Maybe This Isn’t the Best Time to Teach the Democratic Party a Lesson


In the battle for the Democratic nomination in 2008, things got pretty damned ugly and a lot of scary promises were made. More than a few Clinton supporters insisted, “If Obama gets the nomination, I’m writing in Hillary.” According to the Federal Elections Commission, there were 112,597 miscellaneous write-in votes, among which it can be assumed votes for Hillary Clinton could be counted. Keep in mind, this is also where you’ll find votes for cartoon characters, inanimate objects, deceased historical figure and your garden variety Honeys Booboo. Meanwhile, Obama received 69,498,516 votes.

During that year’s primaries, both Clinton and Obama landed some knock-out blows on each other. And each time they did, everybody gasped. All this fighting! Wouldn’t that just be fuel for the Republicans come November? Well, no.

Way back in 2000, Ralph Nader, who ran for the Green Party, collected almost three million votes. That election was decided on roughly a half-million votes — even though those votes went to the subsequent loser of the election. Thanks, electoral college!

And now, here we are sixteen years on watching another contentious Democratic primary. Many Bernie fans believe Hillary is a lying shrew. Many Hillary fans think Bernie is batshit crazy. Both sides seem to believe the whole system is rigged. And it is. Thanks again, electoral college! The voters who consider themselves “locked in” on either Hillary or Bernie aren’t going anywhere — even when it comes to the general election. “If Hillary/Bernie doesn’t get the nomination, then I’m writing in Bernie/Hillary on my ballot!” That’s because, “it’s time to teach the Democratic Party a lesson!”

But, is it really? And what kind of lesson are these voters willing to dish out? I assume it’s the Twisted Sister lesson that “We’re not gonna take it anymore.” But not take what? Isn’t this “rigged system” the same one that elected Barack Obama twice? Aren’t all presidential candidates kinda crazy and power mad?

I actually saw an “I will not vote for Hillary” pledge for Bernie fans to “sign” floating around Facebook the other day. What unfathomable bullshit. We’re supposed to bail on the United States completely and hand the reins over to the asocial asshammer who just flummoxed the GOP? That’s patently insane.

This is the time to do it, say Bernie fans. [And it must be noted that plenty of Hillary fans have made the reciprocal pledge should Bernie get the nod.] Donald Trump is a loudmouth diaper genie and will be easy to beat in the GE. Right?

Now would be a good time to remember back in June of 2015 when conservative pundits concluded that there was absolutely no way on earth that “il Douchebag,” a sketchy, screechy numbskull real estate developer and reality television hack, would win the Republican primary. It was a different time. We were all so young and foolish then.

I have friends in the “Never Hillary” and in the “Never Bernie” camps. We will still be friends in December. As for my Trump-fan friends? We’ll still be friends too. Life is too freaking short.

Me? I’m a Bernie guy myself and I see Hillary as pretty much what the Republicans should be. She’s a smart person who can get things done. But she’s a pro-business, pro-wealth neoliberal, just like her husband, and Jimmy Carter and, frankly, Barack Obama. We’ve tried that. I think enough is enough.

Progressivism has wandered pretty far off course over the last 40 years and the 1% has benefitted greatly from it. This is why it’s so important for the 1%-ers to keep the info-phobic voters on the right so terrified of policies that would actually benefit them and at the same time keep them energized to vote in a way that they feel certain will harm groups of people they define as “others.” This forces conservatives to lean even further right. And ultimately that lean has dragged progressives right along with it.

Bernie has been a very solid reminder that government should be working for all of us. But he’s also a reminder that progressivism and even socialism are about trying to lift all people up — not just the ones who look like we do or believe what we believe or work the same way we do — everybody. It’s that simple. The Bernie Revolution is, at the very least, an enthusiastic attempt to move the country back toward the center. Obama didn’t do it. And Hillary won’t either. And that’s a shame. I believe very firmly that we [the US] as a leader of nations need this shift desperately.

