Two responses to tragedy: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton respond to North Carolina firebombing

Published: Salon (October 17, 2016)

Democrats raised more than $13,000 in less than four hours to help rebuild the headquarters of the local Republican Party chapter in Hillsborough, North Carolina, which was firebombed on Sunday night in what is being investigated as a possible terrorist incident.

As news of the firebombing spread, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton condemned the attack on Twitter and expressed support for its victims.

The attack on the Orange County HQ @NCGOP office is horrific and unacceptable. Very grateful that everyone is safe.

The North Carolina Republican Party sent out an official response thanking her for her thoughts and prayers.

The attack on the Orange County HQ @NCGOP office is horrific and unacceptable. Very grateful that everyone is safe.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, on the other hand, referred to the perpetrators as “animals” and suggested that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party had been somehow linked to the vandalism.

Animals representing Hillary Clinton and Dems in North Carolina just firebombed our office in Orange County because we are winning @NCGOP

The North Carolina Republican Party didn’t respond to Trump’s incendiary tweet, although it thanked him after he sent out a more subdued follow-up.

ALL SAFE IN ORANGE COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA. With you all the way, will never forget. Now we have to win. Proud of you all!@NCGOP

Thank you Mr. @realDonaldTrump. We will not be silenced nor suppressed by this evil act. We will pray for those who seek to harm us.

Trump’s comment has been heavily criticized by many individuals in the press, with Jeff Stein of Vox characterizing it as part and parcel of the Republican candidate’s “increasing conspiratorial claims that a cabal of ‘global elites’ is rigging the election.”

Armed Donald Trump supporters caught menacing Democratic campaign office

Published: Salon (October 14, 2016)

Donald Trump supporters have talked about violence if the Republican candidate loses to Hillary Clinton next month. And now, some of them are starting to put their money where their mouths are.

A pro-Donald Trump protester has attracted attention for standing alone outside a Virginia Democratic campaign office with his gun.

On Thursday, Daniel Parks stood outside a Palmyra campaign office for congressional candidate Jane Dittmar. Witnesses described him as staring directly into the office all day and turning sideways to expose his gun he was legally carrying. He was eventually joined by another protester, who was also armed.

The story is part of a larger trend of implied violence being used by Trump supporters. On Friday, Ed Mazza of The Huffington Post discussed how “members of the press are often the target of jeering by unruly crowds that are egged on by the candidate himself.” On Tuesday, a woman named Rhonda warned Mike Pence that she was “ready for a revolution” if Clinton wins instead of Trump, particularly since she can’t imagine “crooked” Hillary winning without cheating. Similarly, back in September Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (who supports Trump) rhetorically asked “Whose blood will be shed?” if Clinton wins and Trump supporters are forced “ to redeem something, to reclaim something, that we through our apathy and our indifference have given away.”

All of these comments echo an observation made by Trump adviser Roger Stone back in August, when he predicted that Clinton would “fix” the election and warned that Trump was going to “put them on notice that their inauguration will be a rhetorical, and when I mean civil disobedience, not violence, but it will be a bloodbath.” Indeed, Trump has called for violence so often in his campaign that Mashable was able to compile a list of nine incidents dating back to March. There have also been a number of violent incidents, with the most recent occurring last month when a woman punched an anti-Trump protester while the candidate skewered Clinton for referring to his backers as “deplorables.”

Trump has recently asked poll watchers to watch “certain areas” as he’s convinced his supporters that he’ll only lose if there’s widespread fraud.

Hillary’s health and history: She’s not the first candidate to face major medical questions

Published: Salon (September 16, 2016)

After Hillary Clinton nearly collapsed at a 9/11 ceremony earlier this week, allegedly due to pneumonia and overheating, the American public is naturally concerned. On the one hand, people wonder whether Clinton is healthy enough to assume the presidency. On the other, they face the fact that ruling Clinton out for health reasons may lead to the election of a truly dangerous man. What should the voting public do?

