Bernie Sanders is staging a virtual campaign rally tonight. According to Maddow, the event won’t include a concession and endorsement of Hillary Clinton. Early indications are that Sanders will attempt to settle scores and assert co-leadership on policy with the actual winner of the primary all the way to Philly.
How will the party respond to its rogue runner up? Here’s what I’d say on the process issues if I ran the zoo:
1. Debbie Wasserman Schultz stays. Look, I’m not her biggest fan either, okay? But she’s moving on after the election anyway, so demands for her scalp now are petty score-settling. Besides, she serves at the pleasure of the president, not the 2nd place finisher in a party primary.
2. We’ll revisit superdelegates before the next presidential primary but after 2016. Superdelegates had fuck-all to do with the outcome in 2008 and 2016. But if the fondest hopes of the Berniacs come true, we’ll need superdelegates this year to serve as deus ex machina to hand the nomination to Sanders, right? Issue tabled.
3. The states get to decide whether to hold open or closed primaries. Joining a party is free. If you’re in a closed primary state and want to have a say in who gets the Democratic nomination, join the fucking party! You can always unenroll after the primary if you’re afraid of establishment cooties. If you have quibbles about time requirements, etc., join the party and try to change them. And if you care about small “d” democracy, agitate at the state level to abolish the patently undemocratic caucuses. (Oh wait…)
As for policy issues, is the Sanders campaign even talking about them anymore? If so, the Sanders people should hash that shit out using the extraordinarily generous allotment of platform seats ebil witch DWS assigned them. But the primary is over, and Clinton won. She gets to campaign on her policies, however unfair that may seem.
Contrary to the opinion of some Sanders detractors here, I think Sanders has some genuine accomplishments he can point to in the race. He eschewed super PACs and still managed to raise an astonishing amount of money. His surprising competitiveness kept his signature issues front and center throughout the primaries.
I don’t think he dragged Clinton to the left as much as he imagines since she was mostly there anyways; their Senate records weren’t that far apart, and President Obama’s success and the Republican fail parade has allowed the party to more boldly claim its traditional turf. But arguably Sanders made Clinton’s previous support for TPP untenable and compelled her to focus on the minimum wage and college tuition more than she would have otherwise.
Sanders’ biggest asset in the primary was his ability to appeal to young voters. That’s important. But he’s busily squandering the value of his base by insinuating that the process was unfair and that he (and they) were robbed, thus removing their motivation to vote for the Democrat in the general election.
Even if you take the hardcore Sandersite view that Clinton is a principles-free triangulator (which I emphatically do not), does it make sense to remove your bargaining chips from the table and force Clinton to rely on peeling off disaffected Republicans to beat Trump? How does that advance progressive causes?
But there’s still time to take the last exit before Palookaville. That our opponent is a stunningly malignant buffoon should be all the motivation a person who puts country before self needs to do the right thing.
Sadly, I no longer expect that Sanders will. But happily, I don’t think it will matter all that much anyway.