Advice for Divided Democrats

05/27/2016

By ROBERT REICH

Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders

Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, left, and Hillary Clinton pass at the start of a break during the CNN Democratic Presidential Primary Debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Thursday, April 14, 2016 in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

With the Democratic primaries grinding to a bitter end, I have suggestions for both Clinton and Sanders supporters that neither will like.

 

First, my advice to Clinton supporters: Don’t try to drum Bernie Sanders out of the race before Hillary Clinton officially gets the nomination (if she in fact does get it).

Some of you say Bernie should bow out because he has no chance of getting the nomination, and his continuing candidacy is harming Hillary Clinton’s chances.

It’s true that Bernie’s chances are slim, but it’s inaccurate to say he has no chance. If you consider only pledged delegates, who have been selected in caucuses and primaries, he’s not all that far behind Hillary Clinton. And the upcoming primary in California — the nation’s most populous state — could possibly alter Sanders’s and Clinton’s relative tallies.

 

My calculation doesn’t include so-called “superdelegates” — Democratic office holders and other insiders who haven’t been selected through primaries and caucuses. But in this year of anti-establishment fury, it would be unwise for Hillary Clinton to relay on superdelegates to get her over the finish line.

 

Sanders should stay in the race also because he has attracted a large number of young people and independents. Their passion, excitement, and enthusiasm are critically important to Hillary Clinton’s success, if she’s the nominee, as well the success of other Democrats this year, and, more fundamentally, to the future of American politics.

Finally and not the least, Sanders has been telling a basic truth about the American political economic system — that growing inequality of income and wealth has led inexorably to the increasing political power of those at the top, including big corporations and Wall Street banks. And that political power has stacked the deck in their favor, leading to still wider inequality.

 

Nothing important can be accomplished — reversing climate change, creating true equal opportunity, overcoming racism, rebuilding the middle class, having a sane and sensible foreign policy — until we reclaim our democracy from the moneyed interests. The longer Bernie Sanders is on stage to deliver this message, the better.

Next, my advice for Sanders supporters: Be prepared to work hard for Hillary Clinton if she gets the nomination.

 

Some of you say that refusing to fight for or even vote for Hillary will show the Democratic political establishment why it must change its ways.

 

But the “Democratic political establishment” is nothing but a bunch of people, many of them big donors and fundraisers occupying comfortable and privileged positions, who won’t even be aware that you’ve decided to sit it out — unless Hillary loses to Donald Trump.

 

Which brings me to those of you who say there’s no real difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

 

That’s just plain wrong. Trump has revealed himself to be a narcissistic, xenophobic, hatemonger who, if elected, would legitimize bigotry, appoint Supreme Court justices with terrible values, and have direct access to the button that could set off a nuclear war.

Hillary may not possess Bernie Sanders’s indignation about the rigging of our economy and democracy, or be willing to go as far in remedying it, but she’s shown herself a capable and responsible leader.

 

Some of you agree a Trump presidency would be a disaster but claim it would galvanize a forceful progressive movement in response.

 

That’s unlikely. Rarely if ever in history has a sharp swing to the right moved the political pendulum further back in the opposite direction. Instead, it tends to move the “center” rightward, as did Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

 

Besides, Trump could do huge and unalterable damage to America and the world in the meantime.

 

Finally, some of you say even if Hillary is better than Trump, you’re tired of choosing the “lesser of two evils,” and you’re going to vote your conscience by either writing Bernie’s name in, or voting for the Green Party candidate, or not voting at all.

 

I can’t criticize anyone for voting their conscience, of course. But your conscience should know that a decision not to vote for Hillary, should she become the Democratic nominee, is a de facto decision to help Donald Trump.

 

Both of my morsels of advice may be hard to swallow. Many Hillary supporters don’t want Bernie to keep campaigning, and many Bernie supporters don’t want to root for Hillary if she gets the nomination.

 

But swallow it you must — not just for the good of the Democratic Party, but for the good of the nation.

ROBERT REICH is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley; author, ‘Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few’’

 

ROBERT B. REICH’s new book, “Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few,” is now out. His film “Inequality for All” is now available on DVD and blu-ray, and on Netflix.

House reverses course; passes LGBT nondiscrimination amendment

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House reversed itself late Wednesday and approved a measure aimed at upholding an executive order that bars discrimination against LGBT employees by federal contractors.

More than 40 Republicans helped Democrats power the gay rights measure over the opposition of GOP conservatives who dominate the chamber.

Conservatives did prevail in a separate vote designed to make sure federal funding isn’t taken away from the state of North Carolina over its controversial bathroom law fortransgender people.

Wednesday night’s 223-195 tally reverses a vote last week on the gay rights measure. Then, GOP leaders twisted arms to defeat the legislation, causing several supporters to switch their vote, leading Democrats to erupt in protest.

Openly gay New York Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney returned to attach the measure to a funding bill for the Energy Department.

This time, GOP leaders let members vote as they wished; about a dozen Republicans, including several from California, rethought their opposition and Maloney’s amendment made it through fairly easily.

It would prohibit agencies funded by the bill to award taxpayer dollars to federal contractors that violate President Barack Obama‘s executive order barringdiscrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

“It says you do not take taxpayer dollars and fire people just for being gay,” Maloney said.

Maloney said last week’s vote “snatched discrimination from the jaws of equality.”

Earlier, the House voted 227-192 to block several federal agencies from retaliating against North Carolina over its law requiring transgender people to use the bathroom of their original sex.

That amendment, by Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., came in response to warnings from the Obama administration that it may take federal funding away from North Carolina in response to the state law that blocks certain protections for gay people.

“The President and his emissaries have stated … that funds should not be dispensed to North Carolina until North Carolina is coerced into complying with the legal beliefs of the President, and his political views,” Pittenger said. “This is an egregious abuse of executive power.”

The North Carolina law was passed after Charlotte passed an ordinance allowing transgender people to use restrooms of their chosen gender identity. The state law went further to take away federal protections for gays, putting the state at risk of losing a variety of federal funds.

Top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi of California blasted Republicans as favoring discrimination against gays.

“Republicans overwhelmingly voted to support … the hateful and discriminatory state law in North Carolina, and to enable anti-LGBT bigotry across our country,” Pelosi said in a statement. “History will not look kindly on the votes Republicans proudly took to target Americans because of whom they are or whom they love.”

Maloney’s proposal had appeared on track to pass last week, peaking at 217-206 as an amendment to a veterans’ spending bill.

But GOP leaders prevailed on seven Republicans to switch their votes, including California GOP Reps. Jeff Denham, Darrell Issa, Mimi Walters and David Valadao. Swing-district freshmen David Young, R-Iowa, and Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, also switched positions on last week’s vote. Each of them switched back Wednesday, joined by several other Republicans who opposed Maloney’s plan last week.

The energy and water projects bill is the second spending bill for the upcoming budget year to come to the House floor.

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