Bernie Sanders is a lot of things and most of them admirable. He's a fearless fighter against wealth and income inequality, Wall Street rip-offs, chasing the money changers out of politics, and for every kind of much needed institutional reform. But there's one thing that Bernie must be faulted for. He has too many loose cannons who pop off about things that they best should keep their mouths shut about. The worst part is that Bernie won't open his mouth quick enough or at all to smack down their words. This was never more glaring than with the latest to have loose jointed lips and a thought process. That's Susan Sarandon.
By now her quip that she might not back Clinton and the far worse thought that Trump might be the one to spark the revolution has burned up enough twitter and Facebook accounts with righteous indignation. In fact, it's been more than a day since she sounded off with that patented lunacy. This was more than ample time for Sanders to loudly say: "Susan, you don't speak for me." I'll give Bernie the benefit of the doubt and guess that he cringed on the inside when Sarandon's ridiculous quip hit the newsreels.
Yet a private cringe is no substitute for a public denunciation. This is what Sanders should quickly have done. While Sarandon almost certainly would never vote for a Trump in a millennium, and said such in the next breath, still the reason for a quick, fast and in a hurry disavowal of her remarks is obvious. Bernie is a Democrat; that's Democrat with a large "D." Though he publicly pledged to back Clinton, if he doesn't get the nomination, that's was almost unnecessary. His loyalty is to the Democratic Party and that means a full throated, unabashed, unambiguous support of whomever the party's presidential standard bearer is. His obligatory endorsement and support doesn't end things for Sanders. He'll also be called upon and expected to implore his supporters to back Clinton. This means squashing any notion among his most fervent, dogged supporters of writing in his name. This is tantamount to a vote for Trump or Cruz. This is a horror that Sanders or any other Democrat should dread worse than the plague.
Now there's the logic that Sarandon used to tout a Trump win; a logic, which by the way, that has been heard on the streets and bandied about by more than a few Sander's supporters. The logic says that if not Bernie better to get someone like a Trump in the White House who is so reactionary, retrograde, offensive and destructive that his assaults on civil rights, liberties, Muslims, Hispanics, and women would be so grotesque that he'd provoke a firestorm of reaction from progressives. In other words, the devil will do the job that the angels can't do and that's organize them. Presumably this means his efforts to roll back the 20th Century would grow the progressive movement by leaps and bounds.
This is so patently absurd that it almost needs no rebuttal. But I'll give one anyway; one that even the most blinder leaden progressive can understand. 1932 Germany. There were many German hard-line Communists who followed Moscow's i.e. Stalin's line that the German Communist should go easy on Hitler and the Nazi Party in the streets and in the voting booth, and instead wage political war against Germany's social Democratic parties. The thinking being that you get the devil in power, namely Hitler, and he will make things so bad that this will grow the numbers and power of the Communists. Well we know how that worked out.
The historic evidence is just the opposite. That is that a repressive regime isn't the best tool for organizing, but rather a liberal democratic one is. This gives progressives and reformers the needed breathing space to fight for and win reforms. Having a Lenin in power, which is the analogy that the MSNBC host who interviewed Sarandon used and that she grabbed at to further make the point that a fight back will best occur in a totalitarian run state would have sent both to the dunce seat in any high school history class.
The Clinton camp has gently chided Sanders for Sarandon's intemperate remark. And has lightly suggested that she might want to walk back her seemingly nonsensical hyperbole Trump advocacy. Clinton should not have had to say a word to Sanders about her. Sanders should have seen the real damage that this did. Bernie please disavow Sarandon, and do it now.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His latest book is From Sanders to Trump: A Guide to the 2016 Presidential Primary Battles (Amazon Kindle) He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Saturdays 9:00 AM on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network