An Open Letter to Bernie Sanders

Dear Senator Sanders,

Or should I say, Hey Bernie?  It really has been an amazing run for you and it is great that you are raising the consciousness of young voters, we really need that.  If younger voters came out for every election, rather than just the Presidential elections the country would not be so full of regressive state governments as we are now.  But that is not what I think needs to be said right at the moment.  So, here it is:  Bernie, no matter what you do, don’t pull a Marco Rubio.

No, I don’t mean lose your home state, you already more than took care of that, no I mean much more than that.

Marco let his ego get so much in his way that he killed his own political future and his party’s chances in November.  Here’s how I see it.

Early in the Republican process, it was pretty apparent that Rubio and Cruz were simply splitting the majority of the Republican primary allowing Mr. One Third to keep “winning” primaries.  And I will say that I and many others thought that Rubio was the candidate that people might go to, so for a while it was unclear that it was he, not Cruz who should drop out to unify the non-trumped vote.

Rubio was sticking around because he thought that winning Florida would derail Trump and put him on the road to the Whitehouse.  One problem, Rubio never lead the polls in Florida.  Not even close.  A politician who cannot count the votes is pretty useless.  It is possible that Rubio not only killed his chances by not being able to read the tea leaves, he may have killed his party’s chances in November.  I think Rubio’s career is dead.

But Bernie, consider what could have happened.  After Super Tuesday, reading his lousy Florida numbers, Rubio could have suspended his campaign and thrown his support behind Cruz.  No longer splitting the vote, Cruz starts winning primaries and things look very different now.  Cruz probably goes on to win the nomination and surprise, surprise, picks Rubio as his VP.  If the pair went on to lose the general election, Rubio works hard on Senate campaigns and emerges as the shoo-in Republican nominee in 2020.  Or ends up as VP for a term or two and then a sure thing nominee.  Not bad.  But instead he promised something he could not deliver and is now dead as a doornail.

Which brings us to you, Bernie.  Your candidacy is certainly not dead yet, but with every delegate that goes to Hilary it becomes much less likely.  Surely you can read the numbers.  Before it comes to late, heed the lesson of Rubio and look to the greater good.

You don’t have to suspend your campaign, but I do think the time has come to pivot from distinguishing yourself from Hilary to talking about the dangers that lie ahead.  It is time to start energizing your base to not just vote for you, but for more progressive politicians up and down the slate.

You could be at the forefront of a movement that gets younger voters energized about voting for senators, congressman, governors and even school board members that better reflect their values.  As you well know, a great President without legislative backing is useless.  We need a progressive congress much more than we need a progressive President.

And you are the guy right now who can really do that.  Stop running so hard for President.  Start emphasizing where you agree.  Keep talking about solutions and that it will be Congress that actually implements those solutions.  Work hard to get progressive Senators elected.

Now, none of this will make you President.  But it will do something much better.  It will help to bring about the world you are working for.  Much more effectively than if you were actually elected President.

Backward Headlines

My political punditry might be a little off the mark, but I continue to be amazed at the coverage surrounding the candidacy of Donald Trump.  Here is some fairly typical rhetoric from CNN (not exactly a rightwing outlet):

Donald Trump did more than win his second easy victory in consecutive presidential primaries in South Carolina on Saturday.

He advanced his takeover of the Republican Party. He proved that he can dominate a race in the Deep South. He vanquished the dynasty that ruled the GOP establishment for decades as Jeb Bush dropped his White House bid.

And in the process, Trump left no doubt that he is the GOP’s national front-runner and has the most credible path to capture the party’s nomination.

Wow, Trump is taking over the Republican party!  Just one problem, it seems to me, the numbers just don’t add up.  So far, in three contests, Trump has not cracked more than one third of the Republican vote.  And while an earlier CNN headline touted Trump’s “momentum,” the numbers don’t show that either.

In Iowa, Trump got 24% of the vote, he improved to almost 36% of the vote in New Hampshire, then fell back to 32% in South Carolina.  Not what I would call progress.

In South Carolina the combined Rubio/Cruz vote (Cruzio) was 10 points more than Trump.  And it seems that they are splitting pretty similar voters.  It is very unclear who voters will move to as candidates drop out, but I think it is pretty clear that those who voted for Jeb Bush will not be voting for Trump any time soon.  The feeling over at the 538 blog is that if the primaries continue with 3 or more candidates, Trump cruises to the nomination.

Which would be great for Democrats.  Imagine a nominee that only appeals to one third of Republicans.  NPR says that Trump is the one bringing record turnout to the primaries.  If so, he must be bringing out as many people to vote against him as to vote for him.  Logic would tell you that if he were bringing significant numbers of new Republican voters that he would break or at least come close to the 50% mark.  He has not even been close.

Personally, I will not be at all impressed with Trump’s electoral strength until he breaks 50%.  And I don’t see that happening any time soon.