A message for my fellow Democrats: If we ever want to win again, we have to stop tearing each other apart

I did a little research to write this piece. Not about politics or policy, but about which species actually eat their own.

The good news is that cannibalism is rare. We've got the praying mantis, the African bullfrog, the Mexican lance-headed rattlesnake and the Southern black widow spider, to name a few.

The bad news is that we're going to have to add a new species to that list: Democrats.

The fissure between the far-left progressive wing of the Democratic Party and the moderate block has been well-publicized. It’s actually been a favorite story line of the media – right wing and left wing – since Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders jumped into the primary race, giving Hillary Clinton more than a few giant headaches.

Many on the left have forgotten that there is far more that unites us than divides us.

Hillary always said that she was a stronger candidate because of Bernie’s primary challenge. And sure, being pushed in politics – as in anything – can make a person stronger.

The primary contests made Hillary aware of the palpable anger on the left. She shifted her policy positions on the federal minimum wage, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, college tuition and health care, along with other issues. The result was the most inclusive platform in Democratic Party history – a product that Bernie Sanders supporters should’ve been thrilled about. A lot of them were.

But the damage was already done.

Remember when Bernie said Hillary wasn’t qualified to be president? Or when he raised eyebrows for equating Clinton’s foreign policy credentials with Donald Trump’s? Or his constant attacks on her campaign finance structure?

Well, Donald Trump certainly remembered. "Bernie Sanders has a message that's interesting," Trump commented during the campaign. "I'm going to be taking a lot of the things that Bernie said and using them. I can reread some of his speeches and I can get some very good material."

And he did just that. Over and over again.

When you consider that Hillary lost by about 77,000 votes in three states – two of which Sanders won in the primaries – you’d be out of your mind to think that Sanders’ rhetoric didn’t hurt Hillary.

To be sure, Hillary made some gigantic mistakes – I’m sure she’ll be summering in Wisconsin from now on – and there was a confluence of external factors like Russian interference, former FBI Director James Comey’s ill-fated interventions, and voter suppression to contend with on Election Day.

But for all of Bernie’s “enthusiastic” backing of Hillary once she became the nominee, a perusal of the language he and his supporters used about moderate Democrats – who make up majority of the party – reveals that many progressives are on a mad hunt to destroy the center of our party and they will take us all down with them.

The thing is, you don’t get a chance to make policy change unless you win elections. And right now, progressives are undermining two rising stars in the party – Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey – to the great detriment of our chances at making policy change that will benefit all Americans.

There has been lots of chatter about a potential Kamala Harris run for the White House in 2020, after she stole the show at both Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing and James Comey’s testimony.

These were glass ceiling-shattering appearances: a minority woman was interrupted by male colleagues, called hysterical and continued on. This  revealed a double standard that we all know exists, but were forced to confront head-on. But what are leftists talking about? Harris’ roots as a California prosecutor and her failure to investigate Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s old company, West One. Oh, and she met with Hillary Clinton’s biggest backers in the Hamptons. The horror!

As for Booker, who just introduced legislation to legalize pot on the federal level, the far-left thinks he’s just another corporatist hack who’d sell his soul – and the party’s – for a big donation. New Jersey is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Manhattan. Booker likes to win elections, so he’s taken cash from those pesky bankers who’ve all but destroyed America. It doesn’t matter that his policy positions are mostly progressive and he’s ever-shifting left. Just another sellout, right?

This kind of attitude is what landed us in the leftist hell we’re living in today. I still have to walk on proverbial socialist eggshells around many in my party and we’re nearly seven months into Trump’s tenure (may God save us all).

While Hillary supporters accepted her faults and backed her despite them, Bernie devotees continue to believe the man can do no wrong. Yet any objective observer knows he has a shortcoming – or eight.

This begs the question for the Bernie worshippers: who is going to be good enough besides Bernie Sanders himself? The 2020 race for the White House is just around the corner and if we didn’t nominate a 74-year old Democratic Socialist in 2016, we sure aren’t going nominate him four years later.

I’ll probably lose my last Bernie-backing friends for writing this, but if we don’t focus on winning we’re going to spend the next seven-plus years reading about the Trump team and the Russians, and worrying about the fate of American society, which Republicans seem hell-bent on changing for the worse.

Many on the left have forgotten that there is far more that unites us than divides us.

There is no magic bullet candidate. Bernie wasn’t it, no matter how many times you tell me (incorrectly) that he would’ve beaten Trump. And a Harris or Booker won’t be everything to everyone. I’m taking a good look at Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who also won’t be everything to everyone.

But if we want a Democrat back in the White House and control of Congress again so that we’ve actually got a chance to raise the minimum wage, improve ObamaCare, help Americans get back on their feet and protect our environment, we have to stop tearing each other apart.

All this is to say, let’s hope a progressive praying mantis doesn’t end up being a thing. If it is, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will be just out of reach.