Memo to Millennials: Dire Risk in Bernie or Bust


USA-ELECTION/SANDERSDear Millennial Bernie Backers:

At the serious risk of sounding like the get-off-my-lawn geezers we despised in the 1960s and ‘70s, the old codgers at Calbuzz would like to speak directly to you Bernie or Bust people who are, we fear, on the verge of  making a huge mistake.

We understand your passion and commitment to Bernie Sanders and the cause he represents. He stands as a beacon for income redistribution, universal healthcare, and an end to the corrupting influence of money in politics, international peace, racial justice and breaking up the financial institutions that have a stranglehold on American politics and the economy.

These are great goals and laudable aspirations – exactly the kinds of things intelligent, decent and social justice-minded young people should seek. They’re the same things many of us, now in our 60s and 70s, fought for decades ago (although we also put a premium on stopping the war in Vietnam and bringing about equal rights in America).

There’s a lot to admire in what Bernie stands for. But Senator Sanders, the independent socialist from Vermont who has never been a member of the Democratic Party, can deliver exactly, um, none of these things. First, because he can’t be elected president and second because even if he were elected president, he couldn’t get any of them through Congress.

What he can do is weaken the campaign of the first woman likely to be elected president of the United States – Hillary Clinton — and assist the campaign of the most unprepared, narcissistic, misogynistic, bigoted candidate ever to represent an American national political party – Donald Trump. So it’s kind of a big deal all the way around.

richard_nixonThe bad old days. What you guys don’t remember –  we’re not talking down here, just recalling history – is what life was like before service in the military was voluntary, blacks and Latinos had the right to vote, women had equal rights, unions had the right to organize and abortion was legal. Those of us who remember these things don’t want to risk losing them at the hands of a Supreme Court that would – if remade by Trump — surely undo whatever progress has been made in the past 40 or 50 years.

We know from over-zealousness. Back in 1968, many of us who had been for Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy didn’t see much difference between Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic candidate chosen at the tumultuous convention in Chicago, and Republican Richard Nixon. Yeah, that worked out well.

As our friend (socialist and Sanders supporter) Harold Meyerson wrote last week:

Those Sanders supporters—they’re a distinct minority—who insist that the difference between Clinton and Donald Trump isn’t great enough to justify their voting for Clinton do themselves, not to mention the nation, an enormous disservice. A Clinton White House would be subject to pressure from the Sanders wing of the party, just as the Sanders campaign plans to pressure it at the upcoming convention. A Trump White House would be subject to no such pressure, and instead of fighting to push the nation’s agenda to the left, Sanders activists would be fighting alongside Clinton supporters to keep the nation from sliding into racist authoritarianism.

To conflate Clinton’s myriad imperfections as equivalent with Trump’s is to repeat the world historic mistake that German Communists, at Stalin’s behest, made in that nation’s 1932 elections, when they campaigned against their left-wing rivals, the Social Democrats, as though they were on a par with the Nazis. “Social Fascists,” the Communists called them, right up until the time that Hitler took power, suppressed both the Social Democrats and the Communists, imprisoned them, killed some, abolished the unions and turned his attention to the Jews. This is not to argue that Trump is Hitlerian, but a man can be a danger to civilization without plumbing Hitlerian depths.

So there’s that.

trumpangerWhat Bernie would face: It’s especially worrisome that so many Bernie supporters put stock in his claim that he would be a stronger candidate than Clinton because he currently does better in the polls against Trump than she does.

This is an entirely bogus argument. Clinton has been the target of Republican negative campaigning for about 30 years, accused of everything from murder to treason — literally. Sanders, on the other hand, has never been the subject of a serious, nationwide negative campaign of the sort that he would face as the Democratic nominee: Russia-loving socialist, anti-religious crusader, tax-tax-tax-and-spend left-winger who’ll cripple the military and take away your guns and your freedom and force you to live on a vegan commune with released murderers for minders.

None of that will come to pass, however, because the race is virtually over: Sanders cannot get enough votes or delegates to overcome the huge advantage Clinton has in votes and delegates. And the notion is absurd that super delegates – for whom Clinton has raised millions of dollars and who are actual Democrats – would switch allegiance for the guy who has fewer votes, isn’t a Democrat and has done nothing but castigate party officers and leaders.

