NORTH ADAMS — Bernie Sanders sure has some fair weather friends.
The guy spent the past year cementing his place in the Democratic Party — building his influence and laying out a far-reaching plan of electing progressive Democrats to down-ticket offices across the country in order to build a real movement forward. It was a vision of change looking at the long game.
Now Sanders' plan has revealed a wrinkle some people say they can't abide — voting for Clinton. They followed Sanders down the path to revolt, but now bail on it as it leaves the revolutionary adrenalin rush behind and demands real sacrifice.
All revolutions require sacrifice. Sometimes it's lives, sometimes livelihoods. Sometimes it's time, money, often it's resources. Sometimes it's your personal life.
Sometimes it's your integrity. Not your whopping big pile of it necessarily. Just a tiny, little chunk of it.
The old saying is that politics make strange bedfellows. So do revolutions. That's where your tiny, chunk of integrity comes up for grabs. Measured against the whopping big pile, it's an easy sacrifice.
A lot of people have decided to stamp their feet and proclaim the smallest, simplest sacrifice as not worth it, even if Sanders makes that very same sacrifice. He is not asking his followers to do anything he hasn't.
As the game plays out, Sanders reveals that he actually understands how to win it. Revolutionary mindset is often inflexible. It gets in a rut, viewing only one path, and branding any victory that isn't instant as a cop-out. And so the establishment neuters the revolution, encouraging revolutionaries to demand all or nothing — and often getting nothing.
Sanders is a pragmatic revolutionary who understands that you can't work with tools you don't have. He's proven adept at taking the tools at hand and modifying them for the use he needs. I've had problems with his campaign, and with Clinton's as well, but in the end, it is Sanders who offers shrewd rebellion in service of a greater good; real strategy that can make real difference if his followers stop clinging to outdated revolutionary patterns and embrace new strategies.
The Green Party wants to ride on this wave. Sanders is the best thing that ever happened to them. Incapable of energizing a young, progressive demographic, Jill Stein allowed Sanders do the hard work, and now hopes to seize it as her own. Sanders' silence on Stein's offer of the Green nomination speaks volumes about Sanders' view of the Greens.
Sanders has his eye on real possible change, and the plan is to manipulate the chess board. He sees that it is a two-player game. Third parties can set up all the alternate game boards they want, but none of their moves count. Maybe someday they will, but not without the path that Sanders lays out.
Sanders shows that you don't have to sit at an alternate board, ignored by the other players. You can play on the official one. And if you play the game right, you can win and maintain your whopping big pile of integrity.
Right now, the American system is rigged so that voting third party negatively affects your cherished concerns, crippling the tools you could utilize to get the job done. It gives you the possibility a small moral victory on your own game board, but you lose the actual game.
It doesn't have to be that way, and Sanders is revealing how. Are you actually a revolutionary, prepared to do whatever it takes? Or are you determined to keep screaming into the echo chamber where no one outside can hear you?
One thing's for sure. Sanders is not going to succeed if you bail out at this crucial moment. Scorched-earth policies don't work.
Contact John Seven at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @damnjohnseven. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.