Why Sanders Supporters Might Go For Donald Trump

A supporter for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., gives the thumbs down sign to a fellow Sanders' supporter wearing a Donald Trump mask during a campaign rally, Saturday, March 19, 2016 in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

I’ve been wrong enough over the past year that I no longer expect to be correct… but I am also no longer surprised. There is a lot of conventional wisdom that says Trump is a sure loser. There are also a lot of signs that Hillary is a pathetic and a weak candidate who simply can’t go the distance. If she avoids indictment.

What Trump has done is tap into a deep and wide vein of dissatisfaction among Americans over the state of things in general. They may not agree on much in the way of details but they are rapidly coalescing on the common ground of “the system is broken and the only way to fix it is to burn it and start again.” There were hints of this back in 2012 when, towards the end of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the images on the “99 percent” website began to carry larger numbers of working class folks instead of people who had squandered their trust fund getting an advanced degree in Jazz Clarinet and Medieval Serbo-Croat Poetry.

Trump has been able to co-opt the language of the left, which is why I suspect the racism label may not stick to him, to the extent that leftist, Sanders-endorsing celebrities have no problem coming out for him. In fact, the radical left may be more likely to fall in behind Trump than meekly line up with Hillary. For instance, Anarchists for Donald Trump—Let the Empire Burn:

I went for Sanders in the primaries, even gave several hundred dollars to his campaign. But there’s no way I’ll pull the lever for Clinton, because I know what a Clinton presidency bodes. More of the same neoliberal plundering with a friendly Democratic smile to quiet the left.

It happened under Obama: the warfare state and Wall Street reigning supreme while we all sing kumbaya because a black man has stamped his imprimatur on an intolerable status quo. It will happen again under Hillary.

What’s needed now in American politics is consternation, confusion, dissension, disorder, chaos — and crisis, with possible resolution — and a Trump presidency is the best chance for this true progress. This is a politics of arson. I’d rather see the empire burn to the ground under Trump, opening up at least the possibility of radical change, than cruise on autopilot under Clinton.

This pretty much sums up the driving force behind the campaign. Who knows what we’ll get with Trump but it won’t be Clinton and that is, in and of itself, a very good thing.

Another Bernie man tells me, “Hillary is Wall Street’s candidate. They fear Trump. Enough for me.”

My old friend Vincent Nunes of Brooklyn doesn’t give a damn what people think., which is why I can quote him by name.

“The totally logical reason for voting for him,” says Nunes, “is that he’s never been a politician and he’s not tied directly into the power and the money structure of the political system. We know Hillary is a monster. We don’t know it about Trump.”

I disagree. At this point I like to think of the two presumptive big-party candidates as floozies flouncing on the stage. The one is painted, sweetened with perfumes, dressed in finery, and denies her involvement in the unseemly business. The other is at least an honest syphilitic, track-marked degenerate whose record on television and in his business dealings make plain his fealty to Mammon.

Both are monsters. But only one has a curriculum vitae as an agent of the state…

Of course, fear comes in a lot of shades and colors. Sure, I’m afraid of a 6’6″ MMA fighter. I’m also afraid of a demented 3-year-old sloshing a can of gasoline around my house while holding a cigarette lighter. I rather think that Trump inspires the latter type of fear much more than the former.

I am skeptical, given everything that we know about Trump, that he actually has the potential to be either the change agent or the catalyst for revolution that his supporters believe. Trump is showman who makes his living as a crony capitalist. But Trump’s record is singularly unimportant this year. However, I am not skeptical that this line of reasoning will appeal to a broad swath of the hard left. Voting for Trump is the ultimate exercise in “sticking it to the man.” He wasn’t wanted by the GOP powerbrokers and he is loathed by the Democrat elite. He has the wealth and social status that the anarcho-left admires and toadies to. And the left has shown since the days of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that it is willing to make a temporary alliance with anyone or anything to further the cause.

Trump’s appeal may not be healthy, but it is very real. Trump has become a Rashomon vignette, a Rorschach test, an empty vessel for everyone who is very, very angry with the status quo and that may be all it takes to put him in the White House.