Realpolitik 2016

03/17/2016

Realpolitik: politics based on practical and material factors rather than on theoretical or ethical objectives.

This election year has stirred up the political pot big time. It has brought a lot of crud to the surface and is now moving into a phase of all-out fisticuffs. No doubt there is more to come.

It is easy to be a Democrat commenting on the mess on the Republican side, but we Democrats also have hard work ahead of us. By hard work, I mean dialing down our own righteousness and looking at the big picture we face.

There is no one left now on the Republican side who can be allowed to win the presidency. Even if Trump’s buffoonery implodes in his face, a Cruz nomination could not be considered a relief.

Right now, Democrats should not be thinking about Bernie versus Hillary; we should be thinking about what formula viably joins these two forces. Hillary wants to be president and Bernie wants a revolution. 

Bernie entered the race to bring certain important ideas to the forefront of the political conversation. I don’t think he imagined himself as president, a job that includes playing a big public relations role and forever navigating among ornery stakeholders on domestic and international fronts.

His ideas and his integrity caught fire, and he is breathing down the front-runner’s neck. We don’t know how it will end up, but Bernie’s supporters need to imagine how the Democratic side of the election will end up as a win-win. Why even imagine a Trump (or Cruz) presidency? Democrats need to focus on preventing either one of those ideologues from winning. 

If Hillary is the nominee, imagine what role Bernie should play in her administration. A Hillary victory is not a Bernie loss.

The old saying is: Democrats win if Democrats vote. Democrats tend to get disgruntled and stay away from “the system” when it turns sour. This is not the time for that. As progressives, our place is to define and fight for an agenda that will survive reactionary times such as this one, a time clouded by ignorance and fed by frustration. 

We ourselves are ignorant and frustrated—ignorant of the forces that rule from behind the scenes and frustrated by our own powerlessness against them. We must keep our intentions noble and rise above the fray, not join it. From that perspective we will see the era of light being birthed in this chaotic ferment. The win-win is for the whole planet.

Elizabeth Whitney is a lifelong journalist, writer and researcher living in Inverness.