Sanders Won Nevada, But No One Needs To Be A Chris Matthews About It
So! Bernie Sanders won the Nevada caucus' yesterday, and by a lot. He's got 46% of the vote so far, and Biden, who came in second, has only 19%. Sanders is now the first candidate in history to have won the popular vote in the first three primaries, and the numbers nerds at 538 (whom I am still quite skeptical of after 2016) are currently predicting that he will win every primary except Minnesota (Klobuchar), Alabama (Biden), Mississippi (Biden) and Florida (Bloomberg). In each of these states, they predict he will come in second.
Am I excited about this? HELL YES I AM. Sure, I pulled for Warren for most of this primary but I am also super jazzed about Sanders. I love Medicare for All. I love that he has a plan to house the homeless (this is an extremely important thing to me). I love that he wants to give amnesty to all undocumented immigrants, that he wants to raise the minimum wage to $15, that he wants to implement the Green New Deal, that he wants to eliminate all student debt and subsidize public colleges, that he wants to institute a national rent control standard, and frankly, I just genuinely like him as a person.
However! I fully recognize that everyone does not feel this way, and that a lot of people are feeling upset and scared, that a lot of people really, really hate Sanders along with everyone who likes him or is even neutral on him. Many of these people work at MSNBC, which spent most of yesterday afternoon having a collective freakout over a primary the polls had shown Sanders had a very big chance of winning. Chris Matthews, in particular, pretty much went off the deep end. He even likened Sanders — a Jewish person whose family died in the Holocaust — to Hitler taking over France.
Yeah, that's not ok! It's really, really not OK. And it has a whole lot of people — including many who don't like Sanders themselves but still understand that some things are just bad to say — calling for Matthews to be fired.
For his part, after making that statement, Matthews later went on to suggest that "moderates" might better off with four more years of Trump than to elect Sanders and have him "reshape the party."
That, however, was a sentiment I saw a lot of on social media both yesterday and today. While a lot of people who fear the idea of Sanders being the nominee because they are afraid he will lose to Trump, many are now saying that they would prefer another four years of Trump to Sanders getting elected. Perhaps ironically, this includes many who were very fond of jumping in the mentions of anyone saying anything nice about Bernie Sanders (or, in my experience, Elizabeth Warren) and saying, "But you'll vote for whoever the nominee is, right? VOTE BLUE NO MATTER WHO!"
I do hope that most of that is just people venting their spleen, but I also understand that people really are very upset about this, including many people who read this site, and I feel that — as your friendly neighborhood BernieBroad, it might be a good thing for me to try and calm some fears as best I can. I'm not trying to convince anyone to vote for him. I think everyone should vote for the person they like best, but I also don't want people to feel super scared.
It's Not Over Yet!
Look. We've still got a lot of states and territories to go! All but three of them, in fact. A lot of things can change. If you want someone else to win, get out there and convince people that their lives will be measurably better with them as president! Knock on doors, do phone banks, run your mouth on social media! That's what we're all supposed to be doing right now!
No One Thinks All Of The Things We Want Will Happen By Magic
One thing I keep seeing is people going, "Well, all of these people who like Bernie Sanders will be in for a rude awakening when they find out he can't just magically do all of the things he says he wants to do!"
I assure you, people know that. Sanders is actually extremely clear on the fact that getting any of these things done is going to involve a whole lot of ongoing organizing, advocacy and work, and those who support him are very much prepared to do that work.
One thing that is worth considering is that during the years in which progressives were largely excluded from electoral politics, organizing and advocating is what we did. That was our way of getting shit done, so we're a whole lot more used to bureaucracy than you might assume. We're also really used to disappointment, and we're used to getting disappointed and then getting back up and fighting again, when it's something we really believe in.
Yes, He Has Been "Vetted" — At Least As Much As Anyone Else Has
This is another concern I'm seeing around a lot. While it's true that he hasn't faced as much criticism as he might have if the major media networks hadn't adopted an "ignore him and he'll go away" policy regarding his candidacy, he's still faced a whole lot of criticism, as almost anything that has been said about him has either been fear-mongering or "guess he's just gonna have to drop out now!"
Consider this for a moment. He is doing as well he is doing right now, with all of this constant dragging, and with people making it pretty scary to publicly support him. That is actually pretty impressive!
If you're thinking "Well, all Trump has to do is point out that he's a socialist and when people find that out, they will never vote for him," I'm going to need to point out that pretty much everyone knows that Bernie Sanders is a Democratic Socialist. Consider for a moment that pretty much no one under the age of 45 grew up during the Red Scare. Hell, most younger people today grew up with Republicans screaming that Obama was a "socialist," that any program that helped anyone was "socialist" — they're not really all that scared of socialism.
Additionally, Sanders has a bit of a Teflon situation happening. People who support him literally do not care about anything else other than that he wants to do things that will measurably improve their lives. They don't. They don't care that he's loud. They don't care if he said nice stuff about the USSR one time right before criticizing the USSR. They don't care that he wrote some unfortunate erotica one time. They just don't. They want to afford insulin and Epi-pens, ok? They don't want to have to keep seeing their friends' GoFundMes for medical care. They don't want their student debt hanging over their heads for the rest of their lives. They want to be able to have nice lives and not be scared for the future. They want to be able to buy houses and have families and not feel like everything their parents had is completely out of reach.
We're Not All Monsters!
Hey! Look at me! You know me! You like me! I am super nice and practically a saint! I do not think you are a neo-liberal shill, whatever that means. I don't dislike Hillary Clinton (in fact, I preferred her in 2008 because of single-payer), and I want nice things for you and for all of us!
Sure, there are some jerks on the Internet. There may even be some jerks in your real lives. I know a lot of people voting for Bernie feel like he is maybe their only chance at being able to have a halfway decent life. I know that sometimes being super passionate about something can make people behave in ways that are not good. But I assure you, there are jerks supporting every candidate and former candidate out there. I've had people in my Twitter mentions for literal days screaming at me for liking Elizabeth Warren, and I assure you, they were not Bernie supporters.
He Has As Good Of A Chance Beating Trump As Anyone Else, And No One Has A Chance If We Don't All Try
If your real worry is that if Sanders won't beat Trump in November, here are a few things to consider. He is really, really popular among young people. Sure, people are thinking "Oh, those young people never vote" — but there was a massive spike in younger voter turnout in 2018. Both because people felt they were fighting for their lives, and because early voting has made it possible for more people to vote. Sanders is also hugely popular among Latinx people, who are making up a pretty large share of the vote these days.
And honestly, he's probably the best chance we have to get Wisconsin back.
I get that people think he will be a disaster for down-ballot candidates, that he has no chance of winning the states we need to win, that if he does win, we will be more divided than ever. I get that! But if one of the moderates were to win, there would be the same issue, because it's not as if all of the progressives would disappear, never to be seen again. We're gonna have to figure out how to live with each other one way or another. And no one we nominate will win if we don't fight for them.
I promise you. If Joe Biden magically pulls something off in South Carolina and then kills it on Super Tuesday and wins the nomination, I will fight my butt off for him. Hopefully you will do the same if someone you don't like that much wins.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. In addition to her work at Wonkette, she also has a biweekly column at Dame. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse