Presidential Campaign

Could Bernie Sanders take the blame for a Donald Trump victory?

If Donald Trump makes his way into the White House this November, he might owe Bernie Sanders dinner or at the very least, a bottle of champagne. Not that Sanders would accept the invitation, but he might have given Trump the edge he needed to win this thing.

How? During a circuitous, indefensibly long campaign, Sanders has managed to drive left-leaning, politically passionate millennials away from the Democratic Party’s nominee and into the arms of a bunch of third-party nobodies who currently function as (ahem) valid options for protest voters.

“But a third-party candidate could totally win if enough people got on board. I mean, they…”

{mosads}Let me stop you right there. There’s no chance. You know it. I know it. And the numbers don’t lie.

The fight for the youth vote hasn’t exactly been kept a secret during this election. The millennials, who were so crucial to the Obama coalition, could work wonders for Hillary Clinton. But in this election more than a third of them are supporting third-party candidates. Why?  

It’s because they were Sanders supporters. More young people voted for the Vermont politician than Trump ad Clinton combined – by a lot. But now, in the absence of their hoary firebrand, they face a moral dilemma.

They supported Sanders because his ideals matched their own. However, they were voting as Sanders supporters, not necessarily as Democrats. When Sanders (finally) dropped out, the difference between him and Clinton had never been so stark. The soul searching began for many who had eagerly caucused for Sanders, but there was just no link between him and Clinton. It’s a challenge for these voters to see anything of themselves in Clinton’s policies.  

Sanders didn’t help matters by vowing to fight … and fight … and fight. Long after the numbers warned that his victory would be an improbability on par with an Adam Sandler movie ever receiving the Best Picture award, Clinton soldiered on, chipping away at Clinton’s reputation, record, and integrity. By the time he finally dropped out, he had performed substantial damage to her campaign. And his followers aren’t quick to forget.

He never wavered though, so he can sleep well at night, right?

Hmm, I wonder. In the film Braveheart a character says, “Uncompromising men are easy to admire.” Sanders knew this all too well, which is one of the reasons why young voters experiencing their first political awakening (only to subsequently endure their first political breakup) flocked to him. He rallied them hard and loud. That rallying is still ringing in their young, inexperienced ears.

Well, William Wallace didn’t compromise and he got the dubious honor of seeing his own entrails held aloft. The damage Sanders has done to Clinton is not an outright evisceration, but it’s bad.

When you spend month after month trying to persuade someone that your opponent is a terrible person, candidate, and leader, you can’t expect them to jump onboard when you turn tail and change your stance. At that point Sanders forfeited their reactions and support of the candidate he had fought so hard against.  

Ralph Nader was accused of siphoning support when running against Bush, and many blamed him for Gore’s loss. Siphoning implies that someone is taking something to which they have no right, such as someone else’s gasoline.

Nader, much like Sanders, appealed to the many voters who remain fed up with a two party system. And every person has the right to their opinion and to their vote. It’s one of the things that is so damned precious about this country.

And maybe this time these misled voters are paying attention to history and how their desire to turn a two-ring circus into a three-ring could end with their least favorite candidate in the Oval Office.

Sanders’s opinions molded the views of a critical voting bloc. He was able to place the young voters so firmly in his camp that they lost the ability to take the long view. If they can’t bring themselves to see anything good about Hillary, then Sanders must take some of the blame for that. Historically speaking, an uncompromising leader will draw uncompromising followers.

And a history lesson we’ve all learned the hard way is that uncompromising people make good conquerors, but poor politicians, and even worse diplomats. Maybe the Dems can avoid the sight of their own entrails this time around. Or maybe come November, Sanders receives that bottle of thank you champagne wrapped in a tell-tale gold label.

Kristin Tate is a Conservative Columnist and Author of the new book, “Government Gone Wild: How D.C. Politicians Are Taking You For a Ride and what You can Do About It”


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Tags 2016 presidential election Bernie Sanders Democratic Party Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Republican Party United States

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