In a presidential nominating race one tends to believe that the particular party’s candidates are competing to vanquish their opponent, win the nomination, and advance to the big game in November. While that has fundamentally been true in the past, it is evident that it is not the case in 2016. A little over a week ago a Pulitzer prize-winning op/ed columnist for The Washington Post, Eugene Robinson, penned a prescient piece about why the Democratic primary is not so much about Bernie Sanders waging a ferocious campaign against Hillary Clinton, but is waging a war against the Democratic Party. A war that Mr. Robinson said is Bernie’s campaign continuing “their scorched-Earth attacks against the Democratic Party,” a goal that “will succeed only in one thing: electing Donald Trump as president.”
But wait, some will say; why would Bernie Sanders wage a war against Democrats when he himself is a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat for life according to his own assertion? Except Senator Sanders is not a Democrat and is in fact still registered as an Independent senator from Vermont. Bernie Sanders is running as a Democrat for the presidential nomination, for the media exposure, and for the DNC’s campaign funding if he won the nomination. But he has demonstrated, as Mr. Robinson wrote, that “the Sanders people are…deliberately stoking anger and a sense of grievance — less against Clinton than the party itself. This is reckless in the extreme, and it could put Trump in the White House.”
The idea that Sanders’ “extreme recklessness” and antipathy toward the Democratic Party could put Trump in the White House is inconsequential to the Sanders’ campaign. At least that is what the campaign says it doesn’t bother thinking about. And that is just abominable as well as revealing about where the Senator’s allegiance lies; it is certainly not with helping Democrats prevail in November up and down the ballot. As Robinson pointed out,
“If he [Sanders] means it when he says he will do everything in his power to keep Trump from being elected, he has to do more than just modulate his rhetoric against Clinton. He and his campaign must stop attacking the Democratic Party in a way that might discourage voters in the fall.”
Bernie Sanders’ animosity toward the Democratic Party is renowned, and he has parlayed that hostility into a feeling among, at least, his acolytes that Democrats are just as corrupt as Republicans; or in the words of Sanders’ surrogate Paul Song; they are “corporate Democratic whores.” Although Senator Sanders disavowed that remark, it was an extension of what he and his campaign have parroted throughout the primary race and reveals a decided loathing for the Democratic Party. One can surmise that no small number of Sanders’ supporters and some centrist independents have embraced that loathing based solely on the Sanders’ campaign’s rhetoric over several months. The thinking is that “if a Democrat like Bernie Sanders says it over and over, it must be true;” a comment this author has heard at least 30 times over the past month. It is not the kind of mindset that will help Democrats prevail in November and why Eugene Robinson said “Sanders is playing with fire.”
Look, former Secretary Clinton “has an insurmountable lead in pledged delegates, earned by her performance in primaries and caucuses. In the aggregate, she leads Sanders by about 3 million votes. The will of the party is clear: More Democrats prefer Clinton over Sanders as their nominee.” However, instead of living with and accepting the will of the voters, and “an obvious fact, the Sanders campaign is behaving like a two-year-old who can’t have ice cream for breakfast.”
Throughout the primary race, Senator Sanders and his aides claimed loudly to whomever would listen that the Democratic establishment “unfairly tipped the scales in favor of Clinton.” It is not technically calling the Democratic Party cheaters, but it served the purpose of portraying the DNC as some kind of corrupt machine created solely to thwart Senator Bernard Sanders.
One has to agree with Robinson that their narrative that Democrats are corrupt is the epitome of “Sanders and his campaign being shamefully irresponsible.” Instead of accepting the will of the voters, all they do is bitch and moan that the DNC is rigged against and cheating Sanders because they will not “allow Bernie to win.” As many pundits have noted, the Sanders’ campaign “displays a degree of entitlement that they have not earned;” many Sanders’ supporters do want their “free stuff.”
The Democratic Party does not run an “unfair” and “undemocratic” primary process, except when it works in Senator Sanders’ favor; such as in state caucuses with limited participation where the Senator did well. But those nasty Democratic primaries, like the Democratic delegate system, are corrupt and rigged against Bernie because Clinton did well.
As Philip Bump noted in Friday’s Washington Post, in 2008 Hillary Clinton “recognized that a convention fight would likely fail, despite having a ‘slight’ lead in the popular vote,” and here is the difference between Independent Bernie Sanders and Democrat Hillary Clinton; “Clinton realized the damage that could be done to the Party, so she didn’t contest the convention.”
Obviously, Senator Sanders doesn’t have the same sentiment, or regard about damaging the Democratic Party. And, his disregard for the party “fits neatly with his goal of upending the system” in hopes of helping Bernie Sanders be the Democratic nominee. This is despite Hillary Clinton’s “insurmountable lead in pledged delegates” and the will of Democrats whom “prefer Clinton over Sanders as their nominee.”
Senator Sanders has run a good race and he has contributed to the liberal cause; of that there is no dispute. But he is not helping the left going into a crucial election; and not just in the race for the White House. When voters go to the polls, they generally vote a “straight” ticket for one party or the other. Having a Democrat in the White House is critically important, but so is having Democrats in control of Congress and state legislatures. That task has not been aided by “a Democrat” waging a war against other Democrats and the monumental job going forward is attempting to undo the damage the Sanders’ campaign has wrought on former Secretary Clinton and the Democratic Party. A general election is a war and the last damn thing Democrats should be spending even a nano-second on is repairing damage from a Democrat; even if it is a Democrat in name only.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.