We All Want to Change the World

Democratic presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt,  shake hands before the start of the Univi
Democratic presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, shake hands before the start of the Univision, Washington Post Democratic presidential debate at Miami-Dade College, Wednesday, March 9, 2016, in Miami, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Anyone who reads the things I write knows I have been critical of Hillary Clinton. I published a piece in 2008 on Huffington Post, titled "Hillary Clinton Doesn't Deserve to Be President," based on her fear mongering "3 a.m." advertisement. I have sniped about her bizarrely dismissive attitude in regard to her email foolishness. I despise the "We must appear strong" posturing that leads any politician to vote to authorize a war that seems obvious to me, and most of the people I know, to be a monstrous error, based on monumental lies, which we can smell from thousands of miles away, while elected officials can't seem to sense the stench. And I'm no fan of Henry Kissinger, or of Goldman Sachs (even though I spent a pleasant hour with Lloyd Blankfein prior to playing him in an HBO film).

But today I feel compelled to aim my ire in a different direction. All of this, "Who are you for?" business is driving me nuts. As if it's imperative to back an individual with a zeal that rules out the possibility of ever embracing another. It's what most reminds me, in Democrats, of Republicans. Because, like today's Republican party, it's foolish. It's thoughtless. It's vestigial.

Who am I for? I'm for whoever can win office, and be effective, and isn't associated with the Republican Party. That's who. The Republican Party could not have made its dangerousness to people, and to the planet, any clearer. (Some still can't see it. I'd say they either don't want to, or, at this point, have to be considered incapable.) And, when I weigh the number of times I've heard someone say they won't ever shift their support from their one chosen Republican alternative, the scale has been tipping significantly toward the Sanders side. The ones who seem least reasonable to me, in terms of protecting us from the worst possible outcome of the election, are the ones supporting the candidate with whom I probably share more values (meaning, Sanders). The ones who seem most devoted to making sure a Democrat gets into office seem to be aligned with the candidate I believe would require closer supervision (meaning, Mrs. Clinton).

Put simply, my suspicion of Bernie Sanders and his supporters stems from their insistence that there is a vast difference between how they would accomplish their ends, and how Hillary Clinton would go about pursuing hers. All this use of the term "revolution" is hogwash, and it's making me crazy. Bernie Sanders is not a revolutionary, and I don't think 99.9% of his followers are, either. It's a pinhead simple exercise to prove it.

Very few people in the United States have any appetite for revolution, or anything like it. Even the ones attracted to the man who's slinging the term around. They're all after incremental change, just like Hillary supporters are, whether they're self-aware enough to know so or not. If mass numbers of people wanted a revolution, then one would be happening. They would have taken to the streets along with Occupy Wall Street, and they would never have left. Not tens of thousands. Millions. They would have replaced each other more quickly than any jail could have held them. It didn't happen. That doesn't mean people don't want change. It means they're not authentically enthusiastic about toppling the very structures of politics and the economy, or of the fallout such a toppling would provoke.

Want more immediate evidence? If people in the U.S. want a revolution, they can have one tomorrow. Band together and take all your money out of the bank, and all of your investment accounts. Take it back from the institutions that have really robbed you blind the better part of this past decade. All of you. All of it. On the same day. If you get enough people to do it (or to try it; most won't succeed), the world as you know it would grind to a halt within hours, and society would shift within a matter of weeks. Banks would shut their doors. Some would quickly collapse. Officials would be forced to erect barricades. The National Guard would be deployed, if individuals, banded together, refused to turn away and go home.

If people were really as revolutionary as the very comfortable people now espousing revolution think of themselves as being, then they'd take to the streets demanding their money -- in spite of the batons and the pepper spray and the very nifty anti-terrorist riot gear every small town now owns. You get the drift? It's. Not. Happening. Going to a Bernie Sanders rally, and cheering when he shouts the word "revolution!" is not a revolution. It's an energetic expression of a laudable attempt to grow a political movement. Forcibly grinding society to a halt until you get what you want, and then living with the consequences (like false teeth, a rebuilt jaw, and the evaporation of your 401k) is revolution. And there aren't 100,000 Americans interested in it.

But let's pretend for a minute. Let's pretend millions upon millions of Americans actually do want a revolution. Let's say they really do want to "tear it all down." The other reason it's not going to happen is because there's no consensus about which revolution to have. Conservatives want one revolution, and their inbred cousins the Tea Partiers want a different one. Liberals want another one still, and Bernie Sanders supporters claim to want a different one, all their own. Furthermore, from the crudely drawn groups I've just described, it's the conservative half that's far closer to revolt than any branch of the liberal tree! It's getting repetitive, but I'll say it again: It's. Not. Happening. Not as in, "It ain't gonna happen," (though it ain't). As in, "It is not happening now, as it has not begun to happen at all." Thirty thousand people showing up for a rally is a really big crowd. But a really big crowd is not a revolution. Not now, not ever.

