I admire the passion of Bernie or Busters, but I don’t think that they’re being very strategic or very pragmatic. What I think they’re being is ideological.
This friendly criticism is coming from a guy who had been registered Non-Partisan for the first 36 years of his eligibility. It wasn’t until Bernie decided he was going to be a “Democrat of convenience” that I decided to join him. I’ve always voted in elections, and now I’m registered as a Democrat solely so that I can vote for Sanders in the closed PA primary on April 26th; a primary that, as of today, FiveThirtyEight gives Bernie only a 7% chance of winning.
That doesn’t deter me. He’s still my first choice, but he’s not my only choice. And, this is where I part company with the Bernie or Bust crowd.
So, to be clear, I admire you Bernie or Busters for the strength of your convictions. I’m a Democrat today because I share the belief that Sanders is the best candidate to be president. Still, I can’t help getting the sense that you’re not all thinking this Bernie-or-Bust idea all the way through to its logical conclusion.
Votes Don’t Lie
I will say that your position would be more understandable if Bernie had been and was continuing to win state after state by landslides but still wasn’t getting the superdelegates. He and we would have all the proof needed that he had overwhelming popular support, and to deny him the nomination over some lack of superdelegates would be a travesty.
Clearly, that’s not what is happening.
Don’t we have to remember that caucuses and primaries are how party members and where allowed, independents, get to have their say? If that’s true, then so far there are fewer voters saying they want Bernie. It’s not over yet, but that reality cannot be denied. And, please spare us the conspiracy theories. If more people loved Bernie the way we do, it wouldn’t matter when debates were scheduled or how many superdelegates were committed to Hillary before this even got started. We’d be showing up in greater numbers and carrying Bernie to landslide victories.
The importance of New York, BTW, can’t be overstated. The rest of April is a run of blue states. Not to put too fine a point on it, but don’t Sanders supporters either have to show up or shut up? Is the adult thing to do to just take our ball and go home because we lost?
Bernie’s promise and your quandary
I believe that Bernie is true to his word. So the question for the B-or-Bers is what if he stays true to his promise and asks you to support Hillary? What then?
I think if he asks us to vote for her and we don’t, then I think it’s also fair to ask just how much of a Sanders supporter we really were? I suppose we can just ignore him, but what does that really say about our support for the man and what he stands for?
More to the point, what do you do then in November? Flip Bernie the proverbial finger and stay home, write him in, vote for Jill Stein? What? What do you do to stay true to Bernie other than to do what he asks?
Look, vote your conscience if you feel you must, but take it from someone who has done so and voted third party in the past. That’s not going to put Sanders in the White House. Why not? See the above. He simply doesn’t have enough popular support even if every single one of us voting in primaries and showing up in caucuses wrote his name in.
Who’s winning, where, and why it matters
And lest we forget, presidents are elected by an Electoral College.
If you look at which states went for Obama in 2012 and then compare which of those states have already gone to which candidate through the Democratic nomination process…..
….you find that Hillary has won some important Democratic states, including the top 3 states in terms of blue Electoral Collage votes so far; FL (29), IL (20), and OH (18).
She also leads Bernie overall in the Obama Blue State “EC vote count,” 103 to 72.
As the table below shows and as of today, FiveThirtyEight gives her a 99% chance of winning New York (29 ECVs) and a 93% chance of winning PA (20). Those two alone added to the states she has already won and could be expected to win again in the general election get her to 56% of the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House.
All this to say, that it’s not just how many popular votes a candidate gets, it matters a great deal in which states they get them. Hillary is clearly winning both the popular Democratic vote and in the Blue Electoral College states where it counts, too.
We’re all responsible for the choices we make
Finally, I think it’s important for B-or-Bers to appreciate this.
You will be held accountable come November.
My fellow liberals can debate all day the effect that Nader’s 2.7% had in the lead up to the corrupt SCOTUS decision that stole the election from Gore in 2000, but if you’re angling to “punish” Hillary, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and the DNC, just understand and own the fact that you are knowingly and willingly helping Trump or Cruz to win the White House.
You cannot get around that fact. If you’re comfortable with that then, by all means, own it and vote your conscience, but also know this reality: the Democratic Party didn’t become the Green Party 16 years ago when disaffected Democrats voted for Nader, and I’ll lay money that you won’t get much more than 2% to 3% this time, either.
No matter what you think, the DNC won’t change just because some small number of “Democrats of convenience” make the same mistake their predecessors did.
That kind of thinking is how we ended up with W. Do you really, really want to have to answer future generations when they ask how you could consciously be part of the reason Trump or Cruz occupied the White House?
Call it a guilt trip if you like. Call it the lesser of two evils. Call it having to hold your nose to pick the less offensive bowl of shit. Just be real about it.
Cruz or Trump can only win if Democrats refuse to stay united.
This isn’t politics as usual. It’s not even about conviction or belief or ideology.
It’s math. If we can’t carry Sanders to the nomination, then we must understand and accept responsibility for the undeniable fact that every vote not cast for whomever the Democrat is is a vote cast for the Republican.
Staying home, writing in Sanders, or voting for a third party will not change that. What will change it is for more people like Sanders to start running for their local school boards, town councils, mayors, state houses, and as members of Congress. If you think ensuring a Cruz or Trump presidency is the pathway for finally energizing more people in the Sanders mold, I submit to you that you are fooling yourself, and even if that were true, the ends would not justify those means. It must be understood that either Trump or Cruz as president is too terrible an idea to allow to come to fruition.
So, as bad as Hillary is; as much as you might hate her; as much as you justifiably point out that she’s a corporatist and not a Democrat in the mold of FDR, we all need to remember that, “….on her worst day, Hillary Clinton will be an infinitely better candidate and president than the Republican candidate on his best day.”
So said Bernie.