False Narratives: It's not just for NeoLibs, anymore....

In the aftermath of American Voters rejecting the False Narrative of "Madame President", which had been spun by MSM, the DNC, and Neolib Establishment for several years now, I think it worth mentioning that a danger exists for the Progressive Movement to fall victim to the very same dynamic.

Because while it would have been great to witness, post-Election, a ‘coming clean’ or ‘circling of wagons’ from Progressives, what we are witnessing instead is something far less promising (albeit America is still in its Shock stage, trying mightily to express everything from rage to Shaudenfreude and doing so in fits and starts).

But as Bernie Sanders suddenly steps back into a spotlight, a False Narrative is developing which is really no less dangerous and disempowering than the failed one which the Clinton-Obama Neolib Machine tried to pull off:

Using the conduit of a Rehabbed, cleaned-up Dem Party…Bernie is BACK, and shall lead us all into battle for Real Change, the Colonel of the Resistance.

Before the Left, or even Center (if there still is a Center) accepts this premise, I think some explainin' of things is necessary. However, many minions seem to be in quite the forgiving mood, and care not for clearing the air; but rather are more than ready to Forgive and Follow.

But consider for a moment: "our" Bernie (as well as the so-called Progressive punditry) has done some deeds which require a serious conversation, rather than just the usual American “that’s the Past - Time to Move Forward” Placebo.

We witnessed a candidate who called the masses to Revolution ...exposed Americans to the hypocrisy and almost Big Brother-esque control which the Corporate Plutocracy has over America... then, at the key moment when the Revolution he had created needed the necessary move; at the moment when the Establishment was caught unprepared for the prospect of People Power….that candidate capitulated entirely to that Establishment.

Then repeated this thru the Fall.

So, the Movement was left without its leader. The Greens tried to fill that slot, but Americans (like all humans, perhaps) are very susceptible to the Cult of Personality…and most Progressives were unable/unwilling to disconnect Purpose from Person. As a result, most acquiesced to the Lesser Evil Gun to the Head.

But in order to "bring back the ‘good ol’ days" of pre-Unity Rally 2016, Progressives must buy into the False Narrative.

(But perhaps Dorothy really can't go back to Kansas anymore).

The Narrative:

DNC was soooo mean to Bernie, yes ! - but what ELSE could he DO other than endorse ? He was a victim, and thank goodness he has come thru it intact and can now pick up the flag and lead the charge again. Bernie has always told the truth, he remained a Man of his Word; there is NO reason to be critical of him now - there is NO reason not to trust him now. He has nothing to explain.

It’s a beautiful narrative - it contains all that is Good: Fatih, forgiveness, confidence, commitment, hope.

But numerous Progressives have a problem with this narrative, myself included.

The cornerstone of it (that Bernie has always been honest and done exactly what he always said he would) is contradicted by at least two rather Battleship-sized facts:

1) He promised a contested convention , and...

2) he repeatedly insisted he was in it to win it.

We know what happened to 1).

2) was something supporters were willing to believe despite signs to the contrary all during the campaign. Therefore we rationalized the entire “forget the damn e-mails” thing as Bernie taking the High Road. We rationalized his silence on the obvious vote rigging, his campaigns complete unwillingness to request a bona-fide recount in any state - by telling ourselves “he doesn’t wanna rock the Dem boat, as he still has a chance for the Nom, etc”.
He made little of the NV Convention fiasco when he should have blown the MSM misrepresentation of violence out of the water and stood up for his state delegates there, in no uncertain terms.

The experience of followers witnessing the (ostensible) Leader of the Revolution doing nothing whatsoever to defend his own supporters from the fact that their votes had been stolen, flipped, or simply tossed in the shredder….or that state Dem or Election rules were changed or ignored in order to disempower his supporters, in state after state….was always rationalized with a wink-'n'-nod: “pssst…he’s playing Chess”.

Making the argument that your candidate was "In it to Win It".... in light of the revelation that he had made a specific 'non-aggression' agreement with his opponent's camp...ain't that strong an argument.

What fighter enters a match agreeing to have one hand tied behind his back ?
Against an opponent who surely is already equipped with weighted gloves ?

The much more likely explanation is, in fact: Bernie's campaign never really intended to Win It. Their 'place' was to excite the traditional Dem base and draw/register more voters to the Party.

