Dear Bernie. Again.

Dear Bernie,

Almost two months ago I wrote to you. You ignored me. Fine. I can live with that. But I want to take this opportunity to remind you of what I said and try again to convince you that if you continue on as you are, you will sort of be, as a pundit on television said this morning, in “an unspoken alliance” with Donald Drumpf. Ouch.

It was evident, even back at the beginning of March, that you would not become the nominee of my—I mean, “our”—party. I urged you back then to accept that fact and not prolong the inevitable and to go out and actually help actualize the political revolution you keep talking about by,

suspending your campaign and taking all those millions of dollars that those earnest, well-meaning Americans have given you and put it to good use, like helping Democrats win competitive House and Senate races, so that a Democratic president can actually get done some of the things that you and I want done.

Well, you didn’t take my advice and here we are today. David Plouffe tweeted after the devastating loss you suffered in the New York primary more than a week ago:

Sanders has run a stunningly strong campaign fueled by passionate supporters. But raising $$ stating you have path to nomination is fraud.

Then you took another pretty good beating this past Tuesday and the “path” you keep talking about has now narrowed so much that only you, apparently possessing preternatural eyesight, can see it. At what point, Bernie, does it really become “fraud” to keep raising money by telling your small-dollar donors that you still have a chance to become the nominee?

Last night in West Lafayette, Indiana, you said,

I am very good in arithmetic, and I can count delegates, and we are behind today. But you know what? Unusual things happen in politics.

You know what would really be unusual? For you to see that instead of laying off hundreds of your campaign staffers around the country, you could give them a new mission: help down-ballot Democrats beat vulnerable Republicans.

You could redeploy some staffers to Illinois to help our U.S. Senate candidate, Tammy Duckworth, beat a very vulnerable Mark Kirk. Others you could send to Wisconsin, where the deplorable teapartier Ron Johnson is ripe for picking off the Senate tree. Wouldn’t it be worth some of your own time and effort to see to it that Russ Feingold—who lost to Johnson in that devastating 2010 election—becomes your colleague in the Senate again? Huh? Feingold, after all, has been trying to get something done on campaign finance reform for a long time. How about putting your money where your mouth is on that issue and help him?

Still other staffers you could send to New Hampshire, where Republican Kelly Ayotte will have to battle with a very popular Democratic governor, Maggie Hassan—she’s won twice statewide, Bernie!—and where you and your folks could really be a big help.

In Florida, Marco Rubio’s seat needs to be filled. Let’s fill it with a Democrat like Patrick Murphy, what do ya say? Granted, Murphy is no Alan Grayson, but that’s sort of the point, you know what I mean? Congressman Murphy disposed of the disposable Allen West, so, dammit, that’s worth giving him some help down there.

There are more Senate races in which you and your supporters could make a big difference. Believe it or not, John McCain can be beaten in Arizona. So can Pat Toomey, a Club for Growth kinda guy, in Pennsylvania. Rob Portman is a little shaky in Ohio. Chuck Grassley could be swept away in a Bernie-led landslide in Iowa. Richard Burr could be knocked off in North Carolina. Maybe you could even send a few devoted staffers to us here in Missouri, where Jason Kander is up against the lobbyist-loving Roy Blunt.

Besides all those vulnerable Republicans currently in the Senate, we have some big shoes to fill in Nevada. Harry Reid is leaving and Democrats could use a Bernie-boost to help Catherine Cortez Masto become the first Hispanic woman to sit in the U.S. Senate. Wouldn’t that be revolutionary?

Senator Michael Bennet needs some love in Colorado, a place where we always struggle to win. And since you talk a lot about goin’ to California, how about weighing in on which Democrat should replace retiring Barbara Boxer? (Hint: Attorney General Kamala Harris is big on the minimum wage and paid family leave!)

Yes, the Democrats could, with your sizable help, take back the Senate. It is quite possible, some say even likely, if our top of the ticket, Hillary Clinton, runs strong with a Bernie-wind at her back. And even though it would be much tougher—this is where we will need your revolution, Bernie—there are dozens of House races you could put your name to, put money into, devote some time to.

Can you see how using your considerable resources to elect down-ballot Democrats would be much better than holding out for some language changes in the party’s platform that nobody really gives a damn about anyway? Or much better than forcing Hillary to become Hillary Sanders by adopting all of  your policy positions in exchange for your and your fans’ support? You said in Indiana,

We are in this campaign to win, but if we do not win, we intend to win every delegate that we can so that when we go to Philadelphia in July, we are going to have the votes to put together the strongest progressive agenda that any political party has ever seen. Our goal, whether we win or we do not win, is to transform the Democratic Party, to open the doors to working people, to senior citizens, to young people, in a way that does not exist today.

