Saturday, March 28, 2020

BTRTN: Will Business Leaders Follow Donald Trump… or de facto President Andrew Cuomo?


News outlets are beginning to overtly question the wisdom of broadcasting Donald Trump’s daily press briefings, as the accuracy of information and the medical wisdom of Trump’s commentary can be seriously eroding public safety. Want the facts? Tune into the guy who is actually behaving like a President of the United States should.  
 

The story of the hour is Donald Trump’s contention that he wants American business to “re-open” by Easter. The imagery of a sudden and miraculous rising is no doubt appealing to Trump right about now, but the last person to actually pull something like that off was the son of God, for chrissake.

The idea is that the “at-risk” population would remain in some form of isolation or self-quarantine, but that the majority of Americans would be expected to return to their jobs. Yep, start swiping those MetroCards and getting within six inches of that wheezing millennial on the 86th Street crosstown bus, folks. You can’t just act like some sheltering-in-place wimp when the DJIA is still 20% off its peak.

This concept – like just about everything Donald Trump sneezes on – is acutely polarizing. The very fact that rates of infection in some U.S. hotspots show signs of slowing is heralded by scientists as evidence that the “lockdown” of people in their homes is working. Those same trends embolden Trump to feel that his “fantastic team” has completed their “amazing” work and that now it is time to get back to business. Why, Trump crows, there are parts of this country that haven’t felt the slightest impact from the global pandemic.  We are left to guess that he is referring to the East Wing of the White House.

It’s fair to say that most Democrats – who polling shows are overwhelming trusting the scientists rather than the President– will urge that the social isolation continue until the rate of contagion has reached an “acceptable” level. Today, U.S. cases are growing by 20-25% per day. China and South Korea loosened restrictions when they achieved 1% growth per day. The United States is far, far, far from achieving that rate.
  
Trump, egged on by The Wall Street Journal and major figures in finance, is now floating the notion that the “cure is worse than the disease,” and has even speculated that the death toll caused by economic carnage might actually exceed the number of fatalities that would result from the virus itself. The only tangible support he offered for this assertion was a mention of suicides, which he floated while waving his arms with that signature gesture that indicates he is making shit up as he goes along. 
 
The nightly drama on television screens across America is yet one more example of the polarization of the portrayal of reality itself. 

Trump is clearing enjoying his nightly performance from the White House press room, as he plays the role of someone who appears to be in charge of a comprehensively successful war against a mild cold. His act is a sort of helter-skelter in place, as he dumps the questions he cannot understand off to Mike Pence and others, while personally seizing any opportunity to take credit for the actions of others and to insult the media. He cannot say enough about what a great job he is doing, appearing to believe that no one could have possibly known that a global pandemic could happen. Lacking any command of detail, he says that the number of ventilators the Federal government will supply is "a very big number." He announces that we already have all the testing kits and ventilators we will ever need -- soon we will even extras for Italy and Spain! Not a briefing goes by when he does not mention that he inherited a terrible situation from the Obama administration, a point easily disputed by simply reviewing the 44th President's handling of the Ebola crisis, and the pandemic planning infrastructure that was dismantled by Trump himself. Trump drops in sidebars that offer different perspectives from those of the doctors, citing his own very optimistic “hunches” and “instincts” as reason to believe that a vaccine for a different disease might be effective in fighting COVID-19.

In the other corner, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has eclipsed Joe Biden and every other Democrat to become the voice of reality, speaking surely and candidly with empathy and resolve, citing actual statistics and all their worrying implications. Cuomo has filled the aching void, acting as chief advocate for facts, science, and for listening to the medical community. It is unmistakable: in his command of fact, calm yet earnest and urgent manner, and constant visible presence, Andrew Cuomo is embodying the behaviors that Americans have come to expect from their President in a time of crisis. Where Trump stands stiffly in suit and tie behind a lectern, largely reading from a prepared text, and bloviating in generalities, Cuomo speaks extemporaneously in casual attire in a command center, exuding hands-on involvement.

