(March 5th, 2016)
This afternoon I attended the Kansas Democratic Caucus in favor of Bernie Sanders. An older couple from my Church, who have both been Democrats for many years, gave me a ride. The event was swamped by hundreds more people than anyone expected (far in excess of the safe capacity of the building). The Bernie Sanders supporters were more than double the Hillary Clinton supporters (he won 4 to 2 in our Caucus). People on the Bernie side were quite a diverse group. Many had driven an hour or more to get there. Many (if not most or almost all) were newly-joined Democrats. I was sitting next to one lady (a schoolteacher from Palco, Kansas) who was, up until recently, registered Republican. Several other people I talked to were Independents (until Bernie called them toward the Democratic Party), some of whom didn't normally vote at all. The Hillary supporters seemed rather shell-shocked by the flood of people and the enthusiasm coming from our side of the room.
On the way home afterward, the couple who gave me a ride asked me the question I'd been afraid they'd ask since I'd found out they were Hillary Clinton supporters. They wanted to know if I would vote for Hillary if Bernie didn't win the nomination. I had to admit to them (because I'm bound by my loyalty to honesty) that I almost certainly would not. They, of course, uttered the standard party line of "then you might as well vote Republican because they'll win". I responded that yes, the Republicans might very well win if Bernie doesn't get the nomination, and I added, "I guess, next time, the Democrats will pick a better candidate, won't they?". They were rather shocked. They didn't understand this.
There's something the Democrats just don't seem to get about Bernie Sanders' supporters. They aren't really Democrats. They have NO loyalty to the party whatsoever. Worse, many of them feel that Obama used their votes to get into office and then forgot about them. I would venture to say that a vast majority will not support Hillary Clinton. They see her as Obama 2.0, and they don't want to be thrown under the bus once again. Many Bernie supporters feel that Hillary is a pseudo-Republican. She's definitely anti-progressive, and that's the whole crux of the problem.
Bernie supporters really aren't Democrats. They aren't loyal party followers looking for their next candidate. They are the PROGRESSIVES! They've come to take over the Democratic Party. Bernie called them here. Now, he's either done the Democrats a great service by bringing this enormous influx of young people to the Democratic Party... or he has brought the proverbial Netflix to Blockbuster's doorstep. Progressives are tired of being in the wings or not voting at all. They want a voice! If the Democrats will give it to them, they will bring a flood of people, many of them younger. (Polls show that around 85% of people under 40 are Progressives.) However, there's a good possibility that the Democratic Party will turn to this flood of people and say, "You are welcome, but we don't want your candidate. We want you to vote for our candidate." In which case, those Progressives are not terribly likely to vote for Hillary Clinton, even if Bernie tells them to (which would likely only damage his standing with the Progressive movement). They really don't like her. They are openly hostile toward Hillary Clinton. There's a reason so many people keep posting ABTH online. It means "Anyone But Trump or Hillary".
What the Democrats don't seem to get is that Bernie supporters are loyal to the Progressive movement. Some of them are normally Democrats. Some of them are normally Republicans. Most of them are normally Independents. I would venture to say that a majority, if not a vast majority, are ONLY registered Democrats because they support Bernie Sanders. If the Democratic Party sends Bernie away, his voters likely will not stay. Many of them may vote Republican out of spite. Progressives are tired of being used and then silenced, which is all Hillary Clinton can offer them. If the Democratic Party picks Hillary Clinton, I think she'll have a very rough time getting elected, and the Democratic Party might shatter as a result. If they pick Bernie Sanders, they might lose some of the older Democrats whose views are more Republican than Progressive, but they'll gain a huge flood of Progressive voters. It's their choice, but the time to choose is rapidly drawing to a close.