Banter M Issue 42

In this week's edition of Banter M:

The Rise of the Progressive Propaganda Machine - Bob Cesca takes a hard look at the progressive movement that appears to be mimicking the GOP's propaganda strategy and applying it to furthering their own agenda.

Run, Bernie, Run! - Tommy Christopher argues that Hillary Clinton supporters need to stop asking Bernie Sanders why he is still running, regardless of whether he is likely to win.  The question, argues Tommy "offends everything that is American about me."

Bern Out - Our chief antagonist Chez Pazienza has had enough of Millennial Berners threatening to sabotage the Democratic Party should Clinton win the nomination, and takes it to them firing on all cylinders. 

 

Cenk Uygur: a pro Sanders mouthpiece

Cenk Uygur: a pro Sanders mouthpiece

 

The Rise of the Progressive Propaganda Machine

by Bob Cesca

Beginning in the wake of the politically devastating 1964 presidential election in which Barry Goldwater lost in a landslide to the collective momentum of both Lydon Johnson and his slain predecessor, John F. Kennedy, the conservative movement began a decades-long effort to orchestrate some of the most fact-free propaganda efforts in the history of the United States.

It launched with the backing of the John Birch Society and wealthy financiers like Richard Mellon Scaife and Phyllis Schlafly, who began to pump money into right-wing media, such as the bulk purchasing of conservative nonfiction, while also dumping large amounts of cash into turning millions of white, middle class Americans against the Democratic Party. The exploitation of the Southern Strategy effectively frightened white Southern voters who had traditionally identified as conservative Democrats, sending them running into the embrace of the GOP -- fearing the advancement of civil rights.

With the concurrent rise of AM talk radio following Ronald Reagan's shattering of the Fairness Doctrine, a serious cult-like effort was engaged to deliberately misinform the American people using media-blanketed, well-tested and cleverly marketed slogans that sounded great when spoken, but which also carried little or no weight in terms of substance. 

Fox News Channel came along during the final years of the Clinton administration and, due to the underworld wizardry of Roger Ailes, the brainwashing of millions of Americans grew exponentially. Simultaneously, sloganeers like Frank Luntz invented Orwellian neologisms for heretofore accepted policies -- inheritance taxes became "death taxes," the Democratic Party was referred to pejoratively as the Democrat Party to strip it of any relationship to democracy, "suicide bombers" became "homicide bombers" (suicide was seen as endowing terrorists with martyrdom and self-sacrifice), and so forth. 

In fact, during the 1996 presidential election season, Newt Gingrich circulated a memo to Republican leadership, titled "Language: A Key Mechanism of Control," outlining a series of proven-effective words to use against the Democrats. Gingrich noted, "Language is ... a key mechanism of control used by a majority party." See if you recognize any.

decay… failure (fail)… collapse(ing)… deeper… crisis… urgent(cy)… destructive… destroy… sick… pathetic… lie… liberal… they/them… unionized bureaucracy… “compassion” is not enough… betray… consequences… limit(s)… shallow… traitors… sensationalists…

endanger… coercion… hypocrisy… radical… threaten… devour… waste… corruption… incompetent… permissive attitudes… destructive… impose… self-serving… greed… ideological… insecure… anti-(issue): flag, family, child, jobs… pessimistic… excuses… intolerant…

stagnation… welfare… corrupt… selfish… insensitive… status quo… mandate(s)… taxes… spend(ing)… shame… disgrace… punish (poor…)… bizarre… cynicism… cheat… steal… abuse of power… machine… bosses… obsolete… criminal rights… red tape… patronage

This is weaponized propaganda at its finest. Where the GOP often failed on substance, it succeeded on marketing.

The entire idea was to tenaciously market fiction to American voters under the thin veil of being "fair and balanced" or, in the language of the post-9/11 world, "exceptional." This is how George W. Bush ultimately got elected: by pushing falsehoods about his folksiness and cowboy swagger, even though he was the wealthy son of a patrician and career D.C. insider. After 9/11, the Republicans successfully co-opted and branded Christianity, "patriotism" and the American flag as its own symbolism, further embellishing the lies by tugging at the heart-strings and xenophobic fears of the people.

