I have a question for my fellow islanders who favor Britain’s impending uncoupling with the European Union: why doesn’t it bother you that Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, the British National Party (a xenophobic, far-right fascistic political organization) and virtually every racist cab driver in London love Brexit? Take your time. I’ll wait.
While you’re thinking that one over, permit me to suggest a reason. I think that it doesn’t bother you that you’re a fellow-traveller with all those unsavory types because, despite your denials, you too are a bigot. You hate foreigners with so much secret passion that you’re actually willing to destroy the British economy, make a devil’s free-trade pact with Donald Trump and pay more for groceries, medicines and fuel in order to enact your bigoted agenda. I’ll bet you don’t like hearing that. So let’s hear your real reason why you never try to disassociate yourselves from the fact that Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, the BNP and your racist cab driver are all Brexiters. Again, I’ll wait.
While we’re waiting, has anyone noticed that the GOP is subtly pushing for the candidacy of Bernie Sanders? Well, I have. In fact, in watching the preliminaries to the impeachment trial Monday I heard, for the second time that day, Indiana Senator Mike Braun “just happen to mention” that a recent poll indicated that Bernie Sanders is surging in the Iowa polls. I probably wouldn’t have thought anything of that throwaway comment had Braun not mentioned the exact same thing in an earlier MSNBC interview with Kasie Hunt that I watched just that morning. What struck me about the interview is how clumsily he worked it in, and how feeble and inarticulate the staging for the comment was. Note the point is made in the comment below in italics:
Kasie Hunt: “Do you have any questions or concerns about the president’s conduct?”
Senator Braun: “So, I’ve been out there on the record early on that I didn’t think it was right, you gotta be careful … I said that this morning in a highly charged political atmosphere like this, anything you do, your behavior, it’s just hard when it seems to infuriate so many people on one side into where it doesn’t seem to make a difference, and it goes back to the fact, and I think this is why Bernie is surging in Iowa. And a CNN poll shows Trump beating every Democrat.”
If I didn’t know better I’d guess that Braun is actually promoting the idea of a Bernie Sanders candidacy because he likes the idea of it. And so does Trump. The Senator seems to be saying that not only is Bernie doing very well indeed, but Trump is likely to beat all the Democrats, so if you want to get rid of Trump you’d better vote for Bernie. Of course, Braun doesn’t hope that. He wants Trump to win, not Bernie, so his “advice,” if that’s what it is, is a poisoned apple.
And if I really had to stick my neck out, I think Vladimir Putin prefers a Bernie candidacy too. After all, the Republicans appear to be taking all their directions from Moscow these days, so why should this time be any different? I think the big Russian machine wants Bernie to run. Possibly because they have some real dirt on him, or maybe it’s just because they understand that Bernie is the least likely candidate to beat Trump.
I realize the evidence for what I’m suggesting is thin. But I have to say, when a member of today’s Republican Party refers to a Democratic presidential candidate by his first name, without recourse to a pejorative, and suggests that he’s “surging in the polls,” I really have to wonder.
If it’s true, and if this is part and parcel of a new Republican talking point, I think it bodes ill for the viability of Bernie Sanders’ candidacy. And if that doesn’t worry Bernie supporters a little bit, then I have to wonder why. If, for example, it turns out that Donald Trump, the Republican political machine and Vladimir Putin all favor a Bernie candidacy, I hope Bernie supporters will at least do what Brexiters so far have failed to do, that is, at the very least I hope they loudly and publicly distance themselves from those malignant influencing parties. After all, Donald Trump got help from the Russians in 2016, whether he asked for it or not, without disparaging Russian involvement. So it would be a stunning hypocrisy for any of us in the camp opposing Trump to do the same thing, after complaining so much about Trump’s behavior.
I plan to vote for Bernie if he is the candidate, even though he’s my last choice. Elizabeth Warren is my first choice. But it bugs me when I hear from Bernie supporters that it’s Bernie or nothing. That sounds a little too much like glassy-eyed cultism, and I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m getting very tired of glassy-eyed cultists being in charge for the last three and a half years. I’ll be considerably mollified, should it become clear to everyone that the Kremlin favors Bernie, if Bernie’s supporters loudly and unequivocally disavow it. If they don’t, I’ll want to know why. I want to hear their explanation. And they can take their time. I’ll wait.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.