The Conservative Enemy

Having dispensed with the nonsense that “establishment Democrats” will panic if Bernie Sanders wins in New Hampshire this Tuesday and continues to gain momentum in the Democratic primary, let us now debunk another myth: that “Bernie bros” will stay home if Sanders ultimately fails to secure the Democratic nomination.

The suggestion that most Sanders-supporting progressives will refuse to vote on November 8 if Sanders isn’t the Democratic nominee defies all logic. Sure, there may be a few disgruntled Bernie-backers who will either skip the polls or pull the level for presumptive Green Party nominee Jill Stein if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, but ask yourself: considering the stakes involved, do you honestly believe that the folks who have been attracted to Sanders’s message would, in essence, concede the election to whichever radical from last night’s debate wins the GOP nomination?

Remember the nonsensical “PUMA” movement in 2008? The idea that large numbers of Clinton supporters would actually refuse to vote for Barack Obama in the general election was laughable–and the idea that most Sanders supporters will throw a tantrum in the event the Vermonter is vanquished is just as silly.

Considering the consequences, it’s an absolute certainty that the vast majority of Sanders supporters will set aside their differences with Clinton in the event the latter defeats the former in the Democratic primary. Those differences largely stem from the perception that Sanders will be more inclined to govern as an FDR-style progressive than Clinton. Yet the “Hillary is a de facto Republican who we will never, ever vote for!” crowd is only loud, not large.

To accept the premise that most Sanders supporters would go on a general-election strike if Clinton wins the Democratic nomination is to accept the right’s premise of progressive irrationality. In order to buy the idea that the “Bernie or Bust!” movement is real, one would have to believe that most Sanders supporters:

* are unmindful of the importance of the United States Supreme Court, US District Courts of Appeal, and US District Courts, and the judges appointed to each division;
* are perfectly willing to allow a situation whereby a Republican President, Republican House and Republican Senate are finally in a position to obliterate Obamacare;
* would have no problem with four years of nothing being done to stem the bloody tide of handgun violence;
* would give the Christian right the opportunity to reinstate coathangers as the only reproductive option for women facing unplanned and unwanted pregnancies;
* would tolerate a Republican president fomenting a culture of racial and religious intolerance;
* would ignore the prospect of the GOP gutting President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and successfully sabotaging the 2015 Paris climate agreement; and
* would gamble on the idea that a Republican president could be thrown out of office in 2020 in favor of, presumably, Democratic presidential nominee Elizabeth Warren.

In other words, to buy this idea, one would have to buy absolute absurdity.

Members of the progressive family are simply having an argument over who will be the best individual to lead the country into the next decade. Yes, the language in this argument is sometimes raw, crude, personal. However, does anyone really believe that at the end of the primary, the progressive family will not set aside its differences and come together?

Six years ago, in his re-election bid, then-Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick declared, “We worked hard [in order] to change the guard. Now it’s time to guard the change.” Supporters of Sanders and Clinton are, in essence, debating who is best situated to guard the changes of the last seven years, and expand upon those changes. The winner of that debate need not worry about receiving sufficient support in the general election from those who backed the loser.

UPDATE: More from Media Matters, Think Progress and Andrew Revkin.

SECOND UPDATE: Yes, Senator Rubio, President Obama knows exactly what he’s doinghe’s trying to make sure future generations have a chance to survive, unlike your sorry science-denying self. More from Peter Sinclair and the Boston Globe.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.