However, if Hillary is the Democratic nominee, I will sure as hell vote for her. At the very least, Hillary Clinton can speak on the global stage without sounding like a fucking beef-witted nincompoop. At the very least, she’ll try to consider the lives and livelihoods of American citizens who are not white or male when she’s making important decisions. At the very least, she’ll speak to the people who disagree with her respectfully. At the very least, she will attempt to keep the nation out of the gutter and instead moving forward — without clinched fists. That’s more than I can say about the presumptive GOP nominee.

When it comes to write-in votes — or even simply not voting — the math is pretty simple. If Bernie and Hillary each have about half of the democrats’ votes, and roughly 40% of Americans identify as democrats, that means on Election Day the most write-in votes Bernie can hope to get is 20% out of the total electorate. And that leaves Hillary with 20%. Meanwhile, Trump is polling at about 33% these days. If nobody writes in Ben Carson (and nobody will) his 33 beats your 20.

Now of course, 20% of voters are not going to vote for Bernie — or Hillary, if Bernie gets the nod. But now that he’s the GOP nominee, Donald Trump has momentum and lots of it. Momentum moves the swing voters. And there’s a lot more swing voters than there are protest voters.

You might think that punishing the Democratic Party by writing in Bernie will teach them a lesson. But don’t forget, 2,882,955 people taught the Democratic Party a lesson in 2000 by voting for Ralph Nader, another stand up guy with real ideas the world needs, but impossible to elect.

Instead, the lesson we learned was George W Bush. When he was being inaugurated, I recall thinking to myself, “Well, what’s the worst that can happen?”

And by God, in every possible way, it did.

Addendum: So What Should We Do? 

If you really believe in the Bernie Revolution then you should have faith that it can and should live on and even grow after November. If the Tea Party has taught us anything, it should be this. Look at what they were able to accomplish in just eight short years — the US Legislature at a complete standstill and the potential election of a certifiable lunatic as president. Now, just imagine what an organization of people with brains and empathy could do.

© 2016 Chris Henson


27 thoughts on “Maybe This Isn’t the Best Time to Teach the Democratic Party a Lesson

    1. Thank YOU! And believe me, I totally get where the “Bernie or Bust” movement is coming from. Whatever the outcome of the election, I hope all Bernie supporters can keep the momentum going and direct that passion into real action and real change. To some, it might feel like four years of POTUS Trump would be worth it in the long run, but I can’t let go of the deep, wide damage POTUS W did in his first four years.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We can’t have the revolution that Bernie wants without having change at the local and state levels. So even if people are unhappy with their choices at the top of the ticket, they still need to get out and vote, for Senate, for the House, for their state and town representatives. The President is important but he or she can’t do it alone.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I want Bernie to stick it out to the bitter end. I’m sure that Hillary will doom herself either by a bombshell discovery, or she is indicted by DOj for the email server, and Bernie will be there to carry the mantle for America.


      1. How can you still be friends with someone who is willing spitefully hand America over to a dangerous demagogue over a liberal Democrat. That person is not a patriot but a crybaby.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think that anyone who is willing to vote their conscience is patriotic and I’m not particularly fond of deciding who is more patriotic than whom. I do, in fact, believe that our freedom isn’t free. A lot of people see this as being willing to die for your country — or more accurately — being willing to send someone’s child to die for your country. I believe it means paying your taxes, voting your conscience, giving back to your community, and tolerating those who are different. To me that includes people who vote differently than I do. Sometimes it’s harder than other times.


        I’ve voiced my opinion here. In some countries [not many anymore] I’d be in jail by now. I’ve read quite a few opinions of others — many I disagree with entirely. Remaining respectful and even friendly with people with whom I disagree isn’t always easy. But it’s important. To me, that’s a price of freedom. And the least I can do.


  1. This article is crap. First off, the Dems account for only 31% of the electorate, Rep,s are 25% and Independents are 44% of the electorate. Your premise is fallacious because you have based it on inaccurate numbers, and because you didn’t even account for Independents which is the largest voting block. This makes me think you might be one of those Hillary trolls paid by her super pac.


