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Wednesday
Jun082016

Enough is Enough

Income disparity, mass incarceration, climate change, stagnant wages, an inefficient and costly healthcare system that bankrupts people, electoral and political systems that obey the wishes of the wealthy and not the ordinary citizen are all real. They are the reason I supported and voted for Bernie Sanders, right through yesterday’s California primary. I voted for Bernie even when it was clear that he wasn’t going to get the Democratic nomination, my hope being that he could use all his support to pressure both Hillary and the Democratic Platform Committee to include many of his positions in theirs. That is still my hope. I don’t want Hillary to be done with Bernie and his supporters and move toward the center, although who knows what influence campaign positions have on presidential decisions, once an election is over? On the other hand, a powerful progressive constituency can continue to pressure the president and congress even after the election. After all, if Hillary wins, she will have to run again and who supports her then will depend on her record as president, not her promises.

For all practical purposes the primary season has ended. There is still Washington, DC to go, but after that, Bernie must make a decision. Like him, I want to see the Democratic platform embrace progressive positions and I think he has some leverage, because of his followers, to make this happen. But even more than that, he needs to do all he can to make sure that Hillary, not Donald Trump wins the election.

Many Bernie supporters are staunch opponents of Hillary Clinton. A sizeable portion of them has virtually demonized her during the campaign, with comparisons to Hitler, with names such as Shillary, Hitlary, etc. Numerous Sanders supporters have claimed that there is no difference between Clinton and Trump. Hillary is seen as a hawkish pawn of the oligarchy that runs the country from Wall Street.

Hillary has a hawkish foreign policy record, what with her decisions on Iraq and Libya and her support of a no-fly zone in Syria. She is supported by big business interests and of course there are those speeches to Goldman Sachs. But Hillary has been a liberal for decades, supporting the rights of juveniles being prosecuted as criminals, children’s healthcare programs and overall healthcare reform, women’s rights and income equality, not to mention virtually all of the social safety net programs in the U.S. She’s for raising the minimum wage and reforming the student loan system. In her years as a Senator she worked across the aisle and as Secretary of State, she showed that she could work within a governmental team to arrive at consensus decisions. And, what every realistic Bernie supporters always knew, her proposals on minimum wage, college tuition, and healthcare are much more likely to be implemented by a mixed congress than were Bernie’s.

And Hillary is no Donald Trump.

Regardless of his feelings about Hillary, Bernie must realize (and his speech last night showed that he does) that an election of Donald Trump to the presidency is something to be feared.

What Trump would do as a president is an unknown. His positions have vacillated as he routinely has said the first thing that popped into his head, then backtracked in the face of a public backlash. But he has been consistent on some things: He has drummed up fear and antipathy toward Mexican and South American immigrants. He has stoked the passions of hatred and bigotry toward Muslims. He has opposed increasing the minimum wage and he favors lowering taxes on the rich. He has voiced an incoherent foreign policy that includes supporting Japan and South Korea obtaining nuclear weapons and the use of tactical nuclear weapons during war.  He has supported using the same tactics as our most vicious enemies, such as torture, killing of enemies’ families, etc. He has no compunctions against using rhetoric he feels will solidify his support by uniting his followers in hatred of those different from themselves. He stands for a kind of strident nationalism that runs counter to international cooperation and has led to xenophobic persecution of immigrants and minorities. He claims to not believe in climate change and wants to dismantle the EPA, pull out of the Paris agreements, and strengthen our country’s reliance on fossil fuels. He wants to repeal Obamacare. He wants to cancel the Iran nuclear deal.

We should all be afraid of Donald Trump as a potential President of the United States. With a Republican congress behind him, he can initiate sweeping changes in this country, which will remove programs that prevent environmental damage, that serve as safety nets for our poorest and weakest citizens and that prevent nuclear proliferation, while causing international trade wars. A future with Trump as president does not resemble in any way a future with Clinton as president.

