You all know this by now...
After months of trying to sideline an unexpectedly deft and well-financed liberal opponent, Hillary Clinton on Tuesday won a series of primaries that freed her to present herself as the de facto victor of the Democratic nominating fight and gave her the impetus to shift focus decisively toward the November election. Now all but certain to clinch her party’s nomination, Mrs. Clinton will continue to face the criticism of her party rival, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.Sponsored
Let's discuss.—DAN SAVAGE
I will ultimately be a “whoever gets the nomination” person—#BernieOrBust socialists can fuck right off—but to Dan and other Clinton supporters: Are you making the case that Sanders should drop out now? If so, what is so different about this campaign as compared to Clinton vs Obama in 2008, when she stayed in until June? What’s the evidence Sanders is harming her? (I am prepared to endure tales about elections of yore.)—HEIDI GROOVER
Why am I the only Clinton supporter you namecheck, Heidi? I was for Bernie or Hillary or both. (Still am: Bernie for VP!) So I was a "whoever gets the nomination" person too. But to your question: Sanders says he isn't pulling out. He doesn't have to pull out and he probably shouldn't pull out. Not because he has a realistic "path to the nomination," as the saying goes, and not because the election of Donald Trump will bring the revolution. But because his presence in the race—his presence all along, his continued presence—appears to be helping... well, I almost typed "Clinton," but that wouldn't be exactly/precisely/perfectly accurate. Sanders' presence is helping the eventual Democratic nominee (Clinton), whoever the Democratic nominee winds up being (Clinton). We hear a lot about—and from—the #BernieOrBust crowd. But a poll flagged by Josh Marshall at TPM quantifies the impact the Dem primary is having on younger voters. Yes, they've supported Bernie overwhelming in the primary. But their engagement is creating bonds to the Democratic Party, not to its highest-profile recent member:
Take all that together and you come away with pretty clear evidence that over the course of the Democratic primary young voters have become more attached to progressive politics and the Democratic party. One read of this is that the primary process itself—as divisive as it has sometimes seemed—has deepened young voters' identification with the Democratic party. To a great degree, that seems to be the case. But there are other potential factors and potential explanations. The trend on the issues, if not the party identification front, has been moving in a more liberal direction over the last four years. That predates this Clinton v Sanders match up. Meanwhile, Trump and the GOP primary process are so toxic (as represented in these poll numbers) that they must themselves be deepening young voters' partisan attachment to the Democratic party. In other words, we don't know if Democratic partisan identification is increasing while the primary process is unfolding or because of the primary process itself. It's probably some of both.
Sanders said yesterday that he's "staying in this race until the last vote is cast" but not because he thinks he can win the nomination. He's staying in the race so he can "[go] to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia with as many delegates as possible to fight for a progressive party platform that calls for a $15 an hour minimum wage, an end to our disastrous trade policies, a Medicare-for-all health care system, breaking up Wall Street financial institutions, ending fracking in our country, making public colleges and universities tuition free and passing a carbon tax so we can effectively address the planetary crisis of climate change."
