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“Not All Have Pledged Undying Loyalty”: Sanders’ Celebrity Cohort Split Over “Bernie or Bust!”

After Hillary Clinton’s near-sweep of five states on Tuesday, the Bernie Sanders campaign is in dire straits. While Sanders is still fighting for the nomination, he now trails Clinton in the pledged delegate count by a convincing 327 votes. Still, even if the rest of the primary season goes according to plan for Clinton — as it most likely will — there’s no guarantee that Bernie’s impassioned fans will turn their support to the Democratic nominee.

Enter the “Bernie or Bust” movement, in which the most diehard Sanders fans have announced their intention to stay home on election day, or vote for someone else, rather than supporting Hillary Clinton. This crusade is picking up steam, especially among Sanders’ celebrity devotees.

Susan Sarandon was among the first of Sanders’ Hollywood spokespeople to push for this ultimatum. Back in March, she made headlines with a controversial MSNBC interview in which she hinted — though she disputed such accusations later — that Donald Trump might “bring the revolution” if Sanders failed to attain the nomination. Then, during an appearance last Wednesday on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, she said “I’m more afraid of, actually, Hillary Clinton’s war record and her hawkishness than I am of building a wall.” Though she also added, “but that doesn’t mean I would vote for Trump.”

Actress Rosario Dawson has been one of Sander’s leading advocates throughout this cycle. While she hasn’t aligned herself with the #BernieOrBust hashtag movement on Twitter, many recent posts criticize Clinton’s political record while boldly reaffirming Sander’s slogan #NotMeUs. Should Dawson throw a vote Clinton’s way come November, expect it to be cast with far less social media fanfare than we’re used to seeing from her, or maybe just a frowning emoji.

Still, not all of Sanders’ famous friends have pledged their undying loyalty to him. Last week on Real Time with Bill Maher, the brazenly liberal host tore into Sanders supporters who claim they’d rather vote for Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton. After outlining key differences between a Trump and Clinton presidency, Maher proclaimed, “That’s your choice. Don’t be assholes about it.”

The original Star Trek’s George Takei, a self proclaimed “fan of Bernie Sanders” posted a video on Wednesday to promote a new slogan, #VoteBlueNoMatterWho. Calling upon his fellow Democrats to be realists, Takei argued that Sanders had still won through his invigoration of the progressive left, and reminded viewers that the Vermont Senator himself had said that Clinton would be a far superior choice to any Republican candidate.

Author Anne Rice withstood a flurry of online attacks and insults Tuesday night after posting an anti-Sanders status on her Facebook page. Rice, who months ago touted Sanders as the superior Democratic candidate, wrote, “I’m very sorry I ever contributed a nickel to Bernie’s campaign. I had no idea his followers would become obstructionist and go to the depths they have with the politics of personal destruction. They’re worse than Republicans.” The post has since been removed.

 

By: Dan Fitzpatrick, The National Memo, May 2, 2016

May 3, 2016 Posted by | Bernie or Bust, Bernie Sanders, Sanders Supporters | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Bernie Nation Can’t Get Behind Hillary Clinton”: The Extreme Left Now Mirrors The Extreme Right

“And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain.”

Those are, of course, the opening lyrics to Frank Sinatra’s immortal recording of “My Way.” They are also a succinct description of the state of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

Last week, the candidate announced he was laying off hundreds of staff members after a series of bruising primary losses to Hillary Clinton. She increased her lead in the delegate count and Sanders, who was already walking a narrow pathway to the Democratic nomination, now walks a high wire in a high wind.

Though the campaign spun the layoffs as forward-leaning strategy, it was difficult not to read them as a tacit acknowledgment that “the Bern” has all but burned out. Indeed, Sanders has begun to openly ponder — though he still rejects — the idea of losing.

It may not be over yet, but the fat lady is running the scales. Now, how to break that to Bernie Nation?

Once in a while, a politician leads not a campaign, but a movement. Think Obama in 2008, Reagan in 1980, Bobby Kennedy in 1968, John in 1960. Such candidates catch the Zeitgeist in a bottle. They have not voters, but believers, receive not support, but faith. That’s Sanders in a nutshell.

