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Monday, June 13, 2016

Time to Accept Reality

I understand why people like Bernie Sanders.  I understand why people voted for Bernie Sanders.  And I understand why these people are feeling depressed right now, as it appears that Hillary Clinton has emerged victorious from the Democratic nominating process.  Many of these people are now suggesting that there is no way they will vote for Hillary in November.  Personally, I think this attitude is counterproductive to say the least, unless these people truly see no major threat from the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency.  But, still, I acknowledge that these people certainly have the right to vote for whomever they prefer, or for no one at all.  All of this I can accept.

What I can no longer stand is the caterwauling from this group that the system is "rigged" and that Hillary Clinton somehow "stole" the election.  I read posts like this on Facebook and, frankly, just want to scream. Enough already!

I note that these people are making two separate arguments, one of which is absolutely true: The system IS rigged.  The current primary system, particularly it seems on the Democratic side, is set up in such a way that it favors the candidate preferred by the party elite and, correspondingly, throws up obstacles in the path of any less-favored candidate.  This does not mean that an insurgent candidate CAN'T get the nomination--a little-known politician by the name of Barack something-or-other managed to beat out the establishment favorite in 2008. You might have heard of the person he beat, too: Her name was Hillary Clinton.  Still, however, the party favorites will always have an edge in any nominating contest.  It's debatable, though, whether this is truly a bad thing: After all, some would say that the people in charge of the Democratic Party have every right to select the person they want to represent them in a general election.  And one could, therefore, understand why these people might be reluctant to support Bernie Sanders who, as I was reminded recently, was not even a Democrat until five minutes before he decided to run for the nomination.

(At this point, I feel I must insert the obligatory statement of basic support for what Bernie is trying to accomplish.  Yes, he's a good guy.  Yes, he has some great policy positions.  Yes, it would be great to have someone in the White House with Berne's obvious concern for the downtrodden.  I'm not bashing Bernie, OK?  But he lost.  Onward.)

I'm beginning to feel that maybe we should do away with primaries altogether: Let the parties choose their standard-bearers however they want.  True, that would mean no Bernie Sanders (at least, no Bernie Sanders running as a Democrat), but it would also mean we wouldn't right now face the real possibility of a Trump presidency.  That's a tradeoff I'd accept.

The second argument, though, that Hillary stole the election, is flat-out wrong--unless you are defining "theft" as getting more votes than your opponent.  Hillary won millions more votes than Bernie (and I suspect her winning margin among registered Democrats was even larger than her overall margin).  She won more states than Bernie--particularly among states that hold primaries, which are inherently more small-d democratic than caucuses.  She won more convention delegates--both of the "super" and "mere mortal" category.  Die-hard Bernie fans would have you believe that none of this is true--that it is merely evidence of massive fraud and vote-suppression of North Korean magnitude. 

And this is where I get pissed off.  Because the implication of these charges is not only that the system is rigged, but also that it is fundamentally inconceivable that people could possibly prefer Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders.  That, in fact, there is something fundamentally "wrong" with people who prefer Clinton.  And maybe I'm wrong to take this personally, but I do.

There is nothing "wrong" with supporting Hillary.  Look, folks, if you think Bernie is qualified to be president, than you simply have to acknowledge that Hillary is too.  Again, I'm not saying preferable--I mean, I think she is, others will disagree, and that's why we have discussions and elections.  But a former first lady (serving as both formal and informal policy advisor), twice-elected senator, and secretary of state is as qualified to be president as anyone you're likely ever to see.  And if you think it absolutely impossible that a large group of your fellow Americans could look at that resume and see a qualified candidate, then you have a curious view of your fellow Americans.

So to Bernie fans, I say: By all means, keep supporting Bernie.  I would suggest the best way to do that, though. is to support the candidate most likely to help him achieve his policy goals (which ain't Trump, by the way).  That decision, ultimately, is up to you.  But you really need to accept the fact that more people simply preferred the other guy (or, in this case, gal).  And unless you want to find yourself and your movement permanently marginalized, you better start building--rather than burning--bridges.

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