Current Affairs

What The Stakes Are

We just need Bernie. How is this not self-evident?

I feel like I’m going crazy. I have a pit of terror in my stomach that never goes away. I am stressed and afraid at every moment.

To me, a set of facts about the world is difficult to deny:

  1. If Donald Trump is reelected in November, very bad things will happen to a large number of people. Climate change will worsen. The brutalization of immigrants will escalate, with dementia patients and diabetics deported to their deaths. Workplace safety and labor protections will be gutted. Public assets from the national parks to the postal service will be sold off to corporations. A global arms race will intensify, possibly with civilization-ending weapons placed in outer space, waiting to destroy us at a moment’s notice.
  2. To stop these things from happening, we have exactly one chance on exactly one day: Nov. 3, 2020. On that day, something extremely difficult must be done: well over 60 million people must be motivated enough to put aside whatever else they are doing in their lives in order to go to polling stations and cast ballots. 
  3. Donald Trump will do whatever it possibly takes to prevent this from happening. He has a colossal amount of money. He is ruthless. He will say anything. Do anything. He will attack candidates from the left if he has to. He will mock their physical appearance. He will lie about them shamelessly. And he is the most powerful man in the world. Trump has the triple advantages of incumbency, low unemployment, and a decent approval rating. It will be incredibly difficult for anyone to beat him.  
  4. The Democratic party “establishment,” meaning the people who have been in leadership positions in the party, does not actually understand Trump. They do not see why his message is appealing. They don’t understand how talented he is. They think he is stupid. They don’t know why he thrives, and they don’t understand why they’re failing to effectively oppose him. When his approval rating rises, it mystifies them. When nobody comes to their rallies, they don’t know why. They didn’t get what was going on in 2016, when their own message was totally out-of-touch with ordinary people’s concerns. They will not admit that his State of The Union address was terrifyingly effective. They think that by pointing out that Trump is a liar and a cad, they can hurt him. 
  5. Even in a concerningly out-of-touch and inept party, Joe Biden stands out as uniquely out of touch and inept. It’s not just that he seems mentally not-that-with-it, but that he fundamentally can’t organize people. He certainly can’t inspire them. In fact, Biden’s political instincts are atrocious: he constantly told Iowa voters to “go vote for someone else,” and 85% of them did. He tells millennials he has “no empathy” for them. He promises no change. He is a serial liar who fabricates absurd details about his life story, like fictitious arrests and a history of civil rights activism.
  6. The only other Democratic candidate than Joe Biden who has a viable chance at the Democratic nomination is Bernie Sanders. This is almost universally accepted. 
  7. Between the two of them, Bernie Sanders is the only one with even a chance of beating Trump. As in 2016, Bernie is different from other Democrats in that he knows how to speak to Trump’s own voters. Not only does he beat Trump consistently in head-to-head polling, but he offers ordinary people an ambitious social democratic agenda that is designed to deal with their real-world problems. He has a decades-long record of fighting hard for them to get healthcare, decent wages, and family leave. He has waged an often lonely struggle on behalf of those whose interests are too frequently ignored in Washington, even taking on the Obama administration over cuts to Social Security. When Bernie tells working people he is in their corner, they can believe him, because he has acted on the same clear set of values for decades. Plus, Bernie’s supporters are motivated. They get out and knock doors for him in the cold. They will do whatever it takes for him. (And on the flipside, if Joe Biden was nominated, millions of them would probably not only decline to put in the same level of organizing energy, but would simply stay home, unwilling to assist a candidate who has made it clear he has no empathy for them.) 
  8. Many wealthy and powerful Democrats will do whatever it takes to stop Bernie Sanders from being the nominee. This means that they will do whatever it takes to make sure that Joe Biden is the nominee. Already, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar have dropped out and thrown their support behind Biden. Barack Obama has apparently “sent the signal” to Democrats that they need to come together behind Biden. Some Democrats even appear to be funneling money to supporting Elizabeth Warren’s campaign, so that she can continue to siphon enough votes away from Bernie Sanders to keep him from winning the nomination. 
  9. If these Democrats succeed in stopping Bernie, perhaps through a contested convention in which superdelegates override the plurality vote, and they put the feeble and uninspiring Biden at the top of the ticket, it will be an absolute calamity. Bernie’s supporters, many of whom already dislike the party for working hard to stop Bernie in 2016 and the incredibly fishy Iowa caucus shenanigans, will simply give up on the Democrats. Millennials will leave the party in droves, feeling that their votes don’t matter. Some will probably support a third party candidacy. Others will argue that in the interests of pragmatism, they should still vote for a dishonest and weak candidate who says he has no empathy for them. Their appeals will mostly fail. The party will be riven with bitter conflict. Biden will have no clear message, no strategy. He will perform embarrassingly in debates with Trump, forgetting his words and seeming to wonder why he is even on the stage. (He will also have no good explanation for what his son Hunter was doing for that Ukrainian gas company, which will be the subject of constant discussion.) Trump, being a bully, will seize his advantage and relentlessly mock Biden’s performance. Trump will (as he has before) talk a lot about how Sanders was “robbed” by a “rigged” primary, delegitimize Biden’s nomination, and stoke the intra-party conflict. Biden will look dazed and confused on Election Night, as Democrats wonder yet again how they managed to lose to Donald Trump of all people. 
  10. If Bernie is nominated, things will go differently, though we do not yet know quite how. Trump’s propaganda machine will try to brand Sanders a communist who hates America. Will this work? It is not clear. Sanders has been an open socialist in the public eye for a long time without it affecting his popularity, but the war that is waged against him will be relentless. And, of course, liberals might not pitch in to help Sanders. Many of them repeat right-wing talking points about him already, scaring people by implying Sanders wants to leave them uninsured. Sanders and his army of organizers will do their damndest to expose Trump for the fraud he is, to unite working-class people behind a candidacy that truly speaks to their interests, and behind an ambitious agenda for single-payer healthcare, a comprehensive climate plan, a living wage, and an end to the indentured servitude of student debt. Will they succeed? This I do not know. Everything else here seems clear as day to me. But how exactly a Sanders-Trump race will play out is mystifying indeed. There are strong reasons to believe Sanders will win, like his strong fundraising in Obama-Trump swing counties, voters’ high assessments of his honesty and credibility, his declining to antagonize conservatives on some cultural issues and ability to speak to conservative audiences, and of course, all of the actual polls. But I have never thought that it was certain Sanders will beat Trump. What I think is that it is certain any other Democrat will lose. 