Small wonder people love him. He has spoken against the corporate hijacking of American government and dreams. And he has pulled the Democratic Party back toward progressive values of which the party has seemed vaguely ashamed ever since the Reagan tsunami rendered “liberal” a four-letter word.

But Sanders is not going to win the Democratic nomination. As this sinks in, many of his believers are declaring their intent to boycott the fall election. A recent McClatchy-Marist poll tells us that one in four citizens of Bernie Nation will refuse to support Hillary Clinton if she is nominated.

It was recently suggested on “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” that this may not be the smartest strategy in an election where the specter of a Donald Trump presidency looms. In response, Sanders believer Susan Sarandon invoked John F. Kennedy — “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

“This was our peaceful revolution,” she warned.

On the same program, comedian Mike Yard said, “People that supported Bernie are not people that play the game. They’re not afraid to blow (expletive) up. Maybe we need to blow this b—h up.”

They sound like Republicans did in 2008 and 2012.

They sound like the kid who snatches his ball and storms out of the park after losing a game.

But worse than churlish and childish, they sound Cruz-ish, as in Ted, who is hugely unpopular not just for his harshly conservative ideology, but even more for his hardline absolutism, his willingness to drive the nation off a cliff rather than bend. He, too, is unafraid “to blow (expletive) up.” Wasn’t that the takeaway from 2013’s disastrous government shutdown and multiple iterations of the manufactured debt ceiling crisis?

It comes, then, to this. The extreme left now mirrors the extreme right, each reflecting the anger and unbending rigidity of the other. And the idea that politics is the art of compromise, where everybody gets something but nobody gets everything, seems a lost artifact from a distant age.

How ironic that the Sanders campaign, conducted mostly on the high ground of ideas and ideals, descends to cries of boycott and even revolution as it nears its end. Granted, nobody likes to lose. But the loss was fair and square and those citizens of Bernie Nation who can’t deal with that, who want to opt out of the system or take up arms against it, should be ashamed of themselves. One feels sorry for them.

The nomination is the least of what they’ve lost.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist, The Miami Herald; The National Memo, May 1, 2016

May 1, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic Presidential Primaries, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Bad Luck Bears”: Bernie Sanders; From The Guys Who Brought You George W. Bush

The team that brought you the George W. Bush administration in 2000 has gathered behind a new candidate: Bernie Sanders.

A host of prominent Ralph Nader backers has joined team Sanders in 2016, excited by his message discipline and aggressive fight against the establishment powers that be.

In the Democratic socialist from Vermont, they see a flag-bearer for the same issues while the Democratic establishment views him as a persistent pest who is raking in money by the fistful without a clear and obvious path to the nomination.

And the same way that Nader’s staunchest supporters had no kind words for the eventual nominee then-Vice President Al Gore, some of Sanders’s surrogates are spending their time bashing Hillary Clinton, making it even more difficult for the party faithful to rally around him.

Throughout Nader’s consecutive failed presidential bids, he picked up a cadre of high-profile endorsers ranging from actress Susan Sarandon to academic Cornel West. The rest of the roster backing both men includes actor Danny Glover, former National Nurses United Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro, musicians Ani DiFranco and Bonnie Raitt, country singer Willie Nelson, and Ben Cohen, one of the founders of Ben & Jerry’s, just to name a few.

“There are some pretty obvious parallels,” Oliver Hall, Nader’s lawyer and long-time friend said in an interview with The Daily Beast.

While the players on the bench supporting these candidates are remarkably similar, so far Sanders hasn’t drawn the collective ire of the Democratic Party quite nearly as much as Nader did. His campaign did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast.

After all, many personally blamed Nader for pulling Democratic votes away from Gore in 2000—ushering in Bush.

It’s tough to blame them for being angry. Bush edged out Gore by 537 votes, while Nader—the Green Party candidate—took over 97,000 votes in Florida, which Democrats thought could have tipped the scales in Gore’s favor.

The spoiler effect, a term ascribed to 1992 candidate Ross Perot, was redubbed as “The Nader Effect,” used as shorthand for a candidate that is going nowhere spoiling an election for a like-minded but more viable party nominee.

