Bernie supporters, don’t despair. It’s not over yet.
True, your candidate probably won’t be the nominee (it’s still possible, but so unlikely you might as well buy a lottery ticket if you feel so optimistic about long shots that could possibly come true). But he can still do a lot of good: he can help get Clinton elected instead of Trump and help push her platform leftward.
Clinton campaign surrogates have been growing increasingly frustrated lately: they desperately want to publicly push for Bernie to drop out, but the Clinton campaign won’t let them. They’ve been instructed to treat him gently, and it make it as easy as possible for him to remain in the race — at least until the convention.
Why is that? Well, there are a couple of possible explanations. Chief among them is that Clinton knows that she’ll eventually need the support of his followers, and if he drops out now, they’ll never come over to her side. That’s because Hillary is among the most hated politicians in America. There’s only one other who’s loathed as much as she is — Trump.
Half of Trump’s supporters are only voting for him because they want to keep Hillary from winning. And half of Hillary’s feel the same way, that Trump is a monster. Hillary needs intensely dedicated supporters if she’s going to win, but for now, Bernie has a lock on enthusiastic Democrats.
And so slowly, over the course of the next few weeks and into the convention in June, she’ll need to slowly win them over. That won’t be accomplished by attacking Bernie; instead, they’ll need to find a halfway compromise that will allow him to give his backers to her.
And that’s where Bernie’s people can do the most good. They can push for some true progressive positions, whether it’s minimum wage or campaign finance or banking regulations or Social Security. Bernie’s people have an important role to fill: keeping Hillary as progressive as possible.
It’s going to be important for Americans to be as aware as possible of the differences between Hillary and Donald. This week her campaign released a striking TV ad, setting up Trump as a loathsome villain — but to a certain audience, Hillary’s new commercial might actually have made him look heroic; after all, he is the villain who has defied establishment expectations!
Trump seems likely to be taking a page out of some of the slimiest political playbooks ever written. Last week, he had lunch with Ed Klein, a gossip writer known for making up claims out of nowhere with the help of conveniently “anonymous sources.” Klein’s past hits include accusations that Chelsea was conceived when Bill raped Hillary, so you can look forward to some dreadful claims coming from his friend Donald Trump.
In the most recent Clinton ad, it’s just one clip after another of Trump saying terrible things. To decent people, he comes off as an unhinged monster. But to his supporters, he must look like a hero when he’s spouting misogyny and xenophobia.
But Hillary’s smart to set herself up as the anti-Trump. Remember, a lot of people hate him. She doesn’t have to win over his die-hard supporters — in fact, she probably never will. She just has to win over people by making them hate him more than they hate her.