That's Not How It Works

"That's not how it works. That's not how any of this works!"

Last night, Eastsidekate directed my attention to this tweet from candidate Bernie Sanders: "If we can import tomatoes from Mexico, there is absolutely no reason why we cannot import affordable prescription drugs from Canada."

Produce. Prescription drugs. Same thing.

Now, don't get me wrong: I agree with the idea that prescription drugs should not be as costly as they are.

But one of my consistent criticisms of the Sanders campaign has been that he trades on people newly engaged in the political process not understanding how things actually work—and this is another perfect example.

We'll magically catapult over an obstructionist Congress! We'll magically repeal Citizens United! We'll magically import prescription drugs from Canada just like we import tomatoes from Mexico! Poof revolution!

This annoys the shit out of me.

It annoys me for a lot of reasons, not least of which is, as I've previously mentioned, I'm keenly aware that nothing more quickly disillusions, discourages, and demoralizes people new to the political process than making them promises on which there is no way to deliver.

I'm not suggesting that there are no Sanders supporters who are not veterans of electoral politics; there certainly are. And they tend to understand that these things are rhetorical flourishes. But I have interacted with a whole lot of Sanders supporters by this point who are political newbies and don't understand at all that these aren't rhetorical flourishes. They have huge expectations on which Sanders couldn't possibly deliver.

And I'm guessing there's an enormous amount of crossover between the people who don't understand that's not how it works and the people who are loudly shouting their refusals to vote for Hillary Clinton under any circumstances if Sanders is not the nominee. Because they are reflexively hostile to her incrementalist strategy, which is predicated on, as she has now said on numerous occasions, her unwillingness to make promises she can't keep.

The thing is, Sanders could make all the same arguments—that we need more widespread political engagement outside of elections, that we need to get money out of politics, that we need to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, etc.—without encasing those arguments inside unrealistic, and frankly dishonest, rhetoric.

But he's choosing a strategy that not only sets up pie-in-the-sky expectations which will inevitably result in Hindenburgian disappointments, but also implicitly casts Clinton as, at best, a dorky and uninspiring square without vision and, at worst, an anti-progressive who is seeking to crush all dreams of a better and brighter future.

I'm not here for that.

For awhile, Sanders' substitution of rhetorical flourish for substantive plans simply made me less inclined to support him in the primary. But now I'm starting to get actively annoyed with how his pursuit of promise sans detail to deliver stands to potentially negatively affect the general election, no matter which one of them gets the nomination.

We're supposed to be the "reality-based community." So it would be terrific if we could stick to reality and leave the fantasy to the dipshits on the other side of aisle.

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