OUTBREAK: Cognitive Dissonance No Longer Contained to Just Hillary Supporters
Progressives may have a huge threat at our doorstep.
Insidiously, contradictorily (some might say) and despite people's best efforts, the Shillary endorsement by Bernie Sanders last week seems to have let loose an unexpected scourge: the Cognitive Dissonance virus, up until now contained to Shillary and Trump fans…seems to have escaped all quarantine efforts and is now taking out us Berners.
The initial reaction to 7/12's "unity" rally was, as expected, shock and dismay (as it should have been).
I have argued in my previous piece ("From Athens to Burlington", please give it a visit if you like) that while we had justification for surprise and utter despair, looking back - one can also see clearly the writing was already on the wall.
Now, so as not to make this essay too critical…I will say this: the most POSITIVE quality of Bernie Sanders Supporters, post-endorsement, is again shining through: the Never Say Die Mentality, the Fight 'til the End Spirit.
Very laudable - something to take Pride in.
However, within about 48 hours of Bernie's capitulation, a more threatening aspect of this quality began to appear on social media; first in the corners, then within a few days, full-blown everywhere.
An attrbute of Cognitive Dissonance:
Given a situation where one has faith in a candidate or cause…when one is then confronted with a Reality or Fact which clearly contradicts that Faith or Belief, one is either:
1) forced to re-orient/revise that Faith to take into account the new facts which have appeared….
2) discard the Fact or Reality as erroneous, in order to maintain their Faith and belief, unadulterated…
3) rationalize the Fact/Occurrence and create a new story, a new Premise, which makes the Reality 'fit in' with the previous/original Faith or Belief.
1) is a difficult one - it takes much work because it requires a re-evaluation and an admittance that the supporter was in err, or deceived, to a degree. If one manages to do so, they have in fact triumphed over the Dissonance.
2) is quite easy (particularly for Americans), as it requires the least effort and allows one to proceed with their day unfettered by niggling factual revelations…
3) is also a difficult one, for it is trying to reconcile two things which are not reconcilable. A "Shoe-horning" of inconvenient truths, so to speak.
It is the 3) which, in my observation, too many Berners have now fallen prey to.
Some Facts, just from my own observations:
On the Wolf Blitzer interview a few weeks ago, Bernie used the past-tense when describing his candidacy: "the reason I ran for President …" this may have gone unnoticed to many, but it was very telling in that it was clearly a portion of his interview which was not preconceived, pre-prepared. I find oftentimes the most telling comments are the ones where a Politician is just forced to reply, ad-lib. They are often the most forthright comments.
In that same interview, he also said that if DOJ had closed the case on EmailGate, Bernie too considered it closed.
Again, these are irrefutable: they were the spoken words of the former candidate himself. Words were not put into his mouth. MSM did not 'spin' his replies in a certain way.
(This even in the unedited, long version of the interviews).
His semantics of his endorsement on Tuesday in NH utilized wording which can hardly be considered ambiguous. He lauded his rival, and very much played up the 'success' of having made the (non-binding) Platform the "Most Progressive in History".
In summary, interviews of the past week with Bernie and remaining staff have made clear:
He is endorsing his former rival, he will be campaigning for her post-convention, he does consider EmailGate to be over, there will be no floor fight on TPP.
One would argue this is certainly enough for supporters to start moving their support to other, remaining candidates who align with their beliefs/morals/values. And many, if not most, have started this movement/leaning.
Interestingly, however, within 24 hours of the Endorsement, a number of themes and memes began showing up online:
1) FDR had endorsed a rival and had won a contested convention that same year
2) Bernie had no other 'choice' to endorse because Comey sealed off his last path; he had no more options, and therefore was 'forced' to, by the DNC/Shillary cabal
3) DNC rules clearly state that Bernie 'had to' endorse otherwise he (or his delegates…two sub-versions of the argument circulated ) would be de-credentialed ; or he would be disallowed to speak.
Fueled by these erroneous arguments...with a bit of lighter-fluid being added by 1) the statements issued by (what remains of) his campaign team: he endorsed, he didn't suspend or concede…. and 2) the Soundcloud file of his conference call w/ delegates, post-endoresment...
...too many Berners have managed to create a Premise by which his endorsement and capitulation becomes acceptable.
