The Sanders campaign is far from over but Tuesday was definitely a wake-up call that his chance to win the nomination seems to be sliding away. That’s one reason there was so much anger pouring out from the far left yesterday including the hashtag #BernieorBust2020. Looking ahead, things don’t look any better for Sanders’ revolution. It’s really not hard to imagine that in two weeks even the Bernie Bros are going to realize the end is nigh. They will of course be furious.
So today Joe Klein has a piece in the Washington Post begging the Bernie Bros not to take their ball and go home if things don’t go as planned. It’s titled “If Sanders loses the nomination, will you be as stupid as 1968 me was?”
I am trying to remember the person I was in 1968. I was 22 years old and a recent college graduate. I was angry, infuriated by the war in Vietnam and racial segregation. It was my first chance to vote in a presidential election. I was living in New Jersey — very briefly — and I voted for Dick Gregory, the brilliant comedian running as a write-in candidate, instead of Hubert Humphrey, the Democrat running against Republican Richard Nixon. It was a protest vote, obviously. I regret it to this day…
We were counseled by our elders: Vote the lesser of two evils. But Humphrey’s kindness and humanity simply didn’t register. We saw only this wimpy, old guy who was probably lying about his newfound opposition to the war. And it didn’t really matter if Nixon won: We were young; we had a world to win, an establishment to overthrow. We had a plenty of time. Four years of Nixon would bring the country to its senses. What was one election?…
I am not trying to persuade young Sanders zealots that they should cast a vote for this year’s version of Humphrey. Not yet. In any case, they’re not going to listen to a geezer like me. I understand their impatience and anger, even if I don’t understand why a 78-year-old man insists on the puerile offensiveness of calling himself a “socialist” when the countries he purportedly admires — the Scandinavians — are bastions of free enterprise tempered by a robust welfare state. Perhaps Sanders needs to grow up a little, too.
My question to young voters is this: If Sanders loses the nomination to Biden, will you be as stupid as I was in 1968? Will you allow the country — the federal government, the Environmental Protection Agency, the judiciary, the diplomatic corps — another four years of President Trump? Are you entirely sure we can survive that?
I can’t let the reference to Bernie’s admiration for Scandinavia slide. This is such obvious BS. Bernie has been saying for 40 years that he admires Cuba, the USSR, Nicaragua, etc. Apparently he even told a Cuban political prisoner/hostage he didn’t see the problem with Cuba. That was only six years ago when Bernie was [checks notes] 72 years old! The fact that Klein is ignoring all of the evidence to the contrary while claiming to not understand why Sanders calls himself a socialist is just a mind-bending level of denial. Seriously, Joe Klein, open your eyes just a little and things will make more sense.
Moving on to the thrust of his piece, I think he’s absolutely right about the most likely response of the Bernie Bros to losing another primary election to another establishment candidate. Many of them are “zealots” as Klein suggests and they are going to lose their minds.
All Klein can really do is present them with a version of the Flight 93 election, i.e. America has been hijacked (by Trump in his telling) and unless we charge the cockpit together, democracy and justice are going to be extinguished from the earth. I suspect we’ll hear a lot more of this kind of desperate pleading from establishment figures in the coming weeks. What else can they do?
What Klein is asking the Bernie Bros to do is grow up and fall in line but I don’t think it works that way. There’s a reason socialist Bernie wins the under 30 crowd while Biden wins with those 60 and over. As the old saw goes, ‘If a person is not a liberal when he is twenty, he has no heart; if he is not a conservative when he is forty, he has no head.’
In fact, it’s easy to imagine how this is going to go over if you just pretend Klein is saying all of this directly to AOC. How would she respond? Probably with an epic Twitter-threat about why her position of free everything is morally necessary. She’d probably also accuse Klein of mansplaining.
So good luck trying to mature the Bernie Bros into sensible Biden voters over the next few months. The Democratic Party definitely has some tough weeks ahead of it.