A Berniecrat's argument against Jill Stein and for Hillary Clinton
© Moriah Ratner

In the Democratic primary delegate caucus I presented myself to my fellow Berniecrats as a “Policy Wonk”, and was elected from a field of over seventy candidates to be one of the eight district delegates to represent Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersHere are the potential candidates still eyeing 2020 bids Sanders unveils education plan that would ban for-profit charter schools Warren policy ideas show signs of paying off MORE (D-VT). Despite the efforts of some amazing volunteers, we didn't manage to win enough votes to send me to the convention, or to win the Democratic primary, but my commitment to the progressive ideals that Bernie so eloquently expressed remains.

Since Senator Sanders's loss to former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWarren policy ideas show signs of paying off Biden at campaign kickoff event: I don't have to be 'angry' to win Top Dem: Trump helps GOP erase enthusiasm gap; Ohio a big problem MORE, many of my fellow Berniecrats have been considering voting for The Green Party Candidate, Jill Stein. They want to send a message to the establishment, that we were serious about our progressive values and we aren't going away. As the theory goes, the more votes Dr. Stein gets, the more afraid the Democratic establishment will be to abandon the left. While I don't deny that a strong showing from Dr. Stein would send a message to the Democrats, that isn't the message I think it sends. And, the Democrats aren't the only one's getting a message.


Currently Dr. Stein is polling somewhere between 2 and 3 percent of the electorate. Let's imagine that progressives rally around her she has an amazing election night, doubles that to 6 and steals an additional 3 points from Clinton. How would the Democrats react? What message would they get?

First, Clinton would most likely still win. The RealClearPolitics.com current average has Clinton almost 6 points up in a 4 way race. The loss of 3 points would sting, but she would still win. Since most of Dr. Stein's support is in states like California where Clinton is poised to win by large margins anyway, electorally the Democratic nominee would still win by a lot. In this scenario, The Democrats would see that they could afford to lose the progressive wing of the party, even lose 6 points of the electorate to the left, and still win. The message? They can win without us. They can afford to ignore the progressive left. The exact opposite of the message we want to send.

But, we will be sending a message to the Republican establishment as well. How would the Republican establishment react to the same imaginary scenario? What message would they get?

As we have already established Clinton will win the popular vote, by a slim margin. All other things being equal, it would be with only 42 percent of the popular vote with Johnson taking 6 percent and Trump taking a little less than 40 percent. You would have to go back to the 1912 election of Woodrow Wilson to find a president who won with lower popular numbers. Only Abraham Lincoln and John Quincy Adams would be lower. The Republicans, who will most likely still control the house, will see this as a sign that Clinton lacks a “mandate” and they will take that as a license to block everything the Democrats try to do. You think gridlock was bad under Obama? None of the progressive ideals that we care about stand a chance against an emboldened, obstructionist Republican House of Representatives. Definitely not the message we want to send.

But, what happens if it goes the other way and left rallies around Secretary Clinton?

Let's say, instead, Stein loses half of her support come November to Clinton. Secretary Clinton wins this time with 47 percent of the popular vote. How would both parties react?

An electoral victory without a popular victory isn't good to say the least. The Democrats would know that their path to maintaining control would lie in holding the newfound “Clinton Coalition” together. They couldn't afford to abandon the left wing of the party and the Democrats would be forced to consider all the progressive reforms that Senator Sanders and his delegates fought so hard to get into the platform. The Democratic establishment would get the message we want to send. We are here and we aren't going away.

However, while Clinton winning without a majority of the popular vote is not great, it isn't that unusual. That or worse has happened 18 times in the past. A victory with 47 percent of the popular vote puts Clinton way ahead of her husband's 1992 defeat of George H. W. Bush and in the ballpark of George W. Bush's 2000 defeat of Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreSeveral factors have hindered 'next up' presidential candidates in recent years Montana Gov. Bullock enters presidential race Bullock hires senior staffers ahead of likely presidential run MORE. It makes the “mandate” argument much harder for the Republicans to make, and shows the Republican leadership that their eight year long strategy of obstruction has not only torn them in half, it has unified their opponent. While I don't think it will magically end it, it does send a message to Republicans that the gridlock strategy isn't working for them, a message we surely want to send.

I wish Bernie had won the primary. I wish Bernie was going to be our President. But he didn't, and he won't be. As progressives, we need to understand the impact of our votes on the people who actually will be running the government come January. Your vote definitely sends a message. Just make sure it is the one you want to send.

Liberman is an Emmy Awards winning musician, audio engineer, inventor and all around nerd. He geeks out about most things, politics included.


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