There are a lot of things people assume about me, based on my status as a white, liberal, Anglo-Saxon male in his early 30s living in the bastion of left-wing hippiedom that is Madison, WI.
And, to be fair, most of it is true. I listen to NPR (but only when Spotify isn’t working, and also someone please get Ira Glass something to drink, he sounds so thirsty); I stand in line for expensive beer; The National is one of my favorite bands; and I have very strong opinions about both “Game of Thrones” and David Foster Wallace.
For the most part, I strut amiably and predictably down the demographic corridor.
I am not, however — I repeat, not — a Bernie Sanders supporter, and it really confuses almost everyone who has known me for less than five years, including my co-workers, most of whom are my age or younger. After all, I voted for Barack Obama back when he first ran in 2008, even though I said — and I’m sure the audio is out there somewhere — on some pissant radio show I used to help produce in Augusta, that I wasn’t sure it was quite his time yet. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in what he stood for, I just wasn’t convinced the rest of the liberal voting blocks would agree. I was, fortunately, wrong.
And there are parallels between that primary season and this one. Hillary Clinton was the foregone conclusion of the Democratic primary, the walking dynastic name brand and establishment choice. Obama was the upstart, the dark horse who carried a massive percentage of the youth vote, based primarily on the promise of change. This is key.
It was the right time for a candidate like Obama, especially considering who he was going up against: John McCain, a moderate Republican who had been known to operate outside of his own party lines, a war hero and voice of reason in the increasingly ridiculous GOP. And though he and his campaign would proceed to s**t on every iota of good will he’d accrued throughout his Senate tenure by vetting Sarah Palin and embracing social ultra-conservative “values,” he was a formidable opponent. Moderate though he may have been, he was a fairly “establishment” choice, a safe bet by his party.
If the Democrats had run Hillary in 2008, we could have been facing a McCain presidency. With Obama — the guidance counselor-firebrand hybrid who represented hitherto under-served demographics — the Democrats cut right through McCain, who came across as desperate and old in comparison.
In 2016, the view is different. Unless the Republicans decide to nominate someone completely different during their contested convention, it’s looking more and more like the candidate is going to be Ted Cruz. Trump will certainly get muscled out, and there just isn’t enough on-paper support for Kasich, despite him trending as the only GOP candidate left who could give either Sanders or Clinton an actual fight.
And the GOP hates — haaaaaaates — Ted Cruz. Not quite as much as they hate Trump, but Cruz swept into influence backed by the Tea Party — remember those dipshits? — and is the most legitimately fascist candidate left.
Unfortunately, Cruz has seemed comparatively sane standing next to Donald Trump at the debates. So much of it has flown under the radar, but he is a dangerous, dangerous man, and there is still a risk of the party getting behind him because they aren’t willing to play the long game and try to reshape the party into something that doesn’t resemble a laundry hamper full of rabid, retarded weasels.
If Sanders gets the nomination — and he very well might, though the math is dubious — he’ll almost certainly nab the White House, too. I’m not arguing that point. But if you think that the GOP-held Congress stonewalled President Obama, then oh my god, just wait until Sanders — a cranky, radical, Jewish socialist whose ideas and good intentions far outweigh his sense of practicality — takes office. Nothing will get done except through executive order, which is, like, an oil drum full of worms.
Hillary Clinton knows people. She has clout. Is she the establishment candidate? Hell, of course she is. But while the Bernie Bros consider that a dirty word, in reality it carries with it an implication of clout, of experience at the highest levels of government. She’s the Secretary of State, basically a hostage negotiator for American interests across the world, and that takes a special kind of badass.
I’ll end with one other small, salient point. If Bernie Sanders is the nominee, I won’t think twice about voting for him. He’s a good man, a hilariously, encouragingly improbable candidate, and he’ll fight. We know that much. And according to recent polls, about 90 percent of current Clinton supporters would do the same thing. Conversely, only 75 percent of Bernie Sanders supporters say that they would vote for Clinton if she were the nominee.
Passion and idealism are admirable, useful traits, for sure. But we’re playing a pragmatic long-game here, and sometimes revolution has to wait in favor of it.