"He is a man of his word", “he made agreements and he stuck to them": again, good, moral explanations. However, is it not fair to argue that perhaps the events which unfolded throughout the '16 Primary…might trump some of those agreements and moral contracts ?

Is it arguable to say that the assurance that he would support the Dem Nominee might be reasonably challenged by the fact that said Nominee stole the Nomination from him ?

Is it arguable to say that any non-aggression pact might be rendered MOOT by the revelation that the DNC installed moles into the Bernie camp ? By the confirmation that DNC colluded with MSM to deny his campaign exposure? Or by the fact that Comey’s findings indeed did illustrate illegality, pathological lying, and gross negligence ?

Is it arguable that such ‘agreements’ or ‘pacts’ might be eclipsed by the fact that as the campaign wore on, it became more and more apparent that Clinton had only disdain for the Progressive Agenda and its supporters (whom she never failed to ‘dis given the opportunity) ?

In a nutshell, every leak, every election day ‘irregularity’, every canceled exit poll, every exposed corporate-lobbyist superdelegate, every statement from the FBI…made Shillary a far, far weaker and more reprehensible candidate than anyone might have imagined in January of '16.

Now, was Bernie truly “powerless” to do anything other than endorse ? It has already been revealed a number of times that the pretenses presented by many Berners post-“Unity Rally” (i.e. - by DNC rules, he HAD to endorse or be stripped of candidcacy or delegates - one or the other depending upon which version someone was spinning) had no basis in any written DNC rule.
Because, of course, there was no such rule. (Ask Gary Hart. Or were he alive today, Teddy Kennedy).

So the notion of Bernie having ZERO leverage (I would posit that 60% of the eligible voting population - Dem, green, Indies, and Reps - represented just a wee bit of leverage, myself) and ZERO alternatives other than his robust endorsement of a candidate who’s history and agenda was antithetical to his own….is more an example of the Classic Democratic trait of "Learned Helplessness” than it is one of "All Options Exhausted".

So..we find ourselves, post-election, in an interesting situation: HAD Progressives listened to Bernie (and Shaun King, Thom Hartmann, Noam Chomsky, Robert Reich, Josh Fox, Ben Jealous, etc - all supposed ‘rocks' of the Progressive Movement)…we would find ourselves under a NeoLib Presidency where the remnants of the Progressive Agenda would continue to be diluted, divided-and ultimately snuffed out in short order. Just as Bernie’s career would be gently and politely put out to permanent pasture (following in the path of many Prog Dems before him).

So, the irony whuich is most definitely NOT lost on many: a Trump Victory has actually SAVED the Prog Agenda, and allowed Progs to coalesce with purpose -whereas a Shillary victory would have spelled an end to that Agenda, and Movement.

But before we allow the aforementioned Personalities just turn 180 degrees (again) and pick up the flag to lead the charge, I would like to suggest that there is a Necessity for all of these folks have a little come-to-Jesus with the Progressive community, and actually acknowledge: between July and November 2016, something went VERY wrong and THEY do bear some responsibility for this.

At the moment, in the COMPLETE absence of this, what we are witnessing may well be this: a Bernie Sanders, consummate insider, continuing the deal he struck with the DemParty back in Winter 2015: to energize the left base, swell the DemParty membership, and bring those members under the (now-tatttered) Dem umbrella with promises of significant change (which the Dem Establishment has no intention of ever pursuing).

Just an Alternative Narrative for your consideration.

As always, thanks for reading. Comments always welcome.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

those progressives and liberals have had at least one bridge-burning moment.

And here's something else--the Democratic brand is total crap with the population at large. Redeeming that brand can only, at this point, be done by Trump and the Republicans. If they are horrible enough, then perhaps in two-four years the people will, like a ping-pong ball, bounce back to the Democratic side, propelled by the Republican paddle.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

Even by fluke? Trump is headed for a peace settlement in Syria and is proposing a massive stimulus.

Every Progressive should read this:
Populism takes a wrong turn.

And it's from a Wall Street insider!

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

riverlover's picture

And I am not sure it's worth fuming about (shades of looking forward, horrors!). I think that it's amusing that we all use trump more frequently as a verb now. I see no reason to feel abandoned by Bernie, although we were. But I am over 60 y/o and have been through abandonment before, maybe that makes it less painful? I hope that it has taught yute to be highly cynical of anything coming out of DC, their state capitols, their mayor's office. Learn to read between the lines. Happy talk is often coded message.

I continue to have no opinion about Bernie's New Jobs. Not hopeful.

