Time to Sober Up

If one lived during the times of the tragically brief presidential campaign of New York Senator Robert Kennedy, it’s easy to imagine how supporters of Bernie Sanders feel.

Frankly one must be heartless not to share Bernie backers’ enthusiasm and admire their devotion. Okay. Fury. Or one must be a pragmatist, an American who knows what our vast middle will tolerate. And won’t.

Regardless of whatever “-ism” respective sides attach to him, the Vermont senator will be denied the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.

Inspire multitudes as Sanders does, has, and further might, his flavor will not find favor with the majority of Democratic voters.

The blind zeal of Bernie Backers reminds me of the factions fighting against the Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War. Various Republican parties (in the Spanish conflict Republicans were the good guys), communist cadres, and anarchists banded together to preserve the Spanish Republic. From the jump it was an unwieldy mob.

In the end, despite the same goal of defending the Republic, then envisioning their design steering the saved nation, factional differences split them apart. Once riven by disunity, any ability to fight cohesively deserted them. The movement collapsed.

That resulted in nearly 40 years of Falangist rule under Francisco Franco.

The Loyalists, or Monarchists or Nationalists if preferred, sought to establish an autocracy. Not only were all rights singing the same Psalms from the same hymnal books, but they also received manna from godless Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.

Memories of the Great War’s slaughter still fresh throughout the non-axis world, the Spanish Republic’s natural allies – other democracies – were reluctant to contribute what we now popularly call blood and treasure. Despite espousing the same noble principles as the beleaguered state, leading democracies refused aiding the Spanish Republicans. Such a commitment by them not only would’ve preserved Republican Spain, but given Nazi Germany, Mussolini’s fascist Italy, and the Imperial Japanese empire pause about future rampaging.

Emboldened by the democratic states’ cowardice, the rogue trio correctly determined them weak. The Soviet Union concluded the same. A natural foe of the Nazis, Stalin rightly judged the situation by entering a non-aggression pact with Hitler.

Stalin was not going to go it alone. Reading tea leaves was unnecessary to see another European war on the near horizon.

The destruction and displacement that occurred during the 20th century’s second great conflagration could’ve been delayed, if not altogether thwarted, had the democracies banded together for Republican Spain. Instead they remained on the sidelines, a stance just as good as opposing the duly elected Spanish government.

Rather than fight for their common good, Spanish Republican components eventually splintered into partisan blocs – especially the anarchist wings. At times, the anarchists even turned their weapons on allies.

In our 2020 election, those claiming themselves “progressives” are coming across as Spanish anarchists did. Believing only their cause righteous, they have purposely lost sight of the ultimate aim.

Menaced today as the United States is from within, Americans now are not prey to fascism. Reactionaries, evangelicals, white identity groups, and the corporate entities exploiting the trio’s self-invented grievances as far as these will plump bottom lines have no grand intent to marginalize and eliminate populaces they find offensive. But how imminent might that become with four more years of Donald Trump? And how much further egging on from the short-fingered vulgarian will similarly embolden such sickness here as the 1930s democracies’ failure to act did fascism?

Four more years of the vile pig currently soiling the Oval Office may be enough to jolt red-in-the-face theory into a society disrupting force. That is an opening no true American should wish to provide.

In Spain, the immediate fight was to preserve the Republic. In 2020 America, the goal which will save the United States is defeating the real estate fraud and diluting GOP federal legislative power. Both goals are quite attainable.

Under Der Trump’s misrule and the GOP’s insistence on dismantling as much of the federal machinery as possible – sparing, of course, our bloated military – America no longer enjoys any of its former preeminence. Yes, we retain unmatched armed might. Yet what good is a musclebound state if its leadership is brainless?

Even if it results in hobbling the Democratic Party and its increasingly likely candidate former vice-president Joe Biden, progressives will insist their brand of self-destructive purity should be accepted over mainstream appeal and nation-saving pragmatism. I mustn’t imagine how the self-absorbed romanticism of the avowed left has consumed them with misguided fervor. There’s nothing sexy about the mundane, the tried-and-true.

Yet drab expertise and experience make systems work. Seeing how dysfunctional our federal machinery has become and the inability of anyone currently at the top to repair and then operate it properly during our virus agonies is fine advertising for smart and steady.

The Nationalists victorious, the Spain which had blossomed under Republicanism after drab centuries, imposed rule that stunted the Iberian nation more than had earlier eras.

And while the most committed of Spanish Civil War losers possessed sterling memories and told swell tales of “the good fight,” they nonetheless lost the war. Isn’t that the worst-ever second place? Certainly their recollections, their telling of them, would’ve been better had their side won.

It is known victors write history. Less known is losers only get to read it, not revise it.

Hearing progressives today perhaps we should be concerned they’d take some kind of tarnished glory from intentionally sabotaging the presumed mutual objectives of all true Americans. After all, should Democrats lose in November, progressives can find selfish comfort knowing they remained unbowed in their insolence at the nation’s expense.

May no American ever celebrate our decline so joyously.

Despite renown for being bold people, Americans are generally timid and cautious at heart. Timid and cautious, not weak.

Sure, we’re innovative and inventive. We’ve made and may continue making great strides in technology.

However, on the societal and cultural planes Americans barely advance incrementally enough to achieve station-to-station progress. Understand it took the Depression, World War II, and Sputnik for the vast majority of us to put aside our social divisions and regional differences to ease, win or solve each of those calamities.

Eugene Debs, Norman Thomas, and certainly Henry Wallace, all earlier socialists who ran for the presidency, presented ideas which had these been implemented just might’ve further improved citizens’ lots. The decisive electoral defeats of each candidate simply prove Americans impervious to electoral leaps of faith.

Admittedly some of Bernie’s proposals sway great numbers of us. Primarily the myopic. The senator is a wonderful salesman for pie-in-the-sky.

Also given these Trump times ours may appear akin to those upheavals that introduced America to mid-20th century challenges. The short-fingered vulgarian looks so bad in our eyes because those who lived through truly perilous times established provisions that cushioned and cosseted us so well for the longest.

Ingrates as many of us have become, we’ve ignored the past. We now foolishly believe ourselves bulletproof to cataclysm. Seems coronavirus and the gradual shredding of the safety nets and financial safeguards since the Reagan Era are about to retire our air of invulnerability
The upside? A lot more of us may get to learn the melody and lyrics to Brother Can You Spare a Dime?

Yes. Der Trump is a disgusting disgrace. Nonetheless the vile pig being relative to what this nation has endured, he’s a rash, not a shattered limb.

If momentum is veering towards Joe Biden, it’s because Americans are practical people. More and more of us are coming to the instinctive conclusion that unswerving as Bernie styles himself, he’s offering the United States impractical snake oil.