NOTE: The following article was originally published on March 16, 2016, but it bears another read given the results of the April 26 primaries. -Bob
Former presidential candidate and would-be Trump administration adviser Dr. Ben Carson appeared in an interview with Yahoo! News on Wednesday. During the videocast, Carson, clearly still in the throes of an Ambien sleepwalking episode, blurted out a truly bizarre observation about Trump’s childish insults.
As you might recall back in November, Trump famously compared Carson to a “child molester.” When asked by Yahoo! News why he’d submit to endorsing Trump after being compared with one of the worst brands of criminal behavior, Carson seemed to casually brush off the insult. Via Little Green Footballs:
Carson said, “You have to admit to a degree that it did work.” He continued, “A lot of people believed him.”
If there’s anyone who’s truly “low energy,” by Trump’s own words, it’s Ben Carson. To accept such an insult with passive nonchalance is just the reaction Trump likes to hear. He’s a controlling, microphallussed narcissist bully and everyone must genuflect before him. It’s sad, really, that a self-made success like Carson has to to kowtow to a petulant son of a wealthy slum-lord.
On the opposite end of the submission spectrum are Bernie Sanders’ most loyal supporters who refuse to take “not this time” for an answer. And, frankly, the courage and Herculean fortitude is worthy of admiration, even if you don’t think it’s possible for Bernie to overcome his delegate deficit. (Nate Silver’s latest estimate shows that Bernie now has to win 58 percent of all remaining delegates.)
Bernie’s supporters from Facebook to Twitter, and all points in between, including the usual suspects at US Uncut and via writers like H.A. Goodman, refuse to give up, and it’s a posture that, honestly, the rest of progressive Democrats should take a lesson from.
The left is too often occupied by cup-half-empty doomsayers who’d rather give up than to stick it out and fight the big fight. In other words, the left has a penchant for accepting the bullying of assholes like Donald Trump, rather than fighting back.
The Bernie people are determined to fight for every delegate, including, it turns out, the superdelegates as well. It’s easy to hector them for refusing to accept the inevitable, but it requires just as much moral toughness to keep fighting and it does for the leading campaign to take the high road. Along those lines, it’s important now for Hillary supporters to rewind their empathy clocks back to eight years ago and to recall what it felt like when Barack Obama appeared to be careening toward the nomination. Indeed, as it was for Obama supporters in 2008, it’s never a good time for gloating or obnoxiousness — it’s never a good time for I Told You So snark. Reuniting the party around a candidate requires that Hillary supporters holster their intra-party antagonism — an approach that’s entirely possible while simultaneously and deservedly celebrating another set of primary victories and another big step toward becoming the presumptive nominee.
And while Bernie supporters come to grips with the delegate count, they deserve the latitude, at the very least, to wrap their heads around what’s to come.
Bernie Sanders and his supporters have miraculously overcome staggeringly long odds to become truly competitive against the Clinton machine. The only reaction from non-Bernie people ought to be applause and admiration for how and why it happened. With a slight change in the political winds, Bernie might’ve been the frontrunner by now. It’s closer than anyone predicted. Knowing that Bernie came this close shows that anything is possible with enough heft and tenacity, as well as a winning message. The broader Democratic Party has much to learn from the Bernie Sanders campaign. Deference and empathy must accompany the well-earned celebrations on the Hillary side.
Healing requires that the leading camp refrains from acting like sore winners. The best way to make sure the Bernie people stay home in November is to rub their noses in every Hillary victory, as tempting as it might be. There will be enough GOP crapola to hurdle; it’s critical that Hillary supporters don’t add insult to injury with Trump or Cruz or whomever lurking around the corner.
In order to defeat the Republican nominee (Trump?), the Democrats will have to unite or die. On that note, I’m not overly concerned about Bernie supporters staying home in bulk — yet. The Summer will provide plenty of time for the party to reconcile its two warring factions, and if Bernie himself campaigns for Hillary, as he is likely to do, it’ll go a long way toward healing.
Of course, the healing will also require that Bernie people do some heavy lifting as well — primarily by accepting the reality that staying home or voting for a third party candidate will only end up as votes for the Republicans and therefore votes for repealing Obamacare and kicking 20 million people off their insurance policies; votes for hastily rolling back reproductive rights; a vote for worsening the climate crisis; votes for a harrowingly bellicose foreign policy and more wars; votes for more Voter ID laws; votes for a conservative Supreme Court; and votes for relegating Latinos and Muslims to second-class status.
With the Republicans in total disarray, the Democrats would do well to congeal as the grownup party, then to grab some popcorn and watch as the GOP continues to behave like poop-flinging monkeys. But this will require a little more time. By this Summer, I suspect many of the more activated Bernie people will come around, and then the GOP will have to deal with both the Berners and the Hillary supporters after they snap together into a single progressive Voltron. And I wouldn’t want to be the Republican ticket when that happens.