Way back in February 2016, before Super Tuesday, I correctly predicted the end of the Bernie campaign based on his shift from class-first socialism to identity politics and intersectionality as he went to South Carolina, where most Democrat primary voters are black. He did not go full libtard on phony racial issues, but he did begin talking more about the incarceration rate, police brutality, and other issues that especially affect blacks.
It was the attempt to "do both" -- socialism and identitarianism -- that scuttled his challenge to Hillary Clinton. Any mention whatsoever of identity groups plays directly into the hands of the Establishment neoliberals like Clinton, whose entire appeal is identity politics -- either alone, or mixed with left-ish economic promises (that never materialize, which is the whole point of distracting with id-pol).
Bernie's comparative advantage was class politics, not id-pol, and who knows how well he could've done with Southern blacks by focusing like a laser on how materially poorer they've gotten over the past 40 years, including under Obama.
And lest anyone doubt how much I had predicted that far in advance, go read that post and see that I correctly called Trump as the GOP nominee, Trump as winner of the general election, the main issues being economic populism and party realignment, Trump leaving aside GOP id-pol (which Cruz took up instead, and massively failed even with GOP primary voters), demoralized Sanders supporters not turning out for Hillary in the general, defection of Sandernistas to Trump (10-15% of Bernie voters ended up voting Trump), and the Rust Belt states of Wisconsin and Michigan being central to this upset victory.
It didn't take a genius to figure all of that out so far in advance -- it just took someone who wasn't a complete retard, and someone who has not been a braindead partisan masturbater their entire life. That's why the events that unfolded during that electoral season took the Very Serious Thinkers all by surprise -- most of them barely have 3-digit IQs, and the rest are emotionally crippled partisans who produce and consume punditry as a form of therapy.
So now it saddens me to see these events happening all over again leading up to 2020, arguably in a worse form than four years ago. Bernie himself, his political circle, and the Democrat electorate in general, have only further minimized the class politics of his 2016 campaign and ramped up the id-pol hysteria that only favors the status quo candidate, now Biden instead of Hillary.
A socialist like Bernie can only halfass id-pol and intersectionality -- if voters are primed to want that, they will go with the unadulterated real deal, the neoliberal Establishment. Nazi hunting benefits CIA liberals for whom that is their specialty -- Jake Tapper, Evan McMullin, and their political vehicles like Clinton and Biden. That is not anywhere close to Bernie's specialty, so such voters would never choose him over Biden.
In a way, Bernie has already entered the concession stage of the campaign, and moved beyond advancing his own distinctive brand of politics, to re-purposing that branding in the service of the themes that will dominate the Establishment's general campaign.
This shift was decisively signaled by Bernie's speech on democratic socialism this week, although the changes have been building for awhile. Back in 2017, Bernie's speeches would only deliver a throwaway line about Russia / Putin / Mueller, another throwaway line about bigotry, and still made sure to emphasize the need to reach out to and convert Trump voters, who were not Nazis but desperate people whom the neoliberal economy had utterly failed.
By now, those speeches are unrecognizable, and would get him instantly canceled by the entire Democrat base -- moderates, libs, leftoids, and anarcho-LARPers, all of whom are shrieking about Trump and his administration representing a sudden and uniquely fascistic threat to the very foundations of America as a nation and to the democratic form of government.
To cater to this demand from the emotionally broken voters themselves, Bernie's campaign has subordinated the class politics of socialism to the neoliberal goal of distraction by Nazi-hunting. In the dem-soc speech, the entire dramatic tension comes from the sudden, rising threat of far-right authoritarianism not only in the US but all over the world. That is the main faultline that separates good from evil, light from dark, Us from Them. It's just like it was in the 1930s. Will humanity save itself as it did back then, or will we lose the war and perish for good as democratic nations?
In this narrative, the whole populist economic appeal is merely a means to a Nazi-hunting end -- just as FDR implemented the New Deal and beat Germany in WWII, so too can we only rely on a New New Deal implemented by Bernie to defeat the worldwide neo-Nazi menace. The improvement to our material standard of living and social solidarity is just a pleasant side-effect of the far more existentially crucial battle against far-right authoritarianism. This is the antifa-cation of Bernie's message over the past several years.
First, the history is completely wrong. Nazi Germany was not a sudden out-of-the-blue threat -- Prussia had been an expansionist nation since it became a kingdom in 1700, after Central Europe had recovered from the Thirty Years War. In the 18th century, they were led by an Enlightened absolutist monarch (Frederick the Great), and had clearly reached major power status by 1870, when they quickly knocked out France in the Franco-Prussian War, and unified the formerly fragmented German states. After reaching their peak around the time of Bismarck, they lost WWI and suffered devastating punishment by the victors. The Nazis were just the last desperate attempt to salvage Prussia's former greatness, and they lost even more decisively than they had in WWI, and were now de-militarized and indefinitely occupied by the military of the main victor (the US).
