This One Question Will Decide the 2016 Election

Here’s the million dollar question that will decide the 2016 Presidential election: Will Bernie Sanders’s supporters listen to Bernie Sanders, or will they listen to Donald Trump?

I’ve read the full text of Bernie Sanders’s speech last night. I didn’t watch the whole thing because I don’t hate myself, but it’s not hard to imagine Sanders’s delivery, and I think he made the most compelling case possible for Hillary Clinton to his own supporters. He acknowledged honestly the differences between himself and Clinton, but pointed out how Clinton is closer to his view than Trump in every respect:

By these measures, any objective observer will conclude that – based on her ideas and her leadership – Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States. The choice is not even close.

At least some significant portion of Sanders’ speech was dedicated to scaremongering about Trump, which is both sad and predictable:

But her opponent – Donald Trump – well, he has a very different view. He does not support raising the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour – a starvation wage. While Donald Trump believes in huge tax breaks for billionaires, he believes that states should actually have the right to lower the minimum wage below $7.25. What an outrage!

* * *

If you don’t believe this election is important, if you think you can sit it out, take a moment to think about the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump would nominate and what that would mean to civil liberties, equal rights and the future of our country.

And so on and so on in this vein. What’s amusing, of course, is that the sorts of judges Trump would appoint would likely be horrifying to both sides of the aisle, since the lodestar for Trump’s judicial picks will undoubtedly be “Which judge will not strike down anything I want to do as President,” but set that aside. Sanders also offered some positive reasons for his supporters (who booed him for the effort) to vote for Clinton:

It is no secret that Hillary Clinton and I disagree on a number of issues. That’s what this campaign has been about. That’s what democracy is about. But I am happy to tell you that at the Democratic Platform Committee there was a significant coming together between the two campaigns and we produced, by far, the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party. Among many other strong provisions, the Democratic Party now calls for breaking up the major financial institutions on Wall Street and the passage of a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act. It also calls for strong opposition to job-killing free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Our job now is to see that platform implemented by a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House and a Hillary Clinton presidency – and I am going to do everything I can to make that happen.

I have known Hillary Clinton for 25 years. I remember her as a great first lady who broke precedent in terms of the role that a first lady was supposed to play as she helped lead the fight for universal health care. I served with her in the United States Senate and know her as a fierce advocate for the rights of children.

Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her here tonight.

The problem, for Clinton, is that at first blush, Sanders’s supporters were not ready to hear this message and seem to have largely rejected it. Of course, the wounds right now are especially fresh after the Russians (probably) gave Trump a huge assist by dumping the #DNCleaks material on the weekend before their convention. There are probably some number of Sanders supporters who are more tempted to vote for Trump out of spite for Clinton than they are to listen to Sanders and vote Clinton to stop Trump.

But will that dynamic hold all the way until November? It’s a question that’s likely to decide the 2016 election, either way.