I absolutely agree with Arthur Schwartz in his article headlined “The Trump Win and Our Lives” that New York’s Democratic Party needs reform. But I think Schwartz neglects a couple of important points:
First, Hillary Clinton didn’t lose. She won by more than 2.8 million votes. This is the fifth time in the history of the Republic that this sort of fraud has happened, twice in our lifetimes. Any rant about the fundamentally corrupt nature of the American political hierarchy must start with that point.
Second, the systematic gutting of the Voting Rights Act and the unleashing of unlimited dark money by the Bush Supreme Court, for use in the battleground states, led to dramatic decreases in minority turnout and mistrust of Clinton among white women. Those votes were not lost on issues of substance, but on a non-stop media blitz of fake news stories, impending doom campaign ads, Russian hacking, and illegal interference from the FBI, all calculated to portray Clinton as untrustworthy.
Third, and perhaps most important, is Bernie Sanders. Progressives insist that the primary system was unfair to Senator Sanders, and that he could have won the election. It wasn’t, and he couldn’t. If you think the average red state voter will make the distinction between “Democratic Socialist” and “Communist,” you’ve never lived in a red state. There is no surer way to lose in Middle America than by being branded a Commie, except perhaps by being an Atheist Jewish Commie. No level of “connection” with a demographic he was never part of, would change that. It was clear early in the process that Sanders could not win the nomination, and yet he continued to the convention, buying into conspiracy theories and spreading distortions about Hillary Clinton, all of which Republicans dutifully noted and then used against her, often quoting him to do it. Lukewarm voters in blue states get no pass on this, either. The ammunition they handed the Republicans enabled the fabrication that Clinton is untrustworthy, and it was that lie that Donald Trump rode to the White House.
That bitter opposition made Mrs. Clinton a wounded candidate from the very beginning. Saying that Sanders’ supporters eventually voted for her does not excuse the fact that they worked tirelessly against her up until the convention, and gave mostly nominal support beyond it. If Sanders had acknowledged the inevitable in the early spring, and worked as hard to elect Hillary as he did to damage her, he would be the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. Also, the rest of us would not be facing the virtual certainty of a far-right Supreme Court for the rest of our lives, women would not be facing the almost certain reversal of Roe v. Wade (in fact, if not in law), the Affordable Care Act would not be in danger of repeal, and we would not be confronted with at least four years of what will be the most relentlessly pro-business, pro-wealth, anti-environment, anti-progressive administration in a generation.
Step down, Mr. Schwartz: That’s not a high horse you’re sitting on, it’s an elephant.
—Paul Scoles, MD