Something important, something troubling, and something dangerous

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The important thing first.

I predicted who would win the Wisconsin primary, although my prediction suggested that Sanders would do better than he did. (He underperformed.) I predicted the outcome of the Wyoming primary exactly.

These are the most recent two in a long series of mostly correct predictions of which Democratic candidate will win each of the contests in this long presidential primary season. My predictions of which candidate would win have been mostly accurate, but also, fairly accurate with respect to how many delegates each candidate would pick up.

Several primaries back, for several primaries in a row, Sanders did somewhat better than my predictions suggested, indicating that the model I was using to make these predictions possibly underestimated that candidate’s long term performance. However, that stopped happening, and Sanders went back to performing pretty much as I expected him to perform, or not as well.

This verifies the fact that Hillary Clinton will finish this presidential primary season in the lead. Yes of course, one never knows. But at some point one has to presume, even if there is a small chance that a numerically nearly impossible outcome will emerge. And, if this turns out to be wrong, since I am tracking every delegate, I’ll be among the first to know and acknowledge, and shift strategy as needed. But at the moment I feel very comfortable working with the assumption that the primary season will end with Clinton having about 2,000 pledged delegates, and Sanders having between 1700 and 1800 pledged delegates.

If the unpledged delegates simply track this outcome, this will give Clinton the nomination on the first ballot.

I have been using a similar model for making these predictions all along, but refining the model (how it works) and adding data (with each contest’s outcome). I have tried several times to develop a version of the model that would put the consistently second place candidate, Sanders, at an advantage, biasing the model with assumptions about a possible improved performance. Not once did that alternative version of my predictive model put Sanders in the lead at the end of the primary season, though he got close once.

Simply put, barring an unlikely surprise, Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in 2016. That is the important thing.

Now the troubling thing.

From the start of this primary season, I was happy with either candidate, and vowed to support whichever candidate is nominated. Most sane people intend to support the winner, because the alternative is rather horrible. Most people did pick a candidate earlier in the process, but I refused to. Of course, every time I questioned a criticism of Clinton, some Sanders supporters “accused” me (as though that was a legitimate accusation of wrong doing) of supporting Clinton. When I would critique a criticism of Sanders, the reverse would generally happen. Many people were simply not allowing me to be supportive of both. Also, I wasn’t undecided. I had decided that both were excellent candidates, in their own ways.

But it goes beyond that. During this primary season, I’ve witnessed, again and again, people who had previously shown signs of high level functioning and impressive intelligence saying many utterly stupid things. I’ve closely monitored and been involved in many presidential elections, and I note that this often happens to some degree, but this year, this has been happening wholesale and to an extreme. I will not give you examples. If you are a reasonable person who has been paying attention, you don’t need me to give you examples because you know exactly what I am talking about. If you are one of the folks who has been quick to make utterly illogical or fact free arguments about every aspect of this race, often reaching far into the land of conspiracy theory, then you don’t know what I’m talking about but you will sense, somehow, that this paragraph is deeply insulting to you. Feel free to make defensive comments below. I will ignore them. And, I have nothing else to say about this. This departure from reason is, of course, the troubling thing.

The dangerous thing overlaps with the troubling thing.

Weeks ago it started to look like a small number of supporters of Bernie Sanders, in the event that Hillary Clinton was nominated, were going to either write in Sanders, vote for Trump or Cruz, or not vote at all. This did not surprise me, because a good number of the Sanders supporters where I live, in the shadow of Michele Bachmann’s congressional district, are fairly right wing. This may not make sense if you see Sanders as a progressive, very left candidate (which he is) but have a non-nuanced view of politics, but it is both true and understandable. The same thing happened with the Paul mini-Dynasty. I will not spend any time here outlining how this happens.

Over time, however, this “small percentage” has grown, and polling indicates that something close to 20% of declared Sanders supporters are what has become known as “Bernie or Busters” of various political stripes, but all holding the same dangerous view. These folks will not support anyone but Sanders, or will turn on the Democratic party if Sanders is not nominated.

Parallel to this phenomenon we see myriad other destructive practices by Sanders supporters, and by destructive I mean destructive to the political process and to the Democratic candidacy. Given that Clinton is going to get the nomination, it is a significant problem that so many Sander supporters are trying so hard to damage her.

