Hey, Bernie: the door IS open

The purpose of this post is not to relitigate the events of the Nevada convention or figure out who insulted whom first or whose outrage is the most righteous. It’s not even to parse the subtle nuances of speeches given extemporaneously before large crowds.

No, the purpose is to point out something Bernie Sanders said Tuesday night that’s just plan nonsense. Here it is.

“The Democratic Party is going to have to make a very, very, profound and important decision. It can do the right thing and open its doors and welcome into the party people who are prepared to fight for real economic and social change. That is the Democratic Party I want to see.” Sanders said.

“I say to the leadership of the Democratic Party: Open the doors, let the people in! Or the other option for the Democratic Party, which I see as a very sad and tragic option is to choose and maintain its status quo structure, remain dependent on big money campaign contributions and be a party with limited participation and limited energy,” he said.

Now, I am not a party person. I have never been a member of any political party. Sitting through party meetings, which I sometimes do for the sake of this gig, makes me itchy. Also, I’m not a mingler and I’m uncomfortable in rooms full of people. So there’s that.

But I have witnessed party proceedings, and here’s one thing you can take to the bank: The doors of every political party are wide open, all the time, to all comers.

They will welcome anyone who’s willing to come in, sit down, and do some work. Operating a political party takes an incredible amount of time and energy, almost all of it unpaid: sitting through meetings, making phone calls, writing emails and press releases, stuffing envelopes, going door-to-door, and — always, constantly — searching for anybody who wants to help you with all that stuff.

Even if you’re kind of a nut. There are people in every party, including some in surprisingly responsible positions, who are barely tethered to this planet. There are a lot of card-carrying, office-holding Democrats who are hard-core, Hillary-hatin’ Bernieacs.

Perhaps Bernie doesn’t realize this because he has lived a political life blessedly free of party affiliation. He’s managed the singular accomplishment of gaining the regular support of not one but two parties without having to exercise himself in the drudgery of party maintenance. It’s a charmed life.

But here’s the thing. If you walk in the door and demand a seat at the table, be prepared to stay for a while and do some chores. Don’t think you can wander in and out whenever it strikes your fancy, and expect your views to be given weight. That ain’t gonna happen, nor should it.

The Democratic Party’s process of building a structure and conducting a campaign is an endless affair. The rules and processes were set up before Bernie started holding his famous rallies. Yeah, they’re complicated and don’t always perfectly reflect the will of the people. But that’s what happens when you get a diverse bunch of people together and hammer out a system born of constant compromise and the fervent picking of nits.

So here’s the deal, I can assure you that if you knock on the Democrats’ door, you will be welcomed with open arms. Here’s what you can expect:

You will sit through long meetings that bog down on the most irrelevant of details.

You will listen to politicians give the same speech over and over again.

You will stuff envelopes, staff phone banks, and pound the pavement.

You will be given the chance to speak your piece. And you will be expected to listen respectfully and patiently while others do the same.

You will interact with like-minded people brimming with energy and ideas, and you will be inspired by them.

You will have to deal with people you don’t like, don’t agree with, and think the world would be a better place without. Some of them will smell funny.

You will have the opportunity to influence the party’s direction and internal processes.

You will lose at least as often as you win, and you will have to swallow your disappointment, resist the urge to stomp out the door, dust yourself off, and try again.

The more work you do, the greater your influence will be. You will have every opportunity to climb the party hierarchy. But it won’t be handed to you on a silver platter.

That’s the deal with joining or influencing a political party, just as it is with any organization involving multiple human beings. If you can accept that deal, the door is always open. Believe me.

14 thoughts on “Hey, Bernie: the door IS open

  1. Stephen Beck

    Listen? Speak? That is irrelevant. Money: Now you are talking, I am listening and we can speak.

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      You miss the point. The Democratic Party’s door is open to anyone who’s (1) left of center or moderate, and (2) willing to do the work and be civil to fellow members. As I wrote, there are plenty of hard-core Bernie backers in the ranks of the VT Democratic Party. They are not excluded or ostracized; indeed, many of them hold party positions of influence. You do the work, you play nice with others, you have a say.

      1. fatherlinda

        Um, yes, John, but you live in the rarefied world of Vermont. What the writer says is, indeed, largely true of the Democratic Party in Vermont, as I have learned by walking the walk. It was also true in Minnesota, where the Democratic Farmer Labor Party sent me to the national convention in 2004. But it is not true in many states (consider New York), and no longer in any sense on the national level, where money talks and our elected representatives (though not those from Vermont — so far) have to spend half the time they should be serving us “dialing for dollars.” The Democratic primary in West Virginia just nominated a billionaire coal baron for governor. Do you think there was significant popular input on that?

