Montana Politics US Politics

Feel the Bern Without Feeding the Beast

I think it’s fair to say that I have admired Bernie Sanders and the values he holds longer than most people who don’t live in Vermont. I remember the excitement I felt when he was first elected to the House as well as the incredible moment when he was elected to the Senate. In my mind, his work in politics is the extension of two of my great heroes, Eugene Debs, whose words gave the title to this site, and Michael Harrington, whose work transformed the way I saw economics and justice when I was in college.

I have no doubt about Senator Sander’s commitment to economic justice for all people and I havehillary no doubt that he would work for all people in this country, regardless of race, sexuality, and gender expression. He’s spent his life fighting for values I champion, and I can’t tell you how exciting it is to see his message resonating with voters, especially young voters.

But I have to say some his supporters online are hurting him. I’m troubled by the misogynistic tone of their attacks on Secretary Clinton, their troubling ageism (which makes no sense incidentally), and their willingness to engage in the same kind of tactics we’d decry from Ted Cruz. My Facebook and Twitter feeds are filled with unflattering photographs of Senator Clinton and accusations that are often not about the policy differences between the two candidates, but personal attacks that seem designed to obscure the real work Senator Clinton has done in her life on behalf of the disadvantaged.

None of this, in my view, is coming from the Sanders campaign, which has been admirable. Perhaps some of his enthusiasts online might do some reflection about how their behavior is differing from that of the candidate they support. If it can make someone who has admired Sanders for almost three decades question his support, how must it play among voters who are unfamiliar with him?

Fight this fight on policy, on questions over which candidate is more likely to advance the progressive agenda, and which best represents your values. I’d ask the most enthusiastic supporters of Bernie to lay off the politics of personal destruction that Senator Sanders would certainly ask you to stop.

Feel the Bern, but spending your energy explaining his economic vision for America will do a great deal more to build support for him than ugly attacks possibly could. If we want to transform our economic and political structure to better reflect the interests of the vast majority of Americans, that’s the discussion we desperately need.

Update: The I’m A Woman card was featured on my Facebook page the very next time I logged in  after posting this. If you’re honestly ignorant enough to believe that being a woman conveys an advantage in our political system, you’re too ignorant to vote.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.


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  • Well, I dislike Hillary simply for who she is, a corporatist of the worst magnitude. Yes, we all loved her at first, but her record on war and her ties to AIPAC etc. make her unacceptable to any true lefty. She is crazy, crazy for more war! And some of us abhor that.

    • True lefties live in a real world. The choice is not Bernie vs. Hillary, but the slow hard-fought progress of the last eight years vs. the erasure of gains made since the New Deal.

      What is more unacceptable to you — Hillary or Trump/Cruz/Rubio

      Fight for Bernie and his ideals. I applaud you. But when the Bernie-Hillary choice is made, you need to be there to make sure the path is forward, not backward.

  • From the beginning of time, Democrats have run one “true” progressive to keep their base intact. It’s a tough row to hoe, as the guy has to spend a great deal of time espousing things he (it has always been “he” historcially) has no use for, does not believe in. In the past we have had Eugene McCarthy (to help Hubert Humphrey), Jesse Jackson, Gary Hart (Dukakis), Dennis Kucinich (Clinton). Sanders is running to keep the base intact so that when the party coronates Hillary, progressives, registered and ready, will have no other choice than to vote for her Neocon agenda.

    It is called “sheepdog” politics by the pros. The sheepdog (this year Bernie) is assigned the task of keeping the sheep,in the herd. That is all that is going on here. Pwoggies, prepared to be boarded. You’ve been duped, sigh, again.

    • Um, missed all the POLLS didja, flabby? It’s different this time. Take a gander beee FORE taking a dump on the blogs! True story. Check it out. And then, get back with us after New Hampy!

      • Hillary was a Pubbie beeeFORE she was a Dim! True story. And although I actually loved her greatly at one time, she turned back to her roots. And that’s just real sad. A whole lot of guys died because of her Iraq votes.

