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.
The 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.
What 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.”
Brown’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.