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“A Statement Of Mathematical Fact”: Come On, Bernie, Time To Level With Your Dreamers

Soon and very soon, Bernie Sanders is going to have to help his most ardent fans confront the fact of his defeat. How he does so will help to determine his legacy.

That is not meant to disparage the campaign or the candidate, despite the vitriol that’s sure to start flooding into my Twitter timeline right now. It’s a statement of mathematical fact. As of today, no matter what happens in Kentucky (or Oregon, or Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, D.C. or even mighty California), Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee.

Clinton is 94 percent of the way to the 2,383 required delegates, having won 54 percent of the total pledged delegates so far, to Sanders’s 46 percent. She needs only 35 percent of what’s left, while Sanders needs 65 percent, and a literal miracle. If you throw in superdelegates, as they stand today, Clinton needs just 14 percent of the remainder to win, versus an astounding 86 percent haul Sanders needs.

Everyone covering this race knows these facts, and the only question is how to manage the communication of them in a way that respects the ongoing democratic process.

Of course, none of that has stopped the magical thinking, and in some quarters, the rage and even conspiracy theorizing of hardcore Sandernistas who refuse to accept that the war is lost. Case in point, the cantankerous Nevada Democratic convention in Las Vegas this weekend at which stalwart liberal California Sen. Barbara Boxer was booed and shouted down for the crime of calling for civility and party unity, and a fight literally broke out on the convention floor over the setting of rules and the election of 43 delegates and three alternates to go to the July 25 national convention in Philadelphia.

Indeed, there’s nothing quite like firing up Twitter only to be inundated by Bernie-hair avatars shrieking about hundreds of thousands—no, millions—of would-be Bernie voters falling victim to a supposed national voter suppression campaign that is the “real reason” he isn’t winning. The culprits, in this alternate reality, are the Democratic National Committee, which does not set the rules for individual caucuses and primaries. They are run, respectively, by state parties and state legislatures, but according to the theory, they’ve been gamed by nefarious Hillary Clinton operatives in the parties, who have been programmed by “The Establishment” to deny Bernie his rightful nomination.

And then there’s Sanders, his wife Jane’s and some of his prominent surrogates’ dismissals of the heavily African-American Southern primaries won by Hillary Clinton as irrelevant red states that are too conservative, too “brand loyal” and too unacquainted with their own best interests to have voted the “right way”; nearly all-white red caucus states like Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and nearly all-white, red primary states like West Virginia notwithstanding.

The rush to conspiracy theories, appropriation of the real, ongoing struggles against actual voter suppression including voter ID laws, and the embrace by some on the Sanders left of every scurrilous accusation against Hillary Clinton, from the ’90s to Benghazi, is jarring. And the memes are especially vicious among the youngest Sandernistas, whose abject, #BerntheWitch hatred of Secretary Clinton is reaching World Net Daily proportions. In fact, some supposed leftists have taken to tweeting out actual WND, Breitbart, and Daily Caller links to prove their case.

And while this likely represents a small minority of Sanders supporters, much like the Hillary PUMAs and “Obama bros” in 2008, the Sanders campaign and the candidate have done little to try to shut it down.

In 2008, Team Obama pushed out foreign policy adviser Samantha Power and sidelined Obama national co-chair Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. for slagging Hillary Clinton as a “monster” and mocking her New Hampshire tears, respectively. Obama himself directed his team and supporters to lay off the Clintons, while the Clinton campaign ultimately forced out Geraldine Ferraro over her racial bitterness, and wouldn’t let the PUMA faithful anywhere near the Denver convention, to the point where some of them turned on Hillary herself as a traitor to the cause.

By contrast, Sanders and his team have seemed at times to encourage the bitter-enders to fight to the proverbial death, with the campaign itself vowing to contest the nomination right onto the convention floor. It’s not clear what Team Sanders hopes to achieve, beyond a platform battle in Philadelphia that will make for a great TV spectacle, but won’t change the outcome.