In situations like this, recent history can be a useful guide. Although many presidents have struggled with health issues, there are three from the last century or so who did so during the thick of an election campaign: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy.

When Roosevelt sought an unprecedented fourth term in 1944 against Republican candidate Thomas E. Dewey — a young and inexperienced New York governor best known as a prosecutor who took down several organized crime syndicates — America was still waging World War II, transitioning toward a postwar economy and girding itself for an impending military rivalry with the Soviet Union. Needless to say, the fate of the world literally hinged on making sure the right leadership was in charge during this time, which observers were quick to note when pointing out that Roosevelt looked gravely ill throughout the year. Rumors of health problems swirled around the beleaguered Democrat, who nevertheless selected an inexperienced Missouri senator named Harry Truman as his running mate. As it turns out, the whispering campaign had merit — Roosevelt had received a doctor’s note that July warning that he likely would not survive four more years in the White House, and he wound up dying of a stroke less than three months into his new term. Whilehistorians generally believe Truman did an adequate job assuming Roosevelt’s responsibilities (deciding whether to use the atomic bomb against Japan being one of the first), that had more to do with good luck than deliberate planning on FDR’s part.

This brings us to the election of 1956. In September 1955, before President Dwight Eisenhower had decided whether or not he would seek re-election, he suffered a serious heart attack and was hospitalized for six weeks. During that time, Vice President Richard Nixon worked closely with Eisenhower’s advisers to keep the government running despite the commander-in-chief’s absence. Because Eisenhower was forthcoming about his medical condition, the voting public was able to engage in open debate over the implications of this unexpected crisis throughout the ensuing election cycle. Eisenhower’s Democratic opponent, for the second consecutive election, was Illinois Sen. Adlai Stevenson, a moderate intellectual widely regarded as mentally and physically fit for higher office. But voters were satisfied enough with Eisenhower’s performance — and, presumably, with Nixon’s interim administration during Eisenhower’s convalescence — that they re-elected him by an even larger margin than he had received four years earlier.

Finally there is Kennedy. When JFK sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1960, he was forced to ward off rumors that he suffered from Addison’s Disease, or adrenal insufficiency, due to his adrenal glands being almost completely gone. Not only did Kennedy deny that he had the condition, he frequently mentioned the fact that his chief rival for the nomination, Lyndon Johnson, had had a heart attack five years earlier.

After Kennedy’s death, however, two pathologists confirmed that he had Addison’s, and it was subsequently revealed that he medicated himself by taking adrenal hormone, cortisone and other supplements. Although the disease was treatable, it was still potentially fatal, and the hormone therapy could cause mood swings, stomach inflammation and ulcers. Had the public known about this when Kennedy faced off against Republican candidate Richard Nixon in the extremely close general election of 1960, it’s entirely possible he would have lost.

There are two main lessons to be learned from these historical incidents. First and foremost, every presidential candidate has an ethical responsibility to disclose potential health problems that could compromise his or her ability to serve as president. One has to wonder whether Roosevelt rationalized not revealing his doctor’s concerns because he had spent more than a decade hiding his paraplegia. , Regardless, there is a considerable difference between concealing an irrelevant disability and concealing an ailment that could impair one’s physical or mental fitness. Roosevelt’s myriad health problems and Eisenhower’s heart attack both raised the question of whether they could live out their terms in office, while Kennedy’s hormonal problems raised doubt as to his emotional fitness. For better or worse, the public has the right to know these things so it can make an informed decision about how to vote.

As Eisenhower demonstrated, a presidential candidate can be open about serious medical problems and still win an election. Even electing an ailing president can often be better than choosing someone with serious character or ideological flaws. While there is no way of knowing for sure how Dewey, Stevenson or Nixon would have performed had they won their respective elections, we can safely infer a few things. Dewey would have taken more isolationist positions than Roosevelt, because of where the Republicans stood on foreign policy at that time. Nixon, who was never favorably disposed to racial minorities, would have been much less sympathetic to civil rights than Kennedy was.