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Hey! my dear friends or soon-to-be's, JtC could use the donations to keep this site functioning for those of us who can still see the life preserver or flotsam in the water.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

the Democratic establishment is not entirely out of the woods. What they're trying to do, as they have been since 2009, is attempt to use their purported opposition to racism in America to generate an untouchable credibility for themselves. We'll see how well it works. It might work better than I initially thought, because, as you say, a lot of people seem willing, even eager, to fall back in line.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

gulfgal98's picture

Identity politics is all that the Democrats have left to offer.

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Do I hear the sound of guillotines being constructed?

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." ~ President John F. Kennedy

Big Al's picture

Is there one? Whatever it is, it's been incorporated into the democratic party, same people, same bat channel, same bat time. Bernie Sanders, I think I've said this before, his job was to do exactly what you said, sheepdog people into the dem party while providing a left alternative to Clinton. So the election wasn't stolen from him, he knew from the start what the deal was.
Democrats are the progressives, at least they think they are. Don't the little CIA dude and most of those on that orange site call themselves progressives? Personally I don't want anything to do with a progressive movement if its going to be tied to the democratic party, which it is. Straddling this fence isn't going to do a bit of good.
The duopoly must be crushed.

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Pluto's Republic's picture

It sticks closely to the events as they unfolded and generally runs concurrently to the consensus of the people who experienced it from the Left.

About halfway down, you summarize this:

Bernie's campaign never really intended to Win It. Their 'place' was to excite the traditional Dem base and draw/register more voters to the Party.

Speaking for myself, from the very moment Bernie's name was first mentioned, it was postulated that he was sheep-dogging. I was visiting quite a few internet outposts at the time, and that seemed to be understood. There were 17 candidates of various flavors of crazy on the Republican Primary stage, and they were all sheep-dogging their factions and rounding them for the general election. I thought that was part of the process, to tell you the truth. I already knew Hillary would be the nominee, so I put the Bernie thing on the back burner — until the events of March 2016 knocked the stove over.

::

Moving on, you veer from the common Narrative when you take a side road on "Moral Justification" Parkway. Here, you unwind the assumed "contract" made between Bernie and the Dem Party Bosses, which allowed him to enter the Primary on the Democratic ticket. (I further assume they first approached Bernie.)

You suggest that, along the way and given the loud awakening of the Left, Bernie may have changed his mind about his limited contract with the Party Bosses. Or, he should have done because he was "justified."

(Warning. The ground here may shift under your feet.)

Is it not fair to argue that perhaps the events which unfolded throughout the '16 Primary…might trump some of those agreements and moral contracts ?

Is it arguable to say that the assurance that he would support the Dem Nominee might be reasonably challenged by the fact that said Nominee stole the Nomination from him ?

Is it arguable to say that any non-aggression pact might be rendered MOOT by the revelation that the DNC installed moles into the Bernie camp... colluded with MSM… [Hillary's] pathological lying and gross negligence ?

Is it arguable that such ‘agreements’ or ‘pacts’ might be eclipsed because... Clinton had only disdain for the Progressive Agenda and its supporters ?

Personally, I'm not moved by the concept of Moral Justification over the terms of contracts freely made. It unleashes the weasels. I was, however, swayed when you arrived at your final and best points:

I really perked up when you mentioned:

an example of the Classic Democratic trait of "Learned Helplessness.”

Why had I never thought of that? I loathe people who use that device. Loathe them.

You then state that if progressives had surrendered their aspirations and settled for Hillary:

…we would find ourselves under a NeoLib Presidency where the remnants of the Progressive Agenda would continue to be diluted, divided-and ultimately snuffed out in short order.

Trump's Victory actually SAVED the Prog Agenda, and allowed Progs to coalesce with purpose....

To which I say, absolutely correct.

::

Finally, as to your advice for the next step, I have no opinion. (Believe it or not.) But I do like the "if … then" format when you state that: Before we follow the progressive "Personalities" again:

I would like to suggest that there is a Necessity for all of these folks have a little come-to-Jesus with the Progressive community, and actually acknowledge: between July and November 2016, something went VERY wrong and THEY do bear some responsibility for this.

Hello.

The Democratic Establishment has no intention of ever pursuing the social principles of the Left.

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____________________
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
— Voltaire

GeorgeJohn's picture

...you make some good points, and do it in a very level and respectful manner. It is difficult (as anyone who writes probably knows) to sometimes stick to the desire to make an objective, cogent argument when the subject is one which is very emotional and huge. After 6 re-writes...I may have been only partially successful in walking that edge.