Meanwhile, a reality show vulgarian with a penchant for fight club rallies, tasteless broadsides against “flat-chested women” and a singular ability to excite white nationalists (including his own longtime butler) with his anti-Muslim and anti-Mexican rhetoric is quickly consolidating the Republican Party behind his nomination. And some Democratic operatives are starting to worry that Sanders’s zombie campaign is preventing Hillary Clinton—who possesses some real flaws as a candidate, from her inability to deliver a big speech to the ongoing drag from her paid speeches and her private email server—from focusing her full attention and resources on the real target.

If Sanders does hope to have a future in Democratic Party politics, he will eventually have to tell his supporters the truth: that he simply lost the primary contest, despite a hard-fought race. He’ll have to walk back some of his sharpest anti-Clinton rhetoric, and find some way to become a bridge to the voters who have become so fervently devoted to him.

It’s tough to imagine the Vermont senator actively embracing Clinton, who is considerably more hawkish on foreign policy, and less ambitious on domestic affairs than he. But Sanders has a particular credibility with white working-class voters and young, mostly white collegians. Sanders’s particular resonance with the white working-class,a group that has bedeviled Democrats over the last 50 years, and whose skepticism of free trade makes them a prime target for Donald Trump, could prove to be his most valuable asset to his newfound party. Sanders has proven to be an effective attacker when he sets his mind to it. If, as he says, he wants to do everything in his power to prevent a Trump presidency, nothing is preventing him from using his capital now, to try to prevent those voters in his camp from bolting to Trumpville by training his fire on the Republican nominee.

Of course, Sanders could refuse to do that, perhaps concluding that he would lose too much credibility with the rather angry movement he’s built, and go right on hitting Hillary Clinton instead. But he risks winding up an isolated figure in Philadelphia, surrounded by his diehards but scorned by Democrats who blame him for weakening the nominee, tolerated by Camp Clinton only because they have to, and unable to win meaningful platform concessions from a party that could well view him as an enemy invader, rather than a bluntly critical, but ultimately valuable friend.

Only time will tell how Sanders chooses to play out the end of his campaign.

 

By: Joy-Ann Reid, The Daily Beast, May 18, 2016

May 20, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton, Sanders Supporters | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“His Campaign Has Developed A Closed Feedback Loop”: Does Sanders Continue To Deserve The Benefit Of The Doubt?

From the beginning I questioned the seriousness of Bernie Sanders’ proposals. Long before the disastrous New York Daily News interview, it seemed obvious to me that he was better at pointing out problems than he was at crafting actual solutions.

Then came the debates. Sanders’ explanation for any barrier to progressive change was the corruption of big money – that was true for both Democrats and Republicans. Discussion became almost impossible. Anyone who didn’t agree with him was an establishment sell-out.

As it became increasingly clear that he was going to lose the nomination to Hillary Clinton – despite doing better than anyone thought he would – the excuses began. It was because Southern states with African American voters went early in the process. Then it was because of closed primaries. Initially the campaign railed against the superdelegates. All that was reversed in an attempt to justify Sanders staying in the race based on the idea that he could flip them to support him instead of Clinton. None of that made any sense and his message got lost in complaints about the process.

Through all of that I wanted to give Sanders the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to believe that he was in this race to promote the progressive ideas he has championed his entire career, and that when the results were all in, he would do what Clinton did in 2008…support the nominee and come out of the convention in Philadelphia as a unified party.

Believing that wasn’t a pipe dream. During his time in the House and Senate, Sanders has demonstrated the ability to work within the system to advocate for progressive change. For example, in 2009 he proposed single payer in the Senate, but pulled the bill when it was clear that it didn’t have the votes. He then went on to fight for positive changes to Obamacare (i.e., community health centers) and eventually voted for it.

But the time for giving Sanders the benefit of the doubt might have ended. Paul Waldman explains it well.