That centuries-long geopolitical expansion is the whole reason that the Nazis were a threat to anyone outside of Germany. Nobody cared about right-wing authoritarians in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, and the Slavic Balkans because none of those nations had been expanding for centuries. The only other source of fear at the time was the Empire of Japan -- another state that had been expanding geopolitically for centuries.
So in the early 21st century, where the hell are these expansionist empires who might actually threaten Americans or others, supposing that far-right authoritarians were to take over their government? Nowhere in Europe, nowhere in the Americas -- other than the US itself -- nowhere in Africa, nowhere in Central or Southern Asia, and nowhere in Eastern Asia. China has been ruled by the left, not the right, since the Communist era, and they are not expansionist -- and even if they were, that would only threaten mainland Asian nations, not America. Its economic miracle is entirely the gift of Western manufacturing cartels using it as a cheap labor colony for off-shoring, as they have de-industrialized their own economies.
The only expansionist nation that is run by religious and militarist right-wing authoritarians, and that continues to pose a threat not only to their neighbors but to the American people -- is Saudi Arabia, expanding since circa 1750, but clearly past their Mid-20th century peak (just like us). In fairness, Bernie's speech does mention Mohammad bin Salman as one of the far-right authoritarians who threaten the world, and who Trump has allied himself with (as has every American president since the Cold War).
But unlike Nazi Germany vs. Europe or the US, the Saudis are a client state of the Pentagon, so all we need to do with them is cut them off as part of the unwinding of the impotent American empire. Socialism is neither here nor there for countering the radical Islamic threat of the Arabians.
Nor was socialism integral to defeating Germany in WWII. It wasn't only the US that had a proto- or quasi-socialist government that arose during the Great Depression -- so did Britain and France, and yet they were powerless to stop Germany. Yugoslavia had an effective Communist-led resistance to Nazi occupation, but they were not crucial in defeating Germany outside of the Balkans. It was the Soviets who did the heavy lifting to defeat Germany. It was not their Communism that helped them defeat Germany, but the fact that they were a large-scale expanding state themselves, as were the Americans. It was geopolitical trends of expanding vs. contracting states, not their internal control by the socialist left or the conservative or fascist right, that determined the outcome.
And of course, the US mostly sat out WWII in Europe. Bernie's speech reinforces the Cold War-influenced Boomerism that America joined the Allies in WWII to defeat the Nazis on account of their being violent racists, and that we were mainly responsible for their defeat. Back on Planet Earth, we only joined WWII after Japan -- not Germany -- attacked one of our Pacific Island colonial outposts. Japan's expansion in the Pacific was on a collision course with our own westward expansion toward the Pacific.
We were not expanding into Europe, so the Germans posed us no imminent geopolitical threat -- and so we let the Europeans fight amongst themselves, swooping in to the power vacuum afterwards to make it a colony (NATO, Marshall Plan, supporting EU, etc.). We infamously turned back boats of Jews fleeing the Holocaust, sent our military very late during the rise of the Nazis, and played a minor role in the West compared to the Soviets' major role in the East. Right after the war ended, we helped install the right wing in power in Germany and Italy, since they were preferable to the social democrats who might be sympathetic to the Soviets.
With Germany out of the expansionist picture, it was only Russia who posed us any geopolitical threat as we expanded into occupying Europe. Just like that, we went from attacking Nazis to attacking the Nazi-attackers. It had nothing to do with right vs left, identity politics, or anything like that -- only cold hard geopolitical matters of who was expanding in a region in which we were also expanding, and who we would be on a collision course with.
Bernie's speech glorifies militarism and imperialism, keeping American Boomer brains ever focused on the one war where we played a decent role, and ignoring the other wars that America fought under the New Deal Democrats. Why doesn't Bernie hype up the Korean War, Vietnam War, support for the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan, etc.? Not only because those wars all failed to bring the regions under the US sphere of influence -- and so would painfully remind Boomers that the US military is past its WWII peak -- but because they would discredit his speech's premise that we can somehow contain a "socialist militarism" to only the good wars. If we subordinate socialism to militarism, it will be utilized even where we are clearly the evil ones -- as the Great Society president did in Southeast Asia -- because militarism is amoral, looking only at geopolitical expansion and contraction, not what any of the state actors stand for.
By fundamentally miscasting the sources and results of the New Deal, Bernie's speech fails to re-ignite support for it with today's voters. The triggering event was the Great Depression, not the German invasion of Poland. The forces leading up to the triggering event were laissez-faire economics, not Prussian geopolitical expansion. The elites who ushered in those forces were the robber barons, not the Nazis. The main victory of the New Deal was a rising standard of living, increased solidarity, a more stable economic system and business cycle, and a more egalitarian distribution of wealth, not German military defeat and occupation. And the main losers were the industrialist elites, not former Nazis.
