I had a friendly debate last night with a couple of friends of mine. One of them lives in New Hampshire and voted for Secretary Clinton in the primary. The other lives in California and doesn’t plan on voting for any candidate in tomorrow’s primary, but he does plan on voting for Sec. Clinton in November. Both of them feel as if it is time for Senator Bernie Sanders to concede the election and unify the party. As a very liberal individual from Vermont, I disagreed, and even said that I plan on not voting for Sec. Clinton (or Donald Trump) in November.
Now, the debate took place via text messaging, with lots of overlapping conversation, so it wasn’t the most succinct way to argue. But hey, I’ve got a blog, so I figure, why not use it to make my argument as clear as possible?
Why Bernie Should Not Concede
While it seems incredibly improbable for Senator Sanders to win the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party, it is not mathematically impossible.
It takes 2,383 delegates to win the nomination. According to the Associated Press, as of today, Sec. Clinton has 1,809 delegates, while Sen. Sanders has 1,520. Sec. Clinton needs 574 more delegates to win, while Sen. Sanders needs 863.
Tomorrow, there are 694 delegates up for grabs, with Washington D.C.’s final 20 delegates to be decided next week on June 14th. While obviously you can’t trust the polls, they currently suggest that neither of the two candidates will win enough delegates on June 7th or June 14th to win the nomination.
That means that the election turns from the pledged delegates, which are decided upon in the primaries and caucuses, to the Democratic Party’s Superdelegates, all of whom do not cast an actual vote until the first ballot of the convention. According to the AP, Sec. Clinton has 547 Superdelegates and Sen. Sanders has 46 (I’ll also note that Wikipedia has a lower tally for Sec. Clinton [update: the AP now reports that Sec. Clinton has clinched the nomination based on a survey of Superdelegates, despite the fact that the Superdelegates haven’t voted yet]).
If every Superdelegate who has come out for Sec. Clinton stays true to their word, then Sec. Clinton will become the Democratic Party’s nominee. But they don’t get to vote until the convention, so it is completely fair for Sen. Sanders to continue his campaign to win their votes. The primary doesn’t end until there is an official nominee, and if his supporters believe there is a chance for him to win — as minuscule as that chance might be — then Sen. Sanders owes it to his millions of supporters to fight until the fight is over.
Why Bernie Should Continue to be Aggressive
One of the complaints my friends made last night is that the continued campaign of Sen. Sanders hurts Sec. Clinton’s chances in November, with one of them arguing that “he’s doing some significant damage right now to [her] prospects” and the other saying, “It is 100% about beating Trump…and Bernie is hurting that chance.”
Sen. Sanders’ primary campaign will come to a close, one way or the other, at the Democratic Convention at the end of July. Whether he wins or loses the nomination, Sen. Sanders will definitely pivot his campaign away from Sec. Clinton and towards Donald Trump. This pivot may not mean that Sen. Sanders supports Sec. Clinton’s policies or supports her as an individual, but it will mean he’ll work to reveal Donald Trump’s weaknesses to any independent or undecided voters whom might be open to such an argument.
But that’s what will happen in August.
My friends’ concerns are about what will happen during June and July. They believe that Sen. Sanders’ continued attacks on Sec. Clinton will weaken her candidacy in the general election. I believe that they are right, and the reason is because she has many weaknesses as a candidate and as a nominee.
Asking Sen Sanders to stop pointing out those weaknesses is like the emperor’s advisors refusing to point out that his royal highness is naked. If Sec. Clinton’s weaknesses make her a poor candidate against the presumptive Republican nominee, then that’s something the Democratic Party might want to face before they name her as their champion.
Why I Won’t Be Voting for Hillary
The first reason I won’t be voting for Sec. Clinton is because, if she is elected, that will mean there has been either a Bush or Clinton in the White House for 36 of my 42 years (assuming she serves all four years of her first term). If that’s not the definition of an oligarchy, then I don’t know what is.
Second, I won’t vote for a hawk. Sec. Clinton voted for the war in Iraq in 2003, persuaded a “wary” Pres. Obama to topple Col. Qadhafi in 2011, and supports the U.S.’s increased involvement in Syria, including increasing the number of special forces on the ground and giving our current troops in Iraq greater “flexibility” to engage with the action in Syria.
Based on Sec. Clinton’s record, Jeffrey Sachs, a Special Advisor to the Secretary-General of the U.N., the Director of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and one of the world’s leading economists, has called Sec. Clinton “a danger to global peace” who has “much to answer for regarding the disaster in Syria.”
To be clear, Sec. Clinton’s use of the military in Syria would not be for humanitarian reasons. Yes, it’s absolutely true that Syria is a horrible place right now and its people desperately need assistance. But that’s not why Sec. Clinton would get America involved. She’d get us involved because she wants to weaken the power of Iran in the region. Sec. Clinton sees the world through the eyes of realpolitik (hence, her fondness for Sec. Henry Kissinger), but to a liberal ideologue such as myself, who believes that America ought to act from a place of principle rather than naked self-interest, realpolitik is a dangerous perspective that leads not to increased security and prosperity for the U.S., but to increased numbers of terrorists and a generation’s worth of anti-American sentiment.
Third, (if she wins the nomination) Sec. Clinton and Donald Trump won’t be the only candidates on the ballot in November. The ballot will also include the nominees of the Green and Libertarian parties. The Libertarians recently nominated Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico (with Gov. Bill Weld of Massachusetts as his running mate). The Greens still have to officially nominate their candidate, but Dr. Jill Stein of Massachusetts is the presumptive nominee.
I don’t know much about Dr. Stein yet, but I like how she is reaching out to Sen. Sanders and his supporters, trying to give them another voice should Sen. Sanders lose the nomination in July. I’ll have to look into her some more before I choose to give her my vote, but if Sec. Clinton does take the nomination, Dr. Stein will probably find me in her corner.
Why A Vote For “Not Hillary” Is Not A Vote For Trump
The final piece of the debate I had last night can be summed up by what one of my friends told me: “Any Democrat not voting for Hillary is helping Trump. So you’re supporting him.”
First, I’m not a Democrat. I’m a member of the Progressive Party of Vermont. As a Progressive, many of my policy preferences overlay with the platform of the Democratic Party, but the two parties are not equal. Since the Progressive Party of Vermont does not nominate a candidate for President, it is up to the official candidates to win my vote. As I explained above, Sec. Clinton’s hawkish policies (and family connections) make it nigh impossible for her to win my vote.
I’m obviously not going to vote for Donald Trump, because…well…he seems to be just a few mustache hairs away from being a fascist.
I’m definitely open to voting for a Libertarian because a libertarian’s commitment to individual freedom overlaps a little bit with a progressive’s social values, but economic libertarianism of the Ayn Rand variety is a non-starter in my book, and so a Libertarian candidate would have to be particularly inspiring to win my vote.
Which leaves me with Dr. Jill Stein, on whom, see above.
But my voting for Dr. Stein or Gov. Johnson does not mean that I am supporting Trump. One of the biggest obstacles to our country’s progress is the never-ending stranglehold that the two-party system places on our politics. I refuse to kowtow to that system. If one of the major parties puts up a candidate whom I can actually vote for, then I have no problem voting for that person (and hence, that party). But if there is someone else on the ballot with whom I feel more political affinity, then I am going to vote for that person, regardless of party.
Sec. Clinton doesn’t get my vote simply because I’m not a Republican. She has to earn my vote by speaking to my issues in a way that is powerful and persuasive. Sen. Sanders earned my vote back in March. If he doesn’t win the nomination, then someone else will have to earn my vote in November — the two-party system be damned.