Nader has been adamant that he is not the one to blame, writing in 2004 on his presidential campaign site, that his voters wouldn’t have swung the election in Gore’s favor.

“In the year 2000, exit polls reported that 25% of my voters would have voted for Bush, 38% would have voted for Gore and the rest would not have voted at all,” he wrote.

The 2000 campaign efforts (some of which were led by his own supporters) to get Nader to drop out fell on deaf ears.

And 16 years later, a much more successful candidate has no interest in cutting his bid short either—despite almost daily urging from the Democratic establishment.

But still, the longer Sanders has stuck around the more he appears to get under Hillary Clinton’s skin.

Now the winner of 14 states, including a surprise victory in Michigan, Sanders is frequently painted as a message candidate spoiling the prospects of an establishment Democrat looking to finally secure the nomination after falling short eight years ago.

His staunch opposition to the Iraq War, something for which Clinton voted, and support for a single-payer healthcare program mirror some of the central tenets of Nader’s campaign.

Hall told The Daily Beast that the similarities between the candidates are apparent and even now he’s still tired of hearing that the latter is the reason Bush won in 2000.

“It’s ridiculous and pathetic,” he said in a phone interview. “If the Democratic Party is a serious organization, they need to tolerate free discussion of ideas.”

He contended that the same people who have accused Nader of indirectly leading the United States into its worst war since Vietnam are the ones imploring people to vote for Hillary Clinton this year.

“When Nader ran as a third party candidate, everybody attacked him,” Hall said. “Now they’re attacking Sanders for running as a Democrat.”

And as Sanders continues to exceed expectations in the primary, currently leading Clinton by a small margin in Wisconsin—the next contest—Hall questioned the former secretary of state’s strength as a candidate.

“How good of a candidate can Hillary Clinton be if she can’t handle debate in the primary election process? That’s the entire purpose of a primary election.”

And his endorsers have taken note.

West, a prominent academic and progressive Democratic stalwart, backed Ralph Nader in 2000 before giving Sanders his blessing in 2015. Once Gore was the nominee, he chastised him for picking Senator Joseph Lieberman as his running mate given his opposition to affirmative action. West referred to it as “an act of disrespect to the black community,” according to a 2000 article in the Chicago Tribune.

Earlier this year, West wrote an op-ed for Politico describing Sanders as being “better for black people” than Clinton.

West has not responded to a request for comment from The Daily Beast.

Sarandon, another Sanders backer who recently drew controversy for suggesting that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump might be ultimately better for the United States than Clinton, was also all in for Nader in the past. She served as the national co-chair for Nader’s steering committee in 2000 and was named as a plaintiff in a lawsuit he filed against the Federal Election Commission which alleged that corporations sponsoring debates could constitute as illegal corporate campaign contributions.

Documentarian Michael Moore also endorsed both candidates. In September 2000, he appeared at a fundraiser upon the Green Party candidate’s behalf, dispelling the idea that Nader was a spoiler in the race.

“A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush?” Moore said at the time. “No, a vote for Gore is a vote for Bush. A vote for Bush is a vote for Bush. A vote for Nader is a political Molotov.”

In 2000, Sanders publicly vouched for Nader himself, while the latter campaigned in Vermont.

“He’s an old-fashioned guy who believes that maybe the ordinary people should be running this country rather than the multinational corporations,” Sanders said introducing Nader at an event, according to an AP story at the time.

Sanders’s national spokesperson Symone Sanders also previously worked as a communications officer for the Ralph Nader-founded organization Public Citizen.

He changed his tune by 2004 though when Nader tried to run again, saying “virtually the entire progressive movement is not going to be supportive of Nader,” according to an AP story.

“We’ve got to come together to defeat George Bush, we have to develop a strong progressive movement to make sure we make the changes in this country that we need,” Sanders said in 2004. “But our main task right now is to defeat Bush and I think Nader’s effort could have some impact in dividing up that vote and that’s a negative thing.”

Nader himself did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast but he has expressed support for Sanders’s candidacy and his ideas.

