National Commentary

Time for Democrats to Pivot to the General Election


This is a very sad day for those of us who are Bernie Sanders supporters. It is a morning of mourning – and a time of grave disappointment, and for some, disillusionment. For those who worked the phone banks, knocked on doors, donated money, and had countless conversations to persuade friends and neighbors to support Sanders – today is akin to a nasty hangover. That is exactly how I feel. Losing is never fun, with the punctured balloon of hope and the pain of unrealized expectations.

Bernie Sanders’ revolution is not over. But his hopes of becoming our next president are slipping away. In a critical primary in the Big Apple, his campaign turned in a lemon. Sanders lost by 16 points and more than 285,000 votes. Barring a miracle next week in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware, Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee and hopefully the next president of the United States of America.

Had Sanders won New York or come close to winning, he would have had the momentum to possibly score a major upset in these eastern states. However, his crushing loss in New York gives his opponent the momentum going into Bernie’s last stand.

Sanders’ visionary campaign has been nothing short of remarkable. It has been an inspiration to me and millions of Americans. It has awakened passions, reignited hope, and given young voters a stake in their future. Sanders has energized and, more importantly, mobilized the progressive base. The revolution he started is real and it is in motion.

Unfortunately, like Moses, it appears that he won’t be the one to bring us to the Promised Land. But there can be no doubt that he has moved the Democratic Party in a decidedly progressive direction and inspired future presidents who share his mission.

What Sanders has accomplished is extraordinary. As his campaign pointed out in an e-mail last night:

“When we started this campaign, we were down almost 50 points in New York – the state where Hillary Clinton was elected to two terms in the U.S. Senate.”

In this context only losing by 16 points is a major feat. Unfortunately, it is one that will not get you into the Oval Office. This is difficult to take, because with more time, perhaps Sanders could have pulled it off. At her peak, Clinton led nationally by 31-points. A new NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll shows that Clinton now only leads Sanders 50 to 48 percent.

Sanders is like a football team that has a bad first quarter and gets behind by 30 points. Then, against all odds, stages a furious comeback and gets in position to win the game. But, alas, it is the fourth quarter and time is running out. If there were only five quarters – you might be able to win! But, in realty, there are only four quarters. And the clock is approaching the zero hour.

Next week’s vote is a hail Mary pass and unless the unthinkable happens – for the Sanders campaign the game is over. I understand that my fellow Sanders supporters don’t want to hear this. We don’t want the journey to end. But we must face reality and turn towards the future.

Hillary Clinton is my second choice. But a Republican in the White House is an unthinkable choice. If Sanders does not come back from the dead next week, it is time to do what’s right for this country and pivot towards the general election. It is critically important that a Democrat is in the White House and Hillary Clinton will likely be that Democrat. It is crucial that she remains viable and that we unite behind her.

Divided we may fall. And when I say fall, I mean into an abyss. Donald Trump, or worse, Ted Cruz will cast a pall upon our nation and usher us into a new Dark Age of poison and peril. They will destroy everything we love and hold dear. They will mock progressive values and portray us as a threat to the nation. These Neanderthals will roll back civil rights, enshrine money politics where corporations are people, divide Americans by race, sexual orientation, and ethnicity, and put us on a path to climate change destruction. It is time to begin construction of a political wall to keep Donald Trump out of the White House or he will build a wall on our southern border.

Those who say there is no difference between Hillary Clinton and what the republicans offer are delusional. Their judgment is clouded and they are letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. It is the same argument that we heard when people said there was no difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush. There are very few people who still agree with that sentiment.

As Bernie Sanders says, “enough is enough.” It’s time to pivot to the general election and put a Democrat in the White House.


Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”