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2020 Report: Sanders supporters are gearing up for more troublemaking


We all know that Putin and his minions in Russian security manipulated our 2016 election in order to create chaos among liberals and hand the presidency to Putin’s hand-picked candidate, Trump.

The evidence is overwhelming. Through vigorous social media meddling, the Russians sought to spread divisiveness and resentment among Democrats. “The voter suppression effort was focused particularly on [Bernie] Sanders supporters and African-Americans, urging them to shun Mrs. Clinton in the general election and either vote for Ms. [Jill] Stein or stay home,” reported Esquire Magazine.

Among the emails that Russia hacked from the Democratic National Committee and released to the world through Wikileaks was the bombshell that DNC officials “belittled” Sanders. As a result, reported Vox, “Many Sanders delegates were already grieving their candidate’s loss. Seeing high-level DNC officials deriding him behind the scenes added insult to injury and, for some, delegitimized the entire process.”

Those disgruntled Sanders voters either voted for him, for third-party candidates such as Stein, or else they stayed home and didn’t vote at all. (A few might even have voted for Trump.) The upshot was that these angry Sanders voters drained just enough electoral strength from Clinton (who won the popular vote by nearly 3 million) to hand the election to Trump.

The poster child for this destructive attitude four years ago was a woman, Dahleen Glanton, who wrote a wildly crazy op-ed in the Chicago Tribune. Her screed was classic agit-prop. “Bernie Sanders supporters have a right to be angry,” she began, adding, “The political system was rigged against their candidate in favor of Hillary Clinton.” Both these charges are malicious. The “political system” worked just fine. Sanders ran in the primaries and lost because Democrats heavily favored Hillary. Glanton included this horrible slander: “Democrats tarnished the electoral process.” No, they didn’t. Trump and his fellow colluders in Russia tarnished the electoral process.”

One might have hoped and prayed that this nonsense was behind us, but Bernie Sanders, still ambitious, is back, and his supporters once again are stirring up troubled waters. Last week, “Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) held over 400 house parties in all 50 states and Puerto Rico on Saturday afternoon calling on Sanders to run for president again in 2020.”

One of the Sanders organizers laid down the nascent campaign’s central theme: We don’t know if they [i.e. the other Democratic candidates] can beat Trump. We pretty much know Bernie can beat Trump.”

This is a falsehood. It’s very early in the polling rounds, but right now the strongest candidate to beat Trump (if he runs again) is not Sanders, but Joe Biden. He has led in every national poll taken since last Fall. In the latest Daily KOS poll, Elizabeth Warren is in first place, followed, in order, by O’Rourke, Kamala Harris and Biden; Sanders finishes fifth. So for someone to say they don’t know if anyone except Sanders can beat Trump is highly misleading.

Sanders relied on liberal resentments in 2016 (the same way Trump relied on rightwing resentments), and he’s starting this year off much the same. He mocked Beto O’Rourke for “reading Karl Marx,” leading some commentators to predict “a politically bloody primary.” David Brock, the former conservative pundit, wrote a perceptive piece in which he warns that “Bashing Beto O’Rourke (and every other Democrat) doesn’t help liberals’ cause in 2020. It only helps Trump.” Then, too, the Sanders campaign recently staggered under the blow that sexual harassment of women was rampant among his staff. In this #MeToo era, alienating independent and liberal-leaning women is a recipe for electoral disaster.

Bernie Sanders needs to be aware of the threat his ambitions pose. The last thing we need is a “bloody primary” among Democrats. The possibility of Trump getting re-elected is awful, cataclysmic, too horrible to contemplate. I’m not suggesting that Sanders is the only factor that could lead to Trump getting re-elected, but Sanders is certainly one of the strongest of those factors. His supporters have shown themselves to be stubborn, close-minded, ideological, angry, vengeful and resentful—the liberal equivalent of the knuckle-draggers at Breitbart. I’ve known some who claimed to be pleased that Trump won, because they loathed Hillary so much. How anyone except a rightwing radical could possibly celebrate the catastrophe of Trump boggles my mind.

At this point I’m not prepared to back any candidate in 2020. Among the major candidates, announced and unannounced, I like are Beto, Sherrod Brown, Biden, Julian Castro and Amy Klobuchar. I’m not naturally inclined toward Elizabeth Warren, but I’m open to her. Kamala Harris makes me nervous—it’s a little too early in her career for such a big move. This probably isn’t Cory Booker’s time. But I do know this: Bernie Sanders ought not to run. He had his chance, and lost. Time for him to step aside and let others see what they can do.

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