Monday, October 31, 2016

Forgetting the Ladies

With the unlikely popularity of the musical Hamilton, I recently decided to re-watch the HBO miniseries “John Adams,” starring Paul Giamatti. My opinion of it remains unchanged.

Overall, it was pretty decent. The acting is great and the production values were superb. It seemed to be fairly well researched.(1) At least, for the most part - you can nitpick quite a bit. Some reviewers thought that Giamatti was not quite right for the part, but I disagree. His facial structure is admittedly a little different, but he so completely inhabited the character that you forget that. I thought his performance was spot-on.(2) Moreover, in hindsight, interesting analogs abound and this adds to the viewing experience.

My problem was with the series’ white-washing the protagonist. I am not the only critic on this issue. Sure, some ignoble moments are shown. John Adam’s ambition and vanity are certainly depicted – often to cuddly, semi-comic effect. His foolish and almost monarchist fondness for pomp and titles is accurately depicted. His suggestions that the President be addressed as “His Elective Majesty,” “His Mightiness,” or even “His Highness, the President of the United States of America, and Protector of the Rights of the Same" predictably invited ridicule. Of course, in retrospect, they were obviously correct to mock him. Marilyn Monroe singing "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" would have been far more awkward if we went with any of the more florid and grandiose titles that John Adams favored. And John Adams’ signing of the infamous Alien and Sedition Act (an obvious analog to George W. Bush’s Patriot Act)(3) isn’t quite defended but rendered understandable by sympathetically depicting him agonizing over it beforehand. 

But two important omissions really annoyed me.

The first concerns the Boston Massacre. John Adams was the defense attorney for the British soldiers who fired on the crowd. In the HBO series, his oratory is portrayed as a victory of judicial principle in which he gets his highly unpopular clients acquitted. Well, the historical record shows Adams employed a hefty element of race-baiting in his clients' defense as well:
We have entertained a great variety of phrases to avoid calling this sort of people a mob. Some call them shavers, some call them geniuses. The plain English is, gentlemen, most probably a motley rabble of saucy boys, Negroes and mulattoes, Irish teagues and outlandish jacktars.
This was basically the eighteenth century equivalent of calling the shooting victims “thugs,” which is the favorite default narrative of Fox News when cops shoot unarmed black men. Here we have another after-the-fact analog. This parallel is emphasized by the fact that the first victim, Crispus Attucks, was black. Attucks is accordingly recorded as the first casualty of the American Revolution. Needless to say, building sympathy for John Adams would have been pretty difficult if the script were more faithful to history – particularly since this incident was the centerpiece of the pilot episode.(4)

But more important for the miniseries as a whole is the omission of a famous exchange of letters between John Adams and his wife Abigail. I say “more important” because their relationship is the central thread of the series which accurately emphasizes both their egalitarian marriage and the immense amount of time they spent apart. For much of their marriage, these letters were the only way they could communicate and thanks to their frequent and lengthy separations historians have a very detailed record of their private lives and ideas. The series does indeed allude to the letters, but one particular exchange should have been used – the famous “Remember the Ladies” letters. While John Adams was working on the Declaration of Independence with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, his wife Abigail wrote him urging:
Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable (sic.) to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticular (sic.) care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation. That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of Master for the more tender and endearing one of friend.(5)
John wrote Abigail a rather patronizing response:
As to your extraordinary Code of Laws, I cannot but laugh. We have been told that our Struggle has loosened the bands of Government every where. That Children and Apprentices were disobedient – that schools and Colledges (sic.) were grown turbulent – that Indians had slighted their Guardians and Negroes grew insolent to their Masters. But your Letter was the first Intimation that another Tribe more numerous and powerful than all the rest were grown discontented. – This is rather too coarse a Compliment but you are so saucy, I won’t blot it out.
Most history textbooks stop at this point, if they bother with it at all. They treat it as a trivial incident - a human interest sidebar. By stopping here, the exchange comes across as playful flirting. If feminism is mentioned, it is isolated to Abigail Adams. But John and Abigail's letters to others make plain that they both took the issue quite seriously. To Mercy Otis Warren - another feminist woman - Abigail complained:
He is very sausy (sic.) to me in return for a List of Female Grievances which I transmitted to him. I think I will get you to join me in a petition to Congress. I thought it was very probable our wise Statesmen would erect a New Government and form a new code of Laws. I ventured to speak a word in behalf of our Sex, who are rather hardly dealt with by the Laws of England which gives such unlimitted (sic.) power to the Husband to use his wife Ill.
I requested that our Legislators would consider our case and as all Men of Delicacy and Sentiment are averse to Excercising (sic.) the power they possess, yet as there is a natural propensity in Humane Nature to domination, I thought the most generous plan was to put it out of the power of the Arbitrary and tyranick (sic.) to injure us with impunity by Establishing some Laws in our favour upon just and Liberal principals.
Obviously, Abigail was shocked by John's response. This may seem naïve, but she had cause to be shocked because they did indeed enjoy a very egalitarian and companionate marriage. And they were not the only ones: This is where marital relations were going in the Enlightenment. The status of women was rapidly climbing. Improving education for women was a major enterprise and divorce laws were liberalized.

