Bern Notice: Dear Sanders Supporters, Please Stop Repeating These Anti-Hillary GOP Talking Points

WE GET IT, Sanders people. We know. We’ve heard all about it, because Facebook. Your guy is principled! He rides coach! Billionaires can’t buy him! He’s going to start a revolution! He’s going to break up the banks (somehow)! He’s going to make college tuition free, and he’s going to make Mexico pay for it! (Just kidding. He’s going to make the top Wall Street earners pay for it, which is equally fanciful).

Look, Bernie Sanders is a good man, with good ideas—better ideas, maybe, than the Democratic front-runner’s. But he has been realistically if not mathematically eliminated from the race. Unless Hillary Clinton drops dead, she’s the nominee. She’s the one who will run against whichever Republican the Republicans decide is the lesser of two egregiously evil evils. Like it or not, that’s what’s going down.

You want to continue to feel the Bern, fine. But please, don’t direct the flamethrower of socialist idealism at Hillary. At this point, an explicit line of attack against her is an implicit show of support for Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. And that’s, um, playing with fire.

I implore you, cleanse your minds and your social media feeds of these bullshit GOP talking points:



Hillary is going to be indicted.
This is a more polite incarnation of the “Hillary For Prison” lawn signs, which somehow outnumber actual Hillary lawn signs in the bluest-of-blue Hudson Valley town that I call home, but is no more true. Title 18 of the United States Code says this: “Whoever knowingly and willfully…[discloses] or uses [certain categories of classified information]…shall be fined…or imprisoned.” Read: knowingly and willfully. Do you really think she fed top secret documents to the Chinese? That she’s a mole for Putin? C’mon, now. She is guilty of poor judgment with respect to her email server—maybe—but nothing else. Repeating this only feeds the hateful GOP “she’s a crook” assertion.

The contents of Hillary’s speeches to Goldman Sachs are being kept secret because [insert conspiracy theory here].
If Goldman Sachs offered me half a million bucks to give a fucking speech, I’d accept. And so would you. Why should the rules not apply to Hillary? She’s spent most of her adult life in public service; she’s not allowed to line her pockets during her time away by holding forth before a bunch of well-heeled investment bankers? Also, what she does as a private citizen is her own fucking business. So unless her speech consisted of redacted dispatches sent from her hacked email server concerning her complicity in Benghazi, her feeding of classified military secrets to Julian Assange, and her role in the death of Vince Foster, this argument is relevant only to the denizens of Fox & Friends. (Note to Millennials: Google “Vince Foster.”).

Hillary is a tool of Wall Street, while Bernie cannot be bought.
First of all, “Wall Street” is not some monolith that moves in perfect concert, as the business section of every major newspaper and The Big Short make abundantly clear. Bernie uses it as a synecdoche for corporate greed, but “Wall Street” is actually a segment of the economy, like “Hollywood” or “Detroit.” And unlike, say, Big Tobacco, Wall Street is not, contrary to popular belief, inherently evil. If Wall Street ceased to function, in fact, the world economy would collapse. (Note to Millennials: this would be bad.) It is true that Hillary has raked in donations from some of these Wall Street institutions, while Bernie has eschewed such corporate largesse. Sanders likes to bring this up at least once every thirty seconds. Some call this “principle.” I call it “ignorance of how the political system works in 2016.”

Hillary is basically a Republican.
If this is true of her, it is also true of Barack Obama. If we need to revert to the labels of yesteryear, then Hillary is a Republican in the mold of George H.W. Bush, Bernie is an FDR Democrat (and not a true socialist), Donald Trump is a Fascist pig, and Ted Cruz is Ming the Merciless (Note to Millennials: Ming is sort of like Voldemort, but without the magic, and with a face).

There’s no difference between Hillary and Donald Trump. That picture of her at his wedding proves that.
Since the surprise death of Justice Antonin Scalia—the single best thing that could have happened to the country, incidentally—the Supreme Court is now comprised of four liberals and four conservatives. With Obama’s consensus pick of Merrick Garland hung out to dry by an obstructionist GOP Senate hell-bent on dereliction of its Constitutionally-mandated duty, the next president will likely pick Scalia’s successor. We know Hillary will pick someone good. Trump is a complete wild card—he could pick Judge Judy, or Randy Jackson from American Idol, and I wouldn’t be surprised—and Cruz is leaning towards a gentleman to the right of Dracon and Hammurabi. This is the stuff that matters, folks, that directly impacts day-to-day life. (Note to Millennials: the same “same” argument was made in 2000 about Bush and Gore, and the former did everything in his ample power to prove that the differences between the political parties are marked indeed).

