Historical trends favor Democrats, but success only comes with unity
Bernie is not even a Democrat, so why is he ripping our party apart?
At some point very soon, supporters of Bernie Sanders have a decision to make. Do they want four more years of Republican majorities, or do they want to be part of implementing policies aimed at helping the poor and working poor? In this political climate, it's a binary choice. Either supporters of Sanders help to elect Democrats who can beat Donald Trump or they contribute to his reelection. Period.
All the talk about a living wage, single-payer health care, and social justice means nothing if Republicans are reelected in 2018 and 2020. All the talk about building an economy that works for all Americans means nothing if "Bernie bros" attack every Democrat who isn't Sanders. He isn't even a registered Democrat. I would love to hear Sanders's opinion on how the Democratic Party can rebound and rebuild, but it has to be preceded by him actually joining the party, not merely using it as a vessel for his run for president. Democrats are your allies, not your punching bag or your Uber.
It's time for the fantasy to end. Sanders wouldn't have beaten Trump. He couldn't even beat Hillary Clinton. Pretending otherwise is completely illogical and only serves to reopen old wounds that ensure more Republican victories. If supporters of Sanders want an ally on health care, they certainly won't find it in Republicans. It hurts the very people that both Democrats and Sanders supporters are attempting to help his supporters denigrate up and coming Democrats as "corporatists" who are "owned by Wall Street."
I'd love if campaigns didn't have to look for corporate donations, but it's the political reality we live in, not the one we want. Maybe if we had more Democrats in office we could get rid of Citizens United and actually pass campaign finance reform. Then we could get money out of politics and get Congress back to work. You know who I can guarantee won't help you get those things done? Republicans. We don't live in a fantasy land where everyone gets everything that they want. Compromise is a necessity. I wish that with the snap of my fingers we had universal health care and free college, but that's not how our system works. That's not how the framers intended our system to work. The framers intentionally designed our government in a way that makes change incremental.
Attacks from Sanders and his supporters on Democrats aren't helping to rebuild the party, nor are they helping to build a strong economic message. Attacks from Sanders and his supports are an unnecessary Kamikaze mission that will undoubtedly lead to more Republican victories. If Sanders and his supporters want criminal justice reform and financial reform to pass, then maybe they shouldn't burn down the house of the only ally that they have. I'm sure Cory Booker or Kamala Harris would gladly sign onto legislation that repairs our failing penal system or repatriates American funds overseas. They've already joined Sanders's health care bill. I'm not so sure that the same can be said for Ted Cruz or Luther Strange, but feel free to give it a try.
The sole focus of the Sanders wing and the Democratic Party should be to beat Trump in 2020. Trump is the natural evolution of a party that has lost its moral compass. He's the natural evolution of a country quickly losing its grip on reality. He's unfit for the office of the presidency. He's the single most important reason for Sanders and his supporters to put aside their hostility and work hand and hand with the Democratic Party.
Now is not the time to relitigate the primary battle between Clinton and Sanders. Now is not the time to enact arbitrary litmus tests that will create even more chaos within the party. Now is the time to come together and link arms. Now is the time to take attendance and recognize who is with you and who is against you. Now is the time to rebuild our country and ensure it works for every single American. Taking an all or nothing approach to political issues isn't just unhelpful, it poisons the process and prevents meaningful conversation. It mirrors the childish and destructive antics of the Tea Party, not the behavior of well-informed adults.
We have to figure out a way to work together moving forward. The country may literally depend on it. This can't be a battle between the establishment and Sanders because that's exactly what Trump wants. This has to be a battle between right and wrong, a choice between democracy and authoritarianism. Only one side is hell-bent on protecting our democracy and the other isn't. So now Sanders and his supporters must choose a side. Straddling the line won't suffice. Will they work with Democrats to help take back our country or will they stand on the outside and throw stones? I know what Trump hopes that they do.
We are in the midst of a battle for the soul of our nation. We owe to those Americans who sacrificed their blood, their sweat, and in many cases, their lives to perfect this union. We owe it to the next generation of Americans to ensure that this country reflects the ideals that our flag represents. At the end of the day, our flag is just fabric woven together. What that fabric stands for matters. The flag stands for freedom. The flag stands for liberty. The flag stands for justice. Not justice for some, but justice for all. Until honor and integrity are brought back to our nation, our work won't be finished. Petty political squabbles must be set aside, and in the words of Trump, "We have to put America first."
Michael Starr Hopkins is an attorney and former member of the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He regularly appears on Fox News and CNN to talk about national politics. You can follow him on Twitter @TheOnlyHonest.