It seems like the prevailing thought among people who talk about and cover politics in America is that Bernie Sanders’ days as a potential presidential nominee are coming to an end.
Super Tuesday is underway as I write this, and the last few publications I’ve seen all are running stories about how Bernie’s window is closing. For instance, The New York Times reported this week that Hillary is gearing up for a hell of a battle against Trump in the General Election, implying that she has nothing to worry about in the remainder of Sanders’ challenge to her inevitability. Call me crazy — but between Bernie saying he’s in it until all fifty states have held primaries, Alan Grayson’s endorsement, and the DNC’s second in command stepping down to back Sanders and criticize Hillary’s foreign policy views, I’d say this fight is long from over.
…but what do I know?
Well, I know that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) represents the new generation of progressive Democrats. I know that her resignation from the post that had her second only to Debbie “Never Met a Hillary Talking Point I Didn’t Memorize” Wasserman Schultz, freeing her from having to remain neutral in the primary contest, indicates she doesn’t agree with the rest of the establishment’s decision to railroad Hillary into office. I also know that Gabbard’s stinging rebuke of Hillary’s foreign policy views carries with it an implication that at least some in the party are tired of nation building and doing the Bush Doctrine Lite that Obama and Hillary embraced in their time working together as President and Secretary of State.
Despite my tone, make no mistake — I’m not one of the Bernie supporters who blindly follows Sanders to the point of thinking Donald Trump makes more sense than Hillary. My resistance to Hillary isn’t built on any conspiracy theories, FBI investigations, emails, or Benghazi hearings. My resistance to her is simple — she is a product and representative of the very broken system I want to reform. That’s not to say Sanders, with over 30 years in congress, isn’t an “insider” in his own way, but his decision to fund his campaign as he has is a sign of the direction I wish the entire country was going in.
Rep. Gabbard represents that directional change to me. Whatever her personal reasons were for resigning, she obviously felt the direction Wasserman Schultz and Clinton are heading isn’t where the rest of the party should go. That’s a debate everyone needs to have, but whether Bernie wins or loses, Ms. Gabbard’s decision to stand by him has importance for the future of the party.
Cynical people will tell you it doesn’t matter who endorses him if Bernie loses the nomination. Bullshit, is what I call that kind of thinking. The revolution that Bernie represents goes deeper than one man’s candidacy. Ms. Gabbard’s decision makes that pretty obvious, doesn’t it? Winning the election is the goal of every Sanders supporter, but truly getting the corrosive and corrupting influence of dark money and corporate lobbyists out of our government should and not cannot stop with this election, because even if Bernie is elected, he still needs a congress to work with him.
Tulsi Gabbard’s resignation from the DNC will send a message to Bernie supporters that the fight isn’t over yet, not until all the primaries are held. At that point, everyone will have to look across the aisle at whoever the GOP nominates and decide if their ideological purity test is worth a Republican in the White House.
America’s left is in desperate need of a cathartic, knock-down, drag-out fight for its identity. Tulsi Gabbard proves that there are people in power right now who understand the enormous movement behind Bernie’s popularity, and the enormous bowel movement about to get the Republicans’ nomination. Gabbard’s help might not be enough for Bernie this year, but it has enormous implications for the next few election cycles at least.