Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Hey Bernie Supporters, Get A Grip

Dear Bernie supporters, I know this is going to sound strange coming from me, but, in the words of William Jefferson Clinton, I feel your pain. As a Mets' fan, I know what's it like to invest everything you have only to be disappointed. It's maddening to lose. That's why we cling to hope even when there is none. The term "it's not over till it's over" was invented just for us. You may think the song "Tomorrow" was about a little girl named Annie. Actually, it's really our national anthem.

But facts are facts, no matter how painful they might be. And no amount of wishful thinking or praying is going to change them. I know you believe with all your heart that Bernie Sanders is going to win the Democratic nomination and I know how passionate you feel about him. I can only imagine what that must be like. And I can appreciate how difficult it must be to hear Hillary supporters gloat. It's kind of like how we feel when Yankee fans rub our nose in it.

But as someone who has had his bubble burst on more than a few occasions, I feel it is my civic duty to break this grand delusion of yours. Why? Because the longer you hold onto it, the more painful it is going to be at the end. Trust me, I once thought a team that consisted of Steve Henderson, John Stearns and Craig Swan was good enough to contend for the pennant. By year's end, however, they were dead last in the league. As Mork would say, "Reality, what a concept."

So, with that in mind, let's begin the journey out of denial and into reality. I thought the best way to accomplish this was to compile a laundry list of things that all of you are clinging to and won't let go of.

1. Bernie is going to win the Democratic nomination. While technically that is still a possibility, much like a team in last place is still mathematically alive in August, the reality is that it almost never happens. The few times it does usually involve the first place team collapsing. And while I know Bernie supporters are insisting Hillary is going to do just that, the likelihood of that happening is quite remote. The fact is the bulk of Bernie's wins, while impressive, have come in caucuses, and there are only two of them left on the calendar. Hillary is heavily favored in the majority of the remaining primaries.

2. Obama didn't overtake Hillary in '08 until June. That's factually untrue. He overtook her in February. It was she that narrowed the gap with a late surge in June that fell 62 delegates short. Since she won the South Carolina primary this year, Clinton has been in the lead; a lead that at one point swelled to over 300 delegates. By comparison, Obama never came close to such a lead. Yet, he still won the nomination.

3. Bernie is more electable in the general, therefore he should be the nominee. The former point is debatable; the latter irrelevant.  While his supporters site polling that shows him way ahead of Clinton in head-to-head matches against Donald Trump, none of those polls mean all that much at this stage. In fact, it won't be until after the conventions that we see any meaningful polling for the general election. And as for the claim that Bernie should be awarded the Super Delegates because of his electability, Hillary tried that argument in '08 against Obama. It didn't work for her either.

4. There is a giant conspiracy by the media to deny Bernie the nomination. This is pure garbage and evidence of something almost pathological. The man has been drawing thousands of people to his rallies since last fall and the media has covered virtually all of them. The reason he's not ahead is that more people are voting for Clinton; in fact over two million more. They aren't part of this giant conspiracy anymore than the media. They just soberly looked at the issues and decided she was the better candidate. That's called voting, and it goes on all the time in Democracies.

5. Hillary is a Wall Street crony who has betrayed every liberal ideal. Really? Hillary has one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate and, unlike Sanders, who gives a lot of good speeches but hasn't done much in almost 30 years in Congress, she actually has a list of accomplishments. Yes, she has a Super Pac. So does most of Washington. I've got some bad news for all of you: Until Citizens United is reversed, Super Pacs are here to stay. If you have a problem with the few million dollars Clinton's Super Pac has raised, just wait until you get a load of the money the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson are going to throw at this election. Your heads will spin.

6. Hillary voted for the Iraq War, therefore she's disqualified. Actually, she voted for the authorization to use military force. Read the speech she made on the Senate floor. Like most Congressional leaders, Clinton thought the Bush Administration would use the authorization to coerce Saddam Hussein into letting the UN inspectors back into his country. Saddam, we were told, had weapons of mass destruction. In fact, Bush lied the country into a disastrous war that destabilized the entire Middle East. That wasn't her fault. But if it's votes you're interested in, how about the one Bernie made protecting gun manufacturers from criminal prosecution? Fair is fair.

