An Open Letter to Bernie Supporters

Mark cohen headshotMark Cohen, Nederland. 

Dear Bernie Supporters:

I am one of you. I prefer Bernie to Hillary. I like his positions on the issues. I trust him more. I believe he would be a stronger candidate than Hillary in a general election. That said, I want to set you straight about a few things.

First, stop whining about the super delegates. Hillary did not create the super delegate system. The system originated in 1984 and has its roots in Nixon’s electoral slaughtering of McGovern in 1972. Bernie knew the delegate selection process before he became a Democrat and before he threw his hat into the ring. He knew most Democratic super delegates are party officials that the Clintons have courted since Bill Clinton gave the keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention – the kind of people that proudly display photos of themselves shaking hands with President Clinton in their homes and offices. Hillary did not create the super delegate system to defeat Bernie. In 1984, Hillary was the first lady of Arkansas. She had not even started planning the murder of Vince Foster at that time.

Second, stop complaining that some states don’t allow independent voters to vote in the primaries. Since when do you have a right to participate in the affairs of an organization you don’t belong to? I would like to head the Southern Baptist Convention and impose sweeping change, but guess what? I ain’t a Southern Baptist. (I’m a befuddled Taoist leaning worshipper of Jerry Jeff Walker, but I call myself Unitarian because that sounds more respectable). If you want to vote in the Democratic primary, register as a Democrat.

Third, stop saying Hillary would not be any better than Trump. In November of 2015, Bernie told the Boston Globe, “On her worst day, Hillary Clinton will be an infinitely better candidate and president than the Republican candidate on his best day.” If you are a progressive, it is better to have a Democrat in the White House even if that Democrat is Hillary. (Even if Hillary is the Antichrist). Let’s take one example. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision was a five to four opinion, with the four Democratic justices in the minority. Hillary may be a centrist Democrat, but she is still a Democrat we can count on not to put conservative ideologues, like Scalia, on the nation’s highest court.

Fourth, stop being a child and threatening to stay home or vote for a third party candidate in November if you don’t get your way. If Hillary is the nominee, your choice is Hillary or Trump. It’s a crappy choice, I admit, but its crappiness doesn’t make it any less real. If you stay home or vote for a third party candidate, you are helping put Trump in the White House. Maybe you would feel good about that for a few days because you will feel you have taught the Democratic party a lesson. You might even feel good about it right up to the time that Trump puts Ted Cruz or Rudi Giuliani on the Supreme Court, or starts a ground war in the Middle East. Grow up.

Finally, and this is closely related to my fourth point, stop pretending Ralph Nader wasn’t directly responsible for sticking this country with George W. Bush (the worst President ever) for eight years so you can justify voting for a third party candidate. When all was said and done, Bush won Florida by 537 votes. Nader got 97,488 votes in Florida. Nader was more liberal than Gore, but Gore was more liberal than Bush. Therefore, using the transitive property of mathematics we all learned in the second grade, I think it’s obvious that if Nader had not been on the ballot, most of those 97,488 votes would have gone to Gore.

Nader supporters like to point to an article by Matthew Jones that challenges the view that Nader cost Gore the election, but that is just sophistry, and other academics have repeatedly refuted his assertions. Remember, an expert is someone who can bring confusion to simplicity. It’s not rocket science if you look at the numbers.

Let’s assume half of those 97,488 voters would have stayed home if Nader had not been on the ballot. That leaves 48,744 voters up for grabs. Let’s also assume 51% of those voters would have voted for Gore in a two-man race and 49% would have voted for Bush. It borders on insane to believe that 49% of the remaining Nader voters would have voted for Bush. (A Gallup poll found that only 4% of Nader voters described themselves as moderate and only 2% described themselves as conservative), but let’s assume it anyhow. Under that assumption, Gore gets 24,859 of those 48,744 votes and Bush receives 23,885 votes, a difference of 974 votes. 974 is greater than 537.  Gore wins Florida by 437 votes. Q.E.D.

You don’t like those assumptions? OK, assume 90% of those 97,488 Nader voters would have stayed home, leaving only 9,749 Nader voters up for grabs. Let’s again make a ridiculous assumption and assume that 45% of those Ralph Nader liberals would have voted for George W. Bush and 55% would have voted for Gore. In that scenario, Gore gets 5,362 votes and Bush receives 4,387 votes, a difference of 975 votes. 975 is greater than 537. Q.E.D. again. You have to suspend reality to believe Nader did not cost Gore Florida.

A Gore win would have meant that instead of John Roberts and Samuel Alito, we’d have two justices on the Supreme Court appointed by a Democrat, and Citizens United would have been decided the other way. President Gore probably would not have invaded the wrong country after 9/11. Two Republican justices and more than four thousand dead American servicemembers is a high price to pay because you want to teach the Democratic party a lesson, or because you think Hillary is a chameleon. (She is). Not to mention hundreds of thousands of other people killed and a waste of six trillion dollars. To put it in terms some of you can understand, six trillion dollars would buy every man, woman, and child in America about 4.16 pounds of pot.

Please send your hate mail to me, c/o The Mountain-Ear, P.O. Box 99, Nederland, CO 80466 or to my Publisher at publisher1977@gmail.com.

Mark Cohen

Mark Cohen, J.D., LL.M., is a lawyer in Nederland, Colorado. He is also the author of the Pepper Keane mystery series. A former chairperson of the editorial board of The Colorado Lawyer magazine, one of his interests is the use of Plain English rather than legal jargon.