Berning Out


This blog has not been reticent in its support for Bernie Sanders. The conscientious reader may recall our hearty endorsement a few months back.

TL;DR: Bernie Sanders has been on the right side of pretty much every issue where everyone else was wrong (and wrong at tremendous cost). His ideas about free college and fully socialized medicine, much as I may like them, do not seem likely to pass any Congress at all similar to the one we have now, but his judgment has been proven right time and again, and that’s good enough for me.

Likewise, this blog has not been effusive in its praise for Hillary Clinton. We do not have anything particularly against Mrs. Clinton personally, but she has failed to inspire in the way that Barack Obama did, the way Bernie Sanders has, the way even Donald Trump has. It is unclear to us what exactly Hillary Clinton wants to do as president, other than Be President.

This blog is not a fan of Mrs. Clinton’s email scandal, or her campaigning style, or her susceptibility to donoritis. She is not our first choice. But now that Donald Trump has sealed the Republican nomination and begun to train his attacks on her, it’s time for Bernie Sanders to drop out and let her have it.

Because here’s the thing: SHE’S DEFINITELY GOING TO WIN THE NOMINATION. DEFINITELY DEFINITELY. The delegate math and common sense both clearly show that there is zero chance that she won’t: her lead over Sanders is such that he would have to win roughly 280% of the remaining votes to catch up. Presented with this obvious fact, Sanders suggests that he will sway the superdelegates in the states he won, and overtake Clinton’s lead to win the nomination. That might be “fair” and “democratic,” but it is extremely unlikely, as Clinton’s pledged superdelegates aligned with Clinton before Sanders even announced his campaign, and even worse, it still wouldn’t give him enough delegates to win. It’s time we face facts, fellow Berners: it’s not going to happen, no matter how hard we clap for Tinkerbell.

Would Sanders be a better matchup for Donald Trump than Hillary, as has been one of our main talking points throughout this primary season? Probably, if for no other reason than Trump can’t bellow at Sanders across a debate stage, “If I’m as morally repugnant as you say, how come you came to my wedding? Oh right, it was because I gave you money.” But it’s now a moot point, because it failed to persuade a majority of Democratic primary voters to vote for Bernie over Hillary. It doesn’t matter now that Bernie could or would do better against Trump, because he’s not going to get the chance.

There is a compelling argument that even though the writing is on the wall for Sanders’ campaign, that he should stay in the race until the convention, so that he can help to shape the official agenda of the Democratic Party moving forward. Apparently ‘contested conventions,’ which newsreaders now mention in the hushed tones you’d reserve for a bloody riot, used to be the norm: a vanquished candidate would work with the presumptive winner to reach compromises on policy so that the loser’s supporters could go forward supporting the winner and emerge from the convention as a unified party. This is how they used to always do it, and some say that Sanders should spend the policy capital he’s earned by winning so many states and engaging so many voters.

Another equally valid argument for Sanders’ staying in the race is that his supporters deserve to have their voices heard, that they should be able to vote for the candidate they want regardless of whether he is going to win.

I agree with both of those arguments in principle. But Sanders should still drop out, because as noble as his intentions are, as on the money as he is on just about every issue, his supporters are officially doing more harm than good.

Remember at the beginning of the campaign, when Bernie made such a point of promising that he would not attack Hillary? It was one of the things that first caught my attention; he said it so many times I have it from memory: “This campaign is not about Hillary Clinton. I happen to like Hillary Clinton, we just happen to disagree on a number of issues.”

Whether Bernie himself has stuck to his promise not to go negative is debatable — he’s been relentless hitting her about her ties to Wall Street and her vote for the Iraq War, but reasonable people can disagree whether that’s attacking her ‘personally’ or ‘on the issues’ — but there’s no question that his supporters have gone way overboard in demonizing her on social media.

Again: I endorsed Bernie for the nomination. I prefer him to Hillary. But it’s not a choice between Bernie and Hillary anymore, it’s a choice between Hillary and Donald Trump, and I don’t see how anyone can pretend that’s not a really, really easy choice.

These two candidates (Trump and Clinton) are similar in one very particular way: they will both inspire people to get out and vote — FOR THE OTHER PARTY. Just as there are people out there who aren’t particularly enthusiastic about voting for Hillary Clinton but will get off the couch to vote against Trump (such a person just happens to be typing this right now), you had better believe that Trump’s high negatives can very easily be outweighed by the bizarre vendetta so many conservatives have against Clinton, and would vote for a shaved ape if it was a vote against her.

That’s why the fevered last-ditch efforts of Sanders supporters to smear Clinton, to accuse her of cheating to win the nomination, of being in the pocket of Wall Street, even perpetuating the right-wing fantasy that she is moments away from indictment over her private email server is so counterproductive. This kind of shrieking is doing nothing to bring Sanders closer to the nomination, because for all practical purposes, he’s already lost. But it is giving legitimacy to the 25-year effort — an effort that has never turned up any actual evidence of any wrongdoing on Clinton’s part, dating back to the 1980s — to paint her as dishonest, untrustworthy, corrupt, shady, you name it.

My main beef with Clinton over her email scandal is not that she compromised national security, but that after all the shit she has been through over the years, that she didn’t know that using a private server to conduct Government Business — something she had publicly bashed George Bush for — was definitely going to be discovered by opposition research at some point and her enemies would run with it forever. This was an entirely predictable, entirely avoidable scenario, a totally unforced error that calls her strategic savvy into question.

As for the idea that the Democratic party is cheating and rigging the vote in Clinton’s favor in order to beat Bernie — maybe let’s consider the possibility that Hillary Clinton is winning this nomination so easily in large part because she came into this election with the highest name recognition in the history of presidential candidates. That’s not nothing. As exciting a candidate as Bernie is to so many people, myself included, it just didn’t scale up to a level that beats simple lizard-brain name recognition. Because like it or not, Hillary Clinton has been one of the three most famous women in the world for 25 years.

I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. I thought he was the only honest man in the race and, perhaps lulled into complacency by two terms of relative peace and prosperity, I didn’t see any meaningful difference between Bush and Gore. I was soon disabused of that naivete when Bush invaded Iraq, when he slept through Hurricane Katrina, when he tried to privatize Social Security. The differences are not trivial.

And whatever her faults, we’ve got to give Clinton this much: she is uniquely qualified to be president in a way that no candidate has ever been before. She has seen the job up close. She has lived in the White House. She has seen exactly what the day-to-day of the job entails, the long hours, the total absence of privacy, the ceaseless, baseless attacks on her integrity, and incredibly, she still wants it. That’s got to count for something. Trump has absolutely no idea what it entails, which is one of the biggest reasons he’s so dangerous, and why we’ve got to stop doing his job for him.

Bernie Sanders has run an amazing campaign and he’s already influenced the future course of the Democratic party more than he probably ever imagined possible. Clinton has adopted enough of Sanders’ positions that Saturday Night Live did a sketch about it:

If the campaign was really about the issues, as Sanders originally insisted, then shouldn’t the fact that Clinton has adopted most of his positions be good enough? He’s had a good run and I want to see him have as much influence on the race as possible, but he’s got to quiet down his people. Fellow Bernie supporters, I truly feel your frustration and your lack of enthusiasm for Mrs. Clinton. If you want to keep talking up Bernie and his policies, go ahead and do that. But you’ve got to quit retweeting every piece of anti-Hillary horseshit that comes down the pipe, because at this point you’re only making President Trump more likely.

Also, Sanders needs to apologize for his wildly sexist habit of calling Mrs. Clinton “the secretary.” It’s amazing he’s been able to get away with that for so long.

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