Bernie or Bust?

bernie-hillaryThe “Bernie or Bust!” movement asks Sanders supporters to commit to vote for only Bernie in the general election. If he’s not on the ballot in November, busters say they won’t vote for President or will write in Bernie’s name even though this could lead to the election of “il Duce” Donald Trump or Torquemada Ted Cruz. I am not a buster, although I certainly understand the movement’s appeal.

By contrast, I condemned Ralph Nader in 2000 as soon as he indicated he was running as a third-party candidate and continue to revile the man for what he did to our nation.  But there are significant differences between this year’s election and Bush v. Gore. Most importantly, Al Gore was almost certainly a better Presidential candidate than Nader. He was also about as liberal a candidate as we could hope to elect at that point. He was more progressive than the Democratic President he served for eight years, refreshingly decent and honest, and an ardent environmentalist.

Hillary Clinton, by contrast, was the most conservative Democratic Presidential candidate in this election cycle. She is decidedly hawkish, has a well-deserved reputation for dishonesty, and is an economic neo-liberal. She is exactly what this country doesn’t need.

So, I get “Bernie or Bust” which claims up to 1/3 of Sanders supporters. My sense, though, is that most Democratic pundits and insiders don’t take them too seriously. After all, say the women and men making rounds on NPR, CNN, and MSNBC, Clinton’s PUMAs in 2008 ultimately didn’t amount to anything at all. Liberal radio host Randi Rhodes who supported Obama ardently in 2008 and never missed an opportunity to slam Hillary – sometimes profanely – may have nailed it when she said “you fall in love during the primaries and you fall in line before the general election.”

Of course, there are important distinctions between the 2008 edition of the Democratic primaries and the 2016 campaign. Eight years ago the top two candidates differed little on the most important issue in that election season. Both promised healthcare reform and their plans were so similar that newspapers had to take pains to identify salient differences.

I asked a disgruntled Clinton supporter in the summer of 2008 to identify policy differences between Clinton and Barack Obama. She couldn’t do it, although she sputtered that nobody could have reasonably thought Obama would be a better President than Clinton so the fact that he won proved his supporters were sexist. It didn’t take her long to endorse Obama.

By contrast, there are broad and obvious differences between Clinton and Sanders both on the issues and in the way they’re campaigning. To vote for Clinton, Sanders supporters will have to move quite a distance from the pro-peace, pro-worker, pro-environment, pro-economic justice candidate. So, I get “Bernie or Bust”.

I won’t join them.  If Clinton is the Democratic nominee, as expected, I plan to vote for her because the Republican alternative will likely to do much more harm to our nation. Still, “Bernie or Bust” has good reasons to reject Clinton. In order to prevent the national nightmare that a Trump or Cruz Presidency would induce, Clinton must therefore demonstrate that, if elected, she will not govern as the neo-con corporatist Bernie’s busters fear.

How can she do this? She should right now commit to a truly progressive agenda by naming the people she intends to appoint to be her top domestic and foreign policy advisers. Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, or Sherrod Brown are all good choices for the domestic job. If she doesn’t want to pluck a sitting Democratic Senator from Congress, Robert Reich might be a good choice, although his latest piece at Salon bizarrely questioned whether free trade is really as bad as its detractors claim. Perhaps a labor leader would be the ideal choice.

Clinton should promise to push hard for a $15 minimum wage, higher top marginal tax rates on the wealthy, not to sign off on any more free trade deals and to renegotiate or renounce the ones currently in effect.

Clinton should name as her putative top foreign policy adviser a national figure who has bucked the neo-con trend over the past 20 years. Not too many come to mind. Lincoln Chafee might be a good choice. I’d plump for a retired officer like Colonel Ann Wright who has been consistently correct on foreign policy over the past two decades.

There are other actions Clinton can take to demonstrate she has forsworn the DLC/Third Way Wall Street moderates.  Breaking decisively from allies Rahm Emanuel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz would be a good start as would cutting ties with David “Hitman” Brock’ and his “Correct the Record” SuperPac.

Sanders die-hards may ultimately support Clinton but she must woo them.  Her stated goal Monday of taking America’s relationship with Israel to the next level made the task much more difficult.  If Clinton continues to ignore the legitimate concerns of “Sanders or Bust!”, if she signals contempt for its adherents as she did at AIPAC, she risks losing a significant number of Sanders supporters in the general election. Should this happen and our nation devolves into fascism or theocracy, Clinton will bear a portion of the responsibility.

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9 Responses to Bernie or Bust?

  1. Shade says:

    Hillary isn’t going to move any further left and away from her corporate financial supporters than Bernie has already forced her. In fact, she’ll soon undoubtedly be running to the center & thus will disappoint if not outrage Bernie’s supporters.

