If Bernie voters don't actively back Hillary Clinton, their revolution is over

Photo credit: DonkeyHotey via Visualhunt / CC BY-SA

It has been a busy week. On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton became the first female major party nominee for president. Sanders hasn't conceded yet, but Clinton's four million vote lead is insurmountable. On Wednesday President Barak Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren officially endorsed Clinton.

The reaction so far from the Sanders camp has been a mixture of rage and denial. Many of Bernie's loudest activists are promising to stay home or vote for a third party this November. The problem is that if they make good on that threat, their so-called "revolution" will end.

If Trump wins the election, the next Democratic administration won't be about making progress. It will be about repairing the damage and trying to get back to where we are now.

If the Democrats win without Bernie's voters, his power in the Senate is gone. The Democrats will learn that they don't need progressive voters and feel no need to appease them.

In either case the revolution will end. Bernie's supporters will be a bitter, disenfranchised and ignored group on the fringe of US politics

Bernie's supporters have been saying for months that the Democrats can't win without them. Unfortunately for them, that may not be true.

As of March, one-third of Sanders voters said that they would not vote for Hillary in the general election. That number will likely be lower than predicted. By the time the general election rolls around, people will have had months to calm down. Support for Clinton from President Obama and Senator Warren will also sway some. But, if not a single Sanders voter changes their mind, one-third of Bernie voters is roughly four million people. That comes to roughly three percent of the 127 million who voted in 2012.

At the same time, according to a poll conducted in April, 40 percent of Republicans said they wouldn't vote for Donald Trump. Additionally, 19 percent said that they would consider voting for Hillary Clinton. Those numbers would dwarf those of the Sanders holdouts. Based on 2012 numbers it could mean 24 million fewer Republican votes and more than 10 million more votes for Clinton. Hillary has already picked up some key Republican endorsements and one Republican has even launched a PAC to elect Hillary.

Following Mitt Romney's defeat, the Republicans did a demographic analysis. It showed that, a GOP candidate needs 64 percent of white voters and 30 percent of minority voters to win. One would hope that Trump can't get the majority of the white vote but it is hard to imagine him getting one-third of minority voters.

With a racist, sexist, xenophobic platform endorsed by the KKK, female and minority turnout should be high and lopsided. Muslim turnout won't make a huge impact in most of the country but it will help in Michigan where Donald Trump hopes to make inroads.

Beyond voter numbers, Hillary also has a serious financial advantage over Donald Trump. There are many Republicans with deep pockets, but Trump is having trouble winning them over. Many are reluctant to give to a candidate whose platform would sink the economy, even if he offers tax cuts. Lower taxes on a smaller income isn't necessarily something they want to invest in.

Finally there are the people supporting Hillary. She will have a wide variety of VP candidates to choose from to make the ticket more appealing. Regardless of who she picks she will have popular figures like Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden and Al Franken out stumping for her. Most importantly she'll have Barak Obama, a force of nature on the campain trail. Not since Ronald Reagan has an outgoing two-term president been as popular as Obama.

As for her opponent, Donald Trump is running out of money and friends. The media's fascination with him is fading. He may get the endorsement, ultimately, of most of the Republican establishment. However, he will have a hard time convincing them to become enthusiastic activists. There will also be a fraud trial over Trump University dragging on while he tries to win over voters and donors.

If this is enough to win against Donald Trump and Bernie supporters stay home or vote for a third party the revolution is over. The Democrats will owe Bernie nothing. Instead of trying to win back progressives, the Dems will try to keep the Republican voters and donors who crossed over.

Believe it or not there is a contingent of Republican voters who don't really care about social issues. For pro-business conservatives, the primary concern is low taxes and a minimum of regulation. To maintain power they'll pay lip service to social conservatives but it's not where their interest lies.

Many pro-business conservatives would be ok with easy abortion access, birth control, same sex marriage, trans rights, legal marijuana, gun control, liberal immigration policies and a radical overhaul of the criminal justice system as long as their taxes stayed reasonably low. Even on foreign policy most would be willing to leave the Democrats agenda intact. They would rather trade with countries than fight with them.

In a climate where progressives are no longer on speaking terms with the Democrats and Republicans are unpopular, disorganized and divided, Democrats could have a unique opportunity. A fiscally conservative but socially progressive party could garner enough support to capture all three branches of the US government and keep control of them for a generation.

If the Bernie or Bust crowd decides not to be involved in the process, there is no reason for the Democrats not to lean right. Progressives would be shut out of power, Bernie would be ignored in the Senate and challenged by a Democrat when he runs for re-election in 2018. For years to come Berners would be free to join the Democrats, vote for third parties or stay home entirely but they would have no real political clout.

Sanders supporters are fond of saying that this is "just the beginning of the revolution." However, if they're not out actively, enthusiastically, visibly supporting Hillary Clinton and the Democrats (even if they're doing it in Bernie t-shirts) - it will be the end of the revolution, one way or another.

Given the rhetoric at the moment, I doubt that Bernie supporters will figure this out in time. In the Democratic party of 2016, a 'revolutionary' is just a pragmatist without a strategy. However, in the current climate, the death of 'the revolution' may be what the country needs.
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