The great tragedy of Bernie Sanders’ loss in the 2016 primary is not that he lost, but something that resulted from the level of cynicism to which his campaign rose in his overly ambitious effort to win. In effect, it assured that the revolution would at the least be indefinitely postponed—and possibly postponed for generations to come.
There can be little doubt that his loss assures that those political irrelevants who emerged from the shadows of the far left will again retreat back into the darkness from which they shout infantile epithets about the status quo. What remains uncertain is whether his cynicism was so infectious that Donald Trump might win the presidency. It has happened under less acrimonious circumstances.
Even without that ominous possibility, just a modicum of pragmatism on the part of the far left which kept them in the fray would go a long way to keeping the dream of revolution alive. As martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”
Had the same attitude permeated past revolutions, the Union might have given up after Bull Run. Texans might have given up after the fall of the Alamo. The colonists might have given up after Washington was defeated on Long Island.
For all it’s apparent obstacles to progress, the democratic institutions of our governmental system provide those who engage in politics with the power needed to affect change—for better or worse—and those who take no part in politics simply resign themselves to live under what ever favors the victor allows them.
Politicians receive no “mandate” from those who do not support them, and the decision not to vote, or to shun the victor in the Democratic primary is a decision to be irrelevant to any hope of revolution—until some future generation is level-headed enough to efffect real change. This is the reality of realpolitik in America’s political system.