These trends, of “Bernie or Busters” or of taking Clinton as seemingly equivalent to Satan, are a problem not only because of their immediate effects, but because the Sanders campaign accepts and exploits these activities and attitudes. It is no longer possible to point to the two or three times that Bernie Sanders scolded someone for this attitude and claim he is taking care of this, and it is no longer possible to give the Sanders campaign the benefit of doubt, suggesting that they just don’t know about what is going on. Campaigns know these things. Sanders knows about these things.

To this we add the clearly emerging pattern of the Clinton campaign working down ballot, to elect a blue, or at least, bluer Congress (and to help Democrats in other ways), while Sanders does very little in this area (he has done some things, but not much). Sanders’ strategy of having the masses show up in DC to shame the GOP Congress into not being nefarious haters was never going to work. Clinton’s strategy, and the strategy of the rest of the Democratic Party, to take back Congress, can work if we follow through. The numbers show that we actually could do it this year, if we don’t throw away the opportunity. Sanders appears to be throwing away the opportunity, Clinton is not.

So that’s the dangerous part. We need to approach the general election with a candidate and supporters who are going to do what is needed. The Sanders campaign has become a danger.

Several days ago I posted this on my Facebook page:
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Among the reactions to this meme were assertions that somehow it is wrong for candidates to help each other (see comments above about taking back Congress .. Franken’s election is exactly how the Democrats retook the Senate for a couple of years). Among the reactions was a call to find someone to primary Franken. These are insane reactions. These are the reactions of deluded cultists, not political activists.

And, these reactions were among the small number of final straws that had fallen upon this particular camel’s back. I decided to take a break from the Facebook conversation about this election for a few days, and I blacked out my profile pics, without comment, as a form of protest. To underscore the protest, I began posting nothing but cat pictures. A handful of my Facebook friends understood and commiserated. A good number of Sanders supporters seemed to quiet down (except one or two), probably realizing that I was fed up.

And now, I’m back. But guess what. I’m not going to argue about Sanders, or Sanders vs. Clinton. The Sanders campaign is done. If this had all gone somewhat differently, I’d still be talking about Sanders, points he’s making, interesting things about his campaign, but the cost of doing that is too high. The Sanders campaign, owing mainly to the personality cultists and the Bernie or Busters, which are probably in total about a third of his supporters, have ruined the campaign, and made it not worth talking about. The Sander campaign, sadly, has become less interesting, more annoying, and just as predictable, as a bunch of cat pictures.

980xThis is not to say that Sanders contribution has not been great. It has been very significant, and this souring of his campaign detracts from that only modestly. But that part is done. We’ve heard Bernie, we’ve listened, he’s influenced the process.

But from hear on out, if you are a Bernie supporter, talk to the paw.

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38 thoughts on “Something important, something troubling, and something dangerous

  1. David Brin over at his blog, Contrary Brin has posited that many of the “Bernie or Busters” are actually right wingers trying to sow discord in the Democratic electorate. That makes a certain amount of sense to me.

  2. Clinton’s strategy, and the strategy of the rest of the Democratic Party, to take back Congress, can work if we follow through.

    Indeed, President Obama has been very successful at getting people to actually vote in an election (the presidential one) instead of never voting and just whining about the guvmint and saying stupid things like there’s no point in voting for anyone other than themselves.

    Speaking from another type of democracy, I think there’s some value in having a presidential election but the sad thing is that many Americans only vote in that election and not in the Senate and HoR elections, apparently because they don’t realize that those elections are even more important than the presidential one.

  3. Dear Wesley: When President Cruz destroys everything you value, there won’t be anyone left to help you. And I won’t lift a finger either.
    Your bed. Make it. Lie in it.

    I’m supporting Bernie in the primary, and (Hi Greg;-) if Hillary gets the nomination (as appears almost certain at this point) I’ll support her equally strongly, and the entire ticket. Any progress is better than any regress.

    +2 Celsius and +2 Supreme Court Justices, vs. the politics of snit. Easy choice.

    I will also concede that a lot of the Bernie supporters out there are textbook cases of “oppositional defiant disorder,” or, more colloquially (how can one say this in a G-rated forum?), “arsehauls.” But keep in mind that many forums, including Daily Kos, are thoroughly infested with Republican trolls who will do anything to stir up nasties between Democrats. Frankly we should be doing likewise on every Republican forum, but I’m not going get into a digression here about the merits of psyop tactics.

