A Final Appeal to all the Bernie Supporters Who’ve Joined HER Since Philadelphia
We shared a lot when we took on Hillary Clinton this Spring. I remember in particular the frustration we felt at the character assassination campaign her supporters waged against Bernie and us, that despicable effort which ultimately did succeed in denying him the nomination, a dream which once seemed so promising.
But much has changed since then. I know most of you are now supporting Clinton’s campaign because, in large part, Bernie asked you to do so. I couldn’t persuade myself to follow his recommendation for some reasons I’d like to make clear in this essay.
I should point out, first off, that---unlike many of the other Sanders supporters who absolutely refuse to vote for Hillary Clinton---I have always agreed with Bernie’s fundamental strategic premise that the best way to advance the economic progressive cause going forward is through the Democratic Party.
My reasoning is quite straightforward: if you have hopes of one day seeing the economic progressive movement embraced by the majority of the American electorate on a national level, you need to first win over those who are most likely to be receptive to your message, and that means winning over the majority of those who now currently identify with the Democratic Party.
Because I see this clearly, I totally understand why Bernie felt he needed to demonstrate that he is ‘on board’ with the movers and shakers within the Democratic Party by publicly endorsing the woman who treated him with such malice. It may have been the most difficult thing he has ever done in his life, but I honestly don’t believe that he thought he had any other choice.
My current perception is that he has, of necessity, talked himself into ignoring all of the things about Hillary’s ‘dispositions’ that he strongly disagrees with and has tried as hard as he can to demonstrate to the Dem Party leadership that he is on their side by continuing to bad-mouth Trump, just as he has all the past year.
He undoubtedly believed that this tactical move was better than the alternative: cutting off all identification with the Dem Party and launching an independent party run. I don’t think he ever really had the kind of ego that is necessary to be able to pull off such an historical move.
So if it wasn’t in him to make that kind of move, who am I to say it should have been? He’s been a great spokesman for average Americans and he did launch a bit of a proto-political-revolution that was long on its ultimate ambitions.
But in spite of the great inspiration he has been to millions of us, once he was forced by his situation to defer to Hillary, he ceased to be in a position to lead us against what she represented, which is something he did for months to our grateful cheers.
We, however, are still acutely aware that what we were fighting against then (tools of the corporate elite) did not simply evaporate into the mist. Yes, Bernie’s voice has been taken from him, but we are still quite aware of what we are battling against and we are capable of identifying strategic moves that will improve the chances of our ‘revolution’ prevailing over the Centrists within the Dem Party.
For me, once this reality finally sank in, I could see that I was obligated by my devotion to to ignore him whenever he asks me from the stump to vote for Hillary Clinton.
Bernie has his own plate full of variables that he needs to deal with now in his current situation. But I am not in Bernie’s position and I am not at all reluctant to point out that the efforts he’s been pressured into making to help Hillary get elected will---if they are successful---ultimately do great harm to The Revolution he has inspired.
To make my case clear, I ask you to try to focus your attention for a moment solely on the raw political question of what Bernie’s zillions of supporters could possibly do to optimize the chances of seeing his Revolution one day winning over the majority of the Democratic Party’s leadership?
At the crux of my reasoning is a recognition that the prescription Bernie offered to the Democratic Party earlier in the year was always intended for the ears of individuals who are primarily interested in only one thing: ?
How am I going to be able to fund my campaign? Does victory come to those who are straight with the voters re: the issues, or does it come to those who are successful in making it sound like they are all things to all constituencies (both corporate donors and Average Voters) and who have mastered the art of negative campaigning vs. their opponents (i.e., character assassination)?
These are the questions that key people in the Democratic Party are paying attention to this election. They have assumed that Hillary's way is better. If Bernie’s Revolution is to have any chance at all of reforming the Democratic Party, those people need to see some convincing evidence that Bernie’s way is better.
And that, my friends, is another way of saying that they need to see evidence that Hillary’s way does not work in the current political environment.
So do I need to actually spell it out? From a purely political perspective, in order for Bernie’s Revolution to have any real chance of winning over the Democratic Party in the next year or two, Hillary Clinton needs to lose to Donald Trump on November 8.
If she does lose, her victory will provide validation to all those within the Dem Party who resisted Bernie’s message and rallied around the Centrist philosophy of politics. Bernie’s criticisms will be roundly ignored and the Centrists will enjoy greatly enhanced prestige, having achieved a real life validation of their thesis that Bernie’s economic progressive faction can be easily manipulated into showing up on voting day.
What is absolutely necessary in order for these people to start taking the Bernie Sanders alternative seriously is for them to witness next week. is the only kind of development that can touch off the extended period of naval gazing that is necessary in order for them to start questioning some of their past assumptions.
When you think about it, absolutely nothing could be more important to the Political Revolution Bernie has inspired than orchestrating a Hillary Clinton defeat vs. Trump roughly eight days from now.
Those happen to be the fundamental political realities that Bernie and we are dealing with, period.
If you really, really wanted to see Bernie’s political revolution occur---as I did and still do---then you absolutely must admit that it has 1) a reasonably good chance of taking hold within the Dem Party if Hillary Clinton loses next Tuesday, and 2) virtually no chance of succeeding if she wins.
