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“The Last Berniebro?”: Sanders Runs The Risk Of Waiting Too Long, To The Point Where It No Longer Matters

“I’ve got this thing,” said the politician on a secretly recorded phone call, “and it’s f-ing golden. And I’m just not giving it up for f-ing nothing.”

That politician, as you probably remember, was Rod Blagojevich, then the the governor of Illinois, and the thing in question was the appointment to temporarily fill the Senate seat of Barack Obama, who was headed to the White House. But Blagojevich’s colorful sentiment could apply equally well to the way Bernie Sanders seems to think about his endorsement in this year’s presidential race. It’s golden, a precious jewel he has secured in a safe whose lock can only be sprung by one who has shown herself to be pure of heart, or at least one who has paid sufficient attention to Sanders and performed the proper rituals of supplication. Then and only then will the endorsement be presented, perhaps on a velvet pillow of deepest blue, with gold piping around the edges, all nestled in a handcrafted mahogany box. He’s not giving it up for nothing.

But what Sanders may not realize is that by the time he’s finally ready to hand over that endorsement, very few people are likely to care. He surely calculated that he would lose something if he endorsed Hillary Clinton too quickly, without getting something in return. But now he runs the risk of waiting too long, to the point where it no longer matters.

Appearing Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Sanders waved away the idea that he was ready to endorse Clinton. And as for his supporters, “What we are doing is trying to say to the Clinton campaign, stand up, be bolder than you have been. And then many of those voters in fact may come on board.”

It’s unsurprising that there are holdouts among Sanders’s supporters, even as Donald Trump’s unique brand of horrifying buffoonery makes the stakes of the election clearer with each passing day. For a year now, they’ve been told not that their candidate is the best of a collection of reasonable options, but that they’re part of a revolution against a deeply corrupt establishment, embodied in the person of Hillary Clinton. To now ask them to make a pragmatic choice in favor of Clinton almost seems like a betrayal of everything they signed up for, no matter how ghastly the alternative to a Clinton victory is.

Yet that’s exactly the choice they’re making—and with little help from Sanders himself. In a new Washington Post poll, the number of Sanders supporters saying they’ll vote for Trump in the general election is at 8 percent, down from 20 percent just a month ago. “What’s more, the 81 percent of Sanders backers who are now behind Clinton is a higher number than in any poll of 2008 Clinton backers who rallied to Obama,” the Post writes.

This poll could be an anomaly; maybe it’s understating the degree to which Sanders supporters are going to withhold their support from Clinton. But on the other hand, maybe Sanders supporters as a group aren’t quite the doctrinaire revolutionaries we thought they were. Could it be that the passionate intensity (and, sometimes, outright douchebaggery) of a small number of Berniebros who make so much noise in social media convinced us that they were representative of Sanders supporters when they actually weren’t? Might it be that your typical Sanders supporter is a liberal Democrat who was attracted to Sanders’ ideas, but is also perfectly willing to vote for Clinton even if she wasn’t their first choice?

And might it be that it doesn’t really matter to them whether and when Bernie Sanders says the words “I endorse Hillary Clinton”?

One of the things Sanders had been holding out for was the writing of the Democratic Party platform, which he hoped would represent his views. The platform committee has finished working on the draft of the platform, and it looks to be the most progressive one the party has ever written, including calling for a repeal of the Hyde Amendment forbidding federal funds from going to abortions, a $15 an hour minimum wage, an expansion of Social Security, and the elimination of the death penalty. But because Sanders didn’t get absolutely every last thing he wanted (it’s almost as if somebody else won the party’s primaries!), he now cites the platform as another reason he can’t yet give Clinton his endorsement.

Not that too many people will actually read it (or that Clinton, if she becomes president, will be bound by it one way or the other), but I’m pretty sure that if most Sanders voters looked at the platform, they’d say, “Gee, that all sounds pretty good.” Nevertheless, there will be that vocal few who say it’s yet more evidence that anyone who supports Clinton is a Wall Street stooge. Liberal hero Elizabeth Warren got that reaction from an angry few when she endorsed Clinton, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Sanders himself, whenever he finally does make his endorsement, will hear that he has sold out his own revolution.

But how many Sanders supporters are there who won’t decide to vote for Clinton until Bernie says it’s OK to do so? The number gets smaller every day. And if he waits long enough, he could find that almost none of them are still waiting with him.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect, June 27, 2016

June 30, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Bros, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Did Sanders Wait Too Long?”: At Some Point, Sanders Can Either Get On The Train Or Get Left Behind

In a live-streamed video message to his supporters last night, Bernie Sanders laid out what he wants. It includes all of the proposals he’s been talking about, like a $15 minimum wage, stopping bad trade deals, a modern-day Glass-Steagall, breaking up the big banks, free tuition at public colleges and universal health care. There were lots of other things he listed – all of which Hillary Clinton agrees with. On these that I listed, Clinton’s proposals include the same goals – but a different approach to getting there. When it comes to where his campaign goes from here, this is what Sanders had to say:

The major political task that we face in the next five months is to make certain that Donald Trump is defeated and defeated badly. And I personally intend to begin my role in that process in a very short period of time.