    One of the reasons for the high visibility of arsehauls in the Bernie camp is plain simple emotional contagion. Anger and other primal emotions are particularly contagious, as we have also seen with the Trump campaign. The remedy for emotion-pollution is to clean up the nasty emotions by spreading good ones. Humor is always good, and depending on what it’s mixed with, can be a useful transitional state between many pairs of two other emotional states.

    As for strategy, the best thing is always to focus on registering new voters and making sure every registered voter has the paperwork to actually vote. Ignore the arsehauls altogether, focus on voter registration, and eventually the arsehauls will come sniffing around in search of social reinforcement. At that point the thing to do is encourage them to register more voters as well.

    Registering new voters is the cure for many of life’s ills;-)

    And when it works, we all have something to celebrate together.

  4. @1. Wesley Dodson : “Bernie or bust. … I cannot in good conscience vote for anyone else.”

    Which means you are a de facto Cruz or Trump voter and other real people all around this pale blue dot will pay a steep price in misery and suffering and poverty and death for the sake of your purist tantrum-throwing.

    How’s that sit on your conscience?

  5. ^ Continued @ 1. Wesley Dodson :

    ..when pragmatism overlaps with racism, sexism, ageism, ..

    Hillary Clinton has certain been – and will continue to be discriminated against unfairly on two out of three of those grounds – gender and age. She’s an older woman, both factors which have been used against her in the past, are being used against her now – including by some Sander’s supporters – and will no doubt be used against her into the future too.

    Sanders has perhaps faced ageism if you consider it ageism to note that his age – 74 years old – might be a potential concern.

    Note that if elected Sanders would be 78 at the end of a hypothetical first term and 82 at the end of a second. Clinton at 68 would be 72 at the end of her first term and 76 at the end of her second. IOW Hillary Clinton when potentailly leaving office after two terms would be just just two years older than Sanders is today. Trump at 69 years old is a year older than Hillary and thus would be 73 and 77 at terms end~wise respectively assuming the world survived! Oldest POTUS elected was Reagan – 69 when he was voted in & 77 when he left office. The average age of becoming POTUS is one month short of 55 years old.

    Source :

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Presidents_of_the_United_States_by_age#List_of_Presidents_by_Age

    I don’t think age should disqualify anyone from Presidential candidacy but when people get into their mid-70’s it does raises questions of physical and mental health and competence in an extremely demanding & stressful job given gerontological realities.

    So ageism perhaps is questionably a factor for all three currently most likely Presidential contenders.

    OTOH, Bernie Sanders certainly hasn’t faced the same sexism that Hillary Clinton has faced all her life. Bernie has been, as noted, a bit too quiet in condemning the blatant sexism of some of his followers and Trump is amongst the most misogynistic of the very misogynistic Repub pack.

    .. it’s the status quo, and it’s unsustainable.

    Yes – but a rapid collapse from the status quo into something very much worse and potentially globally catastrophic if a republican wins would be better how exactly?

    If Clinton wins then it will be time to pressure her to move further left and start reversing the dangerous rightward list in the US ship of state. If Cruz or Trump or another Repub gets in, that listing will worsen dramatically possibly even quickly capsizing and sinking the whole metaphorical ship.

    Those it seems almost certain are the options, there aren’t realistically any others whether we like it or not.

  6. #1
    I won’t vote for no candidate what ain’t a virgin.
    Bernie or bust!
    (I do enjoy your correctly buzz-worded jargon. Rubiot rides again!)

  7. I’ll vote for Hillary if she wins the nomination, but it would still be with great sadness. Bernie is a once in a lifetime candidate. He went all in late in the game and this hurt him badly.
    I don’t vote for candidates because they’re female – it’s illogical.
    She’s pro fracking. This mean she doesn’t get it on many important levels, in spite of all the good she’s done.
    But the alternative is not to be contemplated, so yes, I’ll vote for her if he doesn’t win the nomination, but I’ll be sad that at this time in history – possibly the most crucial moment ever, we are still blowing it.

