Bernie Concedes the Nomination, Not the Cause
The day that Bernie Sanders supporters have dreaded is upon us. In a speech in New Hampshire on July 12th, 2016, he acknowledged that he will not be the Democratic nominee for President, conceding that award to his rival, Hillary Clinton. He also said that he will do everything he can to make certain that she becomes the next President.
I suspect that many supporters of his will hold true to their sentiments that they cannot, and will not, support her or vote for her. That is certainly their right, and I will not use any of my time or energy to dissuade them from that position. There are some options I believe are valid: write him in, vote for the Green Party, or find another progressive third party to vote for.
What I fear, and sincerely hope does not happen, is that his supporters become discouraged enough to quit actively pushing the progressive agenda, or to regard the concession as him selling out his ethics and dividing up into factions that make the progressive movement less vital. Bernie has conceded the nomination, but he has not conceded the cause.
I believe his decision to back the Democratic nominee rather than run as an independent or on the Green Party ticket has sound reasoning based on history. Strong third party candidates do not really have a chance of getting elected, and serve more to divide the votes, and possibly the states, that allows a candidate that is less aligned with their ideologies to get elected. Ross Perot’s run in 1992 took votes away from George Bush, Strom Thurmond’s run in 1948 took votes away from Thomas Dewey, and, in the last election that a Democrat or Republican did not finish second, Teddy Roosevelt’s run in 1912 took votes away from William Taft. Though it can be argued that Bill Clinton, Harry Truman, and Woodrow Wilson were all fine Presidents, if that were to happen this year, Donald Trump could become President.
Bernie Sanders did not say today he wanted Hillary Clinton to be President. He said he would work with her to make certain she is elected so Donald Trump does not become President. That is hugely different. He cannot do that if he splits the votes, and possibly the states, by running as a third party candidate.
Despite my deep personal disappointment that he will not be the Democratic nominee for President this year, and that his age will likely prevent him from being President in the future, I am confident that he is doing what he is doing for reasons greater than simply selling out the cause to one of the two parties that benefits from oligarchy.
He has moved the party platform significantly toward his progressive ideas, and even Hillary Clinton has moved quite a bit to the left in her effort to attract those who support him. Though it may be a bit hollow for many of his supporters, especially those who have declared that they will never vote for her, it is vitally important to recognize that those who support her represent the aged and the past, and those who support him represent the youth and the future.
Many of those in power in the party have said that he is ruining his legacy and support in the Senate. I say they make those claims at their own peril.
He is far more powerful today than he has ever been, and, if his objective is to reform the Democratic Party into the progressive party rather than start a third party, they will be challenged in primaries by Democratic candidates who run in support of the progressive ideals he has promoted. If he has done nothing else, he has proven his revolution can win significantly at both the district and the state levels. Those who try to diminish the revolution within the party will likely find out that they are vulnerable to primary defeats to younger, more progressive candidates.
Unlike the power wielded by the Tea Party as a rabble rousing faction within the GOP, these "Berniecrats" (for lack of a better term) will be loved by the decrepit and aged Democrats who like to believe they are progressive, but have lost that youthful enthusiasm that once made them want to fight to change the world for the better. Those who have risen to power within the Democratic Party as it is today will either get in line with progressivism, or will find themselves as the rabble rousing fragment within the party.
Again, though, that does not mean that any of his supporters need to sell out their ethics and vote for Hillary if they feel strongly about it. If they do embrace the Green Party, and enough of them go that direction, that may also be the direction Bernie goes after the election. He knows, I suspect, that the ground for the revolution will be more fertile with Hillary’s crap than on the toxic landscape of a Trump presidency, whether that is through reforming the Democratic Party or taking the revolution another route.
I am a proud supporter of Bernie Sanders. I believe him to be too highly ethical to sell out his beliefs and the revolution that he represents. I believe he is conceding the nomination to Hillary so he can move forward with his "plan B" for the revolution. His influence on the national scene has never been greater, and, it is possible, that he can do more to push the revolution from a power position in the Senate than he might have as President.
I have not yet decided whether I will write his name in on my ballot, or if I will concede my vote in accordance to his wishes. It is too soon after the disappointing announcement today for me to commit one way or the other.
What I do know, though, is that I want to remain a part of the revolution that he has started, whether that be as a "Berniecrat," or something else.
I am guessing, though, that it will be as part of a reformed Democratic party that tells its old members to put away their pompous rhetoric and get with the times because, otherwise, they are about to be dismantled and put in museums as displays about how the party used to be before the revolution made them modern day Tories!
Some other things I've written about: