The Alternate Reality of Hillary or Bust

Hillary ClintonI’ve been thinking about an alternate reality where there is a “Hillary or Bust” movement. I actually think that there is an implicit one. I read a number of articles when Sanders first started to take off about how we couldn’t support him. He wasn’t even a Democrat! Blah, blah, blah. The truth is that one concern I’ve had since the beginning has been if Sanders had won the nomination, the Democratic establishment would not have supported him. But let’s move back.

As you all should know by now, I’m really against the “Bernie or Bust” movement. Well, if it is just a rhetorical movement to help Bernie Sanders in the primary, then I’m fine with it. But there clearly are people who have convinced themselves that the difference between Clinton and any Republican is minor. I don’t think that they are all that wrong on this point. Where they are wrong is in thinking that Sanders is some kind of radical. For all we hear about incrementalism with regard to Clinton, Sanders is also an incrementalist. Americans really need to get out more, ideologically speaking!

But I think the “Bernie or Bust” movement is really quite small. In an alternate reality where Bernie were winning, I think there would be a huge “Hillary or Bust” movement. And it wouldn’t just be brats on Twitter and subgeniuses on The Young Turks. The “Hillary or Bust” movement would be more like the “Never Trump” movement. But given that Democrats aren’t generally authoritarians, they wouldn’t fall in line the way the Republican dissenters have.

It’s perfectly fine to complain that Sanders and other liberals are uncompromising. But the people making these complaints are no more willing to compromise…

This really isn’t about the Democratic Party, of course. It’s about the Labour Party and its treatment of Jeremy Corbyn. It isn’t just all the public slanders. It is that after Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party — because the people who make up the party voted for him — the establishment had no interest in helping him or aligning with him. This is the Labour establishment that has lost two straight elections — the second one of which was very much winnable.

The main (public) establishment complaint about Corbyn is that he really isn’t up to the task of leading the Labour Party. I largely agree with that. But instead of making the best of a situation they didn’t like, the Labour Party establishment turned its back on him. It is apparently better to lose another election (and in the process teach the prols who voted for Corbyn a lesson) than to get only part of what they want.

And that’s the thing I’ve noticed here in the United States. It’s perfectly fine to complain that Sanders and other liberals are uncompromising. But the people making these complaints are no more willing to compromise; they just happen to be in power and thus are getting everything they want (inside the party). So I really have almost no doubt that it were Sanders who had effectively won the Democratic Primary, there would be a “Hillary or Bust” (or “Never Bernie”) movement that was far bigger, more viscous, and more effective than the “Bernie or Bust” movement. Like with the Labour Party, the Democratic Party establishment would rather lose than win with the “wrong” candidate.

Note that this has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton. She just happens to be the establishment candidate for the Democrats in 2016. And I’m fairly fond of her. Talking about “Hillary or Bust” is really just talking about about the way that those in power respond to change. So as much as I might not like “Bernie or Bust,” I think we have to admit that if things were reversed, it would be far worse.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

13 thoughts on “The Alternate Reality of Hillary or Bust

  1. I think we would still be called PUMAs. And I would be about 50 times as angry as I was then.

    I belong to a Labour Party group on Facebook and the vast majority of the time I don’t pay attention to their posts about Corbyn but from what I understood he was a little bit like Sanders in policy but very different in temper. I also thought he was ostracized for his policy not being similar to the rest of the leadership, not because he alienated them.

    • That’s very true. But Corbyn is British and Sanders is from New York. I don’t believe for a minute that the Democratic establishment dislikes Sanders because of his temperament. His temperament was just fine as long as he wasn’t a threat. But we can agree to disagree on that point. I don’t, however, think it is attacks on Clinton or the Democratic establishment that are motivating Sanders supporters. And this is why I wish he would stay on issue. It’s the economy, stupid.

      • I agree he should have stayed on message. He might have continued to improve. But I don’t think it is because he yells a lot-I think it is about what he yells.

        • Well, he does mostly stay on message. The problem is that, being from Vermont, he’s kind of naive. He should have known that the media had no interest in reporting his core message and that it would leap on every provocative thing that he said.

                • The biggest media outlets have always been the ones that pander. But there used to be a better media ecosystem. People say things are better today than ever, but that’s not really true. There are no so many voices that you might as well be a ranter at a bar. The reason that societies stay together is because there are lots of institutions that enforce the status quo. That’s one reason why the rich should regret having destroyed unions.

  2. There were plenty of people angry and disappointed in 2008 when Hillary lost. They were at least tempted to stay home, vote Hillary as a third party, or even vote GOP. Hillary asked her supporters to vote for Obama, to stop McCain and Palin.

    Will Bernie do the same?

    A cynic might claim she did this to remain viable to the Dems. Would she have become Secretary of State, if she hadn’t supported Obama in the end? Would we Dems support her now if she’d cost us the 2008 election?

    Where will Bernie be in eight years?

    • Bernie should be nicely retired in 8 years. This age has always been an issue.

      I think the NYT reported that at this point 60% of Sanders supporters say they won’t vote for Clinton in the general, but that 70% of Clinton supporters said the same thing about Obama in 2008. I think this will all end the same way it always does, even if Sanders has little to gain personally from playing nice.

  3. The local DFL really savaged Al Franken during his original primary campaign. It was brutal. Not because of policy or personality; just because he hadn’t paid his dues (so to speak). And Franken barely squeezed out a recount in the general over a sitting senator basically everyone knew to be slime.

    After that I couldn’t believe how much Franken made nice with those people; not supporting him was one thing, but slander is another. Yet made nice he did. And as a result the team worked together six years later and his reelection was a cinch.

    Not saying that’s the case with the national party and Sanders. Just that it does sometimes happen.

    Incidentally Sanders is bringing some interesting folks to the convention platform sessions; Cornel West, Bill McKibben and others. Not sure what that means if anything.

    • Franken is a rare bird. Based on his writing and his defense of the Clintons, I always thought he would be a lot more conservative than he has turned out to be. He shows that you can be a team player and principled.

      His first election always reminds me of how his opponent said that he would concede if things were reversed. But when things did reverse, his opponent fought to the very end.

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