Yesterday, Bernie Sanders appeared on CNN's State of the Union with Jake Tapper, and it went exactly as you'd expect, given where we are in this campaign and the posture Sanders continues to take. The expression on Tapper's face while Sanders was yammering away pretty much sums it up.
The entire transcript of the segment is available here, and I'm just going to share this exchange on Sanders' continued resistance to endorsing Hillary Clinton (emphasis mine):
TAPPER: Senator, you have said you want to do everything in your power to ensure that Donald Trump does not become president. According to a new Bloomberg poll, barely half of your supporters, 55 percent, plan to vote for Hillary Clinton; 22 percent say they will vote for Donald Trump. Another 18 percent favor libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. Do you think Hillary Clinton can win if almost half of your supporters do not plan on voting for her?At this point, Tapper plays video of Sanders telling Chris Cuomo that he will vote for Clinton "in all likelihood." Tapper says that Sanders could be leaving his supporters with the impression that he's going to mount a third-party run, and tells him, "I mean, there's a hesitation there." To which Sanders responds by accusing the media of treating politics as a game.
SANDERS: You know, we got a long, long way to go to Election Day. And the world changes, as you know, every week. When I think is that, if Hillary Clinton—and this is what we are trying to do right now—we are trying to say to Secretary Clinton and to the Clinton campaign, make it clear which side you are on. For example, one of the areas that I think resonated very strongly across this country is the understanding that, today in 2016, we need to make public education include free tuition at public colleges and universities.
Truth is, Secretary Clinton has some good ideas about higher education. Doesn't go far enough. In terms of health care, it's not good enough to say that 90 percent of our people have health insurance now, because many of those insurance policies are really quite inadequate. We need to be much more aggressive. The Affordable Care Act has done good things. We need to go further than that. So I think, right now, what we are doing is trying to say to the Clinton campaign, stand up, be bolder than you have been. And then many of those voters in fact may come on board.
TAPPER: With all due respect, Senator, I'm not viewing this as a game. I'm looking at the fact that I talk to your supporters all the time, and many of them do not want to vote for Hillary Clinton. They feel very negatively towards her. And if it is important to you, as you say it is, to defeat Donald Trump, I wonder if you're truly doing everything you can do to defeat Donald Trump.This is, simply, not how it works.
SANDERS: I am going to do everything that I can to do to defeat Donald Trump. But a lot of that responsibility about winning the American people over to her side is going to rest with Secretary Clinton. Is she going to address the issues that many—we got something like 12 million, 13 million votes.
And those people voted for me, I believe, because they said it is time to have a president prepared to have the guts to stand up to big money interests, to stand up to the greed of corporate America, to end these disastrous trade policies, to make certain that the wealthiest people, largest corporations start paying their fair share of taxes, to rebuild our infrastructure, to create health care for all people.
So, it's not just Bernie Sanders saying, oh, yes, just vote for Hillary Clinton. It is Hillary Clinton standing up and saying, you know what? These are the things we need to do. And if she does the right thing, I am absolutely confident that the vast majority of my supporters will vote for her.
And that is the process we are engaged in right now. We're working on the Democratic platform. We are talking to the Clinton campaign. And I hope very much that Secretary Clinton understands that not only is it good public policy, it is the right thing to do, it is good politics to begin to move in that direction.
I am incandescently angry that Sanders is, at this point in the election, going on national television to say that Hillary Clinton need to "make it clear which side [she is] on," and suggesting that she can only earn his supporters' votes by a wholesale adoption of his platform, which would necessarily mean abandoning some of the things for which she drew support.
Like, for instance, her position on fracking, which, as eloquently detailed by longtime environmental activist Tom Hayden, is more nuanced and sophisticated than simply "ban all fracking." Hayden, for example, supports her because her position is both more realistic and more comprehensively planned; it "goes beyond what virtually any state has done." And, crucially, it takes into consideration the economic consequences of a unilateral ban on fracking.
Sanders consistently purports to care most about working people, but his unilateral plans to destroy industries he has determined are harmful—whether it's fracking, Big Pharma, or Wall Street—do not provide any detail on what will become of the working people who are employed by these industries. The big banks aren't staffed exclusively by executives getting outsized paychecks. They employ hundreds of thousands of people across the nation.
Clinton, meanwhile, continually gets attacked by Sanders and his supporters for carrying the water of special interests when her plans are not unilateral specifically because she centers the working people who would be both directly and indirectly affected by the sudden immolation of an entire industry, without regard for the reverberating consequences.
In my view—and in the view of millions of other people—that makes her positions more progressive, not less so.
The Democratic platform draft is more progressive than it has ever been—and, to be frank, it is more progressive than Sanders' own platform, explicitly because it does not treat wealth inequality as the only issue that matters to marginalized people. Centering reproductive rights, mass incarceration, immigration, LGBTx rights, and all manner of policy that directly affects marginalized people—and issues all that would be not be rectified by "going after Wall Street"—is, by many measures other than Sanders' highly personal and subjective definition of progressivism, the most progressive option.
Clinton's supporters aren't keen to see that abandoned to embrace Sanders' list of demands, when many of those demands conflict with the approach we voted for Clinton because she advocated.
She won, commandingly, because of her approach. And the reality is that she is now the only candidate who stands between Donald Trump and the US presidency.
Sure, keep advocating for her to be even more progressive. I plan to do that, too! It doesn't stop me from giving her my support. And it sure doesn't inspire me to pretend that she's not progressive at all; that she's somehow on a "different side" than I am.
Bernie Sanders continues to assert that he's just engaging in "good politics," but he's not. He's engaging in blackmail and throwing a fucking tantrum.
This is not how politics works. You don't get everything you want, not even (and especially) when you're president. And you certainly don't when you're the loser, even if you want to imagine otherwise by refusing to concede.