Die-hard Hillary fans are going to really hate me after this one, I think, but I am completely in agreement with Bernie Sanders when he says that it’s up to Clinton to woo his supporters. As reported by The Hill, in an interview on CNN, Sanders told America that it’s Hillary’s job to make his supporters want to vote for her.
“It’s a two-way street, the Clinton people are also going to have to listen to what these people are fighting for,” Sanders said during an interview on CNN’s “New Day.”
“The Clinton people are going to have to say, well, maybe Bernie has a point that we should not be the only major country on earth not to guarantee healthcare to all people or have paid family or medical leave. And maybe, yes, the billionaire class should start paying their fair share of taxes, and maybe, yes, we should break up Wall Street,” he said. (source)
I need someone who is hardcore Team Hillary to explain to me what exactly is wrong with Sanders comments here. For starters, it’s kind of Presidential Elections 101 that you have to eventually woo your primary opponents’ supporters. The problem I think for Hillary and her surrogates is that they are used to years other than 2016 when one of the most clear and bipartisan themes is how much Americans are chaffing under there only being two major parties and those two parties having a stranglehold on the election process. So while in other years it might have just been a matter of course that everyone would fall in line behind whomever was nominated, that’s not the case in 2016, and there’s a big reason why.
Contrary to popular belief among the party faithful, neither party is all that universally loved. I literally just saw an NBC poll that projects Independents will soon outnumber both Dems and Republicans combined. The country is changing, and some of us are in tune with it. Others are happier and content in the status quo. But if you ask me, the Democratic machine misreading just how much disdain the plebes have for the establishment could cost them an election they really have no business losing, and all ties into Bernie’s comments about Hillary needing to court his supporters.
Bernie knows better than anyone that a huge swath of his support comes from independents. It’s also true that New Deal Dems are behind him, but a huge source of his power are independents, young and old. In that regard, the comparisons between him and Trump are apt; outside of that, they’re recockulous because context and subtext are still things, and they both still matter. But there is some real, cold, hard truth to the notion that populist fire is fueling both Trump and Sanders and their supporters.
That’s why Clinton could lose. I’m sure as fuck not one of them, but there are definitely quite a few Sanders supporters who are so pissed off at the entrenched elites on both sides that they would gleefully vote for Trump to both help weaken the GOP and to deny the White House to the Democrats and their nominee who many feel was anointed by the power class in the party before a single vote was cast. You want to know why the bullshit about “Hillary has X million more votes than Bernie” is bullshit? Because of what we’ve been discussing — independents. In open primaries, Sanders can harness those independents. In closed primaries, he cannot.
Some will argue that I’m making the point for closed primaries by comparing Trump to Sanders. Again, that comparison is only good for so much. At some point you have to actually consider candidate views. And frankly, there is no candidate that speaks more accurately and sincerely to the concerns of Main Street than Bernie Sanders, and everyone in the race knows it. Yes, Team Democrat people, when you tell me that “It’s a Democratic Party, so you have to play by Democratic rules,” you are completely right. But what I and many are feeling and thinking now is that this election has exposed us to just how much it can cost us to not be more inclusive to independents.
The GOP is dying literally in front of our eyes thanks in no small part to their refusal to open their tent up. Now, someone is using that exclusionary rhetoric to their utter demise. Eventually, Democrats will stop looking like the more progressive, forward-thinking choice, and then you might even see people jump back to the GOP. It wouldn’t be the first time. But Hillary can turn that tide back right now if she doesn’t act like she’s entitled to Sanders’ supporters’ votes. If she at least gives the impression of having fucks to give about our agenda, maybe she can win over some key people in battleground states, which if I lived in, I would certainly not be Bernie or Bust.
This election is huge, as all presidential elections are, but there is a thematic element running under it all that makes it doubly-so. Namely, it’s that both parties are in the middle of mega identity crises, and while Dems can rest easy for now knowing that their shit show hasn’t gotten to the GOP’s level of dysfunction yet, it’s not far off. And Hillary can play a big part in avoiding that future for awhile longer, but both she and her supporters are going to actually have to be inclusive, and not just condescending, otherwise, get used to fireside chats with President Donald Trump or Ted Cr-OH MY FUCKING JESUS…