Bernie Sanders Doesn't Get It: Why Democrats Are Not Hungry For Revolution

This weekend was the best Bernie Sanders is going to have in a while, electorally speaking. He won the Maine caucus after what the Senator described as "very large turnout", which turned out to be roughly 3,500 votes, and also the caucuses in Kansas and Nebraska. Hillary Clinton won the biggest prize of the weekend, Louisiana.

The rest of March looks brutal for Bernie.  Hillary Clinton is looking to clean up tomorrow in Michigan and absolutely devastate Bernie in Mississippi, and a visibly frustrated Bernie Sanders failed to make any inroads in the Democratic debate in Flint last night. Update 3/8 at 8:37pm PT: Bernie upset in Michigan by a thin margin, but Clinton's huge win in Mississippi will end up expanding Clinton's lead in both delegates and the popular vote.

Bernie can talk up his anti-trade propaganda all he wants, but after Hillary Clinton exposed him for voting against the rescue of the auto industry (which was about 40% of the fund in TARP), his numbers in Michigan are not likely to make a huge upset in time for tomorrow's primary. Mississippi is another one of southern red states Bernie supporters believe don't matter because *cough* black people *cough* (you know, except when Bernie wins one or two) where Clinton will crush Sanders.

According to primary forecasts from FiveThirtyEight, Hillary Clinton can take a clean sweep on March 15 in Florida, Ohio, Illinois and North Carolina - and almost certainly will take a majority of the delegates - which together award almost 800 delegates to the convention.

Clearly, Bernie Sanders, despite raising a gigantic amount of cash and holding very large rallies, miscalculated something when it came to the actual Democratic electorate. We know that his appeal has remained narrow, and he ha utterly failed to attract the most loyal Democratic constituency, the black vote. His support among other people of color is also soft, concentrating his vote in the white "dudebro" Democratic demographic.

The question is why. Yes, Bernie has a racial blind spot the size of Texas. Yes, he has not tried hard to appeal to the key constituencies. But why? Why hasn't he tried? Why has he pretended that if he just kept talking about economic inequality, his dudebro support will spill over to people of color? Why hasn't his rebel persona got him more support?

The answer, I suggest, is that Sanders has critically misjudged the Democratic electorate's appetite for a revolution. There re many reasons for this.

As far as Bernie Sanders is concerned, a revolution only takes the shape of western European-style benign cradle-to-gave social welfare without affecting any of the essential rights that Americans hold dear. But far too many people in the fabric of America know a very different reality of revolution. The very word 'revolution', which, as America Ferrera once pointed out, does not mean the same thing across the broad cross sections of cultures. A significant portion of the Democratic base - Latinos and other Americans whose (or whose parents' or grandparents') native countries were devastated by revolutions, often in the name of socialism - is not too keen on the concept.

Second, Democrats by the very nature of our political philosophy believe in government. We believe that government can work and make a difference in people's lives, and we do not believe by and large that an upending of the system is required to make it work, as the word 'revolution' implies.

It is not simply a matter of faith, either. We have evidence on our side. Steady progress, rather than an overthrow of the system, has been our ally. From civil rights to equal rights, from women's vote to domestic violence legislation, we have seen government work to achieve meaningful, far-reaching progress. Much of the social compact we as a party proudly defend - part of which Bernie Sanders has himself used to define democratic socialism - came to exist and was expended by the same means.

We as Democrats far prefer the constructive essence of evolution than the potentially destructive power of revolution. That constructive power to make big changes within the current democratic system has only be reaffirmed by the presidency of Barack Obama.

President Obama has achieved broad reforms - both in depth and in reach - even in the face of unflinching, unprecedented opposition. President Obama has achieved reforms that may well be considered revolutionary without demogaguing about a revolution.

A key reason that President Obama's approval rating among Democrats - and especially among liberals - have remained sky high throughout his presidency is that he personifies our core philosophy about government: that with perseverance, grace and commitment, yes, we can make a real difference in people's lives rather than waiting for a revolution.

This does not mean that we are blind to what President Obama has called "the fierce urgency of now." Precisely because we understand the urgency of the time, we know that change cannot wait around for some revolution to come and make way.

We want to build on what President Obama has achieved. We are not ready to throw it all away and start over. We want to know how to improve the existing system to give a hand up to those who need it, not why everything sucks. We want our candidates for president to devise practical, achievable plans for progress, not delve into politically unfeasible, mathematically challenged promises of utopia.

We are not so keen on revolution because we know what we have built, because we know that what we have built together is worth defending, and because we want a president who will defend and expand upon the progress we are proud of.



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