This is not a conversion diary. Bernie remains my first choice.
Nor is this a diary encouraging you to shift your support to Hillary. This is a diary explaining why (in my view) the primary is over, and what that means to me.
For me, the primary is now over. I did not believe this on March 15. I did not believe this after New York. I did not buy it yesterday, when the AP decided to call the race for Hillary the day before California and New Jersey voted. I did not believe this was true until today. Till Hillary had won over 50% of all pledged delegates.
It is mathematically impossible for Bernie to win 2026 pledged delegates, because there aren’t enough remaining now. The term “mathematically impossible” has been thrown around for a while, but it was not true till today.
In my judgement, winning a majority of pledged delegates has always been the only criteria for the nomination. Now, barring catastrophe, Hillary will and should be the Democratic nominee.
Hillary leads by over 3.5 million popular votes. It is very tough to explain away that entire margin. You may quibble with some of that, for example that it undercounts caucus states. But three and a half million is a lot of voters. At the end of the day, the win was square. I won’t say “fair” and square since the field was always tilted in Hillary’s favor. Democratic party grandees and institutions have had a thumb on the scale throughout, for obvious and well understood reasons. But it was fair enough.
In any case, we don’t get handicaps in politics.
In the face of all the institutional opposition, it is remarkable that Bernie came as far as he did. Bernie will win 1800 delegates and roughly 43% of the popular vote. That is absolutely amazing for someone who was polling in the teens when we started last year. His strength speaks to the desire among Democrats, and the broader population, to see a fairer and more equitable economy (both opportunity and results) and to see our country live up to its ideals both within and without. But this is politics, the path is always uphill for challengers and those outside the “establishment”. Bernie should compete in the DC primary, and delegates should help push his policy agenda at the convention. In other words, they should do what they were picked in primaries and caucuses to do.
So do you support Hillary?
Yes, I do. And to be clear, I am enthusiastic (to a degree) for a Hillary Clinton presidency, not simply resigned to it. I will be glad to see a third term for a Democrat. I’ll be glad if my daughters grow up with a woman serving as president, even though identity politics has never been of much interest to me. Bernie’s insistence that we are all in it together spoke to me far more than Bobby Jindal’s appeal to a common Indian heritage.
Many places throughout history have had female rulers, including absolute monarchs. In general, their tenure didn’t mean much to most women or the poor. The gulf between kings, queens and the small-folk stayed as wide as it was. Queens can start wars just as willfully as Kings can. Women elected to high office can choose to deny free milk to schoolchildren. Gender and race are ubiquitous in American politics. Class though, is under-appreciated in our society and one of the many satisfactions of Bernie’s run this year is the increased class consciousness (yes, that’s what I said).
Despite all that, it is important when a woman makes it to the presidency. I am not about to demean those to whom this is important.
I am hopeful we will see a wave election and win back both the Senate and House (I have a small wager riding on that). I am very pleased we will be nominating an accomplished, hard working, capable candidate with extensive experience in government.
Those who insist Bernie should step aside for a “historic presidency” deserve ridicule. As if being the first non-Christian major party nominee wouldn’t be historic. As if it did not take Hillary Clinton days after the final primary to reconcile herself with the equally “historic” candidacy of Barack Obama.
I was somewhat undecided last summer. Is that so hard to believe? Through the summer, I had my doubts about whether or not Bernie could win the general election and how effective he would be. I like Hillary enough to have donated to her campaign. That said, I would be much more enthusiastic for a Bernie Sanders presidency, and I believe he would stand a better chance against Trump. Nothing I’ve seen so far has changed my view. This continues to be an anti-establishment cycle, and that will be the biggest risk to Hillary’s campaign.
I am enthusiastic about having Hillary as our candidate despite many concerns. Primarily that a pivot to the center by Hillary will mis-fire against Trump and lead to a very narrow victory, or perhaps a loss (I think this is unlikely). I have misgivings about Hillary’s hawkish foreign policy stance and a myriad of concerns about her close links to special interests and concentrated economic/political power. Hillary’s apparent nonchalance towards potential conflicts of interest between the Clinton foundation, her duties as secretary of state, and her speaking engagements give me pause. I do not think Hillary’s prescriptions for TBTF will prevent future bailouts. I find her numerous shifts on climate change, trade, gay marriage, prison/criminal justice reform and welfare disconcerting.
Yet, if we are to be honest with ourselves, this is no more so than the vast majority of politicians. Our distaste is for the system that permits such behavior among our elected officials, not purely with an specific individual who may exhibit it. And if we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that many of our most storied presidents have been flawed, and sometimes corrupt, including the ones who ascended to become three letter acronyms.
