If Bernie cared about a Democratic victory in November, he’d concede to Clinton now and start supporting her against Trump, say many. This may seem pragmatic, but it isn’t, affirms Richard Wagner
There is a growing chorus from Democratic loyalists that Bernie should concede. After all, the math isn’t on his side, as he’d need at least 90% of the remaining votes to gather enough delegates to win – if the super delegates also agree to vote Bernie! Therefore, if Bernie cared about a Democratic victory in November, he’d concede to Clinton now and start supporting her against Trump. This may seem pragmatic, but it isn’t!
The Democratic loyalist position
Their argument rests entirely on the assumption that electing enough “D”s will result in better policies. Yet Clinton’s critics retort that Clinton is more or less a Republican in Democratic clothing. As a centrist not bound to such party labels, I can further elaborate that Clinton actually has common ground the worst kind of Republicans (hawkish, outsourcing, pro-Wall Street) and not the best (fiscally conservative, skeptical of big government, protective of religious freedom and local autonomy). As Trump is clearly not a conventional Republican, Bernie Sanders has a good chance of influencing both campaigns ideologically.
How Bernie could win the ideological battle, while losing the race
Let’s consider the hypothetical scenario that Bernie fights to the bitter end, but loses to Hillary Clinton. Many Clintonites have admitted that Bernie has made her a better candidate. I’m sure Clinton would have loved to focus on gays, guns, and birth control while cutting deals with Wall Street. But Bernie has held her feet to the fire, making sure that she “feels the Bern”.
Clinton has been forced to make concessions to #Blacklivesmatter, advocating for Criminal Justice Reform, despite her historic support of the structurally racist “1994 Crime Bill”. Clinton has also been forced to see the light and oppose TPP, despite past rigorous support for it. Clinton claims to support financial reform also, but has been vague about the details. Therefore, Bernie has between now and July to make her feel the Bern just a little bit more.
He should push her for a concrete financial reform proposal to ensure that we don’t have another Great Recession (2009). The #Bernieorbust crowd can also keep the pressure on by calling her out on this. July should be a hot month, and if Clinton feels enough Bern, she may end up being the polar opposite of her husband on the issues where base Democrats were most disappointed in him.
You may then ask, but won’t she just flip flop in the General Election anyway? Well, I don’t expect her integrity to get in the way of that. Electoral prospects, however, are her concern. She’s not up against Jeb Bush. She’s not up against John Kasich, or Marco Rubio, or even Lyin’ Ted. She’s up against Donald J. Trump!
Trump is as anti-outsourcing as it gets (you don’t have to believe him, enough of the electorate does). Trump has also expressed support for financial reform. Clinton, therefore, will have a hard time becoming a Wall Street Democrat in the General Election. If Bernie forces her to take more concrete positions on these issues, it will be nearly impossible for her to etch-a-sketch in the Gen. Election without everyone noticing, including the Trump campaign. But if Bernie drops out now, Clinton will have two more months to slowly shift her positions in a way more favorable to Wall Street, and rely on “anti-racism” and “women’s issues” to defeat Trump.
What Democratic loyalists forget is that for Bernie supporters, it isn’t about party. It’s about progress. A Wall Street Democrat in the White House is no victory for them, and may even be worse than a Republican. At least with a Republican, you can count on Congressional Dems to hold him in check (especially Trump).
But if a hawkish, pro-Wall Street Clinton enters the White House, not only will she be able to count on over 90% of Congressional Democrats to back the next Middle Eastern quagmire, but more than half of the Republicans will also support her. Only a handful of principled progressives and strange bedfellow allies from the Tea Party Caucus will remain to keep Her Royal Clintonness in check.
For principled progressives, their best bet in this scenario is to Bern Clinton long enough so that she must take a more progressive agenda if she takes the White House. If she looks like she won’t come November, then their best bet is to either not vote, vote third party, or vote Trump (I know, many of you are laughing at that last prospect). If Clinton cannot be pushed into representing some more progressive values, than her victory would be a loss for progressives. Therefore, it’s better that she lose in the hopes that the Dems will get their act together in 2020 and nominate someone worth voting for.
#Feelthebern all the way to the end
Clinton must be Berned as much as possible between now and July. Bernie can lose the race but win the fight. The real fight isn’t for electoral victory, it’s for America’s middle class. If Bernie forces both candidates to care more about America’s middle class, it will be a victory regardless of how the election turns out.
Let me remind progressives that during the 1990s, income inequality increased exponentially, as did the size of the prison industrial complex. Today, 1 in 3 African American males will be arrested in their lifetimes if nothing changes. And this all happened with a “D” in the White House, the first Clinton. And progressives, what did you get out of it? CHIP? CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) is all well and good, but was it worth it?
Clinton’s sense of entitlement knows no bounds! She feels the Presidency should have been handed to her in 2008, and feels it even more so now. But entitlement is not what she needs to be feeling. If you don’t want another corporatist Democratic who will further empower Wall Street, further destabilize the Middle East, do little to nothing about racial injustice other than kind words, and throw a little birth control subsidy at you like that’s supposed to make everything better; then it’s time to turn up the heat and make Her Royal Clintonness really feel the Bern!