    1. If you know how I could get my hands on some of that sweet troll money, please let me know. Meanwhile, Trump’s support in general right now is more than one third of the entire electorate, which is considerably more than your 25% republicans. Independents never all vote for the same person, and sure as hell aren’t all going to write in the same name. I think that’s borne out in the FEC data I provided.

      Keep in mind, this isn’t an article, it’s an essay. I’m not reporting nor am I pretending to. I’m offering my opinion. I really am a Bernie supporter and voted for him in the Virginia primary. Now, I’m just trying to think this thing through and felt that the process might have some value.

      If you really believe in the Bernie Revolution then you should have faith that it can and should live on and even grow after November. If the Tea Party has taught us anything, it should be this. Look at how they completely devoured the Republican Party in just two election cycles. Imagine what could happen if people with brains and empathy tried that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You know why Sanders is not in Trump’s position right now? Securing the nomination? Because the DNC has done a much better job of holding Sanders hostage than the RNC has done of holding Trump hostage. The DNC made sure Sanders had as little exposure as possible. They made sure there were hardly any debates early on so early states in the south wouldn’t have any idea of who he was. They found a way to deny him access to his support data months ago. They all of the sudden rolled back restrictions Obama put in place regarding donations from federal lobbyists and political action committees. The DNC has not charged Clinton for any wrong doing reagarding money laundering. If Sanders was in her position, they would. The list goes on and on.The RNC is not nearly as diabolical as the DNC is. In other words, the DNC has bullied many Democratic voters into voting for Hillary.

    If you want to give into bullying, that is up to you. I wont. If we lose this election, it will be the fault of the DNC, Clinton, the Super delegates who supported her, and voters that voted for her. The country is crying out for a non establishment candidate and they all ignored it.

    If Sanders would be elected the nominee, he would retain the support of all Democrat Berners, the majority of Clinton supporters who are in favor of Sanders’ poilcies but who are voting for Clinton just because she is a woman and they want to be a part of voting in the first woman, the majority of Independents and even some evangelical Republicans who are drawn to Sanders gospel approach to politics. Clinton would just have her lot, some Sanders supporters , and a few Independents.

    The country is asking for bread( a non establishment candidate) and the Democrats offer them a stone( an establishment candidate). By doing so, the Democrats are proving that they are out to protect the oligarchy that they have helped put in place.

    If we wait for the perfect time to stand up for what is right, change will never happen. The time is now.


    1. As I said to Drew earlier: If you really believe in the Bernie Revolution then you should have faith that it can and should live on and even grow after November. If the Tea Party has taught us anything, it should be this. Look at how they completely devoured the Republican Party in just two election cycles. Imagine what could happen if people with brains and empathy tried that.


  3. Except…Hillary is not all that different than George, nor is the great hope (Obama) that I didn’t vote for. Under Obama we lost inalienable rights. We lost sovereignty as a nation. The same puppeteers are behind Hillary. Abortion and food-stamps are the only difference between gop and dems, and even under the bush generations we didn’t really lose either did we? One pig wears pink lipstick the other one wears red lipstick but it is still just a fucking pig. A vote means something, but if everyone throws away their vote on a pink lipstick or red lipstick pig Nothing will ever change, only the illusion will. We live in a socialist country. We have lived in a socialist country. It is social feudalism. It is social for the elite not the common man. One side says God and family values the other side cries liberalism’s, but there is no difference. The police state grows. The economic warfare and cultural rape continues. The environmental rape continues. The pockets of the top get full, the people get duped. The rote learning in schools, the propaganda does not stop. The media, totally controlled keeps relentlessly chipping away at your humanity, putting forth fear , false choices, pseudo topics for you to yap about at the water cooler between sports seasons. The iron grip of control over you has been tightening at an alarmingly increasing rate no matter who is in office. FEMA camps, stockade trains are being designed and tested as we speak. Millions and millions go into fake facebook pages to lure and sway your attention no matter which side of the isle you are in, you are in the same fucking church! The lesser of two evils is still evil.
    The Democratic “Party” (the elites running the party, not the people) have rigged it so that it remains the status quo.
    So no…I won’t vote for the Shrew.