I am hopeful that Hillary will govern well, and move us towards a better society incrementally. I am optimistic that our candidates and elected officials up and down the line, having seen the remarkable success of Bernie’s campaign, move towards a more progressive position both on domestic issues and on foreign policy.
Why then, do I feel sick to my stomach?
This is where I feel I have something to say to fellow Bernie supporters.
Have you ever fought with people you thought were family, or close friends? Then you know why you’re feeling the way you are. No betrayal burns like that of blood. No knife cuts deeper than one wielded by a friend.
For many Bernie supporters, that is what this campaign has often felt like. And the same is true for many who have supported Hillary.
It was bound to be this way.
In time, that will pass, and we will be the better for it. We will understand our allies better. And we will know we were mistaken to consider some allies at all. And we will know that some alliances go so far, and no further.
For myself, throughout this campaign, I have tried to remain detached from what people on the internet on either side say. Yes, that includes much of the discussion on Daily Kos. I’ve never felt my political views should be influenced by whether I find other supporters distasteful or particularly attractive. If I did, my views on both candidates would have been thoroughly warped. Throughout this cycle, I have tried to find the substance as far as I can.
Am I giving up on Bernie?
I am disappointed that Bernie will not win the nomination. Deeply disappointed. Of all the candidates across the spectrum, my views align best with Bernie’s policy positions. In my mind, no one exemplified my ideal of what a democratic leader would look like, or the values I wished they would espouse better. I would have liked to see his policies implemented and this perspective re-enter the American mainstream. I would have liked to see a more perfect union. I would have liked to see a government of the people, for the people and by the people reign across this land.
So what’s the way forward?
I think our best chance to do that is by occupying the Democratic party . In my mind, that is short-hand for having left-leaning candidates run for national, state, local and party positions at every level. If we are successful, we will not only shift the Democratic party back to the left on foreign policy and economic issues, but also ease the path for future left-leaning candidates up and down the ballot. At the very least, we should stand up and insist that bashing the left becomes a thing of the past in the Democratic party.
I believe we need to be the loyal opposition within the Democratic party, making alliances in the way Bernie has over the years. Do not for a moment, allow yourself to forget that we remain the smaller faction within the party. Do not forget, for a moment, that for many Democrats, Sanders and his supporters are the disheveled, slightly smelly guests who are barely tolerated at dinner as a charity. Why, the diary at the top of the rec list expresses this sentiment:
Bernie Sanders was able to get his message out because he ran in OUR primary.
The left was systematically sidelined by Dixiecrats for decades, derided as soft-headed liberals. Third way Democrats have continued that tradition. We should not allow it to continue any longer.
I know many consider this a hopeless, impossible task. Some are keen to give up on both parties, a pox on both their houses. I understand the sentiment. I don’t agree with it because I’m an institutionalist. I know how difficult it is to create institutions and I will always want to try to change one before advocating it be torn down.
I respect Jill Stein enormously, and I do believe there is a role for third parties in our system. You won’t ever hear me blame anyone for voting for a third party candidate. Your vote is yours alone. It’s no one’s business but yours. And yes, I respect the choice of my republican friends, even those who say they will vote for Trump. I believe they are extremely misguided, but their vote is theirs alone. That is what democracy means to me.
You won’t hear me blame the losses of Democrats on candidates from any other party. Of course, if Hillary were to lose the election, I fully expect many to blame Sanders and Stein. I will argue vociferously against that view if this were to come to pass. That’s what Democrats did with Nader and it was wrong-headed. The failures of candidates are theirs alone, only clumsy craftsmen blame the competition for their loss of market share. Gore’s loss was down to him, and perhaps the shenanigans Clinton got into, some of which rubbed off on Gore.
For those who think neither party will change dramatically, I remind you that they have. For both better and worse. By 1964, the Democratic party had been enthralled by Dixiecrats and their predecessors for over 100 years. Yet, in the span of less than 10 years, the party was transformed and Dixiecrats were conclusively ejected or neutered.
Change is possible. It can come from the most unexpected of quarters, and yes LBJ was one of the most unexpected. A foul-mouthed, deeply corrupt, cut-throat politician rammed a Civil Rights act through Congress when none had passed since reconstruction.
I remind people of this partly because I’m an institutionalist. I believe in the power of institutions and the case for working within them when possible. Bernie is too, which is why he has called for a “political revolution” and caucused with Democrats for decades.
So yes, change is possible, and parties can even be turned on their heads. But to bring the change we need to the Democratic party, we need to #OccupyDemocrats.