My one comment to your reply would be a simple point which perhaps we just plainly will disagree upon.

Putting it in the words of C99 member CantStopTheSignal: "To get a reformist to go outside the establishment, the establishment has to cross an interior moral line held by the reformer, do something so egregious that the reformer can no longer tolerate being part of the process".

This, IMHO, is a valid case to make for betraying a previously, voluntarily signed agreement or deal. Whether this veers into subjectivity or not, I think it a firm and arguable point. Just my 2 cents.

You reply gives me a lotta food for thought. Much appreciated.

George

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sojourns's picture

Particularly posit number 2. That was me until Sanders in a recent speech told us that Clinton was still a viable and important part of the Democratic Party. That followed by his endorsement of Schumer, another Wall Street boot lick. I'm not as convinced as you that he was never in it to win.

The fact that he never really fought back in spite of the transgressions of the DNC against him (he had powerful evidence for litigation purposes) is telling.

If I may, I suggest that you send this in some form to Bernie's "Our Revolution" organization. They will be hearing from me.

Thank you for this well thought out essay.

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"I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones."
John Cage

GeorgeJohn's picture

...but would appreciate anyone Tweeting this or sharing on FB (don't get me started about FB, tho).

My observations/premise, I am finding, is not exactly original :0 Have read quite a few other blogs which have fallen upon same conclusions....

Plenty of good essays here on 99, by many, post-Election.

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Bernie just had a different threshold with how far he was willing to push his revolution and risk his own power base in the US Senate. That's my theory, and I think it does a nice a job of explaining much of his behavior over the last year.

The Senate is well known for it's collegiality. If he is seen as not being the team player at least with those in his caucus, he would be ostracized by the Ds. So he pushed as much as he was willing to risk. Frankly there are a lot of D's who still treat him like a pariah and will not forgive his role in the primaries. I'm sure it was not all kiss and make up in the caucus.

I have heard a lot of critiques of Bernie, and I have my own. I am personally disappointed that Bernie did not more actively support John Fetterman in the US Senate primaries here in PA. Bernie didn't lift a finger. And this just reinforces what I'm saying. Fetterman was a long shot. Bernie didn't want to piss off a potential future colleague in the Senate by taking sides in the primary.

Is he playing the game? Absolutely. Did he have any better cards in his hand? I don't know he really did.

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Love ya, mean it

Amanda Matthews's picture

Nor should he have used the phrase 'all the way to Philly' when asking his supporters for money, many who gave money they themselves could surely use,

The Progressive 'Left' has been disappointed before. In fact, I think that's been sort of a permanent thing with us. And sometimes you gotta wonder what the problem with us is because it seems like we never catch on. The truth is we're on that eternal quest of looking for 'that one honest man'. We thought we had him. Now you really have to wonder, don't you?

Diogenes sheltering in his barrel as painted by John William Waterhouse

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I'm tired of this back-slapping "Isn't humanity neat?" bullshit. We're a virus with shoes, okay? That's all we are. - Bill Hicks

Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. - Frank Zappa

GeorgeJohn's picture

...is that, when boiled down...it basically is saying something which I have heard countless times:

"Hey, c'mon - the Guy had his career to think about".

I have a YUGE problem with that. Simply put:

If what you have decided to do is call People to Revolution, against a mostly-still-invisible Establishment/Plutocracy....you should not really be very surprised that the cost of this may be threats to your career or even well-being.

So once again, the argument "what else could he really have done ?" is almost always posited with a very large asterisk:

"given that his career would have likely been irreparably damaged ?"

The asterisk of this question places such a border around the question itself, it diminishes the entire point.

If Career was tantamount....then (besides the simple fact that this proves he is as Establishment as anyone) the semantics/dynamics of "Revolution" which he freely chose to employ was a very, very bad - dare I say, purposefully manipulative - sword to unsheathe.

My 2 cents. Thanks for your thoughts.

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I never believed the rhetoric about the revolution, and never for an instant believed Bernie would put his career at risk. Just to be 100% clear, it was ALWAYS a political revolution, and that should have been the clue to anyone listening exactly what type of revolution this was and how far Bernie was willing to push.

Apparently some people did not understand that. So I can understand why they might feel that way.

But really, Bernie people seem pretty politically savvy. I'm surprised you think they were as gullible as you seem to be painting them.

