Dear Democratic establishment: You made that.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve blogged about much of anything – my fiction or my politics – but the recently-released excerpts from Hillary Clinton’s book What Happened, blaming Bernie Sanders, of all people, for her 2016 loss?

I can’t even remotely keep up with the colossally idiotic spectacle of the Trump presidency – I’m not even sure the people who get paid for it can do it – but this idiotic spectacle, I can manage. The very idea that it was Bernie Sanders’ attacks that fueled Trump and made it hard for Clinton to rally the progressive base?

Give me a motherfucking break.

And let me be perfectly clear about where I’m coming from when I say that: I voted Bernie in the primaries, and Hillary in the general election. I’m neutral about that fact. I have no illusions about Hillary’s or Bernie’s failings, nor do I harbor any of the delusions that a small fraction of the left were nursing: that a Trump presidency would spark a revolution which would put progressives in the driver’s seat when it was done.

I’ve already written about that delusion, but it’s looking like I’m going to need to repeat myself on more than a few points from that entry. Because some of y’all apparently still aren’t paying attention to the fucking obvious.

I don’t have to refer to Seth Meyers’ takedown of HRC’s fingerpointing – nearly every bit of which is true, by the way — for pointers. Nor do I have to refer to The Onion’s obviously-savage mockery of Clinton’s “subtly-savage” putdowns of Sanders.

No. All I need to point out – once again, f’r chrissakes – is this little pre-nomination tantrum from Trevor LaFauci in April 2016. In which LaFauci so presciently forecasts how Election 2016 was going to go.

And by “prescience,” I mean “intellectual autofellatio.”

Because, just as they did in 2000, the Democratic establishment decided that they could prevail without even trying to win over any of those immature, irrelevant progressives. Until it turned out that, yes, they did need them after all – in 2000 and in 2016 both. If only in certain razor’s-edge close contests.

You could almost forgive the DLC its cluelessness in 2000, even its failure to understand that Bill Clinton won his elections, in no small part, on his charisma and his ability to present a halfway-inspiring vision — not on his sale-ability as a Republican-Lite policy wonk. It was a rookie mistake; it happens.

But then 2008 came along, with Obama bringing the same kind of charisma and vision to the table as Bill Clinton did, campaigning using progressives’ language — even as he voted to let the telcos (and thereby, Bush 43) off the hook for Dubya’s year-long indisputable, actual crime of warrantless wiretapping.

No matter: even the appearance of vision and charisma was all it took for a n00b to snatch the nomination right out from under…Hillary Clinton. And it was, in no small part, the reason why so many of those immature, irrational progressives went to the trouble of rounding up and driving people to the polls for early voting – especially in my home state, Ohio.

What did they get in return for, quite literally, delivering Obama a victory at the polls? They got called “fucking retards” almost immediately by his chief of staff, Rahm Emmanuel – which, unsurprisingly, took Democrats right back to the circular firing squad, and the Tea Party victories of 2010 and beyond.

Does the party establishment or Hillary’s staff learn anything useful from any of this – or indeed, anything at all? No. They do not.

Not even when they have to fight like hell in 2016 for a primary win against…a previously-obscure senator known, before the primaries, mainly as the subject of Facebook politi-memes or DailyKos postings.

Even then, they steadfastly and sneeringly do not learn their lesson – not from 2000, from 2008, nor from those 2016 primaries, for that matter. Instead, they slip a few Sanders planks quietly into the party platform, while going on the attack just enough to give the appearance that they’re deliberately trying to screw Sanders out of a rightful victory.

Anyone who understands politics with a grown-up, pragmatic understanding knows that immediate appearances are not just important, they’re everything. However unjust that is, that’s just the way people work. So some of y’all need to redirect those complaints about irrational “Bernie-bros” to God, Satan, Dr. Phil, or whoever the motherfuck you think is responsible for basic human nature, because that’s who your real gripe is with.

See, with those moves, the Democratic establishment cemented a narrative it’s been spinning since 2000 about the people who were already going to vote third party, the people who were on the fence, and sometimes, even the people who voted Bernie in the primary and Hillary in the general election: that not a goddamned one of them mattered. Until they did – at which point, they went from being Wholly Irrelevant to The Whole Reason For Our EPIC FAIL.

The day-after whinies, one could almost forgive. After all, Hillary lost an election to the most despicable, loathsome douche-nozzle in America — a man who shrugged his shoulders when Howard Stern called his daughter a “piece of ass” — even with a popular-vote margin as vast as hers. It would simply be uncharitable not to indulge her and her people a certain amount of blind lashing-out in every direction possible, at least on the day after the election.

This ain’t the day after, though.

It’s not the week after.

It’s not the month after.

It’s almost a motherfucking year after, and if the failure of Hillary Clinton to put forth a more compelling platform than “I’m not Trump” is still not on the table for dissection – if the establishment failure to even try to reach out civilly to Bernie voters remains Party thoughtcrime – then all we have to look forward to in 2018, and probably in 2020 as well, is more defeat and more failure to learn from that defeat.

