This Harold Meyerson column is excellent. Two points in particular are worth emphasizing:
Sanders skeptics have been eyeing him apprehensively since he announced, fearful that he would become this year’s Ralph Nader. Nobody who actually knew Bernie, however, ever believed he wouldn’t support Hillary Clinton in the end. In fact, he did much more than that. By shifting the discourse in the Democratic Party to one more appropriate to an age of inequality, and by pushing the party in its platform to commit to causes from which, at best, it had been laggard in embracing, he was showing his people precisely what focused progressive activism can yield: tangible victories in the arena of real politics.
All of Bernie’s Sighted supporters understood this. Virtually every one of his endorsers who has a track record in the give-and-take of real politics—union activists, elected officials, environmentalist leaders—has proclaimed, as Bernie has, that the revolution succeeded in moving the party and its nominee to the left, and that a Hillary Clinton presidency, whatever it shortcomings, would create the possibility of significant progressive organizing and victories, while a Trump presidency would be a reign of repression.
I said this as it was unfolding, but people panicking about whether Sanders would endorse Clinton just didn’t understand him. He’s never been a risk to become a new Nader — he’s not obscenely self-centered and he understands the value of compromise. There were things he could have handled better towards the end of the campaign, but you can say the same and arguably worse about Clinton in 2008 and there’s was never any risk that she would abandon the party or refuse to endorse Obama.
And it’s also worth noting that Sanders’s supporters are if anything coming around more quickly than Clinton’s did in 2008:
Bernie’s messaging, the presentation of the platform and rules in a way that made clear just what he’d won, and the progressive—and in the case of Michelle Obama, brilliantly humane—presentations on Monday were plainly calculated to open some of the Bernie diehards’ eyes. So did the presentations from children of undocumented immigrants and other speakers to whom it would be hard to argue that the difference between Clinton and Donald Trump wasn’t really all that great.
As the convention began, a new Pew poll showed that 88.5 percent of voters who’d consistently backed Sanders throughout the primary season now favored Clinton. A majority of the Sanders delegates in the hall in Philadelphia also back Clinton, but a loud Blinkered minority has managed to command disproportionate media coverage, which ever favors the loud. This disconsolate fringe—not just delegates but also the demonstrators lined up outside the convention area’s fencing—is almost entirely white and non-immigrant, people, that is, with less reason than some to fear a Trump presidency will overturn their lives. Nor are the demonstrators I’ve talked to preponderantly local, but rather have come from across the country to shout their rage and discontent. In short, the Blinkered are a fraction of the left, the Naderites come again. They are people who wouldn’t normally be involved either in Democratic politics or real-world progressive organizations, who hitched their wagon to Sanders’s star while many more experienced progressive activists failed to grasp Sanders’s potential for moving the world further in their direction than any political phenomenon in years.
My hunch—no more than that—is that if the election stays close, many of the Blinkered will reluctantly succumb to a very rational fear in the last two weeks of the campaign, and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s vote will plummet just as Henry Wallace’s did in the final stretch of the 1948 campaign. The prospect of a Trump presidency will finally strike dread in all but the most hermetically sealed mentalities.
Even though they’re over-represented at the convention and MSNBC seemed determined to track down and interview each and every one of them, #BernieorBusters are a small, shrinking, figuratively and sometimes literally flatulent minority of Sanders supporters. People indifferent to the outcome of the election, or who (like Jill Stein*) are actively working to throw the election for Trump aren’t representative supporters and definitely aren’t representative of “The Left,” as much as they’d like you to think otherwise.
*Here is one BLISTERING hot take for you:
— Dr. Jill Stein (@DrJillStein) July 26, 2016
I was going to say that Jill Stein is to political commentary as Skip Bayless is to sports commentary, but that’s not really fair to the latter — Skip’s shitty takes aren’t actually part of a campaign willing to risk the the infliction of massive suffering on some of America’s most vulnerable citizens in exchange for no upside whatsoever.