Today was supposed to be something of a good day. The question, then, is what tomorrow brings. Let us start, then, as Steve Benen did, with yesterday.
Recognizing the writing on the wall, Sanders’ aides conceded yesterday that the campaign will “reassess” its strategy going forward. While that’s often a euphemism for “quit,” that’s not the case here: Sanders isn’t prepared to walk away, but he is prepared to shift his focus in light of the recent results. Consider the statement his campaign issued last night:
“I congratulate Secretary Clinton on her victories tonight, and I look forward to issue-oriented campaigns in the 14 contests to come. […]
“The people in every state in this country should have the right to determine who they want as president and what the agenda of the Democratic Party should be. That’s why we are in this race until the last vote is cast. That is why this campaign is going to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia with as many delegates as possible to fight for a progressive party platform that calls for a $15 an hour minimum wage, an end to our disastrous trade policies, a Medicare-for-all health care system, breaking up Wall Street financial institutions, ending fracking in our country, making public colleges and universities tuition free and passing a carbon tax so we can effectively address the planetary crisis of climate change.”
Over the last couple of months, each of the Sanders campaign’s election-night statements have included at least one reference to his “path to the nomination.” This one did not. It wasn’t an accidental omission.
Sanders started the race as an issue-oriented candidate who didn’t expect to be the party’s nominee, and the recent results have brought him full circle. He’s not done fighting; he’s just going to fight for something new: he can’t catch Clinton through the ballot box, but he can “fight for a progressive party platform.”
This is the day, apparently, when the Democratic Party is supposed to come together and turn its eyes to November.
Hillary Clinton has already begun courting the Sanders movement, and while Alex Seitz-Wald notes that, “Some supporters seem to be at least beginning to come to grips with the end”, which is more or less true, depending on who we ask.
Sanders addressed more than 6,400 people and made it clear he has no interest in dropping out. Notably, he spoke about his campaign as a movement with more important goals than winning.
“This campaign is not just about electing a president, it is about transforming a nation,” he said to cheers. “The fight that we are waging is not easy fight, but I know you are prepared to wage that fight against the one percent, against the billionaire class.”
Democracy for America, one of the main groups backing Sanders, suggested the goal is no longer winning, but respect.
“The question right now isn’t whether the movement behind Bernie Sanders is going to continue winning delegates and states in the weeks ahead, it’s whether the Democratic establishment is going to bring our party together by embracing our fight,” said Charles Chamberlain, the group’s executive director.
Others aren’t so convinced. Over at Salon, Conor Lynch considers “Why Clinton will have to do much more to win over Bernie supporters”:
If Clinton can promote a truly progressive agenda and not revert back to poll-driven centrism, then more Bernie supporters are apt to cast their vote for her (even if they have to hold their noses while doing it).
What Sanders supporters should bear in mind is that nothing will change without popular pressure from below — regardless of who is in the White House. It would be a shame to let the popular movement that has grown over the past year wither away once the primary season comes to a close. Billionaires and corporations do not stop pursuing their interests when elections are over, and neither should the people.
His colleague, Ben Norton, meanwhile, freaks out about Hillary Clinton’s history as a hawk, explaining, “Democrats, this is why you need to fear Hillary Clinton”, as if they didn’t already know. Still, that’s not quite as bad off as existential fantasist H. A. Goodman, the Bernie hardliner begging the FBI to do something to stop Hillary Clinton. It’s not so much that Goodman suddenly went all Tim Robbins, or anything; he’s been at it for a while. Lynch notes that “at least one in four Sanders supporters say they cannot see themselves voting for Clinton in November”, and this apparently despite Patton Oswalt’s advice.
Today is the day we are supposed to look toward November; whence looks tomorrow?
Image note: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at her presidential primary election night rally, Tuesday, April 26, 2016, in Philadelphia. (Detail of photo by Matt Rourke/AP Photo)
Benen, Steve. “Following Clinton’s victories, Sanders targets new goals”. msnbc. 27 April 2016.
Goodman, H. A. “Please, FBI — you’re our last hope: The Democratic Party’s future rests upon your probe of Hillary Clinton’s emails”. Salon. 27 April 2016.
Illing, Sean. “Bernie’s new mission: Democrats can stop worrying about Sanders tearing the party apart on his way out”. Salon. 27 April 2016.
Legum, Gary. “When celebrity endorsements go bad: How Bernie super-fan Tim Robbins became a cautionary tale”. Salon. 27 April 2016.
Lynch, Conor. “It won’t be so easy for Hillary: Why Clinton will have to do much more to win over Bernie supporters”. Salon. 27 April 2016.
Norton, Ben. “Democrats, this is why you need to fear Hillary Clinton: The NY Times is absolutely right — she’s a bigger hawk than the Republicans”. Salon. 27 April 2016.
Seitz-Wald, Alex. “Clinton victories spell beginning of the end for Sanders”. msnbc. 26 April 2016.
Strachan, Maxwell. “Patton Oswalt Wants You To Know ‘You’re A F**king Child’ If You Don’t Vote Because You Hate Hillary”. The Huffington Post. 21 April 2016.