Bernie Sanders nicely pointed out that republicans seem to win when fewer people (for whatever reason) vote. However, what he failed to note was that when republicans win there tend to be more people out in the streets, more ad hoc pressure groups form, a heightened sense of political community becomes noticeable, and, quickly enough, there exists a mobilization against a shared enemy.
For example, under Bush there were over 36 million people out in the world marching to end the war – in many cases, these movements cross-cut the traditional american political spectrum. On the other hand, under Obama there were 100,000 people (at best) camping in parks for Occupy Wall Street.
Try also to compare the anti-war movement under Nixon, etc.
Recall that when Obama was elected, or when Ron Paul first started espousing quasi-anarchist principles, tactical solidarities were forged between ultra-left anarchists and communists and, on one occasion, anarchists and communists marched together within a “Hope Block” in Washington D.C. to support the “people power” demonstrated by the election of Obama.
The logic is a bit strange here, no?
Shouldn’t revolutionary and radical political leaders be precisely the ones who teach us the pitfalls of the electoral system?
I am even tempted to suggest that government has a finite amount of repressive power at its disposal during a given period of office. Republicans make use of this power quickly and all at once. The quick and immediate violence that republicans elicit today provokes an immediate response from the people. Democrats distribute or displace the same finite quantity of power over a longer period of time and thereby elicit immediate sympathy followed by a delayed reaction from the people (e.g., it took several years for militants to turn away from Obama, and, many militant activists eventually comforted themselves by stating: “I always suspected that Obama…”).
Class tensions are prone to develop through slower or quicker means under the representative system of democracy. The biggest threat to capitalism today therefore is not the republicans but the democrats who, due to heightening class tensions, are like the Atheist during his moment of pain: they force a return to belief (in God, in representative democracy, in capitalism, etc).
Thus, I am committed to the argument that Bernie Sanders is in fact precisely what the republican mindset requires to maintain or conserve belief in the system as it is. At a moment of systemic crisis, when breaks are possible, when people are secularizing their political ideals, the only possible way to rescue government is to empty out the content of the platform (e.g., Sanders stands for socialism, more or less – which is the negation of the system as it is) while retaining the form (e.g., Sanders demonstrates that the only way to obtain socialism is precisely through the vote).
Perhaps what we require today is a candidate who does not respond to the demand for social change (thus reflecting back onto ourselves the impossibility of government intervention), and who does not tell us the truth: namely, that grassroots struggles are the key to his success. We require a candidate to refuses to tell us the truth so that we might realize the truth ourselves.
This is why some people suspect that Trump is actually a friend of the people!
Bernie Sanders demonstrates effectively the joke about the man who believes himself to be a grain of seed under attack by a hungry chicken. His psychoanalyst cured him. A few months later, the man returned to his analyst: “Doctor! Help me!” The analyst responded, “But you are cured, you no longer believe yourself to be a grain of seed!” The man replied: “I know that! But the chicken doesn’t!”
Bernie Sanders and his followers know completely that capitalism and representative democracy is corrupt. They are cured from Bourgeois ideology! But the chicken of democratic capitalism doesn’t know it. And it is precisely for this reason that Sanders and his followers are forced to keep acting as if they are grains of seed (e.g., running for president, voting, buying products, and so on).