by Secret Squirrel, a regular contributor of guest posts to the Cowgirl Blog
The dynamics of the Democratic primary are shaping up much as expected, with Hillary Clinton all but assured of becoming the party’s nominee for president. With most other candidates dropping out, it will shape up to be a primary between her and Bernie Sanders for at least the next several months. There are probably many Sanders fans amongst the Cowgirl readership so I am writing this as an open letter to them to warn of the potential consequences for their fandom.
Sanders in many ways represents a similar candidacy to Ralph Nader, who ran as an independent, Green Party candidate in 2000 against a slightly more distant member of the Clinton inner circle, Al Gore. I was young and impressionable at the time and turned off by the scandal-rich Clinton presidency. After a brief flirtation with war hero, party-bucking, and not-so-openly-conservative-at-the-time John McCain, I settled on Nader because I could not stomach another Clintonesque presidency.
I lived in a safe state to be a Nader supporter at the time so I knew my support would not throw the local elections. There was an internal debate but in the end I felt like Nader was the better candidate. I voted for him then he got like 2% of the national vote and you know the rest of the story.
If I had to it over again, I’d vote for Gore. Especially this New Fangled Al Gore. I wish he would run again.
And so here we are again. A Clinton running for president and another renegade running to the extreme left. I dabbled with Sanders a bit over the summer as Clinton went silent and the scandal noise machine got louder and louder. Then she came out swinging. Not just swinging but also spreading a message just a shade to the side of what Sanders is saying.
Biden is not going to run. There really is no one else in the wings who would run and even if Gore did I think I would still side with Clinton. So it is between her and Sanders, who represents a strong side of this great party who have true and well-held beliefs. Plus Larry David would play him on SNL for the next five year. But Sanders will not last. It may take until South Carolina or Super Tuesday, or when he loses New Hampshire, but at some point during the next several months he will bow out.
At that point, many of the Sanders fans (young and old) will have a to make a decision. Many of you will be angry or upset about the nature of Party Politics much like many of us were in 2000. Don’t be. The stakes were shadowy but so high in 2000 and they are even higher now.
Imagine a Trump candidacy where Clinton has lost the support of millions from her base that are overtaken in numbers by a base who turnout for his xenophobia. Imagine a Rubio (Jeb Bush is toast in the next month or two) candidacy where he runs as the new “compassionate conservative” that can reach out to Hispanics because of his heritage (Cuban, so not wholly Hispanic). With money and a hidden record, he would win easily if Sanders supporters stay home.
Before you withdraw your support for Clinton just because she is a far better candidate than Sanders,. look at what she has gained. The support of nearly everyone inside the party’s bureaucracy. The support of people like Paul Krugman, who called her economic plan for battling the banks better than Sanders’. If there is anyone in economics I trust over anyone else, it is Krugman. And former Biden economic adviser Jared Bernstein. who called the economic team around Clinton as a group he trusts and among the best in the country.
This is not the same Clinton that ran against Obama. She took his trusted advisers and brought them on board. They are still there and they are fighting tooth and nail against a woman who campaigned actively and ruthlessly against them two cycles ago.
Watch the Benghazi hearings or just the highlights. Tell me that is not a president who would stand up against the far right. Imagine Sanders in the same chair, what would he be doing and saying? Maybe he would not have taken action in Libya. Maybe Qadaffi would have wiped out the eastern half of Libya’s population. Imagine that hearing.
Could she turn in the general election to the triangulating Clinton we all fear? Sure. The passion for Sanders is real and understandable for just that reason. But he will not sustain it. Clinton has made so many promises short of what Sanders has said, and in some cases to his left, that she would have a hard time turning back on them, I trust her, I trust the team around her. As president, I cannot think of anyone more qualified to take on the risks of running an imperial presidency against Congress to do the right things despite the risks. I think she, more than anyone else, would love the challenge and risks associated with doing whatever is good and necessary to spite the right.
In a short time, many of you will have to choose between your passions and the future of this country to be able to sustain itself. In 2000, many of us, myself included, made the wrong decision. Please learn from our mistake. Support Sanders, but when he removes himself do not take it personally. Just ensure it gets translated over in some way. I think we will all be fine if we can do that.