Consider this gem of a quote from his press conference yesterday afternoon:

"I hope New York doesn’t ultimately need 30,000 ventilators. But I don't operate on opinion and hope. I operate on facts and data and science. All the projections say we will need 30,000-40,000 ventilators. So that is what we will strive to have."
  
Contrast this poised commentary with Trump on the exact same topic. Just hours later in his White House briefing, Donald Trump offhandedly dismissed Cuomo's assessment, declaring that there is a "great chance" that New York will not need the quantity Cuomo has alleged. "The New York City estimate is high," Trump asserts, apparently citing, well... opinion and hope.

The chasm in leadership style is in starkest relief on the matter of taking responsibility. Trump, questioned about the problems that led to inadequate early testing, blabbered that he “took no responsibility at all.” Cuomo, upon making the decision to order the closing of all non-essential business in the state, was blunt. “If someone wants to blame somebody, blame me. There is no one else responsible for this decision.”

Here’s the question of the day: when time comes for Americans and American corporations to respond to Donald Trump’s demand that workers return to work, who will they listen to? 

First, let’s be clear on one thing: if Donald Trump wants America to go back to work the day after Easter, he is going to need New York City, the financial capital of the country and indeed the world, to fall in line. 

Somewhat oddly, in New York City, that means Andrew Cuomo. Bill de Blasio – who only months ago felt that his performance as Mayor of New York warranted a shot at the White House – has faded into a secondary role far in the shadow of New York’s triple-Alpha-rated governor. Where Donald Trump has decided to take on the role of champion of a healthy economy, Andrew Cuomo has clearly staked out the position that the health of the people takes priority. It is not that Cuomo is unconcerned about the economy. Rather, he believes that the health and safety of the population is the only long-term path to a resurgent economy. 

Thus, the makings of an epic confrontation. 

The bet has to be that Trump backs down, lest he watch as New York and its global financial institutions ignore his directive and follow the policies of Governor Cuomo.  Were Trump to attempt to force a confrontation with Cuomo on the Easter deadline, the loss of face that would result would effectively position Cuomo as the de facto President of the United States. 

This is not a tricky decision for the C.E.O.s of major corporations headquartered in New York. The cultures of America’s Fortune 500 companies are first and foremost based on data-driven metrics about productivity, profitability, performance, operational excellence, and even more subjective measures of workforce satisfaction. Rare is the mid-level manager whose Powerpoint recommendation has as its rationale “well, it’s my gut feeling,” or, “I think the company should just go with my intuition on this one.”

New York’s financial institutions certainly want a resurgent Dow Jones Industrial Average and have obviously applauded the bipartisan stimulus package. 

But they are also some of the biggest employers in the region. J.P. Morgan Chase, for example, employs 37,000 people in the New York area. The number-crunchers and quant-jocks at J.P. Morgan Chase understand things like “flattening curves” and “contagion,” and know that sending their entire work force back into New York’s subways prematurely would likely create a mini-Wuhan inside their own office towers, crippling the company’s operations for months. 

New York’s major financial entities are simply not going to wake up on Easter, sing “Welcome Happy Morning,” and issue an all-staff email saying “hey, Donald Trump says its fine for you all to come back to work!”

In fact, the first message that banks might have for Donald Trump is this: “Mr. President, do you really think our people are not working right now??” As we speak, most of those workers are sitting at home, glued to a computer screen and tethered to headphones, trying their damndest to do their jobs, laboring to figure out how to accomplish vital tasks remotely. For these people, “sheltering-in-place” means running around after a two-year-old whose daycare is closed while re-writing suddenly moot business plans on a iPhone with a 5g connection. A sector heads addressing a dozen employees on a ZOOM call barely notices when her nine-year-old wanders into camera range. 

