There was one argument against Bernie Sanders being the Democratic nominee that I most hated: he isn’t even a Democrat. There are many reasons why I hated it. For one, it’s tribal. For another, it has nothing to do with policy — or even electability. But most of all, I just didn’t see that it mattered to the Democratic voter given Sanders has always caucused with the Democrats. Just the same, it is for this reason that I had hoped he would endorse Hillary Clinton once the primary was over.
But Bernie Sanders does not have to endorse Hillary Clinton. As a practical matter, it probably doesn’t matter anyway. But he’s his own man and he can do what he wants. As I’ve stated many times, Sanders managing to get over 40% of the primary vote had little to do with Sanders. It was important because it was a sign of the rise of the left wing of the Democratic Party. And I know enough about the party to know that there are a lot of people in that rising left wing who voted for Hillary Clinton. So there is no doubt in my mind that the Democratic Party is in the process of a long leftward turn.
Sanders and the Long-Term
I’m not sure exactly what Bernie Sanders gets from not endorsing Hillary Clinton — or even what he thinks he gets. And it doesn’t really matter to me. I’m not so much interested in what the Democratic Party does this month or this year as I am what it does this decade. And I’m fine with Hillary Clinton as the leader of the Democratic Party. How she governs will ultimately depend upon us. And to some extent, I’m relieved that I don’t have to put up with four years of liberals gradually figuring out that they had elected President Sanders rather than Emperor Sanders.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not thrilled with Clinton. But Sanders wasn’t perfect either. As for Jill Stein? Why would I make a symbolic vote for someone I don’t agree with any more than I do Clinton? The truth is, in modern America, there is no real difference between Sanders, Clinton, and Stein. The Democratic Party has chosen my second choice and I endorse that choice.
More Than Politics
I have a more personal reason for endorsing Hillary Clinton. Despite the caricature that the right has created of her as some kind of supergenius harpy, she’s actually one of the most abused political figures of my lifetime. I think the treatment of Jimmy Carter is worse, but his is mostly implicit. The attacks on Clinton are explicit and personal. And it has made me sad indeed to have heard many of them from my fellow Sanders supporters.
I have little idea where other Sanders supporters go from here. I know the vast majority of them even now endorse Hillary Clinton because they plan to vote for her. Other than that, I can’t say. Further, I don’t know where Sanders himself is going. But there is a shining city on the hill that we should all be moving toward. The energy in the Sanders-Clinton war is wasted.
In his column yesterday Morning, Paul Krugman was out there dutifully pushing a new Clinton talking point: Sanders lost big. Although it’s technically true, it’s disingenuous. And I hear similarly silly statements coming from the Sander’s side. Krugman is wrong not to admit that Sanders ran a remarkable campaign and did incredibly well; but the primary wasn’t “stolen” from Sanders as I keep hearing.
I Endorse Hillary Clinton
Something Sanders said over the weekend bothered me. He seemed to be implying that because he disagreed with Hillary Clinton about certain things, he couldn’t — at least right now — endorse her. That’s just silly. On 20 January 2017, one of two people will be sworn in as President of the United States: Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. If there were little to distinguish them, remaining neutral would be fine. But there is a very great deal to distinguish them.
I endorse Hillary Clinton. That doesn’t mean I agree with her completely. But I largely agree with her (which is all I could say about Sanders too). My endorsement means that I think the world will be far better off with a Clinton presidency over a Trump presidency. And any liberal who thinks that a Trump presidency would lead to long-term liberal gains has not been paying attention to politics over the past four decades.
And Bernie Sanders? He can do whatever he wants. I voted for him because I wanted him to be the nominee. My second choice was always Hillary Clinton. And in the context of the 44 presidents that we’ve had, I think she will be good and maybe even great.