(This is a redacted post from a Facebook Group I’m in. It was the OP’s comments and a few that followed that inspired this response from me.)
Thanks for your post, Lenard. It got me thinking. (This is pretty long. Sorry.)
I don’t know if you mean this literally, Lenard, but you seem to be stating that the DNC picks a president’s running mate. I suspect they have some influence with the candidate. Such decisions are rarely – and shouldn’t be – made in a vacuum solely by the candidate. Ultimately, though, it is the candidate’s decision to make, so chastising the DNC for not putting Bernie on the ticket, with apologies, makes very little sense.
That said, having him on the ticket got me thinking.
How and why would having Sanders as Clinton’s VP have changed the outcome?
Did leaving him off exasperate voter apathy and disillusionment?
We also mustn’t forget that he only won the EC thanks to 77,000 voters in PA, MI, and WI.
Which leads me to this question; would those 77,000 have voted for Clinton with Bernie as VP?
Seems unlikely to me thanks in no small part to the hate on both the Right and on the Left for Hillary, the latter thanks in no small measure to die-hard Sanders supporters who then refused to vote the way Sanders asked them to, and that was for Hillary.
So, if we do conclude and concede that turnout would have been even greater for Hillary across the board but especially in the battleground states with Bernie on the ticket, does this mean that “Sanders voters” in those places who refused to join me as a Sanders supporter in voting for Clinton are now taking responsibility for Trump?
Seriously, if you call yourself a liberal or progressive or Sanders supporter, and you didn’t vote for Clinton as Bernie asked – begged – us to do, for whom did you vote, why, and will you do it again?
The reality was there were two choices in 2016. Two.
One was Trump and the other wasn’t.
We all knew and understood that. It’s simply intellectually dishonest to argue otherwise.
I get that if you live in a “safely” blue state like CA, you feel safe voting for Jill or Rocky or whomever, but that safety is afforded you only because the vast majority of your neighbors are doing what they believe and they know they must do. This isn’t an insult, it’s just how I see it nowadays. Voting your conscious is all well and good, until it isn’t for anyone but you.
Now the big question. Are some Sanders supporters becoming cultists? It seems so to me.
Look, I’m a Sanders supporter. What worries me is what I’m seeing in other FB groups that are total hardcore pro-Sanders Groups.
Their demand of the DNC distills down to this: “Give us Sanders, or you’ll get more scorched earth.”
This raises three questions for me.
1. Do they think the DNC controls who runs for office?
2. Whom do they think they’re hurting by refusing to vote for the Democrat on the ballot?
3. Why would anyone take conscious actions to perpetuate what we have now with Trump in office?
The answers I come to are framed by what starts to look to me as the same basic thinking as Trump’s cult, and that starts with making demands for change without understanding how things work. The second is to willfully decide to vote against oneself and everyone else without regard for the adverse affects just so they can pat themselves on the back for “winning” while putting someone they love into power as self-affirmation that they’re right and everyone else is wrong.
This is how Trump’s cult behaves. It’s as if they thought he would take office, wave a magic wand, and everything he – and they – wanted would become real. Well, I can’t help looking at many of my fellow Sanders supporters and concluding they believe the same would be true with Sanders in the White House. We all know that’s not how politics or our form of government works.
As for the DNC’s role in all of this, I have to say it’s childish to keep demanding that the DNC give us what we want or we’ll punish them at the polls.
Who is it that gets punished?
Is it the rich and powerful at the top? That would be silly and naive to believe.
Is it the Democratic politician who loses the election? Do you mean the people who are our best, albeit imperfect, allies but who aren’t actual enemies like Republican candidates? They’ll go back to doing whatever it is they were doing, or they’ll get a job on K Street, or whatever, but they’ll be fine. You aren’t “hurting” them, either.
No, the people who are hurt when Democrats lose and Republicans win are everyone outside the One Percent, and especially those who aren’t cisgender, white, evangelical, men.
We on the Left need to stop being our own worst enemies. We need to stop talking about the DNC as if it were a cabal of evil scientists building candidates out of corporatist Democratic body parts in a lab. Real people decide whether or not to run for office. Those real people must decide to run as Democrats or Republicans, Greens or Libertarians, or as Independents.
(Yes, here it comes.)
Sanders – for all the love and respect I have for him – is NOT a Democrat. If he were perfectly true to his stated beliefs, he would’ve run as an Independent. No one is perfect.
That’s why I suggest that we and he should stop pretending he’s a Democrat. I’d respect the hardcore Sanders-supporting Democratic Party haters more if they started calling Bernie out for being a Democrat of Convenience. After all, many of them refused to follow his advice to vote for Hillary, so shouldn’t they be attacking him for that and his convenient relationship with the DNC? Shouldn’t they be demanding that he run as an Independent? I’ll guess we’ll know soon enough.
I think we on the Left should be more supportive of the Democratic Party. I think we should vote for Democrats because they are clearly our strongest, albeit imperfect, allies against the actual enemies of Trump and the GOP. No, the Dems aren’t perfect. No one is, but they are exponentially stronger than any other Party other than the GOP.
Something else to remember about 2016 is that Bernie lost the primary in a race that wasn’t close.
The lesson to be learned is NOT that the DNC wasn’t supportive enough of him. I sometimes get the sense that many of my fellow Sanders supporters actually believe the DNC capable of stealing 3 million primary votes. Yes, yes, she had the superdelagates locked up early, and Nevada, and yada yada yada, but all I’ll say to all of that is that Sanders wasn’t a Democrat until it was convenient for him to register as one. What the hell did he and we expect, a loving embrace from the rank-and-file members and the leaders of a Party he has spent almost as much of his career pillorying as he has Republicans?
Again, if Bernie’s going to be a voice of independence from corrupt Parties, than he should run independent of them.
In my view, this is the absolute most important thing to remember about the primary: More people chose Hillary over Bernie. That’s how the system works.
So, if the Democratic candidates on your ballot aren’t liberal or progressive enough for you, then run for office yourself, but let’s stop this arsonist’s strategy of wanting to burn down the Democratic Party because the people who choose to operate within it and who choose to run as representatives of it aren’t pure enough for us. If that’s how you feel, then join the Party, run for office, and change it from the inside; otherwise, what makes you think you should have a voice in how the Party operates and who runs under its banner? Talk about privilege.
And, if you’re left with another choice in 2020 that doesn’t include Sanders and you vote for anyone but the Democrat at least have the courage to publicly own it. I see precious few Sanders supporters who claim to despise the Democratic Party with the courage to reveal for whom they did cast their vote. I’m proud to say that I registered for the first time in my life as a Democrat so that I could vote for Bernie in the closed PA primary. I’m just as proud to say that I voted for Hillary.
No one is perfect. My view is that the Left needs to find a way to coalesce and to stop being our own worst enemies by constantly fighting intra-movement purity battles. Yes, the Democratic Party should be more Liberal with a capital “L”, but how does attacking it or refusing to work with and within it lead to the change you want? It doesn’t.
I think that we must remember that the Left has a lot of imperfect friends and allies in the Democratic Party.
We have none in the Republican Party.