And the companies that employ them? Many top tier financial firms just laid out a bundle of money in technology to make sure that their executives could operate seamlessly from the den. Huge terminals were shipped by UPS to suburban homes and Upper East Side apartments. These companies no doubt view the coronavirus as a test bed for an inevitable long-term shift toward increasingly virtual workplaces, and would much rather prolong that experimentation than risk widespread illness in their own organizations. 

In the next few days, major CEOs will huddle with New York Governor Cuomo and guess what they will do? They will look at the numbers.

They will see that sheltering-in-place is working to blunt the impact of the virus, but the work is not yet done. 

They will see declines in the acceleration of infection rates, but not a reduction in the number of cases. 

They will see that demand for medical services still far exceeds supply. 

And they will reach the only conclusion that scientists – and those who listen to them – can  draw: Continue sheltering in place. Continue working remotely. Continue the plan that is working, until there is concrete evidence that it is safe to remove the “shelter-in-place” restrictions. 

They will defy Trump.

No, maybe not openly. Not with a big flash of defiance. Andrew Cuomo is too smart for that. He knows that Trump still controls the flow of Federal resources to New York City, and has been so craven in the past as to use his power to punish Blue states and the politicians who run them. Just last night Trump berated the governors of Michigan and Washington for not being sufficiently "appreciative" of Federal efforts. The clear quid pro quo: if you want me to turn on the spigot of Federal relief for your state, you better tell CNN that you think I am doing a great job.

Cuomo is shrewd, and he will make a PR point of pretending that everyone is on the same team.

But New York City will become the capital of United Science of America, and Andrew Cuomo will be its de facto President. 

He will explain that to order New York city’s workforce back pre-maturely will only ensure that a hefty percentage of those people become infected, and will in turn infect other employees, their families, and other New Yorkers they encounter en route.

He will not take that risk. And, by the way, Donald, he won’t take that risk with the health of New York City businesses, either. 

Which may well change the nature of the polarization in the United States.

Scientific America – yes, generally blue states, but much more importantly, urban centers, will suck it in and follow scientific protocols. These areas – the toughest to police and the hardest places to enforce social distancing – will face a long battle to contain the virus, but if they stay the course, they will ultimately achieve the types of contagion percentages we now see in South Korea and China.

But what about the great swath of America that continues to listen to Donald Trump? Some take the position that Trump’s America – Republican, Red State, rural, and geographically dispersed – has natural protection from a virus that thrives from population density. There is also significant data that shows that Republicans are far more likely to trust Donald Trump on the pandemic than doctors or local government. The Governors of those states will suck up to Trump, and will giddily second Trump's assertion that it is safe to go back to work. Lemmings en route to the cliff, these people will return to work en masse just as the conoravirus is making its way out of urban centers and into the heartland of America.

And yes, they will become sick. 

Slowly, surely, in the workplaces and the Wal-Marts, the bowling alleys, bars, and ballgames where people in Trump America are again allowed – indeed, encouraged -- to congregate, the virus will spread. Yes, there is less population density in rural America, but there are also wafer-thin healthcare and hospital services. The carnage to human life could be catastrophic.

These are the people who could and should be listening and learning now from the experiences in Seattle, New York, and San Francisco, and in preparing, could be dramatically reducing the impact of the virus. 

Are they? Or are they listening to Trump, reassured that his team has really got this thing solved. Nothing to worry about. President Trump wants me to go back to work? Count me in!

It is sadly all too easy to paint this scenario, all too easy to see how Trump’s core supporters will pay a very steep price indeed for their own ignorance, allegiance to state-run television news, and unwavering trust in a lazy, self-worshipping man who is more inclined to go with his hunches and his gut than with the hard work of science.

Me? I am listening to the de facto President of the United States of America… Andrew Cuomo.



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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

BTRTN: Missing the Point... You Are Not Staying Home For Yourself, But For Everyone Else


Here’s a post you can forward to the people in your community who don’t get it, and are therefore putting everyone else at risk. 


We saw the video of the fools on South Beach. We gaped slack-jawed at the yawning stupidity of inebriated spring-breakers and the government that waited too long to shut it down. Wow, “they” are soooooo stupid, we all moaned. 