That said, the differences between Roosevelt/Truman and Dewey, Eisenhower/Nixon and Stevenson, and Kennedy/Johnson and Nixon are nothing compared to the gulf separating Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine from this year’s Republican nominee. Throughout this campaign, Trump has blatantly pandered to racism, heaped praise on Vladimir Putin and demonstrated a terrifying willingness to start nuclear war, to name only three of the many things that work against him. When a candidate like Trump is one option, both Clinton and Kaine emerge as far superior alternatives, regardless of any potential health issues. While history makes it clear that Clinton should be more forthcoming about her current health problems, it also teaches us that there are consequences to elections which transcend such questions.

If there is any benefit to the sudden focus on Clinton’s health, it’s that this moment offers Americans another opportunity to place current events in historical context. The questions raised by Clinton’s crisis at the 9/11 memorial aren’t black-and-white. It is troubling that the Democratic nominee has been so secretive about her health, given our experiences with past presidents. Clinton’s doctor has now said her medical problems are minor, and that she should be fine once the pneumonia clears up. Yet even if the worst is true regarding Clinton’s health, that doesn’t end the conversation regarding whether she should win this election. Consider the alternative.

Tired of Democrats vs. Republicans? Here’s how to fix it

Published: Salon (August 23, 2016)

I’ve been second to none among progressive pundits urging the sane world to unify behind Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump. I’m not going to repeat those arguments here. (If you’re reading this article, the chances are you know them anyway.) But it’s time to acknowledge the major logical flaw in any lesser-of-two-evils position:

If we progressives want meaningful change in our society and the larger world, how can we achieve it when both major parties are so flawed?

“We’re the only political party in this country dedicated to the idea that every American has a right to pursue happiness in any way they choose, so long as they don’t hurt other people or take their stuff,” explained Nicholas Sarwark, chair of the Libertarian National Committee. “That’s a message that’s resonating with more and more voters as the old parties self-destruct.” The Libertarian Party’s candidate for president, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, is running on a platform that consistently opposes government power in every walk of life. As such, he supports positions as ideologically disparate (at least by the traditional left-right ideological paradigm) as low taxes, LGBTQ rights, staying out of war and legalizing marijuana.

The other notable third-party challenge comes from the Green Party, whose presidential nominee is Dr. Jill Stein. The Green Party’s ideology is staunchly left-wing, focusing on issues like income inequality, racial discrimination, regulating big business and protecting the environment. Considering that Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described “democratic socialist,” gave Clinton a run for her money in the Democratic primary, one might assume that the Green Party would pose a serious threat to her White House bid. (Indeed, I’ve been quite concerned about that possibility myself.)

Instead, the Green Party candidate consistently ranks last in polls including the four principal presidential contenders: If the election were held today, she’d place last after Clinton, Trump and Johnson, in that order.

I usually hear supporters of third-party candidates chime in with “How are we going to change that if we keep voting for candidates from the two major parties?” My response has been that, while I agree we need to break free from our rigid two-party system, the time to make that change is long before we reach a new presidential election cycle. By the time both major parties have nominated their candidates, the machinery that guarantees one of them a victory has already been set in motion – unless groundwork has been laid well in advance for a viable third-party alternative.

How can voters make this happen? “A third party – or even an organized faction within one of the existing major parties – is most likely to gain influence by winning at lower levels first,” explained Mark Lindeman, adjunct assistant professor of political science at Columbia University.

Citizens “should try to organize and build power wherever they are,”  Lindeman said. “It will tend to weed out any illusions they may have about what their fellow citizens think and want – and to find the most sustainable basis for a movement.”

Sarwark echoed this view, urging those who share libertarian values, “Join the Libertarian Party and get active at the local level. Vote Libertarian in as many elections as possible, to send a clear signal to the old parties that you are tired of their expanding government control over your life.”

