Pragmatism vs. Idealism

I’m here today to talk to our friends in the Democratic Party that feel Bernie in their hearts but are supporting Hillary with their pragmatic brains. These are not bad people. They fear the Republicans radical and dangerous divisiveness just like we do.
We have all been fed a steady stream of simplistic propaganda that furthers the establishment’s narrative. That Hillary is the presumptive nominee. This narrative is strong and persuasive. It has been promulgated for months by CNN, by the NY Times, and by oh so many in the mainstream media. And if we were sheep, if we had gotten in line, there would be no problem now. The media and the ghosts of the DLC would have had their way and government would carry on as it has for the past 30 years. Establishment figures would get elected and re-elected without any accountability for their bad decisions. Outsider candidates like Bernie Sanders would be marginalized and tolerated for a few primaries before falling in line with the Democratic Party power structure.
But the DNC and the Clintons have a big problem. Times have changed. Bernie is not Howard Dean. Bernie is not the obligatory progressive that will keep the left in line until the presumptive moderate nominee emerges. Bernie is not the Democratic Party insider that will bow down to the wishes of the elite of the party. We are done with that patriarchy. We are done with compromising our ideals. We are done with triangulation and fear based politics.
I understand our friend’s resistance to Bernie Sanders. They have been told repeatedly by the mainstream media that Bernie doesn’t matter, that he is unelectable.
I am here today to encourage our Democratic friends that want big change to happen yet don’t believe that it is possible. Our friends that believe that they are not worthy of dreaming big, our friends that have surrendered their ideals to political pragmatism, that somehow believe that change will happen by choosing a candidate entirely entrenched in the dysfunction of the past.
There are certain moments in history where political pragmatism can lead to disaster, where a politician’s future ambitions compromise their constituent’s safety and security. These are the moments that define the man or woman. Will that individual risk their political future because of their beliefs? Will they risk being marginalized as radicals and extremists?
All of us that opposed the Iraq war were marginalized. We were called radicals, extremists, terrorist supporters for demanding evidence of weapons of mass destruction before we invaded. We were shouted down by mainstream media. We were threatened, some were intimidated into silence or compliance.
Not Bernie. Bernie faced the same intimidation and remained steadfast. And those that did the politically expedient thing, that didn’t ruffle feathers in an attempt to remain within the status quo, in an attempt to retain their position of power, these people were rewarded. In the media they were promoted, in politics they were re elected, some even received medals for getting it wrong. There were no apologies, there was no reckoning, there was no accountability. This was a defining moment for our country.
The good news is that there are millions of thinking, feeling people in this country that despite the massive propaganda that buoys up these failures, still hold onto the truth. And that truth is that the Iraq war is a bellwether. How you voted on this truly matters because it winded us up in such a morass. This was a time in our history where political pragmatism led to a massive disaster. A disaster to our economy, a disaster to our world standing, a disaster in the lives lost to this manufactured war. We cannot afford to go down that road again.
No, CNN. Because you ignore Bernie doesn’t make him go away. The New York Times can ignore on its front page Bernie’s victories in Washington Hawaii and Alaska. We are no longer surprised. We get it. You want Bernie to go away. You want your anointed candidate to win. After the southern primaries you had called the election. And who is fooling who? Winning South Carolina in a democratic primary is about as significant as winning Guam. No Democrat is going to win South Carolina in the general election. Why did these victories have so much significance?
Who is winning among independents? Not Hillary. Who is winning the young vote that will do the hard work to canvas and organize and turn out the vote? Not Hillary. Who has won the last six out of seven contests and clearly has momentum on their side? Not Hillary. And who is going to win in Wisconsin tomorrow?
Perhaps the people of this country are voting this way because they are no longer willing to reward the failures of pragmatists and war supporting Democrats. Perhaps the people of this country want leaders that can see clearly and make the right decision regardless of the way the wind blows. Perhaps the voters want a candidate with Integrity.
With this primary season we are once again at a moment in history where political pragmatism can lead to disaster. This concept that Hillary is the presumptive nominee has rankled a critical mass of people. No, they are saying to this anointing. No. They do not want to be told in a free and open democracy who to vote for. No. They will not be intimidated by moderates in the Democratic party who have been on the wrong side of history.
To the Democratic Party: You take this movement of Bernie voters for granted at your own peril. These people have had every opportunity to embrace your presumptive nominee. They have received your constant stream of publicity suggesting Hillary is their anointed. They have been given the message like everyone else and they have overwhelmingly rejected this notion. No, they say, this is the candidate of a DLC Democratic party that has brought us moderation when we needed bold action. This is the wing of the party that has brought us war, and bank bailouts and mass incarceration. If Hillary had been on the right side of these issues we would not be here today. We are here today because we want more out of our party. To start with we would like an opposition party. A party that is truly for the working man and woman, a party that helps their constituents with actual policy, not just lip service every election cycle that deals more with fear of the Republicans than any actual change.
We are the ones that marched against the Iraq war that Hillary voted for. We are the ones that have opposed for years the suicidal environmental future that politicians like Hillary have sanctioned with their support of the fossil fuel industries. We are the ones that marched against NAFTA. We are the ones that were outraged that the Democratic Party policies embraced a new strategy under Bill Clinton that demonized welfare mothers and supported legislation that disproportionately incarcerated African Americans in the war on drugs. We are the ones that opposed the tar sands pipeline that Hillary originally supported until she realized that it would be politically expedient for her to oppose.
We are supporting a candidate that stood with us, that voted against the Iraq war, that is opposed to fracking, that voted against NAFTA, that is opposed to the death penalty. We are supporting a candidate that that has throughout his career stood up for working people, that has stood up for veterans, for the unemployed, for the poor, for abortion rights for LGBT rights. We are supporting a candidate that has taken principled positions when others have compromised. We are supporting a candidate that has advocated for civil rights throughout his life, a man that marched with Martin Luther King, a man that advocates for those without a voice. We are supporting a candidate that has risked his political future time and again by remaining true to a strong moral commitment to peace and justice.
We understand what the good people of the great state of Vermont understand, that have kept Bernie in office because he is a genuine voice, an honest voice, a principled man that stands his ground and votes his conscience. The good people of Vermont may not agree with him on all of his stances, but they recognize Bernie as a man of integrity and consistently re elect him.
What a radical concept. A politician that has a moral bottom line, a politician that is not swayed by polls or reckless ambition or inner party pragmatism.
Could Bernie Sanders be leading us into a new paradigm? A paradigm where ones previous actions actually are relevant to ones current campaign?
A time where accountability actually matters, where politicians are held responsible for their bad policy decisions?
A time where the expedient and pragmatic within the political and media establishment are no longer rewarded for their compliance and subservience to corporate interests and party politics.
We are in a new time and you here in this hall, on this day in Wisconsin are leading us into a new future. You realize how important this election is. You are the visionaries that realize that the time is NOW.
Now is the time for the truth.
Now is the time for tolerance.
Now is the time for love
Now is the time for unbridled idealism.
Now is the time to dream big.
Now is the time to believe that we can accomplish great things beyond the accepted realm of possibility.
Now is the time to elect a leader that will lead us into a future of prosperity, peace and progressive change.
Now is the time for Bernie Sanders.