Bernie should not be the Democratic nominee

by Dylan Meisner, Staff Writer

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As the Democratic primary gets underway, it has become clear that if Democrats wish to see Trump ousted, a Bernie Sanders nomination should be avoided, as his nomination would signal the empowerment of a wing of the Democratic Party that should not be let anywhere near the levers of control.

Leftist supporters of Sanders are likely to cite the failure of Hillary Clinton to beat Donald Trump in 2016 as a reason to be wary of nominating a candidate of the political center. That argument, however, wildly misses the point, as their candidate of choice (Bernie) utterly failed to beat Clinton herself, the same candidate they disparage as unable to beat Trump.

There is also a deeper conversation that must be had about political parties and their modern tendency to surrender control to their activist base. This is a mistake being made in both America and Britain. Britain will be paying for the dreadfully foolish (and now done-deal) decision of leaving the European Union, a woefully self-destructive move that was a mistake for the Conservative Party to ever champion. In 2016, the American Republican Party made a similar mistake when it allowed Trump to be nominated over more reasonable options like Ted Cruz or Jeb Bush. Similar to the Tory adaptation of Brexit as a flagship issue, the nomination of Trump represented the party leadership surrendering control to the loudest activists in their midst.

Democrats must not make the same mistake in 2020. The DNC, in its elimination of super-delegates, appears to already be following the pattern of surrendering control, a trend that must be stopped. Party elites must remain in control, otherwise, Democrats run the risk of alienating much of their base in a wild quest to appease the radicals in their midst that should instead be purged.

Not only would a Sanders nomination be a disaster on a philosophical level and represent the empowerment of a wing of the Democratic Party that frankly doesn’t belong, but strategically it would be a nightmare. From what we know so far of Sanders’s past, his history of far-left activism constitutes no less than a fever dream for opposition researchers. For all we know, Sanders has never met a leftist tyrant who he hasn’t been willing to defend. From his praise of the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, to his outright support of the tyrannical regime of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, Sanders’s history suggests a loyalty not to American interests, but to leftism as a general philosophy, even if it means performing apologia for some of the worst leaders world politics has come to know. He admits this sentiment himself, admitting to the New York Times, “I did my best to stop American foreign policy.”

Then there is the problem of anti-Semitism that links the Sanders and Corbyn campaigns, with the latter overseeing the normailization of nasty anti-Jewish stereotypes and tropes in labour politics. Of course, it would be asinine to accuse Sanders (who would be the first American-Jewish President) of anti-Semitism, but his campaign leadership has been complicit in harboring many surrogates who have publicly trafficked in anti-Semitic tropes. 

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) recently engaged in a blood libel on Twitter (for which she drew condemnation from the nonpartisan Anti-Defamation League). Rep. Ilhan Omar, drew bipartisan ire for also engaging in anti-Semitic stereotypes and actor John Cussack, who shared a meme in June showing a hand emblazoned with the Star of David squashing a group of people with the caption, “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” All are active surrogates for the Sanders campaign.

Then there is a separate issue of the so-called “Bernie Bros”– an informal brigade of his online supporters who have been known to frequently engage in toxic crusades against any media figure who dare criticize the candidate they champion. This abuse has been well-documented and women in the media have been the most frequent targets of the abuse that dates back all the way to the 2016 Democratic primaries.

All of this is to say that the past antics of Sanders and the people he is surrounded by are not those that Democrats should be bothered with having to defend, especially in the fight against the most divisive and destructive president our country has seen in recent years. Proponents of Sanders might make the point that voters should make their decision based on the candidate, not their supporters, but this view ignores the fact that a Sanders nomination would only vindicate and embolden his ilk. Democrats should not make the same mistake as the Republicans did in 2016 when they allowed the rise of Donald Trump – they should avoid empowering a campaign overflowing with bigoted surrogates and legions of toxic online trolls. 

Democrats would be better off nominating a more moderate alternative like Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar or Pete Buttigieg, all of whom don’t have such offensive supporters, campaigns, histories and political philosophies. 

Dylan Meisner is a sophomore studying political science and international security and conflict resolutions. Follow him on Twitter @DylMeisner.

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