Scott McLarty, media director for the Green Party, went even further with his suggestions: “Citizens can protest – even walk out – whenever they attend a ‘nonpartisan’ candidates forum that excludes alternative-party candidates. Citizens can refuse to participate in polls and surveys that artificially limit the choice to two major-party candidates, and complain to reporters and editors who publish such misleading polls.”

McLarty added that people can also push for instant runoff voting, which “enables voters to rank their choices, guarantees that the winner has the support of a majority and eliminates the alleged spoiler effect,” as well as “urge legislators to overturn ballot-access rules that were designed to privilege Democratic and Republican candidates and make access difficult for alternative-party and independent candidates.”

This last point is especially important since it goes to the heart of why most Americans think their only choices are to vote for Clinton or Trump. “The problem for third parties is compounded by restrictive ballot access laws and other barriers that the major parties have erected to protect their de facto monopoly,” wroteBruce Bartlett in Forbes. “Single-member congressional districts and first-past-the-post election rules also tend to favor the two-party system.”

Because each state has very distinct and usually complex laws for candidate eligibility, any contenders outside the Democratic and Republican establishments will have an extremely tough time making it onto the ballot. Unless ordinary citizens start a grassroots movement demanding that this change, third-party candidates will find it virtually impossible to realistically compete for the presidency and only slightly easier to do so in state and local races.

What we can’t do, though, is ignore the hard truths about our choice in 2016 simply because we want things to be better down the road. Right now the Democratic presidential candidate, for all of her flaws, is a smart woman with extensive government experience who supports a moderate (that is, center-left) platform. Her Republican opponent, by comparison, was nominated by pandering to America’s basest racist and sexist impulses, displays temperamental problems (including aterrifyingly blasé attitude toward the prospect of using nuclear weapons) and has no experience except that of running failed business after failed business after failed business.

I agree with McLarty and Sarwark that the nation needs strong third-parties — Libertarian, Green, you name it — to counter the power of the Democratic and Republican establishments, which have had a lock on national power for more than 150 years. This is proved by the fact that the Democratic and Republican nominees are the most unpopular in recorded history. And yet it’s still unlikely that any third-party alternative will poll at 15 percent, the minimum necessary to appear in the presidential debates. (This is something else that voters should demand be changed.) If we don’t change the system soon, we will raise a generation that believes it isn’t even worth fighting for.

That said, one doesn’t effectively fight for it by casting an futile vote in this election, neglecting this problem for four years and then throwing away another ballot during the next presidential contest. If those who are thinking of voting for a third-party candidate want to act like good citizens, they will make sure that the non-racist, non-incompetent contender wins this time around — for the safety not just of America but the world — and then get off their duffs and participate in empowering their preferred third party all year round. If millions of Americans do this in 2017, 2018 and 2019, Clinton can be held accountable in 2020 should she fail in her duties as president — and not just by a Republican.

For that to happen, though, we need to start giving a damn, long before the next presidential election is underway.

Tim Kaine in the Membrane

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Published: The Good Men Project (July 23, 2016)

What is there to say about a vice presidential candidate like Tim Kaine? The man is so dull.

To be fair, he meets the basic requirements of appearing on a presidential ticket. He hails from the swing state of Virginia, which after voting consistently Republican for more than forty years turned to Barack Obama in the last two elections. His political views are almost suspiciously moderate – no one, it would seem, could possibly be that centrist, that middle-of-the-road, without it being a calculated decision.

Then again, my research on the subject (as well as one personal connection close to Kaine) all tell me that his blandness, though politically convenient, is not in fact a ploy. Kaine truly is as generic and inoffensive as they come, the political equivalent of a rice cake with unsalted butter.

Does that mean he was a good choice? Politically a Clinton-Kaine ticket makes sense – a running mate’s foremost responsibility, after all, is to do no harm to the main candidate – but does that mean he would be a good president? Should Clinton die in office or (more likely) resign in disgrace, could we trust a President Kaine to lead the ship of state?

