An Open Letter From One Jewish Grandfather Expatriated From Brooklyn to Another

Sanford Jay Rosen
May 2016

Hi Bernie,

It pleases me no end that you and I are both Jewish grandfathers in our 70s who were born and raised in Brooklyn. Other parallels in our lives are striking. We both were civil rights activists, though my activism was more sedate than your direct and political activism. Mine took the trajectory of being a civil rights lawyer. We both are expats from Brooklyn, though living in different blue states -- you in Vermont and I in California. We both have many children and grandchildren and care deeply about their future.

You have had a spectacular run as an elected politician. You have done amazingly well as a candidate for the Democratic Party 2016 presidential nomination and in the lead up to the Party's Nominating Convention. You have built wonderfully on Barak Obama's campaign financing model, basing your candidacy's financing exclusively on small donors yet raising a pile of money. (The hell with Citizens United!)

Most importantly, you have moved the Democratic Party and its likely candidate Hillary Clinton much to the left, which is a good thing. The party of Lincoln is about to embrace Trump and "Trumpism", and is becoming the 21st Century's "America First" and "Know Nothing" party falling into a tragic and dangerous spiral toward nihilism or even fascism. You are right, at this point in time the Democratic Party must move left to continue being the party that protects the middle class and poor; advances gender, LGBT and racial equality; presses for economic fairness; and protects the environment--all while assuring the country's security.

Now comes the hard part for you, Bernie. How do you exit graciously and helpfully "stage left"? How do you protect the remarkable things you have done, and not provide unnecessary fodder to the Trumpites that could undermine a Democratic table clearing victory come November? Not only the Presidency but also and as importantly the Supreme Court and at least the Senate hang in the balance. Not to mention the world our grandchildren will inherit.

I know you want to hang in until the July convention to leverage planks into the Party's platform and to move its candidate ever closer to your positions. Perhaps you should continue to hang in. But, are you sure that you have not maximized your effect already?

Here is the main point, whether you hang in through the remaining primaries or not, it is time for you to revert to the early days of your campaign. Please stop the shrill or ad hominem shots at Hillary. It sullies your legacy, gets you nothing tangible and gives Trump sound bites, regardless of which of you is our Party's nominee. You were a class act when you stopped everyone cold during the early Democratic candidate debates, interrupting questions about Hillary's emails while she was Secretary of State:

"Let me say -- let me say something that may not be great politics. But I think the secretary is right, and that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mail."

You can do it again. You can find and use your saykhel. Take the high road again, move the conversation back to substance, programs and how to solve the real problems of our country and the world.

Sincerely yours,
Sandy