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If We Vote Bernie, We’ll Get Cruz or Trump

Some comments about Pete McCommons’ endorsement of Bernie Sanders:

I’m not sure what you mean by “systemic flaws” that Bernie intends to fix, or what “traditional structures” he is going to change, but I agree that we have “deep problems.” But for me it is clear that any Democratic president will be more likely to deal with our problems in a progressive way than any of the Republican candidates. So I would vote for any Democrat over the likes of Cruz, Trump or Ryan, who appear to be genuinely dangerous candidates.

So who is more likely to beat one of those Republicans? I know Bernie is polling slightly higher than Hillary right now against, for example, Donald Trump, but only by 3–4 percentage points. And it seems obvious to me that if Bernie were the Democratic candidate, more than 3–4 people out of every hundred would discover for the first time that he’s a socialist, Jewish and old, and any one of those could be a negative factor.

Hillary has been completely vetted at the national level, but I can only imagine what details the Republicans will find in Bernie’s radical past that will turn off at least some voters. Remember, we’re only talking about a few people out of every hundred to turn an election around. I think Paul Ryan would eat Bernie alive.

So the Republicans are rubbing their hands with glee that Bernie is doing their dirty work—if Hillary wins the nomination, she will be hugely damaged (and impoverished) by the primaries, and many younger voters will go the “Bernie or bust” route and sit the election out, or vote for a third party candidate, or vote for Trump, like Susan Sarandon, who says that Trump’s election would speed up the revolution. (Good Lord!) If Bernie wins, any Republican running against the “communist” will have an enhanced chance to win.

I think, especially among young voters, it’s appealing to find a candidate that you can “feel good” about, or who reflects your values. People are tired of voting for the lesser of two evils or feeling that neither candidate truly represents them. But this isn’t a high school popularity contest, and the purpose of the election isn’t to make sure you feel good about yourself or your vote—it’s to chose who is going to be president for four–eight years, and it will either be a Democrat or a Republican.

Sitting out the election, or voting for a third-party candidate, will only help ensure that we’ll get a Republican president—and the Supreme Court will be conservative for a generation, environmental protection will be gutted, torture and “carpet bombing” will become part of national policy, xenophobia will be supported at the highest level, a woman’s right to chose will be further limited, there will be no chance of raising the minimum wage, and on and on.

Remember what happened with Humphrey in 1968. He wasn’t liberal enough for us, so we got Nixon. Then we got to vote for McGovern in 1972, and he couldn’t even win his home state. In 1980 Carter was mortally wounded in the primaries by Ted Kennedy because he wasn’t liberal enough, and we got Reagan. In 2000, we ended up with Bush because some voters wanted to “feel good” about their vote for once in their lives, and supported Nader, which brought us the war in Iraq, a trillion dollars in debt, a million people dead, a destabilized Middle East, etc.

It’s a hard fact to accept, but there is no progressive majority in the U.S. on most issues. We can’t blame Wall Street and lobbyists and political money for keeping progressive policies from being adopted. The problem is that most Americans simply aren’t very “liberal” at their core.

That’s enough ranting for now. Thanks for keeping the Flagpole going all these years, and for being a progressive voice for reason and sanity.