If he and his people want to actually exercise some influence, they’ll have to start thinking about mundane things like presidential appointments, executive branch regulations, and the details of complex legislation. Victories in those forums will be partial and sporadic. From our vantage point today, is there anything to suggest that’s an enterprise he and his people will be willing to devote their efforts to? What happens if Clinton offers Sanders something — changes to the party’s platform, or input on her nominees? Will his supporters say, “This may not have been all we wanted, but it’s still meaningful”? No, they won’t. They’ll see it as a compromise with the corrupt system they’ve been fighting, a sellout, thirty pieces of silver that Sanders ought to toss back in her face. That’s because Sanders has told them over and over that the system is irredeemable, and nothing short of its complete dismantling is worthwhile…

To be honest, at the moment it looks like there’s no going back. Sanders could come out tomorrow and tell his supporters that even if they don’t get their revolution, it’s still worth working for every bit of positive change they can achieve. But that would mean disavowing everything he’s told them up until now.

In other words, the Sanders campaign has developed a closed feedback loop. No matter the outcome, it reinforces the premise. It is hard to see how that changes.

My one remaining hope was that perhaps the candidate himself could break out and convince at least some of his supporters to take a more constructive path. Martin is right, they’re not all Bernie Bros. That hope was beginning to die when Josh Marshall pulled the final plug.

For months I’d thought and written that Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver was the key driver of toxicity in the the Democratic primary race…

But now I realize I had that wrong.

Actually, I didn’t realize it. People who know told me.

Over the last several weeks I’ve had a series of conversations with multiple highly knowledgable, highly placed people. Perhaps it’s coming from Weaver too. The two guys have been together for decades. But the ‘burn it down’ attitude, the upping the ante, everything we saw in that statement released today by the campaign seems to be coming from Sanders himself. Right from the top.

We are reaching the end game here. The question for me isn’t so much about what Clinton will do – she is putting her energy into winning the remaining states and has already begun to pivot to the general election. What remains to be seen is what happens to the progressive movement in the Democratic Party. If Sanders insists on “burning things down,” will it survive?

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 19, 2016

May 20, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton, Sanders Supporters | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Sanders’ White Posses”: Bernie Sanders And Racism Lite

In a statement on the Nevada rampage by some of his supporters, Bernie Sanders said a remarkable thing. He said, “Our campaign has held giant rallies all across this country, including in high-crime areas, and there have been zero reports of violence.”

Who lives in “high-crime areas”? We all know the answer: dark people. But it wasn’t dark people hurling chairs and death threats at the Nevada Democratic Party convention. It was Sanders’ own white followers. (The YouTube videos make that clear.)

One reason there’s been no violence at Sanders’ rallies is that outsiders aren’t disrupting them. It is Sanders’ white posses that are invading the events of others, be it Democratic Party meetings or Donald Trump rallies.

Now, the Sanders statement did say, “I condemn any and all forms of violence, including the personal harassment of individuals.” But then he likened this outrage to shots being fired into his campaign office.

The problem with this attempt at symmetry is that we don’t know who fired into his campaign office. It is my hope that the perpetrator is caught and thrown in jail. But we know exactly who threw chairs. The FBI, meanwhile, should be hot on the tails of the creeps who made death threats against a Nevada Democratic Party official and her family. That’s a federal crime.

Sanders should have made his condemnation of violence short and sweet. In doing so, he could have emphasized that the vast majority of his supporters are good, nonviolent people.

But then he went on, stoking the self-pity that has permeated his campaign. This was not the time to go into his allegedly unfair treatment at the hands of Democratic officials as he’s been doing ad nauseam.

If Sanders’ tying of political violence to “high-crime areas” were his only racially tinged remark, one might give it a pass. But he has a history.

There was his infamous waving-of-the-hand dismissal of Hillary Clinton’s commanding Southern victories, which were powered by African-American voters.

“I think that having so many Southern states go first kind of distorts reality,” he said.

Whose reality, one might ask. Actually, the overwhelmingly white electorates of Iowa and New Hampshire (where Sanders won big) got to go first. He didn’t have a problem with that.

This is a veiled racism that cannot find cover in Sanders’ staunch pro-civil rights record. Real black people seem to make Sanders uncomfortable (as Larry David captured on his “Saturday Night Live” skits).