But defeating Donald Trump can not be our only goal. We must continue our grassroots efforts to create the America that we know we can become. And we must take that energy into the Democratic National Convention on July 25 in Philadelphia where we will have more than 1,900 delegates.

Sanders neither congratulated Clinton on becoming the Democratic presumptive nominee, nor did he endorse her. In other words, he is holding out on such a statement in order to continue negotiations on the issues he outlined.

I look forward, in the coming weeks, to continued discussions between the two campaigns to make certain that your voices are heard and that the Democratic Party passes the most progressive platform in its history and that Democrats actually fight for that agenda.

The question becomes: did he wait until too late? What is his leverage in those negotiations? The big question leading up to this point was whether or not there would be party unity going into the convention this summer. Once Clinton overwhelmingly beat Sanders in the California and New Jersey primaries, that became less of an issue. Democrats who had waited on the sidelines – like President Obama, VP Biden and Sen. Warren – endorsed her. And those who had supported Sanders – like Sen. Merkley and Rep. Grijalva – did so as well. In the last few days, we’ve also seen Clinton endorsements from groups such as MoveOn and the AFL-CIO.

Beyond that, the specter of candidate Trump is beginning to cause talk of a landslide election in Clinton’s favor. What does she gain by embracing Sanders’ agenda in order to win his endorsement, while abandoning her own that led to a victory in the primaries?

I imagine that Clinton will be very gracious to both Sanders and his supporters. But as Sen. Warren said, she’s a fighter and has spent her whole life working on the kind of vision she has put forward during the primary. Sanders can either get on that train at some point, or get left behind.

At the end of his speech, Sanders talked about the kind of effort that is actually needed in order to transform America.

We need to start engaging at the local and state level in an unprecedented way. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers helped us make political history during the last year. These are people deeply concerned about the future of our country and their own communities. Now we need many of them to start running for school boards, city councils, county commissions, state legislatures and governorships. State and local governments make enormously important decisions and we cannot allow right-wing Republicans to increasingly control them.

It’s never too late for that!

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 17, 2016

June 19, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“An Unexpectedly Accommodating Affair”: Yes, Bernie Sanders Really Is Winding Down His ‘Revolution’

Was that Bernie’s way of saying “uncle”? I’d imagine that most people who watched his video address tonight to his supporters didn’t think so, because he did not officially concede or endorse Hillary Clinton. But I say it was an unexpectedly accommodating affair nonetheless.

I thought he was going to lay out specific demands for the Democratic Party going forward these next few weeks and insist the demands be met or else. He did some of that. But emotionally, his emphasis was on other things. Metaphorically, he pointed his gun not at the Democratic Party’s head, but at its orotund midsection.

Consider the speech’s structure. It came in four parts. Part one, how amazing are the things I/we have accomplished. Part two, how important it is to defeat Donald Trump. Part three, how the Democratic Party needs to change more in his image. Part four, how the people’s revolution must continue beyond this year and manifest itself in Bern-feelers running for office and staying involved in politics far beyond this campaign.

That is to say, only one part out of four was directly confrontational to the Democratic power structure, and even that part picked its spots quite carefully. He ticked off 15 matters on which he suggested the Democrats ought to follow him. But on 10 of them, Hillary Clinton already agrees (and indeed on a few of them, like guns and equal pay for women, she’s done more than he has and is more committed than he—I’d even add health-care-as-a-right to that list, since as first lady she helped lead the charge for health care for poor children, the S-CHIP program, which is free for poor children).

There were five that left room for platform committee fights: the $15 minimum wage (she backs that in more expensive cities but says it could be lower in less expensive areas); a fracking ban, which she does not support and which a president has no power to impose anyway; a “modern-day Glass-Steagall” to break up the banks; free college tuition; and health care as a right for all, which she would say she backs but not in the sense that he means it (everything free for everyone, financed by taxes).

He then did take on what he euphemistically called the “Democratic Party leadership.” He never mentioned chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz by name, and never directly called for the removal of an unnamed chair. Instead he demanded that the Democratic Party pursue a “50-state strategy.” That probably comes from the people in the red states he won like Oklahoma and Idaho and so on, and it’s totally unobjectionable and even the right thing for the Democratic Party to do, as it was when Howard Dean proposed it as chair back in the mid-2000s (there’s an irony there all right, as there’s no love lost between these two Vermonters, and Dean is a Clinton endorser from the early days). But the important point is that it isn’t a confrontational demand, something that puts immediate pressure on the DNC. It’s a Beach Boys demand: wouldn’t it be nice.