What we know is that GOP economic policies don't work. We know that the GOP's adverturism and liberal interventionism doesn't work. We know that the GOP's social platform is regressive and unconstitutional. We know that the GOP's bench of A-listers is as rubbery and weak as Sarah Palin's skull. In 2016, the GOP is being propped up by its marketing ability, most notably among the conservative entertainment complex, as well as the passive gladhanding of the traditional news media. There's really nothing else.

Too bad the progressive movement appears to be headed in the same direction -- specifically, it's too bad because progressive policies actually work and there's no need to play the GOP's game. And yet, over the last 16 years, more notably in the last eight, there's an effort brewing among certain circles on the left to adapt the GOP's propaganda strategy and apply it to furthering the progressive agenda.

Originally discussed in a private Google Group known as the JournoList, organized by Ezra Klein and other popular first-generation liberal bloggers, not to mention various players in the so-called "professional left," the idea was simple: fight back against the conservative movement and promote liberal policies. Innocently enough, the JournoList generated press for progressive causes and was, in and of itself, nothing too out of the ordinary. 

Several years later, however, when Edward Snowden leaked thousands of classified documents to Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald and Barton Gellman, those of us here at The Daily Banter, as well as other writers like Kurt Eichenwald, Karoli Kuns and Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs, almost immediately recognized the fiction that was being peddled. Specifically, headlines and ledes were easily debunkable, often using information within the various Snowden articles themselves. 

Stunts and melodrama followed in the form of obviously staged events like The Guardian's alleged GCHQ computer smash-up story in August, 2013, as well as a pro-Snowden author's hilariously ludicrous bombshell story about how the NSA was clandestinely deleting his Snowden book while he was typing it. A conspiratorial paranoia began to emerge within the progressive movement, and the newly inaugurated propaganda effort reflected it.

In the last several months, similar players who've spent the last eight years bashing President Obama from his left flank, and who lionized Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald, have turned their attention to circulating obvious propaganda in support of progressive hero Bernie Sanders -- even though he really doesn't need any fictitious cheerleading to promote his agenda and is more than capable of articulating his agenda just fine on his own. 

There's Mark Provost's USUncut.com, with its massive Facebook reach built upon both-parties-are-the-same contrarianism and Snowden true-believers. Among a wide variety of screamer headlines in support of Bernie -- each one less driven by facts than the next -- Provost went so far as to publish a clearly inaccurate analysis of a national Reuters poll. It turns out, Provost cherrypicked the parameters of an interactive polling widget to make it appear as if Sanders was leading Clinton nationally.

There's newbie H.A. Goodman with his ridiculously superlative headlines, leading some to refer to him as the "Baghdad Bob" of the Sanders coalition. Once a Rand Paul supporter, Goodman's articles are unmitigated propaganda efforts to embellish Sanders' chances in the Democratic nomination process. Goodman is the Dean Chambers of 2016 -- the Unskewed Polls debunking artist who insisted all of the polls showing Obama defeating Romney in 2012 were obviously false. Here are some of Goodman's latest headlines:

The Case for Writing-In Bernie Sanders If Hillary Clinton Is the Democratic Nominee

Only Bernie Sanders Can Defeat Donald Trump on November 8, 2016

Bernie Sanders Is the Only Democratic Candidate Capable of Winning the White House

Goodman is like the Weekly World News of political bullshit. Everything he writes defies substance, precedent and statistical facts.

There's Cenk Uygur and his The Young Turks podcast. Cenk has been dealing with half-truths and bogus claims for several years now, but he's reached new depths in the past several months, turning his show into a pro-Bernie machine, pumping out nonsense in defiance of election results and political trends. For instance, Cenk published an article for The Huffington Post titled, "Why Bernie Sanders Won Super Tuesday," knowing full well that Sanders didn't come close to winning Super Tuesday. He also predicted all kinds of grand successes to come for Sanders, even though Nate Silver's nearly foolproof polling methodology showed the opposite. And when Cenk accurately cited polls showing Sanders defeating Donald Trump by larger margins than Hillary defeating Trump, Cenk, in spite of the fact that he's been doing this long enough to know better, failed to inform his audience that general election polling in March is notoriously shaky and that Sanders has yet to face the same level of GOP vetting that's been dished out against Hillary Clinton since 1992.