Moreover, it’s worth noting, as renowned lefty Joan Walsh argued, there is a “presumption of moral and ideological superiority from a coalition that is dominated by white men, trying to overturn the will of black, brown, and female voters or somehow deem it fraudulent.”

Jerry-BrownBrown’s wisdom on insurgency: Eons ago (back in January), Calbuzz said it was time for progressive Democrats to stop dabbling with Sanders – primarily, we said, because the U.S. Supreme Court is at stake and while Sanders cannot win a general election, Clinton can.

Hundreds of thousands of left-liberal voters promptly ignored our advice. So now it’s Sanders himself (and his nasty campaign manager Jeff Weaver) who need to wise up.

It’s not that Sanders should quit his campaign. He has every right to speak out for income equality, breaking up the banks, universal medical care, ridding the political system of massive campaign contributions and more. But given that there is no path by which he can overcome Clinton’s massive lead in votes and delegates, Sanders can only aid Donald Trump by attacking Clinton and the Democratic Party.

The riotous disruption of the Democratic Party convention in Nevada coupled with Sanders’ tacit approval and his continued caustic rhetoric are evidence that he is engaged in a slash-and-burn strategy through to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. It’s as if he’s decided that if he can’t have the Democratic nomination and thus the presidency, neither can Clinton.

Even California Gov. Jerry Brown, who ran three of his own insurgent campaigns for president, has warned that Bernie is threatening to pave the way for Trump.

“I don’t think anybody should be seeking the Democratic nomination with a scorched earth policy,” Brown told reporters at a United Farm Workers convention last weekend. “At the end of the day, we’ve all got to work together. It’s very important that we beat Donald Trump. That is the overriding imperative for, I think, America, for the party and for organized labor. So, I’ve run insurgency campaigns, and they have to be run in a way that ultimately the Democratic nominee wins.”

So, millennial friends, hang in there, work for and vote for Sanders. But give up the notion that it’s Bernie or Bust. After he’s had his run, it’ll be time to rally around the candidate who will – with your help – keep Donald Trump out of the White House.

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There are 15 comments for this post

  1. avatar centralcoastcj says:

    Memo to Joan Walsh: If you would leave the confines of the echo chamber in which you live and work, you wouldn’t repeat the fallacious claim that Bernie supporters are “dominated by white men, trying to overturn the will of black, brown and female voters.”
    Your elitist sense of self-entitled superiority is showing, Joan, along with a healthy dose of sexism and racism. We don’t all think alike according to the color of our skin or the DNA of our reproductive organs. You and the Democratic party should stop claiming us by default. You have to earn our votes. — an aging female voter whose will you and the DNC is seeking to overturn by your idiotic rhetoric.

    • avatar Donald from Pasadena says:

      Dear aging female Bernie voter: We’re not thwarting your will with our idiotic rhetoric. Rather, we’re doing so with our votes. Because last I saw in the corrupt DNC rulebook, it’s the candidate with the most votes who wins, and not the candidate with the most condescending and obnoxious supporters.

  2. avatar louiejc says:

    I believe in democracy like Sanders does. And 3 million more votes says he’s lost. It’s dishonest to continue to pretend you have chance when you don’t. Magical thinking appears to be alive and well in our ranks.

  3. avatar scribe1128 says:

    Excellent piece! Yes, the Berniacs need to wise up, and in a hurry! Hillary Clinton made a great point yesterday when she said that Bernie hasn’t had one negative ad against him, T-rump has kept his hands off Bernie. But, heaven forbid, Bernie would at the nomination (a real stretch at that), the gloves would come off and things that Bernie’s gullible faithful didn’t know about their messiah will come out! Not pretty things, either! So Berniacs, be careful what you wish for. You can either have a bombastic jerk, T-rump (I’d use stronger language here, but won’t), or someone like Hillary Clinton, who can actually work to get things done. Remember, the Supreme Court is at risk here. If you want everything we have worked for over the past 40 years gone, keep up your blind support for Bernie, who will not and cannot get it done.

