The media reports that one in four Sanders supporters will not vote for Hillary in November if she is the Democratic nominee. I have no idea whom they are polling, as I do not know a single Bernie supporter who will back Hillary.
I’m sure there are plenty, and those I know may well be atypical. But most want to write-in Bernie if he is not the Democratic nominee. Others want to vote for Jill Stein of the Greens, who has a platform not very dissimilar from Bernie’s.
A significant number wish to deny Hillary the presidency if she is nominated, and plan on voting for Donald Trump.
Personally, I am in the latter category.
Voting for Trump is only helpful in those states where he might be able to defeat Hillary, so called “battleground” or purple states. Purple states include Florida, Ohio, Colorado, New Hampshire, Virginia, Nevada. Depending on the polls, the list may grow to include some traditional blue states, like New Mexico, North Carolina, Michigan, Minnesota.
But for Sanders voters in red sates, those carried by McCain in 2008 or Mitt Romney in 2012. there is nothing to be gained by voting for Trump, as he will carry those states against Hillary with or without Sanders voters.
Sanders supporters in red states have the opportunity to make a profound difference to the American political landscape by voting for Jill Stein of the Green party. While the likelihood is minimal that such votes would do anything to affect the outcome of races in those red states, the cumulative effect of a wave of Green party votes could operate to help the party reach the threshold of 5% of the vote to qualify the party for federal funds.
Many Sanders supporters are invested in the prospect of Bernie running as an independent or a third party candidate, especially given the deplorable treatment he has received at the hands of Hillary’s DNC and the Democratic establishment.
Unfortunately, there is no way in Hell that Bernie could win the presidency as a candidate of other than the Democratic party. More importantly, he will not do it.
The American political system is anathema to third parties. Not one has ever succeeded at the national level. Even though headed by a former president of the US, the tremendously popular American hero Teddy Roosevelt, the Bull Moose (Progressive) party could not win against the Republicans and Democrats.
While it is possible that Bernie could make a credible showing in a three way race, it is highly unlikely he could win. If none of the three were to reach the 270 electoral votes necessary to win the presidency, the contest is thrown into the House of Representatives, where each state’s Congressional delegation has a single vote. Advantage: Trump, as the Republicans control more state delegations than do Democrats. And where a third party has zero.
A failed Sanders run will preclude the very real likelihood that progressives can take over the Democratic party, and could stop his revolution in its tracks. Like most third party efforts, they become political footnotes to the election.
It is infinitely easier to take over an existing national party than it is to build one from scratch and win national elections.
Bernie has come close this year. In one or two election cycles it will be possible to wrest control of the Democratic party from Wall Street, as Millennials begin to assume positions in society and politics. It will occur all the more quickly if Bernie wins the Democratic nomination. If he does not, our best chance is for Hillary to be defeated by Donald Trump, leaving Bernie as the most influential Democrat in the party.
Political parties in the US are not static. They change over time and occasionally die. But the electoral college system embedded in the Constitution is a major hurdle for minor parties to ever succeed at presidential politics.
But political upheaval often changes parties drastically. The Republicans were founded in 1854 out of the failed Whigs and a coalition of anti-slavery groups. They were the liberals, and remained so until the turn of the 20th Century. The Democrats were the conservatives, and they remained conservative until FDR.
Trump and his populists have taken over the Republican party and taken control away from the previous warring interests, the hard right and Wall Street. Whether the schism will heal is yet to be decided. The Republicans may never again be a right-wing party as defined by social conservatives and military belligerents.
Clinton and her Wall Street Democrats are doomed to be swept out of the party by a new generation of progressives. How soon the party becomes a democratic socialist one will depend on whether Hillary is elected or not. But even if she is, the Democratic party will never be the same after Bernie Sanders.
Will the Wall Street Democrats and the establishment Republicans become a single party? Can Trump keep control of the Republicans? Will the Democrats split into two parties? Will the Greens and the Libertarians grow in the vacuums?
However the parties eventually align, the establishment will be the enemy. Wall Street, the military-industrial complex, Big Oil, Big Ag and Big Pharma will continue to buy parties and candidates. They will continue to hire lobbyists and bribe politicians. They will continue to own the government and continue to have their alums and insiders appointed to Departments and regulatory agencies.
Only when the stranglehold of money on political parties and public officials is broken will the government again belong to those who vote for candidates rather than those who buy candidates.
Taking down the establishment is the goal of Bernie Sanders’ political revolution. Berners may support Jill or vote for Trump, depending on the states they are in. Many will likely vote for Clinton, believing the establishment propaganda about Trump. But even that propaganda seems to be falling on far fewer ears than Hillary had hoped. Trump is positioned to defeat Hillary in several swing states according to the most recent polls.
It is still possible, though unlikely, that Sanders can be nominated at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia. If he is, I believe he will handily defeat Trump.
If Hillary is nominated, we must do all we can to stop Hillary.
The biggest problem will be that Democrats will lose the 2018 midterm elections. The party in the White House loses midterm elections. Look at 2014, when we had a reasonably popular sitting president. Democrats lost seats in the House and Senate and were swept across the country. Hillary, who would be the least popular president ever elected, will undoubtedly do much worse in 2018 than Barack Obama did in 2014.
But successes at the state level are necessary to control reapportionment after the 2020 Census. The Republicans gerrymandered the House after the 2010 Census, and are set to do so again unless Democrats make substantial gains in governorships and legislative chambers in 2018. Thirty two governorships are up in 2018. If we do as poorly in 2018 as we did in 2014, the Republicans will control reapportionment in 2020 and will control the House until 2030.
The best case scenario for the Democrats if Hillary is elected is that we will have divided government through 2024. That even if a Democratic president is elected in 2024, Democrats will not control the presidency and both houses of Congress until 2030 at the earliest.
The best case scenario for the Democrats if Donald Trump is elected is that a progressive Democrat will be elected in 2020, we will already have swept the 2018 midterms, we will control reapportionment in 2020, and we will control the presidency and both houses of Congress in 2020.
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