    On top of this, once Hillary is the Democratic nominee, Trump (possibly Cruz) is going to pillory Hillary with emailgate and the Clinton Foundation pay-to-play money laundering scheme (that the Clintons use to financially reward their political cronies with high-paying jobs, etc.). Some if not all of this criticism is going to stick, especially if it is delivered with creditable FBI and other investigative leaks that happen because investigators feel their work failed to produce criminal charges for political reasons. If you take an honest look at the law and how Hillary handled confidential information alone (likely for nefarious reasons), she’s committed felonies. Some are now saying that FBI Director Comey is near resigning and going public because he feels he is being stonewalled by the DOJ and the Obama administration.

    Democrats are in denial about the weakness of Hillary as a candidate. Fortunately Republicans aren’t doing much better at selecting an appealing candidate. However, unless Hillary is indicted within the next few months (in time for Bernie or perhaps Biden to step in), I fear that the press and their 24/7 enamorment with the carnival act and its reality-TV star is going to result in a President Trump. Let’s pray that a President Trump would govern with more maturity and even temper than he displays on the campaign trail (though over time I have developed increasing doubts). God help us… and I’m not religious.

    • halginsberg says:

      I think an indictment is possible but improbable. I don’t discuss it much on my show because the odds are long in my view and the Democratic-controlled Justice Department is unlikely to charge the President’s preferred successor.

  2. I sincerely hope that Hillary does not move more to the center for the general election. She will need to harness the support and enthusiasm level of Bernie supporters, or run the risk of voters staying home on November 7. As recent midterm elections have shown, turnout and enthusiasm must be high for Democrats to win elections. If Hillary abandons the left, she will guarantee a lot of disappointed Bernie supporters, and thus a Republican win.

  3. Gabby says:

    Some of the people who will refuse to vote for Hillary, will do so not so much because they so fervently support Bernie, it’s more because they are Hillary Haters! Which by the way seem to be about 99.9% men! What’s up with that?! Is it really her stance on policies? Or is it more about being intimidated by a strong, powerful woman? ! Obviously she is flawed, but if she were a man in the same exact stance, would the harping still be as loud? ! Don’t think so!!!! If someone is willing to risk putting truz in the white house just because Hillary is a woman, then we haven’t progressed as far as we should have by freaking 2016!!!

  4. Pingback: The Morning Show March 28 – April 1 | Halitics

  5. Shade says:

    I might not complain so much about Hillary, except that in Bernie we have so much a better option.

    Also, though you discount it, I have serious fears that at some point Hillary will be indicted. She has done wrong with both her confidential email handling & with the pay-to-play Clinton Foundation & its subsequent funding disbursements. Worse, the emails Hillary tried to delete are likely going to point the FBI directly to her financial shenanigans.

    Hilary also has many political enemies and high negatives with the public, much more so than Bernie. Even those that don’t support Bernie seem to respect his honest approach & passion.

    I do have to agree somewhat though about certain men & their attacks against Hillary. I held my tongue before, but I suspect Hal wrote the his rant ( ) that excoriated Hillary for her support of fracking (& thus cheap fossil-fuel energy) while taking a flight across country to see a pro-ball training camp.

    What is especially irritating is that in the next breath, Hal will often promote an INSTANT $10+/gal gasoline tax with pro-rata rebates. This tax would be horribly unfair to some, and even Hal will occasionally admit this. Most notably affected would be those in the working class that live in rural areas trying to raise a family while both parents work several part-time jobs. Such unfairness seems to be an acceptable cost to Hal, and thus I call Hal a “Limousine Liberal”. Hal’s only stated solution to the problem I note is to strengthen the social safety net, but essentially this would force such hard-working families to move to the inner cities where without jobs they could survive on welfare & charity.

    BTW Hal, my primary disagreement with you on this issue (and what I feel is a major insensitivity on your part) is the damage caused by the INSTANT aspect of the tax you propose. If slowly phased in over 10 years or so (and/or upon major pullbacks in gasoline prices such as what recently occurred), then at least we would be giving hard-working families some chance to adjust and find solutions for themselves within our new greener economy.

  6. Clinton’s PUMAs had a choice between one of two neo-liberal, corporate tools in 2008. Bernie or busters are revolutionaries who refuse to leave their consciences home to go vote on Nov. 8th. Hillary is not just a bad choice, she’s completely unacceptable.

  7. Allen C Howell says:

    Arguably, Joe Biden cares even less about poor people than does Donald Trump. If you have the audacity, in your middle class suburban comfort, to vote for Joe Biden, then you deserve whatever revolutionary zeal ends up getting directed at you. Nich Hanauer had it right. The pitchforks are coming.

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