Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Bernie-It's About Time to Concede

I am not a casual fan of politics, as is probably witnessed by me running a blog that devotes roughly 50% of its time to the subject (for the record, I am also not a casual fan of the movies).  Politics has been a part of my life-blood since before I was even in Kindergarten, and would go around to my parents' friends asking them who they were voting for, and reminding them that they should cast their vote for Dukakis (at least that's what my dad told me I did-my involvement with politics apparently goes back even further than I literally can remember).  As a result of this, I have actually known who Bernie Sanders was far, far longer than almost any of the "Bernie Bros" and Sanders supporters who have come out in favor of the Vermont senator in 2016.  I have followed Sanders' career from that sole Independent in the House to a senator who was popular enough in his home state that the Democrats didn't even put up a candidate against him, to now a shockingly successful candidate for the White House.

Most of that time, I'll admit, I liked Sanders well enough.  He seemed like a nice guy, though someone who didn't get a lot accomplished as the sole dissenter in a lot of situations, and occasionally (on issues like gun control), he was not my cup-of-progressive-tea.  He was a relatively reliable Democratic vote, even though I occasionally found it slightly infuriating that the party would give him a pass when a more reliably loyal senator might be able to help the Democrats win more seats in New England.  Still, he never threatened to bolt to the GOP like the other independent senator caucusing with the Democrats (that'd be you, Angus King), and rarely (if ever-I can't find any examples of it) endorsed Republicans like King has done.

So I go into the end of this primary season as someone who always had a middling opinion of Sanders, but liked him well enough even if I didn't always get the appeal.  However, I'm an adult who realizes that occasionally, in order to do the most good (not all of the good, which is an important distinction), you have to suck it up at the end of an election and vote for the candidate whom your party has endorsed, because the alternative is too terrible to contemplate.  In 2004, I was a backer for Wesley Clark, but when John Kerry got the nomination I was door-knocking every step of the way (and still haven't quite gotten over that loss).  In 2008, I was a Hillary backer, but when Barack Obama won the nomination I knew that he was way better than John McCain and after having a few bitter pill moments, I fell in line and made sure I was out telling every person I could how to register and to vote for Obama.  I say this to let you know that I've experienced what it's like to lose a campaign you passionately believed in-it sucks, and I know where Bernie fans are coming from.

But enough is enough.  I have no problem with Sanders staying in the race as long as there are still votes to be cast.  After all, the system is in some ways rigged (not against Sanders, but against specific states), so I think it's great that Sanders wants to give the voters in the six remaining states, two remaining territories, and the District of Columbia a say in the process.  But at the end of all of those votes, it's time to look at who won, and go ahead and concede.  It's quite obvious at this point, and has been obvious for months, that Sanders doesn't have the delegates to win the nomination, and that Hillary Clinton does.

And it's not because the system is rigged against Bernie Sanders.  It's because he didn't get as many votes-more people simply wanted Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic nominee.  She will have won more contests, will have won more popular votes, and will have more pledged delegates than Sanders.  Sanders can bemoan the DNC's debate schedule (I agree with him, and have been on record countless times as saying Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a disaster at the Chair), but keep in mind that he had clear advantages as well.  The caucus states, which overwhelmingly went for the Vermont senator, make it more difficult for people to vote and don't have nearly the turnout that primary states do-it's arguable that this cost Hillary Clinton support in places like Wyoming and Minnesota (which is, thankfully, finally, going to move to primaries in 2020).  The reality is that Clinton is over 3 million votes ahead of Sen. Sanders, a far greater margin than the 2008 race where she actually won the popular vote in the end.

So bemoaning the unfairness and ripping into Hillary Clinton is not the way to go here, and it's time for the Sanders' campaign to start lining up behind Clinton for the general election.  The Nevada caucuses, where your candidate lost, were filled with unacceptable behavior, and Sanders blackmailing Clinton on the campaign trail with threats of taking it to the convention and debating Donald Trump-that's ridiculous, and dangerous, and playing right into Republican hands.  Sanders clearly flew closer to the sun than he expected, but it's time for him to be gracious like Clinton was in 2008 and Clark was in 2004, and, once June 14th passes, get behind the nominee.  Carrying this to the convention will only give the Republicans more fire, and that is unacceptable.  For progressives who argue that there's no difference between Trump and Clinton, you need to remember your history.  People said the same thing about Al Gore, crusader against climate change, and George W. Bush in 2000.  Yes, that actually happened where they thought they were the same person, which allowed progressives in Florida to scapegoat to Ralph Nader.  The exact same thing could happen this year if Bernie Sanders supporters don't get that Hillary Clinton is a far, far, far, far, far better option than Donald Trump, especially on the issues that matter most to Sanders supporters like income reform and not giving more power to the rich (you think someone as selfish as Donald Trump is going to approve tax cuts that hurt his own net worth?).  Sanders needs to stop the negative campaigning, immediately, focus on Trump and a need for income equality in the country, and then, provided on June 15th he is behind in pledged delegates and the popular vote, needs to stand down.  No more ridiculous talk about how the superdelegates are giving the election to Clinton when you're behind and begging the superdelegates to support the candidate whom the people didn't want.  No more attacking Clinton and Trump at the same time.  This is not appropriate nor acceptable.  Sen. Sanders will be able to return to the Senate a champion of the people, with millions of new supporters who will be able to hold a Clinton administration accountable for the promises she made on the campaign trail-that's how democracy should work.  If she doesn't do the things she promised, and betrays progressives, perhaps it's time for a primary in 2020 again.  But there is no indication right now that that will happen, and Sen. Sanders knows it.  It's time to be a grownup, for the good of the country, and back the nominee.  A President Trump is worth no one's ego.

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