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Time to Bern the Senate

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Bernie Sanders supporters who are unwilling to give up the fight are best served shifting their attention to Senate races. (Courtesy photo)

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As of this writing, the Delphic Oracle of the millennium, Nate Silver, gives Hillary Clinton an 80 percent chance of winning the presidency. Famous smart people like Van Jones and Michael Moore caution to keep panicking that Donald Trump could still win. Nobody knows. This election has defied conventional wisdom so many times that anyone who claims to know what’s happening is as credible as Airbnb’s idea of sharing.

A 20 percent chance of fascism is good odds if you want to gamble on fascism. People play roulette with worse chances. If we are genuinely concerned about looming fascism, we better be ready to do more than vote and retweet. Blockades. Strikes. Building Anne Frank hidey closets for Muslims.

The frightening, violent bigotry Trump has conjured could swallow a lot of people before it consumes itself. Even if he loses, angry Trumpistas would still roam freely, with access to automatic weapons and heavy machinery.

I’m more excited about protesting President Clinton La Segunda than being governed by her. Under George W. Bush, were there any national progressive policy victories? The mass movements of the Bush years sought to stop bad things like the Iraq War and the Sensenbrenner immigration bill. Mass movements of the Barack Obama years — Occupy, Black Lives Matter, climate change, dreamers — had the luxury to advocate systemic change and did indeed win some policy. That’s not lesser, it’s not evil at all.

First-term Obama and Clinton El Primero enthusiastically marginalized progressives. They wanted to be pushed to the right but not the left. Progressives fell for it and demobilized. Let’s not do that this time.

I’m not loyal to Democrats, but I’d be a lot more impressed by the Green Party if they had anything at all to show for the last 16 years — the last time we had the exact same conversation.

Berners who want to keep pushing Bernie Sanders’ agenda can focus on down-ticket races, especially the Senate. The Senate has the sole power to confirm appointments and approve treaties. This would be enough to, for example, stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership, ratify a major climate change treaty, showcase progressive policies in cabinet confirmation hearings and confirm judges. Sanders Democrats and progressive independents could successfully elect and hold senators to these goals, if we got our act together, which we probably won’t.

The Democrats need to net at least four extra seats to flip the Senate, which is more attainable than 30 seats to win Congress. Republicans have 24 Senate seats up, and Democrats only 10. States with competitive Senate races are also swing states for the presidential races, so using Trump to drag Republican senators down is a twofer.

The closest Senate races are in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The only current Democratic seat that looks vulnerable is the race to replace the retiring boringest senator from Nevada: Harry Reid. On the upside, there’s the chance to topple John McCain and Marco Rubio, which would be so fun. Five of the Democratic candidates invited Bernie to campaign with them because they, for example, share his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

My favorite new election-year initiative is Movement 2016. Don’t send money to Clinton or the national Democrats to spend on TV ads. They have Meg Whitman’s money for that. Movement 2016 was set up by a bunch of progressive super-friends to shift $10 million to organizations doing deep grassroots, electoral work to build power for the long-term in communities of color in swing states. Send them your week’s Uber budget. Funding groups to scale up in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania could mean winning real stuff.

I promise, next column I’ll be back to our local nonsense, which is abundant.

Nato Green is a San Francisco-based comedian and writer. See him mocking movies at the Alamo Drafthouse on the fourth Wednesday of the month. Tweet hot takes @natogreen.

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