      2. John S. Walters Post author

        If I lived in a state like West Virginia, or anywhere in the South or plains states, it’d be a tough choice: work with a moderate party and try to influence it however I can, or opt out entirely. A liberal Dem in a red state may not have a lot of influence, but the door is open and it always has been.

  2. newzjunqie

    Point understood, but issue complicated due to flaws inherent in two party system. One is the fact that spoilers such as Nader can wreak havoc as in handing election to Bush tho Gore would have won. So if Bernie wants to run on the left-one choice-the party he has caucused with and served alongside throughout decades-long career. And as we all know there are plenty of pols who have done just as you detail but in fact are a semi-subversive element while riding on party platform while using the apparatus. Campbell, Sears Mazza come to mind, also Galbraith, P-party would be smart to steer clear. Also, Dem party under Obama has busily attempted a takeover of our nation rendering it a mere European-style socialism, so what the hell is the dif.

    Now can be seen, as it were, Bernie could have stood alone as an Indy & would now be shellacing HRC while pulling in party malcontents and including the large number who depise & greatly distrust the Clintons-this is the backstory & partly the premise of his request imo. Couldn’t make his case if he had not done as well or raised mountains of cash. Tacitly understood by the party imo, however open discussion of fine points only muddies water; but both are fluent in politicalese. Could have been campaigning both as soon as the props, er, party “challengers” were removed from Dem stage w/o being dogged by party & press to give it up. So the whining of damage to clinton is moot as he would have been damaging her far more if opposing as Indy, she would be getting a double-barrel semiautomatic by now.

    Biggest issue getting lost-not about Bernie but supporters. Despite party and DWS clearing the runway & rolling out red carpet *still* cannot close this deal, point #2. Obama also brought in many young voters, in stark contrast, epic fail for HRC as evidenced by desperate dispatching of Steinem & Albright. Scary part is & as Sanders has said, makes poor, I call them foolish, decisions. Looking back over her looong career this is par for HRC she makes one fine mess after another & was asleep at the switch at 3am Benghazi time. HRC may toe party line but toxic personality will bring in *no one*. Her rudeness & Bills shouting down of valid complaints at rallies serves to show how much they actually despise the very ppl they wish to reign over. “Bring them to heel”-whaaat??? Happen to think Clintons are closet racists as evidenced by similar freudian slipups. Bernie whose temper likely exceeds HRC, in contrast, displays self-control & truly believe he respects the worth & dignity of all.

    Bernie has devoured delegates she expected and exposed her and the long litany of flaws she posesses as fact. Even following party muzzling & now near silence of important issues he has made, nothing’s changed. And, as it stands msm is employing deceptive tactics, intellectual dishonesty — or just plain ignorant — of the *fact* that HRC also does not have the needed delegates therefore must rely upon superdelegates who are beholden to no one, #3. We can safely bet ass that fever-pitch chorus of bullies is blowback from behind the scenes conversation of party bosses, PACs & donors asking tough questions HRC has no good answer for & quite likely wondering if she can make it in the general when the other side gets to the kitchen sink-plus losing all of the new voters Bernie has inspired. All of aforementioned should carry him far beyond envelope-stuffing. Contested convention in crystal ball.
    Despite millions from Wall St still can’t close deal:
    What a laugh:
    The bottom of it:

  3. Paula Schramm

    If Hillary says ” Yes, I agree with Bernie that a $15/hr minimum wage is worth fighting for, a truly livable wage, and yes, we must work for a national health care system like Medicare for All, and, yes, bringing back a Glass- Steagall Act would really help prevent future economic meltdowns.
    Yes, working for an “Economic Bill of Rights” as Franklin Roosevelt proposed is the right path forward to create a level playing field for all Americans, and that’s what together we will do ! ”
    Yes we must make voting a right for every American, and get big money, and “dark money” and outrageous gerrymandering out of campaigns.
    …… Yes, we must pull together to fight climate change rather than our endless wars that are mainly an excuse for greater arms sales…”
    then the Democrats will have all the enthusiastic workers and supporters they could possibly wish for.
    It’s up to Hillary, not Bernie. Bernie has no interest in sabotaging Hillary but he does have an Uuuge interest in putting forth the issues that will lead to a more just, equitable, and democratic
    society in the U.S.A. That’s why, and only why, he has such “enthusiastic” supporters.