  4. avatar pveesart says:

    Same ‘ol Shinola from the Capital ‘D’ Democrats: You can’t win; you can’t do it; be realistic; don’t even try… Same ‘ol rhetoric I have been hearing all my life. It’s the rhetoric that brought us Obamacare instead of single-payer; that brought us bank bail-outs instead of banking reform ; that brought (and brings) us perpetual war and the loathing of the rest of the world. People are sick and tired of the rhetoric and they are sick and tired of the Democrats. Had the ‘Ds’ gotten behind Sanders; had the playing field been just the slightest bit leveler, they could have had a candidate that people rally around instead acquiescing to. Bernie has already made a difference despite being about as welcome as a venereal disease by the ‘Ds’ and the press. As Amy Goodman put it on her NPR interview on Saturday: Bernie wins, and the press asks when he’s going to drop out; Bernie wins, and the press asks when he’s going to drop out; Bernie wins…

  5. avatar Suz says:

    I’m not a millennial. I’m in the 55-60 age group and a long time Democrat. In my circle of friends… I don’t know anyone who isn’t voting for Bernie and we all agree that if he’s not on the ballot were writing him in. If Clinton supporters force her nomination they deserve a Trump Presidency and I’ll be changing my party affiliation to independent. I will be done with the Democratic Party.

  6. avatar Noozeyeguy says:

    As a journalist who’s been present at two recent LA-area Sanders rallies (working, not playing) I’ve noticed that there are two candidates left in primary contention who consistently attract large, boisterous crowds, and neither of them are named Hillary Clinton. This dearth of excitement amongst the “I’m ready for Hillary” team should be of deep concern to the Democratic apparatus, and probably is. After June 7, if Bernie doesn’t redirect his legions to Hillary’s column, the likelihood of President Trump grows exponentially.

    And having Bernie as the nominee doesn’t translate to a decisive victory in November: as noted, Sanders has yet to face more than token opposition from the GOP. There’s oppo-research operatives positively salivating at the notion of taking their licks at Sanders. Yes Trump has higher negatives, but his crack about not losing polling numbers even if he shot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue is not too far off the mark. Voters may dislike the man personally but will still vote for him given more-unpalatable options.

    That said, if Trump wins the White House, he faces the same political calculus that a President Sanders would: A hostile Congress unwilling to move more than incrementally, despite furious nudging. SCOTUS nominations are the real prize here, with Trump having the edge if the balance of power in Congress remains tilted to the GOP. But in terms of actually enacting legislation… not so much. Also, remember Trump is at heart a businessman, not an activist: the chances of Quixotic quests and Phyrric victories are really slim and none. Much more likely is classic Trump: Move the goalposts, deny ever so doing, and declare victory.

    • avatar Donald from Pasadena says:

      Yet you know what? Even without those large mega-rallies that prompt lots of “oohs” and “aahs” from the 4th Estate, Mrs. Clinton keeps winning. Including her triumph in Washington state yesterday, she’s won seven of the last ten state primaries. Surely, you would agree that her supporters can be excited by her candidacy, without the necessity of having to stand in front of you and wet their pants in public as a sufficient means to show fealty.

  7. avatar tonyseton says:

    How many of you Clinton supporters would be backing her if she were a he? How many would continue to support her if she was trailing in the electoral college? Why has she failed to knock out Sanders even with DWS in her pocket and virtually all of the major media at least tacitly behind her? What has she refused to release the Goldman Sachs transcripts? Why did she and Bill give $14.7MM of their $15MM in charitable contributions to their own foundation? How did she manage to escape the gunfire when she got off the helicopter in Bosnia? If she’s the better candidate against Trump, let her show it in Philadelphia. Of course I’m voting for Sanders. He’s honest, his thinking is progressive, and he is much likely to trounce Trump.

    • avatar nevenera says:

      No. 1, ah the sexist “you are only voting for her because she is female” really? I backed Obama when she lost last time as he was essentially the “he” to her “she”. I am voting for her because she is smart, capable, qualified and hard working, and yes I because I know she cares about the same things I do. As a strong women myself I know that women like us are often stereotyped in ways that men are not for the very same things.