  8. “… the Sanders campaign accepts and exploits these activities and attitudes. It is no longer possible to point to the two or three times that Bernie Sanders scolded someone for this attitude and claim he is taking care of this, and it is no longer possible to give the Sanders campaign the benefit of doubt…”

    This has become clear to me as well in the past few days.

  9. I remember the same problem with Gore and Ralph Neuter, I mean Nader. Some of the brightest people I knew could not abide Al Gore, so they voted for Neuter, I mean Nader. And as a result, we got Bush, and eight years of the dark side and the Republic of Fossil Fuel. Bernie , like Neuter, I mean Nader, is turning into a berm thrower. Even very smart people can get overly emotional and buy into their own political hysteria, and end up not acting in their best interest. When you are that close to being in one of the most powerful positions in the world, it probably becomes very difficult to remove your hopes and dreams and ego to a safe place, and tell your supporters that you’ve fought a good fight, but unless we support our party opponent, we are all going to go down in defeat.

  10. Greg,

    I think you mislabel these people– it has always been Anyone But Hillary (a woman) rather than Bernie or Bust. They were never going to support Dems anyway.

    Whether they are sincere in their dysfunction or Republican sock-puppet trolls, I don’t see how they vote, if they vote, significantly affecting the general election.

    And I will repeat my prediction– Trump will not be the nominee, and defections from his supporters will not have that much effect on the outcome either.

  11. Tenny @ 8:

    Pro-fracking is an easy problem for us (sustainability hard-cores) to overcome, using well-known NIMBY tactics.

    Also, the fracking boom has already created the fracking bust, and has crashed the market for Canadian asphalt er uh oil tar sands. I don’t think it’s even possible to get capital for a new fracking project at this point. And, the drive-down of oil prices in general has made new oil exploration a risky thing. Lastly, lower oil prices also devalue “unproduced assets” (fossil fuels that are still in the ground), causing energy companies to seek out higher-return investments such as renewables.

    For which reasons I think what HRC is doing is offering a throw-away dog bone to the fossil fools, and she’s fully aware that it is meaningless in the real world. And I say this as a Bernie supporter (though not an arsehaul;-).

    SteveP @ 10:

    Ralph Neuter: Perfect! Instant viral meme. Good God/Goddess/Godless! how I despise that man for what he unleashed. Anyone with an IQ above room temperature should recognize that third-party votes, write-ins, etc., are effectively votes for the enemy. Those who forgot history need to be reminded, or the big Or-Else will hit all of us hard.

  12. #8
    “But the alternative is not to be contemplated…”

    Thank you. I don’t agree that Sanders is that good, or that Clinton can be reduced to a position on fracking (or to a series of cherry picked positions), but the alternative is as you state. More than anything else, this should be seen as a climate change election. We don’t have any time left. We are already beyond having done serious damage to our planet. If we don’t do everything we can to deal with this crisis now, dealing with issues like inequality and parental leave will be meaningless.

    Both Sanders and Clinton accept the science and are prepared to act on it. The Republicans are in favor of reversing whatever progress there’s been. This is the choice.

    https://climatecrocks.com/2016/04/11/how-fast-can-ice-melt-understanding-new-sea-level-estimates/
    (See Box, Hansen, Rignot 3)
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/03/22/we-had-all-better-hope-these-scientists-are-wrong-about-the-planets-future/
    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/31/science/global-warming-antarctica-ice-sheet-sea-level-rise.html
    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/10/world/asia/climate-related-death-of-coral-around-world-alarms-scientists.html?ref=todayspaper
    http://climatefeedback.org/how-much-do-the-us-presidential-candidates-know-about-climate-change/
    http://www.vox.com/2016/3/21/11278138/clinton-coal-gaffe
    https://climatecrocks.com/2016/04/09/colbert-trump-will-eliminate-dept-of-environmental/

  13. The GOP is definitely not getting my vote….and there isn’t a force in the universe that would get me to vote for Hillary. If Bernie does not win the nomination; I would write him in. Hillary does not represent any aspect of the (dwindling) middle class and has no awareness or interest in our struggles. She is embedded in the establishment, and will say and do anything to get into office…..including the historical precedent about having a woman serve as president….that’s a euphemism for VOTE FOR ME. I can think of dozens of women who would make great presidents. and Hillary ain’t one of ’em.

