• Rueben Vargas

It's not what you've done, it's what you're doing right now

Jordan Chariton is a former TYT correspondent who extensively covered the Flint Water Crisis, the DNC Wikileaks, and the Standing Rock Protests. He’s since made his own Youtube channel, and his journalism and progressive bona-fides are undeniable. Yet last week I watched something that was so incredibly distasteful that I can’t let it stand. In a video posted today on May 18th entitled "Jordan's EPIC Bernie Sanders "Sell-Out" Rant", he dug into people who, like me, have become incredibly frustrated and disdain towards Bernie Sanders. In the 14 minute video, Chariton excuses Bernie’s recent actions on behalf of the Biden campaign and inaction on the utterly abhorrent relief packages pushed by Chuck and Nancy. On the basis that Bernie has done more than most people in the interests of working people, such as helping Amazon and Disney workers negotiate for better pay. And how voting on these relief packages was a no-win situation because millions of people need relief right now. As much as he might have intended his main target to be other Youtubers, he also expressed utter contempt towards those of us who have, and continue to express our frustrations towards Bernie Sanders. “Who the fuck are you” and “why don’t you run for office” were some of the repeated phrases that got under my skin. Who the fuck am I, really? Well let’s see…

I volunteered for the Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign here in California between November of 2019 and March of 2020. Right after I was laid off from my last job, I put as much time and effort as I could to volunteering into what I felt was the last and best opportunity for a national progressive campaign. I became part of their Victory Captain program, in which I hosted volunteer events, led volunteers on canvasses, and disseminated data to the campaign directly and through my field organizer. And no matter how frustrated I got over how the state campaign was giving me no support, I kept leading events because it was my responsibility as a victory captain to see them through. I started every event by telling my volunteers about how it was all about Not Me, Us. That it wasn’t about us as individuals, or Bernie, or the campaign. That we were volunteering in the spirit of collectivism and doing our best to realize those goals. Bernie’s eventual capitulation to Joe Biden was still a betrayal, even when I could see it coming. We all could, it still didn’t hurt any less because it confirmed that Bernie had no appetite for confrontation or leadership. That’s called cowardice, Jordan.

You don’t distinguish what sort of criticism against Bernie is valid and what isn’t. As the figurehead and leader of the campaign, Bernie is responsible for everything that happened and has happened since, either directly or indirectly. Direct criticism is therefore not only valid, but necessary if we are to learn from his failures. He was the one who hired former CAP policy advisor and Pelosi staffer Faiz Shakir to be his campaign manager. He also hired union embezzler Chuck Rocha for Latino outreach and brought back Jeff Weaver. The same Jeff Weaver who almost talked him into taking billionaire money during the 2016 campaign and has since created a SuperPAC. These individuals were opportunists who were let into this campaign by someone who had no conviction or consistency. I define conviction as determination in the face of the insurmountable odds and consistency as seeing it through. And in that light, Bernie was inconsistent and had no conviction. You can talk all you want about how he actively participated in the civil rights movement. Or how he stood up against the Obama administration against cutting social security. Or how he voted against the war in Iraq and helped Amazon employees negotiate for a livable wage. What does that all matter after he endorsed a candidate who acted on the opposite of all that? A candidate who regularly called to cut social security, pushed for punitive sentencing laws that disproportionately victimize black people, and VP to an administration that deported more migrants and dropped more bombs over the Middle East than any other before his? And where are those Amazon employees now? Working in dangerous conditions without PPE or hazard pay and almost certainly exposing themselves and others to the Coronavirus. On top of voting for relief packages that only gave the average American a pittance of $1200 and billions in corporate relief.

Bernie certainly could have used his leverage of the mass movement he led to push for more substantial concessions for the working class. He could have refused to vote and marshalled all those voters and followers as leverage for expanded relief. And any excuse of how old he is, and a lack of energy is moot because he hustled more than any other candidate during the campaign. And even then, he could have asked former surrogate AOC to support Christian Smalls, the supervisor who blew the whistle on the unsafe working conditions in a Staten Island warehouse. AOC would have been great to side with Smalls, especially since she led the opposition against opening an Amazon HQ in Queens. But almost everyone involved in Bernie’s campaign, from Bernie to his former surrogates and staffers, are now scolding us into voting for an alleged rapist, pushing for regressive policies in the wake of a national catastrophe, or opportunistically profiting off the work they did undermining the campaign from within. And don’t give me how Bernie is pushing for a $2000 UBI that didn’t go anywhere. Not after he abstained from voting on legislation that now allows the FBI to further violate our online privacy. If Bernie were serious in leading a democratic socialist campaign, he’d have marshalled all those progressive groups, voters, volunteers, and allies and held congress hostage. At minimum he’d have gone third party. But instead he’s further capitulating to the demands of the establishment over the needs of Americans who are suffering.

There’s a reason why the Dallas Cowboys and their fans are treated with open disdain. It’s because it’s a team and a culture that would rather brag about past accomplishments and impose an ugly sense of entitlement and not owning it. That’s what you’re sounding like right now, Jordan. You and every other lib who’s shaming us for being contemptuous against fake progressives like Bernie Sanders. Say what you want about the New England Patriots, their insufferable fans, or the culture of winning at all costs and cheating. They’re winners and they continue to win. That’s the GOP right now. They are willing to play the villain and get shit done instead of whining how they’re America’s Team. This was never America’s Campaign, and Bernie isn’t America’s Candidate. So, fuck you, Jordan Charlton. Fuck you for shaming me and anyone else who would demand more from our elected officials, or who’ve given up on electoralism altogether. We shouldn’t pledge fealty to politicians who are imperfect people at best. We should demand more from our elected officials because they should be realizing our needs. And we should shame those who would betray the cause of collectivism and be contemptuous and disdainful towards them. If you would dare scold us, you were never dedicated to the cause. You fucked around, now it’s time to find out.