Oh what, you disagree? Okay. Exit now then, but maybe stay because I’d like to crack through your echo chamber for a second, if you’ll allow me. Be advised though, this is not going to be a kind look at the INDEPENDENT senator from Vermont, you won’t find any Birdie Sanders love here. This is going to be a hypercritical examination of Senator Sanders and why, at this critical moment when the Democratic Party needs to band together to rebuild and move forward, he seems set on striking further discord within it. But that’s Bernie for you, it’s always been all about him, Democrats be damned.
Win with grace, lose with dignity, that’s how the saying goes, right? Not so for Bernie Sanders. I was minding my business on a Friday afternoon when I read “Bernie Sanders Says Trump Won Because Democrats Are Out Of Touch.” Oh, is that it? Because I recall Bernie Sanders being so in touch with the party he sought to lead, that during the Democratic Primary he lost by about 3.7 million votes. “BUT BERNIE HAD THE YOUNG PEOPLE!” you’ll say. Maybe so, but he still lost the primary.
Let me back up for a second, before you say Bernie was taken out of context. I listened to the audio. I read the transcript.
Asked whether he would have won the general, Sanders said, “Well, I don’t think it helps to relive history. The answer is I don’t know. Nobody knows. Doesn’t — it’s not worth speculating about.”
First off, Bernie Sanders, no you would not have won this unprecedented general election. I’d wager money bankrupting a small college on it. Nope. Sorry. I know everyone reads the internet and so everyone knows best, but I read the opposition research on Bernie Sanders. He was toast, the burnt variety. In fact, the Clinton campaign handled Bernie Sanders with kid gloves during the primary, because guess what? They knew they would need to court Sanders supporters and earn those votes in the general. Quite frankly, Bernie did enough damage to himself all on his own:
“Sanders spent the first part of the race campaigning in white, liberal college towns where he drew huge crowds” but huge crowds do not equal huge votes and nowhere was that more evident than New York and California. Recall how Sanders held three massive rallies in NYC and still lost the state by 58%.
Bernie said if he won New York, he’d win the White House. In a way he was right because he lost both.
African-American voters favored Clinton by 76 percent partially because Bernie’s “campaign never explained how black people fit into his vision of a radically changed America.” Simply put, Bernie had a YUUUGE black problem, YUUUGE.
Remember the time Bernie was unable to explain how he’d break up the Wall Street banks if he won? Yeah, that was a problem.
Bernie was anti-Obamacare and in favor of creating a single-payer system and couldn’t explain how it would work nationally when it had already failed in Vermont.
Bernie said he’d release his taxes when we saw the Wall Street speeches. Poor Jane just couldn’t find a minute to prepare them. Guess what, we’ve seen the speeches (Thanks Wikileaks!), still haven’t seen his taxes. Congrats on the new home though.
Bernie was running a campaign on the issues until he broke from that and said Hillary was “unqualified” to be President. It backfired and resulted in a lot of negative press.
That weird Pope saga. I mean, what?
Ohhh nearly forgot this but Bernie shat all over the superdelegates in the beginning of the primary only to try and court them in the final hour (lol wut?)
I could go on but you hopefully get the idea. Bernie did those things and made those decisions. Apologies for being so blunt but your rose-tinted-feeling-the-bern-for-eternity goggles enable you to think a socialist, atheist, Jew with a child out of wedlock, a wife who bankrupted a college AND received a golden parachute settlement, who stood with Castro and repeated the same stump speech across the land would have won a general election in the climate we just went through. And that’s what’s OUT there. I truly don’t know what my NDA said when I signed it so I’ll stick to what’s readily on the internet!
You think Hillary “struggled” with the Obama coalition and turning out the black vote? Well, black people would have been more than content to stay home had Sanders won. So if the biggest reason Hillary lost (and I know, the reasons change daily because no one can quite decide BECAUSE IT WAS SUCH AN UNPRECEDENTED ELECTION) was because of the black vote, the only thing up for debate was how big a margin Bernie would have lost by. Moving on.
The DNC did not ruin Bernie Sanders chances of winning the Democratic Primary. Now again for the folks in the back: The DNC did not ruin Bernie Sanders chances of winning the Democratic Primary. Were SOME of those emails suspect? TOTALLY. Some of them were downright awful. But the biggest thing no one seems to grasp was it was all talk. ALL talk. Colleagues bemoaning Sanders, wishing it was all over. People ordering lunch. Did the emails show that the DNC certainly favored Hillary Clinton and didn’t care for members of Bernie Sanders staff? Yes. BUT did everyone forget when Bernie’s people illegally accessed Hillary Clinton’s voter data? I was receiving texts from Bernie’s campaign morning and night that I never signed up for. But okay, sure, DWS was NOT a Bernie fan. I’d say the feeling was mutual. Bernie and his operation had zero respect for the DNC (maybe because he’s an Independent) and his campaign frequently undermined what they were doing in the media. Welcome to politics, it’s a game: play it or be played. Reminder: Sanders attempted to unseat DWS but was ultimately unsuccessful. Congratulations, you played yourself.