  14. Give me Bernie, or I’ll give you Trump–though not Cruz. Hillary before Cruz, but that would be a choice that I’d make from wherever I emigrate to…

  15. @ Tenney I don’t think Clinton is as ‘pro fracking’ as you think. She would strengthen the rules for fracking, making the practice more rare (but it wouldn’t be banned outright, unfortunately). That’s still an improvement over the Obama ‘try everything (including fosile fuels)’ approach.

  16. My vote in the general election doesn’t matter. With our electoral system, living in Red state (KS) means that whether I vote for the Dem nominee or a 3rd party or write in someone, all the electoral votes for my state will go to the Republican candidate. While your argument may be sound for voters in swing states that could go either way, it doesn’t hold up for voters in states that can be safely expected to send their electoral vote for to the D or R party regardless of the candidate. My vote for pres. will not have any effect on the outcome.

  17. The last time the Democrats ran someone as ideologically pure as Sen. Sanders in an election, we got Jimmy Carter. Carter was (and is) an outstanding human being, but he was a terrible president, whose failure opened the door for Reagan and the 35 years of supply-side nonsense he brought in with him. Bernie-or-busters, please think carefully about this.

  18. Would the Bernie or busters please explain how Sanders would get his program through Congress? As they don’t seem to believe in the importance of electing down-ticket Democrats, do they think that Republicans would be more kindly disposed towards Sanders than towards Obama? Do they have any evidence of this? Do the Bernie or busters believe that electing Sanders and filling the Mall would dissolve the alliance between the Republicans and the plutocrats? Do they intend to appeal to the suppressed humanity of Mitch McConnell? If the changes they want (and that I support) depend on a political revolution, what evidence do they have that such a revolution is under way?

  19. Beth Clarkson #18,

    I’ve been in that situation most of my life, both in R and D states.

    But it raises an interesting question that ties in with the topic. What message do you want to send, and what message are you sending?

    My inclination is to increase the popular vote majority for my candidate, which would be Hillary. It says “we strongly disagree with the Republicans, whether we prefer Bernie or not”.

    Otherwise, it suggests weakness. And R’s are already justified, from past experience in the midterms, in thinking that D’s are not that committed.

    I am particularly annoyed with those who criticize President Obama for not being more aggressive as a “leader”. Tough to do when you look over your shoulder and see that nobody has your back.

  20. Yep. We must remember the 2000 election. Casting a write-in vote (or a vote for an independent who is never going to win) just because you don’t like the candidate your party chose to fight the opposition is the same as not voting at all!

    No Republican is ever in a million years going to vote for a Democrat. Why would a Democrat vote for a Republican if you don’t believe in any (or most) of their principles?

  21. “@1. Wesley Dodson : “Bernie or bust. … I cannot in good conscience vote for anyone else.”

    Which means you are a de facto Cruz or Trump voter ”

    This is false.

    Remember your Trolley problems. There is a significant moral difference between active participation and passively allowing something to happen.

    Further, the divide is between voting for a democratic socialist or yet another neoliberal.

    It makes perfect sense to say, “I’m not voting for another neoliberal, a camp which includes Trump, Cruz AND Clinton.”

    Will they be worse than Clinton? Yes. Will she be MUCH better than them? No. Not if you actually want people to have peaceful, happy, meaningful lives free of the stress that neoliberalism puts on them.

  22. I am particularly annoyed with those who criticize President Obama for not being more aggressive as a “leader”.

    A lot of people seem to have difficulty with the concept that the president is not actually the leader of the government.

  23. it also allows ultra-conservatives to pull the entire political spectrum in their direction

    The only reason ultra-conservatives manage to pull the entire political spectrum in their direction is because they win elections. If you help them win elections then you’re helping them do this.

  24. @#22, Basically agree. I’m wondering if the Republican’ts and/or Establocrats could actually join the Federalists and Whigs in my lifetime. The GOP realizes that it is in disarray, but I don’t think the Crats have any idea just how much they have damaged their brand with progressive young people that could have been their core supporters. More than one of my friends thinks this could be the beginning of a LaFollette-type movement that will attract independents and make an increasingly centrist party obsolete. But I expect even more changes on the right. Even though Trump is faltering, his supporters are not going away, and could transform the GOP into a conservative populist party.

