Bernie Sanders stubbornness and refusal to call it a day in the 2016 Democrat Presidential primary calls to mind Ralph Nader’s decision to run for President in 2000 when it was clear he could not win and would most likely be a spoiler for Democrat Al Gore. Nader got enough votes to enable George W Bush to win with less than 50% of the popular vote. Will history repeat?
Bernie apparently feels the delegate selection rules are rigged against him (or at least in Hillary Clinton’s favor if not against him personally). The Democrat selections rules are the same ones which lead to Barack Obama’s upset win over Clinton in 2008. Hmmm.
Sanders’ hangup falls to the “super delegates” who are not elected with a pledge to any candidate. Rather they are often political regulars who “get rewarded” by being a “super delegate” and tend to vote with the Party’s preferred candidate. Hillary has many more pledged super delegates than Sanders.
Bernie, like Nader, is passionate about his socialist beliefs. He has made a strong impression on many voters, especially the younger ones. The math, however, seems to be fixed in Clinton’s favor and she will get the Party’s nomination and Sanders will not. Why not graciously bow out and wish her well?
Bernie may be thinking his strong showing will help mold the Democrat Platform (if he cannot gain the nomination) to more robustly reflect Sanders’ views on breaking up “too big to fail” banks, reigning in big money (like Wall Street and the Koch Brothers), and making a real change in income inequality. Almost certainly, Sanders will insist upon something like that for him to endorse Clinton.
History is a good teacher but unfortunately voters are not always good students. Nader was equally passionate about the evils of big business and environmental destruction. The point is not what Sanders’ beliefs may be, rather it is about the prospects of a GOP President and what that might mean to so many other values Sanders, Clinton and Democrats may hold in common. In other words, Sanders must correctly assess when he has mad his point and when it is time to withdraw and bring his supporters together with Clinton’s so that his party can win the general election.
In 2000, there was not a ground swell of popular enthusiasm for either George W Bush or Al Gore. Getting out the vote was a real task. When the election came down to Florida, the Supreme Court weighed in and enabled a narrow GOP victory. Enhanced interrogations, the Patriot Act, the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Katrina, and the near repeat of the great depression followed. Hmmm.
None of us know what “tit for tat” is going on between operatives for the Sanders and Clinton campaign staffs. Presidential elections are highly charged and not an environment for the weak of heart. At some point, however, the adults in the room must take charge and insist the juvenile behavior end. Democrats stand for something more than breaking up Wall Street regardless of whether this is a worthwhile goal. Think about the GOP quest to reverse human rights (for gays and lesbians), expel immigrants, grant tax cuts to the wealthy when we already have a deficit budget, roll back Obamacare while putting millions in the position of no healthcare insurance, and get out the sword and rattle it towards other countries (needlessly endangering other people’s children).
Bernie needs to get a grip on himself quickly. If Clinton’s people are stiffing him, he needs to make that known. (Shame on them if that were the case.)
Sanders may, of course, have made a great President. That is not the question. Instead, the subject is who can get elected and which party will that person be from. Clinton may (or may not) be the best choice for the Democrats. What really counts is making the best case to the American voters and accepting their choice. Before American voters can choose, the parties need to nominate a candidate. Driving a wedge between members of a party will make the final election problematic.
Come on Bernie, don’t be Bernie Nader.