As I watched some of the Bernie Sanders supporters at the Monday night session of the Democratic National Convention, I couldn’t help but think of the 1992 baseball film, A League of Their Own. Tom Hanks is the manager of a World War II era women’s barnstorming baseball team. At one point, he become befuddled by one of his player’s despair and he says, “There’s no crying in baseball.” You can see the great scene at the bottom of this post.
During the primary season, I preferred Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton. I liked Bernie because I thought that for a time period (up until the week preceding the New York primary), he was about as good as we could get. I loved his progressive ideas coupled with his ability to usually keep his ego in check. I didn’t consider him to be perfect, largely because he is a human being and none of us reach that level, or even come close. I respected him, but I didn’t worship him.
I had to wonder about some of Bernie’s supporters. The tenacity with which they stuck with fine gentleman on Monday night became scary to me. What made it particularly difficult to handle was the notion that if they really trusted him to a level that brought them to tears, why didn’t they trust him enough to follow his suggestion that they now turn their support to Hillary Clinton. This, for no other reason than to prevent Donald Trump from becoming our Supreme Leader.
The words and actions of many Bernie supporters on Monday night reminded me of people who are extremely religious and profess to the Bible. Strict religious constructionists see the Bible as the “Word of Truth.”
But frequently they get stumped and insist that there are exceptions to the literal interpretation of the gospel. For example, Leviticus18:22 says, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”
Yet Christians who accept gay rights must sacrifice their absolute fealty to the Bible in order to make sense of the world. Let’s face it, the Bible does not form a close union with the way in which the world actually operates on a day-to-day basis.
There are tears at political convention, but they are usually drowned out by yelling and screaming. It’s odd, delegates at the convention are engaged in perhaps the most important collective decision-making that Americans have to make. Who do we want as our leaders?
Yet there is virtually no rational discussion, no cost-benefit analysis, no timeouts for walks in the park to try to straighten things out. Rather the happenings at a convention are similar to college fans at a sporting event. There is cheering and jeering; booing and mocking. It seems that no one is right except the team (candidate) that one is supporting.
While there can be inspiring words from the podium as well as words of reason, many delegates remain steadfast in their blind loyalty to the candidate of their choice. But it is a meeting of delegates to make a decision as to who will represent their political party in the presidential race. If it works well (and it doesn’t always), there will be a democratic decision as to who the nominee will be. If it doesn’t work well, then the fault is not just “the other candidate,” but also a terribly flawed system that requires the highest level of rational thinking to repair.
Comedienne Sarah Silverman told the “Bernie or bust” delegates that they were being ridiculous. I agree with her sentiments, although I would have preferred a less absolute description of what they were doing. The bottom line is that a political convention does not have to resemble a religious revival or a college football game. As all cases when decisions are being made, it is important for us to express our emotions, but to also know how to keep them in check.
I commend Bernie Sanders and his supporters for moving Hillary Clinton into a far more progressive position than she was when the campaign began. She can run on a platform that is as progressive as Bernie.
The progressive movement does not end with Bernie. There is much to be done and opportunities are probably better than any time since Lyndon Johnson launched the Great Society and before he got us to deeply mired in the Vietnam War. LBJ said, “let us reason together.” That should be the fundamental difference between the progressives of the left and the conservatives of the right.