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Neither Necessary nor Sufficient

For the last several weeks, I have been tempted to post (or tweet) just the following sentence, by itself:

Bernie Sanders becoming President of the United States is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for the success of the movement supporting him.

I haven’t done it, because it would be trolling, really. There’s no way that supporters of the Sanders candidacy read that and don’t find it dismissive. But I think it’s true, and not only do I think it’s true, I think it’s a really good idea to keep in mind. The truth part—I mean, obviously the President of the United States is the single individual best placed and most influential to promote policies and preferences that the movement wants. It would surely help. But it’s also obvious that if Bernie Sanders is elected President, he will have to deal with a legislature in which his views are a minority. Between the Other Party and the more conservative legislators of My Party, there is no chance that a Bernie Sanders package of bills becomes law without something else happening, something very very large. And, as well, if there is a very very large movement in this country towards a set of Social Democrat policies, enough to get a majority in the Senate to go along with them, then whoever is President will go along with them, perhaps not in the 2016 term or the 2020 term, but when that movement becomes too big to ignore. It matters a lot who is President, but it matters even more if there is or is not a movement of millions. Which is a thing Bernie himself says, and says often.

I’ll go on for a minute, although it’s scarcely necessary—look, I am on the left myself, as far as policy goes. I am thrilled that there is, or at any rate seems to be, a large leftish movement in this country. Occupy/99% has become a powerful rhetorical trope, and I think the Bernie Sanders and his supporters are moving it forward. The fact that electing Bernie is neither sufficient nor necessary to the success of the movement seems hopeful to me, a leftish movement should be about the people participating themselves, not merely replacing an indifferent elite with a benevolent one. Should Bernie Sanders be elected President and then—the Divine forbid—suffer a stroke before taking office, the election would not have been in vain, because the people in their millions (as there would have to be people in their millions in the movement for the man to have been elected) would keep pushing for the things they want done to be done. And that’s an awesome thing about democracy, and about our possible future.

Anyway, as I say, this sentence has been in the back of my mind for a few weeks, and then yesterday I started thinking this:

Donald Trump becoming President of the United States is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for the success of the movement supporting him.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


The key question, in both cases: is there actually a movement supporting him?

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