So, if you can accept the fact that Clinton and Sanders, in spite of real policy differences, do share one goal in common -- that being to gain high elected office in order to effect incremental change -- then the question, for me, becomes simple: Which one, with enough pressure put upon them, is better suited to that task? And, though there's a lot I admire about the Senator from Vermont (who's really from New York), and while there's a lot I find frightening about the Secretary from Washington (who's actually from Chicago), when contemplating calculated political maneuvering within a moribund system, in an increasingly insane world, I don't have a problem contemplating a vote for the Secretary. I'm not yet one hundred percent certain which one I'll pull the lever for in the primary. But I sure as Hell will pull it for Hillary if she's the nominee -- just as I will for Bernie, should he prevail in that pursuit. I'll pull the lever with my tongue, for either one, if I have to. Anything else, to me, is pure lunacy.

Does that mean I endorse Hillary Clinton's every ambition, or trust her every move? Not for a second. But, as opposed to some others, I am willing to elect someone I expect to have to force to represent me appropriately. It means that, above all, I feel the most urgent task is to deny power to every climate change denying, bigotry endorsing (and this includes everyone denying that women earn less money, and/or that masses of black people are still treated like chattel), vote suppressing Republican, and every other Republican that doesn't fit those descriptions. It has evolved into an evil political party, with evil aims, filled with evil practitioners, supported by evil-enablers. (That last group might not actually be evil; they only enable it. So, if you don't think you're evil, I might not just have said you are.) Just because there's no revolution happening, that doesn't mean we're not at war. I'm sorry, but preference for "fiscal conservatism" no longer suffices as explanation for supporting the political party that has, for well over a decade now, been on a religiously regressive rampage (and that insists, as I type, upon its right to preserve an eternally conservative Supreme Court). One party is far more evil than the other, even though the other one is plenty evil itself. There is no comparison.

Second, I will ultimately vote for the Democratic candidate I believe will, when adequately pressured, embarrassed, exposed, humiliated, and otherwise forced to adjust his or her positions to match the will of the people (if "the people" can ever come together and collectively express such a thing), be the more able to implement that will. And, there you have my political philosophy. You elect the official you believe can best be forced to implement the policies you continue to work to force them to put into effect. Because, unless, and until, you do exert that pressure, every minute of every day, they're never going to do anything other than what they want. And I'm talking about all of them. Even the cuddly ones.

Would Bernie require less pressure when it comes to certain issues? Perhaps. Not sane gun control, that's for sure. And there is the reasonable question of whether he'd ever be able to see his proposed policies through to fruition. Would Hillary require more effort, but eventually be more able? The argument can be made. I'd be willing to put forth the effort to continually press her, were I to believe that, when forced, she might have the greater capability.

So, if you want a revolution (and I don't blame you if you do), then you'd better be prepared to take to the streets, and take some goddamn heat. Meaning, a baton to your incisors, followed by a shared, damp, cell, followed by a collapse of the societal functions and comforts you take for granted. Because no one hands over power, or wealth, willingly, or gently. If Barack Obama's presidency has demonstrated anything, it's that the "change" tree doesn't bloom as the result of well-delivered, inspiring messages. It blooms as the result of grinding hard work, against irrational, intransigent opposition. That, and being fed blood and bone fragments. The repeated shootings of African American men by police are the fertilized seedlings of a revolution. Not thirty thousand well intentioned white people cheering in a clean, air-conditioned stadium.

If, on the other hand, you can realize that what you actually want is for things to get somewhat better, in a relatively peaceful fashion, then I suggest you come to terms with voting against the insane people, first and foremost. Then put a fuck-load of pressure on whomever you are lucky enough to get into office, to make sure they take care of the things that matter to you most.

Does that goal seem too grim? To unexalted to make it worth your while to leave the house, and cast a vote for someone you think is too soiled for you to associate yourself with? Does it make you say, "If my candidate doesn't win ... or is ignored too much by the press ... or gets shafted by the super delegate system that's been in place for eons ... then I won't vote at all"? Or, "Then I'll vote for an infantile, imbecilic, brick merchant, because he's not 'one of them'"? Then you will be the reason we get even less, should something worse come to pass.