The answer, I suspect, depends on how you define the word “lead.” If you use the term to refer to competence, stability, and a reasonable amount of honesty, then I would trust a President Kaine. His tenure as Governor of Virginia was solid if unremarkable, and the same can be said of his time as a United States Senator. More so than any other candidate appearing on either party’s ticket, Kaine is the antithesis of Donald Trump – uninteresting but safe.

On the other hand, if you define the word “lead” in the heroic sense, I’m not sure Kaine is up to snuff. Take his stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the most onerous free trade deals ever cooked up, and how he insists that it actually protects labor and the environment… or, at the very least, that he won’t vote against it without more information. While his detractors point to this as evidence that he is a pro-business stooge, I find it more likely that he’s just being characteristically cautious. There is a reason why Obama nearly chose Kaine for his own ticket in 2008, and why Clinton’s biggest praise for Kaine was his “vanilla” personality. Nowhere in his career does he appear as a man willing to stand up against the establishment in the name of a deeper conviction. This makes him a great right-hand man and, in times that don’t require strong moral courage, a decent leader.

Of course, if Clinton is impeached and convicted before the end of her first term, America will need a great leader. The same is true if, God forbid, she doesn’t live through the first four years of her presidency. These are terrible things to contemplate, but it would be irresponsible to ignore these questions. While Kaine doesn’t give me any particularly strong reason for fear, he doesn’t inspire much hope either.

Photos: Flickr – DonkeyHotey/”Tim Kaine – Caricature”

Avoiding the mistakes of conventions past: Can the parties steer clear of these historical pitfalls?

Published: Salon (July 16, 2016)

In anticipation of the upcoming Democratic and Republican conventions later this month, it seems appropriate to brace ourselves for something historic. After all, Hillary Clinton is the first woman ever to be nominated by a major party, as well as a traditionally polarizing figure who only recently managed to win the endorsement of her chief rival, Bernie Sanders. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is, if anything, more controversial, so much so that many of his rallies have been marked by outbursts of violence.

To understand what might occur when each candidate is nominated, it helps to look at other national conventions from our recent history.
Conventions that have led to third-party insurgencies (Republicans in 1912, Democrats in 1948)
The two most conspicuous examples here include the Republican convention of 1912and the Democratic convention of 1948. On both occasions, an incumbent president who had just been renominated faced staunch opposition from interparty factions that opposed large sections of his agenda: In 1912, it was President William Taft, who was accused of being too conservative on economic issues by former president Theodore Roosevelt and the progressives, and in 1948 it was President Harry Truman who was criticized for taking too strong a stance in favor of African-American civil rights by predominantly Southern segregationists. Because neither faction got what they wished, both conventions ended with the dissatisfied bolting and running third-party alternatives — although it’s notable that, while the dissident progressives wound up winning more votes than the actual Republican nominee in 1912 (in part because Roosevelt had always intended to challenge Taft in the general election if he couldn’t get nominated himself), Strom Thurmond’s third-party campaign as a Dixiecrat failed to thwart Truman’s election in 1948.Could either of those things happen in 2016? Now that Bernie Sanders has endorsed Hillary Clinton, it seems much less likely that this will occur on the Democratic side. That said, the burden will rest on Sanders to deliver a helluva nomination speech, and even then there is the looming risk that many in the Sanders camp will vociferously refuse to accept a candidate whose ideology is a moderated version of their own. By contrast, if any of the anti-Trump Republicans are going to bolt from the GOP, it is quite likely that they will do so for the candidate already nominated by one of America’s main third parties, Libertarian Gary Johnson. That said, because party luminaries like Mitt Romney are already openly contemplating exactly that, Trump will have his work cut out for him.

