No, Bill Scher, you’re trying to put the blame in the wrong place.
Bernie Sanders isn’t responsible for Hillary Clinton’s weakness as a candidate, and nothing he can say is going to make her any more popular among independents and progressive Democrats. In fact, if it’s Clinton vs. Trump in the fall, they will be the two least popular non-incumbent nominees ever, by a very wide margin.
And that’s not Sanders’ fault. The Democratic Party itself is to blame for trying to force on us a candidate they knew was highly controversial, does poorly with independents, and would have great weaknesses in a general election.
Really, there’s no greater symptom of the establishment’s complete inability to understand what’s going on in this country than their convergence behind a pro-war, pro-regime change, pro-Wall St, pro-TPP, pro-death penalty, pro-Monsanto, pro-fracking, weak-on-climate candidate with a poor record on human rights, ties to the for-profit prison industry, an active investigation by the FBI, and no credible vision for making life better for the 90%.
This is the party that has largely abandoned working and low-income people and that, instead returning to its roots and addressing the real causes of inequality, wants to shame and scare us into supporting more of the same consolidation of corporate, media, and political interests that began under Bill Clinton. Except it’s not working very well this time because we have millions of voters who are so angry that they will no longer buy the party line, and we have the internet for fact-checking the DNC's distortions and lies.
You wrote, "Bernie's lingering presence in the Democratic primary threatens to produce a similar result in November: delegitimizing the eventual Democratic nominee in the eyes of the left…”
But Sanders isn’t delegitimizing Clinton in the eyes of the left. She’s done that herself.
Her vote for the Iraq War demonstrated either cowardice, political expediency, or extremely poor judgment. Whichever one it was, it cost trillions of dollars and destroyed millions of lives. Her choice to be the candidate of lobbyists, Super PACs and Goldman Sachs is no better, and she chose that path herself. Likewise, she chose to support an illegal coup in Honduras, to pressure Haiti to keep wages low, to lobby around the world for fracking on behalf of the fossil fuel industry, to vote against a ban on cluster bombs, and to cite Henry Kissinger as a friend and mentor — all of which delegitimize her among many on the left, as does her refusal to release the transcripts of her paid speeches and her failure to act in 2007, when she passed up an actual opportunity to get tough on Wall St and provide foreclosure relief to homeowners.
And as the machine presses on to install her as our candidate, we’re seeing the party change the rules, launder money, frustrate voters, and corrupt the process, all the while telling us to “behave” and get in line behind their candidate. If independents and progressive Democrats don’t tow the line in November, blame Debbie Wasserman Schultz, not the guy who has so energized voters that thousands will wait all day for a chance to hear him speak.
The truth, of course, is that Ralph Nader didn’t cost Gore the 2000 election. Gore did that himself by running a terrible campaign, enlisting a running mate who was loathed by the left, and then foolishly choosing not to demand that all the votes in Florida be recounted.
But if there were a Nader in this campaign — a candidate running out of ego and personal ambition, no matter the cost to the country — might that actually be Hillary Clinton? Isn’t she the one putting the country at risk of a Trump presidency by continuing to run while under serious threat of indictment and as her unfavorable ratings continue to climb? Why is she, the subject of a criminal investigation, not putting the country ahead of her personal ambition? Because the polls show Sanders the overwhelmingly stronger candidate against Trump.
No, Bernie didn't make this mess. He's the fellow trying to clean it up.