And the Enlightenment was invoked in their arguments. As Mary Wollstonecraft wrote, “The divine right of husbands, like the divine right of kings, may, it is to be hoped, in this enlightened age, be contested without danger.” Judith Sargent-Murray was quite pleased to see that “in this younger world, ‘The Rights of Women’ begin to be understood.” In her “Observations on Female Abilities,” She wrote “I may be accused of enthusiasm, but such is my confidence in the SEX that I expect to see our young women forming a new era in female history” (emphasis original). She concluded by writing, “The idea of the incapacity of women, is, we conceive, in this enlightened age, totally inadmissible; and we have concluded, that establishing the expediency of admitting them to share the blessings of equality, will remove every obstacle to their advancement.”

In this optimistic atmosphere, Abigail Adams’s letter to John does not sound quite so solitary or quixotic.

Days later, John Adams took her words more seriously when writing to James Sullivan:
The same reasoning which will induce you to admit all men who have no property, to vote, with those who have, for those laws which affect the person, will prove that you ought to admit women and children; for generally speaking, women and children have as good judgments, and as independent minds as those men who are wholly destitute of property … Depend upon it, Sir, it is dangerous to open so fruitful a source of controversy and altercation a would be opened by attempting to alter the qualifications of voters; there will be no end of it. New claims will arise; women will demand a vote; lads from twelve to twenty-one will think their rights not enough attended to; and every man who has not a farthing, will demand an equal voice with any other, in all acts of state. It tends to confound and destroy all distinctions, and prostrate all ranks to the common level.(6)
My fear is that audiences might presume the series is modernizing the Adams’ marriage and thus dismiss it as unrealistic. But Abigail obviously thought John would be supportive because everything else about their marriage suggested he would be – everything about the times suggested he would be, hence her considering petitioning Congress. Women were making great strides during the Enlightenment. Unfortunately, the reactionary, religious backlash that followed reversed those gains. I detail this in my next book.

We now have two popular Broadway musical portrayals of the American Revolution’s most conservative figures - John Adams and Alexander Hamilton. Why don’t the era’s liberal figures get any? Certainly Jefferson’s participation in slavery disqualifies him, but what about Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine? They were also abolitionists who, unlike Hamilton, did not loathe the poor or disdain democracy. Indeed, Franklin and Paine were also early feminists. John Adams, who famously lamented that he would be forgotten by history, has been the subject of both a musical and an HBO miniseries. In both, Benjamin Franklin upstaged him and every other founding father. How is it possible that Franklin does not have a musical or miniseries made about him? He was, hands-down, our most interesting founding father. Nothing against the excellent actors who portrayed John Adams in 1776 and the HBO series, but Franklin the character easily upstages everyone in every scene because he is Benjamin-Fucking-Franklin.(7) 

So, somebody option Leo LeMay’s books for a miniseries already. Come on folks, this is Benjamin Franklin we are talking about here. You are leaving money on the table.

I suggest Paul Giamatti for the part.

_____________

(1) I’m not quite sure why HBO's Benjamin Franklin talked like a Boston cop in a 1930s movie. Franklin’s ancestry was English and his family had already been in America for two generations. Yes, Franklin was raised in Boston before he made his home in Philadelphia, so you could argue that he picked up an Irish accent growing up. But I am pretty sure significant Irish immigration to Boston did not hit until the early 1800s. In the 1700s, the city was still a Protestant stronghold - the de facto capital of Puritan New England. Perhaps no distinct American accent existed yet, but I doubt that. Constant immigration from the British Isles might have kept old accents fresh, but most of the American colonies were already over a century old by that point and speech patterns can morph quickly. (The era’s short life expectancy can accelerate this.) Also, in the 1700s, you already had Dutch, German, and French influences on American speech – and African ones in the South. Compare this with Australia, a younger colony without these added elements. They also had constant immigration from the British Isles, yet they still developed a distinct accent. But, hey, I’m not a linguistic historian and I am happy to admit I am wrong if that’s the case.