The animosity between Nader and Gore supporters that bubbled up in the 2000 general election is already stewing in a similar capacity in the 2016 Democratic primary with surrogates like Sarandon and actress Rosario Dawson criticizing Clinton and the big-money interests they contend she stands for.

“Shame on you,” Dawson said referring to Clinton at a recent rally in New York. “I don’t have to vote against someone; I can vote for someone who’s on our side.”

She went on to criticize President Obama at a Harlem town hall days later, suggesting that he wasn’t able to keep up momentum to elicit big turnout in the 2014 midterm elections.

Another Sanders surrogate, rapper Killer Mike, got into similar hot water for quoting activist Jane Elliott’s line in February saying: “A uterus doesn’t qualify you to be president of the United States.” Implicit in the remark was not sexism, but rather that gender should not determine who one votes for.

The difference, of course, compared to the fervor around Nader is that these conflicts of opinion are not necessarily going to negatively impact the chances of a Democratic president being in the White House next year.

But from the start, Sanders’s campaign was concerned about appearing like just another Nader.

“The one thing he’s determined not to do is to be another Ralph Nader,” adviser Tad Devine said in April, 2015 as Sanders was preparing to announce his candidacy. “And the only way to avoid doing that is to avoid being a third-party candidate from the left in the general election.”

Time will tell if that promise holds up.

 

By: Gideon Resnick, The Daily Beast, April 5, 2016

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, George W Bush, Ralph Nader | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“I Don’t Vote My Self-Interests”: Get Off My Lawn, Bernie Kids! Why I’m Voting For Hillary Clinton

So I see from Twitter that some genius has gone on Zillow and found my house. I think this must’ve happened in response to something I said on the Stephanie Miller radio show on Wednesday, discussing my last column, about how some people can afford to cast votes around their hopes and dreams while others vote to protect rights and gains that the other side wants to take away from them.

I don’t recall my exact words, but they were something to the effect that that idiot Susan Sarandon’s life isn’t going to change one way or the other no matter who’s president, and for that matter, neither is mine, not that I’m rich, but I make a good living, so my life won’t change, yadda yadda, which I suppose is what put the wheel in spin. So now people who want to know such things know what I paid for my house, and yeah, it’s kind of a lot, this being suburban Washington, D.C., and I guess the point is supposed to be that I’m an out-of-touch elitist or something, just the kind of sellout you’d expect to support Hillary over Bernie.

So I have a nice house. So what? I earned it. I didn’t inherit much. Dad made a lot of money, but he lost a lot, too, always trying to outsmart the market. And he made a hell of a lot less than he could have. His funeral was like George Bailey’s funeral—I lost count of the number of grown men who came up to me crying, telling me about the mountains of legal work Dad had done for them over the years for free.

I mention my father because he’s the one who taught me that people like us don’t vote our self-interest. We’re going to be fine. So I listened to him. I don’t vote my self-interest. I vote the interests of people with houses that cost a quarter of what mine cost. If I wanted to vote according to my naked self-interest, I’d vote Republican. They’ll give me a nice tax cut. No thanks. Don’t want it.

So I vote for other people’s interests. The kinds of interests I wrote about the other day—economic welfare, of course, but voting rights, rights for immigrants, all the rest. The things the Republican Party wants to yank away from people. And you know what? I actually just think that Hillary Clinton will do a better job of defending those interests than Bernie Sanders will. Nobody makes me say that. Chelsea isn’t sending me secret messages. I just think it.

How can that possibly be? It is true that Clinton is too much an incrementalist and centrist for my tastes. She’s gotten a lot of things wrong—the Iraq vote, those speeches and all that lucre, way more money that any normal person needs to have. And yet, I also think two other things. She’s tough as steel; and she might turn out to be good at persuading the Republicans to deal.

Can anyone seriously doubt the first point? For a quarter-century, she’s been called everything you can call a person. They wanted to finish her. Put her in jail. Still do. And this wasn’t because she did anything wrong. Jill Abramson got it right this week: Clinton is fundamentally not corrupt. So it wasn’t that. Rather, it was because to the hard right, she was just too aggressive for a woman. But you can’t destroy a person for that, so you have to find something else.

