[The odds are long for Bernie these days. Should he keep his campaign going, or drop out and unify the party? The CFR’s Tom Berger looks at both angles, and you can read the first post in the series here.]
If Bernie Sanders got out now and made way for Hillary Clinton, would it ensure a Democratic victory?
While a cautiously optimistic Bernie Sanders supporter, I’m also perfectly comfortable with Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee, and hopefully our country’s next president. Like most Democrats, there are things I find appealing about both candidates, and things to be wary of. Many of Senator Sanders’ plans seem borderline unrealistic and hard to imagine being forced down the pipeline of the House and the Senate. Secretary Clinton has that much-talked-about but rarely-witnessed “likability” problem, which I think is overblown. I guarantee that if Secretary Clinton were male, we’d be having that conversation much less often, which leads to all sorts of issues with which we need to deal.
The key elements that Democrats have to consider now are if their candidate is a) capable, b) intelligent, c) able to compromise, and d) electable against any of the probable Republican candidates. I would argue that both Democratic candidates fit these criteria, but there is some room for debate on the fourth point.
Bernie Sanders has a likable quality with younger voters that you would never expect given his age and adorable-yet-curmudgeony demeanor. From a personality perspective, he is almost the polar opposite of President Obama, the country’s last “cult of personality” candidate. But his sincerity, his kindness, and his compassion for those most in need of need speak to a much wider base than previously thought, which almost makes one optimistic about the new generation (provided they show up). Secretary Clinton’s pragmatism, experience, and sincere desire to serve provide her with an equally powerful argument for her suitability. Though some are wringing their hands about party divisiveness, I think the Democrats have an embarrassment of riches compared to the narcissistic circus act that is the GOP primary race.
[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The Democrats can quietly and maturely unite.[/pullquote]
But it might be time to tread carefully. As mentioned, many liberals are concerned as to whether the millennials that Senator Sanders has invigorated will show up on Election Day. The evidence in primaries has not been particularly convincing. While Secretary Clinton certainly has her challenges as a candidate in the general election, it might behoove all people whose primary focus is to avoid a Trump in the White House as anything but a tourist to back her now. While the focus is still on the Republican’s unintentionally hilarious mise en scene, the Democrats can quietly and maturely unite behind the likely nominee in a way that both bolsters her ability to run in the general, and shows the country which party is mature and responsible enough to come together despite their internal differences.
Senator Sanders has said that he’s not planning on dropping out until the delegate count makes his nomination impossible. Now might be the time to take the base he’s built and put it where it will be most effective: ensuring a Democrat in the White House in 2017.