(2) Granted, it took me a moment because I so associated Paul Giamatti with his brilliant portrayal of Harvey Pekar in American Splendor. But I am a big fan of Pekar’s work and had the great privilege of illustrating one of his stories. I doubt most other viewers had that particular perceptual handicap. Full disclosure: Giamatti is one of my favorite actors. I also enjoyed his voice work on “The Amazing Screw-On Head” and reading Dalton Trumbo’s letter to the phone company in the documentary Trumbo.

(3) The analog to George W. Bush’s Patriot Act was obvious when it was being filmed, but had not happened yet when the David McCullough book it was based-on was written.

(4) At least David McCullough's book, John Adams, on which the HBO miniseries is based, acknowledges his protagonist's words in his text.

(5) The Feminist Papers: From Adams to Beauvoir, ed. Alice S. Rossi (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1973), 10-11.
  
(6) John Adams, Life and Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: With a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations, by his Grandson Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1854), 9:377.

(7) And this is not even mentioning Benjamin Franklin’s literally insane relations. They were not crazy in the zany sense but in the tragic one. There’s lots of drama there. Also, a high body count from smallpox, consumption, and other calamities. The Franklin family was huge, but tragedy cut them down like George R.R. Martin decided their destinies after taking an interest in diseases. Franklin’s grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache, was one of the newspaper editors jailed for criticizing John Adams under the Alien and Sedition Act and he died during the yellow fever epidemic shortly afterwards at the age of 29.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

What's the Matter with Wigan Pier?

"The more things change, the more they stay the same."

Yup. And it makes little difference whether you come by this fossilized nugget of folk wisdom from Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr or Jon Bon Jovi.

I've recently been reading a lot of Thomas Frank, and I was struck by some stark parallels with George Orwell's writings. I am not suggesting that Frank is cribbing from Orwell, but rather that the same class dynamics that Frank describes in modern day America were visible to Orwell in Depression Era England. Similar circumstances get similar results. Also, I am not comparing Thomas Frank to Jon Bon Jovi.

In his latest book, Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?, Thomas Frank points out that there is zero solidarity among professionals. They show each other professional courtesy, of course; but scant sympathy for colleagues who suffer misfortune. For example, the industry-wide abuse of adjuncts and grad students in academia raises little indignation from tenured professors. So much for a community of scholars. Pros' belief that we live in a tough-but-just meritocracy blinds them to systemic problems. If they acknowledge that such things exist at all, they still cling to a callous "every man for himself" ethic. Collectively fixing the system is alien to their mindset, if not an anathema: Hence their hostility toward both labor unions and government solutions. So instead, impotent victim-blaming reigns.

In short, they think that life is fair. And when it is not fair, the onus is on you to accept and adapt to the whims of the market and the machinations of management. Frank argues that this mindset played a major role in the Democrats' abandoning their populist roots and betraying labor as they first sought to woo professional class voters in the 1980s and 1990s. 

But while the political use of this attitude by the Democratic Party is relatively shocking and new, the attitude itself isn't. As George Orwell wrote in his 1937 book on class and poverty, The Road to Wigan Pier, this lack of fraternal solidarity has always been a familiar feature - or bug - in bourgeois thinking:
I have pointed out earlier that a middle-class person goes utterly to pieces under the influence of poverty; and this is generally due to the behaviour of his family - to the fact that he has scores of relations nagging and badgering him night and day for failing to "get on." The fact that the working class know how to combine and the middle class don't is probably due to their different conceptions of family loyalty. You cannot have an effective trade union of middle-class workers, because in times of strikes almost every middle-class wife would be egging her husband on to blackleg and get the other fellow's job.(1)
Of course, it's not like this knowledge is buried in one of George Orwell's lesser-known works. Working folks have always touted their solidarity. Two years ago, David Graeber sardonically observed in The Guardian that caring too much was "the curse of the working classes." The professional class is unhampered by that inconvenient handicap. As Graeber wrote, "the ultimate bourgeois virtue is thrift, and the ultimate working-class virtue is solidarity." And of course, there was also that poignant moment of professional collegiality in Terry Gilliam's 1984 film Brazil.

