Party Unity Morass
We were actually hoping for a Bernie-Trump debate. First, it would have been fun: A Geezerpalooza for the ages. Second, it would have settled months-long chatter: Could Bernie actually stand up to The Other Great Orange Satan like we all think he could?
Serious People thought the very idea was a sham, of course. What would Trump have to lose debating the Democrat Loser? And what would Bernie have to gain, except for more opprobrium from the Demrat Establishment for disrupting Hillary’s coronation?
Actually, Trump would have had a lot to lose: Humiliation, the worst thing that could happen to a bully. A Bernie “debate win” would have shown that not only was it possible, but how to do it. Hillary could take notes from the audience.
Conversely, a Bernie Loss would have settled the otherwise unanswerable question whether the polls reflected his strength when actually tossed into the campaign fire. We’d all like to think that, but Shit Happens in the moment. Y’all will recall the Big Freakout when Obama slept through his first debate with Romney.
But it appears not to be, unless Trump delegate (and actual billionaire) Peter Thiel would care to divert $10 million from his Righteous Gawker Crusade to meet his candidate’s demands for funding the event.
Which leaves us with those Serious People who are really starting to fret that Bernie is harshing Hillary’s mellow. As long as he’s still challenging her, Bernie is preventing Democrats from resigning themselves to their dismal fate and uniting behind their Least Worst option. How dare he drag out his campaign to the last, bitterest moment! Who does he think he is, her?
But if you’re waiting for Bernie supporters to “come home”, you may want to leave the light on. Because as divisive as the Obama-Clinton fight felt eight years ago, it doesn’t cut nearly as deep as what we’re seeing now. Robert Reich summed it up the other day:
The old politics pitted right against left, with presidential aspirants moving toward the center once they cinched the nomination.
Anti-politics pits Washington insiders, corporate executives, bankers, and media moguls against a growing number of people who think the game is rigged against them. There’s no center, only hostility and suspicion.
Oops! Sorry! Reich was talking about Trump, not Bernie. Our bad. But that alienation from an unresponsive party establishment is not limited to Republicans this year, and while the details are wildly different, the mood is similar. And not, shall we say, without merit.
Matt Taibbi, who frequently overplays his hand, lays down a straight flush in his criticism of Hillary’s attack ad against Trump for profiting from the housing crisis. Yes, he did, but who caused the crisis and the subsequent economic collapse?
Four of them — the aforementioned Citigroup, along with Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JP Morgan Chase — are among Hillary Clinton’s top six contributors for her career.
Yes, them. And they’re not supporting Trump this year. Nor has Trump made, uh, bank, delivering what we can only imagine were Soft Porn speeches to them, since the text of those speeches remain locked in a safe somewhere.
Hillary may be the Lesser Evil this fall, but Defensive Voting may not appeal to Bernie’s idealistic supporters who think (not without ample reason!) that both parties are rotten. And since the only way to defeat Trump is with More Votes — good luck changing minds — this may prove a problem if Bernie’s people stay home instead of coming home.
If that happens, don’t blame Bernie or the Bros. You can get a lot of mileage with cynicism in American politics, but every so often karma catches up with you. Just ask those sixteen Republican presidential candidates who aren’t Donald Trump.