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What to Do about Bernie?

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Bernie Sanders March 2019 (cropped).jpg

Sanders at his second presidential rally at Navy Pier in Chicago, March 2019

If he wins the nomination, vote for him.

That prospect is not only spooking establishment-aligned Democrats, but it is also creating tensions about what, if anything, should be done to halt Mr. Sanders.


Some in the party still harbor anger over the 2016 race, when he ran against Hillary Clinton, and his ongoing resistance to becoming a Democrat. But his critics are chiefly motivated by a fear that nominating an avowed socialist would all but ensure Mr. Trump a second term.


“There’s a growing realization that Sanders could end up winning this thing, or certainly that he stays in so long that he damages the actual winner,” said David Brock, the liberal organizer, who said he has had discussions with other operatives about an anti-Sanders campaign and believes it should commence “sooner rather than later.”

The argument here seems to be something about a Bernie victory ensuring a Howard Schultz run which would ensure a Trump victory. Maybe that’s how the math goes, but it involves a bunch of weird assumptions that probably won’t hold. How many “centrists” would Schultz attract that wouldn’t already by attracted to Donald Trump? And how much of the residue of anti-Trump Republicans would find Schultz attractive? Fiddle with the assumptions, and it’s not at all difficult to imagine a scenario in which Schultz actively helps Sanders, even without mentioning how destructive it would be to the Democratic Party to take out-sized steps to gut the Sanders candidacy.

Long story short, if you don’t like Bernie, then vote for someone else in the primary. Electability arguments are always twitchy, especially when they’re made essentially to cover for policy and tone disagreements.

Update- Thinking about it, I should probably append this to any mention of Sanders or any other Democratic primary candidate: I have an ongoing, non-financial consulting relationship on foreign policy issues with the Sanders campaign.




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