Politifact:

On the numbers, Sanders is right. He runs stronger against Trump than Clinton in six of the seven national head-to-head polls since Jan. 1. However, polling experts say such results should be taken with a grain of salt, since polls taken well before the start of the general-election contest have historically not been very accurate predictors of the November results.  

There's an overall sense of pure fiction running through the pro-Sanders reporting from these and other influential progressives, and it's inextricably linked to an emerging propaganda campaign on the left. In the near term, it's obviously driven by the goal of capitalizing on Bernie's internet buzz. In the long term, who knows what damage it'll incur. We'll circle back to that. 

Meanwhile, Uygur, Goodman and others are presenting strictly what Bernie supporters want to read, rather than what they ought to be reading. 

This is how bubbles are formed. See also Fox News.

From there, the fiction spreads virally through the efforts of countless pro-Bernie Facebook groups, effectively misinforming Bernie people about the prospects of their candidate and providing their fix for the day. The consequences are rather dire. Goodman and the rest are pumping Bernie people with artificially inflated hope using information that makes it seem as if Bernie ought to be winning by large margins, even though he's not. The fact that he's not, even in the face of false electoral predictors like crowd sizes, will only augment anti-establishment resentment and the tendency to not vote for Hillary Clinton in the general election. 

The disconnect with what's being said versus what's actually happening is also breeding conspiracy theories, including one that claims Hillary and the DNC have sabotaged polling places and even disenfranchised Bernie voters, despite zero evidence to prove it. At worse, the propaganda campaign has led Bernie supporters to ditto anti-Hillary GOP non-scandal scandals. At the same time, Bernie supporters have inadvertently repeated GOP frames, as evidenced by a petition posted at WhiteHouse.gov which furthers accusations of nonexistent voter fraud.

So, while the GOP's propaganda machine has led to the rise of the Tea Party and candidates like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, the progressive propaganda machine is leading to pervasive misinformation campaigns and inchoate rage on the left as well. The long-term damage remains to be seen, but in the near term, it's helping to dull the notion that the Democratic Party is the reality-based faction, grounded in objective fact and grownup behavior. And therefore, any effort to inject misinformation into the progressive movement by the alleged progressives themselves is only serving to damage the movement among outsiders who are this close to being convinced of the left's adulthood and rationality.

Next: Run, Bernie, Run! - by Tommy Christopher

Run, Bernie, Run!

by Tommy Christopher

When the 2016 election season first began, way back in the Spring of 2015, I pushed back hard against the mainstream media spin that a serious primary challenge to Hillary Clinton would somehow be a good thing for Hillary, and for the Democrats. That was not to say that folks like Martin O'Malley and Bernie Sanders should not have run, but rather that the particular notion of it being helpful to the Democrats' chances was garbage.

Had I known then what I know now, I would have judged things differently, but who could have foreseen the Death Star candidacy of Donald Trump? The amount of media attention he drew to the Republican race blotted out the sun, and if not for the drama created by the Clinton vs. Sanders race, and even by Martin O'Malley in the mix at the beginning, the American people would have seen little, if any, of the Democrats and their ideas for moving this country forward.

Almost since he started, people have been calling for Bernie Sanders to drop out and clear the way for Hillary Clinton, which is something I have never agreed with, but now that Hillary has taken a 1,223-920 lead in pledged delegates to go with her 467-26 lead in Superdelegates, the volume of those calls is sure to rise.

This week, in fact, one such blaring clarion call was emitted from an icon of the progressive blogosphere, DailyKos founder Markos Moulitsas. In a widely-published op-ed, Moulitsas asks "Is it game over for Sanders?"

The obvious answer to that question is "yeah, probably," but the point of the piece wasn't just whether or not Sanders still has a chance to win, but whether he should even continue to try. Moulitsas writes:

(W)hile there is still a mathematical path to victory for Sanders, it’s not a realistic one. Clinton never trailed Barack Obama by anything more than around 150 delegates at any point during the 2008 primaries. And that race wasn’t particularly close.

