An Open Letter to Bernie Sanders

Hi Bernie,

We have a lot in common. We come from the same cultural and religious background, we’re around the same age, and we both have wives named Jane. I’ve watched you for years as you ranted about injustice on MSNBC. I never checked, but I figure you didn’t appear often on Fox. In any event, I’ve watched this year as you came out of thirty years of obscurity, a back bencher who never seemed to be part of the Democratic caucus in the Senate even though you often voted with them. What a year! After so many years of being ignored, suddenly you became a rock star. I’m sure you helped push Hillary to the left on many issues. I suspect you’ll even win battles to eliminate Super Delegates, reduce the cost of college, and maybe even get rid of the DMC Chair. Most people would agree that someone in that position should not have her thumb on the scales when it comes to scheduling debates.

I voted for you in the primary here in California in order to send a message that most of us are tired of business as usual and corrupt politicians. No one would accuse you of changing your positions for campaign donations since you haven’t really changed your positions in 30 years. You were booed recently when you appeared before House Democrats. I’m sure it was music to your ears. You told one reporter that they needed to hear your message and you railed again against Super Delegates, a category that probably included most of the people in that room.

I guess many of us plan to hold our nose and vote for Hillary. I have to agree with you that she and her husband have never seen a trade deal they didn’t support. She definitely is part of the elite who have run this country for years. She’s a hawk, and most of us agree with you that we never should have gone into Iraq. She is by far the weakest candidate the Democrats could run, even though it’s clear the bench is very thin. Think of the possibilities if Sharrod Brown had been our nominee. Between you and me, I have to confess that you do have serious drawbacks as the party nominee. You’re an absolutist. People who are true believers like  you want to bring about revolutions and don’t want to compromise. Ask yourself if you would accept lower cost for college rather than free college tuition immediately. Ask yourself if you would accept a Democratic platform that is neutral on the pacific trade deal. It’s hard for Democrats to repudiate their own popular President and completely repudiate his trade deal. I think we both know the answer.

Absolutists make lousy Presidents because they never can compromise. How many Republicans do you think you could persuade to your position? Throw away Obamacare and then hope to get a single payer health program through? That would be like throwing away the baby with the bathwater. Yet, you seem incapable of seeing a road that includes compromise. Perhaps it is because you know Hillary Clinton will say anything to get elected and then proceed doing what she planned all along. You’re probably right about that, but I think you need to think about the bigger picture.

We need a VP choice with progressive qualifications to be in position to run AFTER Hillary, whether that means after two terms or after something untimely happens to her. The next Republican candidate will certainly be much harder to beat with as weak a candidate as weak have now. The Democratic party can be moved more toward the progressive end of the spectrum, but it might take more than one election turn. Meanwhile, you’ve dug your feet in and have refused to endorse Hillary because so far she hasn’t given you a speaking opportunity or surrendered on all your key demands. Remind me, who won the primaries?

I feel your pain. Hillary is a TERRIBLE candidate. She brays rather than orates. She has no charisma, and she is so careful about giving poll-tested answers, that she never comes across as authentic. Bill has so badly wounded her that she prizes her privacy more than anything and is willing to do anything to keep her personal affairs private. That’s her Achille’s heel and resulted in her decision to have her own email server. Hillary is like the young lady played by Reese Witherspoon in Election; she’s the smartest  and most ambitious girl in the class who works and works and works but never generates any excitement. She certainly never generated the crowds you do or the crowds President Obama did. Having said that, she’s what we have. The delegates at next month’s convention won’t overturn her now. I suppose a lot of us thought that the FBI might recommend prosecution. If they had, I’m sure Hillary would have held on and not released her delegates. it’s something she’s wanted her entire life. So, the party would have limped along with a severely wounded candidate. ANY Republican candidate with the exception of Donald Trump would probably be miles ahead in the polls by now. Hillary is so weak that, God forbid, Trump might squeak out a victory by attracting every dumb white without a college degree. God must love poor dumb whites because HE (or SHE) created so many of them, particularly in the South and in the Midwest. You know and I know that manufacturing jobs for people with high school educations are not coming back to America. New manufacturing jobs will require technical training; the last time I checked, the Republicans have voted down any attempt to funnel money to community colleges to offer such programs.

The real problem is that Donald Trump represents an existential threat to this country. Your reluctance to endorse her and try to bring along your supporters could very well spell defeat in the fall, particularly if younger voters stay away and don’t vote. Perhaps you are thinking along the same lines as Henry Clay who once said he’d rather be right than be President. If you stand back with your stiff back and refuse anything but 100% victory on all your points, you very well could bring about a Trump presidency. Imagine that for a moment. Even worse, imagine a Supreme Court packed for the next forty years with justices who will tighten the grip of the one percent on this country. Imagine President Trump signing all kinds of bills that restrict voter rights and try to maintain the Republicans’ strangle hold. Imagine national anti-abortion laws as well as tax increases for the average person. imagine a Republican controlled Senate and House that eliminates Social Security and Medicare as we know it because we can’t afford these programs and then raids the treasury to enrich the wealthy and fat cat corporations.

Imagine a Donald Trump who grows angry when a foreign government doesn’t go along with his crazy demands. What does he do? Who knows? Imagine restricting all foreign trade and bringing about the next great Depression. Believe me, it will be HUGE.

So, Bernie, you have a choice. You can hold your nose like many of us and vote and endorse the lesser of two evils while you use the enormous war chest you’ve built to support progressive candidates for the House and Senate. You also can use the funds to help elect local progressives at the state level so that when redistricting time comes in 2020, there will be enough locally elected progressives to change the voting map and kick out conservative members of Congress who thought they had a lifetime job because of gerrymandering.

Pride comes before the fall. So, Bernie, will you get over the rush that comes from finally being heard after shouting alone in the wilderness for years and work from within the party to reform it? If you choose to try to make this year the year of your revolution, you could bring about Trump’s victory. Life probably wouldn’t change much for you. After all, Vermont would still elect you and most Democrats in the Senate would continue to avoid you. What about the average American who isn’t guaranteed  a lifetime income and almost lifetime employment? Most average Americans would suffer with the Republicans controlling both the House and Senate while a indifferent Republican President makes decisions based on who can flatter him the most and provide him with bills that help the Trump empire grow even larger. The IRS? Cut its budget because it prosecutes people like him. The FBI? Replace everyone with people who will do what he says. The Press? Restrict their freedom and throw more reporters out of White House briefings. Bring charges against them whenever possible. Healthcare? Let the states decide. The list goes on and on. The only thing I’m actually sure about is that under President Trump every town square will have a larger than life statue of Trump. That you can count on!

 

 

 

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