So, let’s get started by placing your humble correspondent in context. I am a supporter of Bernie Sanders. I give him money every month, and when Washington State holds its Democratic caucuses in a week or so, I’ll be there, standing with other Sanders supporters. I think his run for the Democratic nomination is one of the most important political developments of my lifetime. His overarching theme of wresting the apparati of state and nation back from the oligarch class and putting it to work for the common good makes my heart soar. His indictment of the warping effects of money in politics is trenchant and is clearly resonating in the hearts and minds of millions of citizens. He’s given a voice to ideas and positions I think many of us despaired would ever be so clearly articulated on the national stage, and his grassroots organizing campaign has upended the conventional wisdom about running for office without the assistance of either SuperPAC money or mainstream media coverage.
And, frankly, he’s losing.
It’s not over yet. It is at least theoretically possible for him to overcome the odds win a majority of pledged delegates (superdelegates would, I think, fall in line at that point, as they did in 2008, when President Obama overtook Hillary Clinton). But it’s really, really unlikely. By the accounts I trust, he’d need to win something like 60-40 in every one of the remaining contests to make up his current deficit and come to the convention in Philadelphia with a winning majority.
I hope he does. But I don’t expect he will. The odds are overwhelmingly against it.
That said, I don’t think he will — or should — drop out of the race. For one thing, the message he articulates deserves as wide a hearing as can be accomplished, and the longer he stays in the race, the better he’ll be able to do that. The more attention he can bring to the fundamental causes of wealth and income inequality, the more acceptable talking about it becomes in the national discourse. Which means maybe finally we’ll be able to do something about it. And the more he talks about what Democratic Socialism actually means, and the policy choices that fall within its penumbra, the more the national discourse will be empowered and/or forced to give them a fair hearing.
Every vote Bernie gets and has gotten only makes that case stronger. And the grassroots organization he’s built can accomplish a great deal going forward, whether or not he gets the nomination or is elected to the Presidency.
But the odds are that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. Not only that, and despite the gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair that is my facebook feed these days, the odds are that she will be our next President.
And I’m okay with that.
(I’m guessing one or two heads just exploded).
Look. I get it. Hillary’s compromised. She’s made some terrible decisions. She took money from Goldman, Sachs for giving a speech (out of curiosity, does anyone outraged about it know what the speech was about?). She voted for the Authorization of the Use of Military Force in Iraq. She’s a terrible politician who’s clearly been angling for the White House since she was in knee-socks, and has done what she had to to get where she is.
She has also been the target of a decades-long, coordinated, and vicious assault on her character since she first appeared on the national stage back in the early ’90s. Maybe it’s my age — her husband got first ever vote in a Presidential election — but I’ve seen people throwing shit at the wall to see what will stick for my entire adult life. And yes, a lot of it has to do with her being a woman, and if you think that’s not so, well, all I can say is it’s time for you to check your fucking privilege. It’s been going on since day one of her time on the national stage. I can remember her catching flak for not having a favorite cookie recipe, for fuck’s sake. Ain’t nobody talking about what Bernie’s wearing or telling him to stop yelling or smile when he wins a primary.
But whatever. Even if you don’t like her, she has the chops to be a decent President. She’s seen firsthand what White House life is like, had two terms as a workhorse Senator, and was the Secretary of State for four years. She’s already up to speed on every issue, every policy, with well-formed and -thought out opinions on stuff most folks haven’t even heard of. Seriously, she’s the wonkiest wonk in all wonkdom, and if you don’t think that’s important, I’ll just refer you to the George W. Bush years and all the great stuff that happened back then.
I even think her obvious early ambition and careerism is a good sign. Yes, she’s spent her whole life getting ready to run for President. No, let me rephrase that: she’s spent her whole life getting ready to be President. I think that’s a good thing, personally. She’ll be ready to hit the ground running. Given the early Obama years as an example, I’m all for that.
I’ll also just say that, by all personal accounts, she is a warm and caring person who genuinely connects with the people she works with, almost all of whom seem to genuinely both like and love her.
So while I think Bernie should keep running at least until the convention, because what he’s saying and doing is so important, I think it’s best to take a realistic view of things. Clinton will most likely be the Democratic nominee, and the general election is going to be brutal whether she faces Trump, Cruz, or some magical conservative unicorn nominated by fiat in the rubble of a contested Republican convention. So let’s keep loudly supporting Bernie, because that’s the best way to demonstrate the breadth and depth of his constituency, which Hillary will have to win to get elected. But let’s also maybe cut it out with slamming the best option we’re likely to have come November, and keep our powder dry for whichever narcissistic psychopath the Republicans put up.
Think of it this way, if too many Bernie supporters withhold their support (and their votes), and keep up with the ad hominem attacks on Hillary’s character, why on Earth should she care about their beliefs or their policy preferences? I know when people slag me, my reaction is almost never to think ‘How can I win this person over?’ Like any sane person, I write them off and move on with my life. If you want, like I do, to move the country to the peace, prosperity, and plenty that Bernie Sanders believes will come when we adopt a more Democratic Socialist governing philosophy, then let’s get him all the delegates we can. And if he isn’t the nominee come the convention (and, again, he’s probably not going to be, because math), then let’s use our numbers as leverage to get the result we want out of Clinton. Just remember, that only happens if you vote for her.
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