Civil Rights Legend Switches Endorsement And Primary Vote From Sanders To Clinton

On Tuesday, Tom Hayden, one of leading dirty hippies that drove Republicans (and Democrats) completely insane in the 1960s wrote a lengthy editorial in The Nation to announce that he was dropping his support of Bernie Sanders and voting for Hillary Clinton in the California primary. While not sparing a critical eye towards Clinton, he explains that despite not being an angel, she has successfully worked within the system for almost 50 years to affect change. According to Hayden, she has the best chance to beat the Republicans and advance her agenda through both a hostile Congress and an unsure electorate.

Hayden actually agrees with most (all?) of Bernie’s end goals, as do many of Hillary’s supporters. We all want universal healthcare, more taxes on the rich, less guns on the street, equal pay for women and an end to income inequality, but where the problem comes is HOW to get there:

The populist clarity of Bernie’s proposals can be problematic, even for some of his supporters. For example, to simply reject Obamacare in the belief that “political revolution” will lead to a single-payer solution is simplistic.

Hayden is worried Bernie has done nothing to ensure he will have the political muscle to make his plans work. A one election revolution won’t cut it without “a Plan B, which requires at least two presidential terms and three more congressional elections.”

Take fracking for example. Hillary has been condemned for not calling for a total ban. But Hayden, a much more plugged in activist, is more impressed by Clinton’s long term goals and less so by Sanders’ absolutist stand:

But Hillary’s position goes beyond what virtually any state has done. The New York Times writes that she “has pledged to end subsidies to the fossil fuel industry to pay for her ambitious climate plan” and intends to install 500 million solar collectors in four years.

Meanwhile, Bernie’s total fracking ban leaves the question of how to do so unaddressed. His energy platform is comprehensive, but he offers no strategy to implement the Paris Summit in the short term.

And it’s not just Bernie’s policies that Hayden is concerned with. There’s also the question of his vulnerability as a candidate. Hayden, quite correctly, points out that Republicans have almost completely ignored Bernie:

My second worry about Bernie’s candidacy is that he has not really faced an all-out Republican-financed media assault in this entire campaign. If he’s the nominee, that will be merciless.

I’ve had this discussion a number of times with Bernie supporters who think that Republican attacks will roll right off. But Republicans managed to convince a significant portion of the country that the center-left Obama is actually a far-left Socialist bordering on Communist and that Obamacare was a “government takeover.” The right-wing media machine is a propaganda tool that would make the totalitarian government in George Orwell’s 1984 weep in pure jealously. By the end of the first month, Bernie would be labeled a Marxist. By the end of the second month, he would be the reincarnation of Stalin. And that would be among the nicer things they would say about him.

Just to be crystal clear, a certain number of Bernie supporters insist that Obama is a center-right Republican. Yet it is undeniable that he’s been successfully labeled a far-left radical by the right. How would Bernie be immune to this? There’s no clear answer.

Even worse, the automatic response from Bernie supporters is “They’ll do the same thing to Hillary!” as if that would change the character assassination to come. But even that answer is unhelpful because they’ve BEEN doing this to Hillary for longer than many of Bernie’s supporters have been alive. The Clintons are the most scrutinized politicians to ever live, bar none. There are literally no new scandals to dig (or make) up. The Corporate Media has been trying to claim her scalp since the 90s and the right has spent millions upon millions on opposition research with only rumor and innuendo to show for it.

What are they going to do? Hold some more Benghazi hearings? Good luck with that.

But the main reason Hayden says he’s supporting Hillary is that the black community is overwhelmingly supporting her:

I intend to vote for Hillary Clinton in the California primary for one fundamental reason. It has to do with race. My life since 1960 has been committed to the causes of African Americans, the Chicano movement, the labor movement, and freedom struggles in Vietnam, Cuba and Latin America.

What would cause me to turn my back on all those people who have shaped who I am? That would be a transgression on my personal code. I have been on too many freedom rides, too many marches, too many jail cells, and far too many gravesites to breach that trust.

Some of Bernie’s (overwhelmingly white) supporters have taken the not-so-subtly racist attitude that the black community doesn’t know any better. But Hayden correctly points out that Bernie himself made the choice not to appeal to them:

Bernie’s campaign has had all the money in the world to invest in inner city organizing, starting 18 months ago. He chose to invest resources instead in white-majority regions at the expense of the Deep South and urban North.

Blaming black people for not supporting Bernie when Bernie deliberately chose to focus his energy elsewhere is a deeply problematic attitude and a shirking of responsibility.

There’s (a lot) more and Hayden does not pull punches with either candidate, but his overall message is clear: Vote for whatever candidate you want in the primary, but at the end of the day, stopping the Republicans is more important than hero worship. If you want real change, you have to do more than vote in presidential elections, sit back and wait for it to come.


Featured image via Getty