I “Felt the Bern” for a long time during Sanders’ candidacy, within days of his announcement. On a basic gut level, I preferred his populist progressive positions over Clinton’s.
Even as early on, Clinton was trotting out “protect Social Security and Obamacare” messages and promoting those awful free trade agreements, Sanders was proposing expanding Social Security, lowering the retirement age back to 65, increasing benefits, replacing Obamacare with universal healthcare, making public college tuition free, and so on.
On the other hand, on the social issues, they didn’t disagree at all, so I had nothing to complain about there. Really, the early Democratic debates were boring because they spent most of the time agreeing with each other.
My initial hopes for Sanders didn’t pan out
I was hopeful when the caucuses and primaries started that the unashamedly liberal firebrand would take the lead early and take the nomination in a rout. That didn’t happen. From the first Super Tuesday on, Clinton proved she was preferred by more Democrats than Sanders. Week after week, primary after primary, she kept increasing her lead. Sanders would recover when he hit the favorable demographics and open caucuses, but then would lose ground again — often by large amounts — whenever the race turned back to the closed primaries and Clinton-favorable demographics.
Put simply, whenever Sanders won big percentages, it was the small caucus states mostly; whenever Clinton won big percentages, it was the high-population primary states. Hence her current lead of more than 3 million in the popular vote.
April 26th was my self-imposed deadline, the middle-Atlantic Super Tuesday, which included coincidentally my original home state of Pennsylvania. Either Sanders needed to show he could start beating Clinton by double-digit margins, or it was time to recognize the reality of “the math” simply not being in his favor. Yes, a week later he won in Indiana by a small margin… and fell further behind on the percentage of pledged delegates remaining that he’d need to win the nomination. Even if he started beating Clinton in every single state remaining by 55/45, he would still lose. In California, the biggest remaining state of all, he’s behind by around 10 points; he’d have to turn that around by more than 25 now. Which seems very unlikely at this point.
Then Sanders started to lose me
I supported Sanders staying in the race until the end, if only to help keep pulling Clinton to the progressive left, as is obvious he’s already done. I supported Sanders’ notion he should have a hand in shaping the party platform — and perhaps even have a prominent position in the Clinton administration. Hell, I actually mused what a powerhouse a Clinton/Sanders ticket would be. (Not likely, I know, but still.)
However, as I noted in other comments of mine scattered about the Internet blogs, I was unsettled by Sanders’ lack of specificity and seeming lack of grasping the details of getting things done in the NY Daily News interview. (Seriously, I think that paper should get a Pulitzer just for managing to interview just about all the prominent candidates, in-depth, and to ask really great questions.) I didn’t like how “Wall Street” and “Goldman Sachs” became a drinking game whenever he spoke. I was bothered more by Sanders’ continued insistence, even now, that he can still win the nomination outright. And my breaking point was almost there when he began suggesting the super-delegates — the elected and former leaders of the Democratic party — should defy the popular vote, the pledged delegates, and the primary results and give him the nomination.
I’m even witnessing his supporters apparently moving the goalposts, saying Sanders only needs a bare majority of the pledged delegates to win (2,026), whereas they insist Clinton’s “magic number” benchmark is now 2,283, in pledged, not super-delegates.
My “screw it” moment
My “screw it, I just can’t even” moment came when Sanders said this back on April 25th:
“We’re not a movement where I can snap my fingers and say to you or to anybody else what you should do, that you should all listen to me. You shouldn’t. You make these decisions yourself.
“And if Secretary Clinton wins, it is incumbent upon her to tell millions of people who right now do not believe in establishment politics or establishment economics, who have serious misgivings about a candidate who has received millions of dollars from Wall Street and other special interests. She has to go out to you.”
That’s the opposite of responsible leadership and an abdication of responsibility as a would-be leader of the Democratic party. It is his, and every leader’s job, to persuade people to do the right thing.
Even hinting he won’t endorse the party’s nominee if it’s Clinton is appalling. And he’s basically implying it’s okay to just sit out the election if Clinton doesn’t persuade all his people to switch to supporting her instead. Sanders won’t lift a finger to help make that happen.
