After losing Tuesday’s New York primary in a double-digit margin, it seems as though the possibility of Bernie Sanders becoming the Democratic presidential nominee is becoming a pipe dream.
In light of this, I have noted many Sanders supporters claim they will either vote for Sanders by writing him in, abstain from voting altogether or support businessman Donald Trump, should he claim the Republican nomination.
I want to explain why I believe each of those ideas are silly.
Undoubtedly, receiving a considerable number of write-in votes for Sanders would send a loud message to the political establishment. However, there is little history in the United States of write-in candidates winning many major contests.
However, one case that does stand out is the 2010 Alaska Senate election. Incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski lost the Republican nomination to attorney and former federal magistrate Joe Miller, who was endorsed by the Tea Party movement and former Gov. Sarah Palin from Alaska. Following her primary loss, Murkowski announced that she was running a write-in campaign. In the end, Murkowski ended up edging out Miller by about five points.
While this write-in effort was successful, I do not believe this could be replicated in a presidential election. Alaska is a very, very red state. In this Senate election, about 75 percent of the total votes went to either Murkowski or Miller, the two Republicans in the race. The U.S. overall is much more evenly split. If Sanders were to run a write-in campaign, it would essentially guarantee that Trump, or whoever the Republican nominee happens to be, wins the general election.
This brings me to my next point: the Sanders supporters whose anti-establishment fire burns so brightly that they are willing to turn their country over to an outright racist, sexist, homophobic demagogue. Sure, Trump and Sanders do tend to agree on some issues: both tend to argue that our nomination system is unfair, both emphasize the fact they do not have super PACs supporting them, both argue that free trade agreements harm American workers and both argue that Obamacare is not the best option for our country.
While those similarities between the two may appeal to some, the differences are too large to ignore. One just has to listen to a few minutes of each individual’s rallies to hear the massive differences in the two candidates. Although both are definitely populists, they are completely different flavors. Sanders tends to organize his supporters against those who undeniably influence our political system: wealthy individuals who make huge contributions to super PACs. On the other hand, Trump makes occasional digs at those individuals, but most of his efforts are focused on being against the more oppressed in our society: minorities, immigrants, refugees and women.
Another view I have come into contact with is the Sanders supporter who believes that exposing the nation to a Trump presidency is an alternate path to achieving the “political revolution” of Sanders’ dream. Essentially, they argue that Trump will do so much damage to the nation that the majority of Americans will begin to see Sanders’ positions as the way forward.
I find several flaws with this type of thinking. Individuals concede that a Trump presidency would be damaging to America. However, we need to think of where this damage could be the most poignant. I think it is undeniable that a Trump presidency spells out a huge threat to those extremely oppressed communities aforementioned, the people Sanders has said he defends.
If the path to revolution is built on the hurting those for which the revolution claims to be, I’m not sure that’s a movement I want to join.
In addition, should a Trump presidency become a reality, I do not believe America would rush to the opposite end of the political spectrum for a solution. Rather, I think voters would turn to a more moderate voice in order to reestablish the status quo and some sense of normalcy.
I want to address those individuals that are abstaining from the election altogether if Sanders does not win the nomination. To this person, I’d like you to seriously scrutinize both Sanders’ views and your own views. I guarantee that there will be at least one issue, maybe several, where the two of you do not agree.
In my opinion, abstaining from this election is an incredibly irresponsible decision considering the polarization of American politics. In addition, if you are an individual that truly believes that a political revolution is needed in this country, your vote is one of your most powerful tools. However, we need to base our decision in reality. A write-in for Sanders is too risky of a move given the current climate.