After listening to Hillary Clinton’s recent chat with Howard Stern, I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that members of the centrist wing of my beloved Democratic Party would rather see Trump reelected than cast their lot with Bernie Sanders.
Please say it ain’t so, Hillary!
On one level, this shouldn’t surprise me—the centrists have a lot to lose in a revolution, even a benign Democratic Socialist one.
Still, I’ve always played by the rule that you support the nominee, even if he or she is not your favorite—that’s how I found myself voting for centrists like Dukakis and Clinton (Bill and Hillary) and Gore and Kerry and Obama . . .
I think we all agree that the worst Democrat is generally better than the best Republican on issues like judicial nominees, reproductive rights, environmental protections, etc.
A position, by the way, that generally makes me the laughingstock among my friends of the Green Party persuasion.
But, apparently, party unity is a one-way street when it comes to the centrists and Bernie. And that brings me back to Hillary’s comments to Howard about Bernie. Here’s how it went . . .
STERN: Do we hate Bernie Sanders?
CLINTON: No. I don’t hate anybody.
STERN: Bernie could have endorsed you quicker.
CLINTON: He could have. He hurt me. There is no doubt about it, he hurt me.
STERN: Have you ever spoken to Bernie about that?
STERN: You ever talk to him?
CLINTON: I don’t talk to him. We did when he finally endorsed me and all that.
STERN: But you’re upset with him?
CLINTON: No, disappointed. Disappointed. And I hope he doesn’t do it again to whoever gets the nomination. Once is enough. We have to join forces.
Ouch. That’s nasty on two fronts. One, it assumes that Bernie won’t get the nomination—though he’s a front-runner in many polls. And, two, it devalues the assistance Sanders gave Clinton in 2016. Which is probably a helluva lot more support than she got from Howard Stern. Just saying.
Not to relitigate the Bernie/Hillary fight from four years ago again, but . . .
Yes, Bernie ran a spirited campaign and, yes, there were vast ideological differences between the Bernie and Hillary blocs of the party and, yes, the healing was long in coming, if it came at all.
And the fight was exacerbated by the hacking of Democratic computers and the release of e-mails—thank you, Putin—that showed the party was conspiring to keep Bernie from the nomination. So, at the precise moment the Bernie and Hillary factions were supposed to be coming together to beat Trump, they were at each other’s throats. And eventually, some of Bernie’s supporters either stayed home or voted for Trump.
But this wasn’t Bernie’s fault. He didn’t hack those computers. He didn’t write those nasty e-mails.
He did all the things a defeated candidate is supposed to do after a bitter primary. He endorsed Clinton about a month after the primaries. And he gave a passionate speech for her at the convention. And during the campaign he made many appearances on Clinton’s behalf, extolling her, blasting Trump, and urging his supporters to vote Democratic.
To refresh your memory, consider this article written by Amy Davidson Sorkin in The New Yorker just a few days before the 2016 election.
“One of the many things that makes Donald Trump angry is that Bernie Sanders does not seem to hold grudges. In recent speeches, Trump has pointed to the information that has come out, through WikiLeaks’ disclosures of John Podesta’s e-mails, about the Clinton team’s attitude toward Sanders during the primaries: the slights (‘doofus’), the schemes (‘where would you stick the knife?’), and the eye-rolling (‘socialist math’). Perhaps worst of all—at least from Trump’s point of view—was Donna Brazile’s passing along of debate questions. ‘Now, Bernie Sanders should be angry right? Shouldn’t he be angry?’ Trump asked a crowd in Florida. He sounded a little bit puzzled—he would be so mad.”
Sorkin notes that Sanders spent weeks stumping for Clinton, and at an event in Raleigh with artist Pharrell Williams, he told the crowd: “We have to do everything that we can to elect Secretary Clinton!”
“Clinton and Pharrell Williams were on their feet, cheering. ‘Wow!’ Clinton said, when she took to the rostrum. ‘Whew! I gotta say, after hearing from these two extraordinary men, I feel all fired up and ready to go for the next five days!’ . . . A few hours later, Sanders was off on his own to Iowa [on Hillary’s behalf]. Trump is ahead in that state, in the latest average of polls, by about two and a half points. Sanders had three events scheduled for Friday—Cedar Falls, Iowa City, Davenport. On Saturday, there would be more.”
Guess Hillary has a short memory.
Bottom line—there are many reasons why Clinton lost the electoral college to Trump. But Bernie’s the least of them.
I know it’s popular to blame Bernie voters for Trump’s victory. But it’s not supported by facts. The best analysis I’ve seen on the subject shows that about one in ten Sanders supporters voted for Trump—which is less than the number of Hillary Clinton supporters who chose John McCain over Barack Obama in 2008.
Speaking of nasty primaries that candidates and their supporters took a long time getting over.
Not sure why there’s all the hate for Bernie. At the risk of sounding like an armchair psychologist, I’d say the centrists resent Bernie for reminding them what they’re supposed to stand for and why they got into politics in the first place.
In any event, I’ll probably vote for Bernie in the 2020 primary. But if Joe Biden or Amy Klobuchar or any of the other moderates win the nomination, I’ll definitely vote for them.
Here’s hoping that the Obamas and Clintons and Rahms of the party do the same should Bernie win the primary. v