absolutely agree with you, since she at least references the shadow banking system, while Bernie tends to keep falling back on the Glass Steagal Act in keeping with his annoying tendency to keep repeating ad nauseam single issues (for example campaign financing). If Hilary is true to her word and had a record backing it up, I wouldn’t have a problem supporting her for her financial prescriptions. Conversely, even aside from her family dynasty’s record of harmful deregulation and her close relations with Wall Street, I tend to think her aversion to bringing back GS has less to do with principle and more to do with politics. I’ll admit that could be my bias. As expressed earlier, my problem with Hillary is less with her domestic platform, which, barring health insurance, I don’t see as that much different from Bernie’s in practice (especially since I have no doubt that, if elected, Bernie would target the same shadow banking system), as much as it is her foreign policy record.

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