Ever since election night—when Hillary Clinton tanked and Donald Trump became the next leader of the free world—the most prominent allies and alumni of Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign have maintained a succinct message for Team Hillary: We. Told. You. So.
In the final months of the brutal and chaotic 2016 campaign, there were plenty of Democratic activists freaking out about Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania (the three states that ultimately cost the Democrats the White House) and Clinton’s fatal shortcomings there. Many of them were envoys of the Sanders camp who wanted to help fix those problems, including Clinton’s difficulties with the block of the mythical “white-working-class,” economically anxious voters who Sanders had championed during the primaries.
“They fucking ignored us on all these [three] battleground states [while] we were sounding the alarm for months,” Nomiki Konst, a progressive activist and former Sanders surrogate who served on the 2016 Democratic National Committee platform committee, told The Daily Beast. “We kept saying to each other like, ‘What the fuck, why are they just blowing us off? They need these voters more than anybody.’”
According to Konst and multiple other people involved with these discussions, the Clinton campaign agreed to a meeting with a cadre of Sanders surrogates during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in July. The purpose of the meeting, which included Clinton’s national political director Amanda Rentería and Team Hillary’s progressive outreach coordinator (and former Sanders senior aide) Nick Carter, was to address the concerns many Sanders camp alums were voicing about Clinton’s strategy going into the general election against Trump. Carter declined to comment on this story.
“Once we were at the convention, Bernie people were on the ground—we could feel it, people were pissed off, there with their pitchforks ready to fight,” Konst recalled. “But before the convention, after the platform committee meeting that I was on, Bernie surrogates were talking constantly, saying, ‘Oh my god, Hillary is going to lose if she doesn’t address TPP and [free] trade and [all these] other issues. We were looking at the polling and thought that if these people stay home, she’ll lose.”
When their meeting finally happened during the Democratic convention, the progressive activists’ fears were only inflamed.
“We were saying we are offering our help—nobody wanted [President] Donald Trump,” Konst continued, noting that the “Bernie world” side was offering Clinton’s team their plans—strategy memos, lists of hardened state organizers, timelines, data, the works—to win over certain voters in areas she ultimately lost but where Sanders had won during the primary.
“We were painting them a dire picture, and I couldn’t help but think they literally looked like they had no idea what was going on here,” she continued. “I remember their faces, it was like they had never fucking heard this stuff before. It’s what we had been screaming for the past 9 months… It’s like [they] forgot the basics of Politics 101.”
It's weird, because back here in reality Bernie's message lost by 15 points in the primaries, and in November Bernie's favored candidates got their asses kicked. Russ Feingold lost in Wisconsin. Zephyr Teachout lost in New York. Katie McGinty lost in Pennsylvania and Ted Strickland was blown out in Ohio.
If Bernie's message of economic populism was so popular, why did Democrats running on that message lose?
Why did Bernie lose? Oh I know, the evil DNC rigged the election, right?
Nobody wanted President Trump. Except for the Midwest voters that voted for turning the country over to him and the GOP in the largest margins they've had in the federal government in generations.
So I guess we'll find out the hard way once the Bernie folks get rid of all us darker than a paper bag types, right?