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Marx, Connecticut, And The Sanders Farce

The last word, or the next to the last word, on Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders’ ill-fated run for the presidency may be that of communist evangelist Karl Marx. In The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte Marx writes, “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great, world-historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice. He has forgotten to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.”

This is the second time Sanders has run for president, succumbing the first time to former Secretary of State in the Obama administration Hillary Clinton and this time to former Obama Vice President Joe Biden. This, his second and one suspects last run for the presidency – Sanders is getting on in years -- may be a tragedy to the youth of the nation, who hung on his every word, but it is a farce for most grownups.

Sanders announced he was leaving the Democrat primary race on Wednesday, April 8, but his announcement only meant that Sanders was out, not down. In Connecticut, he may remain on the ballot because under state law, according to a story in CTMirror, “Secretary of the State Denise Merrill cannot cancel a primary without the written permission of candidates who have qualified for the ballot.” Merrill is yet awaiting permission from Sanders to suspend the costly Democrat presidential primary.

Even though Sanders has thrown in the sponge, the socialist millionaire still wants to amass a minor fortune in Democrat delegates. Sanders is determined to use his delegates to the Democrat Nominating Convention to bend his party towards a glorious socialist future, and some within the party of Jefferson, Jackson and Bailey are now wondering whether the man ever wanted to be president. There are two broad reasons why men and women of good will enter the Democratic primary presidential lists: 1) to become president and, 2) to make a point.  Sanders has now conceded for the second time that he has not enough delegate votes to deny his presidential primary opponent the nomination. Presumably, after the nominating convention, Sanders will throw his support to Biden, as previously he had done with Clinton.

But there is a thorn in the rose bouquet, or the shadow of a thorn. It’s obvious that Sanders wants to be a commanding presence at the Democrat nominating convention. Will he withhold an endorsement of Biden if the Sanders gang is not adequately represented in the nominating convention plank?  If Democrats move to the traditional Democrat center in hopes of retaining votes in the general election, will Sanders open a campaign as an independent, socialist candidate for the presidency? Though these questions have not been asked of Sanders, they begged to be answered, largely because of the manner in which Sanders has conceded a primary win to Biden. Sanders is running to score ideological points – and, more importantly, to move his sluggish party to a socialist position from which it cannot easily withdraw. Unlike Eugene Debs, for instance, Sanders is not now, and perhaps has never been, interested in running the country as socialist president.

Sanders’ thumbprint on his party has caused some agita in Connecticut’s Democrat Party, which has been trending progressive/socialist for many years. Merrill notes that Sanders has ceded the nomination to Biden. “That for me,” she has said, “effectively ends the justification for holding a primary in Connecticut. Now, the results are predetermined. Then comes the announcement he [Sanders] will remain on the ballot, which hopefully he will reconsider.”

But acknowledging that he has not enough delegates to win the nomination does not mean that Sanders has pledged his delegates to Biden. That could happen at the Democrat nominating convention – if the Democrat platform incorporates Sanders' ideological predispositions. And if not – well, there’s the thorn in the rose. It’s altogether possible that Sanders might flee the convention with his deluges in hand and challenge Biden as an independent candidate for president in the general election. Progressive ex-president Teddy Roosevelt did just that when the Republican nominating convention in 1912 gave its presidential endorsement to William Howard Taft. Roosevelt’s defection from the Republican Party marked the real birth of progressivism in the United States.

If Sanders is a SERIOUS socialist, why should he not follow the same course?

Merrill, a faithful Democrat in arms, is justifiably concerned with the cost to her party of what she regards as an unnecessary Democrat presidential primary in Connecticut. Someone should tap her on the shoulder and ask whether she plans to go forward with her decision that forces a Republican presidential primary in her state -- when only a handful of left-leaning reporters can name President Donald Trump’s California presidential primary opponent without consulting their political Cliff Notes.    


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