      1. No, you really didn’t you barely touched a small part of it AND turn around and say vote for her anyways. So your a Bernie guy…but you still think the continuation of business as usual is worth soap boxing about just because you are so scared of the GOP then you dont realize what is at stake here and now and that Obama did, and Hillary will continue the worst policies of G.W. The ones that violate everything the country is based upon. You don’t vote for usurpers of the constitution just because the corporations have run of the party and tell you who they picked for you to vote on.
        “I believe I said this in paragraph 10, the one starting with: “Me? I’m a Bernie guy … “ What does that even mean? What context does this have to do with the price of sovereignty? What price Judas?


      2. It means I campaigned and voted for Bernie in the primary and am still campaigning for him now. It means I understand what socialism is and what progressivism is and I still believe we can have those again in my lifetime.

        But it also means I’m looking at the real world and simply trying to think this whole thing through. If you don’t still see 2001 to 2009 as the worst, most disastrous eight years of our lifetime, you’re either too young to remember them or exhibiting the first symptoms of early onset dementia. I don’t mean this as an insult. The W years were that bad.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. The GW years were bad. The Obama years are equally horrific. I fail to see why more people don’t get it that he actually continued and accelerated the darkest policies of GW. Well…there is that media monopoly that has even more control over print and airways not to mention an army of well paid bloggers, facebook page admins and full time trolls who obfuscate the current happenings, but enough info is out there for even halfway intelligent people to realize that Obama and Hillary are no better and are run by the same people who brought you the iran contra scam, (which uh…hello? ) the poisoning of or food and water, the selling of our country, fearmongering sabor rattling industrial war complex, the militarization of our police, the war crimes etc etc, and we are at the last bastion of hope. If it don’t happen now, it wont happen in ten years, or 5 or 20. We will live a stepford wives version of orwells worst nightmare.
        I won’t vote for Himler to stop Gobbels. Real world or no, that is a wolf in sheeps clothing, in the same pack as GW.

        So either you really dont see the big picture fully or….


      4. … Or your “really big picture” is an overwrought, conspiracy-laden fever dream. You vote your conscience. I’ll vote mine.

        Meanwhile, Trump just said that the US won’t default on its debts because all we have to do is print more money. Since you brought up Germany, you’re obviously aware that this belief was what bankrupted the Weimar Republic and created the hyper inflation that contributed to the rise of The Third Reich.


      5. I always love how brave the anonymous haters are. Chris, you have judged the issue accurately, with clarity and bravery (which is hard to come by in ideologues as you can see). This election is not going to go to Sanders, for many reasons, many of which are his supporters, but in the end, there are not enough Democrats, Independents and moderate Republicans (which is what it takes, whether you like it or not) willing to vote for him. Call us all of the names you like, it remains the truth.

        If all anyone sees in Trump is just another “candidate with whom one disagrees”, perhaps they should read this screed from another ideologue who has seen the light.


  4. The math doesn’t work at all. Democrats are a smaller block than this essay assumes. It discounts independents, who reside to the left of Hillary.

    Its history is wrong too. IT forgets how weak Gore was when Nader ran. Gore lost his home state of TN; his loss in FL (if real) was of a piece with his lackluster candidacy. The most important similarity to the 2000 election is Hillary’s affinity for DLC politics (conservative) and her similarly inability to inspire the electorate. Democrats ALWAYS lose non-incumbent elections when they run milquetoast, establishment candidates.

    Finally, the logic is flawed and insulting. Why should anyone be expected to vote for a candidate with whom one disagrees, just to avoid the election of a candidate with whom one disagrees? Vote for who you actually support! This is the ONLY parties will start to run acceptable candidates.


  5. Gore won the election by a small margin. If he had run a better campaign, not run from Clinton, taken one or two of Nader’s positions he would have won by larger margins. The electoral college or Nader did not cost him the election. The Supreme Court did.


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