Bernie Sanders announced that he’s not a Democrat. Forget what he said when he was trying to become the Dem nominee, Forget his position on the Unity Tour. He sees himself leading an insurgent left through the ranks of a liberal party. But his leftist politics differ in interesting ways from both liberals and the left.
The latest controversy which pits Sandernistas against the abortion lobby is an extension of earlier conflicts with the party’s big tent over immigration and identity politics. Bernie made the appropriate corrections during his campaign, to no avail and went on to perform poorly with minority voters, but they haven’t really taken.
They were never going to.
Bernie’s leftist politics are so old that they’re fossilized. His Marxist obsession with class warfare operates to the exclusion of all else including the Rainbow Coalition that these days defines the American Left. Bernie is fine with breaking with the current dogma of the left on abortion as long as the class warfare is intact. He’s far more interested in socialized medicine than in Black Lives Matter or Transgender bathrooms. He could easily part ways on social and cultural issues with the Dems, backing an anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, pro-gun party, as long as he got Socialism out of it.
In some ways that makes him more dangerous. Like Trump, he’s able to shake off party dogma to realign with a working class base. Even if he’s a terrible messenger for that message. But the Bernie revolution was always about following the lead of hard left insurgencies like Corbyn in the UK or Melenchon in France that can speak to angry voters alienated by corporate left-wing coalition politics.
In America though, Bernie doesn’t have a prayer of reviving older and nastier class war anti-establishment politics. The college kids who are his main base expect fealty to intersectionalism. And Bernie spent the campaign on the defensive about gun control and Black Lives Matter.
Still Bernie has his hopes. And the struggle can tear apart just what being on the left means just as the past election had seismic shifts within the conservative movement. And it raises the specter that a more talented Bernie acolyte could do what he can’t. That has to be the fear keeping the conventional gatekeepers of the left up at night.
If Bernie can alter what the left stands for, shedding the obsession with identity politics, transgender bathrooms, gun control and the other fetishes of the urban elitist left, the end result would be nearly unrecognizable. And yet far better tipped for that 50 state strategy that the Dems keep paying lip service to.
It’s no wonder that Bernie sneers at Ossoff, who is the perfect embodiment of the Obama Dem, a vacuous carpetbagging bootlicker trying to force his way through a district using outside money, messaging and media influence. For Bernie, the great hope is the local left pushing class warfare even if it dispenses with the things that the real masters of the party care about, like gay rights, abortions, banning all the guns, bringing in all the illegal aliens and forcing everyone to use correct personal pronouns.
That is what makes Bernie into such an anti-Obama figure even if most of his followers are too programmed to understand what he really stands for and what their movement stands for.