I run all these facts through my head all day, every day. If Trump gets reelected, untold horrors will be released. Unless Sanders prevails, Trump will get reelected. Therefore Sanders must prevail. We must do everything possible to get Sanders the nomination. There is no alternative.

This same reasoning seemed just as obvious to me in 2016, when Democrats didn’t notice that nominating Hillary Clinton was a catastrophic blunder, and proceeded to lose to Donald Trump, ignoring the warnings of people like me and Michael Moore. And when I say I feel like I’m “going crazy,” it’s because it’s really hard for me to believe that after all these years, the lessons have still not been learned. “Oh my God,” I think. “They’re really going to do it again. They’re still not going to nominate Bernie. They’re going to put up another establishment candidate, this time an even weaker one who doesn’t even have the promise of ‘historic change’ that Hillary would have represented.” They’re literally going to fight Bernie to the death, even if it very obviously would result in the suicide of the Democratic Party as an institution.

It’s kind of hard to believe that this is really what’s happening. But it is! They’d rather nominate Joe Biden and have him lose to Trump than let Bernie try something different and novel. Hindsight should be 2020: have we really not realized that Bernie has a special ability to bring people together? Have you seen his rallies? Have you watched his campaign ads? This guy can make people cry. People would walk through fire for Bernie. Why do you think that is? It’s because Bernie makes them feel cared about (or, in the words of one nonvoting felon, “he’s the only one who thinks I’m a person”). He makes them feel less alone. He makes them feel part of something beautiful, something exciting, something that might actually change things for the better. Bernie can take people who feel alienated and uninterested in politics, and he can make them believe that a better world is possible. 

It’s so weird to me that people don’t get this. Do they really believe the idiotic attacks on Bernie’s “radicalism”? Look at Bernie’s agenda: a national health insurance plan, of the kind that exists successfully all over the world. A giant ambitious climate investment plan, of the kind that we absolutely need if we are going to save the earth because this is a fucking emergency. A living wage that allows people to actually afford to pay their rent and feed themselves. What is the problem here? Why are people like Barack Obama and Beto O’Rourke prepared to destroy the Democratic Party and put the entire future of the planet at risk in order to stop this? What exactly is the threat that Bernie poses? 

