Bernie Sanders’ Best Quality Is That He’s Disposable

Bernie Sanders’ Best Quality Is That He’s Disposable

Running for President of the United States is a fundamentally narcissistic act. As a rule, you should never trust a person who does it. This includes Bernie Sanders.

Sanders is rare among candidates, however, in that he seems to share this opinion. Yes, he is mounting his second insurgent presidential campaign in the past eight years and yes, a large part of that campaign depends on his singular record as a committed leftist throughout his entire career. But his official slogan — “Not Me, Us” — is perhaps the strongest aspect of his campaign, and one that should reassure undecided voters dubious of lending their support to a controversial figure.

Not Me, Us is a very simple pitch. The movement and ideals behind Sanders’ campaign are more important than Sanders himself. While some of his most avid supporters have lost sight of this, others have taken the slogan to heart, as writer Jake Flores pointed out on Twitter.

For Warren supporters and the broader coalition of unconvinced Democrats, this aspect of Sanders’ campaign should be reassuring. In purely pragmatic terms, Sanders has little choice but to walk the walk, because he’s old as dirt and almost certainly will not be involved in politics for more than another decade. That means that the progressive lane and line of succession behind him is wide open — but what should matter for progressives now is getting the broader movement’s foot in the door. Right now the best chance for that is Bernie Sanders.

The long-term success of this movement, therefore, relies on Sanders building a new establishment committed to this same ideal. To her credit, Warren seems to be on the same page, saying repeatedly during her campaign that she’d be happy to have someone else enact her policies rather than be president herself. If she stays true to this ideal, making the existential choice facing every Democratic voter in this campaign should be a no-brainer: Endorsing Biden would be a betrayal of all of her stated principles, and joining forces with Bernie would bolster them.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Warren’s clear path is as Sanders’ VP and successor in eight years. But it does mean that by committing to the idea of a Sanders movement without Sanders himself, she could serve as an invaluable part of the country’s political future. Undecided voters should see themselves in the same light, and understand that voting for Sanders is their best chance at seeing their ideals in action, using the 79-year-old as a means to an end — not a messiah.

This is of course a leap of faith. Sanders is running for president. He is not to be trusted. We can only base our judgement on him on the things he does and says while pushing for this version of the future. Thus far, he has remained encouragingly consistent. But if Sanders beats Biden and beats Trump and ascends to the highest office in the land, it will be on his supporters to stay ever vigilant for signs of him wavering from the cause, to scrutinize his every move. Politicians use people to stay in power. The only logical response is for people to use politicians to get what they want, and as Flores wrote, when their campaigns or administrations end, throw them back in the trash where they belong.

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