The Spoiler Myth: Clinton Has More Problems Than Jill Stein and the Bernie or Busters


Now that Hillary Clinton has wrapped up the Democratic Presidential nomination with the endorsement of Bernie Sanders, her supporters have transitioned to denigrating progressives who affirm they are “Bernie or Bust” by supporting Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein over Clinton. Senator Sanders has affirmed the importance of continuing the political revolution, and many of his supporters are choosing to do that outside of the Democratic Party.

Critics against Stein cite Ralph Nader and his running mate, Native American activist Winona LaDuke, as the spoilers of the 2000 election, in which he received over 90,000 votes in Florida, the state Gore lost by just over 500 votes. Had Gore won Florida, he would have won the general election, but those who smear Nader as a spoiler are ignoring other contributing factors to that election. Bill Clinton’s impeachment in December 1998 inspired helped inspire over 300,000registered Democrats in Florida to vote for Bush in the general election. According to Florida exit polls, only a small percentage of Nader supporters would have voted for Gore instead of Bush, with most citing they wouldn’t have voted at all. The Supreme Court ruled, controversially, to halt the recount in Florida. A study conducted by the Progressive Review in 2002 analyzed whether Al Gore’s polling prior to the general election inversely changed with Ralph Nader’s and no correlation was found. Voter turnout in Florida for the general election in 2000 was 70 percent, according to the Florida Division of Elections, a few percentage points lower than each general election Florida since then. Across the country in 2000, more than 100 million eligible voters didn’t cast a ballot.

The term ‘spoiler’ is now being applied to Jill Stein by Democrats to emotionally blackmail any Bernie Sanderssupporters entertaining supporting Stein over Clinton. What these criticisms conveniently omit is Libertarian CandidateGary Johnson is polling on average around 7 points with Stein averaging around 2.8 points, yet polling averages that include only TrumpClinton, and Johnson are averaging with Trump winning at 0.2 points and averaging at a tie with four way polls including Stein. If a third party candidate is truly a spoiler, polls should be indicating a greater inverse correlation benefiting Hillary Clinton when Libertarian Candidate Gary Johnson is included in polls, but it doesn’t.

Instead of scapegoating Bernie Sanders supporters refusing to fall in line behind Hillary Clinton as the reason for the current polls of this election showing a close general election, the Democratic Party needs to enact reforms which would alleviate the factors that make Hillary Clinton such an unappealing presidential candidate.

The efforts of the DNC and Clinton Campaign to discredit Bernie Sanders have disenfranchised a number of voters from the, who view it as a party overrun by corporate and wealthy influences. The recent WikiLeaks release and leaks from hackerGuccifer 2.0, provide some insight into how the Democratic Party establishment, through the DNC, undermined Bernie Sanders and democracy by tipping the scales in favor of Clinton. The Democratic National Convention this year was privately funded for the first time, according to the New Republic, and the convention’s host committee refuses to disclose the names of corporate donors in defiance of a court order. The Clintons have led the way in this transformation of the Democratic Party into a corporate oligarchy. NAFTAwelfare reformthe 1994 crime bill, and deregulation of the financial industry under Bill Clinton’s administration hurt working and middle class Americans while serving the interests of the country’s wealthiest and largest corporations.

Instead of learning from these past mistakes, Hillary Clinton appears eager to repeat them in her own presidency. Her selection of Tim Kaine as her VP was viewed as a slight towards progressives due to his stances in favor of the TPPand Wall Street. Clinton’s decision to hire DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz as soon as she resigned from theDNC in the wake of the WikiLeaks revelations of DNC corruption demonstrated Clinton is more intent to preserve the status quo than reform it.

Bernie Sanders’ campaign illuminated the numerous ways Democrats have let down their own progressive base over the past few decades. While his endorsement of Clinton is a result of his belief his political revolution would be better served under Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump, but many voters already let down by President Obama and other Democrats will refuse to give Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party the benefit of the doubt again.

As Nelson Mandela said, “may your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” The only qualification Hillary Clintonoffers many voters is the fear of Donald Trump. Without the hope of a better future in either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, it should be no wonder to the Democratic Party establishment or their elite mainstream media counterparts that voters are looking elsewhere in a presidential candidate, or else have completely lost interest in participating. Barack Obama was elected due to his ability to offer hope to voters.

Hillary Clinton has not done that. Instead of attempting to do so by catering more to the progressive base of Bernie Sanders supporters, she has dismissed them and focused her campaign on using the fear of Donald Trump to get elected. This tactic may allow her to manage winning the presidency, but for the Democratic Party in the long term it is a course which will likely result in further losses in congress and state legislatures across the country that they have suffered through the Obama Administration.

Michael Sainato’s writing has appeared in the Guardian, Miami Herald, Baltimore Sun, Denver Post, Buffalo News, the Hill, Alternet, and several other publications . Follow him on twitter: @MSainat1