Hillary is playing the “woman card.”
This statement originated with the noted feminist icon Donald Trump, but the fact of Hillary’s gender has caused some tension among Democrats, too (Note to Millennials: Google “Gloria Steinem”). You are under no obligation to support Hillary because she would be the first female president, only to acknowledge that such an historic outcome would not be a bad thing—and maybe to suggest to your Trump-loving uncle that perhaps his passionate hatred of HRC stems from nothing more than deep-seated and thinly-veiled misogyny.

Hillary is the epitome of a broken political system, while Bernie represents a jolt to that system. He is a revolutionary!
The political system is broken? No shit. One of our two political parties has essentially abdicated its responsibility to govern for the last eight years, and sooner or later, those chickens will come home to roost. But changing the entire political system is a major undertaking that would require the participation of both political parties and the vast majority of the American people (and American corporations—which is one of the reasons said system is broken). Hillary is the only candidate on either side of the aisle who has demonstrated the ability to operate effectively within such a system, and is thus the candidate best positioned to repair it. Bernie, remember, is too principled to be an actual Democrat; he’s supposed to somehow rally rank-and-file Democrats to his cause—and reach across the aisle besides? He’s not wrong about the problem, just about his own ability to fix it.

Bernie can still win!
Not unless Hillary’s plane goes down. Even before this week’s primary losses, he was all but eliminated mathematically. Good for him for hanging around until California, but he’s peddling magic beans at this point. Sanders supporters seem unable to grasp basic math, maybe because, if you look at a color-coded map, where Wyoming is really big and New Jersey is really small, Bernie seems like he should be winning. The day after the New York primary, one of my Facebook friends wrote, “If it weren’t for the cities, which are controlled by the machine, Sanders would have won New York.” Forget, for a moment, the hidden racism in his assertion. This completely ignores the inconvenient truth that the cities are where most of the people live. He may just as well have said, “If we don’t count the people who voted for Hillary, Bernie would have won!” The state-by-state primaries and caucuses award delegates to the candidates who, you know, get the most votes. And Hillary has gotten the most votes. Math, yo:

The system is rigged in Hillary’s favor because of this un-democratic superdelegates business.
The Democratic Party is a political party. Its process of determining which candidate to run in the general election is not itself a general election, although it sometimes feels like one. Also, and again: Bernie (I-Vermont) is not a Democrat. Why should the superdelegates, who despite the flashy name are generally mid-level state pols, opt for a non-Democrat at the Democratic National Convention, after the Democratic primary? Plus: the time to change the system is after the election season, not during it. This is sore-loserism of the Trumpest kind.

Hillary is a liar.
All politicians are liars. It’s part of the job. Politics is not a fucking Jim Carrey movie. You want the truth, go see the Dalai Lama. Also: Bernie lies, too, all the time, when he makes promises about free college tuition.

Better to write in Sanders than vote for Hillary.
Dude, I was at the Ralph Nader rally at Madison Square Garden in 2000. I’ve seen this movie before. And if that first movie was Purple Rain, this latest one is Under the Cherry Moon. (Note to Millennials: Bush Jr. won that perilous election because of a few hundred Nader voters in Florida. And because the Ohio election was rigged. And because the Supreme Court wanted him to win. Which is why you don’t want another Scalia on the Supreme Court. Which is why you have to vote for Hillary, even if you don’t personally dig her).


Again: this is not to disparage Bernie, or the ardor of those who “feel the Bern.” But the Sanders dream is over. It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee that Hillary has been brewing since the 3 AM wake-up call. It’s time to make your passion work for the greater good.

So get off your high horse, plug your nose, and pull the lever for the best-qualified presidential candidate of all time, who would also be the first female Chief Executive. I beg you: don’t let your disdain for Secretary Clinton, ahem, Trump your better judgment.



About Greg Olear

Greg Olear (@gregolear) is a founding editor of The Weeklings and the author of the novels Totally Killer and Fathermucker, an L.A. Times bestseller.
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10 Responses to Bern Notice: Dear Sanders Supporters, Please Stop Repeating These Anti-Hillary GOP Talking Points

  1. Hey Greg. Let’s not shoot the messengers, please. People got behind Bernie because they want to dream big. I’ll never have a problem with that, when the dreams are positive. Hillary’s not a dreamer, she’s a pragmatist. Can we agree on that? I, for one, want more for the country that sent people to the moon.

    Beyond that, I can never be an apologist for a politician I believe to be dishonest. Greg, you’re attempting to brush off some very real problems with Hillary as a candidate. They’re not just GOP talking points. For example:

    “Also, what she does as a private citizen is her own fucking business.” Actually, no. There are explicit rules about what people going in and out of government can and cannot do in the private sector. The head of DARPA joked to me that it was hard to recruit DARPA program managers because anti conflict of interest rules meant they’d have to work in a donut shop after they got out of government.

