Much has been made about polls that purportedly show that a significant number of Bernie Sanders’ backers say they won’t vote for Hillary Clinton no matter what.
Now Sanders has made it clear as recently as an MSNBC Townhall that he will do whatever it takes to “make sure” no Republican gets in the White House.
You can’t get much more emphatic than that since everyone knows that the Republicans he’s talking about are Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. But Sanders’ forthright and very correct message — maybe more warning — still won’t shake the most rabid Sanders backers. It won’t make much difference to them how many times one says get Trump or Cruz and you get the nightmarish prospect of one, two, maybe even three more Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas types on the Supreme Court.
To them, Hillary is take your pick: shady, duplicitous, a bought-and-paid-for corporate and Wall Street shill, and the biggest hit, a virulent war hawk.
And there’s no difference between her and say Trump or Cruz; witness the BernieorBust tag being bandied about. Sanders knows better and not just rhetorically but from firsthand experience in hand-to-hand combat with the GOP in the Senate. He routinely ticks off the monumental damage that the GOP senators and House representatives have done or tried to do or if given the chance again will do from torpedoing climate control measures, to eviscerating Social Security and the Affordable Care Act, to giving away the company store in tax breaks to billionaires and Wall Street.
The rip-off is so bad and blatant that even mega-billionaire and poster boy corporate rightist Charles Koch blushed with shame when he told an interviewer that the system is shamelessly “rigged” for the wealthy, starting with men like him.
The big question, though, is just how many of Sanders’ backers will follow his example and back Hillary, whether they have to clamp the proverbial clothes pin over their nose or not. Even if more than a few follow through on their bellicose pledge not to back Clinton no matter what, that won’t much matter if the majority of them are in lockdown Democratic states like California or New York, where even the skies parting for a GOP presidential contender wouldn’t help them.
However, it really shouldn’t have to come to a clothes pin over the nose vote even without the big scare of a GOP president vowing to do everything he can to take us back to the 20th century. The thing that is either missed or wildly and deliberately skewed, distorted or maligned is the reason that Clinton got to where she is in the first place as the Democratic presidential choice.
There’s the relentless two decade-long GOP campaign of rumor, smears and outright lies against Hillary and Bill Clinton both within and without the White House, and you have a pattern of deceit and duplicity against a politician virtually unprecedented in American political annals. This easily could have tagged her as hopelessly politically damaged goods. But it didn’t.
Even when polls show that many voters dislike her, distrust her, or speak derisively of her, the one thing that can’t be denied is that she’s been one of the best prepared White House candidates in years.
Her experience in international relations and her hands-on administrative experience in White House policy affairs have ensured the allegiance of millions of voters to her. And they have shown that in the key primary elections such as New York.
The same polls that play up her negatives also showed that from the start of her campaign that she was the one sure Democrat who would beat any GOP contender. That’s still the case in a head-to-head matchup with either Trump or Cruz.
Millions of women see Clinton as the gender Obama. Her presidency will mark a historic presidential breakthrough for women. She will be a role model and inspiration for millions of women, young and old, in the world’s top political power spot. There’s the perception that she has the political savvy to wage the blood battles with a GOP-controlled Congress.
There’s also the political reality about the shape of a Clinton White House. She is a moderate, centrist Democrat who will give a hard nod to the interests of minorities, gays and women. She will continue and expand Obama’s policies that expand government programs and initiatives, hike spending on education, health care and jobs and markedly increase taxes on corporations and the wealthy while enforcing and even tightening regulations on the banks and Wall Street.
Sanders supporters rail that none of this is enough and that this is hardly the political revolution that a Sanders’ White House would usher in. But Sanders himself put the lie to that when he talked about how no matter how much a president talks radical change with a Congress that won’t support even the timidest reform measures, it’s all just a feel good field of dreams.
In the end, Sanders call to back Clinton is not the easy call. It’s the only call. And it doesn’t require a clothes pin over the nose.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His latest book is “From Sanders to Trump: A Guide to the 2016 Presidential Primary Battles” (Amazon Kindle). He also is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One and the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Saturdays at 9 a.m. on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.