  4. Kelly Cummings

    Seems to me Mr.VPO Man, that’s what I call you and I mean it nicely!, you are totally missing the points being made by others here.

    I believe the bottom line is….many of us are tired of the way the politicians are immersed up to their necks in bad governing. Governing that is pretty much just keeping them in a cushy job with nice perks with little regard for how their games are effecting the real and often very stressful lives of the majority of the rest of us. Long sentence here but nonetheless, true. My point being, we don’t want to be controlled by this type of -get on the gerbil wheel and fall in line- kind of governing anymore!

    Bernie is speaking to this. Millions of people have stopped the circular, go nowhere struggle of their day to day lives and are listening. They are registering to vote. They are speaking up and they are possibly deciding it’s now or never to make their stand. Hear us Mr. VPO Man instead of calling us names like Berniacs, etc.

    I am often confused by your stance here. Sometimes you write of the need for great things like ethics reform, etc. You often write about “The Good Ol’ Boys” Club in Montpelier and how that needs to change. And then, then you defend Hillary Clinton. You seem to not apply the same standards to her. I always wonder why you can’t seem to make the connection with Hillary’s behavior and her historical record? You cherry pick. Perplexing. She’s got some issues you know? You protect her like she’s a family member or something.

    But back to the “rest of us”…..we don’t want to fall inline anymore. We’re angry that the possible nominee choices for President of the United States may come down to two people most people don’t even like. How the heck did we come to this? Well we all know don’t we. It’s the perfect reflection of a pretend Democracy. And what’s going to happen when a Trump or a Hillary gets elected? Everybody back on the wheel! And get movin. Squeak. Squeak. The wheel goes round and round forever and ever Amen.

    I’m not sure we’re going to get back on this time. I hope we don’t! I hope we keep right on telling all these politicians we’re not going to accept their dirty little game any more. And you can continue, yep- I suspect you will- to tell Bernie and his supporters to fall inline and get on the Hillary train bound for nowhere much important to us but only for her or be blamed for the Trumping of America. But the truth is that’s a lie. Trump may win but it will not be because of the people who want a better life….no, it will be because all those politicians, corporate and powerful wealthy operators and the media cohorts who simply refused to hear our cries for real meaningful change and take it seriously. They will be the ones who elect Donald J. Trump, ha amazing!, for our frickin’ president. We won’t be your scapegoats. Sorry, but you guys are going to own this one.

    A pretend president for a pretend democracy. Seems about right. Well….maybe just inevitable.

    Good day Mr. VPO Man.

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      Well, first of all, there are millions of plain old people with no connections to any elites or oligarchs who honestly believe Hillary is a better candidate for president. She’s gotten something like 57% of the primary/caucus vote so far, which is a decisive margin that can’t be excused away by references to low-information voters or media bias or “rigged” processes. Get right down to it, Hillary is more popular than Bernie, and her policies are more acceptable to more voters than are Bernie’s.

      Second, in my view, the ethical cloud around Hillary is largely a result of 25 years of conservative attacks. If you strip away all the bogus “controversies” — Vince Foster and Monica and Travelgate and BENGHAZI!!!!! and emails and all the rest — then Hillary is no less ethical than the vast majority of liberal politicians. (And yes, she is a liberal. In her eight years in the Senate, she was one of the most liberal members.)

      If you think Hillary is too compromised to be president, then you must also think John Kerry and Joe Biden and Al Gore (who hobnobs with the elite at least as much as Hillary does) and Barack Friggin’ Obama are also too compromised to be president. Maybe that’s what you believe, but I’m not joining you there.

  5. Kelly Cummings

    Well hey! I didn’t much expect you to join me. I did figure you would say exactly what you did….hoped for more. Always you leave so much unaddressed and it’s always the important stuff.

    You know, Hillary has a trail of trouble and ethical questions dragging behind her like a long train on a wedding dress, surely you don’t discount them all? Some are made up, or at least exploited, for political gain but not all and if you were being honest you could admit as much. This should be troubling to an ethics guy.


    Would it be correct to assume you don’t believe the gerbil wheel is a problem? Or that it is wise to ignore the honest frustrations of anyone who is not willing to accept the Status Quo, you say true liberal, Hillary?

    Courage now.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s