Thomas Frank revisits this dynamic in a recent article in Harper's - "The Swat Team: The media’s extermination of Bernie Sanders, and real reform." Of course, it's primarily about the corporate press' predictable bias against a socialist candidate. But at the end, Frank marvels at length at how journalists can talk-up the establishment's priorities even as newspapers are dying. Some pundits are quite comfortable, of course; but their colleagues are drowning. At first, this appears to be a paradox:
In other words, no group knows the story of the dying middle class more intimately than journalists. So why do the people at the very top of this profession identify themselves with the smug, the satisfied, the powerful? Why would a person working in a moribund industry compose a paean to the Wall Street bailouts? Why would someone like Post opinion writer Stephen Stromberg drop megatons of angry repudiation on a certain Vermont senator for his “outrageous negativity about the state of the country”? For the country’s journalists - Stromberg’s colleagues, technically speaking - that state is pretty goddamned negative.
Of course, part of this is the aforementioned absence of solidarity in the professional class. In the old days, being a newspaper reporter was a working class job. But in the mid-1960s, it became a "college boy" occupation bringing with it callous professional class values. 

But another, related factor was the state of the industry and Thomas Frank had to admit that pundit behavior had a certain dark logic to it: "As the rising waters inundate the Fourth Estate, it is increasingly obvious that becoming an insider is the only way to hoist yourself above the deluge." So pundits become courtiers in the hopes of getting a coveted seat on the royal life boat. In other words:
When they laid-off the ombudsmen, I didn't say anything because I wasn't an ombudsman. When they laid-off the fact checkers, I din't say anything because I wasn't a fact checker. And fuck those guys. I write opinion pieces. We don't need those nerds. Jesus Christ! I am never punished for being wrong - which I usually am - so what the hell are they even here for?
To be clear: This is my metaphor, not Thomas Frank's. And the above anonymous quote is approximate.

The point being is eventually these professional opinion-slingers will probably prove to be as expendable as anybody else. But until the ax falls, they will identify more with their bosses than their colleagues.

To this I would only add that people are creatures of habit. And attitudes and habits of thought die hard if at all, even in the face of immense evidence - even if that evidence is their own recent lived experience. That professional class status is a badge and it becomes all the more important when you have lost all else. Think of poor whites in the Old South. Après le déluge, a degree will be the new white - at least for Baby Boomers. Perhaps they will be like the "shabby genteel" that Orwell described.

The ideology of meritocracy is a form of mass-flattery - not just of the target audience's skill and education, but of their worth as persons compared to others. While they last, fat paychecks are Pavlovian reinforcement for their ideology - worldview food pellets as well as tangible "proof." An immense sense of entitlement is central to their identity. Even if it weren't, the loss of their identity would be disorienting as well as frustrating. George Orwell wrote about this dynamic in The Road to Wigan Pier:
Large sections of the middle class are being gradually proletarianized; but the important point is that they do not, at any rate in the first generation, adopt a proletarian outlook. Here am I, for instance, with a bourgeois upbringing and a working-class income. Which class do I belong to? Economically I belong to the working class, but it is almost impossible for me to think of myself as anything but a member of the bourgeoisie. And supposing I had to take sides, whom should I side with, the upper class which is trying to squeeze me out of existence, or the working class whose manners are not my manners? It is probable that I personally, in any important issue, would side with the working class. But what about the tens or hundreds of thousands of others who are in approximately the same position? And what about that far larger class, running into millions this time - the office-workers and black-coated employees of all kinds - whose traditions are less definitely middle class but who would certainly not thank you if you called them proletarians? All of these people have the same interests and the same enemies as the working class. All are being robbed and bullied by the same system. Yet how many of them realize it? When the pinch came nearly all of them would side with their oppressors and against those who ought to be their allies. It is quite easy to imagine a middle class crushed down to the worst depths of poverty and still remaining bitterly anti-working-class in sentiment; this being, of course, a ready-made Fascist Party.(2)
Obviously, if you want to avoid this dire scenario, some ordinary solidarity and empathy are required. What Thomas Paine said about the law applies everywhere else: "He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression: for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach unto himself."(3) The same applies in the ordinary work-a-day world everyone inhabits.