And then there is the less flagrant but equally dangerous South Beach right on your cul-de-sac. 

There’s that super-social couple who insisted on hosting a “safe” dinner party on Friday night, “safe” because no one had any symptoms, “safe” because it was out on the deck, and “safe” because all of the couples would remain six feet apart. There, they regaled each other with clever banter about all this corona hoopla, making light of husbands and wives now tripping over each other in confined spaces,  and as the evening wore on and the wine flowed, the group grew closer together – perhaps emotionally, but the point being physically -- as they shared their fears, their frustrations... and more alcohol. 

More neighborhood South Beach? A strong willed 87-year-old widow calls her son from her retirement home and recounts a litany of partially-understood cable news sound bytes that leave her terrified. She announces that she needs to come home and visit her family for the weekend. “I don’t care!” she barks. “I would rather have a few days at my own home and die as a result than live cooped up in that retirement community!” Her son, himself coping with the stress of running a struggling business in a pandemic, seeks peace through placation, relents, allowing her to come visit. After spending two days in the company of her son, her daughter-in-law, and two millennial grandchildren, the 87-year-old returns to the retirement community, unknowingly importing an invisible panoply of vicious microbes acquired from her seemingly healthy grandson into an extremely vulnerable community of octogenarians.

City South Beach? A group of thirty-somethings on the Upper East Side feel an urgent need to get out of their apartment, so they head out for a run on their familiar route on the path along the East River. They encounter friends and stop to chat. Soon, the narrow path is clogged as other runners and walkers struggle to get past the knot of people huddled in conversation. No one is at a safe social distance. One lone jogger’s noxious exhale at the exact wrong moment infects seven people. 

While many people have full religion on social distancing, there are too many people who are either not listening, or not getting the point. These are often people who fashion themselves as the rugged individualists who will face down the risk of exposure in order to maintain the semblance of a normal life. They are defiant in the face of a pandemic, and revel in the notion that they are gutsy enough to take the risk of being infected because it is so important to them to continue to live life fully. Some even strike a smug pose, implying that those who retreat to their homes are all too easily frightened.  

First, let’s be clear about what “brave” in the face of a pandemic truly is:

“Brave” is the medical worker who carries on, even as her years of education make her profoundly aware of the risks she is taking to honor the oath she made. 

“Brave” is the cashier at the Stop & Shop who is breathed upon fifty times in an hour so that we can stock up on toilet paper. 

“Brave” is the young couple who stay inside with small children, telecommuting to demanding jobs without the benefit of childcare. 

“Brave” is the young person who provisioned his apartment for a long stay because he listened to what local government and health officials told him to do.

“Brave” is the local government official who is compensating for the ignorance and incompetence of our Federal government by working twenty hours a day, fighting an uphill battle against “rugged individualists” who insist on traveling about town on unnecessary junkets to social visits with friends or simply to alleviate the tedium.

Hey, neighbor, may I explain something to you?

Yes, you are being reckless about your own exposure to this virus. But you are completely and totally missing the point of this lockdown.

The purpose of staying home is not simply to help you avoid contracting the virus. It is to prevent people who are carrying the virus to move freely in society, spreading it unknowingly to the medical workers, Stop & Shop cashiers, and local government officials upon whom we so dearly depend.

If you decide to sneak away on a non-essential dash to share a rosé with the girls and actually do encounter the virus, it will begin replicating in your body. You will begin shedding it across every surface, sneezing it across every shopping aisle, and spreading it to every person you encounter for a two to eleven day period before the first symptom of your own contagion appears… if, indeed, it ever does. As the victims of your contagion unwittingly travel through the population, hundreds of people may acquire the coronavirus before you feel the slightest bit ill. 

Neighbor, I am pleading with you – begging you -- to stay home save for absolutely essential trips. But –full disclosure – I cannot honestly say that I am all that concerned about you. I am desperately concerned that you, for lack of understanding, are unintentionally fanning the flames of pandemic, which risks completely overwhelming our healthcare system and dramatically increasing the impact that the coronavirus will have on our society. 

