I’m Telling You for the Last Time - An Open Letter to Hillary Supporters

I am officially putting the 2016 general election and primary behind me………. After this final post!

Before I say what I am about to say I need to establish some qualifiers. I voted for Bernie Sanders in the New York Democratic primary, because he was the candidate whose positions most closely aligned with my own. I voted for Hillary Clinton in the general election for the same reason. I also vocally supported Hillary in my own personal sphere of influence and did whatever I could to help her get elected. I have evidence:

I also ridiculed and argued with Bernie Sanders voters who vowed not to vote for Hillary Clinton. Again evidence:

I need to establish these qualifiers, because I am about to be critical of Hillary Clinton and there is a subset of Hillary Clinton supporters whose first reaction to any critique of Hillary Clinton is that “you are responsible for Donald Trump.”

So now that I have established my qualifiers and we can all agree that I come from a position that bears no responsibility for the election of Donald Trump, let me get to the point of this piece. The idea that Bernie Sanders shares any part of the blame for Hillary Clinton’s general election defeat is so obtuse that it is difficult to respond to without being brash; however, I will do my best.

Here I address the main complaints about Bernie one by one:

Bernie primary voters who voted for Trump are responsible for Hillary’s loss

Let’s examine this most common reason for blaming Bernie and his supporters first. While it is true that 12% of the people who voted for Bernie in the primary voted for Donald Trump, it is important to look at that 12% in context of recent elections. Is that 12% greater than the normal amount of cross over votes in a typical election? The answer, if we look at recent elections, is no that 12% is not greater than the amount of crossover votes in a typical primary election. Additionally, hardened Hillary supporters should be very cautious about making this argument, because in 2008 25% of Hillary Clinton primary voters crossed over and voted for John McCain over Barack Obama. So, in the context of recent elections Bernie Sanders voters were MORE supportive of their Democrat Party nominee than 2008 Hillary Clinton primary voters were of theirs.

Again, It is a fact that Bernie Sanders voters were more supportive of Hillary Clinton in 2016 than Hillary Clinton supporters were of Barack Obama in 2008. After reviewing the data, no fair minded person would blame Bernie Sanders voters for Donald Trump.

Bernie Sanders was really mean during the primaries and that had lasting damage

This claim is impossible to quantify, but there are some important points to be made about what the primary process is and what it should be. The primary is an election, but it is also a vetting process. The party needs to send their candidates through this rigorous vetting process to ensure that the candidate they eventually nominate will be electable and can withstand the vicious attacks they will undoubtedly receive from the opposing party during the general election.

It is clear that James Comey’s decision to reopen his investigation into Hillary’s emails days before election day negatively affected her chances. However, the other important point that needs to be made is that no candidate in the Democrat party campaigned on the idea that the email investigation, regardless of whether or not it was justified, damaged Hillary Clinton's electability.

I would argue that Bernie Sanders refusal to talk about Hillary Clinton’s emails, while commendable, led to this liability in her electability not being properly vetted in the primaries. It was ignored in the primaries and then exploded into a disaster during the general election. It doesn’t matter that the email investigation was a baseless politically manufactured witch hunt by the Republican party. What matters is the real world effect it had on Hillary’s electability.  

The primary is supposed to be a contested and arduous process. It is not a show or warm up for a handpicked establishment candidate. A competitive primary is normal and customary. Against the backdrop of the 2008 democratic primary, when Hillary Clinton leaked out photos of her rival, Barack Obama, dressed in Muslim garb in order to appeal to the racist underbelly of American politics, the tone of the 2016 primary was very friendly and cordial.

Bernie Sanders primary did not deviate from the norm of primary politics and was in fact more amiable than primaries in recent history.

Bernie Sanders did not campaign hard enough for Hillary Clinton

This again is impossible to quantify what kind of effect this would have had. In general, it is a subjective point. What does it even mean to “campaign hard enough”? We’ve already established that he did enough to get more of his supporters to vote for Hillary than Hillary did to get her supporters to vote for Obama. Furthermore, when we are discussing the question of who didn’t “campaign hard enough”, you should be asking, why did Hillary Clinton not set foot in Wisconsin and ignore Michigan and Pennsylvania?

The fact of the matter is the intensity of Bernie’s campaigning for Hillary was successful in that it led to more of his supporters voting for Hillary than what is customary in our recent election history.  

There are some Hillary supporters who believe that Donald Trump was such a unique threat that NO Bernie voters should have voted for him and that John McCain did not represent such a threat in 2008. Here’s one:
First, not all Bernie Sanders voters were Democrats. Bernie out performed polls in crossover states where Republicans were allowed to vote in the Democratic primary. You can't expect the Bernie voters who are registered as Republicans to automatically vote for Hillary Clinton in the general just because they voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary.

Secondly, I would like to remind my Democrat friends who voted for McCain that:
  • John McCain voted for Donald Trump.
  • John McCain votes 84% in line with Donald Trump’s policies
  • John McCain made Sarah Palin his running mate.
  • You voted for Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin IS Donald Trump.
(Also I didn't vote for Trump. Hence the qualifiers above)

Bernie Sanders stayed in the campaign too long

This is another silly, subjective and non-quantifiable complaint. First, let’s look at the historical context. Bernie conceded and endorsed Hillary Clinton on July 12th, 2016. Hillary Clinton Conceded to Obama June 7th, 2008 which by the way was a month after she was eliminated from competition. She too carried on her campaign even in defeat. Not only did she do that, but her reasoning for staying in was that Robert Kennedy was murdered before his nomination, so it was a good idea for her to stay in the race just in case Obama was murdered too. Nice. It is customary for candidates to stay in campaigns even after their chances of winning are virtually zero.

Secondly, Bernie Sanders stayed in the primary longer, because he wanted a voice on the democratic policy platform committee that Hillary was refusing to give him. Eventually she made concessions and gave Bernie’s campaign its request. That concession allowed for some of Bernie’s policies to be written into the party platform and as a result it became the most progressive party platform in the history of the Democratic Party. If Hillary wanted Bernie to end his campaign earlier she could have given into Bernie’s requests earlier. In that regard, if Bernie Sanders’ lasting presence in the primary had a negative impact on Hillary’s electability, one could easily argue that Clinton’s refusal to give the Bernie Sanders campaign any concessions for months was another Clinton campaign strategic blunder.

Theory for why this is idea being pushed

After reviewing all of the arguments above, no rational intelligent fair minded person should feel comfortable blaming Bernie Sanders for Hillary Clinton’s general election loss. I do believe Hillary Clinton to be a rational intelligent person. So why is she blaming Bernie Sanders in her book, in interviews and in speeches? Here is why: The Bernie Sanders progressive wing of the Democratic Party is ascendant and is now the most influential wing of the party. The Clinton faction is vying to retain its influence and control over the DNC and party apparatus. This is strictly an effort to undermine Bernie Sanders’ influence on the Democrat party. It is not about the 2016 election loss.

And with that said, on November 30, 2017, I have officially put 2016 behind me.

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