So the Sanders campaign is left to make dangerous suppositions about its path to victory. “We acknowledge it’s a difficult route; we acknowledge it’s a substantial lead, but we do not believe it’s set in stone,” Sanders adviser Tad Devine said after Sanders’s 0-5 performance last Tuesday. “The factors superdelegates will take into consideration include who’s won more pledged delegates ... but also who’s gotten stronger, not weaker, over the course of primaries, and who matches up best against Donald Trump or whoever the Republican nominee is.”

In short, the Sanders campaign is now making the same argument it was decrying just a few months ago — that Democratic superdelegates should subvert the choice of the Democratic electorate to hand the nomination to the primary loser. It was an absurd argument when Clinton made it in 2008, and it’s no less absurd today. And if anyone was a beneficiary of such usurpation of the will of the voters, it certainly wouldn’t be an outsider like Sanders.

Sanders is obviously free to stay in the race so long as his supporters keep funding his efforts. But no one should get angry when the rest of the party starts focusing on the Trump threat. 

For the most part, Moulitsas is correct about the idea of the Democrats handing Sanders the nomination via Supers if Hillary leads in pledged delegates, but there's always the extremely remote possibility that something unforeseen happens that fatally wounds Hillary's candidacy. It's also possible, but again unlikely, that something causes Hillary's support to completely collapse, and actually allows Sanders to overtake her in pledged delegates. Think "Donald Trump sex tape"  or something.

More to the point, though, the Sanders campaign has to say something when they're asked "Why are you still here?" For some reason, they don't think to respond "Why are you asking me that?"

The very question offends everything that is American about me. The right to participate in our democracy, to petition our fellow citizens for their votes, is so basic to what we stand for that to question it runs contrary to the ideals and principles to which this country aspires, and often falls short of. You don't run out onto a baseball field in the fifth inning and ask the team that's losing why they're still bothering.

That's why I've never understood liberals who got mad at Ralph Nader for running in 2000, and for not dropping out to clear the decks for Al Gore. I wasn't down for Nader, but it never made sense to me that Democrats didn't instead ask why Al Gore decided to run away from Bill Clinton. That race should not have been that close. If we had learned that lesson, then John Kerry might not have lost in 2004 running away from being a Democrat, and the Democrats might not have lost the last two midterms.

There are practical reasons for Bernie Sanders to stay in the race, as well. It is as true now as it was last week that the Republicans are sucking up massive amounts of air in the media, so much so that the average American might start to get the completely wrong idea that John Kasich is kind of a good guy, or worse yet, that maybe Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan parachuting in at the convention might be a good idea. 

Hillary Clinton can do campaign events and issue statements all she wants, but there's nothing like a televised debate or a town hall meeting to compete with the don from the other side. Instead of having "the rest of the party focus on the Trump threat," isn't it better to have the country watching Hillary and Bernie focus on the Trump threat?

It's true that the debates have also steered both Democratic candidates in unfortunate directions, with Hillary absurdly suggesting that Bernie Sanders will undermine access to health care and Bernie stubbornly defending gun manufacturers, to name a few, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. 

The Democratic primary race has also acted as something of a heat shield for both Hillary and Bernie. As has been pointed out ad nauseam, one of the key reasons Bernie Sanders polls so well against Trump and Cruz is that he hasn't had to face the kind of blistering opposition research and subsequent attacks that he would in a general election. 

To a lesser extent, the same is true of Hillary, because even though she has been gone over more thoroughly than a corpse by maggots, most of the big guns from her past and present have been kept in the holster thus far. 

The longer it takes to completely settle the Democratic race, the longer their eventual nominee can avoid that full-frontal assault. If Bernie drops out today, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump will be double-teaming Hillary like the Malachi Brothers by this evening.

There's more to this than practicality, though. Maybe it's been so long since there was a Democratic presidential primary that I'd forgotten how unhinged liberals can be within their own ranks. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are figures whom I have admired, respected, and maintained great affection for since farther back than I care to admit, but to hear their supporters/opponents tell it, they're each Satan incarnate. 

