Man. Back in September 2015, when Nate Silver wrote Stop Comparing Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders for his FiveThirtyEight blog, I was onboard. “Trump and Sanders are fundamentally different breeds of candidates who are situated very differently in their respective nomination races.” Right on Silver.
When Sanders himself told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell in August of last year, “We are not engaged here in demagoguery. We’re not engaged here in racist attacks, outrageous attacks against Mexicans. What we are trying to do is talk about the reality facing the American people,” I was like “Hell yeah! Never Trump.”
Full disclosure: I voted for Bernie Sanders in the Illinois primary which took place in March. Fuller disclosure: I’ve begun to regret my choice. Frankly this is the saddest personal moment of an already ludicrous and disheartening 2016 presidential campaign.
Because at this point I’m not sure Sanders or a loud subset of his followers, who sound an awful lot like Trumpists when embracing the GOP’s anti-Hillary Clinton talking points, are actually dealing with the reality facing the American people. A few simple facts are overlooked when the increasingly dysfunctional cult of Bernie expresses its rage, say in Nevada. From any angle – popular vote, pledged delegates, pick your favorite – Hillary is trouncing Bernie. There is no stolen election crime being perpetrated. As Lanny Davis of Real Clear Politics wrote on April 4:
“It appears that, realistically, the only way Sanders can win the nomination is to persuade large numbers of super delegates publicly committed to Clinton to switch and support Sanders because of sensitivity to the ‘democratic will.’
Of course, the argument is contradicted by the facts: By any measure of democracy, Hillary Clinton is winning by a large margin and deserves the support of the super delegates.”
It’s the height of irony that a socialist hero once synonymous with populist revolution has transformed into a regular old politician: a disingenuous backroom dealer who’s actually subverting the will of three million people who’ve spoken in favor of Hillary. Or do those votes not count because they come from the South (don’t get me started)? This is a sad and disappointing coda to a public service career spanning nearly three, 99-percent advocating decades.
I sympathize with Bernie Sanders on a personal level. This is the biggest audience and largest stage he’s ever going to have to articulate a platform that stems from a clearly genuine place. A vision of America where women are treated as people, workers share in corporate success and health care and education are not regarded as luxuries for the few. It’s why I voted for Bernie. That and his own personal likableness. Any man who yells at Chuck Todd as often as Sanders is to be granted a certain level of respect.
But Bernie and team have strayed too far from those halcyon October 2015 days when the candidate declared himself averse to campaign mudslinging. Remember being “sick of the damn emails,” more unites than divides us, blah, blah, blah? Well no more. By April of this year, the former First Lady, New York Senator and Secretary of State was somehow deemed unqualified for the nation’s highest office. And there’s the aforementioned regurgitation of Republican talking points from Sanders devotees. Glenn Beck? Really???
The once great Bernie Sanders moment has fizzled into an exhausted, bastardized case of sour grapes. This is not what America needs, and frankly I’m not alone in wondering if Bernie and Bros would behave more gracefully were Hillary’s name Bill. That pesky vagina handicap. How did we get here, Bern?
With a recent warning to Hillary Clinton about prospective running mates, it seems that at least some part of Bernie is coming to terms. It’s time to go. I appreciate the lack of pressure Sanders is receiving from his opponent to withdraw, but as Hillary did in 2008 with great civility, Bernie needs to rally his people around the presumptive nominee. They’re nothing like Trump and his loonies, after all. So they don’t want him to win.