    This is one of the things that has led to what I consider to be a legitimate perception that Hillary is disingenuous at best. She worked for Goldman Sachs, i.e. spoke for more money than most people earn in annual wages. Doing that and then saying she’ll play hardball with the industry simply isn’t credible. Her not releasing her transcripts only adds to this impression. If she has nothing to hide, why not release them?

    The emails are a big deal to me, although Bernie chose, perhaps wisely, not to address them. “She is guilty of poor judgment with respect to her email server—maybe—but nothing else.” Nope. She’s a pragmatist, remember, and sharp as hell. She ran her own server at some expense and inconvenience for a pragmatic reason. What was that reason? She won’t give us the real reason.

    As a journalist, I’m expected to reveal conflicts of interest when writing about companies with which I may have financial ties, and one of my editors told me on no uncertain terms that I would not be assigned stories for his publication if I wrote about companies that I also retained as copywriting clients. I agreed with him. I expect the same ethics exercised by politicians I get behind. Unrealistic? Perhaps. But I’m a dreamer. Yes, I do believe we can get back to the moon.

    “All politicians are liars. It’s part of the job. Politics is not a fucking Jim Carrey movie. You want the truth, go see the Dalai Lama. Also: Bernie lies, too, all the time, when he makes promises about free college tuition.”

    This is a reach. I dare to dream that you don’t have to have your pants on fire to get into public office. And calling Bernie’s dream a lie says more about you than him. He’s daring to dream big. You’re saying you can’t do that. Fair enough. But I’d rather not see you bash others for doing so.

    • Greg Olear says:

      Hillary is a pragmatist more than an idealist, but that’s who I want running the country. Obama is the same way, although he presented as an idealist in ’08. But I believe that beneath all of her calculated veneer is a lot of healthy idealism that will reveal itself when she wins. (I wrote about this is my other Hillary piece, which I encourage you to read…it was written months ago, before the campaigns got rancorous).

      In the end, it’s a matter of faith. I believe she will spread her wings and fly, rather than do Goldman’s bidding. You don’t. In a year and a half, we’ll know who was right. I really hope it’s me, and not because I want to gloat.

      Also: Bernie started off with really good points, but he went off the rails with this universal payer/free tuition bullshit. I mean, he must know that’s impossible. “Free tuition” = “wall that Mexico will pay for.” That’s not dreaming; it’s lying. I may be wrong, and correct me if I am, as I’ve not parsed every word, but Hillary doesn’t go around making promises she knows she won’t keep. She changes her mind, and she makes a lot of mistakes n the trail, but she isn’t guilty of that particular sin, best as I can tell.

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

      • youtwat says:

        You’re a fucking idiot. Sanders is bad but to actually DEFEND Shillary? What a know-nothing little cunt you are.

  2. Rob Gersen says:

    And you sir are repeating the false trope that Nader cost Gore the election.

    Al Gore cost Al Gore the election. He didn’t even win Tennessee. Over 200,000 DEMOCRATS voted for Bush in Florida. Gore cherry picked counties and if he had called for a recount of the entire state could have very likely carried the vote. If the counting had not been stopped. Just stop.

    I think you wrote a thoughtful post, some of which was a bit hyperbolic and triumphalist. Which by the way is NOT the way to engage Sanders supports.

    n.b. – it pisses them off to be told to “get off their high horse” rather than appealing to them to fight in common cause against Drumpf.

    It is unnecessary and reinforces the subtext that “you silly little delusional revolutionaries should stop all this misbehaving and then you can come to the big kids table”. It is counterproductive. Sanders supports don’t OWE their vote to anyone. It has to be earned – and this tone is not the way to do that.

    I agree with several of your points, but your appeal is condescending as hell.

    And that will not achieve your desired goal. It will delay it or in worst case prevent it altogether by further alienating Sanders supporters and potential Clinton voters – those currently and newly engaged 18-30 year olds may just decide to stay home in November. Which could be catastrophic for our country.

    • Greg Olear says:

      You’re right about Nader, of course. Gore didn’t win his home state, and if you can’t win your home state, you don’t win. But in the piece I list a string of reasons why it happened, not just Nader.

      That said, I think there are many more Bernie voters who may write him in, or stay home, or what have you, than there were Nader folks back in 2000. So I think it is absolutely right to argue that them not voting for Hillary out of principle is dangerous and short-sighted.

