Andy Schmookler: A win-win way for Bernie to lead now

bernie sandersDear Bernie,

There are some – such as you and some of your followers – who believe it is worthwhile for you to keep fighting Hillary for the nomination.

There are others – just about everyone else on the Democratic side, including some of your supporters like me – who believe the battle for the nomination has been effectively decided, and that it’s time to pivot to the must-win battle against Trump and the GOP.

Fortunately, there is a way for you to lead now that serves both purposes and should satisfy both groups.

This strategy engages directly with your claim – important if true – that the Democrats should nominate you because you would be better able to defeat Trump in November.

It’s time for you to prove it. Start now showing us your general election campaign.

It’s not enough for you to just keep pointing to those polls. They don’t really prove your case (for reasons that have been well shown [SALETAN link]).

Show us that you’re the guy to take on Trump by doing just that– taking on Trump.

Elections aren’t like golf, with each guy doing his own thing, and the guy who does it best wins. They’re more like boxing matches, where the winner is the guy who beats his opponent in the exchanges. Especially with a guy like Trump—the guy who beat “Little Marco” and “Lyin’Ted” and is already going after “Crooked Hillary.”

Show us if you can land a punch and come out the winner.  Elizabeth Warren has shown how it can be done—powerfully and still with truth and integrity.

Show us what you’ve got, Bernie.

Let’s hear your general election speech. You’re going to need a lot more than that stump speech that we who have followed you have heard so many times. Have you got new messages to meet the new challenges?

Let’s hear the speech you’d make to those who might vote for Trump or might vote for you. How well can you expose Trump’s con to those voters who are not automatic Democratic or Republican votes? How well can you show them his barrage of lies, why he can’t be trusted, how he’s not on anybody’s side but his own?

Show us how you’d persuade those voters who might just stay home on Election Day that they need to come out and reject Trump in favor of you.

Show us how you’ll campaign, as the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party to take power away from the obstructionist Republicans in Congress, which must be overcome for anything to be accomplished now matter whether it’s you or Hillary who wins the White House.

And let’s hear the speech you’d make to your followers to motivate them to do all they can to make sure that Donald Trump doesn’t become president. You’ve said yourself how vitally important that is. Let’s hear how well you can persuade your supporters to see what you see about the urgency of stopping Trump, so they’ll understand that there are core American values at stake here regardless of who comes out of the convention with the nomination.

You can dramatize these stakes with a “whoever is the nominee” speech.

Let us hear, when it comes to your three core issues how you’ll explain to your supporters, and to the voters generally, why the whole Republican ticket needs to be defeated:

  • that it is Republican-appointed justices that gave us “that disastrous Supreme Court decision, Citizens United, that has helped the billionaire class and the corporate system steal our democracy;
  • that it is the Republicans in Congress who work tirelessly to give tax cuts to the rich at the expense of the struggling middle class; and
  • that the Republican Party is the only major political party in any advanced democracy that consistently lies to the people about the reality of climate change.

Showing us all that is win-win, because at the same time as you are demonstrating that you are the candidate to lead the Democrats into battle, you are also setting the stage for the party coming together no matter who ends up being the standard-bearer in the battle against Trump and the GOP.

Win-win.

The first win is that you’ll be making the strongest possible case for yourself, backing up your claim that you are the right champion for the Democrats to send out into the field to do battle with Trump. You need to back of that claim with evidence people can see, and here’s your chance to provide it.

The second win is that you’ll be working to assure that – whoever is the nominee – Trump doesn’t become president. There are two ways your speeches auditioning for the general election can do that:

  • by helping Americans generally see Trump for the dangerous and irresponsible person that he is; and
  • by helping all the forces involved on the Democratic side to come together to fight the common foe.

Show us what you’ve got, Bernie, for the battle ahead.

Column by Andy Schmookler