Bernie Would’ve Won… And He Wouldn’t Have Been Much Better

You heard me. In an alternate universe where America has free and fair elections, Bernie Sanders would have crushed Donald Trump. He then would have gone on to oversee an administration which continues essentially the same bloodthirsty neoconservative foreign policies abroad and the same neoliberal domestic policies at home that Trump is continuing today, as did Obama before him, as did Bush before him.

Yeah, yeah, of course Sanders wouldn’t be making bumbling equivocations about white nationalism on national television, embarrassing the country on Twitter or pulling out of the essentially worthless Paris Agreement. He would have allowed Americans to go on pretending that they were doing something about the looming climate crisis and ignoring their country’s massive, gaping racial wound. Yay.

More importantly, Sanders would have used his presidential platform to continue calling for economic justice, essentially advocating the same things he’s advocating now but with a bigger voice. This would have gone a lot further toward advancing real change in America than his actual governmental authority and sped up the nation’s movement toward revolution against the oligarchy, but this agenda too would have been shut down at every turn. In a system where money equals political power, a ruling class necessarily emerges which must necessarily work toward keeping the public poor in order to continue its rule, since power is relative. The ruling class would have continued shutting down all movement toward universal healthcare, a living wage and income equality because their rule depends upon it.

And that’s it, really. That’s the extent to which Sanders would have differed as a US President from the current chimp in charge. He would have been politically impotent toward facilitating real change, but would have used the bully pulpit to fan the flames of a real revolution. This is the only reason the plutocrats pushed to sabotage his election. They were never afraid of Bernie, they were afraid of the people. They were afraid of you.

2017 has shown us that Sanders is more than willing to toe the line for the US war machine on everything from Syria to North Korea to Russia and the potentially world war-inducing Russian sanctions. There is no reason to believe that any of this would be different had he been elected Commander-in-Chief; if anything he’d experience more deep state pressures in such a situation, not less. Like Obama and Trump he could be expected to present somewhat more inertia to the most insane agendas of the war machine than Hillary Clinton would have (arming Ukraine and a no-fly zone in Syria for example), but the civilian-slaughtering military interventionism would’ve marched along unabated from Obama’s administration to his.

Sanders’ lockstep capitulation to the war machine’s agendas combined with the oligarchy’s willful sabotage of any movement toward economic justice means that if Sanders’ nomination hadn’t been stolen by the DNC he would have surely trounced his reality TV star opponent in a fair election, but America would not likely be that much better off than it is now. In some ways it might even be worse, because the political left might have gone back to sleep expecting Sanders to handle their problems just like they did with Obama.

This is a hard pill to swallow, but we are doomed if we do not. As long as the left remains locked in the delusion that they’re going to be able to elect their way out of their prison, America’s unelected power establishment will be able to keep stringing them along until they either destroy the ecosystem, get us all killed in a nuclear holocaust, or succeed in nailing down our consciousness into homogenized conformity via corporate propaganda and corporate censorship. The incremental vote-based solutions that Sanders has been stumping for cannot succeed in a system that is fully owned and operated by a plutocracy with an existential interest in maintaining economic injustice.

Yes, Bernie would have won. We were right about that, and we still are right about that. Now it’s time to let him go. It was never about Bernie. Again: the oligarchs were never afraid of Bernie, they were afraid of you. They knew they’d have no trouble controlling one old man who’s been in the system for years; they weren’t worried about him. They were worried about what would happen if the American people suddenly got a taste of their own power and began pushing en masse for a real revolution.

It will make little difference who is president as long as America is a corporatist oligarchy whose real leaders are not answerable to elected power. As long as they’re able to keep trolling you into relying upon the electoral system they own and operate to effect change, they’ve got you. As long as they’re able to keep duping you into playing along with the narratives they promulgate in the media they own and operate, they’ll win. Keep attacking their lies as loudly and aggressively as possible and start waking mainstream America up to who the real enemy is.

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I write about the end of illusions.

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Caitlin Johnstone

Caitlin Johnstone

I write about the end of illusions.

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