Even at his most ambitious, Sanders’ plans resemble things that exist today in many European countries, like making college education free the same way we make high school free, or having the government fund ambulance services just as we have government fire departments. And the plans are obviously not going to be implemented in their most ambitious form—everything gets watered down through the legislative process. Whatever changes Bernie could possibly bring about would be pretty modest and inadequate, and even Bernie-skeptic Paul Krugman admits Bernie poses no threat to the economy. The Wall Street Journal, in its opinion section, treats Bernie as an insane socialist radical bent on turning America into Venezuela. But in its news section, where they have to tell business-owners the truth, they admit that the changes he would bring are modest, like making CEO pay more reasonable, making it easier to unionize, boosting the minimum wage, lowering drug prices, legalizing marijuana, letting farmers fix their own farm equipment, and letting post offices offer banking services. As Matt Yglesias notes, Bernie Sanders is nothing to fear: he’s relatively moderate and does well in elections. During his time as a city mayor he proved himself to be a competent and progressive executive. 

So why do people freak out about him? Why, when he makes the entirely correct point that the Cuban government teaching children to read was good but its authoritarianism is bad, do people accuse him of sympathy for Castro’s repression, as if we should be incapable of holding two ideas in our heads at the same time? (Likewise, the Chinese government’s poverty-reduction is positive while its massive ethnic detention camps are very, very bad.) Why do people suggest Medicare For All is fiscally irresponsible when it’s very clear that it will save people money and prevent tens of thousands of people from dying every year? Why, when Bernie has been on the right side of history from every issue from gay rights to the Iraq War, do people treat him as insane and lacking judgment? Why are people like Obama willing to risk destroying the party and imperiling the earth in order to keep this man from being president? 

Forget 1972

The charitable answer, and the one they would probably give themselves, is that do not share my view of point #7 on my above list. They simply do not think Bernie is “electable.” They think he would lose to Donald Trump, that because he is too “far left” he would be the equivalent of George McGovern in 1972, and would lose in a landslide. They think he would hurt the prospects of “down ballot” Democrats, with Democratic members of Congress in conservative districts being forced to share the ticket with a socialist. They will insist that it is not Bernie’s agenda that they despise. They simply believe he threatens the party. He must be stopped at all costs in order to save democracy. I think many Democrats have probably convinced themselves of this, which is why some have been willing to entertain the prospect of nominating Mike Bloomberg to stop Sanders. If it takes a racist, sexist, transphobic Republican to save the party, so be it. Better victory with Bloomberg than defeat with Bernie. 

The fact that many high-up people in the Democratic party think this way is frightening. Because if they are completely convinced that Bernie can’t beat Trump, they’re not going to step aside at any point and let him be the nominee. They will fight him to the bitter end, because they will tell themselves that in doing so they are being pragmatic. If their actions result in tearing the party apart through a disastrous brokered convention, they will still insist that their actions were right, because they think anything that stops Bernie has to be done. Yes, even if that means overriding the popular vote with superdelegates.

In order to get people who think this way to stop trying to destroy Bernie’s candidacy, we would need to convince them that they are wrong about the electability thing. They have an absolute conviction that “a candidate too far to the left cannot win,” therefore they must stop a candidate too far to the left from getting the nomination. If this means getting Elizabeth Warren to stay in and siphon away some Bernie votes, they will implore her to stay in. If it means bribing Amy and Pete with promises of cabinet posts, they will do that. I am sure many people have been on the phone to Barack Obama begging him to step up and endorse Joe Biden in order to “save the party.” I would not be surprised if Obama did just that if Biden has an even passable Super Tuesday result.

But the theory of politics that drives this conviction is delusional. The idea that “a far left candidate cannot win” is ingrained as part of the prevailing ideology. People believe it to their core. Voters are on an ideological spectrum, and you’ve got to appeal to the “median” voter in order to win. Go too far toward one end of the spectrum, and you lose. This is the rationale that many “moderate” candidates give for trying to sound sort of like Republicans—see Bill Clinton promising to gut welfare. You get the “Democratic base” but then you “expand” it to peel away Republicans. If you ask what the proof of this theory is, you get one answer: 1972, in which the “too liberal” George McGovern lost badly to Richard Nixon. 

