Saturday, June 18, 2016

No Retreat, No Surrender

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, apparently unaware that Hillary Clinton most likely has enough delegates to clinch the Democratic presidential nomination and that Debbie Wasserman Schultz is ready to make sure at a moment's notice that she does, is still running for President. On Thursday, Sanders laid out a manifesto of where the Democratic Party ought to go from here on and how to get there - endorsing a progressive agenda that includes universal health care, transit infrastructure, and other public amenities people in other industrialized countries take for granted, strict gun control,  and cutting military spending ,as well as getting big money out of politics and reviving the Democrats' fifty-state electoral strategy pioneered by Howard Dean and inexplicably abandoned once Barack Obama was elected President.  The following morning, Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver confirmed that Bernie is still in the race and is not conceding.  (He was asked point-blank on MSNBC if Sanders was still a candidate, and he said yes.  That was . . . the Weaver's answer. ;-) )
There's just one problem: Sanders has no clout.  After all, Hillary got the most votes in the primaries and caucuses and so her victory reflects the will of the party rank-and-file, albeit a will imposed on them by a lousy debate schedule and the successful marginalizing of opponents not named Bernie Sanders.  Also, Sanders has only been a Democrat for as long as he's been running for President.  The idea of him suggesting goals for the party, laudable as they are, when he has only been a member for a year is like a guest at a pizza party demanding that sliders and Buffalo wings be served instead.  Sanders may not even be able to count on his supporters to back him up, as many of them may be resigned to supporting Hillary now that President Obama has endorsed her.  Some Sanders supporters are not giving up on their guy, and a few of them have even suggested that he run on the Green Party ticket (no word on what the already nominated Green presidential candidate Jill Stein thinks of that).  Some Sanders supporters appear to believe that Bernie is the only one that they can rally around, when even Bernie admits that this race isn't about Bernie.  It's about all progressives banding together and working for change.  Who leads them is not as important as who follows the leader and how committed the followers are to the cause.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump isn't backing down either.  His incendiary statements - the latest one accusing American service personnel in Iraq War of stealing money - and his attempts to silence the Republican leadership in Washington must have Paul Ryan looking at the by-laws of the Republican Party and seeing if Trump can somehow be denied the party's presidential nomination, and key Republicans are falling away from the Donald.
I once said that the 2016 election would resemble that of 1852, which caused a whole party to fall apart, but this one is increasingly looking more and more like the election of 1860, which almost caused the whole country to fall apart!   

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