Last Tuesday night, Donald Trump won both New York Presidential Primaries. He crushed his Republican opponents and the establishment Democrats brought his ideal general election opponent a huge (not yuuuge, that’s a good thing) step closer to clinching her party’s nomination.
No wonder Trump was beaming the next day when he said: “Bernie’s gone. You know that? Bernie’s gone. I love running against crooked Hillary. Bernie wouldn’t be as much fun.” More like Hillary he can beat, Bernie not so much.
For months, the Democratic Party establishment and allies in most major American corporate media outlets have had two main goals:
- Make the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign go away
- Force all progressive voters to unite with neo-liberal and somewhat socially left neo-con dems behind the candidate they had selected eight years ago: Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Tuesday they came closer than ever before to making their first goal a reality. Unfortunately for them, they did so in such a way that all but ensured their second goal will be next to impossible to fully achieve. What they have done since has only compounded their mistake.
Can’t Forget Voter Suppression
For a party that has railed against voter suppression tactics and still does when the Republicans try to pull them in general elections, it’s a little hypocritical that all Democrats aren’t up in arms demanding to know what happened with the 126 000 people in Brooklyn who were unceremoniously de-registered as Democrats and denied the right to vote in the Primary on Tuesday.
It’s also unfortunate that New York only let people registered as Democrats by last October vote in the primary. A move designed to prevent rival parties from pushing less electable candidates ended up hurting the Democrats’ chances of running the most electable candidate in the next general election.
Moving forward, there is now word that Rhode Island, a state where Sanders leads in the polls, will only be keeping one third of their polling places open. How can this not be considered voter suppression?
While all of this is horribly undemocratic, it’s also real sad for the Democratic establishment. They don’t realize a very simple truth: getting the party faithful to rally behind Sanders and join all the new progressive voters he has inspired is a helluva lot easier than the opposite path they have chosen, the path they always choose.
Why would someone who never saw themselves as a Democrat until they were inspired by a particular candidate turn around and support the opponent who they associate with denying them their right to vote in the primaries? Or, as this meme puts it:
Maybe the DNC feels that the Trump or Cruz boogeyman will be enough to convince Sanders supporters to hold their nose and vote Clinton. It may be, but #BernieOrBust and #BernieOrJillStein (referencing the Green Party leader) are real things. Stein even reached out to Sanders, asking him to cooperate on a political revolution.
Bernie Sanders is a Stronger General Election Candidate
Adding establishment support to the grassroots movement Bernie built would clearly be the easier path to victory for the Democrats. But not only that, Bernie Sanders is a much stronger general election candidate than Hillary Clinton.
The Republicans have been planning to run against Clinton for about eight years. In that time they have surely amassed significant dirt on her which you had better believe they are waiting for her to get the nomination to release.
If the Democrats flip the script and put up Sanders, all attacks will have to be policy-based. Sure, they can call him a socialist, to which he clarifies that he is a democratic socialist, explains what that means and moves on. Calling someone a socialist only works as an attack if the candidate is not one and thinks it’s a charge he or she has to defend against.
Bernie Sanders has proven himself to be a movement builder. He is inspirational just as Obama was inspirational in his campaigns. Clinton comes across as someone who feels it is her turn to be President.
Sanders has pull with independents and could even bring in votes from Republicans dissatisfied with the prospect of voting Trump or Cruz. He has respect on both sides of the aisle while Republicans have been conditioned for years to hate the very mention of the name Hillary Clinton.
Sanders has proven to be quite a good fundraiser, too, on his own terms. This means the DNC could focus any PAC money they have received on House and Senate races.
Could Things Be Changing?
In an interview that was published in the New York Times on Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden criticized Clinton’s attacks on the boldness of Sanders’ promises:
“I like the idea of saying, ‘We can do much more,’ because we can. I don’t think any Democrat’s ever won saying, ‘We can’t think that big — we ought to really downsize here because it’s not realistic. C’mon man, this is the Democratic Party! I’m not part of the party that says, ‘Well, we can’t do it.’”
While Biden and President Obama have refused to officially endorse any candidate in the primaries, as incumbents finishing their second term generally do, their remarks have heavily hinted that they favour Clinton. So why this sudden change?
At first I thought, optimistically, that maybe Biden was floating a test balloon as he did with Marriage Equality. Then I realized that it probably had more to do with Democrats wanting Bernie’s email list of donors in the event that he drops out of the race.
It doesn’t look like the HRC camp’s tactics are changing. A few days ago, a Clinton Super PAC was caught paying $1 million for online trolls to attack Bernie supporters (one former paid troll even shared her story on Reddit). These are tactics most frequently used by right-wing parties.
Meanwhile the message out of the Clinton Campaign and many democrats has been that Sanders is done and should drop out “for the good of the party.” This despite the facts that Clinton herself argued in 2008 that it’s not done until California votes and that Obama had less pledged delegates at this point in 2008 than Bernie has now.
Bernie’s not done, as much as Donald Trump and Clinton supporters wish he was. He does face an uphill battle, and even admits that his path to victory is a narrow one. It is made considerably more difficult by attacks and the risk of more voter suppression in the upcoming primaries.
California may turn the tide, but if it doesn’t (and there are already stories of independents accidentally being registered as members of a right wing party and unable to vote) and it comes to a brokered convention, then the Super Delegates will play an important role.
For months, people in the Sanders camp have loathed how presumed Super Delegate votes were and still are being included in delegate tallies in media reports and have voiced concern that Super Delegates could thwart the will of the people. However, given the countless would-be Democratic voters denied the chance to vote for their candidate, it wouldn’t be undemocratic for Super Delegates to vote for Sanders if Clinton still has the lead in pledged delegates come convention.
It would be correcting an injustice and insuring that Sanders, a stronger general election candidate, was nominated. Of course, that would take the Democratic establishment, or at least enough members of it, realizing and admitting that their handpicked candidate is the weaker choice and that the last eight years of strategy was wrong.
Progressives are sick of being taken for granted by neo-liberals and neo-cons and might not take it this time. While Sanders has ruled out running as an independent, his supporters may forego voting for Clinton. If that “splits the left vote” and elects someone like Trump, the Democratic establishment only has to look in the mirror to know who’s to blame.