Page Two: The Fix

Thuggery and fanaticism on the campaign trail

Page Two

Any column that even pretends to distantly progressive politics needs to start out right now by harshly condemning the protesters who attacked Trump's supporters. Violence against people because of their ideas is never acceptable. It was repugnant, depressing, and embarrassing. Thuggery does not invite or excuse thuggery.

As this paper goes to press, Bernie Sanders has pledged to keep campaigning even though Hillary Clinton has won the number of delegates required to earn her party's nomination. There are still two Democratic contenders – although, one reader chides me, only one of them can win the general election: "There is only one candidate for dem nomination that is sure to beat Trump according to all head to head polls unanimously and by a large lead ..."

Let's begin with two questions:

If elected President of the United States, what kind of legislation do you expect Bernie Sanders to get Congress to enact? How much of his agenda will Sanders achieve?

Seriously. Honestly.

Keeping in mind Obama's legislative track record in trying to get legislation through Congress, how much do you think Sanders will actually get enacted into law? He would lack even the support of many Democrats (though that support hasn't always been of much good to Obama).

Likely one of the answers will be that the people's army behind Sanders will rise up in indignation. Don't count on it.

Even if this happened, if the traditional legislative process is ignored, the president appeals directly to his supporters to march on Washington – not only is that government by mob rule, which we'd expect more from Trump, but it's not likely to be effective.

A poll is a poll. It is not an election. If this or that poll went against your candidate, would you switch sides? Of course not.

But there is more to this. Think about it:

The Republicans have been beating up on Hillary for years and continue to do so intensely.

Now many Sanders supporters (by no means all) have joined in on the assault. (And saying that you hope she gets indicted is not part of an issues-oriented discussion.)

The Republicans have really been leaving Sanders alone. First he is damaging Clinton, which of course serves their purposes. Obviously they'd rather run against Sanders than Clinton.

Think about that. They are scared of Clinton. They are not at all worried about Sanders.

Sanders' followers feel they have been treated very unfairly by media, but this is mostly by neglect. The media is taken with Bernie; they have not piled on him much at all.

If Sanders is nominated, expect the gloves to quickly come off. Republicans and media will pile on.

Still, we can speculate that there is a reasonable number of Republicans who would just as soon see Sanders win if he ran against Trump. They know he will accomplish nothing. And they'll avoid the embarrassment of a Trump administration.

If he runs for president, I will vote for Sanders. Although, I think that race is run. And unfortunately it has become about the race. Not about ideas and legislation.

The single overriding principle of the Constitution is compromise. People talk about the document all the time but they lose the meaning.

Right now on all sides, the strident fanatic has become the admired political leader.

Governing is hard. Moving forward together near impossible. This insistence on purity destroys the systems. The left nod their heads in agreement about the Tea Party's extremism. Yet they share the fanaticism just to different ideals.

Keep in mind a statement we are going to be hearing a lot: There is no difference between the two parties.

There are enormous differences between the two parties, but if your standards extreme they may seem very close together.

The core to governing is compromise. Except now it has become an ugly word to all.

Which brings us to the interesting phenomenon of Hillary Clinton. In an act of shared amnesia much of the public seems shocked, shocked to discover that Hillary Clinton is a politician. An effective politician at that, who has devoted her entire adult life to fighting for liberal politics. Now armchair politicians and coffeehouse orators can easily legislate without compromise; of course they accomplish nothing. Real world politics is different.

What compromise means is – I give up something I really want in order to get something else. It inherently means having to make difficult and often terrible decisions. Decisions one has to live with and which will haunt you.

There is a real beauty to the Sanders campaign, in the beginning at least something very pure about it, a wonderful outpouring of built-up resentment driven by hope.

The subsequent anti-Clinton campaign is thus even more heartbreaking. Maybe her "liberal" politics may seem too compromised or neutered to suggest real progressive change. Clinton has long been very effective. She has made decisions and taken sides on issues that seem hard to defend, but what is missed is what she has accomplished.

And a lot of this is because she is a woman. Yeah, moan and groan. The biggest difference between her record and other elected officials' is that she has accomplished more. A woman as an effective politician isn't necessarily going to be treated differently than a man. But Clinton sure is, from all sides.

The bottom line is that if elected, Clinton will probably effectively advance the agenda of many issues that we take seriously. Given her belief in moving forward, she also will make decisions that stink.

The first female major-party nominee for President of the United States is near the end of a terrible battle with a Vermont Socialist. And we are being told that the Democratic party is hopelessly broken? Can we grow up?

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Page Two
Page Two: Row My Boat Ashore
Page Two: Row My Boat Ashore
Louis Black bids farewell in his final "Page Two" column

Louis Black, Sept. 8, 2017

Page Two: The Good Songs We Need to Sing Together and Loud
Page Two: The Good Songs We Need to Sing Together and Loud
Celebrating love and resistance at Terry and Jo Harvey Allen's 55th wedding anniversary

Louis Black, July 14, 2017


election, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle