First, for those of you who tried to post comments on my website recently, apparently the Blogger platform I use “no longer supports OpenID” which may be the reason as to why I have not received any notifications that comments were awaiting approval. So, my apologies if you attempted to leave one. I switched the moderation requirement off for a while, when it was pointed out that comments were not appearing. I am considering optimal setting options now.
Anyway, let’s get back to business.
This post is aimed at no one in particular. I am increasingly viewing anyone who still kicks at the fading embers of the 2016 Bernie Sanders-Hillary Clinton competition, most notably those who blame Sanders for Clinton’s defeat in November of that year, as paid Russian shills or uncompensated dupes. Continuing this quarrel benefits precisely zero Democrats, yet I still see, in June 2018, this particular blame-game narrative being echoed (primarily but not exclusively on social media).
Just to clear, I am no “Bernie Bro.” I cast my ballot for the Vermont Senator in the primary based on where he stood on various policy matters. Unlike the Republicans and Trump, this is not a cult of personality scenario. The Movement was, is, and will always be larger than any single person. And when he lost, I dutifully voted for Hillary Clinton in November.
Yes, had a higher percentage of Sanders voters “come home” in the general election (which assumes that all were good Democrats to begin with), Hillary would be President and we wouldn’t be caught up in this rolling nightmare. Just bear in mind the following:
According to the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, a 2016 post-election survey of 50,000 individuals, 12% of those who voted for Senator Sanders in the primary ended up casting their ballots for Trump in the general. Meanwhile, according to the 2008 American National Election study, 83% of Hillary Clinton primary voters voted for then-Senator Barack Obama in 2008, with 10% opting for John McCain and the balance either voting for another candidate or sitting out the presidential general election. Another study (one I am far more skeptical of) had the Clinton-to-McCain flip as high as 25%. In any event, remember the Clinton die-harders who adopted for themselves the colorful nom de guerre, “Party Unity My Ass” (aka PUMA)? I certainly do. Meanwhile, looking at the 2016 American National Election study, 13% of 2016 Trump voters were 2012 Obama voters.
In short, “defections” happen.
The best case is to actually learn from the “lessons learned” and not engage in another acrimonious round of Recriminations: The Board Game. Yes, nominating someone from the Corporatist wing of the Democratic Party was not going to go over well with every Sanders voter. Yes, Hillary Clinton (established on the national scene since at least early ’92) wasn’t everyone’s version of Bold, Exciting Change (not the way Obama was in 2007/2008). And yes, to be honest, some Sanders voters are not great on race…some get focused on economic justice but they ignore or downplay the critical importance of racial justice. Sanders didn’t get that, which is one reason why he didn’t win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez learned from this, which is why she is the Democratic nominee in New York’s 14th Congressional District. More about her in future posts.
To summarize: let us learn from the past so we can be smarter now and in the future. Embracing constructive wisdom may not feel as cathartic as calling a fellow Democrat (or at least a potential Democratic voter) an idiot, but we need to be more sagacious as we play the long game and work to achieve realigning elections in 2018 and 2020. It is our only hope.