Bernie Sanders effectively conceded last night.
I congratulate Secretary Clinton on her victories tonight, and I look forward to issue-oriented campaigns in the 14 contests to come [...]
The people in every state in this country should have the right to determine who they want as president and what the agenda of the Democratic Party should be. That’s why we are in this race until the last vote is cast. That is why this campaign is going 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.
Sanders remains in it to amass delegates to influence the party platform. Heck, he may even make the usually worthless piece of paper mean something. Remember, no candidate is beholden to that platform, but if there really is juice behind the Sanders movement, it can help hold Democrats accountable to it.
Fact is, the party ails, and we need all the reinforcements we can to force change. That’s why party affiliation matters. If you want to ditch the (D) label to become an independent, reconsider. If you are a left-leaning independent, consider switching to (D). You want to influence the party and move it to where we all want it to go, you do it from the inside. Become or remain an independent, and you no longer have a say in the direction the party is going. Why would you surrender that chance? You prove nothing by being independent, other than that you don’t want to fight for your party. Of course you want to fight for it, your involvement in the Sanders campaign proved it! So if you really are part of a long-term movement, then do what real movements do, and fight to win!
You quit the party, and you make it a little easier for the assholes in the Democratic Party to remain in control. They want you to quit. Please don’t.
Now I understand the pain so many of you are feeling. I’ve been on the losing end of more campaigns than I care to remember. I’ve poured my heart and soul into so many losing battles, on behalf of so many candidates I admired and respected and fervently wished to get elected, that I know exactly how Sanders’ supporters are feeling right now. It’s a sickening, dark place, one that I don’t wish on anyone who isn’t a Republican.
If you are a Clinton supporter, have some damn compassion, will you? You haven’t won yet. The primary? Who gives a shit! Donald Trump will win his too, and has he won shit yet? The real winner will get crowned in November. That’s the victory that matters. Beating another Democrat shouldn’t bring you any joy unless that Democrat is Joe Lieberman.
So why would you piss on people we need for November, not just for the White House but all those downballot races as well. How well do you think Clinton will do with a Republican Congress? We need everyone we can get. So maybe it’s time for some olive branches?
Also, be impressed. It’s not every day we get to see the creation of a whole new class of people excited about politics. Hillary certainly didn’t manage that. So it behooves you to harness as much of that energy as possible. Of course, Sanders people won’t be as excited about Clinton as you are, but who cares? There are more Democrats on the ballot than Clinton, and some of them are pretty awesome. Help them get excited about fixing our party.
If you are a Sanders supporter, you haven’t lost yet. I don’t mean the presidential contest, that was always an uphill fight. Yet you guys fought despite an indifferent media, despite a hostile establishment, and despite people like me harping on the “math”, and you proved lots of people wrong along the way (including me). I’m not embarrassed or angry or annoyed. I’m excited and in awe of what you were able to accomplish, and I fervently hope that 1) you stay engaged inside the Democratic Party, because that’s how we improve it, and 2) that you maintain that energy for the November elections (and looking ahead at what will be a brutally tough 2018 cycle). See? That’s how much I don’t hate Sanders, despite some suggestions to the contrary. I want his influence to continue inside my Democratic Party, where it can make a difference.
I don’t care if you are excited about Clinton or not, she’ll be fine. I care that you get excited about Democrats down the ballot, about giving Clinton a Congress that will push her to the left even when she might not want to. Clinton doesn’t get to pass a $15 minimum wage. Congress does. You want strong climate change legislation? We don’t have a dictatorship. Congress has to pass it.
But don’t make the mistake, either, of thinking that Clinton is the evil harpy of so many caricatures. She’ll do good things, she’ll do great things, and she’ll do shitty things. Our job will be to apply the same kind of pressure we’ve applied all these years of the Obama presidency. And no matter what she might do with the executive branch, all of that will pale to that single Supreme Court pick Republicans are hell-bent on giving her.
For all the mistakes that President Bill Clinton made during his tenure, his Supreme Court picks weren’t any of them—Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. If anything, expect even better. The next pick will flip the court and the race will be on to relitigate all the shit the conservative court did to rig the electoral system in the GOP’s favor—from reversing Citizens United to stomping congressional gerrymandering to removing barriers to voting. This is not a country that easily enables political revolutions, but flipping the court will be a seismic shift in our nation’s course. And odds are, Clinton will get to make more than one pick for the High Court before her eight years are up.
So this matters. All of it matters. Work the inside game, help cleanse the party of the assholes. Help good Democrats get elected. Let’s work for better legislation and better presidenting. And when 2024 rolls around, we’ll have an open slate primary, with an electoral system better suited for real democracy (thanks to the new Supreme Court), and a party more receptive to its grassroots.
Yeah, 2024 is a long way away. But 2016 was a long way away from 2008, when Obama was first elected, and we did little to build our bench. Heck, we went backwards thanks to 2010 and 2014. So time will inextricably move forward, and 2024 will eventually get here, and it’ll be the single best opportunity we have to elect a Bernie-style liberal. But building that starts now. Let’s develop a bench of lots of Bernie-style Dems!
So if you really are part of a movement, then congratulations! The odds are always against getting off the ground, but you accomplished that. The next step is to grow that movement. Make it happen.