Your “safe” dinner party? One of the guests may have a son who decided to sneak out earlier that afternoon to visit his buddies, one of whom may have been at a party the previous night with a bunch of kids who are all home from college, and one of the kids at that party may have taken a flight home from spring break on South Beach. 

That guest, late in the evening, may have brushed up against another of your guests, who may have gone to the Stop & Shop the next morning, where they bought toilet paper by inserting their bank card into a reader. The next person to put their card in that reader? Perhaps it is the wife of the chief resident at the local hospital. The next person after that? A UPS driver on a break who will make stops at 47 residences and businesses in the next four hours, handling hundreds of packages. Then, the son of a cranky 87-year-old woman in a retirement community. Finally, the wife of the super-stressed out head of emergency management in your town. 

Please stop thinking that staying home is optional.  Unless you are making a vital contribution to the incredibly delicate ecosystem that must hold our society together, “brave” is staying home. Putting up with tedium, worry, and distance. 

You know that old saying… “Lead, follow, or get out of the way?” This is the unusual instance when the right answer – the brave answer -- is actually to get out of the way.

Get a hobby that you can do in your garage. Take piano lessons online. Read a book of poetry. Call your sister. Finally digitize those photographs and CDs. Clean out the attic.

Share an article you read online about the thoughtlessness of people who are behaving as carelessly as you used to. 

Think of it this way: if we all stay home now for a good solid chunk of time – a month, maybe two, who knows? – the sooner life will actually return to normal. Stay at home now so you can get back to being your good old, self-centered self as soon as possible. 

To all who are playing by the rules, sharing a common mission, and doing your part for the greater good, thank you… forward this on to those who do not yet understand. Tell them you are spreading some anti-viral marketing.

Tell them to stay home. 

If they won’t do it to protect themselves, ask them to do it for an even bigger reason.

Everyone else.


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Friday, March 20, 2020

BTRTN: Thanks, Bernie! Dems Owe Gratitude When You Bow Out. (Uh, You Are Going to Bow Out, Right?)


“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – George Bernard Shaw


There’s a whole bunch of new things trending out there.

There's the “Covid 15,” a variation on the “freshman 15,” referring to the weight people are gaining now that they are working from home, easily distracted by an overstocked refrigerator, and diving into their Quarantinis at the stroke of 5:00.

There is “virtual social distancing,” which is the license to shun Instagram posts from people who --  even in these times of sobriety and caution -- insist on visually conveying that their lockdown is more fun than yours.

Here’s the key one for today’s post: the gaping chunks in my calendar that are now called “Executive Corona.” I’m unable to go to the gym, can’t meet my Class of ’75 buddies for lunch, haven’t been able to rehearse with my band, so now I have more spare time than a back-up quarterback on the Kansas City Chiefs. The huge empty blocks in my calendar resemble Donald Trump's “Executive Time” -- code for the long, empty hours he spends watching Fox and Friends. 

Eager to fill one such lull, I went through the archives of Born To Run the Numbers essays on a hunch that was quickly borne out. Question: with the exception of The Big Orange Gas Bag himself, guess who is the single individual I have written more about than anyone? 

Yep. It is Bernie Sanders.

Why would that be? Well, we’ve covered the last two election cycles in depth, and that means that I wrote about Bernie’s performance in nine debates with Hillary Clinton in 2016, and another eleven in 2020. Add in routine articles on Democratic politics, and that’s over a hundred single-spaced pages of feeling the Bern.

That’s a lot of electrons to devote to any single person, and I feel that I have come to know – and appreciate – Bernie very well. 

As I write this piece, Bernie Sanders has not yet withdrawn from the Democratic race for President. He should, for about a dozen serious reasons. We’ll come back to that.
    
For now, I want to take a moment to thank Bernie for the enormous contributions he has made to Democratic Party politics over the past five years. 

