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A reminder to Bernie fans

Bernie's campaign is a long shot.

It's easy to forget that now, in all the enthusiasm, but step back some months and look at the candidates objectively:

Hillary is an established national figure who finished the 2008 primary in a dead heat. (Say what you want about DNC bias, she's proven the ability to get the support of half the Democratic voters.) She's gotten only stronger since then, with a fine career as Secretary of State.

Martin O'Malley -- remember him? -- is an actual Democratic governor, who talked more about the environment than either of the other two.

Bernie is a Senator from a small state, a self-described socialist, unhead of to much of the Democratic base, and *not even a member of the party he's now running in*. (DNC bias? Shockingly, people in a party prefer people who have put in the time to help build or at least be part of the party, to outsiders suddenly crashing the party...) He'd also be the oldest person to become President, by over five years. (Reagan's currently oldest. Hillary's a bit younger than Reagan, relatively, and women have better life expectancy.)

Go back a year, and we'd rationally expect Bernie's campaign to die an ignominious death, like that of Kucinich and various would-be progressive candidates. That the old socialist who's not even a Democrat would be, not just getting 5-10% of the vote, but crushing out a governor and turning the race into a two-way, would be incredible. That it's actually happening is amazing, and kudos to Bernie. (And that O'Malley got ignored is I think some evidence that Bernie's support is actual hunger for leftist ideas, not just sexism against Hillary. There was another man available. (Not to mention Webb, but really.))

But for all that, it's *still* a long shot. It's possible he can pull another Obama. It's possible Hillary can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Those aren't even terribly unlikely possibilities, at this point.

But I'd say they're well less than 50% chances. Again: socialist who hasn't even been a Democrat, vs. a long-standing Democrat who's already roped in half of the electorate before, and has the "first woman President" cachet to boot. If he wins, wow. But if he doesn't? Don't feel crushingly disappointed, feel amazed that he did as well as he did. And then go vote for Hillary in November, the way you voted for Obama before.


A related reminder: the Democratic Party is not naturally a liberal or leftist party. It is a big tent party that liberals can find a place in. A coalition of diverse interest groups loosely united by an interest in equality, fairness, or helping the underdog (especially when it's themselves.) But full-bore ideological leftists? We're a distinct minority. The party has big chunks who care about economic help but aren't all that socially liberal, and social liberals who feel the existing market economy is treating them quite well. And if we want to get things done, we need to work with at least one of those chunks, if not both, not view the Democratic party as our natural territory that's somehow been stolen from us.

Conversely, it's not the enemy either: a plurality electoral system can only stably support two parties, and at the moment the Democratic party is the one for us. Not satisfied with it? Try to change it, first of all by voting at every chance, second by convincing other voters that your ideas are attractive.

Cuz, well, for all the talk about plutocracy, money doesn't win elections. Ask Jeb Bush or Ross Perot. Money buys airtime, money can influence elections, but votes (or electoral fraud) wins elections. And politicians listen to the voters... especially voters they can *mostly* rely on. Like, voters who actually come out to vote in every election, as opposed to ones who vote for the Presidency but skip the Congressional primaries and elections. Which, sadly, describes much of the Democratic base, especially youth and progressive blocs.

Especially the youth. Young people who don't vote because Bernie didn't win aren't sending a message, they're just doing what young people have always done: not vote, and thus be not worth politicians worrying about.


(And if you need a reminder of what the Democratic party has done for us recently: just off the top of my head: raised the minimum wage by 40%; fundamentally reformed how health care is provided; regulated tobacco and credit card companies; at least tried to regulate carbon emissions; stimulated the economy back from complete sickness; funding that's causing a big boom in renewable energy; Dodd-Frank Wall street reform; repealed DADT. And that's with the GOP controlling Congress for most of the last 8 years, because Democratic turnout collapsed in 2010 and 2014.)

At state levels, increased minimum wage further in many places. A whole slew of new progressive laws in California. Pharmacy birth control in Oregon. Banning "conversion therapy" in Illinois. Etc.)

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Damien Sullivan

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