Maybe I lived in Africa too long, while Bernie Sanders nestled in Vermont, concocting theories for how the world should work. Whatever the case, the nearly insurmountable challenge to democracy in poor countries is the inability to get the loser in an election to concede. America is not Angola, where war broke out in late 1975 after thwarted elections. Twenty-five years later, the landscape lay strewn with a million corpses, including family members of mine and unexploded landmines. Such things could not happen here because, well. . .,, we're western and rich. But don't be deceived. We are more fragile than we'd like to think. How else could a neo-fascist like Donald Trump become the sole nominee for president of the United States on the GOP ticket?
Of course, I'm not equating the democratic socialist ideals of Sanders with Trump. But what I am saying is this. If Sanders wants to influence our nation's future direction, it is not just his policy prescriptions that have meaning. It is also the subliminal messages he sends to his supporters. What kind of revolution has he been talking about? Is it one based on electoral victory, or on seizing power "by any means necessary"? If the former, he has not modelled the most civic-minded behavior, by refusing to bat down conspiracy theories, trying to flip delegates after losing by 3+ million votes to Hillary, and passive-aggressively signalling chaos at the July Democratic Convention.
Perhaps the Washington, d.c. primary and the fact that he is meeting this weekend with campaign officials will be Bernie's moment to regain moral leadership of the progressive movement. But if he cannot find it within himself to seize the moment, and concede to Hillary Clinton with some modicum of grace, then Bernie Sanders will begin to sound like the ravings of a just another, third world, sore-losing, despot.