"He is playing a Game of Chess"
"He sacrificed Himself for the Movement"
"He is playing the LONG game"
"He is going to spring something BIG in Philly"
"He did everything he could considering his position and options remaining"
or some version/iteration of the above.
But in order for such conjecture to be...let's say...strong or valid...the underlying support for it must be pretty darn factual.
Snopes, thankfully, blew a hole in the interpretations being used to support this New Premise:
But now, Snopes (which had been a close friend of Progressives all thru 2016 - see NV Convention, for instance) seems to have suddenly lost a bit of resonance among some Progressives.
The argument that Bernie somehow had ZERO leverage to play, but simply was at the mercy of the Shillary cabal, post-Comey, is very, very specious. It reminds me very much of Classic, Democrat "Learned Helplessness" so aptly honed and perfected by the likes of Feinstein, Boxer, Reed, Daschle, Pelosi, Obama, Clinton1…oh, the list goes on...and on....
(For example...I, for one, might argue: the Guccifer2 DNC email leaks and ExitPollGate may have provided some substantial leverage in closed-door meetings...no ?)
The Souncloud file…after having listened to it a few times, might better be described as a "licking our wounds/how do we get something outta this ?" conversation, than a "group huddle, let's round up our troops for the final battle" sort of conversation.
The campaign statements ? Their purpose quite simple: it would be downright embarrassing to have bodies NOT show up in Philly. People are justified in asking "what exactly am I marching for NOW ?" So, the Bernie camp needs to get those people to Philly….still.
(BTW, I do NOT disparage the desire to get Delegates and protestors to Philly AT ALL ; I merely observe that the original intent and purpose of the March has now been significantly diluted and re-routed. This is alarming, because the Dem Party is quite good at Diluting momentum for significant change; and I see them doing so once again).
Thus there is an expectation here among many Berners: 7/12 was not a capitulation, not a betrayal, not an abandonment of the very Revolution which Bernie Sanders stoked, himself. It was just another brilliant chess move, the exact intended outcome of which has yet to become completely clear.
The virus seems to be spreading.
You see, it is this wink and nod which I find most baffling - at this stage of the game. For it was the wink-and-nod which we gave him all thru the Primaries. Which we hung onto.
His semantics, as again I argue in my previous "Athens essay" were intentionally chosen and ambiguous enough that they could have been taken as wily and revolutionary…OR taken as "plainspeak".
"I ain't sayin' anything MORE that what I'm sayin' ".
Arguably Bernie Sanders is a good public speaker, and better at this than most Politicians (not to minimize the weight of his words...just sayin'..)
Now, in July 2016, given the endorsement…given the fact that Bernie has clearly stated he will be supporting a Shillary candidacy; and that he is going to shift his focus to the highly dubious Rx of "progressivising" the Democratic Party (the same entity which throughout the past 25 years has revealed itself to have no desire for Progressives)…
in my opinion… Faith or Hope that something big will happen in Philly…the start of something game-changing, revolutionary ...really has no basis to back it up, beyond Faith and Hope itself.
Because all facts run contrary to that particular, prospective outcome.
His name will be placed in Nomination, there will be a floor vote, he will lose that floor vote (because despite the fact that the Dems really DO have only ONE solid, viable Presidential candidate…Shillary's recent (and familiar) poll plunge will NOT convince the rigged Superdels to abandon her).
So, Bernie will then be left with the 'unveiling' of his new 'Movement': a "Bottom Up" which intends on taking 'back' the Democratic Party for 'real, Progressive Democrats".
There will be much rah-rah, there may even be the blueprint for real infrastructure development. But be aware now: this Rx also very CLEARLY creates a Mechanism to KEEP Progressives INSIDE the very Party which has so betrayed, marginalized, and disenfranchised them (us).
I realize this is a HARD piece for Berners to read. So I will close by adding THIS: I do not begrudge you, or your Faith. I understand the argument "I am gonna stay with it, see how it plays out". That is commendable, as long as your expectations are tempered by the realities of what has transpired...and not grounded in misinterpretations and discredited information.
I WANT to be WRONG. I literally WANT people to come at me, post-Conv, and strafe me for my horrible and erroneous critique. I want the "I Told You So !" 's to engulf me.
I just don't think this how it's gonna play out. Once again, the facts and actual words uttered in the current situation contradict that sort of ending.
Thanks for reading. Comments always welcome.