This is where a policy-oriented Washington commentator like myself is supposed to offer Bernie Sanders supporters some sort of an olive branch. I should indicate that I get why Sanders has a movement.
But Sanders does not deserve a movement, and his losing campaign does not deserve unusual deference and concessions. His tale about American oligarchy is simplistic, his policy proposals are shallow, his rejection of political reality is absurd, his self-righteousness and stubbornness are unbecoming. And he has lost. Here are some simple points worth repeating:
▪ Sanders’ path to the Democratic presidential nomination is essentially nonexistent. His only hope rests on getting Democratic “superdelegates,” nearly all of whom back Hillary Clinton, to swing his way. They will not do that, given that Sanders has attacked them as non-democratic actors in the nominating process and that Clinton will almost certainly end the cycle with more votes and more pledged delegates.
▪ It is politically reasonable for superdelegates to stick with Clinton. Poll numbers Sanders cites to argue that he would be a stronger nominee do not reflect impressions voters would have after a sustained, Republican, anti-Sanders assault – the sort of thing Clinton has endured for decades. Polling shows Sanders does not do unusually well among true independents and many of these crucial swing voters do not have an opinion of him.
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▪ A Clinton nomination would be legitimate. Sanders zealot Seth Abramson writes, “While not rigged, there is no question that the Democratic Party’s primary process – which uses superdelegates to create an appearance of pre-election electoral inevitability and closed primaries and onerous registration requirements to exclude many new, independent, and party-switching voters – has dramatically favored Mrs. Clinton.” This is nonsense, considering that Sanders has benefited from the nominating process’s anti-democratic quirks. FiveThirtyEight found“Clinton has been hurt at least as much by caucuses as Sanders has been hurt by closed primaries.”
So, enough with the reality-denial. Enough with the sanctimony. Enough with the attitude that only Sanders’ agenda counts. Enough with the dream that his movement is broader than the ballot box shows it to be. Enough with the conspiracy theorizing, the attacks on the “establishment,” the platitudes about rights to health care and free college without realistic plans to realize them, the delegitimization of dissentors, the scorning of practicality, the negativity about the state of the country and the simplistic narrative of 1 percenters who are to blame for everything that is wrong. Enough with the excuses for half-baked policy proposals. Enough with the “political revolution.”
Berners can accept reality or sink deeper into delusion. Only one of these options would be good for them and the country.