Mickey Kantor, former US Trade Representative and Secretary of Commerce under Bill Clinton, is a personal friend. Mickey is one of the most connected Democrats in the country. He has the ears of presidents and is respected for his political acumen. Speaking with Mickey is akin to speaking to the entire Democratic establishment. He is that influential, and that prescient.
I spoke with Mickey a few weeks ago.. We discussed the state of the presidential race. He is convinced that Hillary will be the nominee, and that Sanders should rein in his criticism of Hillary in the interests of party unity in the Fall.
I offered that many Sanders voters, especially environmentalists and animal activists, would take a pass on Hillary if she is the Democratic nominee.
Mickey dismissed my prognostications as being unrealistic. He mentioned the acrimony between Obama and Hillary supporters in 2008, and pointed out that it took a mere two weeks for them to join forces and unite behind Barack Obama.
And he is certainly correct that Democrats have united behind the party nominee as a general rule in typical campaigns.
But this is no typical campaign. And Bernie Sanders is not a typical candidate. Nor are his supporters typical.
Political analysts frequently compare the 2008 Democratic primary race to this year’s contest.
To be sure, there are many similarities. Some differences as well.
In 2008, Hillary was running against Barack Obama. Back then she tried to run to Obama’s left by calling for universal healthcare. This year she is runniing to Bernie Sanders’ right by opposing universal healthcare. For that matter, she is running to Bernie’s right on everything.
In 2008, Hillary conceded to Obama prior to the Democratic convention.
This year, she believes Bernie should do the same for her.
In 2008 the rancor between Hillary supporters and Obama supporters was even more divisive than is that between Hillary supporters and Bernie supporters.
However, Hillary’s differences with Obama were not philosophical. They were political.
Then, as now, Hillary stalwarts were primarily establishment Democrats who believed they were entitled to the presidency.
To bring everyone on board the Obama Express merely required political horse-trading and accommodation. Obama agreed not to name a woman as VP, Hillary would become Secretary of State, Clinton supporters would be included in the Obama administration, etc.
Hillary and her cohorts expect the same kind of deals with Sanders.
The problem is that Sanders’ differences with Hillary are NOT political, they are philosophical. And while Sanders has promised to support Hillary if she is the nominee, Bernie is not able to deliver his voters to Hillary as Hillary was able to deliver hers to Obama.
Sanders voters see Hillary as the enemy. Some, perhaps many, will see her as preferable to Donald Trump and will vote for her in November.
But a significant number of Berners will not vote for her.
Many will write-in Bernie, vote for Jill Stein of the Greens, or even stay home.
And many will vote or Donald Trump.
I am among those who will not only vote for Trump, I will be actively campaigning for him.
As animals are my priority in my political strategies and decision making, I am always open to a candidate’s position on animals and animal issues.
I will, and do, support candidates whose policies will inflict the least harm on animals. That alone is my litmus test. Other factors may add to or punctuate that litmus test, but animals are my first priority. Which is why I support Bernie Sanders. While Sanders is no vegan, and even is supportive of hunting and family farms, his positions on trade agreements clearly outweigh his other faults. Trade agreements cause the deaths of hundreds of millions of animals each year. They override environmental, labor, and anti-cruelty laws, they encourage and reward live export, barbaric farming and slaughter methods, and require that country of origin labeling be banned to prevent consumer boycotts. Hillary Clinton supports these trade agreements. She considers animal suffering to be a necessary consequence of her support for the multinational corporations she works for.
The choice between Bernie and Hillary is stark and obvious if animals figure into one’s voting priorities. Similarly, the choice between Hillary and Trump is a no-brainer for animal activists, as Trump’s position on trade is the same as is Bernie’s. Diametrically opposite Hillary’s position.
Hillary could still earn my support, and the support of other animal activists, by announcing that she will reject the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), will stop the cruel horse roundups by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and that she will end the killing of wildlife by Wildlife Services for the cattle industry.
I do not believe there is any chance in Hell that Hillary would agree to such conditions. She is owned by the multinational corporations and Wall Street interests that wrote the TPP, and she is owned by Big Ag and the slaughter industries which are guaranteed control of the Departments of Interior and Agriculture in any administration. The BLM and Wildlife Services are, for all intents and purposes, subsidiaries of Big Agriculture.
Bottom line is that political horse-trading and backroom deals will not unite the Democratic party this year.
Moreover, I think it highly likely that Donald Trump would defeat Hillary.
The biggest losers in that eventuality will be the political insiders, lobbyists, and Democratic office holders, who run the Democratic party. The same interests who make up the superdelegates to the Democratic convention.
The very same people who could guarantee the nomination of Bernie Sanders.
Whether they will follow Hillary over the cliff is yet to be seen.
My bet is that their instincts for political survival trump their obeisance to Hillary.
But I could be wrong.
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