Please Advise! Should Bernie Sanders Quit?

Well, there is the fact that, um, he's lost. There's also the fact of Donald Trump.

By Steve Burgess 4 Jun 2016 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Find his previous articles here.

Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a Ph.D in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.

Dear Dr. Steve,

Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders. Bernie Bernie Sanders. Feel the Bern Sanders Bernie Sanders Bernie Sanders Bernie Sanders. Sanders Bernie Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders.




Dear BS,

I think I know what you are trying to say. In fact, reading your letter is very much like reading my Twitter feed in this campaign season. You, like many others, support Senator Sanders and his campaign for president. You believe he could change America and the world. You love him. Millions agree with you.

I love the Toronto Blue Jays. What a run they made last fall. Bautista's bat flip -- man. Brought the whole country together in a collective howl of joy. They came back to beat the Texas Rangers and went on the American League Championship Series against Kansas City. They lost.

And here's the thing about the Jays -- they didn't show up at the World Series expecting to play. Tough competitors though they are, they can also read a box score. They did not charge the mound to tackle KC pitchers while the New York Mets cheered them on.

You see where I'm going with this. Or maybe you don't -- I'm never quite sure with you Sanders people anymore. Here it is then: You lost. Hillary Clinton needs 70 more delegates to clinch -- there are 475 delegates at stake in California. Both candidates will win delegates but Hillary has a solid lead in the polls. Hillary is going to win the nomination. That's been obvious for quite a while but after California it will be official. It's Clinton vs. Trump for the White House.

But will that make any difference to what I see in my Twitter feed? Sanders and his fans keep going. He's the only zombie with a bigger fan base than The Walking Dead. The last World War II Japanese soldier surrendered in 1974. Some Sanders supporters probably think he was a quitter.

The ardour of Sanders fans is often noted. Together with their white-haired hero, they hope to storm Wall Street like the Bastille and free all the money imprisoned within. They share a dream. But there is a line beyond which dreamers become lunatics and lovers become stalkers. Sanders supporters are beginning to remind me of that Saskatchewan farmer who was convinced Anne Murray was in love with him.

Examples? A.F. Branco is a political cartoonist whose work appears in a right-wing website called Legal Insurrection. His favourite subjects include the evil and treachery of Obama, the myth of climate change, and the manliness of Donald Trump. Recently one of his cartoons popped up in my Twitter feed -- it depicted Hillary in a dungeon torturing three women, Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, and Kathleen Willey, who had once accused Bill Clinton, then president, of sexual impropriety. This cartoon was retweeted into my feed by a rabid Sanders fan.

Raffi vs. Hillary

Beloved children's entertainer Raffi is among the most prominent of Canadian Sanders supporters. As the California vote approaches, he's been steadily tweeting links to stories about Hillary's email scandal. If you believe Donald Trump is the most heinous, appalling, dangerous candidate ever nominated by a major U.S. political party, it seems counter-intuitive to send out tweets supporting Trump's talking points. But these days I often have to double-check to see whether the Hillary hate is coming from the right or the left. When it comes to slagging Hillary, the main difference between Trump followers and hard-core Sanders supporters seems to be that the Trump people aren't as self-righteous about it. Only Sanders devotees seem convinced that by smearing the Democratic presidential nominee they are somehow marching towards Utopia.

The argument has even been advanced -- right here in The Tyee in fact -- that Trump might be preferable to Hillary. ''[T]he Republican Trump card will play better for Canadian and American leftists than the corporately funded, consummate Washington establishment insider and Democratic disaster Hillary Clinton,'' wrote Tyee columnist Bill Tieleman. Bill was hardly endorsing Trump, but his column did illustrate the degree to which populism and anti-establishment sentiment can cut across the political spectrum.

I would argue that when your candidate starts sounding like Trump, the appropriate response might be concern about your candidate rather than a higher opinion of Trump. Ditto when your complaints about the bias of mainstream media start to make you sound like Sarah Palin (e.g., the meme that purported to show a massive crowd at a New York Sanders rally -- totally ignored by the media, Sanders supporters claimed. It may have been ignored because it was not a Sanders rally at all but a Paris crowd supporting Charlie Hebdo.)

Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for president. A man whose political strategy has been to do and say so many despicable things, to demonstrate his unfitness for office so thoroughly, that critics can no longer summarize his awfulness briefly enough to fit into news clips. Listing the reasons Trump should not be president is like trying to describe Game of Thrones one killing at a time.

Yet Republicans are now falling into line. Paul Ryan, John McCain, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, and more, all saying that the most dangerous gas bag since the Hindenburg is somehow preferable to Hillary Clinton. I'm sure it's not easy for Republicans to stand in that shameful line. And the worst part must be having to make small talk with all the Sanders people.  [Tyee]

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