I have long thought that Hillary Clinton was the better candidate, and will be the better nominee, but despite the flaws and weaknesses of Bernie Sanders' candidacy, you'd have to close your eyes and ears pretty tightly to miss the staggering success it has enjoyed. The mainstream media and Republicans would like you to believe that that says something about Hillary Clinton, but I think we all know that the groundswell of support that Bernie has enjoyed, which has taken him from a polling blip to a real dogfight for the nomination, carries a different message.

Bernie's candidacy has mostly been about one thing, the influence of millionaires and billionaires on our politics, but he has also delivered strong cases for universal health care and healthy skepticism about trade deals, and even if his positions were overly narrow or hopelessly impractical, they are a warning shot to a Democratic Party whose opening bids are often only a few clicks on the dial from the Republicans.

In 2008, there eventually arose a similar clamor for Hillary Clinton to drop out of the race, one which she didn't always handle very well. We all remember her infamous remark about Bobby Kennedy's assassination, don't we?

But even though that long, bitter campaign convinced me that Barack Obama was the better candidate, and even though the mechanics of Hillary hanging around probably cost her a lot of goodwill with a lot of voters, I'm still glad she did it.

I wasn't so glad at the time, because the longer her campaign went on back then, the worse she made herself look with things like the RFK remark, but reading Moulitsas' column put me in mind of one of Hillary's great moments during that campaign, one which has gained luster as the rancor of that campaign has faded. It was her June concession speech, particularly this section:

To those who are disappointed that we couldn't go all of the way, especially the young people who put so much into this campaign, it would break my heart if, in falling short of my goal, I in any way discouraged any of you from pursuing yours.

Always aim high, work hard and care deeply about what you believe in. And, when you stumble, keep faith. And, when you're knocked down, get right back up and never listen to anyone who says you can't or shouldn't go on.

As we gather here today in this historic, magnificent building, the 50th woman to leave this Earth is orbiting overhead. If we can blast 50 women into space, we will someday launch a woman into the White House.

Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it, and the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time.

Even with the bitter aftertaste of that campaign still fresh, that was powerful, and it solidified the most inspiring part of Hillary Clinton's candidacy. Whatever you thought of the bare-knuckled brawl that was the 2008 Democratic primary, it wasn't tea and cookies, it was a pitched struggle between equals. Our sisters and daughters could look at that and see hope and progress.

Now, imagine Hillary had dropped out in March, the way Sanders is being asked to now. Does "six million cracks" in the glass ceiling have the same inspiring ring to it? Would that moment have lingered had it occurred so prematurely?

What Bernie Sanders has done is inspiring in a different way, but no less deserving of our admiration and respect. Hillary Clinton will probably be the Democratic nominee, but until then, Bernie Sanders should finish what he started, and put as many cracks as he can in the green ceiling of money in politics.

Next: Confessions of a Bern Out - by Chez Pazienza

Confessions of a Bern Out

by Chez Pazienza

I have two speeds when it comes to my day-to-day writing at The Daily Banter. I'm generally either straightforward and factual to the best of my ability, injecting my overall opinion, sure, but backing it up with evidence and maintaining a "serious" demeanor -- or I'm a ranting, profane asshole. (There's a third speed that people used to see a lot of back when I was writing full-time at Deus Ex Malcontent, that being emotional and passionate, but given that I don't much discuss my personal trials and triumphs anymore that muscle hasn't been exercised in a while.) When the subject demands to be taken seriously and when I want to make sure my thoughts on it are taken seriously, I handle it with care; when the subject cries out for sheer, visceral rage or pitiless mockery, well, I can do that too. I enjoy the hell out of doing that, as a matter of fact. 

With this in mind, it's not surprising that so far throughout the 2016 presidential campaign I've assumed a relatively thoughtful tone when talking about the Democrats while bringing out the weaponized snark for any and all discussions involving the Republicans. This isn't to say that the rise of Donald Trump isn't a threat to be taken very seriously -- and I've acknowledged as much, particularly recently -- but since the very beginning the GOP presidential hopefuls have been a rogues gallery, a confederacy of dunces, and as the pack has been whittled down to just three, only one remains an at least boilerplate conservative politician (and barring an establishment coup, he predictably doesn't stand a chance). The danger these people pose being the "best of the best" from one of two powerful political parties in this country needs to be acknowledged, but at no point should any of them be taken seriously as presidential material. Least of all Trump.