    • Ask Debby Wasserman Schulz if Senator Sanders is being treated as a sheepdog!
      Hell, ask us that support Sanders in different ways! Hells bells ask moderate Republicans looking for the chance in a life to vote for a candidate standing on solid ground, not standing on coatails of party Bosses. Savvy up and check up on Senator Lee Metcalf! That’ll help the view from prairie savvy that both The Democratic Party, and it’s history, especially its’ current history, AND THE PEOPLE WHO VOTE FOR DEMOCRATS are absolutely herded by Party supported/managed “sheepdog” candidates.
      Want to see “sheepdog candidates?” There’s half a dozen, on display at the Republican debtes.

      • The lies Chelsea Clinton told the national audience about Sanders’ health care plan are far worse than what some random blogger with no audience posted about Hill.

        The illegal and immoral removal of Sanders VAN access by Hillary’s surrogates at the DNC is flat out cheating. Axelrod called it as much.

        So when are you writing a column about your concerns about principles in the Hill campaign lying and cheating and how, from here on out, they should quit lying and cheating to win? Isn’t it over due, Don? Why didn’t Hill fire Chelsea for lying about the Sanders plan?

        By the way, if we want to be machiavellian about MT Dem politics, we all should be doing everything possible to make sure Bernie is the candidate.

        We could turn a whole lot of voters out (both old and new) with Bernie topping the ballot.

        If Hill wins she won’t create much excitement in Montana among independents, young voters, new voters, used to vote but quit cause it didn’t work voters, etc. Bernie on the other hand is on fire.

        So if Bernie loses the nomination it would be smart politically to help Jill Stein get on the general ballot to help drive voter turn out and to help down ballot races for Dems. Hillary won’t win Montana’s 3 electoral votes. So we might as well work to help make things better than throw away our vote.
        In that case (Hill as nominee) it might really help Juno, Gutche, Bullock, and others to have Stien running in the general on a Green ballot line.

        it’s really a choice between self preservation and the 3rd way on the outs for Montana Dems.
        A Hill / Cruz race might see the lowest presidential voter turnout ever in Montana.

        And that’s why it’s possible I could be voting for Jill Stein over Hillary and over what ever clown the Repos end up with. In Montana it’s a no brainer.

        Just like it’s a no brainer that Greens should help support political revolution in the Democratic Party in the primary and cast a vote for Bernie. I know some will argue with me about that, but i believe a political revolution takes people willing to make some sacrifices and willing to put solidarity ahead of party, ego, and obstenence.

        Any way, I await your column naming names and calling out Hill on her lowdown dirty tricks. Read what the iowa Des Moines Register is saying if the outright lies and misleading about health care and the hostage taking of his campaign data isn’t enough. There’s plenty of fodder for a column, lots more than the bros. Lots more.

        By the way, i don’t hate or particularly dislike Hillary. I’m just tired of her ethics. I think the country needs to think big, not think small. I want to see as many down ticket Dems do as well as possible.

        So do your part and tell it like it is about the Hillary campaign, too! Or is that taboo? Is it harder for you to tell the truth about the Clinton Campaign than it is for Chelsea to lie about the Bernie health care plan?

        • I know nuance is complicated in a black and white world of absolutes, one in which you are never wrong, but could you at least read the post before posting your screed?

          I’m a Sanders supporter. I have been since I was a kid in high school, when he first entered the national stage. I’m concerned because women I know and respect are being turned off by some really unpleasant misogyny from Sanders supporters. I’d like them to stop it, and focus on the Sanders message I agree with.

          Is that too complex to understand? Really?

          • I read your long time interest. But I didn’t see that you were out of the closet. Well good.

            Bernie doesn’t tolerate misogyny (as i’m sure you know and as you wrote) but many female supporters of Bernie believe Hillary’s message that women owe her their allegiance because of her sex is misogynistic and flat out sexist. I hear it and read it all the time. Susan Sarandon (a woman) and a Bernie supporter said so explicitly.

            Perhaps you could do a column on that? You could talk about some of the good things Hill’s done, and then warn her supporters about being sexist by saying things like M Albright said. Just a suggestion.

            Anyway, glad to hear you are feeling the bern. I’ve been organizing for Bernie since late spring and have yet to come across the mythical BernBros. My feeling (like Brooks in the indy) is that it’s a fiction of the Hill campaign.

            I have very good friends who, for whatever crazy mixed up reasons, they support Hillary in the Primary. Well, this is America, and people can vote for who they want for why they want. They are still my good very close friends.
            i hope you speak up for all those women feeling like Hill herself is being sexist. On the other hand, those pro Bernie women seem to be doing alright for themselves!

