I’ve been a fierce supporter and defender of Sen. Bernie Sanders since before he was packing arenas, before he even had yard signs (let alone 22 in my neighborhood alone), and certainly before he broke fundraising records without help from special interest groups. I knew who I was backing this election season from the moment a post came across my dashboard on Tumblr that linked to a story about a self-described Socialist, Independent Senator from Vermont registering to run for the Democratic Presidential nomination. And to my surprise, he didn’t let me down. His campaign fundraising that bucked the Democratic trend of saying “we’d like campaign finance reform, but we have to have Super-PACs to beat the Republicans, because you know they’re doing it” was very literally putting his money where his mouth was, a rare thing to see from politicians. And his ability to spotlight the economic inequality that has this country’s citizens in a stranglehold was and is unparalleled. To cut it short, Sen. Sanders was a politician I could believe, which is saying a lot from an extreme leftist anarcho-communist. And for the most part I still do believe in him. I still believe that he has important work left to do, and that the passionate following he has raised can be energized toward making some major political change. I believe in his future. But right now, in the present, I can no longer say that I believe what he’s doing is right.
I may have been a rare Sanders supporter in that I saw the writing on the wall when we lost in the Northeast by huge numbers. The writing said “it’s over.” That was in mid to late April. I did the math. I crunched the numbers in excel because that’s the kind of nerd I am, and I saw that it would take a ridiculous turnaround for Sanders to go into the Convention leading Sec. Clinton in pledged delegates, much less hitting that magic number. But I didn’t have a problem with him continuing his campaign. Some of the rationale was shaky, but some was legitimate, like having the later-voting states get to have a say in thing and making sure that the process was democratic until the end. And even if he didn’t have solid reasons, I had no problem with him trekking on. Like a football team losing by two touchdowns with 20 seconds to go, there’s always a chance for a couple hail mary’s with some luck tossed in in-between.
What did rub me the wrong was is, while he did seem to tone it down a bit, he kept right on with the attacks on Sec. Clinton. I’m not a fan of Sec. Clinton. I don’t like her policies for the most part, and while I believe she takes the brunt of this word for an entire government that’s full of it, I do believe she’s corrupt. But I never liked that Sen. Sanders started launching personal attacks on her. This is partially because I don’t like to see that kind of politicking, and partly because one of the things I believed when Sen. Sanders said it was that he wouldn’t run a negative campaign; that he never had and never would. Well guess what Sen. Sanders? You’re running one. You’ve been running one since a few weeks before New York and possibly even longer than that, and you’re still running one to this day, despite having absolutely no chance of winning the nomination. It doesn’t sit well with me that he continues to attack Sec. Clinton’s character when she’s the nominee that we need as many people to get behind as possible if we’re going to defeat Trump. This is not a game, and it’s not something that should be taken lightly. And his attacks against Sec. Clinton and the DNC (regardless of if any are true or justified) only serve to polarize the Democratic base. That’s an idea that a few weeks ago I thought was ridiculous, but then something monumental shifted when I saw that Sec. Clinton (who had been polling above Trump by about 8%, was now even, losing, or barely winning in most polls). So not only does Sen. Sanders’ outbursts about the “process being rigged” and “Clinton and the DNC scheming against him” seem like the desperate cries of a child who’s clearly not going to win monopoly even though they agreed to all the rules in the beginning, it is also potentially damaging Sec. Clinton’s chances against Trump. And with Trump, even just the slight potential is a good enough reason to change.
Furthermore, on a matter of principal, the Sanders campaign has been saying all along that Superdelegates are fundamentally undemocratic, and that the only thing that should matter is the popular vote. Well guess what? We lost the popular vote. There just simply aren’t enough people feeling the Bern for him to get the nomination. He would have to win something like 73% of the vote in all remaining states to take a slim pledged delegate lead into the Convention. Why is that? Because up until now, he simply has not gotten as many votes as Clinton. His campaign can try to muddy the water by saying it wasn’t fair that some States had Primaries closed to Independent voters, or that there was voter fraud in areas to support Clinton, or whatever their claims may be, but at the end of the day, this primary process has played out according to rules that were set up and available for everybody to look at long before Sen. Sanders declared his candidacy.
Does he have some valid points about how democratic the primaries really are? Absolutely. And do you know what he should do with those points? Take them to the rules committee or whatever they have and try to get them implemented. Do you know what he should not do about those points? Bitch and moan about how he got shafted because he’s an outsider and everyone was out to get him. Especially because it’s that very process, a part of which a large piece of his platform rested, that he’s now trying to milk an undemocratic victory out of. Sen. Sanders’ strategic turn to trying to flip Superdelegates from supporting Sec. Clinton to supporting him is politics as usual, as are his many justifications for the change in strategy. The people that support him deserve more than that, better than that. Nobody supported Sen. Sanders because he was politics as usual. Nobody supported him thinking “I like him because he’ll probably flip flop on all the things he’s telling us are important.” No. We, or at least I, supported him because he broke down political norms in a good way, because he was principled, and because he stood for something we believed in.
Now, it’s hard for me to see Sen. Sanders lose, because I wanted so badly for there finally to be a presidential candidate whose policies I believed in. So I can imagine that if it’s hard for me, and if it’s hard for so many of his supporters, then it must be unimaginably hard for him. But for most of this primary season, he ran a campaign that founded itself on democracy, and right now, democracy says the majority of the Democratic party does not want Sen. Bernie Sanders to be the presidential nominee. And ultimately, that’s why I’m tired of this circus his campaign has turned the last few weeks of the primaries into, because if you say the candidate with the most votes should be the nominee, that can’t just be true when it applies to you, it also has to be true for everyone. So again, do I have faith that Sen. Sanders will continue doing incredible work both in and out of the Senate? I absolutely do. But right now, it’s time for him to see the writing on the wall; the writing that’s been there for over a month now, and realize that this is not an election he is going to win, and it’s not because of fraud, corruption, cheating, or anything else, it’s because the people chose, and they didn’t choose him.