  25. The swiftboating of Sanders by the Clinton camp on the civil rights issue will make it very difficult for me to vote for her. I worked with and around politicians too long to expect them to be saints, but just about everyone has a brightline test — swiftboating a fellow Democrat just happens to be mine.

  26. Dear paw – you may want to ask why a Pennsylvania county that at most has around 3K in absentee ballots cast each election has ordered 300,000 for this primary. http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/officials-lancaster-county-voters-will-get-absentee-ballots-this-week/article_910ff458-fc33-11e5-b804-671601f80af5.html

    There has been a fair amount of evidence for voter fraud this time around as in people’s registrations disappearing or being changed . Results varying wildly from exit polls and so forth.

  27. OK Wesley, we get this:

    http://scienceblogs.com/seed/2016/04/04/clinton-vs-sanders-my-two-cents/

    Bernie is the ideologically ‘purer’ of the two Democratic front runners. America has lost the plot, and what we are doing as a nation is not sustainable. And I would prefer him as the Democratic candidate myself.

    But would you in all good conscience concede the election to the Rethuglicans if Bernie doesn’t get to run? Really? This is what it comes down to. It took me a long time (like 40 something years) to figure this out because I am a bit of a perfectionist too, but… this: never let perfect be the enemy of good enough.

  28. Among Canadians Bernie is wildly popular and among active progressive Canadians he is favoured over Hillary in one poll 20 to 1. As one with ties to the US, I find this significant.

    That said, the way I want to frame it is, If Bernie were to (god forbid) have a health scare that forced him to drop from the race, among the other contenders, Clinton, Cruz, Trump, would you work for or vote for? Think about what policies each would enact, and about their history (Only Hillary Clinton has a significant political or governmental history of the 3), and what their values are when you do so.

    I hope that the majority of Bernie supporters realize that for all her flaws, do they really want to risk one of Ted or Donald taking the helm of the Executive branch of the country?

  29. So much to be said, but I will instead give you John Sanbonmatsu’s words, as he has said it better than I could;

    “We won’t see a presidential candidate like Bernie again in our lifetimes.” As I heard these words, spoken by a woman at a Sanders campaign event recently, I felt a chill go through me. Because I knew she was right. We won’t.

    We won’t see another presidential candidate who refuses to take campaign donations from the wealthy and the corporate elite. We won’t see another candidate with the courage to take on Wall Street. We won’t see a candidate with the guts to tell the American people that they have lost their democracy. We won’t see another candidate who mentions the working class and the poor in his speeches. We won’t see another candidate sounding the alarm bells over global warming.

    It is no wonder that the wealthy owners of the New York Times and Washington Post and other media organs have reacted to Sanders’ insurgency with such fury, emptying their stables of talent each day in an effort to run him down and exterminate him politically. It’s like watching the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz, standing in the window of her castle, arms outstretched, sending her flying monkeys hurtling through the sky on a mission to destroy her would-be destroyers.

    Just recently, the day after Sanders crushed Clinton in the Wisconsin primary by 13 percentage points — his seventh win out of the last eight caucuses and primaries — the New York Times published a front page article on the results that included only a single, one-sentence reference to Sanders (falsely claiming that the race in Wisconsin had been “close”). That was all. Every other word in the 1500-word news story was about Ted Cruz’s victory over Trump in the state.

    In a normal election year, the fact that an avowed “democratic socialist” was routinely winning Democratic contests in states like Washington, Minnesota, Hawaii, and Wisconsin, or that he was raising far more money, from small individual donations, than an establishment candidate drawing on the vast resources and connections of her national party, would have been huge front page news.

    But this is not a normal election year. It’s the end game. It is a crisis, in the original sense of the ancient Greek word, krisis — the turning point in an illness when a patient either dies, or recovers. Except that the patient, in this case, is both the American body politic and the living earth itself.

    Global temperatures in February smashed all previous records, putting 2016 on track to be even hotter than 2015 — previously the hottest year on record. Not only didn’t we humans reduce our carbon emissions last year, we increased them — and at a greater rate than ever recorded. As Piers Tan, a leading climate scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration observed, “Carbon dioxide levels are increasing faster than they have in hundreds of thousands of years.“

    Just four months after the supposedly historic climate talks in Paris, then, the world is plunging headlong toward a full-scale ecological meltdown. Drought, flood, fire, monster storms, acidification of the oceans, disappearing fresh water, the migration of tropical diseases into the northern hemisphere, pandemics, accelerating species loss — we’re just at the beginning of things. Crops and agriculture will fail. Billions of people will lose their homes and even nations. Whole regions of the earth may become uninhabitable.

