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Are You a Pragmatic Progressive? Vote Bernie

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 19/02/2016 Kirsten Stade

For many progressives, the choice of Democratic presidential candidate in 2016 is about electability.
The stakes are unimaginably high, with a vacancy on the Supreme Court offering the possibility of restoring a liberal majority that could reverse many of the most odious decisions of the Roberts court, from Citizens United to Hobby Lobby (though sadly, Bush v. Gore is probably a done deal).
Progressives' best chance of preventing the apocalypse that would be a Trump or Cruz presidency is to turn out in high numbers at every Democratic primary and caucus, and vote for Bernie Sanders.
Though you would never know it from reading the headlines, the most recent national general election poll has Clinton losing or nearly tied against the main Republican contenders, while Bernie pummels every one.
2016-02-19-1455859842-4331186-poll.jpg © Provided by The Huffington Post 2016-02-19-1455859842-4331186-poll.jpg
"But...superdelegates!" you say, expressing the not unreasonable concern that even if Bernie wins a majority of delegates allocated according to primary and caucus wins, Hillary's outsized proportion of superdelegates could lead to a brokered convention, which would be divisive and destructive to the Democratic Party. Better rally around the establishment candidate to avoid the possibility of such a crisis.
But, as Hillary Clinton knows perhaps better than anyone, a lopsided superdelegate count means next to nothing--especially this early in the season. In 2008, Obama's Superdelegate count only overtook Clinton's in May, after many pledged delegates switched their allegiances in line with the changing mood of the electorate. And even the party elites who comprise the pool of superdelegates know that they cannot risk the massive disillusionment of the majority of Democratic voters by going with Clinton, should Sanders win the delegate count.
And to further cool brows fevered at the thought of a divided Democratic party--has anyone taken a look at the Republican side lately? There, two heavily favored front runners are also heavily feared and hated by the establishment, and the remaining FOUR contenders, perhaps more palatable to the establishment but polling mostly in the single digits among voters, show no sign of leaving the race anytime soon.
There, where no superdelegates stand to swoop in on convention night and save the party from utter disarray, the possibility exists of no candidate achieving the necessary 1,237 delegates to secure the nomination. And the greater possibility exists of one of the front runners winning the nomination by a narrow margin. And the other front-runner, whose personality does not encompass traits of humility or capitulation, mounting a third-party run.
Well then. What about yet another 3rd-party run? Or a 4th-party run! The idea has been floated by a certain billionaire Democrat--whoops, Republican! Oh no, sorry--Independent--ostensibly to strike fear into the hearts of would-be Sanders primary voters.
Let's set aside for a moment the utterly vile personality traits that would lead a person to announce a potential candidacy whose only purpose is to bully voters into delivering a nomination that caters to that person's bald self-interest. Let's take a look instead at the history of Michael Bloomberg's nonexistent bids for the presidency, which inspire a flutter of excitement among billionaires and bankers every couple of years but have yet to manifest in an actual candidacy.
And let us, above all, look at the remarkable vitality of a Bernie Sanders candidacy that has defied all expectations, transformed Hillary Clinton's 20-point December lead in Iowa into a tie just two months later, shattered the so-called Clinton "firewall" in Nevada, where latest polls also show a tie, and led to a slight lead over the formerly "inevitable" Clinton in the latest nationwide poll. Would such a candidacy slump in the face of a 3-way race with not one, but two billionaires?
The answer, for progressives, is that we have come too far to be discouraged by the establishment wet blanket of "pragmatism." Armed not only with our belief in a candidate who will passionately champion progressive values, but with our knowledge that a disillusioned national electorate is increasingly embracing his honest, plainspoken message of change, Democrats should vote for Bernie Sanders.

DEMOCRATS © Gary Hathaway via Getty Images DEMOCRATS

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