Revisionists are advocates of doctrines, practices, or history that depart from established facts; generally to create a narrative to enhance a particular position or personal standing. Over the past six years, there has been an explosion of revisionism unique to conservatives, religious fanatics, and teabaggers longing for an era that never existed in America. Some of the astonishing revisionist histories being promoted as if factual is that god almighty wrote the Constitution and Jesus hand delivered it to the Founding Fathers; George W. Bush personally hunted down Osama bin Laden and shot him dead; and Barack Obama failed to protect New Orleans’ residents from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
At this juncture, revisionist history has become such an integral part of the conservative movement that it is expected from Republicans, teabaggers, and religious fundamentalists, but it is not something one expects to hear from any politician on the left. However, that does not mean it could never happen. In fact, one socialist “in name only” running for the Democratic nomination for president is revising the history of Barack Obama’s Presidency. Now, if it was just a one-time occurrence, it could be put down to a silly gaffe, but it has happened more than once.
According to Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, although he say he has “a lot of respect for President Obama,” he claims the President made a major mistake after “running one of the great campaigns in American history.” Sanders said “The biggest mistake that Barack Obama made was essentially to tell his supporters, ‘Thank you very much for electing me, I’ll take it from here.’ I will not make that mistake.” The bizarre charge against the President has apparently become an important part of his “feel the Bern” stump, and he has repeated that claim several times; including on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes” where he took the time to explain how he will not repeat President Obama’s “biggest political mistake.”
Senator Sanders said, “I happen to have a lot of respect and affection for Barack Obama. Biggest political mistake that he made is after his brilliant campaign in 2008, he basically said to the millions of people who supported him, thanks for getting me elected, I will take it from here. I will not make that mistake. If I’m elected president, we’ll be directly involved and working with millions of people who will tell the billionaire class their day is over, they’re not going to get it all. They`re going to start paying their fair share of taxes. We are going to create millions of jobs. We are going to raise the minimum wage. Wall Street will pay a tax on speculation whether they like it or not because millions of people now will be involved in the political process.”
First and foremost, one is stunned at the wisdom, or lack thereof, of Senator Sanders insulting the man whose supporters he or any Democrat desperately needs to win the nomination for president and the general election. Or that the night of the 2008 election, and several times each week since that night, President Obama actually sends out regular messages to his supporters keeping them apprised of what his Administration is doing, and intends to do, as well as encouraging them to badger their congressional representatives to support the President’s agenda. It is typical among the President’s supporters and Organizing For Action members to have received, literally, several hundred emails calling for support for the President’s agenda. As much as one might respect Senator Sanders, “failing to directly engage millions of voters is not a valid complaint” against the Obama Administration; it is revisionist history.
As a matter of pure fact, and not revisionism, President Obama has made unprecedented strides in direct outreach to the public that both the media and Republicans never stop complaining about. One understands that every candidate probably needs something to criticize the person they yearn to replace, but “of all the criticisms Sanders could possibly make against President Obama, that he has not been engaged with voters is the most baseless one possible.” As many pundits have noted, the biggest criticism against the President is that he has not ‘played the inside the Beltway‘ game very well and depends on millions of grass roots’ supporters.
Senator Sanders’ proposals if he is elected president are a progressive’s wet dream, but they are not anything President Obama has not already called for in public and from his “millions of supporters.” What seems odd, frankly, is that Senator Sanders and his “feel the Bern” supporters are ignorant of the history of the President’s first two years in office when he enjoyed a Democratic majority in the House and Senate. It did not matter what the President attempted to accomplish, it was a major fight to get Democrats on board no matter if it was financial reform, healthcare reform, closing Guantanamo, or ending tax cuts for the rich.
For a Bernie Sanders to get his agenda passed, he would need at least 70 or 80 Democrats in the Senate and 300 in the House and even then there are no guarantees he could get single payer healthcare enacted, raise taxes on the billionaire class, raise the minimum wage, or pass any kind of campaign finance reform. With those lofty goals in this political climate, about the only thing any candidate making promises is going to achieve is a repeat of the 2010 midterms when “Emoprogs” stayed home because they believed President Obama failed to grant their every wish; most of which the President never promised to fulfill.
As a few objective political observers have noted to extreme condemnation from the “feel the Bern” crowd, Senator Sanders is going to need every demographic’s electoral support and not just white progressives. Although Sanders finally devised a policy to address issues raised by the “Black lives matter” groups, his next move was drafting Dr. Cornel West as his Black lives matter outreach guy and surrogate on the campaign trail. Dr. West is one of the “most unhinged” Obama critics and it is curious why Sanders tapped him to garner support from African Americans who overwhelmingly supported the President.
For a secular humanist, and staunch progressive, there is very little not to like about Senator Sanders’ agenda. However, as a realist, there is very little a prospective ‘president Sanders’ will get accomplished without an overwhelming Democratic majority in Congress; a majority that Sanders or any other Democrat will never get criticizing President Obama; especially for not reaching out to his supporters. This is particularly true because there is nothing Bernie Sanders is proposing that Barack Obama has not called for from Congress, the public, and his millions of staunchest supporters throughout his tenure in the White House.
It is disgusting when Republicans, religious fanatics, and teabaggers revise history, but it has come to be expected as a matter of course. However, it is disappointing when a Democratic socialists does it and frankly it leads one to wonder where Senator Sanders has been for the past six years, or why he does not know his criticism of President Obama is both baseless and just another case of historical revisionism.