I often get accused by many pro-Sanders supporters of being a “shill for Hillary” or a “Bernie hater” – neither of which are actually true. To be honest, I like both candidates. The main reason I support Clinton over Sanders is because I believe she gives Democrats their best chance of winning this November.
I know many Sanders supporters will cite “head-to-head” polls to debunk my belief. As I’ve said for a while, head-to-head polls this far out from the general election are worthless. Aside from the fact that we’re a very long way from election day, it’s not exactly a coincidence that the candidates under the least amount of scrutiny (Sanders and Kasich) are the two individuals who perform the best in these polls.
Though despite my issues with Sanders, I admire him on many levels.
I have no doubt that he’s changed the Democratic party forever – and for the better. While his “revolution” might not result in a Sanders presidency, he’s still cemented himself as a revolutionary figure among Democrats.
Even as a Clinton supporter I don’t deny that he’s made her a better candidate and hopefully a better president.
However, I have a confession to make. While I’ve been an open supporter of Clinton, had Elizabeth Warren run, I probably would have been fully onboard with the former Harvard professor. Not that I dislike any of these individuals, it’s just about preference and who I think gives Democrats our best shot of keeping the White House.
The biggest difference I see between Warren and Sanders is that she’s a type of leader that he simply isn’t.
Prior to Warren’s arrival in 2013, most of the country had never heard of Bernie Sanders. That’s interesting considering he had been a member of Congress for over 20 years before she was elected. Yet the moment she arrived on the scene she made an immediate impact and almost everything changed. She instantly became a progressive superstar.
So the question I’ve always asked is: If Warren could make such an immediate impact, why didn’t Sanders?
Well, because he’s not that type of leader.
Yes, he’s charismatic, a solid public speaker and is great at rallying people behind his message – but that’s entirely different from having the ability to govern and lead.
Not to say that Sanders doesn’t have many admirable qualities, but having a lot of really good ideas and having the ability to actually bring about change are two completely different things. There are a lot of bold idealists who lack the abilities to actually accomplish their goals. Whether it’s because of their personality, tactics or for any number of reasons, goods ideas or not, they’re often just not very effective at accomplishing many of their goals.
As long as I’ve known Bernie Sanders I’ve been a fan of his. Though when he got into this election I was always weary of his chances based upon the fact that it seems those who knew him best, and had worked with him most, were all siding with his opponent. While I know many pro-Sanders people will claim there’s some conspiracy behind all of that, I don’t buy it.
Now I’m aware that on some level I’m sure a few Democrats backed Clinton out of party loyalty or extenuating circumstances – but not all. Even many of the prominent Democrats in his own state are supporting Clinton, as well as very liberal politicians like Barbara Boxer, Cory Booker and Tammy Duckworth. Even former congressman Barney Frank, someone who’s admired by most folks on the left, has been a fairly harsh critic of Sanders.
Even before Sanders announced his candidacy (when people were only talking about him running), I said it was a mistake because his personality and skill set is best suited for the Senate. He’s a devout idealist who needs to be in Congress (where the real change happens), battling and fighting against Republicans – and even some Democrats – to usher in the change this country needs.
In this country we place far more importance on the presidency than we really should. While I’ve enjoyed President Obama’s time in office, I’ll always wonder how much of a better president he could have been had we given him a Congress that would have actually worked with him.
Again, pro-Sanders folks, please don’t take this as an attack on Bernie. His candidacy alone has made an everlasting impact on the Democratic party.
But if you rationally look at Sanders’ strengths and weaknesses, he’s exactly where he needs to be. The trouble-making fighter who’s going to rattle cages, make people a bit uncomfortable and push for the change we desperately need in this country.
Unfortunately, you can’t really do that as president. That’s why I think we place far too much of an importance on who’s president rather than who’s got power in Congress.
For liberals, progressives and Democrats, Bernie Sanders losing the nomination while still remaining in the Senate is actually a good thing. I know Clinton is far from perfect, but his candidacy did as many predicted it would – it’s pulled her more to the left. And now that she’s there, she can’t go back. Not only will Sanders be in the Senate (as a much louder voice now that he’s become a national name) to hold her accountable, but she’s likely going to want to run for re-election in 2020, which won’t go well if she goes back on a lot of her campaign promises.
So, if Hillary Clinton does win the nomination (which is all but a certainty at this point), then goes on to become our next president, and we have a much more powerful Bernie Sanders in the Senate, that’s a win-win for Democrats. At this point, Sanders will never be more impactful as a legislator than he will be for the rest of his career. And in the Senate, he’s in the perfect position to keep pushing the party further and further to the left like he’s been doing for the last year.
While I know emotions are still high right now, I’m confident that will subside over the coming weeks and months. I think most of us will unite, realize that there’s a much bigger picture here, and come together to make damn sure Republicans don’t take back the White House.
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