Also, Bernie didn’t lose on a technicality. Bernie lost bigly. Nearly 3.7 million votes. Tinfoil hat advisory time: If you’re a conspiracy theorist, skip to the next paragraph. You cannot and will not try to condescend or explain by any stretch of your imagination that 3.7 million votes were cast against Bernie Sanders in some magnificent act of voter fraud or anything BUT the fact that people enthusiastically voted in favor of Hillary Clinton. The narrative that there was no energy or enthusiasm for Clinton ALWAYS irked me. But let me ask you, if you think HILLARY CLINTON and the DNC manufactured voter fraud AGAINST Bernie Sanders, please, tell me WHY THEY WOULDN’T HAVE DONE IT IN THE GENERAL ELECTION when it really mattered? I’ll wait. But don’t. Instead of typing some conspiracy theory laced nonsense in response, do take a long walk off a short bridge and save us both the time.
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton were engaged in the longest and bloodiest primary in recent memory. Remember when top Democrats were calling for Bernie to step aside, to heal the party since the math was no longer in his favor? And before you go there, yes, I’m aware of what HILLARY said in 2008 — real talk you never do know though do you? Still, it wasn’t good and Clinton apologized for it then and again, and again. The difference between 2008 and 2016 is that Barack Obama’s opponent was actually an able and capable leader with real experience. Worth noting that Clinton herself wasn’t calling for Sanders to drop out. What had become PAINFULLY clear to many party members was that some sort of paranoia in the Bernie coalition had set in and they were convinced that each loss Bernie suffered meant people were stealing the election from him. There were videos at polling stations. Pandemonium broke out at State Conventions, Bernie didn’t make things better. I imagine H.A. Goodman is out there somewhere still telling people Bernie has a shot.
Key leaders in the party started to realize this BUT also recognized Bernie had statistically LOST the nomination. Yet Bernie kept telling his supporters there was a PATH forward. Bernie didn’t quite say he could win but he did not and would not say he had lost either, even though he had…and then did. And everyone knew it!! California became this last Hail Mary attempt. People REALLY thought Bernie was going to somehow win that Holy Grail of a state and then win the election. It was unreal. Welp, Bernie Sanders lost California and the primary and thus never got to the general election. By deductive reasoning one can argue, Bernie would not have won the general election because he didn’t even MAKE IT TO THE GENERAL ELECTION.
Now things get exciting. Bernie is moping. The meeting with Obama. Cue #NeverHillary on steroids. Hi Shaun King. Hello Young Turks. Hi Tim Robbins. Hello Susan Sarandon. Hi Rosario Dawson. Good to see you all! Bernie’s camp ERUPTED there would be hell to pay at the DNC and they would magically vote Bernie in, I couldn’t set foot in Williamsburg without hearing about it. You know it’s quite odd, we talk about all the fake news and terrible memes full of misinformation on the right, but we rarely discuss that this was a real thing coming from some Bernie people on the left.
Alas, we must continue. So what was the downside to Bernie Sanders staying in the primary? Well, we rarely talk about it but Bernie’s repeated attacks that Hillary was corrupt and in bed with Wall Street gave Donald Trump the Crooked Hillary™ narrative. Trump literally thanked him for it. The extended primary, which as i’ve said was already a festering sore for Bernie’s people by the end because they truly believed Bernie’s chances had been stolen in the middle of the night, meant that even AFTER Bernie dropped out and endorsed Hillary, many of the fiercest Bernie supporters decided to align with Jill Stein, Gary Johnson or worse still, Donald Trump.
Even as the Clinton campaign made concessions to Bernie to allow Cornel West (Problematic with a capital P, google his name and Barack Obama) to serve as one of his advisors on the platform committee, even as Clinton moved left and made concession after concession to Sanders FOR THE GOOD OF THE PARTY (yay!) it was thrown back in her face. West endorsed Jill Stein because he believed the Democratic Party could not be reformed. Which is weird BECAUSE HE JUST WEIGHED IN ON HOW TO SHAPE THE PARTY’S PLATFORM.
