Hillarys new best friends, hopefully.
Hillary's new best friends, hopefully. a katz / Shutterstock.com

You've probably blocked them already, but despite all appearances, your friends who are still battling over Hillary vs. Bernie on Facebook might actually be doing something productive. They're unpleasant but beneficial, like the demodex mites that laid eggs in the follicles of your eyelashes last night and are eating dead skin cells off of your face at this very moment.

It might seem like with Trump the presumptive nominee, Democrats ought to be uniting the party to fight him, not splintering it with bitter debates. At this point, the Democratic nominee is pretty clearly going to be Hillary, so what's the point of arguing about it anymore? Shouldn't we be focused on supporting her?

But here's the problem with that: as much as everyone here on Slog haaaaaaaaates Trump, lots of people out there also haaaaaaaaate Hillary. Like white-hot-rage loathe her, and are dead-set against giving her their vote. And that's probably why her campaign is specifically instructing surrogates to go easy on Bernie.

A new survey from Reuters/Ipsos shows that about half of Trump's supporters are motivated chiefly by a desire to defeat Hillary. About half of Hillary's supporters say the same of Trump.

This is a far cry from the "fired up, ready to go" enthusiasm of 2008 and 2012, or the giddy optimism inspired by Bernie Sanders. How likely are those anti-Trump people to actually come out to vote for Hillary, or to volunteer at a phone bank, or to donate money? Ehhhh, probably not very.

Hillary probably can't win just by relying on voters who actually like her—there's also so much misogyny baked into the DNA of this country that there will probably never be enough of those kinds of voters to carry her to victory.

She also probably can't win by relying on voters who hate Trump—there are a lot of those people, sure, but a lot of them are Republicans more likely to sit in a dark room sobbing at the state of the party than lift a finger to help Hillary.

But she can probably (dear God, hopefully) win if she relies on those two groups PLUS the enthusiastic Bernie fans.

So how does she win them over? That's a great question, since so many of them hate her right now, and one that I'm looking forward to seeing the Democratic party answer rather than having to come up with the solution myself. For now, the party will just have to keep Bernie supporters engaged by reminding them of the good that they can do—which is not insubstantial! They can still nudge the party left and influence the platform and, who knows, maybe pressure Clinton to pick an awesome progressive vice president.

If Bernie was to bow out now, like a beloved character departing a TV show, his supporters would probably fly into even more of a rage, much of it directed at Clinton. No, what we need is for Bernie to keep cruising along, and then gradually pivot his people to accept that even though he may not win the presidency, a victory for Hillary and a loss for Trump are both pretty good concession prizes.

So that means that for now, you'll probably see lots more optimistic Bernie pieces, most of them probably written by H. A. Goodman, a Huffington Post blogger and fantasy novelist whose ongoing enthusiasm is veering into the realm of comedy: "Romanian Hacker 'Guccifer' Just Gave Bernie Sanders the Democratic Nomination," "Hillary Clinton Should Concede to Bernie Sanders Before The FBI Reveals Its Findings," "Bernie Sanders Is Almost Tied Nationally and Ahead of Clinton in Three Democratic Primary Polls," "Wisconsin Just Elected Bernie Sanders President," "Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren Have Defeated Hillary Clinton's Political Machine," and so on.

The benefit of an ongoing debate about Hillary vs. Bernie is pretty clear when you compare the GOP to Democrats: with party leadership miserably forced to support Donald Trump, Republicans have turned themselves into a punch-line party, a tiny car packed with crying clowns. Republican leaders either support the disgusting Donald Trump, or are a bunch of losers who backed jerks who couldn't beat a barely-sentient insult comic.

But Democrats at least have the pretense of a choice, and that'll hopefully keep more voters engaged through November. Yes, when you peel back the layers, the Democratic party is a byzantine system of cronyism and lies that nobody fully understands and for now benefits mostly the rich. But it's OUR byzantine system, and the only thing worse than keeping it in place would be squandering what good it can do—which would include, with Bernie's help, reforming itself and benefiting more than just the rich.