Robert Reich: Advice For Divided Democrats – OpEd


With the Democratic primaries grinding to a bitter end, I have suggestions for both Clinton and Sanders supporters that neither will like.

First, my advice to Clinton supporters: Don’t try to drum Bernie Sanders out of the race before Hillary Clinton officially gets the nomination (if she in fact does get it).

Some of you say Bernie should bow out because he has no chance of getting the nomination, and his continuing candidacy is harming Hillary Clinton’s chances.

It’s true that Bernie’s chances are slim, but it’s inaccurate to say he has no chance. If you consider only pledged delegates, who have been selected in caucuses and primaries, he’s not all that far behind Hillary Clinton. And the upcoming primary in California – the nation’s most populous state – could possibly alter Sanders’s and Clinton’s relative tallies.

My calculation doesn’t include so-called “superdelegates” – Democratic office holders and other insiders who haven’t been selected through primaries and caucuses. But in this year of anti-establishment fury, it would be unwise for Hillary Clinton to relay on superdelegates to get her over the finish line.

Sanders should stay in the race also because he has attracted a large number of young people and independents. Their passion, excitement, and enthusiasm are critically important to Hillary Clinton’s success, if she’s the nominee, as well the success of other Democrats this year, and, more fundamentally, to the future of American politics.

Finally and not the least, Sanders has been telling a basic truth about the American political economic system – that growing inequality of income and wealth has led inexorably to the increasing political power of those at the top, including big corporations and Wall Street banks. And that political power has stacked the deck in their favor, leading to still wider inequality.

Nothing important can be accomplished – reversing climate change, creating true equal opportunity, overcoming racism, rebuilding the middle class, having a sane and sensible foreign policy – until we reclaim our democracy from the moneyed interests. The longer Bernie Sanders is on stage to deliver this message, the better.

Next, my advice for Sanders supporters: Be prepared to work hard for Hillary Clinton if she gets the nomination.

Some of you say that refusing to fight for or even vote for Hillary will show the Democratic political establishment why it must change its ways.

But the “Democratic political establishment” is nothing but a bunch of people, many of them big donors and fundraisers occupying comfortable and privileged positions, who won’t even be aware that you’ve decided to sit it out – unless Hillary loses to Donald Trump.

Which brings me to those of you who say there’s no real difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

That’s just plain wrong. Trump has revealed himself to be a narcissistic, xenophobic, hatemonger who, if elected, would legitimize bigotry, appoint Supreme Court justices with terrible values, and have direct access to the button that could set off a nuclear war.

Hillary may not possess Bernie Sanders’s indignation about the rigging of our economy and democracy, or be willing to go as far in remedying it, but she’s shown herself a capable and responsible leader.

Some of you agree a Trump presidency would be a disaster but claim it would galvanize a forceful progressive movement in response.

That’s unlikely. Rarely if ever in history has a sharp swing to the right moved the political pendulum further back in the opposite direction. Instead, it tends to move the “center” rightward, as did Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

Besides, Trump could do huge and unalterable damage to America and the world in the meantime.

Finally, some of you say even if Hillary is better than Trump, you’re tired of choosing the “lesser of two evils,” and you’re going to vote your conscience by either writing Bernie’s name in, or voting for the Green Party candidate, or not voting at all.

I can’t criticize anyone for voting their conscience, of course. But your conscience should know that a decision not to vote for Hillary, should she become the Democratic nominee, is a de facto decision to help Donald Trump.

Both of my morsels of advice may be hard to swallow. Many Hillary supporters don’t want Bernie to keep campaigning, and many Bernie supporters don’t want to root for Hillary if she gets the nomination.

But swallow it you must – not just for the good of the Democratic Party, but for the good of the nation.

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, and writes at Reich served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

4 thoughts on “Robert Reich: Advice For Divided Democrats – OpEd

  • May 30, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    The author was President Clinton’s labor secretary and it is no surprise that he has been changing his position from supporting Senator Sanders to Secretary Hillary Clinton. So, he has drifted back to his equilibrium point. But the author knows that Competition is better than consolidation, and Senator Bernie’s movement can prosper if it continues competing and expanding. Democrats as a party can nominate senator Sanders if they want to keep the White House. Senator Sanders has a higher probability of beating Mr. Trump. If they nominate the Secretary, they will regret their decision, because she has no chance against Mr. Trump, as he has a better plan. She is anti-environment and workers; she wants to eliminate jobs; she has no plan for the economy; she is anti-women and black; she is pro imperialist wars for Israel; she supports Israel walls but she is against Mr. Trump wall; she is a representative for the financiers, oil industry, and the military industrial complex; she is anti-Muslims; she has caused many killings in the Middle East; she wants to go to wars against Russia, China, and Iran; and she is supported by the neoconservative imperialists who were supporting Bush the second. That is to say, she is a Fascist democrat. Earlier the author of this article had a piece in this journal calling Mr. Trump a fascist. But the secretary has also a tendency for fascism more than Mr. Trump. It follows that the author should stick with Senator Bernie Sanders because he is better than her. Finally, if Senator Sanders’s movement supports the secretary, then their movement is actually fake and will die once the support is materialized. The country and the world need to have a movement for the 99 percent.

  • May 30, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    I tend to agree with Mr. Mouhammed. Simply because I do not trust Hillary and I do not agree with Prof. Reich in the result that a reaction to Adolf Trump will be a center right majority ending up with power some day. I see a future for a 3rd Party creation due to Hillary or Trump. It may result that we have to endure Hillary or Trump for four years, but that time of chaos in the country, and the world, will serve to legitimizes the absolute need for a 3rd Party.

  • May 30, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    Sorry, but this baby boomer will only vote for an honest candidate. I am sick of the lesser of two evils. Clinton and Trump do not qualify. If not Bernie I will sit this one out or vote for a green or libertarian. That is, at least, a vote In favor of supporting a third party.

  • June 1, 2016 at 4:18 am

    The fact that you felt the need to write this at all underlines the historical tragedy of the situation.


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