There's something that needs to be said, though, and given that we're all close friends here at Banter M, as it's a subscription service, this is probably the right place to say it. Over the past few months, several times, I've used my regular column at Banter to express and expound upon my belief that Bernie Sanders won't be elected President of the United States in 2016, that he won't even win the Democratic nomination. I've listed all the reasons for this so I won't go over them again and as the primaries have advanced, despite Sanders doing better than just about anyone imagined, my predictions have been proven largely correct. As it stands right now, barring a miracle, Sanders just isn't going to catch up to Hillary Clinton. She has too big a lead, the superdelegates won't abandon her because Sanders isn't an actual Democrat and doesn't care about the party, and Sanders would have to win by too large a margin in every state going forward for him to topple her. The math is pretty clear. It's still possible for Sanders to win, but it's incredibly unlikely.

But, as expected, Bernie Sanders's army of rabid, mostly millennial fanatics don't give a shit about any of that. As far as they're concerned, Sanders's political revolution -- the revolution that never actually existed in the first place -- is still going full-steam-ahead. Show them the numbers and they come back with rehearsed shibboleths or dumb-ass wordplay like changing Hillary Clinton's name to "$hillary" or "HilLIARy." Ask them for one, just one article from a credible news source -- one not actively pulling for Sanders; obviously not the delusional hacks at USUncut -- that objectively shows a legitimate path to victory for Bernie Sanders and they equivocate and engage in misdirection, accusing you of not having your facts straight. Explain to them the difficulty Sanders faces in the coming weeks and the larger difficulty he would have trying to get his pie-in-the-sky agenda through an obstructionist Congress if he did win and they, every single time, demand to know how Clinton would get her agenda through. They have no answers or evidence, only absolute certitude. Arguing with them is like arguing with a concrete wall.

And that's why, I kind of have to admit it at this point and I know I'm not alone in feeling this way: I cannot fucking wait for Sanders to officially get his ass handed to him. Mathematically he pretty much already has, but it takes more than mere math to convince Sanders's die-hards. So I await that moment when it finally becomes absolutely clear that the messiah these little assholes have formed a cult around isn't going to win. They're gonna cry. They're gonna scream. They're gonna gnash their teeth and throw a tantrum you can see from space. They're probably gonna protest the Democratic National Convention. But in the end it'll all be for nothing. And after everything sane, reasonable people have had to endure from them for months upon end -- people who don't see Clinton as evil incarnate or who simply accept political reality -- I will smile broadly and enjoy every single minute of their pain and outrage. Because, fuck these people. And at this point, fuck Bernie Sanders too. 

I've been writing about politics for nearly ten years now and before that I worked in television news going back a quarter-century and I've never seen anything remotely like this during a campaign, particularly a Democratic campaign. The Democrats are supposed to be the reasonable ones, the intellectuals who don't willfully dismiss facts they don't agree with. That's traditionally -- and damn sure recently -- been the territory occupied by solely Republicans. Democrats are supposed to be smart. Maybe what's happened, though, is that Bernie Sanders's identity as a "democratic socialist" independent has dragged some of the most mindless radicals from the far-left into Democratic politics to mix with idiot college kids and 20-somethings who have no idea how politics in this country actually work and are simply used to getting everything they want. 

These are the people, one would imagine, who can't figure out why Sanders isn't winning by a mile since every single person they know within their little fucking social media bubbles loves him. These are the people who then assume corruption on the part of Hillary Clinton and the DNC as the reason why their beloved #Bernie isn't currently dominating the world. The kids who worship Sanders can't seem to fathom that there are millions of other people out there who aren't them -- adults who have adult concerns and who've become inured to big campaign promises that simply can't be kept given the realities of a divided government -- who see Hillary Clinton's pragmatism and experience as being better for the country than Sanders's utopian ideals and vows that a political revolution will be the panacea that will make everything possible. Vote for Bernie and all your wildest dreams will come true.

