2016 — May 24, 2016 at 5:25 pm

Forget ‘Reagan Democrats,’ it’s ‘Bernie Democrats’ who could decide this election


All hands on deck

Trump Tilted

The only thing I hate more than arguing with people online is arguing with people I generally agree with… anywhere.

This isn’t just because I’m a terrible debater who tends to break out into fits and mascara-laden tears when anyone does anything but pat my head or offer me a hand massage. The point of most arguments on social media, I’ve found, is humiliation at best and complete negation of another person’s being at worst. And the idea of spending time doing either to someone who is smart enough to support either Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton is upsetting to me, especially when it’s very unlikely to do anything but make people more set in their opinions.

Besides, who gives an actual fuck what I think? he asked before composing several hundred more words on the subject.

This primary probably isn’t any worse 2008, which was closer than this primary with possibly even more stray voltage. But I do think there is the clear possibility that it could end badly as we face an unprecedented risk — a thin-skinned megalomaniac who isn’t just pushing all of the GOP’s pro-rich garbage barge of failure but also promises to abridge the freedom of press and religion while scapegoating the most convenient minority he can find should his ego be threatened in any way.

To be clear: Democrats are actually more united now than they were at this point in 2008.

But it isn’t Democrats I’m worried about as polls show Republicans willing to unite around Trump as if he is just another fortunate son who happened to win their nomination.

FiveThirtyEight‘s Harry Enten explains that Clinton is doing poorly with “Democratic leaning independents” who back Sanders. Meanwhile, Clinton backers would support either candidate and possibly even a plague of locust over Trump.

“If Clinton can win over these Sanders voters, many of whom are normally reliable Democratic leaning independents, she’ll probably lead Trump by somewhere around 5 percent,” Enten wrote in a must-read extendo-tweet.

The solution to this is simple for Sanders’ supporters — nominate Bernie who polls far better than Hillary against Trump.

I don’t believe anyone knows for sure what Trump would actually do to Sanders in a head-to-head match up and don’t buy the speculation that someone with Bernie’s background can’t win. I wish he were in his early sixties and able to make another go of it in the future. But I cannot imagine an outcome of this primary that sees the person with millions more votes — no matter how you count them — losing the nomination. Especially when Sanders’ entire career is a argument against rigged systems.

As someone who voted for Clinton in 2008 and 2016, I would gladly have backed Sanders had his revolutionary fundraising efforts been backed by a revolution at the polls. Certainly he’s the most successful insurgent Democratic candidate of my lifetime, unless you compare him to Obama in 2008, when millions of voters came into the process and turnout skyrocketed.

Sanders clearly deserves to battle on until the last vote has counted and do what he can to turn the extraordinary movement he’s built into something permanent and transformative. We’re already seeing signs that he’s serious about getting his populist economic ideas in the Democratic platform, which should largely be uncontroversial since Clinton supporters tend to back them even more than Sanders-ites. Still demanding recanvasses of votes that probably wouldn’t give him any more delegates and sending Obama’s spiritual Javert Cornel West to the Democratic Convention platform committee suggests more division is inevitable.

Some Clinton supporters will say, “Screw them. For every Sanders supporter who can’t get on board, we’ll register a person of color who absofuckinglutely won’t let Trump happen.”

I get it but the risks are too high. This could be too close and the opportunity to turn Arizona and Georgia into swing states is too great.

The people who don’t win a primary likely feel humiliated at best and completely negated at worst. So I do hope that both Clinton and Sanders supporters recognize that the arguments we nurture now could distort the unity we should all feel when it comes to fighting climate change, seating a liberal Supreme Court for the first time in 40 years, and making sure that people with pre-existing conditions are never denied insurance again.

More than 80 percent of Sanders’ supporters approve of President Obama and probably don’t want to see the president’s legacy trampled by a birther.

Republicans have made the incredibly reckless decision to nominate a once-in-the-Republic threat to our democracy. This is the first presidential election in 50 years without the protections of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. We may face a serious third-party candidate who could be a spoiler for either side. Our candidate is likely to be the first woman ever nominated by a major party and she just happens to be the living through-line, good and bad, of the last 20 years of Democratic politics.

Sanders supporters have to make their own decisions. But I hope my fellow Clinton supporters recognize that the time for fighting with people we agree with is done, regardless of how wronged you feel and how unwilling some Sanders supporters are to accept Clinton as the nominee. We all feel a little humiliated and negated, deservedly so — we’re all to some degree hairy mammals who falter and crap and learn.

This is no longer a debate about the merits of incrementalism. It’s about whether we’re going to let Donald Trump throw the emergency brake as we’re speeding down the highway and turn us straight into oncoming traffic of the twin crises of inequality and climate change.

You’re going to hear a lot about Reagan Democrats, especially in Michigan.

It’s bullshit. They’ve been voting Republican since the 80s. But “Bernie Democrats” are real. So, if you can, let’s focus on the many, many things that unite us and not the Snausage-fingered demagogue who would love to tear us apart.

[CC image credit: Gage Skidmore | Flickr]