Unify This

“Unify” is the verb of the hour. Can the Dems unify in November? More specifically (the usual question goes) can Sanders supporters unify with the Democratic Party and vote for Clinton?

People are pushing Sanders to drop out now mostly because he’s causing Clinton to burn money and time that could be used against the Republicans. But the primaries aren’t over yet, and the two candidates aren’t that far apart in pledged delegates — 275, I think. It keeps changing, because various state election boards keep making “adjustments,” but that’s the most recent number I could find. Clinton has 1428 pledged delegates and needs 2383 to win the nomination. There are 1633 delegates up for grabs in the remaining primary states. So the raw numbers tell me nobody’s got it sewn up.

Of course, of you add in Clinton’s 502 superdelegates (versus Sanders’s 38) she’s a lot closer to winning than he is. She’s also ahead in the polls in the remaining states. Is it over?

Not so fast — she’s only up by 2 percentage points according to the most recent poll in California. Indiana is close, also.

However, the  primaries for this coming Tuesday are in Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, with a total of 452 delegates. Maryland is a sure thing for Clinton. She could sweep the other states as well, but some will be close.

But this means that it’s very possible (by my calculations, which you should always regard skeptically) that after Tuesday, adding the 502 superdelegates, she’ll go over 2383 delegates. And then the calls for Sanders to capitulate will become deafening.

But he’s not going to quit before California, I don’t think, unless Clinton somehow gets enough pledged delegates to win without the superdelegates.  In fact, there’s a remote chance he could sweep the June 7 primaries and get a majority of those 783 delegates up for grabs. That would be a kick in the butt going into the convention, huh?

In short, while it is possible Clinton will end the primary season with enough pledged delegates to clinch the nomination, I think it’s also possible she won’t.

In which case, things will get messy. I am honestly not sure what Sanders will do. I don’t think he’s going to catch up to Clinton in pledged delegates, unless he has a landslide win in California, which is unlikely.  I understand his campaign manager is trying to flip superdelegates, but that’s not going well. The party will want him to concede to Clinton before the convention.

I’ve already written that I don’t think he will try a third-party run in the general election. I’m good with this; we’ll need him in the Senate. But the Dems had better be careful how they handle him if they want any unifying. Sanders supporters feel the Democrats are their enemy right now. If Sanders is shoved aside too unceremoniously, especially if Clinton can’t win with pledged delegates, it’s going to cost the Dems votes in November.

I believe the Democrats assume that once Sanders is clearly defeated he will make a nice concession speech, and his followers will be mollified and vote for Clinton as they are told. But I don’t think it’s going to be that easy. In fact, my sense of things is that some of the Sanders’s supporters are so angry they could  turn on him if he’s too conciliatory to Clinton.

If I were him, and it came to the end of the run, I’d tell the supporters to vote their conscience in November — adding that in my estimation Secretary Clinton would be the better choice compared to the Republican — and I’d also put forth a list of progressive Senate and House candidates and ask that the supporters put their energies into getting them elected in November. And then I’d take a long vacation before going back to Vermont to campaign for my Senate seat.

The Dems will be outraged if Sanders doesn’t give Clinton an unequivocal endorsement, but I don’t think he can without absolutely crushing a large part of his supporters, because Clinton has come to symbolize everything they hate about the Democratic Party and the election system generally. And then the revolution would be over. I think the best he can do is simply say the Republican would be worse.

The Dems had also better give him a prime-time speaking slot and a big say in the platform.

Would the Sanders supporters vote for Clinton in November? Some will, some won’t. I have no idea in what proportion. Clinton is going to have to work for it, though. She can’t take those votes for granted. And I’m not sure she knows that.

People look to the absolutely vicious 2008 campaign and note that the rough primary season didn’t cost Barack Obama the election. But there’s a difference — Barack Obama is nice. He always struck me as being very genuine. Unless you’re a racist, the more you see of him, the more you like him. Clinton … not so much. And I don’t think that the 2008 primary season left any  of us with such a sense of disgust with the Democratic Party itself, that I remember.