      I’ve had a few complaints about the tone being condescending. I think it’s more accurately described as “exasperated.” Because most of the people in my town are for Bernie — not just the Democrats; most of the town — and also a healthy and vocal majority of my Facebook friends, I have endured a constant stream of pro-Bernie talk for months, with nary a peep about Hillary, other than the occasional indictment update. Which is all well and good. I like Bernie, and I like what he has to say. But especially just before and after the NY primary, there were suddenly a lot more attacks on her — personal, half-baked, lame ones, mostly. I understand that it’s borne out of frustration, and that it’s very early in the process of coming down from the excitement of someone as great as Bernie winning. But the attacks on her have to stop, or we have a freaking reality TV star and textbook narcissist running the country. It’s very easy to go from “Bernie can’t be bought,” which is a popular refrain, to “Trump can’t be bought,” which is just as true, but much more odious.

      Anyway, thanks for reading and for the thoughtful comment.

  3. Deb Grabien says:

    Greg, thank you for this. It seems to have entirely escaped the notice of far too many of the Sanders supporters out there that this is NOT A DAMNED REVOLUTION.

    We are not attempting to overthrow democracy. We’re attempting to figure out whom we want to select as the next president. Put bluntly, this is a job interview, on a state by state basis. And it doesn’t look as if Sanders is going to be invited back for a follow-up interview.

    There are a scary number of solid reasons why, but the transcript of the disastrous one on one with Sanders and the editorial staff of the New York Daily News encapsulates it nicely: the man who screams MUST BREAK UP BIG BANKS EVIL EVIL could not answer a single policy point about what has been his signature – no, sorry, make that his only issue. He had no clue how Wall Street worked, he had no idea that he couldn’t just jab the Presidential Finger at an issue and have it resolve, he clearly had not done his homework, and he had zero, repeat, zero idea how the government he wants to be put in charge of actually works. The level is clueless is staggering: did he forget about that whole pesky legislative branch? Or that a sizeable chunk of the country votes Republican and that you don’t just get to ignore that?

    Want the transcript, guys? Here you go; read it and see why he’s coming up on three million votes behind Hillary Clinton.

    There is no there there. He has no policy, he has no clue, and when anyone dares call him on it, he screeches like a schoolyard bully and his supporters display a remarkable range of reactions, from bridling to outright crazed mouthfrothing insanity (hi there, BernieBros). He seems unaware of the fact that he himself has a perfectly good SuperPAC of his own (the FEC’s designation, not mine). He signed on as a Democrat a scant year ago after sneering at the party for decades, and seems to feel as if the DNC should regard him as highly as they regard Clinton, who has been fundraising for down-ticket Democratic candidates for decades. For those who have spent months seething about Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (I agree with you – she needs to go), maybe someone can explain why Sanders couldn’t be bothered supporting her primary challenger? Tim Canova is a solid progressive. Where was Bernie, to offer with anything from campaigning with him to helping fund the challenge?

    Oh, and by the way, Clinton pulled Sanders to the left, specifically on gun control. His record on that was absolute garbage. It may work in Vermont, but he doesn’t want to be president of Vermont.

    I’d like to finish up by pointing out that, at the end of his jaunt to Rome for a “meeting” with the Pope that his campaign is trying to write off as a legitimate campaign expense, he came away without having been officially canonised by the Pope in question. If you want to anoint him Saint Bernard, go for it, but there are many of us who are getting fed up with having the Sanders base pee on our legs and expect us to think it’s maple syrup.

    • Greg Olear says:

      Thanks for reading and for the comment, almost all of which I agree with wholeheartedly. Bernie is a scold, and we need scolds in our government. But scolds tend not to be good at, you know, governing. Also, I don’t want an ideologue in office, even if I happen to agree with much of his ideology. Ideologues are not keen on compromise, and compromise is the backbone of our crazy democracy. Which Hillary, alone among the remaining candidates, well understands.

  4. Liz says:

    I am sick to death of hearing about “the math.” It’s obvious that Hillary has higher numbers of delegates (even if I vehemently disagree that super delegates should be included at this point or constantly mentioned on every news program that mentioned the Hillary vs. Bernie race). Nevertheless, it it is NOT a foregone conclusion that Hillary will reach the magic number by the time of the DNC. Bernie can’t ever reach the number, probably. But he will be dang close. If neither gets to 2383, then what?

    • Greg Olear says:

      Well, no it’s not a foregone conclusion. I mean, she could have a heart attack and drop dead tomorrow. But it’s so likely that it’s all but certain. It’s like a basketball game when the home team is up by 20 points, and there’s two minutes left, and the other team keeps fouling. Sure, it COULD happen — he could win every delegate in California! Why not! — but it’s not going to happen.

      This superdelegates business, by the way, is where Bernie’s political party affiliation has come back to haunt him. None of his agenda will ever get done unless there are enough Democrats elected to Congress to push through legislation, and Hillary is in a much, much better position to accomplish that.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

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