This theory, however, needs to be completely discarded. The core mistake of it is that it sees voters as primarily ideological. In fact, as anyone who has knocked doors for a while can tell you, voters are deeply weird and idiosyncratic. It’s not that they’re in the “center,” it’s usually that they’re all over the map: people have some really conservative opinions alongside some really left-wing ones. It’s not uncommon to meet a voter who thinks immigrants are stealing our jobs but private insurance should be abolished, or who thinks Trump is being persecuted but thinks reparations are sensible. The “median voter” idea is a bad one precisely because the “spectrum” is a bad concept to begin with. Yes, there are clusters of tendencies, and there are lots of “partisans.” But people actually will surprise you: you’ll meet plenty who are considering both Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg, and can tell you almost nothing about either of them. (A friend of mine tells me that in 2016, his aunt’s entire perspective on the race was: “It’s between a clown and a robot, and I’ll take the clown.” She spoke for millions.) 

What if, and I know this sounds crazy, politics is less about ideology than about personality, narrative, and organizing? Under a personality theory, if you put a likable, charismatic, right-winger against a hesitating and disagreeable left-winger, the right-winger would win. But if the qualities were inverted, and the right-winger was dislikable and the left-winger was charismatic and compelling, the result would also be inverted.

Here’s a very rough folk theory of elections to consider: the person who loses is the one who seems the most like a loser. I realize this sounds silly, and hindsight will inevitably influence the assessment, but the people who lose do often seem like the kind of people who would lose. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are charismatic, likable, inspiring winners. John Kerry and Al Gore are humorless, uninspiring bores. When we run people that people like and are inspired by, we win. When we don’t, we lose. I’m not saying this theory is an all-explaining or universally correct one. Just that it makes as much sense to me as the solely ideology-based theory. 

How about another folk theory? Organizing matters. If a socialist knocks on 100,000 doors and spends the most time persuading voters, they might beat a conservative. (A DSA member who became a Virginia House of Delegates member, Vaughn Stewart, told Current Affairs he believes he won not because he was a socialist, but because he showed up and met with people.) Under this theory, a fascist party could win even if most people aren’t fascists, if the fascists are the best-organized.

Perhaps George McGovern just wasn’t very persuasive, likable, or organized. (He was a also a big fat Liberal, more Elizabeth Warren than Bernie Sanders.) If there are more variables that matter than ideology, then the simple “Bernie can’t win because he’s a leftist, Biden will have more of a chance because he’s a centrist” is dangerously false. It doesn’t just matter what Biden’s ideology is. It matters whether he can organize and inspire. Even if it was harder for a left-wing candidate to win, if the left-wing candidate is the one with the giant grassroots fundraising and door-knocking apparatus, they might be your best bet.

But I don’t actually think it is harder for a left-wing candidate to win, and I think people who assume this assume it in part because they don’t really understand what the “left” is or what our theory is. Socialist values pose a significant threat to the wealth and power of certain people in society who have a strong self-interest in making sure people misunderstand and distrust socialists. But actually, the left stands for ideas that, once people understand them clearly and see through all the myths, have the possibility of mass appeal. Medicare for All is popular, and it would probably be far more popular if you explained to people exactly how it worked and what it would mean for them, and showed them how it would affect their pocketbooks and their experience with the healthcare system. Instead, pollsters ask things like “Would you support Medicare For All even if it took away your private insurance and increased your taxes?” and people get jittery, because they think that means they’re going to be uninsured and have less money. People try to mislead the public about what the left is trying to do, then when the public swallows the misconception, we are told that America rejects left ideas. It’s silly. 

Sure enough, there is evidence that Bernie Sanders would be something different from anything we’ve seen before, in terms of whose appeal he would attract. Joe Rogan, who we can think of as more naturally Trump-sympathetic, prefers Sanders over other Democrats. Ann Coulter is weirdly sympathetic to him. Even Tucker Carlson understands that Bernie will have a unique power to appeal to Trump voters. (I have given a longer explanation here of how the left can present a formidable case against Trump that can weaken his turnout, neutralize his message, and leave him struggling to figure out what he can say in response besides “But socialism!”) Those who fear Bernie will hurt “down ballot” Democrats in conservative areas do not get it: Bernie is far more likely to appeal to conservatives than Hillary Clinton was, because Bernie is not going to drip with contempt for them and call them all a “basket of deplorables.” 

If the left were given the ability to make its case clearly to the public, to explain what it is we actually believe and want, our agenda would not be “crazy.” It’s only crazy because people keep calling it crazy and refusing to have a serious discussion about what, for example, AOC’s poverty plan would mean for people, or how much it would really cost to get rid of student debt (not nearly as much as you think). If Bernie is the nominee he will actually get a chance to speak to millions of people directly and at length for the first time. And when people get to see Bernie up close, rather than through the distorting prism of media coverage, they like him. 

