You would think that nearly everyone could agree that whatever you think of Hillary Clinton, her presidency would be preferable to that of Donald Trump, or at least you’d have thought that until this week. Susan Sarandon earned herself a well-deserved blizzard of scorn for saying she’d rather not vote at all than vote for Hillary, even if it meant electing Trump, whom she suggested would bring about the “revolution” we need anyway.
Those looking for guidance from Bernie Sanders himself were treated to a pledge to support Hillary if she’s the nominee, but little in the way of a response to Sarandon’s remarks, which he claimed not to have heard “in context”:
That’s actually fairly consistent with what Sarandon said, that Saint Bernie would, of course, support Hillary if the time comes, but nothing to urge his supporters to do so, or for Sarandon to chill.
Then, there was Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver, who also reiterated Bernie’s pledge to support Hilary if she’s the nominee, but then, in the next breath, indicated that the “toxic” image Sarandon has of Hillary is right on the money:
Weaver: Well, look, Senator Sanders has been clear he’s going to support the nominee of the Democratic Party in this process. We anticipate it will be him who will be the Democratic nominee. He has said quite clearly he’s running for the Democratic nomination. In the event he should not receive it, he would support the Democratic nominee, and obviously were he to become the Democratic nominee, we would expect Secretary Clinton would support him.
Hayes: Are you at all concerned that the longer this goes, the more a kind of image of Hillary Clinton is cultivated among the people that support Bernie Sanders that makes her fundamentally toxic to them?
Weaver: Well, it’s not about creating an image. It’s about having campaign where you talk about real issues. The truth of the matter is, Hillary Clinton claims she’ll take on the big banks but takes money from them. Claims she will take on the fossil fuel industry but takes money from them. Says she’s going to take on the gun lobby, but takes money from the gun lobby. This is not about creating an image.
Now, I get that these guys are trying to win an election here, but this is not complicated. Hillary Clinton does it all the time, telling whomever will listen that whatever her differences with Bernie, they pale in comparison to the Republican shitshow. I don’t expect Bernie and his campaign to call Sarandon a privileged idiot, but this is clear pandering to the Bernie or Bust crybabies.
There is hope, though, because one progressive icon who has forgotten more about Bernie Sanders than Susan Sarandon will ever know has weighed in, and given Bernie supporters a clear choice. They can listen to Susan Sarandon, who supported John Edwards in 2008 and was prepared to move to Canada if McCain won, but who now thinks Donald Trump is just the jolt of caffeine America needs to wake it up, or they can listen to this guy:
Bernie’s been on my radio show every week for the last 12 years. I would walk through broken glass for him. I absolutely support him. It’s really rare in presidential politics when you have a candidate that you can vote for. Usually with the — I think with the exception of maybe voting for Jimmy Carter, every time I voted, I voted against the bad guy, instead of for the person I want. With Bernie I’m voting for bernie. If Bernie is not the the nominee, I will vote for the Democrat. Bernie has said that. I agree with Nina that it’s — it’s almost disrespectful to ask that question, and yet it’s been part of the campaign, and I think it’s important for us to realize the horrors of the other side.
It has been my privilege to become friends with Thom Hartmann over the years, and to discover that we disagree on a great many things, including that Barack Obama was not a guy you could vote “for,” but I don’t think anyone would argue that there is anyone with a better, deeper understanding of progressive politics, or a more ironclad commitment to it. You’re not going to out-purity Thom Hartmann, and so when he says it’s important to support Hillary if Bernie doesn’t get the nomination, there’s only one reason to disagree: fanboi butthurt.
Hartmann has a point that it’s maybe a little early in the process for Sanders to start preparing his fans to vote for Hillary, but when his surrogates are out there making a bank-shot argument for Donald Trump, there needs to be some more clarity from the top.