Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Skipping the Line

I don't know many passionate Hillary supporters. For the most part, she continues to be favored not for who she is but who she isn't in this election. Which certainly isn't ideal for the Democrats, though they'll certainly take it.

However, some rather forceful anti-Bernie rhetoric would sometimes cross my Twitter feed. Some of the criticisms were fair (his plans aren't necessarily realistic, his temperament may not be suitable for a head of state) and some were mostly just blanket insults aimed at his supporters which, frankly, aren't doing any favors for the Democrats' image. (Pro tip: insulting your new members isn't exactly the best way to retain those new members.)

One complaint about Bernie in particular popped up time and again, and still does; a complaint that frustrates me to no end. That complaint, more than any other, eliminates any faith I may have had in the Democratic Party. A complaint lobbed, usually, from Democratic loyalists and insiders that, basically, ensures that I will never want to be a part of that institution.

Time and again, I heard the criticism that Bernie "skipped the line."

Much and more has been said about the fact that Bernie was not, in fact, a Democrat, even as he ran in the Democratic primaries. Despite caucusing with them throughout his career, he had no standing in the party. To Bernie supporters, running in the Democratic primary instead of running independently was Bernie's favor to the Democrats. To the Democrats, allowing him to run in their primary despite his lack of standing with them was a favor from the Democrats to Bernie.

Of course, none of this was a problem until, somehow, Bernie seemed to be gaining momentum. The possibility was there that Bernie could, perhaps, dethrone the heir apparent. Suddenly, Bernie was an upstart. Nevermind that his platforms generally align with the Democrats' about as much as any registered Democrat. Nevermind the way he helped to swell the Democratic party with his new, active base that would have otherwise remained independent.

Bernie was not part of the club. He hadn't paid his dues. He skipped the line.

What dues hadn't Bernie paid, though? He certainly worked with the Democrats on important issues close to their hearts for decades. He was their ally. He stood behind them, but not among them. He stood with them, but not within them.

Likely, Bernie has voted with the Democratic party line more often than some actual Democratic congressmen. I admit this is just a guess, though; I haven't actually compared his record to other Democratic senators. However, it is true that Senator Sanders is extremely vocal about issues important to Democrats, moreso than many actual Democrats.

Add that to the fact that, as far as the Senate is concerned, Bernie is effectively a Democrat. His current committee appointments reflect his standing with the minority party; those, of course, being the Democrats.

But still. He's not part of the club. He hasn't paid his dues. He skipped the line.

There is one way, one definite way in which Bernie hasn't been a Democrat: he doesn't raise funds for them. He doesn't generate money for the party machine; the machine that siphons money from the bigger, more popular candidates and funnels it toward winning more contested seats for lesser-known candidates.

It's how the party grows and stays alive. It needs its more prominent members to prop up its less prominent members. That's what it means to unite in a club. That's what it means to pay your dues.

But Bernie isn't in that club. He hasn't paid his dues. He skipped the line.

The line. As if running for President is something we simply take turns doing. As if there's a ladder you need to climb; a specific, predetermined path you need to take to qualify for the running. As if it's their right to decide who should be president. As if this conga line of Democratic candidates is somehow more important than a person's politics, personality, and personal ability.

The concept of this line of manufactured candidates offends me. It means that, for some people, a candidate can never not be a career politician. That, no matter what qualities they have, it's irrelevant if they haven't gone to law school and worked their way up the political ranks.

This seems to me like a strange and unimaginative world view. It's that sort of narrow thinking that awakens some sick, small part of me that actually wants Donald Trump to win, and for him to be an excellent President. To remind the people that politicians aren't the only option. That there are people from other facets of our country that can administrate effectively.

Of course, that small part of me can't withstand the fact that Donald Trump's world is likely even more of a bubble than most politicians' are. And there's the fact that having Trump lose is far preferable to Trump winning and being awful at the job, which is far more likely than him being good at it.

Even so, I feel that this this line, this manufactured queue of presidential candidates, is a harmful institution. It's a self-serving aristocracy that can and should be overthrown. And, if this campaign is indicative at all of what awaits us in the future, that revolution is imminent.

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