There’s something that’s been bothering me about this primary season on the Democrat’s side. Whenever I read something written by a Hillary Clinton supporter, they always seem to say that they like Bernie Sanders and then go on to say why they like Clinton better. But, whenever I read something written by a Bernie Sanders supporter, they always seem to detest Hillary Clinton. I find that odd on its own. This is a primary after all. These two agree on far more than they disagree on. I read somewhere that when Clinton and Sanders were in the Senate together, they voted the same way 93% of the time. Politically speaking, that makes them almost the same person. However, the thing that I find bothersome is that the hatred seems real.
Elections are always full of overheated rhetoric. That’s the nature of the beast. But, in the primaries, people are supposed to leave themselves an out. When Clinton lost to Obama in the 2008 primaries, all of her supporters were easily able to support Obama. When Howard Dean lost to John Kerry in 2004, it was easy for all of his supporters to support Kerry. This feels different.
The reaction of Sanders’ supporters to Paul Krugman’s recent piece in the New York Times illustrates why. They have been loudly accusing Krugman of being a sellout, a shill for the Clinton campaign and far worse. They have even been suggesting that he doesn’t understand basic economics or that he is being willfully blind. I don’t read Krugman very much, but I do know that he has been a vocal supporter of Obama for many years, even going so far as to call him a legitimately great president. So, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that he supports Clinton’s proposals, which are much closer to Obama than Sanders. But, it’s beyond me how a simple criticism of their candidate leads to such anger. Krugman was literally just doing his job. It’s fine to disagree, but there is no excuse for the vitriol being spewed.
A big part of what’s bothering me comes from the polls that show Sanders doing better in the general election than Clinton. There are only a couple of ways that works. It is possible that Clinton would get the entirety of the Democrats, but not get any Republicans or Independents while Sanders would do reasonably well with all three, but that doesn’t seem likely (I should say, I haven’t looked at a detailed breakdown of the polls). Sanders has to be anathema to any small government types and all of the evangelicals. They make up a decent chunk of the Republicans and Independents. The other possibility is that if Sanders wins the primaries, all of Clinton’s supporters will back him, but Sanders’ supporters won’t support Clinton if she wins the primaries.
If the second possibility is the case, that makes Sanders’ supporters (and by default, Sanders) into Ralph Nader if Clinton wins the primaries. That very idea terrifies me. All those Democrats and left leaning Independents who hated Gore because they saw him as an extension of Bill Clinton gave us eight years of George Bush. Is it possible that we have learned so little in the last 16 years that Sanders’ supporters could give us a Trump presidency? It’s starting to look that way.