7. Hillary's "we must bring them to heal" comments were truly offensive to African Americans and reveal a cold and uncaring nature about the plight of minorities. Yes, she's so in dutch with the black community that she's only getting 75 percent of their vote. If you'd bother to read the entire transcript, you'd know that she was referring to gangs that had connections to drug cartels. You can watch the video here if you like, assuming you can keep a relatively open mind. I'll admit, as Clinton has done, that her choice of words might've been inappropriate and that the crime bill in retrospect had profound consequences for the African American community, but taking a portion of a video out of context is equally inappropriate and deliberately misleading. Anybody remember the "you didn't build that" brouhaha? Same thing, different issue.

8. Hillary supported the TPP, then she flipped. Well, you've got me there. I thought it was a tactical error for her to backtrack on the treaty, especially since she was such a vocal supporter of it. But even here, your argument has no merit. It wasn't NAFTA that killed all those jobs in Ohio and Michigan, and it won't be the TPP that destroys future ones. Like it or not, the world has changed over the last several decades. America can't go it alone or impose restrictions or, as Trump suggests, tariffs on imports from countries we don't like. A lot of our economy is based on exports and it would be devastated if a trade war were to happen. This isn't just a conservative mantra, it's good old-fashioned horse sense and progressives like Sanders and Elizabeth Warren would do well to at least consider it.

9. Hillary and Trump are basically the same. Are you fucking out of your mind? The former supports a woman's right to choose, wants to eliminate voter suppression laws, will nominate Supreme Court justices that will protect civil and gay rights, and believes that global warming is real and will enact environmental regulations that will curb carbon emissions; the latter is Mussolini with a terrible hair piece. If you honestly believe there is no difference between these two candidates, or, even worse, think Trump might be a better choice, as actress Susan Sarandon recently did on MSNBC, you're not just delusional, you're psychotic.

10. Hillary has to give in to Bernie's demands in order for his supporters to back her. So now you're resorting to blackmail. You do realize that this is the same tactic Tea Partiers employed in an attempt to get President Obama to give up his healthcare law in '13 and they made fools of themselves doing it. It's kind of ironic that for all the contempt you have for Hillary, she never demanded a single thing from Obama in '08, nor did her supporters. And keep in mind, she lost by only 62 pledged delegates and got almost half a million more votes than he did.

11. If Bernie isn't the nominee, I might not vote, and if I do I'm going to write in his name or vote third party. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face. Let me just be frank here. Any one who doesn't come out and vote for Clinton in November is by default voting for Trump. Period! There is no third choice in a two-person race. Staying home or voting for a candidate that has no chance of winning isn't a protest vote, it's the political equivalent of pissing in the wind. This is how children behave when they don't get everything they want under the Christmas tree. Well if Trump ends up becoming the next president, you can tell yourself all you want that you voted your conscious. We all know who and what you are and what you helped wrought. And you will have to live with your decision for the rest of your life.

It's time for all of you to get a grip. Bernie Sanders has had one hell of an impressive ride and he's contributed a great deal to the political discussion during this campaign. It's highly doubtful Clinton would've moved as far to the left as she has without him in the race. You should be proud of him; moreover you should be proud to be progressives, as I am. But pride and ego are two different things.

At some point this marvelous ride will come to an end and we will all have to come together to support the party's nominee. Eight years ago that nominee was Barack Obama. I seem to remember a lot of hurt feelings within the Clinton camp that year. They got over their hurt and voted for Obama, not because they thought he was the better candidate, but because they knew that the greater good was retaking the White House. Soon all of you will get the chance to do the same thing, only this time you'll be working to ensure the White House doesn't fall into the hands of a raging lunatic who makes George W. Bush look like a Rhodes scholar.

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