The real threat to the Democrats is not an acrimonious split between Bernie’s babes and Hillary’s handmaidens. The real threat is political indifference among the young and the poor: Not just about the Presidential election, but all those other elections this year that apparently Democrats have a bad habit of forgetting about.
Hillary’s treatment of Bernie in the debates has been smart so far. She’s not calling him a Communist and trying to kick him out of the party. She’s just trying to make a case for herself as a nominee for the party. I wish I could say the same for her advocates.
Look, those of us on the Bernie side have legitimate criticisms of Hillary. And we aren’t all Democrats getting up and walking away from the coalition of Bill Clinton and John Kerry. There’s an anti-war movement that turned out for Dems in 2006 & 2008, before the Democrats took them for granted and kicked them to the curb. The Democrats have lost without them, and will continue to mostly lose without them. Hillary is trying to gimmick her sex into the White House, and it might work this year, but that’s not a good long-term plan.
Getting Occupy kids and millennials to vote in a Democratic caucus or primary is a good thing. It gives them buy-in in the party. You need turnout, and you need a base to turn out. Much of your old base have defected to the GOP or died; if you don’t get new blood, you could start losing the high-turnout elections (where you used to have an advantage) in a few years.
Bill Clinton ran on “change.” Barack Obama ran on “Hope & Change.” Inverting that, and telling someone with real plans for revolutionary change, is very bad for the party–certainly over the next decade or two, and also likely this year. The “change” constituency can show up to vote for Bernie, or they can show up to vote for Trump. After that, they may keep voting for the same party in the general. Which party do you want to increase affinity for?
So let this be a fight. Let Bernie threaten to win, let him get ~40% of delegates, let his chances be alive well into May.
This brings younger voters into the party–as in, younger than 45 y.o., that’s how geriatric the party is now.
And, if future polling shows that he continues to be more likeable than Clinton, and he starts to get more coattails, we can throw it to him in June. We have the option. If he doesn’t, oh well, at least the interests of the younger generation, the anti-war movement and the poorest Americans will have a seat at the table in the future–and with them the Democratic Party will have a seat at the table in the future.
Without those constituencies, the Democratic Party is going to be a crippled husk very soon.