Too many of our citizens, in my opinion, informed by dubious “news” and opinion sites on the internet, have convinced themselves that, if Bernie Sanders cannot be a presidential candidate, then all the other choices are the same. “Neo-liberalism” is now a dirty word among many progressives. But the America that liberalism has created is a far cry from the America neo-conservatives want to bring into being. Too many people take for granted institutional protections and programs that are part of everyday American life, but with a president such as Donald Trump and a conservative Republican congress behind him, can disappear in a heartbeat.

A more extreme group of Sanders supporters have voiced the opinion that, if Bernie is not elected, then it will be beneficial to have a demagogue such as Trump become president because that will hasten the much needed revolution that is overdue in America. Even Bernie himself has called for a revolution. But what Bernie means is a massive popular movement that puts pressure upon our politicians and government officials to bring about changes. His revolution pits the political influence of vocal, voting, progressives against the political influence of the corporate and wealthy oligarchs who now control our policies. Such a revolution may use the streets as well as the ballot box, but it is ultimately a political force. Those who favor shutting down the government when it doesn’t work for them, confronting police and the military with violence, and tearing down our society so that it can be rebuilt, are ignoring the examples of chaos, horror and devastation such revolutions have caused and are still causing worldwide.

Bernie has lost, but his ideas can still become part of the Democratic Party platform and part of Hillary Clinton’s policies as president. In order for this to happen, Clinton has to win. The alternative, with Donald Trump as president, will be a disaster. Millions of immigrants will suffer, millions of Muslims will suffer, millions of poor Americans and African Americans will suffer. Our own and the world’s environment will suffer. It’s time for Bernie and his followers to say “enough” and join the fight to put a liberal Democrat in the White House and stop the conservative wave that threatens to make America a country none of us wants to live in.

Reader Comments (2)

Casey, first let me say that I agree with you completely. Let me add a couple of thoughts. First, I hope that all of us have gotten over the tendency to dismiss Trump as a crackpot celebrity. He could win it all. If he is able to turn Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin from blue to red states, he will likely be president. Obama carried those states, a total of 64 electoral votes, in 2012. If Romney had carried them, he would be president today. Those "rust belt" states are where Trump's message seems to resonate. We need to take the threat seriously. Second, the polls going into Tuesday's primary had Bernie and Hillary in a statistical dead heat, and yet she trounced him, at last report winning more than sixty percent of the vote. What happened? How did the polls get it so wrong? One explanation is that on the eve of the election, AP and NBC both projected that Hillary had achieved the number of delegates necessary to be the presumptive nominee. Did this impact the vote? Did people decide on that basis that a vote for Bernie would be wasted? Did Bernie supporters decide it was a lost cause and stay home? I hope there is another rational explanation, because it is wrong for news organizations to impact an election in the eleventh hour. They should be required to wait until the vote is in and the delegate count is a fact -- not a projection.

June 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChuck Spooner

I have been a Clinton supporter from the first. I admired Senator Sanders and faithfully listened to him at Brunch with Bernie on the Thom Hartman show on Progressive Radio. Needless to say, I agreed with his positions. However, rarely has a candidate succeeded in winning the presidency by positioning him/(and now thanks the goddess)herself as anything but a centrist. To push Clinton to embrace Sanders' agenda in this election will be to make her unelectable. We'll end up with Trump. Some Sanders supporters think that's worth the risk because they want to "disrupt the system," regardless of the damage Trump will do to the most vulnerable citizens. The damage inflicted by Reagan, that grandfatherly fraud, is still being felt. Clinton is far more liberal than she's let on, wisely, in my informed opinion, because she's already fighting an uphill battle against sexism, deeply engrained in American culture. Let's face it--despite the outrage, a young man who rapes an unconscious woman gets six months in jail--so let's not argue about how far we've come on the issue of women's rights. I could go on about her commitment to issues that seem to resonate with some of us more than others--children's rights, globally; women's rights, globally; equal pay and equal opportunities. I do think that Sanders, if he wants not to do damage to the country, has to back off and support the person who won the votes of the people and has the greatest number of delegates for the party to which she's belonged. If not, then I'll regard him, as I'm afraid he's becoming, very much of a figure like Louis XV: "apr├Ęs moi le deluge."

June 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAnca Vlasopolos

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