Editorials

Hey, Sandernistas, are you trying to elect Donald Trump?

Bernie Sanders supporters yelled, jeered and protested Hillary Clinton during the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Monday, July 25, 2016.
Bernie Sanders supporters yelled, jeered and protested Hillary Clinton during the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Monday, July 25, 2016. The Associated Press

Supporters of Bernie Sanders have had a big impact on the Democratic agenda. They have pushed through the most liberal party platform in recent memory. The $15 minimum wage, single-payer health care, debt-free college – these and other progressive priorities are getting attention they haven’t received in generations. What a waste it would be if Americans failed to elect a Democratic president.

Unfortunately, electing Donald Trump is exactly what some Sanders partisans appear to be bent on with their dogmatic and destructive demonization of Hillary Clinton. Perhaps they missed it, what with all the booing of every voice of reason they encountered Monday in Philadelphia, including that of Sanders, but as the Democratic National Convention opened, polls were showing Trump and Clinton in a dead heat.

Thanks in part to progressive sour grapes, Clinton’s once healthy lead has all but evaporated. This week dawned with Trump now leading her by 5 percentage points in a CNN poll, by 4 points in a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll and by 1 point in a CBS News poll, and taking all but three of 11 battleground states. The polling site Fivethirtyeight.com found that if the election were held today, Trump would win.

It is true that Clinton is more moderate than their man, and less a rebel. Emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee confirmed suspicions that DNC officials preferred her and discussed undermining him, though there’s no proof that they ever deployed party resources to those ends.

But most of America is more moderate than Sanders. And DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz quickly stepped back from the convention and promised to resign after WikiLeaks posted the emails. Though Sanders’ backers can feel wounded, they might also ask who, exactly, benefits from the email hack, which appears linked to the Russian government.

In 1968, when disappointed liberals failed to unite behind dull Hubert Humphrey, the nation ended up with President Richard Nixon. In 1980, Ted Kennedy’s refusal to cede to Jimmy Carter put Ronald Reagan in the White House. In 2000, leftist votes for Ralph Nader sucked air from Al Gore’s candidacy and turned it into the wind beneath the wings of George W. Bush.

Sanders supporters have everything to win if Clinton is elected – and a lot to lose if Trump ends up in the White House. Knowing this, some spent Monday recklessly sowing chaos; a few reportedly even picked up the Trump camp’s Hillary-hating “lock her up” chant. Perhaps they are so stung by DNC leaks that they can’t imagine who else might get locked up with a “law and order” authoritarian in the White House.

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