My friend Ezra and I were chapter leaders on our campus for Students for Barack Obama. He works for the Democratic Senate Caucus. He backed Hillary and I backed Bernie. Here are some insights we had on how to come together as a party and beat back the right.
For Bernie/his supporters:
1) Join the Democrats
Sanders piece in the Times was spot on, but totally undermined by his continued refusal to join the party. By running as a Democrat in the primary, urging his supporters not to form a third party, and campaigning exclusively for Democrats-Sanders is already more in than out. Making this symbolic shift will be a powerful signal to his supporters to follow his lead.
2) State clearly that your side lost the primary fair and square
DNC conspiracy theories are still floating around the internet and even respectable progressive outlets like Salon and the Nation, undermining unity. Hillary won more delegates and more voters, fair and square. DWS was unfair and partisan, but not in a way that impacted the results. She has been replaced by someone eager to work with Sanders and his supporters and vowing to keep primaries fair. Advocate for open primaries if you must, and I agree with that. But you lost your primary fair and square, and it is time to state that plainly so we can move on.
3) Concede Russia had an impact on Hillary’s loss
Bernie has said this, but I do feel that too many of his supporters dismiss this as irrelevant or trivial. It’s a big fucking deal that our greatest geopolitical rival hacked into our elections and disrupted the Democratic process. Ezra actually worked next to the computer that may have been isolated as the entry point. He said it’s already been added next to Larry O’Briens Watergate safe on a wall of shame at DNC HQ with good reason.
4) Sexism has an impact
The Berniebro stuff was a bit overplayed, but they exist. They’ve even gone after me on twitter. They are assholes and we have an obligation to police against sexist trolls on our side. Moreover, we should strongly condemn the sexist double standards that female candidates like Hillary were/are subjected to and Our Revolution should continue to recruit female candidates to the movement and strongly push for women’s rights.
5) Both/And goes both ways
DNC and Hillaryland was unfair to Mello. Bernie was unfair to Ossoff. We need all the seats we can to regain our majority. The Clinton/Romney districts matter as much as the Obama/Trump districts. We literally can’t win back Congress pursuing an either/or approach. We can win back the 10% of Obama/Trump voters with a populist pitch. We can also affirm the value of women, minorities, and long time grassroots Democrats as part of this coalition.
For Hillary and her side
1) Populism is not Racism
True economic populism literally elevates the rule of the many over the rule of the elite few. It is literally what our party was founded on, and it is the one commonality all of our successful Presidents and leaders embodied. Making every argument about improving the lives of working Americans and showing how Trump is failing to improve the lives of working Americans is central to our comeback. We can do this without having to give up any principles on civil equality for women, minorities, immigrants and the LGBTQ community. It is false to equate moving left on economics with a movie right on civil rights.
2) Corporate money isn’t helpful anymore
It hurts our brand more than their brand, and it distracts us from investing in the kind of grassroots organizations that win campaigns. Bernie was able to match Hillary dollar for dollar with small donors, and as a proud small donor to both campaigns, I am convinced she could have replicated this effort for her own campaign in the primary and the general. There is no reason our candidates should be funded by the businesses majority of voters in every party are begging us to regulate and constrain. It hurts more than it helps.
3) Can’t win without expanding our vote share with working class voters
Clinton’s own pollster Stan Greenberg has a must read piece on this issue which I’ve already explored on this blog. It’s not about embracing their cultural biases but cutting through them with economic policies that directly put money in their pocket while pointing out the corruption and corporate control endemic to the modern Republican party. We may not win a majority, but we need to be competitive with them again and stop ceding rhetorical ground to the right.
4) Russia is a big thing, it’s not the only thing
This investigation is real, it’s important, and it’s vital to securing our nations future as an independent democracy. It did have an impact on Hillary’s loss. But I agree with Ranking Members Schiff and Warren that we can’t use these hearings to relitigate 2016. And if you look at the district level polling, our numbers haven’t improved in the areas we lost to Trump with our Russia first messaging.
Al Franken has done a great job pointing out every broken Trump promise on trade, Medicare, Social Security and healthcare. I can think of no bigger issue that hardcore Clinton and Sanders supporters can come together around than defending these core working class Democratic programs from unprecedented right wing assault.
5) Both/And goes both ways
Clinton folks should’ve mellowed on Mello. They shouldn’t have immediately jumped on the Quist and Periello losses as proof that their side was right and the Sanders side is wrong. They shouldn’t insult Sanders, his supporters, or their commitment to progressive causes. Neither should his side or his supporters lob the same stuff at Clinton fans. We need each other to win, and without both wings of the party this bird ain’t gonna fly.