Hillary and Bernie After the Concrete Jungle

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Clinton Sanders
Not so fast. Not yet.

Setting aside the Orwellian nightmare known as the New York City Board of Elections, Team Hillary won the New York presidential primary yesterday. The fact is, there are implications to this event, and facts have the unmistakable characteristic of being, well, factual. Yet, at the same time, there are limits to these implications, and I want to address them in this post first. We know that Team Hillary and its supporters and surrogates are trying to stretch those implications as far as the eye can see, but really they ought to be cautious, for elastic can snap. While Clinton’s 16-point win makes for a resounding, formidable statement, the implications of that win do not justify Sanders quitting the race.

Everyone should read this very carefully. I write this as a New York City voter on board with Team Hillary. I am under no illusions as to her deficits as a candidate, campaigner and public figure. I still voted for her, and for a complex array of reasons, and I am absolutely comfortable with my choice.

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Limits: the fact that my candidate won the New York presidential primary yesterday does not give either Clinton’s campaign or her supporters and surrogates any license to demand the unconditional surrender of the Team Sanders campaign. To put this another way, I have no problem with Sanders remaining in the race until someone officially clinches the Democratic nomination. If Clinton does, in fact, officially clinch the Democratic nomination over the next few weeks, and if Sanders still wants to campaign even at that point, more power to him. He earned it. With one caveat: he earned it, provided his main goal is to campaign on his message, on the substance of his bold, extraordinary campaign, and not to pulverize, destroy and assassinate the Democratic nominee, including at the Democratic National Convention.

Why deploy such strong, provocative, frightening words? Because I continue to have a problem with those on Team Bernie who have refused all along to state — without disclaimer, without “but,” without cavil — that they will support the Democratic nominee, whoever that is. Their refusal to offer that kind of straightforward statement is, for me, a red signal and a red line. As a voter, as an American and as a supporter of Barack Obama, I have staggered and seethed through eight years of utterly sick, psychotic, strangulated national politics, one that fetishizes extremism, fanaticism and absolutism, and thus I will not countenance my brothers and sisters of the left emulating the Republican approach to governing.

I’m on social media a lot. I’ve lost 10 or 12 “friends” on Facebook in the last few weeks because, after declaring myself for Team Hillary, I further pledged that I would vote for Team Bernie should he win the nomination, and asked all of those on Team Bernie to reciprocate in kind. In my pledge I offered no disclaimers, no “but,” no cavil. Many of those on Team Bernie have refused to do so. And still do.

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Limits: It will be tantamount to treason if Clinton clinches the nomination and Team Bernie stays home on Election Day and the result is President Cruz or, God forbid, President Trump. Should Team Bernie inflict such a political, economic and social suicide bomb on our beleaguered nation, we ought to have no compunction but to hang the blame around their necks, fair and square. We must also do everything we can to prevent that political, economic and social suicide bomb from being strapped on in the first place. I acknowledge that the faithful supporters of President Nader find my statement above to be just as extremist. Guilty. But I want to galvanize the conversation. Please communicate to President Nader and his supporters how sincerely sorry I am for this.

Some big questions loom out there following yesterday’s primary. If Clinton clinches the nomination, it will be her job — not Sanders’ job — to beseech Team Bernie to her cause. To say that it won’t be easy is beyond a cliche, it’s a not-funny punch-line. It’s the political equivalent of laughing at Jonas Salk in his polio-vaccine laboratory or, worse, dropping your pants at NASA headquarters in 1961 and yelling “I’ll show you a Moon!” He who laughs last…

And if Clinton is the nominee, what will Sanders’ job be? It will be not only his job, but his opportunity to endorse Clinton. Well, after he extracts some concessions from her campaign and for the Democratic platform. Note the language: in English, the word “some” is distinct from “all.” Surely the whole of the spectrum of the left can agree on this linguistic point? For if we cannot, what separates the left from the radical Republican right?

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Only a feckless and triangulating Clintonian might envision 100%, 95% or 90% of Team Bernie voting Team Hillary. Still, it’s Clinton’s job to spike that ball as high as it can go. And it is Sanders’ job not to fecklessly nuke the Democratic Party — the same Democratic Party he is running to represent — so that Clinton bleeds out, too mortally wounded to win.

In life, sometimes those of us who don’t get everything we want, when we want it, wind up getting more of what we want in the long-run. If we’re smart, that is. How I pray that we’re as smart as we look.