Conventions that have embarrassed the party with outbursts of violence (Republicans in 1964, Democrats in 1968)

On the last occasion that the extreme right-wing took over the Republican Party and nominated one of its own as their presidential candidate (Barry Goldwater), the year was 1964 and the resulting GOP convention was nothing short of a televised debacle. The spectacle of moderates like Gov. Nelson Rockefeller being jeered in the most vulgar language from pro-Goldwater delegates — to say nothing of the threats of physical violence that lurked beneath the surface — marred Goldwater’s coronation and cemented the nation’s image of him as a dangerous radical. Things were even worse for the Democratic convention in 1968, when the party’s inability to mollify critics of the Vietnam War led to outbursts of violence among protesters in the streets of Chicago, helping destroy the candidacy of Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

Both of these outcomes seem quite possible in 2016 — but definitely more so on Trump’s side. Certainly, Clinton’s supporters will be magnanimous in victory and, so long as Sanders can rein in the Bernie Bros, it’s unlikely that his backers will openly embarrass him with rhetorical or physical violence against Clinton and her supporters. By contrast, it is no secret that many in the Trump camp are openly contemptuous of the Republican Party establishment and vice versa, and given the vulgar language commonly used by both Trump and his alt-right supporters, it won’t take much for an incident to humiliate them on national television. Similarly, because Trump’s incendiary rhetoric has inspired violence among his supporters and because America has already seen ugly relations between law enforcement and racial minority citizens, the likely presence of Black Lives Matter and other protest groups to object to Trump’s political message could prove to be a political powder keg … although unlike Humphrey, who abhorred violence and was devastated by the bloodshed at his convention, Trump’s hyperviolent brand may actually benefit from his knack for stirring a tempest and then blaming the victims who were tossed.

Incompetent conventions (Democrats in 1972, Republicans in 1992)

Although Democratic nominee George McGovern was likely to lose the 1972 presidential election regardless of the convention because of his left-wing views (which would be considered moderate by modern standards), it didn’t help that his inept campaign staff chose a vice presidential running mate with an undisclosed history of mental illness and scheduled his nomination speech for 3 a.m. ET. TheRepublican convention in 1992 wasn’t much better, foolishly allowing the far right-wing Pat Buchanan — President George H. W. Bush’s chief rival for the nomination that year — to speak without removing the more inflammatory misogynistic and homophobic rhetoric from his endorsement speech.

Frankly, both sides seem capable of committing similar acts of incompetence in 2016. Although Bernie Sanders’ democratic socialist language may wash well with the Democratic Party base, it could have a toxic effect on national audiences, a possibility that Clinton needs to take into consideration when vetting his inevitable speech. Similarly, because the Trump campaign is largely run by neophytes not dissimilar to the crew that nominated McGovern in ‘72, it will be especially imperative for them to stay on top of the ball when it comes to the nuts-and-bolts of making sure all the gears of the convention click into place.
If one positive can be said about the 2016 presidential election, it is that it’s shaping up to be one of the most memorable contests of all time. Unfortunately, when previous national conventions have made history, it has usually been for ugly reasons rather than uplifting ones. With any luck, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be nominated by their respective parties without incident.

It’s time for Democrats to unify: Why even the most idealistic Sanders voter should support Clinton

Published: Salon (June 16, 2016)

We don’t know what Bernie Sanders discussed with Hillary Clinton when the two of them met Tuesday night, but it’s fair to assume that the conversation revolved around Clinton’s new status as the presumptive Democratic nominee. As the burgeoning Bernie or Bust movement clearly demonstrates, a lot of Sanders supporters are unhappy with the prospect of backing Clinton. Of course, because Green Party candidate Jill Stein has offered to run on a joint ticket with Sanders, they may not actually have to do so.

And so we find ourselves at a crucial junction in American political history. If Sanders and his supporters swallow their pride and acknowledge that, despite her flaws, Clinton offers them their best chance of achieving progressive policy changes, they will use their newfound leverage to push her to the left and then elect her president. On the other hand, if they place ideological pride over doing the right thing, they can contest Clinton’s nomination up to the Democratic convention or join Jill Stein on a third-party ticket… and their legacy might wind up being the election of President Donald Trump.

