Getting Mad and Giving Money on the Internet

While it is still too early to determine whether or not Elizabeth Warren’s well-organized campaign to paint Bernie Sanders as a sexist has diminished his chances of winning the Democratic nomination for President, we can already be certain of one thing. It has significantly enhanced his brand. After watching their candidate repeatedly attacked at by CNN’s moderators during the January 14th debate, his supporters on the Internet got mad. Then they got out their credit cards.

Even by the standards of Bernie Sanders’ fundraising juggernaut, Tuesday was a big day: He raised $1.7 million from more than 100,000 small-dollar donors, his biggest debate-day haul of the 2020 campaign.

Neoliberal economists like Frederick Von Hayek and Milton Friedman have argued that while the state is inherently oppressive, the market is open and democratic. Business models for Silicon Valley companies like Uber extend the libertarian ideal into the market itself, aiming to “disrupt” older, more traditional corporations by the use of the Internet, mobile and digital technology. Similarly, privately owned charter schools target top heavy public schools and teachers unions.

As odd as it my sound, it is the self-proclaimed democratic socialist Bernie Sanders who mostly closely embodies the libertarian ideal. While Sanders eventually hopes to roll back the neoliberalism of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton and restore the social democratic ideals of the New Deal, it is unlikely that he will get anywhere near the White House. The Democratic Party establishment, the corporate media, and big, top town unions like SEIU have placed formidable obstacles in his path. The sheer number of candidates remaining in the race and Joe Biden’s dominant position among older, southern, African American voters make it unlikely that Sanders will get the nomination on the first ballot, which will kick the decision up to the super delegates on the second ballot. 2020 is likely to be the most traditional Democratic National Convention since 1968, where fat ward healers in smoke filled rooms grabbed the nomination away from the young anti-war activists galvanized into politics by the recently murdered Robert Kennedy.

Like Robert Kennedy and George McGovern, Bernie Sanders has galvanized the next generation of progressives into electoral politics. He has met with some hostility on the far left, who accuse him of “sheepdogging” people into the hide bound Democratic Party, but it is in the Democratic Party itself where he has met with the most hostility. Older, more affluent Democratic Party activists, feminists, union leaders, and the African American elite led by figures like John Lewis don’t quite know what to make of Sanders himself, with whom they often agree on the issues. But they are unanimous in their dislike of his followers, who they label “Bernie Bros” or “social media bullies.” Like a middle-aged divorcee who spent his youth going to fraternity parties and suddenly finds himself face to face with Tinder, older liberal Democrats are experiencing culture shock. Suddenly they feel irrelevant, shunted aside by a horde of aggressive, new activists in their 20s. Unwilling to give up their institutional power, they have waged a scorched earth campaign against Sanders and his movement, determined to drive the Senator from Vermont, and millions of new voters away from the political party they see as their birthright, desperately hoping we will all “give up purity politics” and “vote blue no matter who” in spite of their obvious hostility.

The results are likely to be disastrous. Unlike younger left and liberal activists in Chicago in 1968, Sander’s followers are unlikely to riot when the corrupt old Democratic establishment steals the nomination from their man for Joe Biden. The Millennials of 2020 are not the hippies of 1968. The typical Bernie Bro is far more comfortable with an iPad or a cell phone than he is with a Molotov Cocktail. They will however continue to undermine the Democratic Party institutions they rightfully see as blocking their path to political power, and progressive reform. What’s more, the rank and file of the Sanders movement, like the rank and file of Occupy Wall Street, is likely to fade away in pessimism and disillusionment. Bernie Sanders is a 78 year old New Deal Democrat, an old fashioned big government liberal who has survived into the age of neoliberalism. The leadership of his movement however, the organizers and social media gurus who have built his campaign into a fundraising juggernaut will, like George McGovern’s supporters in 1972 — among who were Gary Hart and Bill Clinton — are going onto lucrative careers in politics. Will they hang onto the social democratic politics of their candidate once he retires? In spite of younger, prominent social democratic politics like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, it does not seem very probable. More likely, they will adopt the neoliberal identity politics of Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren, and simply replace the Baby Boomers among Democratic Party power brokers.

Who will be the Gary Hart and Bill Clinton of the Bernie Bro Generation? The only thing that’s certain is that there will be a fight about the color, gender and ethnicity of the new elite, about who gets to control all the money raised by the Sanders campaign from people who got mad on the Internet. Political opinions will be expressed more and more online, and with a credit card, and less and less in the voting booth and in the streets. Raising money for healthcare will continue to be about Go Fund Me accounts, and not about Medicare for All. Conservative dominance in the political arena is likely to continue through my lifetime. The market, however, will be up for grabs.

11 thoughts on “Getting Mad and Giving Money on the Internet”

  1. I want to encourage USA citizens to “get out more” and in the midst of political overkill, reach out to the rest of the world, measuring Modi in India as a leader of oppression and inequality. Look up “Auroville, India” as a serious alternative to “politics”, Start with Henry David Thoreau, perhaps some Emerson and onto B.F. Skinner who really freaked out Shoshana Zuboff in her book “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism”. But moving, also, a little bit from “USA – ALL the time” with an endless election campaign that is numbing citizens into endless opinions about this and that leader’s shoe size. When you get out of there (like being in Canada) the perspective changes. Constant moaning and groaning about the “state of the union” makes USA citizens narcissistic, ignorant and arrogant “non-belongers” to civilization – like your lone detachment from COP21.