I voted for Clinton on the SECB, it's true (and I caucused for her), but I was for Sanders getting into the race, I want him to stay in the race, and I want his camp to shape the party platform. — DAN SAVAGE
Personally, without Bernie, this election would have been too depressing for me to handle. I think he's done a fantastic job of pulling Hillary to the left. (Black Lives Matter has also done a fantastic job of pulling the most "progressive" candidate toward accountability on issues of racial justice.) For that reason, I want to see Bernie stay in the race as long as possible. I have an innate aversion to people who tell me to support a candidate out of pure "reasonableness." (Usually, being "reasonable" just means siding with the white dudes in the room, no matter what they happen to be mansplaining at the time.) But I do think the anger and frustration of a lot of white, working class voters—across both parties—is real. And I'm honestly a little scared about what might happen if those people turn on Hillary instead of voting for her this fall. I think she has a lot of explaining to do re: NAFTA and Wall Street reform. I want to see her go after the architects of the last recession and develop a better platform on economic inequality. That's the only way she's going to win over voters who are so, so, so fed up with Republican and Democrat elites. She's a keen politician. But I wonder if she'll be able to pick up that lesson in time for the general. — SYDNEY BROWNSTONE
Sydney says she wants to see Clinton “develop a better platform on economic inequality.” I have to say, I think Sanders’s platform on economic inequality is vastly overstated, almost entirely rhetorical, and in some ways it’s worse than Clinton’s. Yet he gets automatic credit for having a “better” platform on economic inequality. To take one example: paid family leave. That’s a progressive idea that both Democratic candidates strongly support, but it’s also an expensive idea. So how would they pay for it? Sanders would pay for it through a payroll tax—so all of us would be paying for that. Clinton wants to pay for it through a tax on the super-rich—essentially, a tax on Donald Trump. She wants to redistrubute wealth! Thank god! In terms of “economic inequality,” hers is a better plan for paid family leave than Sanders’s plan. — CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
Sydney: What is up with your home state of Pennsylvania? Why do they like Clinton? And is your dad okay? — HEIDI GROOVER
Pennsylvania's a weird place. You've got two progressive cities on either side of the state: Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. You've got farming, some working class industrial towns, blue-collar towns dependent on fracking Marcellus Shale, run-down former steel towns, and more than a few Natty Ice-chugging frat boys in between. And some weird military industrial shit in the 'burbs. Racially, the state's pretty segregated, too. Philadelphia is a major center of Black culture, art, and intellectualism, despite the state legislature's consistent negligence of its public schools and more. Before Democrat governor Tom Wolf came into office in 2015, Republican Tom Corbett ruled. That guy hated Obamacare, and for a while refused to expand Medicaid. He slashed education funding, which disproportionately impacted Philadelphia, and various social services like subsidized health insurance for low-income people. He fought same sex marriage and voting rights. At the same time, he cut taxes for big business and championed fracking the fuck out of the state—he even opened up public college campuses to drilling.
With a guy like Corbett in many Philadelphians' rearview mirrors, I can only guess that for president, a lot of people just want a solid, old-school Democrat. Someone who isn't a terrifying Republican of Corbett's ilk—or these days, even worse. Older black voters' allegiance to the Democratic party may have also played a role. Bernie is really cool in the sense that he's been able to engage a lot of people who haven't engaged with the political process before. My dad, who was a Bernie delegate, is a perfect example. I'm really proud of him for all the door-knocking he's been doing.
That said, I can also see how older Philadelphians would view Bernie as a risk to lose whatever gains they've gotten. Some Bernie supporters' conspiracy theory mongering and rabid attacks on Hillary don't help. (My dad has only recently promised not to go Bernie or Bust, but only because my sister and I made him swear on it.) Bernie carried the mostly white, working class center of the state, though. I think that's a testament to the power of some of his ideas.
As for whether Bernie ought to stay in the race, I think former PA governor Ed Rendell made something of a solid point. "If he tones down the rhetoric and continues to fight, he’ll go out on a very high note with a lot of people, including me, thinking he did a great service to American democracy." Then: “But if he keeps it up, it could be brutal.” — SYDNEY BROWNSTONE
Question for Ansel: Do you agree with the Sanders supporters who say he should run as an independent? (If so, what are you thinking?) If Clinton gets the nomination and Sanders doesn’t run a third-party campaign, will you vote?
