I’ve seen a few “articles” posted around the Interwebs with a similar theme: some questions for Bernie Sanders supporters. This one from Cara Harris on Daily News Bin popped up in my news feed today (although it was published back in August), and I thought I’d take some time to answer these questions.
1: If Elizabeth Warren were in the race, most of you would be supporting her instead. If neither Warren nor Bernie were in the race, most of you would be supporting Martin O’Malley despite knowing nothing about him. How are we supposed to take your endorsement of Bernie seriously when you appear to be simply backing him because he’s not Hillary?
First, it’s a rather brash assumption that Bernie supporters know nothing about him, or O’Malley, etc. How do you know we didn’t just do a little homework on the candidates and pick the one we liked best? I could also ask why we should take Hillary supporters seriously when they don’t know anything about her? What’s that, you do know stuff about her? Well now you see how arrogant this question sounds.
In any case, I can’t speak for every Bernie supporter, but I personally have been following Senator Sanders for roughly 6 years. If he weren’t in the race, I likely wouldn’t be backing any candidate. This is the first time I’ve actually paid much attention to the primaries, because it’s the first time in my life one of the candidates actually inspires me to get involved.
2. Do you honestly believe that Bernie would do well with foreign policy? Do you think he’d really be able to get congressmen of either party to vote for any of his initiatives once they see that he’s not willing to compromise even a little? Are you envisioning a scenario in which President Bernie would be able to get anything accomplished at all? Even his most prominent supporters like Noam Chomsky have acknowledged he would get nothing done in office. Are you so enamored with the very idea of a protest candidate winning, you wouldn’t care that he’d be ineffective?
There are really 2 questions here. First, I think Bernie would do fine on foreign policy. Why do you think Hillary would do any better? Because she was Secretary of State? So was Colin Powell. So was Condoleezza Rice. I wouldn’t vote for either of them to be President either. Here’s everything I need to know about Bernie’s foreign policy:
Now, the second part of this question, would Bernie be able to get anything done? First, what makes you think Hillary is going to get anything done? Republicans hate Hillary probably even more than they hate Obama, so are you envisioning a scenario in which President Bernie would be able to get anything accomplished at all?
Second, people seem to think that Bernie is an uncompromising ideologue and will refuse to bend on anything. His history shows otherwise. So what would you rather have, someone who starts on the far left and can compromise to the center-left, or someone who starts center-left and will compromise to the center-right?
3. Are you unable to understand national polls, or do you just like to ignore them because they reveal that your guy is losing by thirty-eight points within his own party?
So, should we just not bother with primaries at all? Why not just let the polls decide the nominee in mid-August? Nonsense. Further, this is the bandwagon fallacy, or appeal to popularity. You’re arguing that we shouldn’t support Bernie because it’s not popular. That is not a rational argument. And moreover, if you really think his chances are so slim, why are you bothering to ask these questions?
4. Are you under the impression that the people showing up to Bernie’s rallies each get more than one vote? Is that how you think he closes the gap? Or have you intentionally saturated yourself so thoroughly with people voting for your guy that you’ve honestly forgotten the vast majority of the nation says they favor someone else?
See the answer to question 3.
5. Do you understand that Bernie’s refusal to take traditional SuperPAC money means that even if he did get the nomination, he’d be outspent ten to one by his republican opponent? Are you aware that moderates and undecideds make their decisions based primarily on television ads, which are the most expensive part of any campaign? Do you get that nearly every ad would be for the republican? Do you get that he’d almost certainly lose? Would you really rather Bernie get the nomination and lose, than Hillary get the nomination and win? Because that’s how it looks to the rest of us.
Well, these questions were published back in August, so I’ll forgive the fact that you couldn’t predict the historic level of fundraising Bernie has been able to accomplish through small donations. But one nasty thing about SuperPACs is that anyone can run one for any candidate, whether the candidate approves or not. So, I don’t think this would be as big a factor in the general election as some people worry it would be.
Further, I think you, and the polls, and everyone else, are underestimating Millennials, who are much more likely to make their decisions based on social media, where Bernie has been dominating for months now.
6. Why do you spend more time pushing crazy lies about Hillary than you do talking up Bernie’s ideas? Bernie himself has made it clear that he thinks highly of Hillary, and he scolds any reporters who try to get him to trash her. If you’re primarily supporting him because you think lowly of her, have you considered the extent of the disconnect between you and your candidate? Has it occurred to you that if Bernie heard you talking about Hillary the way you talk about her, he’d angrily tell you off?
Again, I can’t speak for every Bernie supporter, but You Got Berned has been talking up Bernie’s ideas. I’m also not sure what lies you’re talking about, but showing comparisons between the 2 candidate does not amount to spreading crazy lies. I think this question is basically cherry picking some of the worst behavior from some Sanders supporters and using it to represent the whole.
7. Do you really think that Bernie’s strong showing in New Hampshire, a tiny state five minutes from where he lives, where he’s been locally popular for decades, is representative of the nation? Do you really think that New Hampshire’s four electoral votes will make a difference in this primary? And again, do you not know how to read national polls, or do you just like ignoring them because those polls reveal that your guy’s candidacy is already finished?
Again, see the answer to question 3.
8. Do you get that you’re supporting Bernie for essentially the same reason that conservatives are supporting Donald Trump? Do you realize that both men are basing their campaigns entirely on “government sucks, the system sucks, both parties suck, politicians are idiots and a trained rat could do better, and I’m just that trained rat.” Do you not understand the parallels between your desire to stomp your feet at Bernie’s generic indignance, and conservatives’s desire to stomp their feet at Trump’s generic indignance? Does that not embarrass you?
Um, no. Just no. The comparisons between Bernie and Trump are utter crap, and have been from day one. Sure, they’re both “populist” campaigns, and they’re both tapping into a rage against the machine, but that’s where the similarities end.
9. Most of you supporting Bernie are also fans of Obama. Seeing how Obama has all but endorsed Hillary, and how Obama sees her as his natural successor, don’t you find it odd that you’re instead rooting against her – even as you still try to take credit for supporting Obama? How does that make you any different from the republicans who try to take credit for Obama’s accomplishments while insisting he should be replaced by republican?
You do understand that you can generally support a person without agreeing with every single thing they say or do, right?
10. And the only question that truly matters: when Hillary becomes the democratic party nominee, will you pout and stay home on election day and hand the nation back to the republicans? Or will you show up and vote for Hillary because you know she’s the far better of the two candidates? While none of us understand why you’re supporting a less-qualified protest candidate whose ideas aren’t realistic and who can’t win anyway, we’re really only going to judge you based on what you do on election day. So when it’s Hillary vs Jeb TrumpCruz, what’s it going to be?
I’ve seen this question more times than I can count. I might ask you the same question. But here’s the deal, while Bernie’s base is largely progressive Democrats, it also includes a significant portion of Republicans who have become disillusioned with their party. Unlike Hillary, Bernie actually does appeal to some folks on the other side of the isle. So if you are asking if those people are going to vote for Hillary if she wins the nomination, well that was never going to happen, regardless of whether Bernie ran or not.
For myself, I’ll say this:
I do not like or really trust Hillary Clinton. If she does win the nomination, I will be selecting her name on a ballot in November. However, I would not consider this a vote “for” Clinton, but rather a vote against whichever lunatic is running on the Republican side. Call it semantics if you want, but that’s how I would view my options in that scenario.