Sanders’ idea of a black surrogate has been the academic Cornel West. West has called Barack Obama “a Rockefeller Republican in blackface” and “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs,” among other nasty things. Ordinary African-Americans tend to revere Obama, so where did this crashing insensitivity come from?

It may have come from decades of being holed up in the white radical-left universe. In the 1960s, Sanders abandoned the “high-crime areas” of Brooklyn, his childhood home, and repaired to the whitest state in the nation. (Vermont had become a safe haven for liberals leaving — the word then was “fleeing” — the cities.)

Nuance alert: Sanders has done good work in attracting more white working-class voters to the Democratic side. His emphasis on economic issues is a welcome change from the party’s frequent obsession with identity politics. That is admirable.

Less admirable are the windy justifiable-rage explanations in what should have been a simple censure. And to then link expectations of violence to “high-crime areas” was pretty disgraceful. There should be no white-privilege carve-out for thuggery.

 

By: Froma Harrop, The National Memo, May 19, 2016

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Nevada Caucus, Sanders Supporters | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dear Bernie Bullies, I’m So Over You

In early August 1968, just weeks after Bobby Kennedy was killed, my father and I took a walk through the fields of my great-grandmother’s house and plotted my career.

We didn’t know that at the time. I was only 11. He was 31, a father of four who had already worked for more than a decade at the local power plant. Those few facts about him make me shake my head at how young he was, how overwhelmed he must have felt so much of the time.

My beloved grandma BeBout’s farmhouse was a half-hour and a world away from our home in small-town Ashtabula, Ohio. I was supposed to spend just two weeks with her, which is why Dad was there. Minutes after his arrival, our collective tears persuaded him to let me stay longer.

For the first time, it occurred to me that my father was capable of missing me. He wasn’t in a hurry to leave, and he asked whether I wanted to go for a walk. We trudged through the cornfield and kept going, Dad jingling the coins in his pants pocket with one hand as we strolled.

I had just finished reading a paperback about Bobby Kennedy’s life. It was one of those quick-press editions sold down the street at a newsstand owned by a woman we all called Aunt Louise even though she was no relation. She often let me sit in the back of the store to read paperbacks free. When the Kennedy book arrived — I think its cover was glossy white with a small black-and-white photo of Bobby at the top — she gave it to me as a gift because she knew how sad I was that he had died.

I don’t recall how I brought up the book to my dad, but I do remember being surprised at how he paid attention as I told him about what I’d read. At one point, I made my announcement. I remember the wording only because he never forgot it.

“I think I’ll go into politics, Dad,” I told him. “Maybe write books about it or something.”

My father didn’t laugh or make fun of me. He just nodded his head and assured me that after I went to college — a nonnegotiable in our family — I’d be able to do anything I want. Politics would be a fine profession, he said, as long as I remained a Democrat.

“Maybe one day,” he said, “you could even be president.”

I’m not sure he believed that, but he wanted me to, and I don’t have any doubt he’d vote for Hillary Clinton if he were alive today. Not because he was a feminist. Lord, no. His affection for strong women began and ended with his three daughters, but our persistence would have gotten him there.

I grew up in a time when a woman who owned her own newsstand was famous because she was so rare. Aunt Louise was unmarried, which the grown-ups tirelessly pointed out as the reason she could do such a thing. What else did she have to live for?

I share this story from my childhood to illustrate just how long I’ve been waiting for something I could imagine at such a young age. There are so many women like me. We were born in a time when most of the country believed that white women should be sequestered at home, but we dared to believe we would grow up to be evidence to the contrary. I emphasize the privilege of our race because so many women of color never had the option to stay home.

Plenty of good people support Bernie Sanders, but his bullies are out of control. I am so over them. I no longer care when they accuse me of voting my gender. How interesting that they think there’s something wrong with so many women who want, for the first time in history, to see themselves reflected in the most powerful person in the world.

I support Clinton for a long list of reasons. The Sanders bullies say that makes me part of the “establishment.” I wish my working-class parents had lived long enough to hear that. How they would have howled.

