An Essay by Member William:
I am under no illusion that anything I write will change your minds, but I am going to try, anyway. At the very least, I would hope that you would consider some of it.
You are supporters of Sanders, and you want him to be elected President. At least I am assuming that this is your goal; and that it is not just to make a splash, or to give HIllary Clinton some anxious moments, or to indulge yourselves. Because as I think you would know, elections and governance are serious business, affecting all of us.
To me, this is the most crucial election ever. I know that we are fond of saying that, and it always seems to be at the time. But this one feels more important; so much so, that I find myself waking up some nights, worrying about it. There are a few reasons for this. The first is that the Republicans have virtually taken over the country. Yes, Democrats hold the Presidency, but Republicans have a large majority in the House of Representatives, and are not that far away from a veto-proof majority in the Senate. They continue to hold a very conservative majority in the Supreme Court, which has gone on for so long that it is difficult to remember what a liberal Court was like. You do realize that if a Republican wins the White House, they will have maybe three Court seats to fill, and they will stock them with doctrinaire Radical Right individuals who will control the Court for another two decades at least.
And the state legislatures are in dreadful shape , with Republicans controlling most of them, even in states which have long been Democratic in voting patterns. Most of these takeovers have been accomplished during the Obama Presidency. And I don’t think it is a coincidence. Obama has tried to do some good things while in office, but he has rarely identified himself much with the Democratic Party since the beginning of his campaign in 2007. And he certainly has scarcely done any campaigning for Democrats running for Congress and for state legislature positions.
Now some people, maybe some of you, do not care much about such things. But they have grave national effects. First, those state legislatures dominated by Republicans have the ability and the machiavellian will to fix things in their states so that the Democrats can never win back control. They gerrymander districts. They change voting rignts laws. In the case of Florida under Jeb Bush, they basically locked the Democrats out of the statehouse, in a horrifying display of incipient fascism. (You can read about this in a long article from the Washington Post written in 1995). The Republicans play to win, and by any means.
Further, the lack of Democrats in state legislatures across the country means that there is a very sparse field of potential candidates for U.S. Senate, Congress, and state governorships. In sports terms, the Democrats hava a very weak bench. Do you see any upcoming liberal senators and governors who might someday be legitmate presidential candidates? I don’t; no more than a very few, to even be generous. And those are almost all from small Eastern states, very unlikely to ever be elected nationally. The Democratic Party is in serious danger of disappearing as an effective counterforce to the Republicans. And this is at the most dangeous period imaginable, when the Republicans are absolutely dominated by know-nothing people who would destroy the entire government in order to make a point; who have absolutely no concern for working people, minorities, the poor, education, the safety net; or any protections against contaminated land, air and food. And they are backed by the most evil people imaginable, who unfortunately have trillions of dollars to get their way, and who are given cover by a media which is now essentially bought and owned by them.
And one more thing to consider: the Republicans, who value winning and power above all, have lately been trying to get some states to divide up their electoral votes by district, or proportionally by vote. The states where they trying to achieve this are Pennsylvania and Michigan. It is one of those typical “oh, this seems fair,” Republican carny hustles. If they get this done, the Democrats will be permanently locked out of winning the electoral college, even if they should carry a national election by four percent. And America will be an oligopolistic dictatorship.
What this all has to do with you, is that the only person running for President who would have at least some chance to arrest this frightening trend, is Hillary Clinton. She has already vowed to try to create grassroots strength among Democrats at the state level. She wants to develop a deep bench of state candidates; and she wants to encourage young people to participate in politics, on the Democratic side. In so many words, she wants to rebuild the Democratic Party to where it is a consistent and strong national force. Do you really think that Sanders has any interest in this, or any capacity to do it? He doesn’t even identify as a Democrat. He has never campaigned for any Democrat across the country. He would have no downticket strength whatsoever. Can you not see that even if Sanders were somehow nominated, he could not help the Democratic Party one iota in state races?