And two questions for anyone: In the week leading up to these primaries, Clinton said she supports taking cannabis off Schedule I. Will she ever support full recreational legalization? Even Republican millennials are into legalization! Doesn’t she need help with young people?! To anyone: Guesses or hopes for Clinton’s VP pick? What’s the chance we get a two-woman ticket? (And if we do, should we take that as our signal to begin free-bleeding all over the offices of Republican legislators across America?) Is labor secretary Tom Perez a viable pick? He has praised Seattle’s work on the minimum wage and made paid parental leave a focus of his department. I want those to be priorities of the race and eventual administration. Who best helps us get there? — HEIDI GROOVER
To Heidi: Hadn’t heard the news about Clinton wanting to take cannabis off Schedule I. That’s huge. As for possible Clinton running mates, I love the Elizabeth Warren idea—and it sounds like Clinton is open to the possibility.
I think this could be a great focus for Bernie supporters’ energy in the months ahead. After all, Bernie wanted Warren as a running mate. Warren is great on Wall Street reform, income inequality, and all the other issues that make Bernie supporters wary of Clinton. So if Bernie’s not gonna make it, maybe his great idea for a VP pick can make it! (Plus, an all-woman ticket would be a amazing way to stomp on Donald Trump’s “playing the woman card” nonsense.)
And: I second Heidi's questions to Ansel: "Do you agree with the Sanders supporters who say he should run as an independent? (If so, what are you thinking?) If Clinton gets the nomination and Sanders doesn’t run a third-party campaign, will you vote?"
I also wonder whether Bernie supporters are now ready to say more plainly that it was a huge mistake—on a political level, on a moral level—for Bernie to take so long to realize that he needed to do a lot more to reach out to minority voters. When you look back at the arc of primary season, this failure is a huge factor in Bernie’s inability to get the nomination. If you ask me, and as I argued here, a “political revolution” that isn’t winning massive support from minority voters is a political revolution that’s missed some fundamental first steps. — ELI SANDERS
The closer we get to this election and to what feels like our putative President Clinton II, the more depressed I get. I don’t have a lot to add at this moment, except fully supporting Sydney’s observation that being told to be reasonable usually just means agreeing with whatever the white dudes in the room are saying. It’s always time to focus on local politics, even hyperlocal, neighborhood, politics, and I’m just getting a reminder to get back to that level. Or hell, state politics, even, where this morning’s Seattle Times reminded us today, once again, that Washington taxes like Texas.
But wait—I will add one thing re: Clinton, because it helps to explain why I’m depressed. My view is essentially that Clinton is untrustworthy, not to mention, at this point in her life, conservative. It is really quite simple. I was reminded in this weekend’s New York Times of her military belligerence (acting like an arrogant white dude is supposed to make a woman interesting? That’s really as far as we’ve gotten?). And in talking to a friend this weekend, I was also reminded of the Democratic Party’s history since Bill Clinton of breaking labor’s back.
Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton make me feel misanthropic. I know it’s not my best side. — JEN GRAVES
So, as Dan pointed out, Bernie is going to go "to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia with as many delegates as possible to fight for a progressive party platform.” Just a reminder that the progressive change doesn’t happen from the top down, from the President, from Washington, D.C. It happens in your neighborhood, your community, your city, your state. The Affordable Care Act didn’t just happen because Barack Obama wanted it to, or because Hillary Clinton had the idea decades ago. It happened because of organizations like Health Care For America Now, a strategic national coalition of state and local grassroots organizations that organized their members to put pressure on political leaders.
As this report by the Center for the American Progress notes, "Social movements, by definition, arise from a committed minority of citizens working together to shape larger public consciousness about particular injustices in addition to working for concrete political change. Social movements have invariably advanced moral and political causes surrounding gender, racial, and class equality with much greater force and consistency than those in mainstream politics.”
Hillary Clinton isn’t a progressive candidate. The Democratic party isn’t a progressive party. So yeah, Bernie, stick around (and continue to learn about how to better engage lower-income communities of color). And local Bernie supporters, if you’re going to boneheadedly insist on #BernieOrBust, you better be out there talking about and fighting for things like a Washington state income tax, paid family leave, environmental justice, secure scheduling, and how, in our cannabis-friendly state, to address the racist legacy of pot law enforcement that derailed the lives of many black people for non-violent drug possession. — ANGELA GARBES
Because I was so hoping Bernie would be in better shape, I have more questions than commentary today.
