The people that didn't vote for Bernie? They're dying off

If you want a window into the future of American politics in the next ten years, take a closer look at the Bernie SandersBernie SandersHillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike Overnight Energy: Court upholds Trump repeal of Obama fracking rule | Oil price drop threatens fracking boom | EPA eases rules on gasoline sales amid coronavirus The Hill's Campaign Report: Sanders pushes on in 2020 race MORE campaign. 71 percent of voters 30 and under supported Sanders in the primary because they were inspired by his vision to provide universal healthcare, paid vacations, sick days, and free higher education – basic benefits that nearly all modern democracies provide for their citizens.

Young voters were inspired by Bernie’s authenticity and his say-it-like-it-is message that the economy is rigged to favor corporations and the wealthy. They were inspired because Bernie connected with them and because they could identify with what he was saying.

And, make no doubt about it, if pre-registration periods were reasonable and if independents were allowed to vote in the primaries Bernie would have won the nomination because huge majorities of people are ready for a government and an economy that favors the 99 percent.

But Bernie didn’t win the nomination, and now the Democratic party are at risk of losing one of the largest voting blocs – independents and millennials – because they nominated the queen of the Beltway prom. And if they lose them, they lose the election as well.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it would be a horrible mistake for anyone to vote from Trump. It’s bad enough that he represents one of the two major political parties, it would be a disaster if he represented our country.  But the overwhelming mood of the public in the US and increasingly around the world is anti-status-quo, anti-business-as-usual. And Trump is anything but usual. How ironic that the most retrograde of all imaginable candidates will now be embraced by those that are totally disgusted with the scene of the hogs feeding at the trough that we now call politics in America – that Trump is the insurgent straight talking fighter for the little guy and Clinton is the symbol of the pay-to-play status quo.

If Hillary and the Democrats want to get on the right side of history, win the election, and in the process create a more equitable America and reform our economy so that it once again creates a rising middle class and moves people up the rungs and out of poverty, the future is theirs for the asking. 

They don’t need to embrace Bernie to win, they need to get off their perfumed derrieres, and spend some time in Watts, the Appalachians, West Baltimore, Stockton, Flint, the northeast kingdom of Vermont, and hundreds of other communities struggling in the US. They need to get themselves a $7.50 an hour job at McDonalds and see how the other side lives beyond the limo window.

They need to stop congratulating themselves on all their “hard work” fighting for incremental changes and let-them-eat-cake laws that barely slows the decay – and in other cases, with trade deals like NAFTA and TPP, made it worse. 

Instead, they need to present bold vision and bold policy solutions that guarantee people universal access to healthcare, a $15 an hour minimum wage, free college education, universal access to meaningful maternity and paternity leave, and other basic reforms to improve the standard of living for everyone. In order to win these reforms, we have to start by unrigging a rigged system where the wealthy rule, and that means ending the pay-to-play politics and getting big money out of politics. 

Hillary might be the least-likely person to initiate a sea change in American politics. But if Hillary and the Democrats are unable to embrace this unique democratic moment, it could easily be lost to the annals of history. And the country could become Trump’s next bankrupt business.

Ben Cohen is the co-founder of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream and founder of StampStampede.org