- - Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Bernie Sanders taught me something about myself the other day.

Now, don’t run off in a panic. I didn’t have some kind of Jerry Maguire moment and am now prepared to sing the merits of socialism.

“Show me other people’s moneyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!”

That didn’t happen.

You’d have my permission to take away my car keys and send me out to pasture if that was the case. No, what I learned is how much Mr. Sanders‘ promise to steal the products of my labor and give it to some other sad sack are strangely softened at times by his gray hair, disheveled appearance, and overall crusty-old-dude demeanor.

I kind of dig it. And while he may be no closer to getting my vote because of that stuff, I still find myself making excuses for Mr. Sanders inside my head like “at least he’s a true believer” or “you have to respect his dedication.”

Yet this is the part where my awakening kicks in.

If you show me pictures of Mr. Sanders when he was my age, with that curly mop of black hair, and surrounded by other self-important America-hating radicals who are protesting some imaginary dragon, my sympathy goes away entirely.

I just want to smack that Bernie Sanders. What a bloviating nitwit that guy is. What a threat to our civic dignity. I want to be sent back in time like the Terminator and stop him before his 70-year-old version can draw crowds by the thousands and money by the millions in the name of legalized theft and class envy.

If dreaming of being a futuristic cyborg who upholds the blessings of American Exceptionalism is wrong, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to be right.

Then I wake up in 2016 and old Bernie finds a way to tug ever so slightly at my “aw, shucks” impulse. And upon further reflection, I think a little something like that sort of mind-bending is going on with the conservative base and the current crop of GOP front-runners for president of the United States.

If you had asked people a few years ago if a man with Ted Cruz’s credentials and track record would be a desirable fit for the White House, you would have seen and heard loud Hosanna’s come from the mouths of President Obama-stricken and GOP establishment-betrayed patriots, who would have viewed the mere possibility of such a political champon as manna in the desert.

Oh, wait. That actually happened. Mr. Cruz went on to establish one of the greatest organizational and fundraising efforts in modern political history because of his ability to champion the concerns of a wide swath of the grassroots and his rejection of the McCain/Romney/Boehner/McConnell triangulations and sellouts of the past.

But not everyone heeded the call. They are the ones stuck in their own Bernie Sanders Xanadu, where ‘get out of jail free because intellectual honesty doesn’t matter’ cards are the standard currency.

It is a place of delusion and emotion-laden babel that understandably has ensnared the loyalties of people, who are tired of falling for the banana in the tailpipe. Some of its residents have taken up with Donald Trump, the Liberace-meets-used-car-salesman, who has them believing that isn’t so much what you will fight for that matters but that you will fight at all.

This is what happens when a legitimate alpha steps into a flaccid world full of betas. The macho goggles transfix our stare as if Zeus himself had come down from Olympus. We can’t look away. We are spectators watching the gladiator games in the Roman colosseum, and we want blood.

Fair enough. But it is but a mere escape, and terra firma is elsewhere. Mr. Trump’s conservative followers have been charmed to a degree infinitely more potent than my fleeting Bernie appreciation, as they bet the house on a man for whom the seven deadly sins are akin to the teachings of a Tony Robbins seminar.

Pride? Check. Gluttony? Check. Lust, anger, and greed? Oh yeah, baby. Let’s make America great again, and by that I mean ‘I’m your Constitution now, people. That paper one is low energy. It lives in a tiny glass box in D.C. and its ink is fading. Not nearly yuuge enough. That I can tell you. Have you seen my hands?’

Then here is Marco Rubio, for whom dalliances with amnesty and third-place-and-lower finishes have somehow become the stuff of legend to those of a certain mindset. Not inclined to swoon in the wake of Mr. Trump’s bad boy routine, the pendulum swings all the way to the other side for these folks. They want the quarterback who looks the part, but has a terrible completion percentage, to put his letter jacket around their shoulders and promise to take them to the prom.

Mr. Rubio is about optics far more than performance, just as many of our hopes and dreams often are. We say we believe in big, noble deeds but when push comes to shove are often willing to fold because of how it might look if we say the wrong thing or stick our neck out too far.

We believe in utterly silly things these days. But the truth is Bernie Sanders is not a real-life Santa Claus, he’s just a communist. Donald Trump is not a heavy weight champion of the people, he’s just another elitist jerk. And Hillary Clinton isn’t always being framed, she’s just a criminal.

The inner child is screaming ‘Sure, I want conservatism, but I’m not sure I want Ted Cruz conservatism.’ And if that is what you think, you deserve to lose. More than just this election, but also – sadly perhaps – your country.


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