Okay, I get that. You want to “transform” my, uh, our party. But that shouldn’t be a priority right now, not when there are so many Republicans we have to beat this November. You really want to help working people? Then help Democrats get rid of as many Republicans in Congress as we can. You really want to take care of our seniors and help young folks? Same thing. Your revolution, and the far-reaching social and political changes you and I both want, will only come, Bernie, if we control all three branches of the government. And although that might seem to some people like a quixotic undertaking, it isn’t nearly as quixotic as your quest to become president.

So, please, suspend your shrinking campaign and really think big. You passively said, “Unusual things happen in politics.” How about making those unusual things happen?


The Erstwhile Conservative




  1. Anonymous

     /  April 28, 2016

    Dear Duane again,

    Bernie has thankfully ignored the whinings of the “Democratic elite” in his campaign and hopefully will carry it to the convention.
    You claim to support progressive values, but support a candidate that is no more progressive than Bill Clinton was during his tenure. If the DNC continues with pushing “centrist” candidates, they do so at their own peril. Winning elections at the cost of abandoning the progressive values it espouses is hypocritical.
    Hillary and the DNC should welcome Sanders and his platform at the convention, and actually adopt some of his progressive values. Refusal to acknowledge millions of Sanders supporters is sheer stupidity.

    A. Progressive


    • You know what? There is one big thing that annoys me about you Bernie supporters. It’s when you say things like this:

      You claim to support progressive values, but support a candidate that is no more progressive than Bill Clinton was during his tenure. If the DNC continues with pushing “centrist” candidates, they do so at their own peril. Winning elections at the cost of abandoning the progressive values it espouses is hypocritical.

      I’ll have a response to that in today’s post a little bit later. But you also said this:

      Hillary and the DNC should welcome Sanders and his platform at the convention, and actually adopt some of his progressive values. Refusal to acknowledge millions of Sanders supporters is sheer stupidity.

      I don’t know where you get your information about the Democratic platform. It is already full of things that represent progressive values. What are you talking about? And who is refusing to “acknowledge millions of Sanders supporters”? Huh? Who? Certainly Hillary Clinton has, time and again, acknowledged them. But you know what? It is Bernie who refuses to acknowledge the many more millions of Clinton supporters. How about that?

      And besides that, what you said in the second paragraph contradicts what you said in the first. You first said “Winning elections at the cost of abandoning the progressive values [the DNC] espouses is hypocritical.” Then you said that the DNC should “adopt some of his progressive values.” Come on. You’re better than that.



  2. King Beauregard

     /  April 28, 2016

    Well said, Duane. I’m very sorry I was right about Bernie being so full of crap.

    How full of crap is he? Even the Taiwanese animators have a handle on it:


  3. Anonymous

     /  April 29, 2016

    Maybe “Hacking Hillary” should choose a true progressive like Elizabeth Warren for her running mate.


    • “Hacking Hillary”? Huh? Don’t know what you mean.

      And I think it is funny that you link to a Katie Livingston post about Clinton’s tendency to cough at times. Livingston, not exactly a fan of Clinton, posts a video of her coughing attacks and says “the coughs are juicy but still it’s a cheap shot for Trump to use a ticklish throat to call into question Clinton’s health and stamina on the campaign trail.” What phoniness for Livingston to use the cough video to get clicks and then try to condemn Drumpf for using it also.

      Just another cheap shot by yet another Salon writer.


  4. Just so, Duane, and it’s all the more important that Democrats should close ranks now because the GOP is coming apart at the seams. Little gets done without a sensible Congress.


    • You know, Jim, that all seems so obvious to us, but it is, for some reason, not so obvious to many others. I truly believe that Sanders could make a helluva difference in this election. But it would involve a moment of modesty for him. He’d have to admit he’s been chasing the wrong thing. He cannot become president, which has been evident for some time. But what has also been evident is that he does have some substantial clout, clout he could use quite effectively, if it is targeted at the right targets. Unfortunately, he has mostly chosen to target Hillary Clinton and what she represents in his ideologically-driven mind. Sad is what it is. But maybe, just maybe, there is time for him to see where he could be making his mark on this election.


      • King Beauregard

         /  April 29, 2016

        I’m going to toss out a possibility others have floated and perhaps it holds water: you know how Herman Cain, Sarah Palin, and others have used presidential runs to cash in? Well it’s possible that is what Bernie is up to as well. He’s using his reputation as a straight-shooter to sell out in ways that would be completely obvious coming from anyone else. But consider a few points:

        1) Bernie still refuses to release any of his tax returns except last year’s.

        2) Sanders boasts between $25K and $65K on his credit cards.

        3) Bernie’s assets are in Jill’s name.

        4) Bernie’s wife is his campaign manager, and it’s extremely likely she collects a salary.

        5) You’d think Bernie would have some compassion for his followers and ask them to stop sending $27 donations since there’s very little to be gained from their money.

