Ironically, a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows that 33% of Bernie Sanders supporters “Could not see themselves supporting Clinton.” These supported have been label, “Bernie or Bust” voters. Many Hillary Clinton supporters are understandably concerned about this number and almost since the primary began, they have been demanding that “Bernie or Bust” supporters fall in line and vote for Clinton in the general election when she becomes the nominee.
Well, here is the thing about that. Clinton may not become the nominee. In fairness, she is the safe bet since she has massive name recognition, tons of Wall Street and big corporate money, and almost the entire Democratic establishment behind her… not to mention the chair of the DNC and the media. She has also been leading in most polls and has currently won more delegates. However, those numbers are changing much faster than her campaign would like to admit. From day one, this primary has been about whether or not Sanders would be able to overtake her in time. After his surprise victory in Michigan, it is looking promising.
In any case, Sanders supporters are committed to helping Bernie Sanders become the nominee, helping him become President, and helping him to create a progressive revolution in that order. Sanders supports don’t appreciate being told that Clinton is the inevitable candidate that that they must fall in line with the authority. That type of rhetoric isn’t going to win Sanders supporters over to Clinton’s side.
Clinton loyalists seemed shocked that Sanders supporters won’t automatically hand over all their political leverage at the drop of a hat the way the Democratic Party normally hands over their political leverage to the Republicans. They even bring out the fact that Sanders and Clinton share the same voting record on 93% of their votes. But it isn’t about their votes and it isn’t about Democrats vs. Republicans. These aren’t gangs; they are political parties that stand for issues and the American people are tired of the establishment politics of both parties.
In America, we believe that no one should be entitled to rule; there are no kings or queens here. Along those same lines, no candidate is entitled to your vote. Candidates are expected to work hard and campaign hard to earn your vote. Clinton is no different. If… and it is an if, she manages to win the primary and become the Democratic Party nominee, then she will have a lot of work to do in order to earn the support of the growing 33% of Sanders supporters she has thus far alienated. Maybe she’ll do it or maybe she won’t… or maybe, just maybe she won’t have that option at all. Maybe, just maybe, Bernie Sanders will be the nominee.
Tactically, it makes sense for Sanders supporters to plant the “Bernie or Bust” flag. It makes Sanders a more electable candidate. Just do the math, if Clinton is the nominee, she will get all of her supporters and 66% of Sanders supporters. But if Sanders is the nominee, he will get all of his supporters and all of Clinton’s supporters. The very fact that 33% of Sanders supporters have pledged not to vote for Clinton makes Bernie Sanders a more electable candidate. How many of those supporters really mean it when faced with the possibility of a Trump Presidency? Who knows? The very fact that some of those 33% may not be bluffing makes Bernie Sanders a stronger general election contender than Hillary Clinton.
Also, a “Bernie or Bust” pledge forces Clinton to address the issues that Sanders supporters care about. It’s true that Clinton is talking about many of those issues now and in some ways saying the exact things that Sanders has said for almost his entire life. But just because her rhetoric has changed, doesn’t mean that her actual positions have changed. This was the point of Saturday Night Live’s recently parody of Clinton’s attempt to copy everything Sanders. Clinton has a long way to go if she is going to actually convince many Sanders supporters that she really means the things that she says.
It’s true that no rational human being wants Donald Trump to be the next President, but right now the best way to prevent that from happening is for Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic nomination. Aside from the obvious fact that there is no “Hillary or Bust” movement gaining any kind of traction, Sanders brings with him all of his supporters, all or nearly all of Clinton’s supporters, and large numbers of Independents, young people, and even some conservatives and Libertarians. Who does Hillary Clinton bring to the table? Sure, her Wall Street backers might consider supporting Trump over Sanders, but that isn’t much of a loss.
The fact is that almost every major poll shows that Bernie Sanders does better against Donald Trump and any other potential Republican candidate in a one-to-one match-up than Hillary Clinton does. Sure, those numbers can’t be accurate this far out from November, but they make sense given the passion of Sanders supporters and his strong support among Independents and young voters.
Bernie Sanders has a history of integrity that even the Republicans understand. They can label him a “Socialist,” but since they have already cried “Socialist” on pretty much every other Democratic candidate for President for the last two decades, no one believes that wolf any more. Sanders has already addressed that issue and will continue to do so. It’s an attack that has little to no traction. In fact, none of the attacks that the Clinton campaign have used thus far have had any real traction on Sanders. Sanders addresses whatever the claim has been and then moves on to talking about the issues he feels passionate about. This has worked for him against Clinton and will work for him against Trump as well.
On the flip side, Clinton has more scandals than Trump supporters can count and she tends to ignore them until they grow out of control. Plus, we haven’t seen the end of her “damn e-mails.” She was asked at the Florida Town Hall if she would suspend her campaign if she got indicted over her private e-mail server. She again shrugged it off instead of addressing it but you can bet in one of Donald Trump’s casinos, that the Republicans are not going to let that it go if she becomes the nominee. That server along with Benghazi and every other scandal under the sun will dominate the news to Election Day. Nobody likes her, she has a million scandals and potential scandals, and Bernie Sanders has the best chance of defeating Donald Trump. The Bernie or Bust movement seals that deal.
Whether you agree with it or not, that pledge has made Bernie Sanders the more electable candidate. Instead of arguing with Sanders supporters about their Bernie or Bust pledge, that time would be put to better use fighting to insure that Sanders becomes the Democratic nominee. Whether one supports Clinton or not, the fact is that she can’t stand up to Trump’s anti-establishment appeal the way Bernie Sanders can because if there is one thing that Trump and Sanders have in common politically, it is that they both recognize that our system is broken and that our politicians are bought. People are tired of our bought system and that is why they are Bernie or Bust.
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- How Sanders Supporters Can Help Build a Progressive Revolution (HuffPo)
- Why People Don’t Trust Clinton (HuffPo)
- Why Secularists Should Support Sanders Over Clinton (HuffPo)
- Hillary Clinton Is Standing in The Way of Progress (HuffPo)
- At Least Two Presidential Candidates Are Atheists (skepticink.com)
- What You Need To Know About Sanders Supporters (skepticink.com)
- Presidential Election 2016: I’m Calling It (skepticink.com)