So at least on one level---that of pure political strategy---it makes no sense whatsoever for Bernie Sanders supporters to help Hillary Clinton get elected. If the thing that matters to them is advancing the cause of The Revolution that Bernie started, it would be insane for them to vote for anyone other than Donald Trump, so important would it be that they give Hillary the defeat she so richly deserves.
So is this strategic consideration the only thing that should matter to former Bernie Sanders supporters? Of course not. It is not so important that we should be willing to pay any price (few things are). But I argue that it is the proper starting point from which we ought to be evaluating our choices on November 8.
From where I’m standing, in order for me to walk away from the hope of witnessing a Political Revolution occurring within the Dem Party in the next couple of years (i.e., voting for Her), the downside risks of a Trump Presidency have to be very grave, indeed. The good news, I can report, is that those downside risks are not actually as bad as the Clinton campaign has made them out to be.
It is important to understand that the most outrageous things that Trump has proposed require legislation and I think it will be possible to defeat his essential sociopathy on that level, since he will face not only the opposition of the Dem Party, but also MSM and a significant number of people from his own party.
So generally speaking, while Trump is [virtually] all the bad things they say about him, his is an Evil that we can survive/handle/take advantage of.
Almost all of the anti-POC crap he talks has a zero percent chance of being translated into people-harming legislation, and without legislation, his talk is just talk.
Far too many former Sanders supporters fail to realize that putting a white supremacist like Trump in charge of multi-ethnic America, a country where the media and most of our public institutions have been embracing ethnic diversity for many decades is not something to fear, but is actually something to look forward to.
You see, the racists were a big enough faction within the Republican Party to win Trump his nomination, but they are a rather small minority nationally.
Seriously, the best way to beat down racism in America is to put their hero in the White House so they can watch him being crucified for any hint of racism in his proposals. It’s the kind of criticism that racists need to hear, that will discourage the vast majority of people from joining their numbers.
On economic issues, Clinton and Trump are essentially the same thing: protectors of the corporate elite. Neither of them offers an overall advantage to us over the other.
Ultimately, Trump is a bad choice for a long list of reasons, but that dour assessment of his overall worth as a human being does nothing to change my perception that we would all be a lot better off with an embarrassing jerk in the White House than we would be with Hillary Clinton in charge of America's military might.
Almost all of Trumps bad ideas require legislation, which we can fight, but when it comes to the President’s ability to put American ‘boots on the ground’ vs. some theoretical enemy, no such approval from Congress is necessary. Hillary Clinton will be in a position to get us into a costly war without having to overcome any domestic opposition to pull it off.
What scares me is my knowledge of her career-long investment in trying to convince the generals and the admirals that she is a ‘tough bitch’, ala Margaret Thatcher, who will not hesitate to pull the trigger. An illuminating article in the NY Times revealed that she always advocates the most muscular and reckless dispositions of U.S. military forces whenever her opinion is solicited.
Contrary to what some of you may be telling yourselves, Hillary does not just talk tough from the podium to hide the fact that she is actually a peace-monger (!); she has a long history of establishing and nurturing relationships with the generals and admirals who push for the most aggressive of military responses from America vs. our imagined enemies.
She's fully invested in their 'club', and is a voluntary voice for their most aggressive ideas on how to use America's military assets. She wants their approval and wants them to know that they can depend on her to speak for them. She has unwavering confidence in their assessments of America's perceived advantages over the enemies they want to face down, or crush with extreme prejudice.
All of her experience re: foreign policy that she’s been touting is actually the scariest thing about her, when you look at what her historical dispositions have been. The "No Fly Zone" she’s been pushing since last year is just the latest example of her instinct to act recklessly, as it directly invites a military confrontation with Russia.
Her greatest political fear—that she might one day be accused by Republicans of being "weak on America’s enemies"—is what we have to fear. It is that fear which drives her to the most extreme of war hawk positions, since her foundational strategy is to get out in front of the criticism she anticipates.
It is what we can count on. She will most assuredly get America into a war within the first 6-9 months of her Presidency, since she will be looking forward to the muscular response she will order when she is 'tested', as she expects.
How reckless is Trump likely to be? Well, like Clinton—and all other civilian Commanders-in-Chief, Trump be utterly dependent upon the advice of military professionals in deciding what kind of responses to order. But in the position of The Decider, there is one significant difference between Trump and Clinton. Trump is at least willing and able to 1) view Putin as someone who is not a threat to the United States and 2) to question the rationality of America’s continued participation in NATO.
These differences alone are enough to move me to actually vote for someone I find politically detestable, simply because I fear that the alternative is a high probability of war, and a greatly enhanced risk of nuclear annihilation—through miscalculation—under a Hillary Clinton Presidency.
Quite simply, she scares the hell out of me.
My suggestion to former Bernie Sanders supporters, then, is that they try to think beyond the simplistic "Trump Bad" campaign slogans that the Clinton team has been generating and wake up to the fact that everything you were working for six months ago will be ground into dust if Hillary wins the election next week.
Trump will suck, as President, but we have good reason to expect that we will be able to limit him to a one-term misadventure that does additional damage to the Republican brand. At the same time we will finally have an opportunity to re-create the Democratic Party in fulfillment of the political revolution dream that Bernie Sanders inspired within us for several exciting months.
If we think strategically on voting day, we have a chance to win big (by easing our fears re: war and by giving ourselves a chance to make 'Our Revolution' a movement of destiny in America's political history).