Wednesday, May 18, 2016


First, be it said that I have no disagreement with Bernie Sanders when it comes to his policy positions. Well, maybe a little. I find it hard to square the notion of free college education for all, a wonderful ideal, with the realities of a national budget. And so on. (Health care--that's another matter. Medicare for all is a given, so far as I'm concerned.) The not inconsequential matter of practicality aside, my disagreements with his policies are small.

But I'm losing respect for Bernie Sanders. His righteous anger seems to be morphing into self-righteousness these days--not a pleasing quality. And his--understandably--ecstatic reception amongst the young, liberal and idealistic seems to have led him into a demagoguery that is alien to everything he purports to stand for. He is driving up the level of anger to what might prove to be a point of no return. He is doing nothing to moderate the anger of those of his followers whose passion now leads them to dismiss anything other than the full embrace of their every ideal.

If Bernie's fans are allowed, even encouraged to insist that anything other than Bernie's enthusiastic nomination by the Democratic Party is a betrayal of everything they believe in and to blind themselves, willfully, to the ample common ground he shares with the other Democratic candidate, I fear for the outcome of the November. election. Hillary Clinton has enough to withstand from the right, by way of vicious and scurrilous attacks; if the same attacks come from the left--and with the same uncompromising and dismissive rage--she will prove vulnerable indeed. And a loss of the White House to Republicans would have historical implications I'd not wish to contemplate.

It's time for Bernie to make every effort to moderate the growing anger, rather than to stoke it, as he appears now to be doing. He's absolutely right to pursue his candidacy as far as he can take it. We owe him greatly for a contribution that is beyond significant, and may yet serve to change the face of American politics. Bravo. That's needed. What's not needed is the misdirection of passionate belief into potentially destructive action.

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