Maybe the reason people distrust the left is that you have the paper of record publishing sheer fabrications about how Bernie Sanders represents the “end” of the liberal values of compassion, tolerance, and optimism. What are they talking about? Bernie Sanders’ campaign is built in compassion, he’s gotten into trouble for how far he takes his toleration of opponents’ speech, and it’s all built on the optimistic idea that we can establish a decent standard of living for everyone. This is just a disgusting lie, but here it is in the nation’s leading “liberal” newspaper from one of Barack Obama’s favorite columnists

I’ve been so depressed to see just how nasty the attacks on Sanders have gotten, how far divorced from reality they’ve become. Even Elizabeth Warren is now portraying Bernie Sanders as a useless do-nothing (he’s actually phenomenally effective and can rattle off dozens of achievements). How sad it is to watch someone who could have been a natural ally in turning America into a true social democracy running a scorched earth campaign to deny Sanders the nomination however she can. Sometimes it feels like being pummeled from all directions, and you just want to lie down and give up. You, too? Is everyone going to turn on us? What on earth is wrong with you people? The Sanders movement is something beautiful and necessary. It offers people something important to believe in. People like Obama and Warren are really going to expend their resources in trying to crush it completely and demoralize the millions of people for whom it means so much? Warren came in 5th place in the last primary, and knows that her continued presence in the race will help Biden secure the nomination. Is this just spite at this point? Is she being paid? What is going on? 

A crude Marxist analysis, of course, would say that it’s all a matter of class. Ultimately, Sanders is a candidate fighting on behalf of the working-class against a party dominated by rich capitalists and members of the professional-managerial class, all of whom stick together at the end of the day. Bernie poses an existential threat to their power and status, because he thinks Congress should be full of bartenders rather than lawyers and business owners. 

Perhaps Democrats trying to stop Bernie really think he can’t beat Trump. As I say, there isn’t really evidence of this, beyond the theory that the word socialism will turn toxic in a way it hasn’t so far. Still, they might be sincere in their error, for all I know. For some of them, however, there is something else: Bernie’s success would discredit and humiliate them. And whether they know it or not, that may be subconsciously affecting how they think about him. Let us say Bernie did beat Trump, and that he did pass Medicare for All, and that it was a success. What would that mean for people like Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton? It would mean that they were wrong when they had not chosen to fight for these things. Completely wrong. In fact, they stood in the way of progress and prevented us from getting things we could have had all along. They “compromised” all of the important values for nothing. They should have been standing with Bernie and instead they were standing against him, creating needless barriers to fundamentally important social changes.

But it’s even worse than that for them: if Bernie beats Trump, liberalism is over. I don’t mean in the sense David Brooks means, that the liberal values of free expression and democracy are over. Bernie has fought for those his whole life. I mean incrementalist politics that declines to forthrightly challenge the distribution of power and wealth. Because if Bernie beats Trump in 2020, it will show that Bernie was right that he could have beaten Trump in 2016. And if Bernie could have beaten Trump in 2016, then all of the horror of Trump’s presidency—the kids in cages, the poisoned environment, the pardoned psychopaths—was avoidable. It didn’t need to have happened. It happened because liberals stood in the way, because they insisted on coronating Hillary Clinton instead of listening to those of us who were shouting over and over “YOU NEED BERNIE IF YOU ARE GOING TO WIN.” This mess will have been their fault. They could have let Bernie go after Trump with a powerful left populist appeal. Instead they chose to run a D.C. insider who hasn’t talked to a person without a college degree since before they went to college. If Bernie wins in 2020, it will show that this was the fuckup of the century, that it put the entire planet at risk, that they understood absolutely nothing about politics and the limits of the possible. It will show that every compromise Barack Obama made was unnecessary, and every person who thought “pragmatism” meant setting aside your principles sold their soul and didn’t even get the lousy T-shirt. 

My theory for why some people hate Bernie so much is that Bernie shows them a person they could have been, but found some excuse not to be. They didn’t have to sell out. They could have stood alone, never ceasing to fight against injustice. But they did sell out, and the only consolation they got was that it was the reassurance that they were pragmatic and sensible and smart. What if it wasn’t even that, though? What if it was incredibly dumb? So I’m not surprised they’ll do anything they can to keep Bernie from being the nominee. If left policies and politics turn out to work, to engage people and improve things, people will have spent their life on the wrong side. And it’s probably easier to reelect Trump than to stomach the revelation that you were deeply wrong in a way that caused terrible harm. 