Or as Robert De Niro's guerrilla repairman character put it in Brazil, "We're all in this together, kid."


_________________

(1) George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier (San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1st American ed. 1958), 115.

(2) Ibid., 225-6.

(3) Thomas Paine, Common Sense and Other Political Writings, ed. W.F. Adkins (New York: Liberal Arts Press, 1953), 174.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Growing the Warren Wing

I have no illusions about my political influence and the issue is probably moot. But I would like to appeal to the small number(1) of Bernie Sanders supporters who are considering abandoning the Democrats.

Don't worry, this is not a guilt trip. It's a strategic argument for progressives working toward a Democratic landslide in this year's election and sticking with the Democrats over the long haul. Bear with me.

Let's first allay a legitimate concern. You are probably wary that electing Hillary Clinton will validate every betrayal made by the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. Between NAFTA, DADT, DOMA, WTO, Welfare Reform, the Crime Bill, and wholesale deregulation and privatization, it is hard to find a Democratic Party constituency, policy, or principle they have not callously and conspicuously sold out. Rewarding bad behavior sticks in your craw, I know. And even if you cannot stop it, you do not want to be a party to it. That is entirely understandable.

But there is absolutely zero danger of a Democratic landslide legitimizing the Clinton brand. Everyone will remember that Hillary Clinton ran against Donald Trump and only won because it was universally understood that we had to stop fascism.(2) The orgy of misogyny, racism, and general bigotry that is the Trump campaign cannot possibly be forgotten. How could anyone forget the circus of absurdity that is this election? Future political scientists will envy us for living this experience. Oral historians will pester us in our hip Swedish-style nursing homes asking us, "What did you do in the shit-blizzard of 2016, na-na?"

Okay, some of the specifics of my predictions are uncertain. However, this will no doubt be a memorable election and nobody will forget that both candidates had abysmal approval ratings. As "Daily Show" host Trevor Noah explained, that makes them lucky because, "[B]oth Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are running against the only person they could possibly beat." And the only thing that could possibly alter that narrative is if Hillary Clinton actually turns out to be the progressive president her apologists insist she will be. If you think that is unlikely, then you have nothing to worry about. You need not fret that Clinton's magnetic personality will popularize Third Way politics. Not even Obama's gifts could accomplish that.

I am not going to enumerate the reasons it is important to stop Trump. They have already been made by countless other people and you have heard them all before. Instead, I am here to argue that stopping Trump is not enough and that we should go for a Democratic blowout.

If you are skeptical of Hillary Clinton's progressive credentials, there are two arguments for a Democratic Congress. First, it will deny her the pretty predictable excuse that Republicans prevented her from doing anything progressive or that they forced her to do more bad things like Bill did. Second, on a related note, they could prevent, or at least hamstring any Faustian collaborations with Republicans. In short, Congress is important. Indeed, as House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) recently warned his fellow Republicans, "If we lose the Senate, do you know who becomes chair of the Senate Budget Committee? A guy named Bernie Sanders. You ever heard of him?" Sounds familiar: Refresh my memory.

This may explain why Bernie Sanders is campaigning so hard for Hillary Clinton. Yes, he wants to stop Trump. Sanders has always said that Clinton "on her worst day" was "infinitely" better than Trump on his best. But it is clear that he is also trying to transform Congress and sees a possible Democratic landslide as instrumental to that. Taking back the Senate would be a start. Indeed, he has been tirelessly fundraising toward this outcome. Of course, Elizabeth Warren has been campaigning hard as well.

And the possibility of a landslide is not necessarily out of the question at this point. About an hour or so after I first published this post, and ABC poll showed a sharp drop in the percentage of Republicans who say they will likely vote. This will impact down-ticket races.

The strategy is to elect Hillary Clinton with a Democratic Congress and then hold her accountable. Sanders has repeatedly vowed to do exactly that. Likewise, Warren has vowed to oppose any appointment that is too cozy with Wall Street: Indeed, she already has composed a list of "hell no" appointments. We need to join that fight now. But part and parcel of that strategy is strengthening their hand.

I do not mean to give all the credit to Bernie Sanders' campaign. I also have to credit pre-existing forces that helped him: Not just those Millennial voters who are so famously comfortable with socialism, but the increasing political polarization that is driving centrist quislings to extinction and growing the Progressive Caucus - which is already the largest Democratic caucus in Congress. And this has been going on since before Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy. The Blue Dog Democrats are dying off: We saw this in 2012 and again in 2014. We have more than just age and race demographics as the wind at our backs.