      Actually the media has been pretty harsh on her, asking why she won’t smile more, asking why people don’t like her, etc. Bernie, the crotchety old white guy…well I have yet to hear anyone ask him to smile, speak less angrily or why he does not brush his hair. If Hillary showed up like that she would be crucified…oh wait, what is new.

      Bernie will be eaten up like a snack by Trump, he has one thing he focuses on, his foreign policy is shaky, I agree with most of what he says, but I don’t really see him getting anything done, if by some miracle he is elected.

      At one point I would have voted for Bernie had he won the nomination, but now I am not so sure, he is turning out to be a sore loser (and yes I supported Hillary when she was in EXACTLY the same place Bernie was at this time). I am so tired of the sexist (as in your post) and racist remarks by many of the Bernie supporters who can only explain why Bernie is losing women and minorities by insulting those groups based on Gender and race. Bernie has a bigger gender gap in his campaign that even some of the Dems (Hillary has the most diverse staff and more men than women), while Bernie on average pays his women slightly more, the top paid women on Hillary’s staff are women and Bernie does not have a single woman among his top paid staff. That tells me quite a bit about who really cares about women. Also an analysis of honesty in Bernie’s and Hillary’s statements shows that they are virtually equal.. Trump.. well not even close. So the whole Trustworthy thing is just another talking point by Republicans that Bernie supporters are holding on to because really they don’t have any reason not to vote for her…except for the fact she is a powerful woman, in a demographic that is supposed to be invisible. Older women who are not physically attractive.

    • avatar Donald from Pasadena says:

      D’oh! Gosh, tony, you’re just too smart for me! I should have known that you’d eventually figure out that I’m only supporting Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy because I have serious Mommy issues.

      (Sigh!) And yet you guys continue to wonder aloud about why you’re losing.

  8. avatar pveesart says:

    Bernie Sanders has based his campaign on challenging a political system that Hillary Clinton is the poster child for. The response, especially among younger voters, has been nothing short of amazing. Do you really think that all Bernie has to do is “redirect his legions” and they will then vote for Hillary? Really? More likely is that Bernie supporters (mostly Hillary haters) won’t bother to vote In November while Trump supporters (mostly Hillary haters), smelling blood in the water, will turn out in droves. Hillary unites the right and the left – against her. If Democrat leaders want to find somebody to blame, they need go no further than their bathroom mirrors. Hillary’s flaws and weaknesses have been well known and much discussed for years. It’s a frightening thought that we could then be dependent upon a Republican Congress to check the power of a Trump presidency. Bury the silver and hide your daughters…

  9. avatar GaryRJP64 says:

    How are you supposed to move any progressive policy agenda through Congress when the House is controlled by a bunch of right-wing troglodytes?

  10. avatar cbarney says:

    this condescending lecture will get you nowhere with sanderistas, who have been hearing it for months. you can’t win, give it up, get in line; it’s insulting.

    if you are so sure hillary will be nominated, you would do better to make nice to the people who oppose her; you will need their support in november. but you will not get it by telling them what fools they are. nor will you get it by trying to frighten them with trump.

    sanders has shown the democratic party for the insider cabal it has become. many democrats are indeed disaffected and have been waiting for someone like bernie, a nominal socialist but a new deal democrat to most of us, to come down the pike for a long time.

    and many of us agree that if hillary is nominated we need to support her. and we will.

    but she is not the nominee yet.

    there is a struggle in sanders ranks over the issue of what to do about hillary. the campaign doesn’t want to deal with it, and the press, which has apparently forgotten how to report, can’t see it. but one would think that the party itself, those old codgers described in the first graf above, might try to enlist those voters who had been energized by the sanders campaign rather than belittle them.

    • avatar Donald from Pasadena says:

      All Sanders has been doing here for that last six months is validating your own personal opinions. That doesn’t mean that the senator and you are therefore right, and everybody else is wrong. There are no messiahs or white knights in politics. Perfect is the enemy of good.

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