Advertisement

Stop blaming anti-war progressives and 'Bernie Bros' for President Trump

Stop blaming anti-war progressives and 'Bernie Bros' for President Trump
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks at a campaign rally at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro in May 2016. (Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

In the two months since the election, there has been an energetic, oftentimes vitriolic, effort on the part of Hillary Clinton surrogates (and the large contingent of neoconservative Republicans who supported her) to blame her defeat at the hands of Donald J. Trump on Democrats like myself who could not in good conscience vote for her on Nov. 8.

Their argument goes something like this: America would have been spared the horrors of a Trump presidency if only the Bernie holdouts and other recalcitrants had been able to put aside their bitterness and come around to voting for Clinton.

Advertisement

Because "Bernie Bros" and other critics of Mrs. Clinton — along with, unknowingly or not, Russian cyber saboteurs — undermined her candidacy, we're now stuck with a dangerous and irresponsible man steering the ship of state for the next four years.

This thesis has become even more popular as news of Russia's interference in the U.S. election has spread. Conveniently, this line of thinking generally absolves the Clinton campaign for tactical mistakes like ignoring key Midwestern battleground states in favor of campaigning in Republican states like Texas and Arizona. It also shrugs off polling data that suggests Trump's economic policies swung thousands of voters who had previously cast their ballot for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

Advertisement

It further allows supporters of Clinton's foreign policy to dismiss uncomfortable questions about whether Trump's rejection of our current interventionist foreign policy orthodoxy added to his appeal.

Instead of pointing the finger at "Bernie Bros" for Clinton's defeat, mainstream Democrats might ask themselves if supporting arguably the most pro-war candidate in the party's history was what actually midwifed the Trump presidency. Was nominating Clinton, a supporter of the Iraq war and a politician who unreservedly played the race card against candidate Barack Obama in 2008 the right thing to do?

Was it a wise decision to nominate someone who pushed for an expansion of the war in Afghanistan, for a needless and reckless war in Libya, and for wider war in Syria?

Were the Clinton campaign's deep financial ties to billionaire Haim Saban, who only a month ago smeared Congressman Keith Ellision by calling him an anti-Semite, not worrying?

Advertisement

Were the Clinton Foundation's lucrative links to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and the Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Pinchuk something to be shrugged off?

But questions such as these seem to be out of bounds these days.

Instead, progressives and anti-war Democrats have been the target of baseless accusations of unpatriotic disloyalty, some of which would be funny, if the stakes weren't so high.

Self-proclaimed leaders of the Trump #Resistance on Twitter are growing increasingly fond of insinuating — and in some cases accusing — those of us who were not "with Her" of being "with" Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

The irony of such accusations, coming as they are from Democrats, is rich. During his 8 years as president, Barack Obama repeatedly tried to work with the Russian president — in some cases successfully. Indeed, many of the Obama's signal foreign policy achievements, like the Iranian nuclear accord, the successful effort to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles, and, of course, the New START nuclear agreement, only could have come about with the cooperation of the Russians.

To point that out may be heresy these days, but it is not wrong.

In their rush to cast opponents of Clintonism as pawns of the Kremlin, some high profile Democrats are abandoning the party's proud tradition of opposing such polarizing rhetoric. Playing into anti-Russian hysteria and scapegoating and marginalizing the voices calling for a more prudent and  pragmatic foreign policy is no substitute for finding solutions to the very real national security challenges facing the United States today.

James Carden is a contributing writer for The Nation.

Advertisement

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook

Advertisement
Advertisement