May. 19th, 2016

When I was young, I gave serious thought to the morality and technique of overthrowing the government. I came to realize that a literally revolutionary movement here could not destabilize the government, could not win a civil war even if it did destabilize the government, and had no way to avoid becoming even worse than the status quo as it would change in any serious attempt to win such a civil war.

Still, those destabilizing techniques remained interesting to me, even if only to monitor others' behavior. And for the first time, since the 1970s, I'm seeing them used on the left side of electoral politics, by a minority of Sanders supporters. That's interesting, but by itself wouldn't be alarming, as there aren't enough of them that they should be effective. There have long been a scattering dispirited revolutionaries on the left, who never did the soul searching I did as a teenager and it's interesting to see how similar they are from one generation to the next.

What I find much much more troubling than the revolutionaries themselves is how credulously many other Sanders supporters lap up their propaganda.

This nomination is not being stolen. Clinton could have won it more easily (though it would have greatly harmed her general election chances) by doing the kind of red-baiting that the Republicans would if Sanders were nominated. But she figured she'd win the nomination anyway, so she didn't go negative in that way.

The nomination process is arcane and prone to minor controversies along the way. That should change. The revolutionaries have mischaracterized those speed bumps and sometimes intentionally caused them in order to attack the legitimacy of the nomination.

That kind of disinformation should not work. I think in most past years, it would not have worked on the left. But along with the actual revolutionaries, there is a mood among many other Sanders supporters to believe any charge against the system, no matter how bogus. That will not serve us.

The Sanders campaign has presented the actual left in this country a wonderful opportunity, both to change the terms of debate (outside leftist circles) on basic economic issues and to energize people who have previously been apathetic. We should continue moving the movement forward through Sanders' candidacy to the convention and his probable speech there.

But we should not kid ourselves about where we stand. With a center-left candidate against a Democratic Socialist, both of whom have serious flaws along with real assets as personalities, we will probably fail to nominate our candidate--not because the nomination process itself is rigged, but because in a coalition of interests that form the more leftward half of the electorate, we comprise slightly less than half of that coalition.

That says we have work to do, but also says we have considerable strength. We won't further our cause by turning people away from electoral politics by fanciful charges of rigging. And we won't further our cause by adopting the revolutionary tenet that things have to get worse (Trump) before they can get better.

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