Sunday, April 24, 2016

Silly Hand-Wringing

If you're looking for the insider's inside look at Washington, there is no better place to start than the source Charlie Pierce has dubbed Tiger Beat on the Potomac.  In this case, Steven Shepard reports

Democrats have a message for Bernie Sanders: Shut it down before the July national convention in Philadelphia.

That’s according to The POLITICO Caucus — a panel of activists, strategists and operatives in 10 key battleground states — who worried a protracted post-primary clash for the nomination could hurt Hillary Clinton, the party’s likely nominee, in their states in the general election.

Half of Democratic insiders said Sanders, who trails in the delegate race by a wide margin, should end his campaign before the final primary on June 14 in the District of Columbia. Another 39 percent said the Vermont senator should continue campaigning through the D.C. primary, but end his campaign immediately after if he trails Clinton in pledged delegates — which is likely given Sanders’ current deficit of 277 pledged delegates after Clinton’s resounding victory in New York this week.

It's very generous for them to think of Sanders' welfare. Or it would be if they were, but instead

Only 1 in 10 Democratic insiders said Sanders should try to woo superdelegates to help him overtake Clinton on the convention floor in Philadelphia if he finishes the primary season trailing in pledged delegates, as campaign manager Jeff Weaver suggested Tuesday night in a televised interview.

“I think it would benefit the Democrats to have Bernie drop out sooner rather than later and ask his supporters to coalesce behind Hilary,” said a Wisconsin Democrat, who, like all respondents, completed the survey anonymously. “He stands no chance of winning the nomination at this point, and the Democrats can show a united front while the Republicans are so deeply fractured.”

The Vermont senator has run a campaign based almost entirely on issues. The major exception appears to be when he said that Clinton isn't qualified to be president- and that itself was predicated on campaign financing, Iraq, and trade.

“Bernie made his point,” added one Colorado Democrat. “It's time to bring the party back together. The longer he waits, the more damage he does. The question is whether or not he cares. The rest of us do.”

Cares about what? The party hasn't been rent asunder because the once-presumptive Democrtic nominee, the individual everyone expected to be crowned in Philadelphia, has faced a primary challenger.  It has made Mrs. Clinton a better candidate, having forced her to the left on economic issues, persuading her even to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (which she previously had praised), a "trade" deal so bad the Administration has resorted to bribery to squelch criticism.

Politico's Shepard continues

A Nevada Democrat suggested the Sanders camp should focus on “doing what’s necessary for a Democratic victory in November,” but said Weaver “made a fool of himself by declaring on MSNBC that Bernie would take the campaign to the convention even if they were behind in delegates and popular vote.”

That Nevada Democrat seems to have forgotten that neither Sanders, nor his campaign or his supporters, made those rules.  Superdelegates were created in part to block the nomination of someone outside the Party establishment, such as the independently-minded Sanders. If the underdog rolls over and plays dead, there will be no reason to reconsider the undemocratic system of superdelegates. It will simply go on, there to assist a future establishment favorite who is behind in pledged delegates entering the convention.

Weaver could have denied his candidate would take the campaign to the convention. He might have as well declared "we're not in it to win it."  If the Senator takes the campaign beyond the convention, refusing to endorse Clinton promptly after she is nominated, there may be some damage done. But not until then, and that won't happen.

"Some insiders," Politico notes, "suggested a graceful exit could help Sanders — the independent junior Vermont senator — become a major player in Democratic politics in the years to come."  As someone who will be 75 this autumn, the Vermont Senator is not likely to be a "major player" the next quarter-century.

Assuming Bernard Sanders is not nominated, his contribution will have been to have moved the Party closer to its roots, one focused on the interests of Americans aside from their racial, gender, or sexual-preference status.  If his campaign has an impact on campaign financing, trade, and fair pay for workers, the concern claimed by Democratic candidates for the middle class in the post -Carter/Clinton/Obama era will be genuine.

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