Ultimately, I don’t think Bernie Sanders will endorse Clinton’s candidacy. I really don’t. I think Sanders wants to endorse Clinton. I even understand the view of some in the Democratic party that he needs to endorse Clinton to promote party unity. But I don’t see how - Clinton has not extended any sort of olive branch or attempt at reconciliation to Bernie’s supporters, pretty much assuming that when/if Sanders endorses her, the Sanders supporters will eventually flock to her. I just don’t see it.
But Trump has. And that should scare anyone who thinks a Trump presidency is the worst thing that could happen for America.
The Daily Show's last report by Jessica Williams was on Bernie supporters who would vote for Trump in a general election. She sat down with six of them, and tried to make them look foolish by pointing out how "Trump is the opposite of Sanders." Oh, if only it were so simple.
"I don't get it. How do you go from a left-wing progressive like Bernie," Williams asked, rhetorically, "to a man who worships money only slightly less than he worships himself? Maybe I'm missing something."
Indeed, I do think Williams and the Daily Show research/writing crew are indeed missing something.
"Can you name one thing that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have in common?" Williams asked her panel of Sanders-to-Trump supporters. But that's actually a very easy question to answer. Both Sanders and Trump have made corruption one of the key themes of the campaign - not just recently, but from the very beginning. Trump won the Republican primary not just because he won over the racists, but because he was the only Republican candidate polling above 5% who was making the systemic corruption of our Congress a top priority issue of his campaign.
Now, do I trust Trump to actually follow through? No - Sanders wants to fix the corrupt system of fundraising, while Trump just wants to exploit the discontent it generates.
The problem is, if you believe that Sanders is no longer a viable candidate, who are you going to go with, the candidate who has so clearly been a part of the problem (Clinton) and refuses to even acknowledge the role she has played in continuing it? That would send the message that "Hey, it's okay to be as corrupt as you want because in the end, corruption doesn't matter."
Or are you going to go with the candidate who has said all along that it is one of his key priorities? (whether or not it is.) Donald Trump is ridiculous and crazy and racist and isn't even trying to hide it. So what have we got if he wins? A really bad Republican president. A president so bad, that, perhaps, no Republican will be elected for generations.
But a Clinton victory? That would be ruinous for the Democratic party.
If you ask people why they don't vote, more often than not, the answer will be that they feel that no matter who they vote for, moneyed special interests will get their way. A Clinton victory would be the ultimate proof of that. It will ensure the only percieved difference between the Democratic and Republican party is that the Democrats will give lip service about doing things for the people, but will really just serve moneyed special interests, while Republicans actually believe that serving moneyed special interests is a good thing.
It’s no secret that I don’t like Clinton, either politically or personally. In fact, I’ve called Hillary Clinton “human garbage,” though to be fair, I was frothing at the mouth with blind, impotent rage, when I said that. Most of it has to do with how the DNC treated a friend of mine, Larry Lessig, as former Clinton campaign chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz did everything she could to move the goalposts so that Lessig - and he alone - would not be invited to the Democratic debates. (Say what you will about Trump, he won his primary fair-and-square.)
But - and this is something that Hillary Clinton has never shown any sign of understanding - it is not up to Sanders to order his supporters to vote for Clinton. Clinton doesn't and has never understood grassroots politics. It is up to Clinton to earn the support of Sanders' voters with or without his explicit endorsement, something that she's simply not willing or not able to do.
Right now, Clinton supporters keep hammering that Bernie is “helping Trump” by withholding his endorsement. But of Clinton and Trump, it is Trump who is taking the lead in addressing the concerns of the Sanders voter.
So how can Sanders make an endorsement today? Without any evidence that Hillary Clinton or her team will pay even the slightest bit of attention to the political issues which the Sanders campaign has fought for? Without any bit of acknowledgement that yes, the system is rigged?