Since I began writing about Bernie Sanders and since he became a real player in the 2016 campaign, I've lost I don't know how many friends on social media. Some have dropped me, including someone I respected greatly and still do, and some I've had to either unfollow because I got tired of the constant proselytizing or had to drop altogether. I've seen Facebook threads taken captive by all-out wars of words between friends, all of whom were ostensibly Democrats, and I've obviously seen and written about the colossally irresponsible "Bernie or Bust" movement, people who claim they won't vote if Sanders doesn't get the nomination or will write-in Sanders's name, thereby helping to hand the election and the country to the Republicans. Potentially, to Donald fucking Trump. It may be the height of self-sabotage, but that's how it is: Bernie Sanders's asshole acolytes engaging in hostage politics, all in the name of the goddamn revolution that they can't accept just hasn't happened, given that Hillary Clinton has more of the popular vote and more delegates to her name thus far and will almost certainly continue to. 

While I went into this campaign liking and respecting Bernie Sanders -- I once sat next to him on a flight from Vermont to D.C. and had a very nice conversation with him -- as time has gone on I can't help but blame him for this lunacy. First of all, the more he offers no plan for how he's going to get a radical agenda through an obstructionist Congress other than to say it'll be the result of a "political revolution," the less seriously I take him. What he's proposing, while in many ways admirable, would be an impossible sell to an even partially Republican Congress and unlike Clinton, Sanders is no pragmatist: he demands all or nothing. With that in mind, he needs a solid plan to get what he wants -- and sorry, but "the people want a revolution!" may sound good but it's not a plan and he'd be laughed out of Congress trying to use it as one. Jesus, Barack Obama has made hugely important changes to the country but they've still been relatively incremental ones and he's run into a congressional brick wall every single time to the point where the Senate is now refusing to consider his Supreme Court nominee just because it's his fucking nominee.  

Bernie Sanders entertains fanciful notions of how he'll radically transform the country and his starstruck true believers unquestioningly hang on his every word, turning a presidential campaign into a cult of personality. Dare to debate them, wonder aloud how he'll be able to accomplish his goals or in any way resist "feeling the Bern" and you're immediately labeled some kind of heretic. Bring up Hillary Clinton's liberal bona fides and, look out, because you're in for a barrage of meaningless buzzwords: shill, corporatist, establishment, criminal -- basically utter bullshit from people who, when pressed, make it obvious they have no fucking clue what they're talking about. As much as I should be terrified of the prospect of President Donald Trump -- and I am, which is why I push back hard against anyone stupid and irresponsible enough to say that he or she is willing to risk putting the country in his hands as an object lesson for not voting for Sanders -- I have no choice but to also concern myself with these political nihilists, conspiracy theorists and dead-enders who you know won't go quietly, even if the white-haired guy whose image is cutely emblazoned on their on their t-shirts doesn't win.  

There's already been talk that if Bernie Sanders doesn't get the nomination, the call will go out to #ShutItDown, meaning that the Democratic convention will be protested and picketed by a thousand idiot millennials angry that for the first time in their lives they weren't given what they want. In other words, this thing won't be over even when it's technically over. I really hope that's not true, because a familiar refrain that comes off of my keyboard and out of my mouth these days is the same thing I've heard from a lot of people like myself who follow Democratic politics closely: Jesus, I just want it over already. I don't want a divided party because a divided party is good for Donald Trump. I don't want an intramural fight to the bitter end. I want this over. 

Bernie Sanders's revolution-that-almost-was, even as an idea, has done some good in terms of pulling the Democrats to at least partially embrace ideas that they always should've been at least willing to take a shot at. But the longer it goes on the more damage it's going to potentially do to the Democrats in the general election. And the more insufferable, shrill and unyielding it's loudest voices will be, threatening to turn the Democrats -- the adults in the room -- into nothing more than the flip-side of the crazy coin from the Republicans. And we can't have that. We cannot have that. This shit really can't end soon enough.