AuthorConniff, Ruth

When Democrats discuss beating Donald Trump, over and over again I hear the same comments: Everyone has to vote, and we can't have those Bernie Sanders supporters refusing to get in line behind the nominee again, the way some of them refused to do when Hillary Clinton ran in 2016.

Dems are worried about a Sanders or Elizabeth Warren candidacy--and also about Sanders and Warren supporters not falling into line behind a more "sensible" candidate.

These conversations are silly for a couple of reasons. One is that they never include actual nonvoters. In my experience, it's a bunch of people who are already planning to vote for the Democratic nominee telling each other that everybody had better vote for the Democratic nominee. Worse, they are getting it backwards. It's totally unhelpful to try to browbeat people into voting--even if you can locate the nonvoters you want to browbeat. That energy would be better spent getting behind a nominee who can attract more votes.

There is a big divide in the Democratic Party over whether we need a transformational figure to run against Trump, or just someone sane and normal (and one who will protect the interests of the wealthy and avoid frightening Wall Street).

The truth is, we don't know whether the candidate with the most progressive policy ideas will win. What we do know is that there are different paths to victory. Right now the path we are on is the path to destruction with a malignant narcissist who is stoking bigotry and white rage. That's one path to victory, as we learned in 2016. Another path is the Obama way--inspirational progressive rhetoric plus a lot of Wall Street support.

The Sanders/Warren wing of the Democratic Party wants to try something different, and dangerous--embracing the enmity of corporate America and Wall Street. That makes people who are comfortable in the existing economic system nervous.

Whoever emerges from the Democratic primaries over the next few months will have to reach disparate constituencies, bring people together, shave off a few Republicans who don't like Trump, and inspire the young people and people of color whom they need to turn out. That's a lot to pull off.

In the lead-up to the Democratic convention in Wisconsin, the swing state that could make all the difference in the next presidential race is overrun with political consultants and organizers focusing their money and attention on the state, and carrying around different playbooks for beating Trump.


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