Editorials

‘Bernie or Bust,’ a surefire way to get Donald Trump elected

Sen. Bernie Sanders campaigns for Hillary Clinton in Kalamazoo, Mich., while some of his admirers are trying to undercut her.
Sen. Bernie Sanders campaigns for Hillary Clinton in Kalamazoo, Mich., while some of his admirers are trying to undercut her. The Associated Press

In a matter of hours, Americans will finally decide our next president. The winner – last-minute FBI shenanigans notwithstanding – will either be Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton or Republican nominee Donald Trump.

That’s the reality of our two-party system. The Sandernistas, however, don’t buy that. To their peril – and perhaps that of the nation – members of a particularly rebellious contingent of Bernie Sanders supporters still believe they can get their man into the Oval Office. No matter that the Vermont senator doesn’t want to be on the ballot for president anymore or that he has been stumping for his Democratic primary rival.

“This is not time for a protest vote. This is time to elect Hillary Clinton,” Sanders has said.

But the Sandernistas, it appears, don’t listen to reason. They’re on a mission to persuade voters to write-in Sanders for president in California and eight other states on Election Day.

Their goal – and they’re nothing if not persistent – is to deny Clinton the 270 electoral votes needed to win, leaving it to the House of Representatives to choose the next president – Sanders, Clinton or Trump. It’s a disastrous strategy that risks splitting the vote and creating an opening for Trump, a demagogue-in-waiting whose platform opposes everything Sandernistas claim to stand for, including criminal justice reform, cheaper health care and free college.

Sanders has been surprisingly low-key in his response to this latest wave of populist delusion. Time is short. He must forcefully tell his supporters to abandon their misguided write-in mission, and soon. Every minute he keeps quiet, spoiler campaigns such as Op Deny 270 and BernieVote.com recruit more voters from Facebook and Twitter to write in Sanders. In California, 55 people managed to register as “electors” to get Sanders approved as an official write-in candidate, with Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard as vice president.

The Sandernistas spent last week arguing that Clinton is just as “evil” as Trump, based on rumors – whipped up disgracefully by rogue pro-Trump FBI agents, then quashed Sunday with a big “never mind” by FBI Director James Comey – that freshly unearthed emails might yet get her indicted. Meanwhile, they’re pushing Trump supporters to write in Sanders, rather than vote for Trump, to deal a deeper blow to Clinton, bonding over shared paranoia about a rigged election.

“Sure, sometimes they’ll call me a socialist piece of trash, but many are willing to listen,” Jason Small, an elector from Los Angeles, told McClatchy Newspapers’ D.C. bureau. “There are things we have in common.”

Bipartisanship is a laudable goal, but not this twisted version of it. “Bernie or Bust” is not a future to believe in. Even Sanders knows that.

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