I voted for Bernie Sanders in the California primary not because I thought he would or could win the California primary, let alone the Democratic presidential nomination, but because he deserved support. He deserved it because he did what few politicians were willing to do
That is thunder against wealth and income inequality, corral Wall Street abuses, back a top dollar minimum wage, a massive job creation program, universal health care, and the end to mass incarceration. He injected a much needed gale of fresh air into American politics. But that's past. Hillary Clinton is the Democratic presidential nominee, and no amount of talk from Bernie about fighting on, trying to arm twist a few more super-delegates for support, or citing ridiculous, meaningless polls that show him beating Trump in a general election facedown are relevant to anything.
The only thing relevant now is not simply beating Trump, but the Democrats taking back the senate to insure that Clinton has a fighting chance of getting her initiatives, legislation and judicial and administration appointments through, and to oust as many Republicans from state and local offices as possible. This is going to take votes, lots of votes, and lots of voters going to the polls to back Clinton and every Democrat who's in a tough race with a Republican in the swing states.
It's going to take Bernie saying to the roughly one out of five of his fervent backers who have railed against Clinton, and vowed that they wouldn't back her no matter what, you must. He doesn't have to try to put the fear of God in them with the nightmarish scene of a "President" Trump putting two or three more Clarence Thomas's on the Supreme Court, gutting everything from education to the Affordable Care Act, and holding an itchy finger on the nuclear trigger. He can talk about Hillary, or more importantly, why he agrees more with Hillary on the crucial issues than disagrees. That's not hard to do because it's true. Clinton will give a hard nod to the interests of minorities, gays and women. She will continue and expand Obama's policies that extend government programs and initiatives, hike spending on education, health care, and jobs and markedly increase taxes on corporations and the wealthy while enforcing, tightening regulations on the banks and Wall Street, and she has actually spelled out a progressive plan for real criminal justice system reform.
I had the luxury of giving Sanders a vote in California. It's a no-fly zone for GOP presidential candidates. No Republican presidential candidate has won the state since George Bush, Sr. in 1988. Jesus Christ could run on the GOP presidential ticket in California and probably lose. However, it's a far different story in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Colorado where either GOP governors or GOP controlled or heavily influenced legislatures are major political shot callers.
Bush won the White House in 2000 by the much disputed 537 vote margin in Florida over Al Gore, and won it again in 2004 with the several thousand vote margin in Ohio over John Kerry. Both elections stand as the ultimate proof that an individual's vote really can count. This election is no different. The notion that Trump will implode, shoot himself in the foot, or turn off so many Republicans and independents that all Hillary has to do is concentrate her time and energy planning for her inaugural ball is not just nonsense, but dangerous.
Elections are almost always won by candidates with a solid and impassioned core of bloc voters. In Trump's case, white males, older voters, middle-income, college educated voters vote consistently and faithfully. They vote in a far greater percentage than Hispanics and blacks, and especially young voters. And many of them based on his showing in the primaries do back him. The big exception was 2008. Obama's run turned that year's campaign into a crusade to make racial history. That powered the massive sea change in traditional voting patterns. In 2012, it didn't hold up. Obama won the popular vote by just slightly more than 5 million votes over Romney. In 2014, it totally fell apart with the GOP's steady voting base again back at the polls and the party used it to seize the Senate.
There's no guarantee that the enthusiasm, passion, energy, and sense of making history that was there for Obama, or the enthusiasm that was there for Sanders, will be there for Clinton. The red flag on this are the negatives. Trump has them in spades, but so does Clinton. Trump and the GOP will pull out all stops to shove them down the voter's throats. It will take a united Democratic party, to overcome that assault. It won't be easy but given the colossal stakes, and the absolute importance of having a Clinton in the White House, Sanders must say and keep saying to his supporters, back Clinton.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His latest book is How "President" Trump will Govern (Amazon Kindle) He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.