Also basically unmentioned: any reform of the primary process. Sanders and Jeff Weaver—and maybe the media, to be fair—had led us to believe that reform of the voting process was going to be demand number one. But it wasn’t to be heard in Thursday night’s speech. I can’t imagine this was an oversight. It had to be a conscious decision to toss this demand overboard.

Then the last part of the speech, and the part that drew the most attention from Bernie people on Twitter, was the “the revolution must go on” part. This was the section that gave his people the signal that this was bigger than Bernie, and I give him credit for emphasizing it, because to me this was a campaign that had some cult-of-personality aspects to it from the start. But this was Sanders clearly signaling: “I know I’m 74, and I hope what I’ve started here survives me.”

So that’s how his people saw it. How actual Democrats saw it—and I don’t mean the banking lobbyist, I mean the state committeewoman from Illinois who is a public-interest lawyer in Evanston—I’m not sure. Less favorably, I’m sure. She no doubt hung on the key two sentences: “The major political task that we face in the next five months is to make certain that Donald Trump is defeated and defeated badly. And I personally intend to begin my role in that process in a very short period of time.” Those sentences, along with the election reform matter he left out, signaled a de facto endorsement of Clinton, whether his people want to admit that or not.

But I’m pretty sure my Evanston lawyer also heard the grandiosity that Sanders, a candidate who certainly did much better than expected but in the end lost by quite a large margin, assigned to himself. To her and to thousands like her—precisely the people forgotten in the Clinton-Sanders debate all these months, because they are representative of the “little people” who are for Clinton, which seems to most of the media oxymoronic, but they are real, and they number in the many millions—Bernie is now old news. And he’s just going to get older every week.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, June 16, 2016

June 18, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“How Sanders Made Clinton’s Win Illegitimate”: Simple Math, Clinton Has Been Inevitable Democratic Nominee Since April

OK, so the fix is in. In one sense, it’s too bad the Associated Press and the TV networks called the Democratic race for Hillary Clinton before New Jersey, California and four smaller states voted on June 7. Judging by my email and Facebook feed, this decision has inflamed the Bernie-cult’s belief that they’ve been cheated by the “establishment.”

Whatever the results, they’ve been rendered illegitimate in some eyes by the news media’s premature call. Never mind that news organizations feel a professional duty to report the facts as quickly as they are ascertained. Not much imagination is required to grasp the mischief that could result from their doing it any other way.

Never mind too that anybody who can do the electoral arithmetic knows that Hillary Clinton has been the inevitable Democratic nominee since April, when she prevailed in New York and Pennsylvania by 16 and 13 points respectively. There simply weren’t enough populous states left for Sanders to catch up—unless he could win California by an impossible 60 points.

Nevertheless, Bernie soldiered on. Doing his best impersonation of Prof. Irwin Corey, the Brooklyn-born comic billed as “The World’s Greatest Authority,” Sanders (and his advisors) began to make ever more absurd analyses of how he’d wind up on top. Like Corey, who appeared frequently with Johnny Carson on the old Tonight Show in professorial garb, spouting hilariously self-contradictory gibberish, Bernie sought to explain away electoral reality.

First came the argument that Clinton’s wins in “red state” Southern primaries shouldn’t count, because the South is the most conservative region of the country. These same strictures did not apply, of course, to Sanders’ victories among downtrodden white Democrats in the Cow States—Kansas, Oklahoma, Utah and Idaho, actually more one-sidedly Republican. Not to mention thinly-populated.

Notwithstanding the likelihood that several Southern states could be in play come November, as Kansas and Idaho almost certainly won’t be, his insult to African-American voters could hardly have been more ill-advised. If it was Sanders’ intention to turn himself into the white-bread college kids’ candidate, he couldn’t have done better.

It must be thrilling to be the 74 year-old Pied Piper of the campus set, because Bernie was hard at it during a recent California stadium rally. He interrupted his ritual chant about millionaires, billionaires and Wall Street to favor the crowd with some old-timey Marxist-style cant.

“’Any objective analyst of the current campaign understands that the energy and the grass-roots activism of this campaign is with us,’ Sanders bellowed, putting an emphasis on that last word. “Not Hillary Clinton.’”

“Objective,” you see, has always been radical-speak for “in my opinion.” Back in his Socialist Workers Party days, I’m sure Bernie won a lot of arguments browbeating people that way.

My own scientific view is that twenty-somethings go to rallies; older people vote. As New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait put it: “Energy and activism are definitely part of the election process. But the way you determine the winner is by holding elections.”

Meanwhile, instead of complaining about the complexity of election rules, Sanders would have been wiser to ignore Wall Street and billionaires for a few minutes to explain those rules to his supporters. No, you can’t vote in a New York Democratic primary unless you’re a registered Democrat. Too bad, but there it is, and it’s been that way for a generation.