    1. The length of the Presidential campaign in the United States is a problem. I’ve been to one of Bernie’s rallies and it was huge, but did any real organization or personal connections come out of it? Admittedly I needed a root canal at the time and had a raging toothache and probably wasn’t in the best of moods for socializing or meeting new people.

  2. The racket is ever predictable:

    The ever greedy system goes to far and provokes some popular resistance. So, in goes a Lula, Tsipras, Saunders, Corbyn. Of course, the tail doesn’t wag the dog so the ‘reformers’ fail and get tarred for it by re-generated regime toadies. Round and round we go.

    This all doesn’t work in two scenarios. One is when the system breakdown goes to far. A collapse of the debt bubbles would achieve that. In such a case people would be much more demanding plus the ruling classes would fragment. The house falls down

    The second scenario is that this revolving door business is cycling through too fast. Sticking in some wobbly social democrat like that wus in Mexico is an obvious dodge, a certain failure. In this case the popular masses doesn’t believe in any of them. No obeying your sell out union leaders either – go straight to the Yellow Vest Phase.

    In both the US and UK the regime will not suffer Sanders or Corbyn to exercise power. If the Blairites take power over Labour and the Democrats shove Biden on their party then a Big Split is certain. There are too many people too angry to be forced to go away and shut up. And the problem for the Democrats and Labour is that they cannot suffer such a long time away from the trough of power and it makes them look weak. Not able to deliver looting rights.

    So, the axis of the impending fight is between the party establishments now backed up by the Identity traitors against everyone else a la Yellow Vests.

    Bring it on! Fun times a coming!

    1. Sanders just threw one of his supporters under the bus because she accurately pointed out that Joe Biden is corrupt.

      But I still got 4 emails yesterday asking for money.

      My guess is if the ruling class know there’s another crash and another recession coming they’ll let Sanders win so he can be left holding the bag. Remember 2008? All Summer the media was going with Jeremiah Wright and “Goddamn America” 24/7. But after the financial crash they pivoted on a dime and starting talking about how “stupid” Sarah Palin was.


      Obama had agreed to sell the bailout and McCain cracked up on the campaign trail. He preferred to warmonger from the Senate and let Obama take the heat. Obama gladly accepted because he wanted to be the first black President.

      I think Sanders has more principles than Obama but there is sense that he and his supporters think that if you put a self-proclaimed socialist in the White House that will accomplish something in and of itself.

      This New York Times endorsement of Warren and Klobuchar is obviously an endorsement of Klobuchar for Biden’s VP.

      Warren I think is done. Couldn’t happen to a nicer Native American.

  3. The problem is that Sanders would be seen as hopeless against the power of the entrenched Regime. And that would lay bare once and for all the deceit of the state. It would tell all that there is no hope for reform and no basis for continuing to extend faith in any institutions that are based on merely reforming the monster.

    Which surely includes all the Identity boosters. The message is Roll over just eat it. Or, get your Yellow Vest and gun and hit the streets. The system runs out of sectoralist fairy dust causes to throw in peoples eyes. To divert them, consume their attention and energies. To divided them against each other. Add one financial collapse and that’s a recipe for serious tumult.

    1. That’s pretty much why I voted for Sanders in the 2016 primary. He lays bare the class contradictions of the Democratic Party. When Obama won, the ruling class had to gin up the Tea Party and the Birther movement to make sure he didn’t try to do anything progressive. It turns out they never had to. Obama was willing to play along. Now the liberal ruling class has come up with an entirely fictional history. It wasn’t the Tea Party and the ruling class response to Obama that gave us Trump. It was Russia. That narrative prevents Americans from examine the class contradictions the reaction to the 2008 financial crisis brought out.

    2. Nine months until election – why not make a baby, instead of following the politainment manufacturing your allegiance to the flag, since no human seems capable – maybe though, “it’s Tulsi Time”? On board the Tulsi Train yet?

      1. Personally I think Bernie benefited from having Tulsi in the debate. They were so busy attacking her as “pro-Assad” they didn’t have time to smear Bernie. As soon as she was gone, he became the target.

        1. I think, “Don’t vote for an old white man”. Some forums like to encourage young women to speak up, and ask the “older gentlemen” to refrain from monopolizing the discussion. I am a 68 year-old white male, and I am trying very hard to renovate my thinking into the range of Greta Thunberg and people like high school students in USA fighting for gun control. I couldn’t handle a 40 hour week, now, and I don’t know how these old men are managing – uppers and pain-killers??? Bernie is wonderful, but I don’t see enough “energy” for being a strong leader. Age brings wisdom, they say, but the wise old people stay away from strangling the children from having THEIR way with the world – Greta For President???

          1. The remarkable thing about Sanders is that while he’s 78 years old he’s basically leading a youth movement. He has the overwhelming support of voters from 18-30. I suppose that reflects badly on my generation. We never challenged the neoliberal order built by Reagan, Thatcher, and the Clintons. So young people are looking back to a guy who isn’t even a Boomer. He’s from the silent generation.

            As far as aging goes, the wealthy (which would include Bernie) are simply living longer. Medicine is getting better and better. Tom Brady is playing in the NFL at 43. Kissinger and the Queen are old enough to be Bernie’s parents. The poor, by contrast, are dying young. Working class white people are killing themselves with opiates in their 40s and 50s. The gulf between classes is growing wider and it’s lethal if you’re not on the right side.

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