By now, who hasn’t heard a Bernie supporter or surrogate claim that Sanders would have won the election against Donald Trump?
Let me start by saying I didn’t vote for Sanders, Clinton, or Trump, so I’ve got no dog in this fight. That said, I do believe the Bernie supporters are basing their claim about the general election on actual data:
You can put whatever stock you want in polling data. The point is just that polls showed Sanders crushing Trump. The same polls from that time period showed Clinton beating Trump by a narrow margin. If the polls of Sanders vs. Trump were off by the same margin as the polls of Clinton vs. Trump, Sanders still would have crushed Trump in the general election.
The reason for this is not rocket science and has nothing to do with the primary. The major parties — both of them — are circling the drain. The number of Americans who identify as part of neither major party has been hovering around 40% for the last half of 2016, which represents a plurality of the nation, and an all-time high since this data has been collected. This is not new, either, but the result of a long trend:
The reason Sanders was a heavier favorite against Trump than Clinton is plainly visible in that graph: Sanders polled better among independents than Clinton. That is all. There is really nothing else to discuss in terms of who is right or wrong or how Clinton won the primary but lost the general election.
This is what also might prompt people to conclude that “Sanders is the future.” Maybe he won’t be the future of the Democratic Party, but the futures of both parties are looking bleak. Both are cratering and will ultimately become irrelevant. It’s quite possible the Democratic Party already has, and it seems more than likely that Trump is poised to destroy what is left of the Republican Party.
If you prefer to believe the Democratic Party will somehow recover and return to relevance, then consider the following regarding the future:
Sanders annihilated Clinton among young voters, who ostensibly represent the future of the party. Clinton destroyed Sanders among older voters, who won’t be around to vote in very many more elections. What does this tell you? For one, it says that the “Sanders wing” of the Democratic Party is the “young wing” of the Democratic Party. The party can either continue to chastise them for the results of this election, belittle them, and ignore them, or the party can wake up and realize they can no longer win elections without this group’s support, and that continuing to marginalize, silence, and ignore them is only going to result in worse and worse outcomes.
I think, instead of all this conjecture about all the things that are wrong with Sanders and the “Sanders wing,” and all the dismissal and denial of a platform that clearly registered with young voters — the future of the party, if you will — the Democratic Party needs to start answering to the demands of these same voters, or that percentage of Independent voters in America is going to keep climbing from 40% to 50% to 60%, all the while stripping the Democratic Party of any life it has left.
The Democratic Party’s behavior since November has been nothing short of illogical. The numbers are there for everyone to see. Young people liked Bernie Sanders. Young people are going to be around next election. Even younger people are going to be eligible to vote, and they liked Bernie even more. Instead of telling them they’re wrong and trying to defend a failing strategy that has limited appeal to future generations of voters, why not do the smart, rational, innovative thing and create a platform that they can get behind?
Sadly, we all know the answer to this. The Democratic Party is a corrupt institution that has been bought by the corporate oligarchy. I know, I know; we’re all tired of hearing this, but the truth doesn’t change just because it’s unpleasant. The Democratic Party does not serve its constituents anymore than the Republican Party serves its. Both parties serve the same oligarchy, and even while Democrats lament how working class Republicans consistently and overtly vote against their own interests by installing corporate puppets, they fail to see they do the same thing.
We have reached a crossroads for the future of the Democratic Party. Either the Democratic Party will continue to serve the oligarchs and refuse to learn anything from its myriad failings in this election, or it will wake up and realize that the youth of today and the youth of tomorrow aren’t buying this bullshit, abandon their neoliberal corporate shilling, and create a product young people can vote for.
What will it be?