All centrist Democrats might want to pause and consider doing the same. 

I know: there is a lot of bad blood still coagulated from 2016, and many people are angry that Bernie has not already quit in 2020, given the staggering delegate lead now held by Joe Biden. Many moderate Democrats have grown resentful of what they perceive as the “my way or the highway” attitude of Bernie advocates, and are stunned by the possibility that Bernie supporters might actually not vote at all in 2020 rather than support a Centrist like Joe Biden.

Oh, it’s true all right. Here at BTRTN, our articles circulate out in the blogosphere, so we get far more feedback on our work than you see in the “comments” section on our own site. Our most recent post was entitled “BTRTN Debate Analysis: Bernie Gives His Valedictory, and Biden Takes Command,” in which we observed that Joe Biden battled Bernie Sanders to a draw, which essentially reinforced his daunting lead in the primary race. What follows is a verbatim comment from a “sub-reddit” for a particular flavor of political junkies:

“biden was a joke yesterday. if the dnc chooses biden, im straight up not voting.” 

Sure, it is a sample of one, and it is not offered as having quantitative meaning. It is simply to say that this feeling exists, and every person who feels this way demonstrates the degree to which Bernie Sanders does not control the movement that he has started. Sure, Bernie will ultimately exhort his supporters to work for and vote for Joe Biden. But in this election, securing the support of Bernie voters is God’s work, and on this earth, God’s work must surely be our own. 

So for the sake of party unity, Centrists need to have an arm full of olive branches ready to extend to Bernie’s supporters, because convincing Bernie supporters to vote for and work for Joe Biden is now one of the best way to assure that Donald Trump loses in November. 

The next time you are in a conversation with an unyielding Bernie supporter, try a little sugar.

Tell your undoubtedly millennial pal that you want to thank Bernie for seven genuinely vital contributions to our political dialog and social awareness:

1.Thank Bernie for teaching us how to fund a fully competitive national Presidential campaign through grass roots funding. We must undo Citizens United through legislation. But until then, bad trends will continue: self-funded campaigns from billionaires, and well-qualified candidates forced to abandon campaigns for lack of the oxygen of cash. Bernie demonstrated how to succeed with integrity in this special-interest-infested soup.  

2. Thank him for being the most intense and vocal educator about the appalling income and wealth inequality in this nation. Let's hope Bernie’s vision ultimately becomes operationalized through some form of Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax. 

3. Give him a hug for creating a vibrant debate about how to solve the mess that is our healthcare system, and for correctly diagnosing that the insurance and pharmaceutical industries are more part of the problem than they are part of the solution.

4. Give him credit for this: he made a lonely vote against authorizing the war in Iraq, because he did not trust George Dubya Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld to be telling the American people the truth. On this one, Bernie Sanders was absolutely correct… and most leading Democrats -- including Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Ted Kennedy – were wrong.  

5. Thank him for his uncompromising intellectual honesty -- a rarity in politics. Bernie actually acknowledged that middle class taxes would go up under his “Medicare for All” plan. Elizabeth Warren’s obfuscating, ducking, and weaving on this exact question is what likely triggered her free fall from frontrunner to losing the primary in her home state. 

6. Acknowledge the man’s astonishing passion, commitment, and stamina. Remember, friends, that Bernie Sanders had a heart attack six months ago! If I had a heart attack, I would take a nice long rest, pause to contemplate my mortality, and change every behavior that caused undo stress. Not Bernie! At 78 years old, Bernie hurled himself back into the center of the arena during one of the most polarized, angry, intense political eras in our nation’s history. Can we all just thank him for his devotion to his causes?

7. Make sure you say that you hope Bernie is willing to serve in Joe Biden’s administration. My thought? That he serves our Ambassador to the United Nations. A perfect role for his oratorical passion, his principle, and his advocacy for human rights.

Ok, Boomer, that wasn't so hard, right? Initiate a nice conversation with your niece’s fiancé, and give Bernie his due. Find the common ground by starting on his side of Venn diagram.