And if Hillary Clinton is joining the blame-Bernie bandwagon for her own failure to inspire, or to even coexist civilly, with progressives? When she ought to be demonstrating some piss-driblet of leadership by trying to mend fences with at least some of them?

Then let me lay a long-overdue clue-stick across your knuckles, ye “pragmatic centrists”: The Bernie-bros didn’t arise ex nihilo. If you’re going to whine about their ideological purity-testing and their irrational narratives and their abusiveness, you’d better goddamned well start looking at your own: Nobody gonna listen to you like I do, Ida Mae. Now shut up and vote for me, bitch….

All those people who have become so disenchanted with a Democratic party that ought, by rights, to best reflect their values? The Bernie-bros? The Jill Stein voters? The people who just plain stayed home in disgust? The people you couldn’t inspire to vote against a weapons-grade asshat like Donald Trump?

Whether you care to admit it or not?

You made that.

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After Lines is out

An anthology I’m in, After Lines, is out today at Lulu.com. After Lines takes familiar fairy tales as a starting point, and explores from there (such as my story, “The Duckling Swan,” a continuation of “The Ugly Duckling”). I’m pleased and proud to be part of this collection — check it out!

Endgame 2016, pt. 2: Do you want power, or not?

Hillary Clinton is going to be the 2016 Democratic nominee. Bernie has endorsed her, which puts an undeniable end to his campaign, despite the hopes of those who wanted to see him fight all the way to the convention. It’s not the result I would have hoped for, but I’m done grieving. He won nearly half the vote, for chrissakes. That’s not insignificant — and it shouldn’t be allowed to become insignificant, either. Even if some of y’all are doing your damnedest to make sure it does.

I’m not going to tell you what you should do next. My own personal viewpoint is that whoever gets the win in November is going to be making SCOTUS nominations, which is not to be taken lightly. I’ve been seeing some fairly strident arguments, at least on Facebook, that Trump would be kept in check by either Congress or the Constitution; if Trump wins, however, he’s going to get to stack the Supreme Court in his favor. He’s already name-dropped one potential nominee, a guy who would have jailed LGBT people for having sex in their own homes. Do you still feel like taking that bet, especially after the “payoff” we got from Dubya? I sure as hell don’t.

I’ve seen an awful lot of people say they’re going to go third party, a lot of them for Jill Stein of the Green Party. “I’m voting my conscience,” they say. Increasingly, I’m finding that to be a fairly disingenuous stance. Why? Because while I see a whole lot of people “voting their conscience,” I don’t see a helluva lot of people doing the shitwork it takes to build a third party into something that would actually be competitive: getting down-ticket people elected (or even local-ticket folks), and so on. I would enjoy being proved wrong, but for the most part, what I see in the Green Party looks more like a mere feel-good option, not unlike buying a Rage Against the Machine CD: it allows one to feel revolutionary without actually getting one’s hands dirty with the work of a real revolution.

It seems to me that the most useful thing progressives can do is to leverage the political capital they have, in fact, accrued with the Bernie campaign — he won close to half the vote, for chrissakes — into a bigger place at the table for progressives within the Democratic Party. Something which can be built on, even expanded, in 2018. Because this fight doesn’t end in 2016, or even at the presidential level: those down-ticket Senate and House elections may be even more important, at least in determining what kind of Congress the next President is going to have to work with.

What I’m talking about is taking back the Democratic Party for progressives — one hates to compare the effort to the Tea Party, but there’s no denying how successful they were at taking over the Republican Party, and in a short time, to boot. As I’ve written before: taking back the Democratic Party from the neoliberal corporatists that now hold sway is not an easy task to take on — but it’s a damn sight easier than trying to build a third party capable of challenging it, especially if the goal is to amend the current system in favor of one which makes third parties viable entities. (Which, by the way, may not be the saving-throw third parties might hope for: if they’re polling at anything less than 20%, are they really any less marginalized, even in a multi-party system?)

I’m not going to pretend that Hillary Clinton is, say, Elizabeth Warren (though the hints that Warren could be her VP are, to say the least, tantalizing) — but under the conditions of 2016, a Clinton presidency could, if played right, be a stepping-stone for progressives toward actual power — in the Party, and in the government. Which, however much one might agree with her, one cannot say of Jill Stein. That may be unpleasant to realize, but it’s the political reality of the situation.

The Bernie campaign was always described as a revolution; at this point, the question remains: does the revolution stop here, with different factions going off in different directions (as is so often the case), squandering the potential gains they’ve won? Hillary has, at least in one speech, started opposing the TPP, even if her operatives have kept that position from becoming a plank in the party platform. This is not insignificant, even if it is inconsistent. That said: The neoliberal establishment should not be allowed to continue sneering at the progressive base as insignificant — Bernie got nearly half the vote, for chrissakes. But what comes next is going to depend on whether or not progressives are willing to fight to reclaim the soul of the Democratic Party, or if they’re going to dissipate their energies chasing third-party unicorns.

Because that’s what it really boils down to: do progressives really want power, or not? It’s yours for the taking, people. You only have to be willing to exercise it….