John Kass’s Grand Delusion

Recently, I was looking at some polling in RCP when I happened upon an “op-ed” by John Kass of the Chicago Tribune. I put the word op-ed in quotations because when I read it, it resembled more the ramblings of someone who’s spent a little too much time stuck behind a VW microbus on its way to a Grateful Dead concert than a considered opinion piece by an intelligent writer.

Its title, “Break some eggs, Elizabeth Warren: Drop out and back Bernie,” wasn’t all that shocking. Let’s be honest, every pundit worth a damn knows that Warren and fellow soul mate Bernie Sanders are splitting the progressive vote. So long as both of them are in the race, the odds of one of them winning the nomination are dubious at best.

What floored me was the insistence by Kass that it was Warren and not Sanders who had to do the right thing and be the sacrificial lamb. I always know when I’m dealing with a Bernie Bro. All logic and reason go out the window and what’s left is nothing more than self-aggrandizement run amok.

The first point Kass makes in his piece is that Joe Biden, the current front-runner, has a “serious flaw.” No shit, Sherlock. When you’re speaking to a group of people in New Hampshire and you refer to the state as Vermont, that’s a problem. Fortunately for Biden, in the age of Trump, what would normally be a major gaffe barely registers as a 1.0 on the Richter scale. Biden could dress up as Superwoman and I doubt it would make a dent in his poll numbers.

But I suspect Kass’s main objection to Biden has far less to do with his gaffes than with his policies. The fact that he referred to the “hard-left” vote as “the spine of the Democratic Party this cycle” is a dead giveaway. Put succinctly, progressives can’t stand Biden, or for that matter anyone else who is part of the establishment. Shit, they still haven’t forgiven Lyndon Johnson for escalating the war in Vietnam. And don’t get me started on Bill Clinton or we’ll be here all day.

But here’s the thing: Kass goes out of his way to highlight Biden’s flaws – not to mention Warren’s – yet bends over backwards to excuse Bernie’s, as if every major political candidate running for president spends his honeymoon in the Soviet Union. I don’t suppose it’s dawned on him that if Bernie actually won the Democratic nomination and the general election, he’d be the nation’s first self-described socialist to do so. According to odds makers in Vegas, Eli Manning has a better shot of hoisting the Vince Lombardi trophy in Super Bowl 54.

But what’s really got Kass’s panties in a bunch isn’t 2020, it’s 2016. Ah, yes, let’s take a stroll down resentment lane, shall we? Like so many Bernie supporters, Kass just can’t let go of 2016. He’s convinced that Sanders had the nomination stolen from him, as if Bernie were somehow Eugene McCarthy incarnate. Kass writes,

Sanders represented the progressive faction in 2016. But Hillary Clinton and establishment Democrats, through former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, rigged the primaries and leveraged all that Wall Street cash and the superdelegates to cynically take Sanders out.

Jesus, for the last – hopefully – fucking time, nobody rigged the Democratic primaries. There was no plot, cynical or otherwise, to take Sanders out. He simply didn’t get enough votes, which the last time I checked is how elections are won in this country.

In fact, if you want to play the cynical card, take away his caucus wins – which, by the way, are the least democratic way of winning a state’s delegates – and Bernie wouldn’t have even been a factor in 2016. Of the 23 states Sanders won in his bid to capture the nomination, 12 were caucus states. By comparison, of the 34 total contests Clinton won, six were caucuses, and only two of them – Iowa and Nevada – were actual states; the other four were U.S. territories. If you’re losing sleep over Guam and the Virgin Islands, you need a hobby. Hell, you need a life.

And regarding the superdelegates, since they were first introduced in 1984, they have always gone with the candidate who won the most pledged delegates. Look it up. Not once have they given their votes to the runner up, which is ostensibly what the Sanders campaign was trying to get them to do. Talk about cynical. While I agree with those who call for the elimination of superdelegates altogether, they are NOT the reason Bernie didn’t win the nomination in 2016, anymore than they were the reason Hilary didn’t win the nomination in ’08. To suggest otherwise is reckless and irresponsible.

But recklessness and irresponsibility are part and parcel when it comes to Bernie supporters. With the exception of Trump supporters, which resemble more a cult than a group of followers, there isn’t a more delusional or conspiracy minded bunch of people in the country. Compared to Bernie Bros, the Roswell nut jobs are practically lucid.

And that’s what worries me the most. It’s one thing to believe your guy is the best suited for the office of the presidency; it’s quite another to believe that everyone has it in for him and if he doesn’t win, you’re taking your ball and going home. I suspect a lot of Bernie supporters did that in 2016, and there’s no reason to believe they won’t do it again in 2020. In fact, in a poll taken last April, more than a quarter of Sanders supporters said they would vote for Trump over Warren, Biden or Harris if Bernie didn’t get the nomination. Now that’s what I call a dick move. Why someone like Kass would legitimize such a movement in an op-ed piece is beyond me. In my world, you don’t reward people like that, you send them to bed without their supper like the little shits they are.

If anything, Warren has run a far more energized and disciplined campaign than Sanders, who appears to be all over the map. I’m not saying I support Warren. I still don’t think she has a clue what a plan is, despite referencing the term every chance she gets. But if she were to win the nomination, she’d have a much better shot of beating Trump than Mr. Old and Grumpy pants. And the fact that she’s a woman won’t exactly hurt her odds, especially running against a misogynist like Trump.

Kass writes,

 “Sanders is a true lefty, not a faux lefty, and perhaps it would be a good thing for the country to have left and right meet in the November 2020 Thunderdome and just end this incessant bickering once and for all.”

No it wouldn’t. Don’t believe me, just look at what’s happening across the pond. Yes, Boris Johnson was stopped by members of his own party from taking the U.K. out of the E.U. without a deal. That doesn’t mean that all of a sudden Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party leader, is going to be the next Prime Minister. As despised as Johnson is, Corbyn is even more so. If you don’t know who Jeremy Corbyn is, he’s Bernie Sanders with a British accent.

There’s a popular misconception among progressives that goes something like this: if the other side is wrong, our side, by extension, must be right. Nowhere in history does this simplistic argument hold water. In fact, it’s a dangerous assumption that has been known to bring about catastrophic outcomes.

And there can be no greater catastrophic outcome than the specter of another Walter Mondale getting his ass handed to him by a wannabe Ronald Reagan next November.

Author: Peter Fegan

Progressive but pragmatic. Lover of music, die-hard Giants' fan and reluctant Mets' fan. My favorite motto? I'd rather be ruled by a smart Turk than a dumb Christian.

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