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BERNIE, BLOOMBERG, AND GEORGE SANTAYANA













You know Bernie. You know Bloomberg. Who the hell is George Santayana?

Santayana was a very interesting guy. He came to the USofA from Spain at the age of eight shortly after the US Civil War. Although he spoke of himself as an American, he lived a Euro-centric life, spending his last years in Italy. A poet, novelist, and philosopher, Santayana taught philosophy at Harvard with T. S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Gertrude Stein, and W. E. B. Du Bois among his students. Very influential.

Santayana had one of those minds that translated thought into pithy turns of phrase.

"There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval."

"The Bible is literature, not dogma."

"Sanity is madness put to good use."

What does all of this have to do with Bernie and Bloomberg? Here is the relevant Santayana quote:

"Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

I like a lesser famous part of that line. When experience is not retained, infancy is perpetual.

American Progressives loved Hubert Humphrey. As a US Senator in the 1940s, he successfully argued for the first plank in a Democratic Party platform that called for an end to racial segregation. He was in on the beginnings of the Peace Corps and the Civil Rights Act, Then Humphrey made the mistake - in the eyes of Progressive young Democrats - of accepting LBJ's offer to be his VP. The Vietnam War was a deal breaker for Progressives. They didn't consider the loyalty that Humphrey exhibited to POTUS as in any way explainable. They made a circus of the Chicago convention in 1968.

It can reasonably argued that Progressives gave us Nixon.

When experience is not retained, infancy is perpetual.

Toward the middle of the 2016 Democrat primary season, it became clear that Bernie couldn't win. He did quite well in caucus states, but he simply couldn't make a dent in the early primary states and Hillary rolled up big numbers. What did his supporters have to say about that? The rules are unfair and need to be changed, they said. Primaries should be open so that Republicans who would prefer Bernie can vote for him. And towards the end of the primary season, when the math was insurmountable? We have to change the rules regarding Super Delegates, they said.

Why did Bernie's supporters think that it was OK to change the rules in his favor? Their rationale was simple. Bernie's strength was unexpected. He had almost derailed the Hillary juggernaut. If the rules were just tweaked a little bit in recognition of that strength, Bernie could win. But the rules weren't changed, Bernie lost, and the scorn heaped on the Democratic Party by disappointed Progressives continued right through the general election.

Did Bernie give us Trump? It can be reasonably argued.

When experience is not retained, infancy is perpetual.

Fast forward to today. Bloomberg has propelled himself to the top tier of candidates, current polling placing him third or fourth nationally. His strength is unexpected. He threatens to derail the Bernie juggernaut. If unexpected strength would have been sufficient to change the rules in 2016, why is it not sufficient in 2020 to put Bloomberg on the debate stage?

Bernie's supporters will argue that if the rules weren't changed in 2016, we shouldn't change the rules in 2020, no matter what our position had been four years ago.

That could be called hypocrisy. Or, to be charitable, Bernie's supporters may have simply forgotten their previous positions. Or 2016. Or 1968.

When experience is not retained, infancy is perpetual.







Comments

  1. So true. Thank you for a great summary of today's politics. I voted for Bernie...and then Hillary...in 2016. But not this time. Regardless of the recent wins, I find Bernie too divisive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind words. I do find Bernie's supporters on social media obnoxious, but I will vote for him if he becomes the nominee. Trump can't be validated with another win.

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