Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

It's over. There, I said it, and the Heavens didn't come crashing down. Hillary Clinton, by virtue of her performance Tuesday, has ostensibly locked up the nomination. Including her victory in New York last week, Clinton has now won five of the last six states, four of them by huge margins, netting 84 delegates and wiping out the gains Bernie Sanders had made during his run.

We are now pretty much back where we started a month ago. Hillary is ahead by roughly 293 delegates. I say roughly because there are a still a couple of delegates left to apportion. Sanders' supporters might not want to admit it, but the numbers don't lie. He's not just losing ground, he's getting pummeled. And the rest of the calendar doesn't bode well for him. There are 1,016 delegates still up for grabs in May and June. Even if Sanders were to win 60 percent of them - and keep in mind he's trailing in Indiana, California and New Jersey - Clinton would still win by 89 delegates. That's 27 more than Obama beat her by in '08. Climbing Mount Everest would be child's play by comparison.

So what does Sanders do? Better still, what do his supporters do? Because that's the real dilemma here. As much as Clinton has dominated this race her chances in November hinge on what they do, or don't do. And if the posts I've been reading on Facebook are any indication, Hillary has some serious butt kissing to do over the next couple of months. Because as it stands now, some of Bernie's supporters would rather impale themselves on a rusty fence than pull the lever for her.

To some extent this is not a new phenomenon within the progressive movement. We hear a lot about how unhinged the Right is, and that is certainly true, but the Left is no stranger when it comes to being lost in space. How lost? Try this on for size. Some actually feel that letting Trump win would be a good thing because it would teach the country a lesson and allow for the real revolution they've been craving for ever since Bobby Kennedy said, "Now it's on to Chicago and let's win there."

And that's why Bernie Sanders has to step in sooner rather than later and get his supporters back down to planet Earth. He cannot go to the convention in an attempt to wrest the nomination from Clinton. For one thing, he'll be on his own. Most progressive groups have already publicly stated they will support whoever the pledged delegate leader is, even if it is Hillary. The only thing a contested convention would get him is a divided party and a tarnished legacy.

He doesn't have to pull out. He certainly has a right, just as Clinton did in '08, to see this through to the end. His supporters also have the right to vote for him, just like Hillary's supporters did for her eight years ago. But when the countin' is done, Bernie has to do what Hillary did. He has to give up the ghost and call it a night. Anything other than that would be catastrophic come the fall.

As for Hillary, she has to be magnanimous, something she has struggled with over her many years in public service. Let's face it, she's almost as sore a winner as she was a loser. She has to put behind her all the slings and arrows the Sanders campaign has launched at her over the last few months and begin to build a bridge that he can walk across. Besides, if she thinks Bernie was rough, wait until she's facing Trump in a one on one.

She should thank Sanders for two things: first, for making her a better and stronger candidate for the general; and second, for pushing her farther to the left than she would've gone. As Michael Tomasky correctly pointed out, America is in large part a liberal nation. Maybe not on all fronts, but certainly on a lot. From income inequality to equal rights, most voters are far more likely to agree with Bernie Sanders than Ted Cruz. And that's certainly good news for Democrats this year.

That's why Bernie's campaign was so vital to Clinton's chances. If she had simply run on the legacy of her husband, like she was probably going to do, she might well have lost. Hell she still could. Not because Bill wasn't a good president, but because most millennials were teenagers when he was in office. They remember Pearl Jam and Green Day, for sure, but Bubba? I wouldn't go betting the kid's tuition if I were you. Besides, nostalgia is not something the Left tends to embrace; that's the other side of the aisle you're thinking of. Most of these people weren't old enough to vote until '04. For some, Barack Obama was their first love. Bill Clinton might as well be George Washington.

But with the support of Sanders and, yes, Elizabeth Warren, Clinton will not only have the issues on her side but most progressives, as well. If you need a reminder of what happens to Democrats when progressives stay home, just take a look at the 2014 midterm election results. Remember what Obama said immediately after? "To everyone who voted, I want you to know that I hear you. To the two thirds of voters who chose not to participate in the process yesterday, I hear you too."

If I'm Hillary Clinton, I'd commit those words to memory.

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