Before I encourage both Sanders and the Bernie or Bust movement to support Clinton, it is first necessary to dispense with the popular arguments used against doing so. The most common refrain that I hear from those in the Sanders camp is that Clinton somehow “stole” the nomination. Although she undeniably had far more support from the party establishment, this in its own right doesn’t constitute stealing (after all, Trump was also overwhelmingly opposed by his party establishment, with well-known results). Yes, Clinton has 581 superdelegates to Sanders’ 49… but she also won 2,219 pledged delegates to Sanders’ 1,832. More importantly, she won 15.8 million popular votes to Sanders’ 12 million, making her without question the preferred choice of a majority of Democratic primary voters.

This leaves the policy differences between Clinton and Sanders, which though meaningful are hardly prohibitive. Sure, Stein has opportunistically claimed that Clinton might be worse than Trump, but if you share Sanders’ values that assertion simply doesn’t hold up. As I’ve explained in the past, Clinton wants to invest $275 million in job-creating infrastructure spending (compared to $1 trillion for Sanders), raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour (compared to $15 for Sanders), maintain Obamacare (compared to Sanders’ support for a fully socialized health care system), and establish debt-free college tuition for low-income families (compared to free college for all public university students under Sanders). On every major issue in this election, Clinton’s stances are moderate versions of those taken by Sanders. Trump, on the other hand, favors economic policies that blatantly favor the wealthy… and, unlike both Clinton and Sanders, has focused his campaign on pandering to bigotry against Hispanics and Muslims instead of addressing the real economic problems facing ordinary Americans.

In short, anyone who shares the ideals professed by Sanders during this campaign (including Sanders himself) is morally compelled to see that while Clinton may profess a watered down version of those values, Trump embodies their direct antithesis. As a consequence, it is unconscionable to risk a repeat of the 1968 presidential election, in which a liberal insurgent (Eugene McCarthy) took his protest candidacy to the Democratic Convention and thus weakened nominee Hubert Humphrey in his unsuccessful campaign against Richard Nixon. Similarly, if Sanders accepts Stein’s offer and runs as the Green Party nominee, he risks repeating the role played by Ralph Nader in the 2000 presidential election, when his third-party candidacy siphoned enough votes away from Democrat Al Gore to throw the election to Republican George W. Bush.

That said, it’s not enough to simply point out the overlap between Sanders’ message and Clinton’s campaign platform, though. If we’re going to be ideologically honest in this election, we must remember that the Democratic Party has a long history of delivering on its promises. Franklin Roosevelt spent the 1930s passing economic and social reforms that relieved the rampant misery of the Great Depression and provided a safety net for working class Americans; Lyndon Johnson’s administration spent the 1960s passing civil rights legislation, creating Medicaid and Medicare, and waging a successful war on poverty; and Barack Obama, despite the ferocious opposition of a Do-Nothing Congress, managed to end the war in Iraq and pass comprehensive health care reform.

This is why, when a progressive like me urges Sanders and his backers to rally behind Clinton, we are the ones being principled — not the intransigents who would throw out the baby with the bathwater. The Democratic Party, for all of its flaws, is the only institution within our existing political system that could realistically achieve the objectives laid out by the Sanders campaign. Because Sanders has put in such a strong showing against Clinton, he is in a position to demand that she spend her presidency addressing the problems of income inequality and plutocracy to which he has so eloquently drawn attention. To throw all of this away in a fit of pique, or because our backers cling to the fanciful idea that a miraculous Green Party revolution might occur (despite the lack of any statistical evidence that it would win in the general election), is worse than quixotic. It is downright foolish.

If Sanders wants to make a point, he will force a contested convention and/or run as a third-party candidate. On the other hand, if we want history to remember the Bernie Sanders campaign as one that made a real difference, we will demand that he instruct his supporters to do the right thing and vote for Hillary Clinton.