Okay, but let’s go back to the facts: Objectively speaking, the future of the planet depends on Bernie getting this nomination and then beating Trump. If either one of those things doesn’t happen, we’re fucked. Don’t take my word for it. Think about it. Play the scenarios out in your head. Imagine how a brokered convention will go. Imagine how embittered Sanders’ voters would be if he had the nomination snatched out from under him. Imagine how Joe Biden would campaign, and how the size of his events would compare to the size of Trump’s. How anemic would his campaign be next to the well-oiled Sanders machine? How many young people would go around in Biden shirts? Come on.

I feel so crazy, because I want to scream: please, for the love of God, just try to look at things as they are! There are still people supporting Elizabeth Warren, because she’s the candidate of their “hearts.” Do they know how much is at stake? Do they know what will happen if we don’t get Bernie? There are people trying to prop up Biden and force a brokered convention. Do they know that getting Pete and Amy behind Biden does not make him any better or more competent a campaigner? Do they know that it will only provide the illusion of strength until such time as he faces Donald Trump? Do they care what will happen as a result of that? Do they realize just how big the threat of climate change is? Do they seriously think that even if Joe Biden scraped himself somehow across the finish line he would do anything about it as president? Do they think the Sunrise Movement would have a friend in Joe Biden like they would in Bernie Sanders? What is the thinking here? What is the theory? How do you think this is going to play out? Are they really going to let the goddamn planet burn to save us from a social democrat? How can you be that indifferent to the fate of billions? I’ve been feeling such rage at people like Warren and O’Rourke, but it’s almost subsided into just a deep, deep sadness. How depressing it is that there can be people with so much indifference to what will happen as a result of their actions. 

My co-editors worry sometimes that I have been publishing too many pro-Bernie articles. They are concerned that Current Affairs could end up seeming like a propaganda outlet. Frankly, they’re probably right. I’ve been strident this election season. (I’ve been vicious to poor Pete, for instance.) But I swear it’s not because of any great cultish adoration for Bernie Sanders. I do not want to be writing all the time about Bernie Sanders, believe me. I wish I could write about so many other things. (As one example, I’d like to be attacking Bernie from the left during a Bernie presidency.)  

The reason I’ve been writing incessantly since 2016 about the critical importance of electing Bernie is that I sense the extreme urgency of our political moment, and this cranky old man from Vermont has rather remarkably ended up in the position where his election is a necessary step in moving this country forward and saving it from barbarism and self-destruction. If I could, I would write 10 pro-Bernie articles a day, not because I am a “bro,” but because I am so afraid all the time about what happens if we don’t get this done, and all I want to say over and over is “Don’t you see? Please. PLEASE. We need this. It is so important. How do you not see the importance? Do you not realize what’s at stake?” It sounds so arrogant. So accusatory. So insane. I don’t want to be like that. I’ve become an angrier person this election season. I’ve lost friends. I’ve flunked my schoolwork. I’ve alienated colleagues. I’ve made people think I’m nuts. 

 But since we founded Current Affairs in 2016, I’ve been trying to say the same thing over and over in however many ways I can, because it feels so obvious to me that it occupies me constantly and if it isn’t understood and acted upon it will cause such catastrophic harm: we need Bernie. We have got to make this happen. We have an opportunity here. It won’t come again. We are lucky we got a “do-over” in 2020, but this is it. We can have something incredibly good, or we can have something incredibly bad, and there is no in between and we’ve got to choose and choose now.

The only thing that keeps me from going insane is the fact that I am not, in fact, at all alone. The millions of people who fight for Bernie: they all get it too. That’s why they’re out there spending every moment of their day working for him, giving him all the money they can. Forklift operators, truck driver, fast food workers: they sense that at last, there is someone in politics who might really make a difference to their lives. The activists in the youth climate movement know that there is finally someone for whom climate change carries the right amount of urgency, who doesn’t just see it as a phrase to toss out and indicate Deep Concern about, but who sees it as something that if we do not fix now will have terrible consequences. Bernie gets it in a way nobody else does.

When Bernie had his heart attack, I and so many of these others panicked. And people made fun of us and couldn’t believe how dependent we were on “one guy” being our “savior.” But Bernie isn’t a savior. Bernie is a vehicle for carrying out our aspirations. He’s a means to the end of a better future. I wish we had other vehicles. But he’s the one we’ve got right here and now, and we have to do everything possible to make sure we don’t miss this chance. 

I hope today goes well. It needs to. So much is on the line.

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