Clinton isn’t the lesser of two evils
Sanders isn’t morally equivalent to Trump. Neither is Clinton. Neither of them is perfect. I still prefer Sanders’ positions in general, but over the months I’ve become more confident in Clinton’s ability to get things done and command of the details of governing — and most of what she says she wants to do isn’t bad at all. Her husband gave us Ginsberg and Breyer; I expect her SCOTUS picks to be even better. If Clinton says she’ll improve the PPACA (‘Obamacare’) in some incremental way, I’ll complain about it, but her chances of getting it done far exceed Senator Sanders’ chances for giving the country universal no-insurance healthcare. Not when her plan is “win back Congress” and his (in his own words) was for people to email and fax the Republicans.
But Trump IS Trump — and he will be the GOP nominee. Hell, in an alternate reality where Romney suddenly declared he was a Democrat and was the party’s unexpected nominee — I’d vote for HIM rather than sit out the election or throw away my vote on a pointless 3rd party candidate.
This isn’t “lesser evils.” This is someone you might or might not like, or even have decided you hate, versus an outright monster. An avowed racist, xenophobe, misogynist and guy eager to torture prisoners, bomb innocent civilians, and maybe even use nuclear weapons. Nixon was run out of office for targeting his political enemies; Trump has already promised he’ll “do the same, and more.” And Trump has literally said he wants to make “unfair” statements about him illegal. Including no doubt this blog post right here.
Only the Democrats can stop Trump
No independent Sanders run or 3rd party Green or Libertarian candidate will stop Trump. Only the Democrats can do that right now. Only them. Provided the party as a whole doesn’t mess this up, as I already know they can do.
As far as I was concerned, Sanders’ narrow win and pick-up of just 6 delegates in Indiana was the final nail in the already sealed coffin. I could support him as long as he was promoting the liberal-populist cause itself. I could no longer support Sanders when it became clear he intends to do as much damage to the Clinton campaign as possible during the next several weeks, and that he apparently had no loyalty to the Democrats at all. They seem to have been just a convenient vehicle for his own ambitions.
I’ll be honest here, too: While I supported and was enthusiastic about Senator Bernie Sanders for many months, I never stopped believing Clinton was a perfectly acceptable alternative. Especially given who the GOP is running. I finished off many of my remarks with “I support Sanders, but I will support whomever the Democrats nominate for President, and every one of their down-ticket candidates this year. Because it’s just that important.”
Well, the nominee is just about certain now to be Clinton. So I decided it was time finally to do what I promised to do for all those months: Support the presumptive Democratic party nominee. I just donated to her campaign, for my first time this cycle.
I wish Bernie Sanders well back in the Senate and I hope he continues to fight for his causes. But I really don’t want him harming the party which has been giving him plum committee assignments despite his not belonging to them for all those years.
I won’t make the 3rd Party mistake again
Senator Sanders through his own actions and statements lost me and Secretary Clinton won me over, in roughly equal measure. And Trump convinced me to set aside any impulses I might have ever to cast symbolic ‘message sending’ votes. I’m never doing that again because they don’t work. Sanders managed to shift the party leftward by running as a candidate inside it; all he’d accomplish running against the party as a 3rd party candidate would be to make the Democrats even less like he’d want them to be.
Oh and just maybe give the country President Trump instead. Yeah, this is electoral extortion. Sorry. However it’s also our current reality and protest votes aren’t going to change it, not in 2016 and probably not ever. Not as long as here in America it’s winner-take-all and a winner is simply the man or woman who wins the most votes, even if it’s significantly less than 50%. Ask Nader, Perot, and Anderson supporters whether the party their candidate ran against became more or less like they wanted it to be, after their guy lost and the candidate they would have preferred least was declared the winner.
When you declare the Democrats are too far gone ever to get your vote, what happens is they don’t say, “Gee, we should change to recapture the support of those who’ve rejected us.” What they do is say, “There’s people in the middle and center-right who haven’t made up their minds. We’ll go for them.” It’s what’s been happening with the Dems for the last half century.
Sure, Clinton is not in any way entitled to your vote — I get that — but your country is entitled to your responsible use of that important privilege. Voting simply to feel better isn’t being responsible.