Supporters of Bernie Sanders say they would have trouble voting for any other Democratic candidate should they get the nomination. One of them, Sam Shain, made that argument in his Feb. 7 column, “Why Bernie supporters aren’t ‘blue no matter who.’”

This is why they’re wrong.

According to Shain, one of the reasons to support Bernie, and no other candidate, is that the nature of his campaign — funded by working people, not powerful corporate money and interests — allows Bernie to speak truth to power. He writes: “Sanders takes all of the anxieties people rightfully have living in this country and points the finger not at immigrants, Muslims, ‘fake news,’ or any other trope weaponized by Trump, but at the powerful corporations that are destroying the environment, the working class, and America itself.”

Shain says Sanders is the only candidate “talking about social programs the rest of the developed world already enjoy, and giving us a legitimate opportunity to be (a world leader) in saving our environment, an issue we are increasingly running out of time to combat.” He claims Bernie supporters are not going to lift a finger to help elect Joe Biden, who he says is a “business-as-usual Democrat,” and an uninspiring pragmatist whose incremental approach to progress will be too little, too late, especially on climate change and health care.

Shain believes Bernie supporters are astonishingly enthusiastic and, if you take Bernie out of the equation in November, you eliminate this enthusiasm. Without Bernie in the race, what incentives will Bernie supporters have to “vote for some corporate hack that doesn’t align with their beliefs?”

I answer that last question with one word: Trump.

Otherwise I couldn’t agree more with the arguments Shain makes for supporting Bernie. I will campaign and vote for Bernie if he becomes the Democratic nominee. If Bernie does not secure the nomination, which seems likely based on the Super Tuesday and March 10 election results, I will campaign and vote for Biden.

There is no question Bernie has much to offer and may be the best candidate. But Biden has something Bernie does not: electability. Even Bernie acknowledges he is losing the electability race. Remember, elections are not about electing the best person for the position; elections are about electing the best person running. It is impossible to overemphasize that distinction, a fact I believe Bernie supporters lost sight of in 2016.

In that presidential election, Bernie supporters largely did what Shain is advising them to do now, a strategy that resulted in electing President Trump. Approximately 20% of Bernie supporters voted for Hillary Clinton, 10% voted for Trump and 70%, if you include those who wrote in Bernie’s name on Election Day, didn’t vote at all.

Writing in Bernie’s name in November is the same as not voting at all because any name written on a ballot must be a registered write-in candidate and Bernie is not registered. The only thing writing Bernie’s name on your ballot will do is help reelect Trump.

Because Bernie supporters did not follow Bernie’s advice in 2016 to vote blue no matter who, Trump became president. If Bernie supporters follow Shain’s advice this year, Trump will get reelected in November. Bernie supporters need to ask themselves if retaining ideological purity is worth four more years of Trump dystopia.

The nation and indeed the world cannot afford four more years of Trump destroying America. We truly need a president who will “Make America A Democracy Again” after four years of Trump assaulting it from the Constitution on down. Four more years and Trump will become the dictator he wants to be, and turn America into just another failing dictatorship. Is this the America Bernie supporters want?

As a longtime supporter of Bernie from his days as mayor of Burlington wrote: “I’d love to see him in the Oval Office. That said, it would betray everything (Bernie) stands for to allow Trump another four years.”

November is the time to vote for the candidate on the ballot who is running against Trump, and no other, as though your freedoms and the future of your country depend on it. They do.

Tom Waddell is president of the Maine Chapter of the Freedom from Religion Foundation. He can be reached at: [email protected]


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