I am committed to building a united front against Donald Trump, and working with both Democratic and independent voters toward the best possible ticket and platform for the Democratic Party in November. But sounding out supporters of both Sanders and Hillary Clinton, I’m worried that terrible friction is brewing between the two Democratic camps left in this primary.
Democrats all have to unite to win the White House and Supreme Court this year, building bridges without permanent bruising or the confusion of divide-and-conquer.
The state of the race is in flux. Respect and support for Bernie are rising, though Hillary maintains a 212-delegate edge. As of April 3, The New York Times assessed that Bernie will need “landslide” victories in the battles ahead. He’s certain to win more than the 16 states where he has already prevailed. Most of those states have been similar to Wisconsin, where 88 percent of the population is white, an enduring issue for the Sanders campaign. But of the major primaries that are coming up, several might be fruitful territory for Bernie. In New York, Hillary will need to tack towards Bernie on fair-trade issues or face losses in the Rust Belt regions of northern and western New York. Here in California, Bernie trails Hillary by six points, with 7 percent of the electorate undecided. And my sense is that California is winnable for Bernie. Lose or win, Bernie represents the most impressive independent campaign in American history, with the final chapters and legacy yet to be written.
I was an early supporter of Bernie, one of those who thought he could push Hillary to the left, legitimize democratic socialist measures, and leave an indelible mark on our frozen political culture. More deeply, I believed he was the best possible messenger in the wake of Democratic Party shortcomings. As I have argued for years, the liberal failure to create jobs in my Rust Belt heartland, Michigan, for three decades, destroyed hundreds of thousands of lives. Even after the activist explosion against free trade at the Battle of Seattle in 1999, standards of living remained stagnant. It was clear that the next generation would live lesser lives than our parents had. The tuition for a four-year public-university education almost doubled in cost between 2000 and 2015, while student debt rose to 1.2 trillion dollars in 2015. Racial disparities rose with police violence and mass incarceration rates. Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin fell to Republican governors, and Congress returned to GOP control.
Like the WTO protests in 1999, Occupy Wall Street “changed the conversation” in America, as the tepid mainstream media phrased it. But we didn’t need a conversation, we needed a change, and soon, in order to save a whole generation.