Thursday, May 12, 2016

Surely the people are sheeple!

There are two points with the Sanders campaign that continue to rankle, the more so that both come from the candidate himself, not from his most ardent supporters anonymously posting on the intertoobs.

First, there's the issue of super delegates:

Ironically, Sanders’ recent assertion that Clinton will not garner the majority of all delegates before the convention rests on the existence of superdelegates, whose numbers raise the mathematic ceiling for clinching the nomination. This is where his logic turns on itself — one cannot complain about the existence of superdelegates, and then use their existence to claim that the convention will be contested. Indeed, if the party awarded superdelegates proportionally according to the state-by-state results, which Sanders seems to advocate, Clinton would maintain a comfortable majority of delegates.

Thus under any formulation, Clinton will have the clear majority of electoral votes and pledged delegates — not to mention superdelegates. The only conceivable way she could lose is for superdelegates to ignore the electoral results, and move en masse to Bernie Sanders. It would hard to characterize that as either logical, or consistent with any version of democracy one can conjure. And it directly contradicts Sanders’ call for allocating superdelegates according to the popular vote in each state.
Then there's the problem that "the poor don't vote" (except, as North Patterson points out, Clinton won in states with far too much income inequality) and "the corporate media," which have their root in the same problem:

Almost worse than the Green Lantern view of the world, is the absolute certainty in the correctness of their belief. If only the main stream media wasn't standing in the way, we would see the truth. The Truth! If only the scales would fall from our eyes, if we could break out of our delusion, we would of course believe exactly as they do, we would see The Truth! Again, back to the point about a lack of self examination, self awareness, humility. No one in good conscience, or with clear thought could disagree, it's instead an indicator of your delusion, misinformation from the media and so on. All votes where Bernie loses are somehow corrupt, because of course everyone would vote for Bernie when they see the truth.

I have come around to hold that while there are some people that are truly badly informed, most people have a pretty good sense of what they believe and want. To hold otherwise is to deny them agency. If you want to move them, then you are going to have to engage in the hard and slow work of talking to them, convincing them of a different view. That will require treating them with respect, and taking into account their belief systems, priorities, concerns, etc. Along the way you may even change yourself, and will likely have to give up something in order to get something else. In other words compromise. I thought the presidents recent commencement speech at Howard University very eloquently made this point.

In the meantime, I am waiting for non-believers to be called sheeple.
When Sanders was dissing the poor for not voting for him, he might as well have called them "sheeple."  He did everything but that.

Patterson makes one more point worth noting, just before his discussion of super delegates:

Yet another problem for Sanders among Democrats was his relationship to the party — specifically, that he has never been a member.

Certainly, that should not — and did not — preclude him from seeking the party’s nomination. But political parties do not exist simply to conduct plebiscites. Their underlying purpose is to promote a sustained approach to governance which requires a cadre of people to keep the party machinery running. Most often, these are not cynical self-promoters, but committed folks who believe that their party‘s general philosophy is best for society. Superdelegates are people, too. (emphasis added)
Sanders is not famous, as I've noted before, for emulating Ted Kennedy's successes in Congress.  He caucuses with the Democrats, but he doesn't have his fingerprints on any major legislation, and he hasn't used his seniority and experience to push through any laws in his career.  (If I am wrong I will gladly take correction on this point.)  A party exists to express a general philosophy which provides what a group of people consider to be essential to the common good.  In the same way a church exists to express a general religious attitude which provides what a group of people consider to be the right alignment with their ideas of the divine, or even just the universe (spare me the tedious discussions of how science "replaces" religion, discussions which fundamentally misunderstand both science and religion.  Yeah, too many of those on the internet already.).

Is that expression perfect?  Does the church always agree with me?  No.  To some extent I have to bend; to some extent I have to bend the church.  I suspect the vast majority of people, based on church affiliation or voting patterns, don't really like to bend all that much.  Maybe that's a cultural thing, maybe it's a sociological thing; either way, it's a simple truism.  And the easiest response to that failure to satisfy any one person's deepest longings, is to damn those who disagree with you; call them "sheeple," or just say they are uninformed and if the "corporate media" or the "establishment" would just get out of the way, then everyone would agree with me!

Funny how it's never about trying to agree with "them."


  1. Reason and logic apparently do not apply in the Sanders campaign, because theirs is a movement.

  2. Well the most annoying among them certainly seem to be full of....


  3. Please leave the stage.