Like Jen, last night’s results are also making me feel a bit misanthropic. The election, at best, has been emotionally draining. I watched last night’s results roll in in the virtual company of friends – a camp that largely sided with Bernie. One point that was brought up a few times throughout the evening: If the election does end up Clinton v. Trump, will Trump’s mind-blowing racism, sexism, and all his other terrible -isms be enough for Democrats to win? This election is getting scary. Please, someone, alleviate my worries.
To me, the #BernieOrBust voters are concerning. I see where they are coming from, but the threat of President Trump is starting to feel much too real to me. How will Hillary sway them to her side? Can she sway them?
Ultimately, I will back Hillary when (because it’s when at this point, right?) she becomes the nominee. But how will we keep Hillary accountable for the promises she made as a result of the progressive platform Bernie got so many Americans to rally behind? — ANA SOFIA KNAUF
Do I think, as Kshama Sawant does, that Sanders should run for the presidency as an independent? No. There’s no chance he’d win that way. It would feel futile and disempowering for his supporters.
I do agree with Sawant, though, that Sanders needs to do something useful with the movement that he’s generated besides tell supporters to dutifully fall in line behind Clinton. He needs to say: Vote for her. Vote against Trump. But also: Go do this. I’m not sure yet what the this should be: We’ve already seen Sanders directing the political and financial muscle of his supporters to down-ballot movement progressive Democrats like Seattle’s own Pramila Jayapal. Perhaps more of that. But I know that one of the great disappointments with Obama was that he didn’t follow through, as Rolling Stone documented, on turning the grassroots momentum behind his candidacy into continued momentum for broad political and social change. That failure, in turn, crippled his and the Democrats’ ability to get progressive stuff done.
I feel the same way as Jen and Angela. I’ll add that I’m especially concerned about the millions of people in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere who will bear the brunt of Clinton’s Kissinger-inspired foreign policy. People are going to die. Cities will be bombed. Progressives in other countries will be undermined, as was the case in Honduras. Sanders, incidentally a Jew, was the firs major Democratic candidate to talk about the human rights of Palestinians as if they actually existed and mattered. I don’t see a non-interventionist/rights-based foreign policy listed in the progressive agenda Bernie said he’s going to fight for at the convention. That’s a shame. If we fail to knock Clinton off of her hegemonic and hawkish perch, the consequences for the rest of the world will not be good. — ANSEL HERZ
Ansel, good points. I was glad to see Sanders raising money for a few down-ballot candidates, but I hope to see him do a lot more. That will require more buy-in to the Democratic Party, though, and I'm not sure he's going to get there.
Dan, I named you because at some point near the end of the endorsement meeting (or another time we were in that windowless conference room) you raised some concerns about the damage Sanders could do to Clinton if he stayed in and continued criticizing her. But we agree. He should stay in.
To echo a few things said by others: I am worried about whether the young people who got engaged in this election because of Sanders will stay engaged. The poll Dan mentioned—showing that “young voters have become more attached to progressive politics and the Democratic party”—is encouraging, but I’m skeptical. I am not convinced that attachment will stick. My expectation that in a few months many of my peers will go back to their apathy (combined with the inevitability around Clinton) has made it hard for me to feel very invested in this presidential election.
Regardless of how long Sanders stays in, I want to see local Dems—our own state party included—figure out how to better engage the young voters who are identifying more with socialism than with the Democratic party itself or who have never voted in a state or local election. (Let’s start by fixing or killing the dumbass caucus process.) If the thousands of people I saw at Key Arena started organizing for an income tax initiative or better mental health care funding or taking back the state senate—well, you get my point.
As Jen and Angela pointed out, local and state politics matter for longterm progressive change. If young people tune out after this, how much have we really gained from all this talk about economic inequality? — HEIDI GROOVER