Four years down the road, the electorate will be even more progressive than it is now. Hillary Clinton, is sympathetic to the rich, but I think she is ambitious enough to prioritize her own political career and we're where the votes are. Plus, she probably won't have Trump to run against in 2020, so there goes that advantage. Hillary Clinton squeaked a win in the primary thanks in large part to the press studiously ignoring Sanders' campaign as long as possible. It will be much tougher for her later on. Self-interest says court the left by proving your progressive skeptics wrong. That's the long game. She does not seem to have figured that out yet - hence her VP appointment. The sooner she does, the better for everyone.

Some say it is privileged to vote third party.  I actually think there is some validity to that argument - IF you live in a swing state, which most don't, so shaming you only serves the political scold's ego. Moreover, I would also point out that if the scolds think Bill Clinton's administration was Camelot, they either live in an opaque, hermetically-sealed sphere of privilege or are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

I say go ahead and vote third party for president if you live in a safe state, but don't forget the down-ticket races. Those "Berniecrats" that Sanders had endorsed need your votes. And toward that end, I'd rather you vote third party than stay home. Get into the voting booth and stay engaged after election day. Write-in Eugene V. Debs, Vermin Supreme, Joe Exotic, or the Icelandic Pirate Party for president, but don't forget to support good Democrats in congressional races.

But if you live in a swing state, I would urge you to hold your nose for Hillary. Vote straight party Democrat if the Clinton name is viscerally prohibitive for you. You can truthfully say you were voting for the progressive party platform that Sanders had won. But, in any case, back the strategy of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. I trust their judgement. Ditto the opinions of Robert Reich and Noam Chomsky. This is good company. They have not sold out.

With the Sanders campaign, we progressives discovered our collective strength and it is impossible to ignore. Centrists are certain to call that moment a fluke - both in order to comfort themselves and sow discouragement. (Demoralizing the party base is a penchant of theirs, in case you haven't noticed.) They will call it an irrational eruption of naïve passion that Millennials will age out of as they "mature." Don't buy it. Don't abandon the Warren Wing of the Democratic Party - what the late Senator Paul Wellstone so often called "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party." We need to take the long view too. Bernie Sanders built a movement and movements should last longer than one electoral cycle.

Stay and finish taking back the party. We nearly did it on our first try.


___________________

(1) I say "small" because, contrary to certain self-appointed Clinton surrogates who remain in primary mode, Sanders fans support Clinton more strongly this year than Clinton fans supported Obama in 2008. As I wrote before back in early August, just after the Democratic Convention:
Hand-wringing aside, 90% of Sanders supporters already say they intend to vote for Clinton. That's pretty stunning considering that these numbers typically climb. Shortly after the 2008 Democratic Convention, only 47% of Clinton supporters were decided on voting for Obama. Her PUMA supporters were pretty vocal about voting for McCain. And voting for the opposition is twice as bad as voting for a third party candidate because you are not just denying your vote to the Democrats, but giving it to the Republicans thus doubling the effect. Had McCain won, we would likely be in four wars in the Middle East, plus another in North Korea. And if some magnifying calamity had made Sarah Palin president ... well, Palin is basically Trump with a side of word salad. Eventually, 83% of former Clinton supporters voted for Obama, but before there was much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments. 
(2) This is not hyperbole. The mainstream media is routinely refuses to call-out fascism unless it parades swastikas. When fascist antisemitic parties sprang up in Eastern Europe shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the press cautiously spun them as "anti-communist" and "pro-Christian" - which, incidentally, is precisely how legitimacy-seeking fascists describe themselves here. Until he broke with the GOP establishment over free trade, Pat Buchanan's galloping fascism was politely ignored for decades. The media's spectrum of acceptable opinion runs "from centrism to antisemitism" - so long as the later practices a token amount of genteel plausible deniability. Growing up, I routinely saw Pat Buchanan on television. By contrast, the same could not be said for leftists like Noam Chomsky or Howard Zinn. They were considered beyond the pale. Erring on the side of caution is certainly a laudable default. It is a crucial institutional habit for the Fourth Estate to have. But the verdict was in on the hard right ages ago.