There was a time when I got worked up over those voices of superiority telling me who I am because I don’t want what they do. I couldn’t care less now. My roots are my legacy, and I don’t owe anyone an apology or explanation for who I am.

When I was 11 years old, my dad told me a little girl could grow up to be president.

Forty-eight years later, I believe him.

 

By: Connie Schultz, The National Memo, May 19, 2016

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Sanders Supporters | , , , , | 1 Comment

“Californication”: Sanders Taking A Free Ride On Other Peoples’ Character Defamation

Earlier today, I observed that if Bernie Sanders wins this Tuesday’s closed Democratic primary in Kentucky, “Sanders and his supporters will likely take advantage of a win here to promote the idea that there are still plenty of Democrats who aren’t comfortable with Clinton, and that the ‘Democratic establishment’ should agree to all of his demands at the Democratic convention even if he ultimately fails to win the nomination.” Speaking of primaries and the convention, what if Sanders manages to do the seemingly impossible, and actually pulls off an upset victory over Clinton in the June 7 California primary?

It is unlikely that Sanders would be able to defeat Clinton by a significant margin in the Golden State primary (which is open to Democrats and those who have no stated party preference), which means that even if he also wins (by presumably close margins) the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and North Dakota caucuses and the Oregon, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota and District of Columbia primaries, he will still come up short in the pledged delegate count. However, a victory in California, even by a close margin, would provide political momentum to Sanders and his supporters going into Philadelphia, where the self-professed democratic socialist plans to ask superdelegates to, in essence, void the votes of those who supported Clinton and declare him the Democratic nominee. MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki explained Sanders’s apparent thinking Tuesday night:

Sanders would certainly have the right to make his case to those superdelegates–but how strong of a case would that be? As MSNBC’s Chris Hayes suggested on May 11, the argument that Sanders should be declared the nominee because he currently performs better than Clinton in head-to-head polls against Donald Trump is rather questionable (it certainly doesn’t factor in the power of the right-wing noise machine).

I wouldn’t be surprised if Team Sanders tries to convince superdelegates that he would perform better against Trump in the general-election debates than Clinton would: Trump’s presence will guarantee that the debates will be ratings bonanzas, and the argument that the Democratic candidate must thoroughly dismantle the bigoted billionaire in these debates is compelling. However, can anyone seriously argue that Clinton cannot hold her own in debates?

I fear that the case for awarding the Democratic nomination to Sanders rests upon a dynamic that Paul Krugman explained a few weeks ago:

As I see it, the Sanders phenomenon always depended on leaving the personal attacks implicit. Sanders supporters have, to a much greater extent than generally acknowledged, been motivated by the perception that Clinton is dishonest, which comes — whether they know it or not — not from her actual behavior but from decades of right-wing smears; but Sanders himself got to play the issue-oriented purist, in effect taking a free ride on other peoples’ character defamation. There was plenty of nastiness from Sanders supporters, but the candidate himself seemed to stay above the fray.

But it wasn’t enough, largely because of nonwhite voters. Why have these voters been so pro-Clinton? One reason I haven’t seen laid out, but which I suspect is important, is that they are more sensitized than most whites to how the disinformation machine works, to how fake scandals get promoted and become part of what “everyone knows.” Not least, they’ve seen the torrent of lies directed at our first African-American president, and have a sense that not everything you hear should be believed.

What will Sanders say to voters of color who overwhelmingly supported Clinton, and who will obviously feel shafted if Sanders is successful in convincing superdelegates to hand the nomination over to him? I imagine that Sanders will simply quote Warren Beatty’s remarks to aggrieved African-American churchgoers in Bulworth: “So what are you gonna do, vote Republican? Come on! Come on, you’re not gonna vote Republican!”

If Sanders wins the California primary, even by a small margin, he will have earned the right to petition superdelegates for a redress of his grievances. However, something tells me that after he does so, he’ll still have grievances.

 

By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 13, 2016

May 16, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Sanders Supporters | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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