But she’s endured all of it and stayed in the game. And no, it’s not because she’s power-mad, another well-worn right-wing (and seriously sexist) trope. She’s in it for mostly the right reasons—and because she doesn’t want to let the people trying to destroy her have her scalp, which is a damn good reason on its own.

As for my second point, we have her record as a senator to look back on. True, neither she nor Sanders did much in terms of legislation, but legislation is an overrated part of what a senator does. From what I’m told from senators I know, she’s a better kibbitzer, especially with Republicans. Remember—what do I mean, remember? You don’t even know this!—she went into the Senate with the then-Republican leader wishing her dead (kinda jokingly but kinda not) and harrumphing that in the event that she did survive, she would surely be put in her place. Within a year, many of them loved her.

Yeah, I know. To some of you, more evidence of her hackery. But maybe it’s just evidence that she’s a person whose word is good and who is someone to be taken seriously. So maybe she can sit down with Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan and horse-trade her way to a paid family leave bill. That one thing would make life dramatically better for millions.

And I think it’s one more thing than Sanders would pass. As for my two criteria applied to him, let’s have a look. One, we don’t know if he’s tough. Yeah, he’s originally from Brooklyn. But Vermont isn’t exactly Cook County. And as for horse-trading, he doesn’t talk as if it interests him very much, but if you’re going to be a successful president, it has to.

It has to interest you because millions of people are counting on you to do something to help them. Not people like me. My needs from the state are few. I’m for the person who I think will do more for people whose needs from the state are great. On paper, I probably agree with Sanders as much as I do with Clinton. But politics isn’t about having one’s own views reflected back to one.

And a people’s revolution that can be blocked by a mere 41 senators, which the Republicans will never not have, is going to fail and disappoint.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, April 1, 2016

April 3, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Women in Politics | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Very Enthusiastic Cycle For Democrats”: There Are New Signs That Trump Is Indeed Energizing Democrats

It’s been a long time — eight years, to be exact — since the words Democrats and enthusiasm have been credibly uttered in the same sentence. And even now, it seems the most enthusiastic Democrats are those highly attached to a presidential candidate who is probably going to lose the nomination on what will feel like a technical knockout or just points. Meanwhile, Republicans are very excited — or in some cases, freaked out — and are participating in primaries at high levels.

Observers have naturally wondered if the very things that so excite Republicans in the presidential contest will eventually excite Democrats — negatively, of course, by creating the specter of an extremist presidency occupied by either a white-identity politician or a throwback to Barry Goldwater.

Now via Greg Sargent comes some data from Stan Greenberg on engagement in the election indicating the Trump Factor could indeed be making a difference with Democratic groups:

Last November, Greenberg warned that the lack of engagement of Dem voter groups loomed as a big problem for Democrats. Now, however, this new poll shows a big bump in engagement among college educated women, minorities, white unmarried women, and Democrats overall. This would suggest a potential downside with Trump’s apparent strategy of unleashing white (male) backlash: Anything Trump says and does to keep that backlash at fever pitch — like the things he’s been all over the media for lately — risks increasing the engagement of Dem leaning groups.

It’s the age-old problem with highly conspicuous voter-mobilization techniques: the more loudly you labor to rev up your “base,” the more you do your opponents’ work in revving up their base as well. It’s why Get Out the Vote programs are often more effective when they operate under the radar screen. There’s nobody more on the radar screen than Donald J. Trump.

If Cruz manages to beat Trump in Cleveland, here’s guessing his scary-to-Democrats features will become rapidly more evident when they are no longer eclipsed by Trump’s. There will always be a few Susan Sarandons out there who insist there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the two major parties unless one or the other is under entirely new management. But this could turn out to be a very enthusiastic cycle for Democrats even if they have some misgivings about their nominee. Back in the heyday of racial politics in the 1960s and 1970s, there was talk of reactionary backlash sometimes stimulating progressive frontlash. That could be what we are beginning to see right now.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, April 1, 2016

April 2, 2016 Posted by | Democrats, Donald Trump, General Election 2016 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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