Sanders, Clinton and All Dems and Progressives Need To Get Real, Right Now

People need to get this through some rather thick skulls. It can happen here. Donald Trump can be elected president. This country can become a much bigger mess than it already is. The global effort to rein in climate change can still be easily destroyed and the world can become a more dangerous place.

Trump is the perfect creature of the present media culture. He is shallow, ignorant, not all that intelligent, yet a shrewd "reality" TV superstar, twitterific master of social media, and eager purveyor of hyper-partisan bluster with decades of experience taking advantage of our fatal fascination with money and fame.

So absurdly shallow, flighty, and anger-focused is the current political milieu that, if a few things which can go wrong do wrong -- like an economic downturn, a terrorist attack, a geopolitical humiliation -- Trump may not only win the election but sweep to victory.

You'd think that people getting Trump wrong all along would tell them that he can go all the way. But no. I learned that he could do it when the chickenhawk Vietnam War draft dodger got away with trashing war hero John McCain last July. That should have ended Trump, especially in a party that supposedly, and I do mean supposedly, reveres the military and veterans. But no.

It turned out that not only the Republican Party but also the entire media culture is so absurdly shallow and anger-focused that Trump can survive any number of episodes that would have ended other political careers in healthier cultures. So, yes, let's finally get it straight. The fact that Trump is a lying neo-fascist bully boy so aggressively know-nothing and preposterously sheltered that he thinks that little old Oakland -- where Jerry Brown routinely went for night-time walks by himself all over the city -- might be the most dangerous place in the world is anything but a guarantee that he will not become the next president.

Especially against candidates so flawed and vulnerable as Hillary Clinton and, yes, Bernie "Honeymoon in the Soviet Union" Sanders.

I've been prepared all along to vote for Hillary Clinton, never one of my favorites, as longtime readers know, in the general election. But in the California primary, I plan to vote for Bernie Sanders. Not because I agree with all his particulars but because his stand in pushing major concerns many would prefer to keep on ignoring has won my respect, as previous pieces make plain.

These, incidentally, are my previous Presidential primary votes. 1976: Jerry Brown. 1980: Jerry Brown. 1984: Gary Hart. 1988: Jesse Jackson. 1992: Jerry Brown. 1996: Bill Clinton. 2000: John McCain. 2004: John Kerry. 2008: Barack Obama. 2012: Barack Obama.

While the Republicans obviously prefer to run against Sanders -- why do you suppose they don't attack the first major socialist presidential candidate in memory? -- I don't find that to be a problem, since they will be running against Hillary.

My respect for Sanders is shaken, however, because he doesn't seem to know how to come to grips with his situation. To put it plainly, he has lost the nomination race to Clinton, something which probably actually occurred a few months back. To put it even more plainly, she has mostly beaten Sanders like a drum, winning over 3 million more popular votes. The narrative among some Sanders enthusiasts that she is winning as a result of some sort of conspiracy is, as we say diplomatically, non-serious.

Sanders did well in caucus states, where activists can predominate, and some smaller primary states. But Clinton has dominated where it counts most, beating Sanders in eight of the nine most populous states to hold primary elections so far. (The sole Sanders win was by an eyelash in Michigan.)

Ironically, for all the Sanders complaints about super-delegates -- who overwhelmingly back the ex-secretary of state -- she has such a big lead in delegates won in primaries and caucuses that she would need no super-delegate votes to clinch the nomination if the super-delegates did not already exist.

While I have no doubt that the Democratic National Committee, the great bulk of whose members have endorsed Clinton, favors Clinton, Sanders has nonetheless had several big chances to take command of this race.

All four of the early contest states of February are smaller states with big openings for insurgent candidates. That is the system in place, and it provides a serious measure of fairness for the less famous and established.

However, Clinton won three of those four. That includes Nevada, where I was first to report that Sanders had closed a huge gap to draw even with Clinton right after his New Hampshire triumph.

But Sanders fell back in the face of opportunity, allowing a 53-47 Clinton victory in the Silver State.

Given Clinton's insurmountable advantage with African Americans, a big fact which doesn't fit too well into a Sanders enthusiast establishment conspiracy narrative, the Sanders loss in Nevada probably guaranteed his ultimate defeat. Clinton opened up a delegate edge in the black-dominated South Carolina primary days later which she has never relinquished.

Incidentally, Sanders had more than enough money to beat Clinton in Nevada. Indeed, it's something of a surprise that he hasn't done better in the race, since he has actually outspent Clinton in most of the primaries and caucuses.

I worked with a couple of insurgents who ended up as runner-up for the Democratic presidential nomination, seriously out-spent by the eventual nominee. With Internet fundraising, I'm sure they'd have won the nomination, even with only a fraction of the incredible Sanders bonanza.

I'm glad Sanders is staying in through the final primaries. He should bring as many delegates as he can to the Democratic national convention and advocate for his issues. But the general election is going to be Clinton vs. Trump. And Trump, whose opponents have vanished, can win, as polling now shows.

Most of the Republican establishment, as I predicted months ago, is falling in line with the billionaire bully boy. The triumph of fascism has always been made possible by alliance with opportunistic conservatives and authoritarians.

Hillary Clinton may be a compromised, pragmatic Democrat, but Donald Trump is a dangerous neo-fascist.

Instead of rationalizing his backers' very bad behavior around the weekend's Nevada Democratic Convention, where they went more than a little nuts after they tried and failed to pick up a few more delegates than they actually won when Nevadans voted in February, Sanders needs to get his folks ready to serve as a progressive wing in a great effort to stave off the clear and present danger of Trumpism.

And Clinton needs to have her allies back off silly ploys like allowing the Sanders forces only a few seats on key national convention committees. Those should be allocated in line with the popular vote, with Clinton getting in the mid 50 percent range and Sanders in the low 40 percent range of seats.

More importantly, Sanders needs to adjust his messaging to reflect not only what still needs to be won but also what will be lost if Trump appalls most of the rest of the planet and becomes President of the United States.

Let Sanders engage in a contest the rest of the way with Clinton in demonstrating the best message to defeat Donald Trump.

That is the way to combine progressivism with realism and help ensure that we do not suffer one of the greatest disasters in American history this November.

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