And what do you think Sanders could do even if he were incredibly, against all odds, elected President? You do know that all bills originate in the House of Representatives. The right-wing House would send up only right-wing bills, which would be similarly passed by the right-wing Senate. Then Sanders’ only power would be to veto them; at which time they would send up more such bills. Sanders could get absolutely none of his own preferred legislation passed. He could make a few speeches. Two years from the election, the Republicans would make the same kind of gains in the midterms that they made in midterms running against Obama. If you do not identify as a Democrat, or only scarcely so, like Obama, you have do not have any cachet or power to influence the midterms. And so eventually, the Republicans will obtain their veto-proof majority.
I am sure that at least some of you are concerned about climate change. To me it is by far the most important issue. Hillary Clinton has made it a centerpiece of her campaign. I don’t think that the planet can afford to wait another four years. We need to make drastic changes now. She will fight to do that. She has the ability to be elected President, and to bring a few Senate seats with her, and to gain some seats in the House. We need every Democrat we can get, to pass climate change legislation. A one-man maverick who identifies as a Socialist, is not going to pass anything. And the planet will burn. I would hope that you care about such things.
Right now, Sanders is getting a free ride. He is not being attacked at all by Republicans, who would dearly love to see him be nominated, or at least to force Hillary to spend a lot of money. And if he were somehow to win, it would take about two weeks for his poll numbers to plummet to where he would be lucky to get 40% of the vote in a national election. He is a Socialist by self-description. Americans will not elect a Socialist to anything, outside of a small state like Vermont. Sanders has a 0% chance to win a national election. I might generously give him a 1% chance, if Trump were nominated, and committed some unpardonable act in the campaign. If the Republicans nominate an establishment candidate like Bush, it is 0%. Sanders will lose by something like 62-38%, maybe win five to seven states, thus do slightly better than McGovern, but get completely routed; and the Democrats will lose several Senate seats and another twenty or so House seats. And then where we all be?
Elections are not a game; they are not a fun competition, though the media in its unending quest for dollars, likes to pretend so. When the election is over, the reality sets in. What are you going to do if Jeb Bush is elected President? Look for another country to move to? Go back to playing video games, or watching television? Write blog posts about how hopelessly screwed up this country is, while the temperature records continue to be broken? Laugh about how at least you managed to keep Hillary Clinton from being elected? Do you know that Hillary’s voting record in the Senate was slightly more liberal than Obama’s, and about on a par with Sanders’? So is this just a personality thing for you? Did you have so much fun in the ’08 campaign, that you are looking to repeat that high? How did it feel afterwards, and for the last seven years, when Obama felt that he had to make bad deals with Republicans in order to keep them from shutting down the government or refusing to raise the debt ceiling? And when we got absolutely “shellacked” (his words) in the midterms, both times?
You obviously can support and vote for anyone you like. It is your right as an American citizen. But I think that with that, also goes a responsiblity to other people, and to the country. Let the Republicans win this election, and we will all suffer the very serious consequences. Hillary can win, Sanders cannot. Hillary can govern the country, Sanders cannot. Hillary is far more experienced, particularly in dealing with world leaders, but we won’t even go into that kind of thing. This isn’t like voting for your favorite on one of the TV talent shows. It is about getting the best electable candidate elected.
Maybe if it were a different era, someone could afford to take a stab at a wishful candidate, and think that the country could survive the other side winning the election. But not now. You should have a good idea of what the Republicans will do if they control the one branch of government which they currently do not hold. Maybe some of you can psychologically deal with that, by ignoring it; or maybe some of you have long ago given up hope, and are just into having a fun time with it all. But there are hundreds of millions of people out there who are going to have to live with the reality of no Social Security, no Medicare, no FDA, no FEMA, no SEC, no HHS, no EPA; no protections against contaminated food and unsafe medications; no right to abortion; no controls on corporate greed, and destruction of the environment; the creation of massive asset bubbles which will ultimately lead to a severe Depression costing tens of millions of jobs. And they cannot just walk away from it as easily as some of you might seem to be able to, at least in your mind.
Some things that I hope that you will think about in the next few crucial months, when the future not only of this country, but of this planet, is at stake
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