The Democratic National Convention was supposed to be Hillary Clinton’s moment of a lifetime. After all, her coronation will mark the first time a woman has been nominated for President by a major political party (and the first person, man or woman, nominated under multiple federal investigations).
But what should have been a lengthy celebration for the party faithful in Philly has been overshadowed by a tragedy of enormous proportions; specifically, the death of one man’s dignity.
More than 40 years of political courage was rendered null and void when Bernie Sanders, the proudly socialist Senator from Vermont, heartily endorsed Hillary Clinton for President Monday night.
This wasn’t the first time Sanders had endorsed the former First Lady — just weeks ago he essentially conceded the Presidency to the woman he repeatedly assured us was unworthy of the office for a few paltry points on the Democratic Party’s platform.
Given Sanders’ campaign rhetoric, that was bad enough. But his latest endorsement comes in the wake of thousands of publicized emails detailing precisely how the party conspired to rob him of the nomination, transforming the Senator’s speech on Monday from run-of-the-mill political concession to oratory based on pure cowardice. It represented an abject betrayal of Sanders’ own principles, resulting in hordes of his supporters booing the man they once worshipped, and rightfully so. They were Berned, big time.
While I have long abhorred the politically correct and historically ignorant millennial base from which Sanders draws so much support, I feel their pain here. We all should — for betrayal by those in power is an offense that cuts across party lines.
His supporters, so hopped up on Sanders’ “revolution,” are now asked to settle for the very definition of the status quo.
They must accept that the man who raged against the wealth gap is attaching himself to the Clinton campaign, which in turn is marketing itself as a continuation of the Obama administration, in which the wealth gap grew steadily.
They were forced to listen to their hero cult leader decry Citizens United from the very pulpit at which he endorsed perhaps its biggest beneficiary.
They must now admit that what was once billed as perhaps the most transformative movement in modern American politics is now, almost overnight, recognized as one of the biggest farces in American political history.
But just how did the man who has made a career out of decrying the abuses of capitalism end up endorsing the woman whom he repeatedly linked to the most egregious abuses of capitalism’s capital, Wall Street?
Sanders was likely the victim of the very backroom Washington shenanigans he so often railed against.
One can almost see the unkempt Senator entering the oak-cloaked offices of a portly, Boss Hogg-like Democrat, cigar in hand, seated next to David Brock, the Washington monument visible in the distance through a large window.
Boss Hogg stands up as the door opens.
“Bernie, have a seat. Good to see you. Cigar? Scotch?”
“No thanks,” says the Senator, sweating profusely as he adjusts his crooked glasses.
“Look, I’ll cut right to the chase. You’ve run a tough campaign, but now it’s time to get in line.”
“I’m not dropping out.”
“Bernie, Bernie, Bernie. It’s a crazy world. Things happen. Brakes go out, people lose their Senate seats, raising the minimum wage mysteriously gets left off the party platform.”
“I have principles.”
“Bernie, this is Washington. “Principles” is a four-letter word. Look, it’s no secret that you and the Missus aren’t in the best financial shape. You’re getting on up there. The campaign is over. Now let’s make a deal.”
Brock slides a single sheet of paper across the table to the downtrodden Senator, who lifts it carefully. Who knows what’s on it? A number maybe, with a dollar sign next to it, or some unflattering fact about the Senator’s private life that he doesn’t have the energy to deal with. And just like that…
Ten minutes and one handshake later a shattered, shaken Sanders walks out of the lion’s den a different man, a victim of the same political intimidation he had battled his entire career. Just another greasy palm. Decades of dedication down the drain.
This hypothetical situation may sound cartoonish, but it is indeed how many Americans view their politics, and Sanders’ endorsement of Clinton only reinforces it — reality may lack the aforementioned caricatures, but to a large degree this is how Washington works, and how it likely worked Sanders.
And why I feel for his jaded supporters. For their savior was nothing more than a cog in the very machine he spent decades raging against.
Welcome to Washington kids.