So I think it’s time to write why I do not support Sanders.
Over the last few months Sanders’ supporters have felt comfortable, indeed impelled, to tell me and the world why they oppose/dislike/hate Clinton. I have not said much about why I don’t support him, in part because I like him and the causes he has supported throughout his career. As a journalist pointed out he (and Trump, like it or not) have effectively expanded the “Overton window” or spectrum of public issues/positions that are legitimate and mainstream to discuss and push. The other reason I have not focused much on why I don’t support Sanders (apart from his fragile electability) is because I’ve found it more interesting to write about why I support Clinton, including how I engage my concerns. But after the appalling increase in negative campaigning by Sanders, I think I should say why I don’t support him.
-- I don’t trust demagoguery, especially because of what it tends to produce in the movements it spawns. It tends to produce a self-righteous narrowness among followers, potentially spawning movements that risk becoming reactive and radically repressive of dissent in their own ways. Sanders’ campaign and supporters have tended to project those who don’t join them as the unenlightened, the bad, and/or the handmaidens and footmen of status quo privilege. The attacks on Elizabeth Warren for not endorsing Sanders provide an example. Recently, the increasingly shrill self-righteousness of Sanders’ campaign and supporters (not all, but many of those who make themselves most heard; and if you feel that Sanders and you are mischaracterized by this description, you are feeling, a little, the way Clinton and many of her supporters feel) has reminded me of Yuri Zhivago’s “Revolutions are made by fanatical men of action with one-track minds, men who are narrow-minded to the point of genius. They overturn the old order… but for decades thereafter, … the spirit of narrowness which led to the upheaval is worshipped as holy.” (from Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago) Ok, that is a bit strong and it calls for a much more complex discussion of revolutionary change (and the structures of oppression that revolution at its best seeks to transform), but you get the idea!
-- I don’t think he can do what he says he wants to and I would be uncomfortable supporting someone just because he says what I want. From my reading of his record, his speeches, and his interviews, he has neither the knowledge, nor the sociopolitical networks and legislative support, nor a strategy for building the sociopolitical networks and legislative support to make his most visionary statements move forward (leave alone be achieved) in four years.
-- I think his electability is more fragile than Clinton’s. Against Trump, he possibly/probably would win. I think the Republicans are going to replace Trump in some way or the other, and with any other Republican (including Cruz) I think the red-baiting and other more general attacks on Sanders (which we have not seen any of yet, and not because the substance and planning aren’t out there) will make it very possible, even likely, that he will lose. And we have potentially three Supreme Court nominations under the next President.
-- I think he is impassioned for the right things and good-hearted. I also think he’s fuzzy in his thinking and I don’t like or trust his advisers.