        This sounds like a man with money problems, and a presidential run solves them. $27 at a time.


        • I don’t want to speculate that Bernie may have impure motives for staying in the race and continuing to solicit money from small donors. It is entirely possible that, as he said yesterday, he really believes he can convince superdelegates at a contested convention to swing his way. There is a level of delusion in that belief that corresponds with so much of Bernie’s campaign that I think it best explains what he’s up to.

          In any case, it boggles my mind that a man with a family income that is many times higher than the average family can have so much credit card debt. That is a dumb way to manage your finances and it doesn’t say too much about his ability to manage the country’s finances, if you ask me. I confess I didn’t know he had that much credit card debt. Hope he’s getting a good interest rate, but I don’t think so.


          • King Beauregard

             /  May 2, 2016

            Yeah, you’d think he could get a loan from a bank that would ease some of his credit card pain. So, why doesn’t he? Are his finances fubar and banks won’t touch him?

            Really, it’s his refusal to reveal those taxes that alarms me the most and makes me suspect there’s something extremely fishy going on. I can’t think of a single reason he should be reluctant to share them unless there was something damning in them.


            • My guess it is the lack of charitable giving and the low effective tax rate. That low tax rate doesn’t really look all that good for someone who believes in government as much as he does and who wants to stick it to the rich. In a lot of American’s eyes, Bernie and his wife qualify as “rich.” I know I’d like to have an income over $200,000. There is some amount of hypocrisy in the return he has revealed. He did not take the standard deduction, instead opting to itemize, which saved him some tax money. There is something a little troubling about that for someone so committed to a massive government, one that runs the entire health care system and hands out free tuition. They obviously see that as a vulnerability, one that Republicans, for sure, would exploit to the max. They could attack his authenticity pretty effectively.


              • King Beauregard

                 /  May 3, 2016

                I know I wouldn’t fault Bernie for itemizing his deductions; our nation’s debt and financial priorities are not anything that would be detectably improved by Bernie impoverishing himself, and I don’t expect anyone to pay more than the rules require. The goal is to make fairer rules that everyone is bound by — the 1% included, and Bernie included too.

                And, having seen his fan base, I don’t think any of them would fault him for anything so minor, especially since there’s a perfectly sane justification for it. I don’t think even Republicans could make a case against him for filing a 1040A.

                I say there’s more in those returns, something much more damning.


                • Oh, I personally don’t fault him for itemizing, I suppose. And I know none of his supporters would abandon him over it. What bothers me is that if the shoe were on the other foot, if Clinton were caught doing something so seemingly out of step with her message, he’d attack her for it. (And by the way, without years of his returns, we really don’t know what all he has done to minimize his tax bill.)

                  Let’s take the campaign fundraising issue. Clinton is simply, like Bernie on itemizing his taxes, “playing by the rules.” She can’t unilaterally disarm, no matter how she personally feels about the rules. She has said she hates the rules and wants them changed. But she still has to play by them, if she wants to win in November. Bernie, being a purist on the matter, hammers her for it. 

                  That’s what bothers me about the itemization issue. Sure, his individual taxes mean nothing in terms of the nation’s revenue. But it would also mean nothing if Hillary Clinton didn’t raise money from wealthy people, in terms of fixing what’s wrong with our campaign finance system. That, however, is lost on Bernie, even as he tries to avoid paying taxes–essential to running the government–quite legally.


                  • King Beauregard

                     /  May 4, 2016

                    Okay, I can see that.

                    Show us your returns, Bernie.


        • I am shocked that with his and his wife’s income, Bernie would have $25,000 or more credit-card debt. It is plain poor money management. While I agree with KB that his own finances are a drop in the bucket, nay, in the ocean, to the government, it shows either naivety or a lack of money sense. That’s not who I want leading the government.

          As for taxes, I think it ought to be mandatory for candidates to reveal their tax returns for a good number of years, maybe 10. In fact, there should be full financial disclosure of assets, including any off-shore accounts. In any public office, money is key to understanding motivations and corruption. That’s what’s wrong with campaign finance, in fact. The whole damn system is corrupt now because of the unbelievable Citizens United decision. It needs a Roto-Rooter, but the GOP has completely hamstrung the IRS and Justice from cleaning it out. No wonder Bernie’s people are frustrated and angry, even if they don’t fully understand how they are being screwed, they still know it’s happening. Hillary would do well to jump on this part of Bernie’s message now.

          But, back to Bernie’s taxes, I sure don’t have a problem with him or anyone else filing to minimize his taxes, including itemizing if appropriate. This is the system we have, unbalanced as it is, and no individual’s return is going to make any measurable difference in the vast, sloshing ocean that is the government’s finances. I will say though, that the best thing that could happen to ameliorate the income inequity would be to raise the capital-gains tax rate. That’ll happen when pigs fly. Or when Bernie gets elected, which is about the same thing.


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