03.13.16 The Democratic Race

I have written about my values agreement with Bernie Sanders. I certainly haven’t been shy about calling out the Clintons, based on policy (Wall St. and neocon hawkishness) and character (hubris leading to politically damaging behavior that hands hanging-rope to political enemies).

Though the GOP seeks at every turn to deny it, we live in a reality-based world. We don’t get to simply have Bernie be our president, just because we agree with him. We don’t get to mold Hillary by slicing off what we disagree with and reforming her character to our liking. Therefore, I have considered the most compelling argument for a Democratic candidate to be who beats Donald Trump in November.

If only we could know.

Here, the arrogance of both Hillary’s and Bernie’s supporters is stunning. If there is one thing Michigan demonstrated, it is that polling is unreliable. Polls eight months before November cannot possibly inform us about electoral outcomes then (made more complex by the 50 separate sets of polls to be analyzed).

Supporters on both sides can only rely on common sense and gut instinct to make such predictions.

  • Would Bernie lose centrist or right-leaning independents that Hillary would hold?
  • Would Trump-leaning independents who have been damaged by the economic catastrophe of the past 40 years be drawn to Bernie’s populist economics or would their empty nationalism turn them off to him?
  • Would Hillary capture enough GOP neocons (many of whom are being quite open about supporting her over Trump) to compensate for the number of bitter Bernie supporters who decide to stay home?
  • Would Democratic neocons flee to the GOP rather than vote for Bernie?
  • Would African Americans and other people of color who have thus far been indifferent to Bernie’s message stay home if he were the nominee?
  • Are Hillary’s negatives as high as they possibly could go already, because she is so well known and has been under constant attack for decades?
  • Would Bernie’s negatives climb sky-high once the full throttle of the right-wing attack campaign is turned on him?*
  • Is there another Clinton scandal in the offing?

We don’t know. Anyone who says they do is selling snake oil.

Given that the potentially most compelling criterion for candidate selection is unknowable, my most passionate concern is that all non-Republicans (I refuse to call myself a Democrat) exercise some restraint in coming weeks, both in tarnishing the other candidate and the other candidate’s supporters. And, I also land back on my values and the only choice they lead to.

Before Michigan, I was very close to believing the race was over and dedicating myself to a Hillary victory in the fall. For one thing, I don’t want to be part of a supposed revolution that does not have people of color at the forefront. But African Americans supported Bernie in greater numbers in Michigan than they had in previous contests. They may well continue the trend in the other Midwest industrial states.

Also, a compelling New York Times editorial this past week highlighted the ugliest aspects of classic Clinton behavior, as Hillary purposely distorts Bernie’s record in a scorched-earth effort to destroy him. (What short-term thinking! Hillary cannot win in November without support from “Berners” [purposeful play on my surname]).

I will proudly vote for Bernie Sanders on April 26 in Maryland. Regardless of whatever else happens, I want him and his message to be in the race through the last primary.

And, again, I hope with all my heart that all non-Republicans will remember that that we must be in the trenches together when we face the corporate-dominated, demagogic, bigoted GOP next fall.

*So far, the Washington Post is the only media outlet running a concerted campaign against Bernie, through daily lead-editorial attacks on his policies and character. Meanwhile, the GOP is purposely laying off him, because they are convinced they’ll have an easier time beating him than Hillary.

©2016 keKeith Berner

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