I suppose that’s to be expected -- if the system is rigged, it is certainly rigged to benefit Hillary Clinton and her supporters in the financial sector. It is very difficult, indeed, to see Hillary Clinton as the solution to the issues we care about when Clinton, more than any other politician since Boss Tweed, has represented the incestuous ties between politicians and the funders of their campaigns.
When you excise the racism - and there is a lot of racism - and excise the batshit crazy - and there is a lot of batshit crazy, from Trump’s NYC speech, he is making an overt effort to address the concerns of the Sanders voter.
Everywhere I look, I see the possibilities of what our country could be. But we can’t solve any of these problems by relying on the politicians who created them.
We will never be able to fix a rigged system by counting on the same people who rigged it in the first place.
The insiders wrote the rules of the game to keep themselves in power and in the money.
That’s why we’re asking Bernie Sanders’ voters to join our movement: so together we can fix the system for ALL Americans. Importantly, this includes fixing all of our many disastrous trade deals.
Because it’s not just the political system that’s rigged. It’s the whole economy.
It’s rigged by big donors who want to keep down wages.
It’s rigged by big businesses who want to leave our country, fire our workers, and sell their products back into the U.S. with absolutely no consequences for them.
It’s rigged by bureaucrats who are trapping kids in failing schools.
It’s rigged against you, the American people.
Now, naturally, Trump being Trump, he couldn’t resist attacking Hillary Clinton - but what he’s attacking her resonates with Bernie supporters. Exaggerated? Sure. But there’s enough truth there to justify the attack.
The other candidate in this race has spent her entire life making money for special interests – and taking money from special interests.
Hillary Clinton has perfected the politics of personal profit and theft.
She ran the State Department like her own personal hedge fund – doing favors for oppressive regimes, and many others, in exchange for cash.
Then, when she left, she made $21.6 million giving speeches to Wall Street banks and other special interests – in less than 2 years – secret speeches that she does not want to reveal to the public.
I wouldn’t begin to speak for “her own personal hedge fund,” but those speeches to Wall Street, and the fact that speaking fees for Bill Clinton went up substantially while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, have made Clinton an easy target. Even now, Trump is constantly referring to Clinton, in his own kindergartner way, as “Crooked Hillary” in his tweets. I’m afraid that that nickname will stick.
I’m not saying that Bernie supporters should support Trump. Far from it. But Clinton and her supporters are treating Trump as the gun to hold to Bernie supporters’ heads. “Vote for me, or else.”
But the more Trump continues to address the very real concerns that Sanders voters have about corruption - and Clinton continues to utterly ignore it - the more "or else" starts to look good.
How cool would it be for Clinton to pledge to make campaign finance reform the overwhelming priority of her first 100 days of office? It would be a “Nixon goes to China” moment. And not everyone would believe her - I’m not sure I personally would. But it would at least go a long way towards reconciling the Democratic Party.
In short, instead of waiting for Sanders to endorse her - instead of waiting for the coronation - it should be Clinton that reaches out directly to Sanders supporters. So far, she’s been utterly dismissive of them. (I expect her to continue to be dismissive of them, so that she can continue to get Wall Street's backing.)
Remember, of course, that it’s ludicrous to think Sanders supporters will flock to Trump as the voice of reason in campaign finance reform. But Trump doesn’t need those votes to win - he just needs those votes not to go to Clinton.
I intend to third party, so, for me at least, that strategy is working. And, if Clinton remains the nominee without giving the slightest attention to the concerns raised by Sanders and the progressive, grassroots wing of the party, then she will lose to Trump.
My hope is that Clinton will withdraw from the race (perhaps prompted by the FBI investigation, or perhaps her heart could grow three sizes some day between now and the convention) and that at the convention, the delegates will draft Elisabeth Warren as the nominee. (Warren's probably the only candidate who could unite the two camps -- but putting her in the deep storage freezer that is the vice presidential slot won't cut it.) But if that doesn't happen, if Clinton is the nominee, then I do think a lot of people will take a good hard look at the alternative.
Even if that alternative is Trump.