Bernie lost control. He fed his people an idea that they would find a way to win and all that magical thinking lost. We heard time and time again that Bernie supporters weren’t just gonna “fall in line and vote Clinton because Bernie had said so” (despite the fact that this is what it means to deliver your voters, to bring the party together) or we read hot takes like “Here are Seven Ways Clinton Could Win My Vote.” Don’t try me with that revisionist history, Bernie people! The internet is forever. There are countless articles, comments and discussions around this topic. Bernie supporters wanted to be wooed! They wanted to reaffirm that despite Bernie’s loss, their votes were Clinton’s to lose, she couldn’t count on them — in a general election against DONALD TRUMP. We were living in a reality where Donald Trump could be president but you were talking about #NeverHillary? Talking about Gary “What is Aleppo?” Johnson. Talking about Jill “9/11 Truther” Stein is the new revolution with the dankest of memes. Well which revolution won?
With all this context. It’s time to at long last revisit the NPR interview because I won’t allow Bernie to coast and play Monday morning QB about what went wrong for Democrats when he himself ran a failed strategy which saw him lose the primary.
“Strategy really is not complicated…So what the Democratic Party has got to do is start listening to the needs of the middle class, the working families, lower-income people, black and white and Latino, and listen to the pain that is out there.” — Bernie Sanders
Strategy is not complicated? Dead. Dying. Send paramedics. What Bernie meant to say is “strategy really is not complicated when you campaign like Donald Trump” because there literally is no concrete strategy. But what’s different here? How has Bernie changed his tune? What happened to identity politics are bad? Start listening to the middle class? BRUH, Hillary Clinton’s campaign slogan and platform couldn’t have been more inclusive if she tried #StrongerTogether. She literally is the first candidate to mention systemic racism and how we need to work to fix society FOR EVERYBODY.
“I happen to believe that the Democratic Party has been not doing a good job in terms of communicating with people in cities, in towns and in rural America, all over this country.” — Bernie Sanders
Is that so? Because as I’ve already illustrated above, Bernie himself had a chance to communicate with people in cities and towns in rural America all over this country but he chose white liberals in college towns so GO FIGURE how we all got it wrong. Meanwhile, Clinton stumped for small business owners, people of color, veterans and marginalized groups across the country in towns big and small. But now the Independent senator from Vermont — seated comfortably in the backseat of the Democratic Party’s station wagon — has found vision to let the DEMOCRATS know how they are failing to reach rural America. Ask Bernie Sanders the last time he spoke to a black voter about what their needs and challenges were. After all, it was Sanders who “waited three and a half months after declaring his candidacy before making his first campaign stop in South Carolina.” The nerve of this man.
It gets better but not in a LGBT-project sort of way:
“Look, you can’t simply go around to wealthy people’s homes raising money and expect to win elections. You’ve got to go out and mix it up and be with ordinary people.” — Bernie Sanders
This is Hillary Shade because as we know, Hillary Clinton found herself on the Supreme Court and decided to uphold Citizens United. She literally placed big money into politics, she said, “hey big money, come on over here, get in to politics so we can all spend time entertaining rich people and corporations because they are what make America good and strong!”
But Sanders’s remark is odd when you consider, “In recent years, Sanders has been billed as one of the hosts for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s retreats for the “Majority Trust” — an elite group of top donors who give more than $30,000 per year…” Or, “Sanders has based his presidential campaign on a fire-and-brimstone critique of a broken campaign finance system — and of Hillary Clinton for her reliance on big-dollar Wall Street donors. But Sanders is part of that system, and has helped Democrats court many of the same donors.”
That’s right, now that it’s all said and done, Bernie wants to have his cake and eat it too. Mind you, big money in politics is a bipartisan issue as majority of Americans think reducing the amount of money in politics is necessary. NO ONE (Democrats, at least) debates the fact that corporations should have less influence, they aren’t people (watch the documentary The Human Experiment if you disagree). BUT one candidate in the GENERAL election ran on a platform which wanted to OVERTURN Citizens United, spoiler alert: It wasn’t Trump.
And that’s what’s so upsetting about Bernie Sanders. His holier-than-thou approach to politics — he claims it takes a revolution to fix the country but somehow he’s the only one with all the answers. He’s anti-establishment except he’s been a part of the system — the establishment — for the last three decades. Bernie is against big money and influence in politics but stands on stage with Andrew Cuomo to announce a free public college proposal. I’m all for the free college (students and families are struggling) but I need Sanders (and his supporters) to accept and recognize the hypocrisy of his action and that this is how politics works: Cuomo will likely run in 2020 (with big money and with lots of baggage) but Bernie will show up and smile because #FreeCollege. There are exceptions to every rule, all terms and conditions as long as your name isn’t Hillary Clinton.
I don’t want to end on a sour note though, Hillary Clinton personally signed letters to all her campaign staffers, urging us to fight on. Thanks to her faith and her mother, she often says, “Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as ever you can.” I believe it. I believe her and I believe in a future where we’re #StrongerTogether.
I really just hope Sanders spends less time criticizing and dividing Democrats and gets back to what’s important: Stopping Donald Trump from making life miserable for millions of Americans. It really is the most good he can do.