    • Damn right and where’s RAT Raciot? He’s never, ever come back to mingle with any of us to reflect his ‘glory’ days, huh? Raciot has gone totally CORPORATE and has lost a lot of respect and as a second-term governor he did NOTHING to slow us going over the cliff on de-reg with both parties.

  • Well, at least Hillary comes endorsed by one of the biggest war criminals our country has ever produced! Thas kinda like an endorsement, right? Hell, I think that ALL women should vote for hill. I mean, at least she hasn’t murdered THEM yet, right? Giver her time, for she’s a WO man! And we all know that womans must stick together!………………… a war criminal and a Clinton!

  • I don’t doubt that some of Sanders’ supporters are posting crass and stupid comments. But I also suspect that some supporters of Clinton may be posting Bernie Bro comments as a false flag operation to discredit Sanders. Unless the Bernie Bro vulgarities can be traced back to Sanders’ campaign, and can be proven an approved campaign tactic, I think the best approach is deploring them in passing ,and acknowledging in passing Clinton’s howls of outrage. This kind of foolishness is as old as campaigning. It’s just more visible now because of the internet.

  • We must, we must, we must improve our bust! Or sumthin’ like that. We simply gotta have boob in the white house, EVEN if they’re corporatefascist boobs like Billary!

    Well, not necessarily. Some women really resent being told that they must vote for boobs over Bernie! Well, there’s your choice, boobs or Bernie! You want more war, less actual health care, and more gummint corruption? Well then, choose boobs! But if you want a new deal, choose Bernie! At least we might have a chance with Bernie!

  • But……but……..BUT! He don’t have BOOBS!….nor a vagina! WTF lefty Murka? You seriously don’t WANT more war, do ya??? You unpatriotic moroons!

    What the hell, maybe he’s GAY! THAT otter pleeeze the reetart Dims in Montana!

    Oh give me a home
    Where the homos all roam
    And the queers and the lesbos do play
    Where seldom is heard
    A solitary word
    ‘Bout what really matters today

    Home, home on the homo range
    Where the queers and the lefties do play
    It’s all about them
    And a queer doll named Ken
    Who stole my Dem party away!

    My apologies to sWeed. I know that he hates my patriotic music!

    • p.s. To my gay and non-gay friends. Bernie’s coat tails are LONGER than any jimmy you’ve ever seen! The young people in this country are coming out for Bernie. En COURAGE them! Send Shrillary packing! She’s old broad old news. Bernie is young, vibrant, AND old! Kinda like me! Come ON, America! Time for a change, a REAL change! We need another Roosevelt in office, and I THEENK that Bernie is the man!

      • Sumthin’s happenin’ here
        What it is ain’t eggsackly clear
        There’s an old man with a sign over there
        Sayin’ I’m Bernie and I’m loaded for bear

        Better STOP children what’s that sound
        Shrillary and her minions are goin’ down

        What a field day for the anti-teat
        Thousand people in the street
        Singin’ songs and a’carryin’ signs
        Sayin’ Bernie’s message I’ll repeat

        Better STOP chillen what’s that sound
        Bernie’s comin’ to bring the fascists down

        Bernie, kickin’ ass and takin’ names! First name he took, SHRILLARY! Of the blue dress clan! Next one? Whom EVER the Pubes run! Hell, I ain’t felt THIS alive since the sixties! Wonder if I have any tie died shirts left, and headbands? Oh what the hell. Who am I kidding. Even IF there was free love again, ain’t enuff viagara in the WORLD to make me take a stand!……… to speak! (just kidding. I followed all of Huffpos dietary advice on how to make a woody!………..Guthrie of course!)

  • The call for Bernie to have some practical solutions for his ideas? And, he needs to get small business capitalism – i.e. “Main Street” in political rhetoric. How can you have a $15 minimum wage and not put a small business out of business – H- the 1.8%SOLUTION: Offsetting Tax Credit to the business for the difference between $15 and $8. Where do you get the revenue that is lost, tax each stock transaction 1.8%.
    Here’s the blog:!1500-per-hour-same-cost-to-employer/n7wg6/5701ff110cf234e91927d1ce
    Here’s the math:

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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