Blood on His Hands: How Bernie Sanders Made Donald Trump President

For a long, long while, those of us who actually vetted Bernie Sanders from the Left had suspected that Bernie Sanders helped Donald Trump get elected president.

Here at TPV, for example, we pointed out that both Sanders and Trump appealed to a narrow demographic of 'white working class' voters (who we now know were motivated by the 'white' part in the last election rather than the 'working class' part) on the basis of xenophobia - Trump with his anti-immigrant boast and Sanders with a tradephobic message that singled out Latin American and Asian countries as the ones to be afraid of. Both Sanders and Trump failed - or more aptly did not care to - appeal to the broad, vast, diverse swath of America that came from all races, colors, creeds.

Both Trump and Sanders delved into violent imagery, although Trump much more directly so. Sanders did his part with invocation of 'revolution.' That revolution is seen by many Americans whose families come from Latin America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa as bloody, violent, and harmful was unseen by Sanders and his loudest supporters. To ignore that rhetoric is hardly better than right wingers claiming that confederate statues and flags are merely historical artifacts.

But until now, those of us who observed this phenomenon lacked hard numerical evidence of Sanders' culpability in Trump's ascent to the White House. We now have that evidence.

The 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Survey, a massive undertaking involving 50,000 poll-respondents, finds that fully 12% of Sanders voters in the Democratic primary switched their votes to Donald Trump in the general election. The most important factor that moved Sanders voters into Trump's court? Again unsurprisingly to critical and objective Sanders observers, that factor was a form of racism - the denial of white privilege.


Nearly half of Sanders voters who did not believe in the existence of white privilege voted for Donald Trump. Less than 5% of those voters voted for Hillary Clinton. Anyone still want to dispute that the election came down to a big portion of the white population feeling slighted by a white woman forcing them to confront institutional and personal racism?

The numbers are bone-chilling when it comes to the three crucial states that won the presidency for Donald Trump despite his trouncing in the popular vote. In Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, the Sanders-Trump vote were, in each case, more than enough to swing the results. Had even half of those voters in each case voted for Clinton, a president would not be delivering defense of Nazis today.


Numbers don't lie. Bernie Sanders and his campaign of dogmatism, fear and loathing gave Donald Trump the White House. There are no two ways about it.

Allow me to pre-empt certain rebuttals. The first of these is offered by NPR's reporting:

A more important caveat, perhaps, is that other statistics suggest that this level of "defection" isn't all that out of the ordinary. Believing that all those Sanders voters somehow should have been expected to not vote for Trump may be to misunderstand how primary voters behave.

For example, Schaffner tells NPR that around 12 percent of Republican primary voters (including 34 percent of Ohio Gov. John Kasich voters and 11 percent of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio voters) ended up voting for Clinton. 

Herein lies the most disturbing reaction of the media to these numbers: normalization of the Trump election and the Trump presidency. The so-called caveat offered by NPR's reporters applies to normal elections. That so many on the Left treated 2016 as merely a normal election was the precisely massive failure for both the political Left and the political media that we have tried to address. In 2016, as President Obama told us, the very core of our Republic was at stake; it wasn't merely about one policy or court appointments. Every person on the Left who even tries to justify this defection in the context of other, normal elections needs to have their moral compass checked.

The second rebuttal is that many of the Sanders voters weren't Democrats or Democratic-leaning voters to begin with; that they were liable to go back to the GOP if Sanders did not with the Democratic nomination. This line of reasoning is a farce. For one thing, this puts the lie to Sanders' claim that he brought new voters to the Democratic party. If the "new" voters abandon the principles and the party the moment he wasn't a candidate, that's a cult, not a movement. Were Sanders not seeking the Democratic nomination, he would not have been able to attract as much attention, tar Hillary Clinton with as much smears or rile as many people up. It would follow that had he not created that atmosphere, fewer "true believers" would try to burn down the house in the hopes for a magical phoenix to rise.

Bernie Sanders and his loudest backers have responsibility for Trump rising to power. They have blood on their hands.

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