In the ham-fisted attempt to stitch together these two entirely separate narratives, the speech does mention the latter-day robber barons (oligarchs) who dominate our 21st-century society, but casts them as villains primarily for allying with the supposed far-right authoritarians who are on the rise across the world, and only secondarily for their policies of bailouts for the rich, austerity for everyone else. In the speech, it is the far-right authoritarians, not the oligarchs, who represent the imminent apocalyptic threat -- so the robber barons are reduced to the role of fascism-enablers. Hardly the ringing endorsement that the neoliberals would give to the Jeff Bezoses and Walton families of the world, but still minimizing their role and obfuscating about who and what are the real threats to the common good in 2019.
At the big-picture level, Bernie's speech was hardly different from Hillary's speech about the Alt-Right and right-wing authoritarians led by Putin, which was a reliable sign of her demise at the polls a few months later. Bernie's speech only differs on the proposed solution to the threat, not what the major threat is. And again, if he portrays far-right authoritarianism as the major threat and campaign theme, voters will rush right into Joe Biden's creepy embrace. Being the global policeman for liberal values is the Establishment's specialty, not Bernie's.
Normal people understand that there are no far-right authoritarians in power anywhere, other than perhaps Saudi Arabia, that no such movement is even afoot in the US, and that a handful of right-wingers posting anti-Jewish memes on Twitter doesn't matter. Even the occasional mass shooting of a synagogue is not enough to make normal people assess the threat as equivalent to radical Islam, responsible for orders of magnitude more deaths in recent memory (9/11). Mass shootings in general get attention, but there are too many to keep track of, and most do not involve identitarian motives.
With the antifa-cation of his message, Bernie's campaign has boxed itself into advocating for the 1% rather than the 99% -- the 1% of the population who are deranged libtards that binge-consume Rachel Maddow (if Boomers) or blue-check Twitter (if Gen X or Millennial). And by casting Trump as a far-right authoritarian, and by casting socialism as a prophylactic against far-right extremism, he's implicitly condemning a big chunk of Trump voters as fascist enablers. No different from Hillary's "basket of deplorables" speech about what voting for Trump amounted to, whatever their motives may have been.
You cannot run on such a polarizing message and fight for the great majority. Instead, the main source of divisiveness has come from the insane liberals and leftoids. Trump united a large coalition thought to be impossible for a Republican to unite by 2016, whereas the Democrats were then, and sadly still are now, railing against any end to the pointless culture war.
Most of Trump's crucial voters (distinct from kneejerk GOP voters) are ready to defect, in the wake of his utter inability to get anything done in office (indeed, everything has gotten worse that he promised to make better). The only candidates who Tucker Carlson is even remotely excited about are Bernie, Tulsi, Yang, and Warren -- all Democrats, and those whose economic values are left rather than right.
But they aren't going to go through all the costs of yet another seismic campaign unless it's at least as good as the last one they joined. And one that subordinates economic populism to global-scale Nazi goose-chasing is not that campaign. I'm still sticking with Bernie, because he's still the best choice in 2020, but he's not going to get the same level of sympathy from Independents and Republicans that he did in 2016, if he keeps up this antifa-cation bullshit. Nothing short of a total overhaul on these issues will improve his campaign's already dim prospects.
The Bernie movement's goal always had to be sidelining the hysterical freaks and converting Trump sympathizers -- conservative GOP-ers looking to abandon the sinking ship of Reaganism, as well as Independents who hate both parties -- and signing up and organizing those who normally just sit out the primary or general election. Otherwise, the same ol' Democrat voters would nominate the same ol' neoliberal candidate like Clinton or Biden.
They have chosen partisanship and left purity above getting contaminated by ritually unclean Trump voters or disaffected non-voters, and they are getting shellacked by the Establishment because of it. Bernie struggles to crack 20% in polls, while Biden does not fall below 30%, and that gap has only gotten worse since Bernie rolled out his campaign in February. Their realignment will not happen until at least 2024, and if they continue to refuse alliances with those necessary to win, they can forget about '24 too.
The only glimmer of hope is that the upcoming recession will be a Great Depression-level catastrophe, so painful that it forces the libtards to stop masturbating to their Nazi-hunting fantasies, and train their sights squarely on the real-world threats of laissez-faire, oligarchy per se, and inequality, uniting the great majority of the country in that fight to bring back order after decades of teetering neoliberal chaos.
Their fantasies are luxuries that can only be afforded during comfortable times, and so far the current economic bubble has yet to fully burst. If they were working-class, they would have been mired in hard times for awhile now, but they are all professional-class strivers who have benefited massively from Obama's re-inflation of the info-economy bubble.
Once the global central banks are no longer running the printing presses, the venture capitalists who fund their online media outlet will cut them off, and they will have to move back in with their parents in flyover country, bye-bye Brooklyn. Only when they are materially forced to re-join the human race will they be able to pursue a humanizing political project like socialism.