Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Oh, To Be Wrong Again


As the story goes….two friends go to the racetrack. They are losing every race but notice that the couple in front of them are winning big. One friend suggests the other follow the couple, stay close behind and lay your money exactly where they put it. Ten minutes later he returns with two hot dogs a beer and a coke.

That’s me, the guy on the wrong line. I have a history of losing. If someone had followed me for the past sixty years and done exactly the opposite as far as buying and selling real estate, he’d be a very rich man today. It doesn’t get much better in politics.

At age fifteen in 1948 I knew everything, in absolute terms. Armed with stacks of leaflets I scampered from door to door, from floor to floor of apartment buildings, just ahead of the superintendent. This was Truth I was putting under each door like some sort of messianic zealot. I was convinced Henry Wallace and the Progressive Party had it right. Of course, they didn’t win a single state.

I voted for Eugene McCarthy rather Hubert Humphrey in 1968. Big mistake. In 1972 I was out there again ringing doorbells for George McGovern. He carried Massachusetts and lost the other 49.  

Never trust a political junkie. We know too much which is to say we know nothing. My calculus is based on the past which can be misleading in times of epochal change. Trump’s victory in 2016 and his takeover of the Republican Party signals an upheaval of the old two party agendas.

I look at the constituencies and see a greater number of moderates than either polarity suggests. The far right makes noise. The Bernie left is equally passionate but they would seem unelectable since their numbers are less than the sum of the 4-5 candidates in the center. I see no sign yet of any of them dropping out. Perhaps each is counting on a brokered convention determined by establishment Democrats. In the meantime Putin and Trump relish a Bernie Sanders candidacy just as I recall salivating over a Trump nomination. My most recent blunder.

Maybe I’ve got it all wrong….again. Could it be that the Democratic Socialist will draw from that vast pool of disaffected voters who normally sit it out? Maybe it takes a rabid anti-Trump Populist to defeat the pseudo-Populist, Trump; not a reasonable, dispassionate Centrist but a firebrand, unashamed Socialist with a clear, hard-driving narrative and enough savvy to make space for the Never-Trumpers, traditional Democrats and Independents.

I still believe the overwhelming imperative is to oust Trump before he eviscerates our government with incompetent toadys, pardons everyone from John Wilkes Booth to Bernie Madoff and puts the planet at risk with his monarchical impulses. 

The prospect of a Bernie Sanders candidacy must be regarded seriously as our consensus nominee. The very idea goes beyond my vision and therefore might be another instance of  the new landscape which escapes my historical grasp.   

If Sanders goes into the July convention with a ten point spread over his nearest rival but less than a majority, I believe the Party will crown him the winner by acclamation. To do otherwise would be political suicide. I’m girding my loins for such an outcome. Maybe this time around Bernie can make the association between Socialism and Social Tea Biscuits and he’ll ride his horse into the Oval Office.

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