Trejos: Sanders should drop out now


Jose Trejos, Columnist

During the last few weeks, Sen. Bernie Sanders has acted in a harmful and downright childish manner that has brought about catastrophic electoral consequences and incited serious violence. Although Sanders has the theoretical right to remain in the presidential race so long as people support him, his toxic rhetoric is bringing national politics to new lows, and it is time to call on him to end his populist campaign.

Sanders has decided to label the Democratic primary “rigged,” and his rhetoric implies that Hillary Clinton’s victory is illegitimate. First and foremost, we should establish that this is false: Sanders lost because the majority of people voted against him, and the system was actually strongly biased in his favor. Sanders found 11 of his 19 wins in caucus states, which cast their vote in byzantine caucuses that take upwards of five hours. Since only political fanatics seem to attend these low turnout events, hardline candidates such as Sen. Ted Cruz and Sanders almost always win. Without this undemocratic quirk in the process, Sanders would have probably dropped out months ago. The real reason Sanders lost is his abysmally low support among minority voters, as he has reliably lost the Hispanic vote and black vote by often spectacular margins. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has ventured an interesting idea as to why: History has taught these groups not to support a stranger making careless, unrealistic promises to everyone he talks to.

Sanders’ vague accusations of a rigged system have led some of his supporters to push conspiracy theories about fraud on the part of the Clinton campaign which he has never taken the time to address. Unsurprisingly, this rhetoric eventually led to violence. In the Nevada Democratic convention, uncredentialed Sanders supporters were not allowed a rule-change after losing a voice vote, which led them to rush the stage screaming at the committee chair, now accompanied by a security detail after numerous death threats targeting her and her grandchildren.

I am certainly no fan of the Vermont senator, whom I view as a similar phenomenon to Latin American populists like Juan Perón and Hugo Chávez. However, even I was taken aback when Sanders responded to the accusation that his campaign has a “penchant for violence” not with a denunciation but rather an unapologetic statement aiming wild accusations at the Democratic Party, dismissing this assertion as “nonsense” and reiterating complaints about the committee that Politifact has found to be false. The Nevada Democratic party later denounced “the Sanders Campaign’s penchant for extra-parliamentary behavior — indeed, actual violence — in place of democratic conduct.”

Following Nevada, Democratic Party officials have gone on record saying they fear violence at the Democratic National Convention, a catastrophe that has not occurred since 1968. I can only imagine what could happen on a hot summer day, when tens of thousands of Sanders’ coalition of young and male supporters all simultaneously hear of his final defeat.

Although political violence is always concerning, I find myself even more scared about recent polls. Usually, when your candidate loses, you move on to the next: Just days after Scott Walker dropped out I was already cheering on Jeb Bush. But when Sanders supporters are made to believe their candidate lost as a result of fraud, they obviously refuse to support the winner. Clinton, who previously held a solid lead against Donald Trump, is now losing to him in recent polls. What is driving this trend is no mystery: Exit polls out of this month’s West Virginia primary suggested 44 percent of Sanders’ supporters in the state plan on voting for Donald Trump. Although Sanders himself may be able to stop this if he tried, his recent statements only suggest increasing bitterness and contempt toward Clinton and her party, and I cannot imagine more than a half-hearted “Trump might be worse” coming from Sanders. And thus we arrive at the situation where Trump might triumph over a former Secretary of State on the coattails of the 74-year-old socialist.

So before Philadelphia erupts in violence, before Trump takes an unstoppable lead, let us please bring an end to all this. Sanders can no longer win the presidency. Let us hope he finds it in himself to accept reality and step down before he brings about disaster.

Jose Trejos is a Weinberg freshman. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.