For months, the election was all but decided. Hillary Clinton had it in the bag and resources were being focused down ballot. With decade old audio recordings being leaked alongside the usual conduct, Donald Trump was only digging his hole.
Pollsters were carrying the water for the Democratic Party, presenting poll after poll showing this race wasn’t even a contest and that it would be a landslide.
One thing was right, it was a landslide. But it was the Trump Train charting its course towards Pennsylvania Avenue to begin making America great again.
How did we get to this point? For all the propaganda about the controversial Republican being a misogynistic, xenophobic, hatemonger, he still won.
To a degree, America needs to look to the Democratic Party. Their primary was much simpler than the crowded circus on parade Republicans had. Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, took on the coronation of career politician Clinton. The dynamic was clear early on. Moderates and pragmatic Democrats loved Clinton, who had the name, structure, and money. Progressives and idealistic Democrats loved Senator Sanders.
Many suspected from the beginning that then-Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was biased towards Clinton. Many were also suspicious that as a result of this bias, the system she presided over was not a fair fight. Because of this, Senator Sanders’ supporters grew more resentful of the system. The many questions surrounding the process fed the distrust.
In the end, Clinton won the nomination. The Associated Press declared her the winner based on a survey of superdelegates who hadn’t voted yet. This solidified a couple of things in the minds of American voters. First, the Democratic National Committee was preparing to hand the nomination to Clinton no matter what the party grassroots delegates wanted. Second, the mainstream media would protect the Democratic Party establishment and Clinton.
The rest is history.
The hubris of leading Democrats
It’s not clear what happened with Senator Bernie Sanders when he caved on his own movement in throwing support behind Hillary Clinton for President. On the one hand, he was deeply offended by the words of Donald Trump and honestly felt this was worse than Clinton’s actual record of defending Wall Street and supporting war. On the other hand, he might have been attempting to be pragmatic and gain favor with the Democratic Party.
Either way, it was assumed that the progressive grassroots would fall in line with the Democratic Party. It was assumed that these people, many who had joined the movement as rookie political activists, would put a political party before their principles.
This was arrogant and wrong.
Political parties have a bad habit of assuming ownership over positions on a spectrum. After former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney lost in 2012, supporters of former Texas Congressman Ron Paul were blamed. Believing they had absolute ownership over the rightwing vote, Republicans arrogantly blamed those who did not fall in line for Romney’s loss.
Democrats believe they have the same ownership over the leftwing vote.
Progressive activists not only had a firm and principled backbone, they also had more self-respect than many gave them credit for. Wikileaks would show through a series of leaked e-mails that Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was indeed working the primary against Senator Sanders and that the interim chair Donna Brazille was feeding debate questions to the Clinton campaign while with CNN.
Progressives couldn’t even win or lose a fair fight, it was all a foregone conclusion. Why would they stand by the Democratic machine at that point?
The alternate universe of President-Elect Bernie Sanders
While it’s difficult to say whether or not Bernie Sanders would have won the presidency, it is difficult to deny that he would have had a greater chance at defeating Trump. Endorsing Clinton aside, he has a career of sticking to conviction and standing firm on principle. This is a quality largely inexistent in politics.
Democrats in the post-election world are blaming FBI Director James Comey, believing that polarizing letters cost them the election. It had nothing to do with the media leaking questions to the Clinton campaign or seeking approval for stories before they’re published. It had nothing to do with top Democrats speaking ill of Senator Sanders and his supporters. It had nothing to do with the primary literally being rigged for Clinton’s coronation parade.
Like much of America, Senator Sanders supporters largely were never going to support Hillary Clinton. She is an uninspiring leader whose wooden attempts to appeal to progressives were clearly fraudulent. It was an insult to the intelligence of progressives, just as her attempts to appear genuine to the American people were disingenuous.
Senator Sanders might have actually won it all, but Democrats instead stuck to defending their own establishment. Instead of celebrating victory now, the Democratic Party stuck to a dishonest politician who is borderline criminal.
Now the Democratic Party is going down in flames. As progressives have long said, “Bernie or Bust.”
They chose “or bust.”