However, there is one Bernie Baby Behavior that is not to be indulged. 

One of the most corrosive mythologies of the Bernie camp is that Sanders’ failure to capture the Democratic nomination is because he has been thwarted by the “Establishment” determined to thwart Bernie’s rightful destiny. The notion that things are “fixed” or “rigged” echo the worst of Trump.

No. The Democratic nomination process was played by the rules in both 2016 and 2020. The only cabal shaping the outcome were voting booths. The only rules governing the process were the ones voted on in advance by the Democratic Party. Perhaps if Bernie had wanted more influence over the rules, he should have joined the party.

Indeed, if there is one pointed irony in this, it is that Bernie himself flip-flopped on the issue of how the party should proceed in the event that no candidate achieved a majority of delegates on the opening ballot. The Bernie of 2016 said that the party should not nominate the candidate with a plurality. When the opposite stance was more politically advantageous in 2020, Bernie pulled a full-Romney.

And the Bernie supporters who cry that Bernie was beaten by an Establishment funded by billionaires and special interests need a serious dose of reality.  In the days leading up to the South Carolina primary, Joe Biden had been given up for burnt toast by whatever “Establishment” exists, as Centrists appeared to be hopelessly carved up among Buttigieg, Biden, Klobuchar, and Bloomberg. Biden had no organization, and spent no money at all in states that he would ultimately win. The idea that the Sanders campaign – lushly funded by its grassroots machine – was somehow unfairly the victim of billionaires and the Democratic establishment is impossible to square with the facts. 

Too, there lingers a myth that Bernie would have beaten Trump in 2016, because he was stronger in rust belt states like Wisconsin and Michigan. Get over it, folks. There is no knowing whether Trump would have pounded Bernie with the “socialist” label, terrifying heartland America, causing Bernie to lose every bit as disastrously. 

These are mythologies of victimization that should not be indulged. 

Which is not to undermine today’s core message of unity and empathy.

The next time you encounter some angry, unbending Bernie Babies, try some TLC. Tell them that you appreciate Bernie. You admire him. That we need him in order to beat Donald Trump. That we need everyone who supported Bernie to vote for Joe Biden. 

And let’s just all hope that Bernie acts soon. 

The delegate math is overwhelming. Readers of BTRTN know this. Bernie knows this.

If there is one thing that we learned from 2016, it was that continuing the endless string of one-on-one debates between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders exacerbated the anger between the two camps. Each debate became more acrid, more personal, more bitter, and more divisive. For Bernie Sanders to insist on more primaries means to insist on more debates, more invective, and more alienation. 

The sooner that Bernie drops out, the less internecine carnage occurs. The sooner the healing process begins. The more time Bernie has to re-orient his supporters toward the greater good of beating Trump. The more time we have to heal as a party and move forward in common purpose. 

The Corona virus adds yet one more painful reality to the urgent need for Bernie to stand down. Insisting on more primaries is to insist on more lines of voters violating every rule of social distancing. Canceling or delaying of primaries merely denies the party the certainty that one candidate has clearly prevailed. The only action that can definitively unite the party is if Bernie Sanders accepts the unequivocal mandate of the primaries to date, and recognizes that they clearly augur for what future primaries would have held. 

Bernie, we appreciate everything you have done. Everything. Sincerely. 

And this much is important to say: had everything been reversed, and you stood today where Biden is, and Biden in your shoes, I would be making the same argument that it was time to support you. We here at BTRTN have said it a thousand times: we will throw our full passion, energy, and effort behind whoever the Democratic nominee is, because defeating Donald Trump is the existential issue of our time.  

We know that you know that in your heart, and we know that you will do everything you can to help defeat Donald Trump, and emphatically, passionately inspiring your supporters to do the same.

Now, that means standing down, endorsing Joe Biden, and bringing your supporters to the political mission of our time.

You have made a career of striving to do the right thing, Bernie.

Don’t stop now. 



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