Categorized | US, World

Why Bernie Supporters Might Embrace the Donald

Image by DonkeyHotey

Image by DonkeyHotey

As a very active supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders, I have for the past nine months lived in fear of the day when the strong economy, and the Democratic Party machine’s systematic opposition would finally see off our campaign. The fear was never so much that we wouldn’t get Mr. Sanders, although I am a major fan and think he would be the best president in my lifetime. The fear is that the other alternatives are so dire.

Clinton represents to me all the worst of the old school Reagan democrats. Triangulating in the wind, she will barely have enough political capital as president to pay off her corporate donors, and would have nothing left for the electorate. I am generally too progressive to consider the Republican field, but in any case, it’s hard not to notice that 2016’s has been a particularly rancid lot.

But now the day has come. A lot of Bernie supporters are still holding out hope, but the scenarios where I will be allowed to vote with a smile in November are fast closing. Because of the Democratic/Republican divide, most pundits are happily assuming Bernie supporters will fall in line behind Hillary, and decrying us as traitors if we do not. I have personally been mocked by Mrs. Clinton’s supporters, telling me how I will have to vote for her in November. I have to do no such thing, and there is in fact a very real logical progression as to why I might be well advised to “turn coat” and vote for the greater evil to achieve the less evil outcome.

For Bernie supporters the elephant in the room as far as Clinton is concerned is that if she wins she will completely claim the 2020 primary for herself. And we will not be allowed to field another progressive candidate until 2024. By then this author will personally be 37 years old. Most millennials will be in their thirties, and a fair number of us will be in our 40s. Also, by then right wing money may well have found a way to reanimate a zombified American dream. And the political pendulum could swing back to the right before we actually see the progressive president that Obama pretended he would be and Bernie really would have been.

If Trump wins on the other hand, the downside is that America will be a really awful place for 4 years. The movie ‘Back to the Future II’ springs to mind. On the other hand, his victory will be the worst thing that’s happened to the Republican Party in living memory. Their establishment would be in disarray; the radical Tea Party side would quickly become disillusioned when it turns out Mexico won’t pay for a wall and establishment republicans would probably not be doing too well. The right wing of the democratic party would also be in bad shape. They would have to suck it up and allow Elisabeth Warren to run in the 2020 primary without the gears of the establishment all turning against her as they did with Bernie. And she would win easily, uniting Hillary’s experience and gender with Bernie’s true progressive instincts.

So the choice for a Bernie bro is four years of Mad Max hell, followed by a progressive renaissance, or four to eight years slightly bleaker than the Obama years, followed by probably a Reagan 2.0. You can see how the former is a very tempting proposition.

The problem of course is this is just the most likely scenario from our vantage point. Choosing Trump is a very major gamble with the highest stakes. Most other plausible scenarios turn out a lot worse in the Trump department. As a base example, he could win in 2020. Bush did. Since the turn of the millennium we have not had a one term president. One termism might be a thing of the past. If Trump does win reelection, we will all be very much kicking ourselves for our optimistic 4-years-of-hell prediction. We would probably have lost our best resource in Senator Warren, if she lost the general in 2020, and it would be the progressives’ turn to be in disarray.

Another very real possibility is that Trump’s four years could be worse than anyone imagines. Maybe in 2020 we will need to elect Tulsi Gabbard for her military experience Stranger things have happened – like Trump becoming the Republican nominee.

So, for a Bernie bro, backing Trump in November is not at all ridiculous. It is a very real strategic option. It’s unquestionably a gamble, but Bernie’s supporters are young and willing to take risks, and a Hillary future looks very bleak for progressive politics in America. Because of this I really hope Mrs. Clinton will not remain as flippant with our votes as she has been up until now. And at the very least her supporters should put away the gloating tone, lest they eat their words.

When people say that Trump’s recent pandering to Bernie supporters might swing us, that is a ridiculous proposition. We are well enough informed to know that printing a Trump promise is a waste of paper. Nonetheless, irrespective of what comes out of Trump’s mouth, voting for him is a serious strategic play for a Bernie supporter, and definitely should not be written off.

Image courtesy of DonkeyHotey


About Terry Fulton

Terry Fulton is a Communications Fellow with Clean Air Asia in the Philippines. His transatlantic upbringing culminated in an MA in History from St Andrews University, and he has lived and worked around the world. Terry uses this experience to inform a view of geopolitics from a progressive perspective. He has a particular interest in UK and US politics.

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