I'm not excusing his behavior. I just don't think anyone should have realistically believed he was going to fall on his own sword for the "political" revolution. When the political revolution was suppressed, he lost and the political revolution was over.

Is there a real revolution underneath? Perhaps. But those are two different things and so, respectfully, I never believed Bernie was leading a real revolution, only a political one, within the political confines of the current system.

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Love ya, mean it

The other thing that made it perfectly clear pretty early on was Sanders's lack of active support for Sanders Democrats, especially here in PA in the US Senate primary.

Bernie acted like he had never even heard of John Fetterman. Fetterman sadly came in with only 20% of the primary vote, but that was a lot higher than the 8% he was polling.

Would he have won if Bernie supported him more? Possibly. But he didn't. And that was a PURE political calculation on the part of Sanders. That was March and April, long before his failure to live up to whatever promises he made about going all the way to PHL. (Never heard that promise myself, but let's just assume you are right about it).

So, hey, the clues were there alllllllll along. Fuck, "sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails" should have been a clue even months before that!

No, sorry, anyone who thought Bernie was going to lead a real revolution was sticking their heads in their sands and ignoring very obvious signs to the contrary.

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Love ya, mean it

Phoebe Loosinhouse's picture

while running - I think he did a magnificent job of showing the American public a real, sincere progressive who has been fighting the class wars his entire life who apparently had a WTF moment where he and Jane decided to attempt to buck the neo-Liberal establishment and had far greater successes than he or anyone else could have imagined.

My issues are all focused on his actions NOW.

Bernie created a movement that was not based on the Democratic Party - he and many of his followers perceived themselves to be the alternative or cure to the Democratic Party, so no, we're not going happily back into the fold, EVER. The Dems and the DNC showed their true down and dirty selves and the divorce is permanent.

The question is why wouldn't Bernie create a true Our Revolution and start a brand new party with the seeds that he sowed and the foundation he created? Why simply return to The House of Corruption? He should remain an Independent and caucus with the Democrats but continue the fight with a third party of his creation.

Since he chose not to do that, the Bernieites are left to wander in the wilderness, pondering whether to return to the fold, go Green, or attempt to go ahead and start a new Party without a figurehead or leader to unite around.

I always say that nature abhors a vacuum. The time is ripe NOW for some real, not fake progressive(s) to start organizing us into a political party that is all about class war and the 1% and not afraid to say so. All the Black Lives Matter SJ issues should also be folded into this Party as well, because that is a separate topic based solely on racism that can't be enveloped successfully under the class umbrella

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" “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR "

And Progressives blamed for the loss of the True Queen. That's largely happening anyway. It would be much worse.

If the Republicans would get their heads of a uterus and send those Evangelical con-men packing, I just might switch to them. So far they (Trump) are treating white working people much better than the Clintonites, although not as well as we deserve (Old-time Democrats).

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

GeorgeJohn's picture

Yup. Absolutely.

In a sense, post-Election... it's the completion of the veil dropping on who he is as a politician, and what his intentions truly were.

Maddeningly, many people are eating his Show up.

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mhagle's picture

(and Shaun King, Thom Hartmann, Noam Chomsky, Robert Reich, Josh Fox, Ben Jealous, etc - all supposed ‘rocks' of the Progressive Movement)…

And I will add TYT (except for Jimmy and TYT Politics), Sam Seder, Ring of Fire, and even Ed Schultz, CommonDreams, DemocracyNow at the end.

They all disappointed me and ultimately I unsubscribed from all of them. I hope they come back or set themselves free eventually.

Still consistently progressive is Jimmy Dore, Tim Black, TYT Politics, the Humanist Report, H.A. Goodman, McQueen Press, Yvette Carnell, Redacted Tonight, Let the Madness Begin.

Yvette Carnell . . .

I love Bernie and Jane though and believe he will ultimately go down the right path. I was following him and on his email list long before he ran for president. I think he is still the same guy.

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Marilyn

"Make dirt, not war." eyo

GeorgeJohn's picture

...Both Tim Black and HA Goodman have fallen for a new batch of Blue Koolaid..as both are now espousing the importance/significance of an Ellison-led DNC....

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mhagle's picture

I missed that episode. Hopefully they just had passing comments.

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Marilyn

"Make dirt, not war." eyo

No fresh start without refund of hard-earned money obtained from little guys under false pretenses.

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