Instead, Sanders and his minions went around kvetching that ineligible voters would have put them over the top. They seized upon every election glitch nationwide to complain that they were being cheated.

For example, 132,000 mostly black voters in Brooklyn somehow got left off the rolls. Bernie supporters all, his campaign would have you believe, although Sanders otherwise lost the borough 60-40—and African-American New Yorkers worse than that. Probably the voting errors hurt Clinton, although there’s no real way to know.

Chait acidly sums up the rest of the Sanders camp’s extended whine:  Bernie has won a lot of states, they say. Yeah, 20 as of this writing, exactly 40 percent of the total. With several small grazing states in play on June 7, this number will doubtless change.

No matter, in Electoral College terms, Sanders is nowhere.

The rest of it amounts to a shell game.

Chait: “Clinton has a large lead in pledged delegates, and an even larger lead in super-delegates. You could rely entirely on one or the other, or change the weights between them in any fashion, and Clinton would still win. Sanders simply refuses to accept the combination of the two, instead changing subjects from one to the other. Ask him about the pledged delegates, and he brings up the super-delegates. Ask about the super-delegates, and he changes to the pledged delegates. It’s an infinite loop of bullshit.”

First Bernie denounced “super-delegates” as an impediment to democracy; now he’s counting upon them to begin the revolution by overturning the will of Democratic voters.

Fat chance.

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, June 8, 2016

June 10, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic Presidential Primaries, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Our Milestone Moment”: Hillary Clinton Is The Warrior Women Have Been Waiting For

On Tuesday night, after Hillary Clinton had delivered her first speech as the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, it didn’t take long for some of us expressing our joy over this historic moment to feel the burn of reprimand.

We should show more understanding toward those who are disappointed, the critics said.

We should not “rub it in.”

We were “gloating.” We were “insensitive.” We should be “more gracious.”

I leaned back from my computer in the wee hours of Wednesday morning and thought, “Why does this feel so familiar?”

It didn’t take long for me to remember. I called up the column I wrote last June after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. The reprimands were virtually identical.

Here we are again, expected to suppress our happiness so that we don’t injure the feelings of those who see nothing to celebrate in this milestone moment of equality. I was impatient last June with this argument, and I find that an additional year of living has done nothing to temper my resolve.

We are not trying to hurt anyone with our enthusiasm, yet it is so very female to lower our voices and dim the signs of our happiness to avoid upsetting those who have no business trying to tamp us down. Let us be done with that.

It’s not that I don’t understand the pain of Bernie Sanders supporters’ wounds. Isn’t it true, after all, that what we dislike most in others are the weaknesses we recognize in ourselves? In 2008, it took me a while to bounce back from the heartbreak of Hillary Clinton’s primary defeat to Barack Obama. Let’s just say you wouldn’t have wanted to hang out with me. If that is always true of you, I can’t help you here.

In hindsight, I can see that my injury was self-inflicted, a human response to disappointment. Nobody was looking to hurt my feelings, and no one from the Obama camp felt the least bit obligated to court or cajole me out of my sour mood. The duration and course of my recovery were up to me, and by golly, I got there.

Likewise, a lot of Sanders supporters will sulk until they get bored with their grudges, and then most of them will join the fight to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office. It’s not up to me or anyone else who voted for Clinton to do the hard work of healing for them. Soul-searching is, by definition, a solo act.

Now that we’ve had a day or so to get used to the idea that the Democratic Party is about to nominate the first viable female candidate for president, it’s time to figure out what comes next.

I am delighted by the prospect of a national discussion fueled by the assumption that every issue is a women’s issue. That’s just one of the life-altering changes sweeping in on the wings of a Hillary Clinton candidacy. Another is the full stop it brings to patronizing speculation about what women — and what girls — cannot do in this world. The reality of a female president blows that door off its hinges.

On Monday, Clinton is scheduled to be in Cleveland, where I live, to emphasize the need for unity. One of her greatest challenges in this campaign is to convince white men who feel abandoned and invisible that she sees them and that she cares. So many women in America will readily believe that she does because this is a central truth of our lives, too. We care about our men, and too many of us love men who are hurting.

We also understand the enduring legacy of negative stereotypes about strong women. Too often, we are cast as everything that is now wrong with America.

Donald Trump will attempt to exploit such suspicions of us because fear is his only strategy. He is living proof that small people come in all sizes. The last thing he thinks he should have to do is compete with a woman. He is the bully we know, the giant boor we’ve been trying to topple for much of our lives.

At the risk of sounding joyful, I think Hillary Clinton is the warrior we’ve been waiting for.

 

By: Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Columnist and Professional in Residence at Kent State University’s School of Journalism; The National Memo, June 8, 2019

June 10, 2016 Posted by | American History, Hillary Clinton, Women | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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