    Last week, scientists issued a stunning new estimate about the West Antarctic ice sheet: it’s melting at a far greater pace than earlier studies suggested. Just a few years ago, climate experts at the United Nations warned that the oceans could rise as much as two to three feet by the end of the century. Such a rise was then considered the worst case scenario — a true calamity to be avoided. The new study suggests that sea levels could instead rise as much as five or six feet. That means that dozens of world cities — New York, Philadelphia, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Dhaka, Cape Town, Bangkok, Alexandria, among numerous others — will be swallowed by the sea in our children’s lifetimes.

    But the problem isn’t just global warming. The entire biosphere of the earth is coming violently apart. Thousands of species across the phylogenetic spectrum are disappearing. The oceans are becoming acidic. Billions of sea animals are being “mined” from the sea, tearing the oceanic food web to shreds. The very fabric of life on earth is being destroyed.

    Does this sound bad? It is beyond bad. If it is not literally the end of the world, it is certainly the beginning of the end of a livable world. For two million years, the earth has been an amazing, beautiful, bountiful place for our species. It is the only home we have ever known or ever will know. Now, the writing of impending calamity is on the wall — it’s just in letters so big that most people can’t see them.

    Liberals planning to vote for Hillary don’t seem to grasp what is really at stake in this election. They imagine that the worst thing in the world would be to have Donald Trump in the White House. But they’re not exercising their imaginations enough. This election is about far, far more than stopping the Republicans, as important as that is. It’s about interrupting the system of global wealth accumulation before it destroys all life on earth.

    There are many reasons to find Hillary Clinton repugnant as a politician: her support for the Iraq War in 2003 and for the Honduran military coup in 2009, her ties to Goldman Sachs and Big Pharma, her support for neoliberal trade and economic policies that hurt working people, children, and the poor, her depiction of Edward Snowden as a “traitor,” her support for fracking, her past mockery of the women who accused her husband of sexual assault, and so on. But the worst thing about Hillary is simply that she represents the status quo.

    Perhaps, twenty or thirty years ago, it was still plausible to argue that voting for “the lesser evil” might usher in the kind of changes that our society desperately needs. But not today. Not with fascism rising again in Europe, and perhaps now even here in the United States. Not with the hollowing out of our democracy by corporate money. Not in the face of an unprecedented ecological emergency. If a Trump presidency is unthinkable, a Clinton presidency is unacceptable.

    Critics of Sanders dismiss his policy proposals, like a single-payer health care system or free higher education (rights long ago established in Europe) as “pie in the sky.” But in reality, it is Clinton’s supporters who are engaging in wishful thinking. Last month, Oxfam reported that the richest 62 individuals now own as much wealth as the poorest 3,500,000,000 human beings, half of the whole species. To believe that such a system can be “reformed,” or that Hillary will give us the “incremental change” we need to disrupt this monumental theft of the world’s resources, is dangerous self-delusion.

    Yes, the 2016 presidential race is still about Democrats and Republicans. But it has also become a national referendum on capitalism. For the first time in modern memory, Americans are being given the rare opportunity to affirm, or to reject, the trajectory of their economic and political system.

    It would be hard to exaggerate how much is at stake in the coming weeks. Think of the world system as an ocean liner, steaming toward a field of icebergs. Liberals in the key primary states of New York, Pennsylvania, and California will soon be given a historic choice: either to keep the ship on its present heading, toward the icefield, or to set the ship on a new course.

    The latter course represents Bernie Sanders, and it poses its own risks and uncertainties. Sanders may not be able to pass the initiatives he wants to. Powerful forces in our society will set about to undermine his presidency. Sanders himself is imperfect, and he will make mistakes all his own. But liberals who have not yet made up their minds about who to vote for should consider this: it is far better to embrace an uncertain future than to affirm a doomed one.

    (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-sanbonmatsu/new-york-bernie-sanders-is_b_9629028.html)

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