So whether the Dems can “unify” for the November election depends on many factors, assuming Clinton is the nominee. These are:

  1. How big of a jerk Clinton makes of herself between now and the convention, or whenever Sanders concedes. Likewise Clinton’s surrogates and supporters.
  2. How big of a jerk the Democratic establishment makes of itself between now and the convention, etc. The convention itself could be handled in a way to soothe the Sanders people, or not. We’ll see.
  3. Whether the Republican nominee is horrible enough to make Clinton look good. This is possible.

Clinton is probably going to be the Dem nominee, and she’s probably going to win the White House in November, but I don’t think Sanders supporters are going to put this election year behind them and embrace the Democratic Party afterward. So winning, maybe; unifying, not so much.

10 thoughts on “Unify This

  1. What I would do… if I could vote…. is vote for the democratic nominee against the republican, even if the democrat is only Clinton. All the GOP candidates vary from repulsive to dangerously repulsive. But once Clinton is elected and even prior to her coronation, I think progressives should cancel any honeymoon plans and let HRC know if she doesn’t govern from way left of center, the democrats will find a primary challenger in 2020.

    We need to threaten her 2nd term EARLY in the 1st term and drive her left in the first term. Make her prove she wasn’t bought off by Wall Street and openly question any move she makes that’s not a Liz Warren progressive slap at the banksters.

  2. I remember the PUMA movement from her first campaign. That did no good. The long-range machinations of the ReTeaVangeliKKKlan’s money faction have been at work for decades. The Democrats need to remember that old Will Rogers line, “I don’t belong to any organized political party: I’m a Democrat.” We cannot continue that way. Even if we beat the Republicans this time, the R’s are already moving to hobble our candidates even before they are elected. Has anyone else been seeing the Peter G. Peterson ad demanding a plan to “Repay the Debt” that is popping up on Facebook? HRC is too inclined to be “responsible” like a good Republican, and not inclined enough to swat this crap like the horsefly it is. We will have to make her rethink her inclinations. And we have to win the next set of midterm elections.

  3. First, as usual:

    It’s not Hillary I worry about.
    It’s the rest of the “D”establishment.
    Specifically, that curly-haired “Tribble,” DWS!
    She can make any situation, worse!

    I loved her during the Dumbaya years. She’d go on TV, and just eviscerate Dumbaya and Dickie Death.
    But, like a great wartime General, she sucks when the initial war is over, and an occupation begins – think, Patton with a Harpo Marx wig (and please, she’s a very attractive and smart woman, so this remark is not meant to be sexist/misogynistic, it’s meant to be funny).
    DWS needs to go!

    Treat Bernie with respect.
    Give him a prime-time spot during the Convention, and most of his followers will probably go to the poll’s in November, grumble, and vote for Hillary.

    Don’t let the near-perfect get in the way of the “much the fuck better.”

  4. OT – I found out that while I was being sentenced – literally – almost 100 members of the US House were signing & cosigning a letter to the leadership asking for 5 pieces of legislation which are frozen in committee that they want brought up for a vote.


    The legislation addresses voting suppression and money in politics. There’s no chance that the GOP leadership will consider the request but the signers have the ‘backing’ of thousands who protested in DC last week, 1200 of whom were arrested.The judge moved my sentencing date just to keep the events separate.

    This is a BFD – I will go to jail with the satisfaction that our efforts are bearing fruit – it’s not ripe yet, but the prospect of real change is budding, at least.

  5. Doug,

    I know we all wish you were like Samson, and took the whole temple of “The Parliament of Whores” down.

    But there’s a lot to said for being a mason who chipped and chipped away, loosened the plaster of the columns, so that Samson could make his dramatic change(s)!

    You’re my ‘Everyday/Everyman Hero!’
    Let us know what you want or need.

    Maybe the ‘Food Network” will have a new feature show:
    ‘Cakes with Files in Them!’

    FSM knows they’re running out of ideas over there.

  6. To Hillary fans, forgive me in advance. But what I am about to share is based mostly on anecdotal experience with friends, family and others I know personally who are Hillary supporters.

    What I found common is this: support for Hillary is based less on positives about her and/or details of accomplishments or policies she has professed to bring forward as President, and more on what Sanders negatives are. When I say, “tell me something about Hillary as to why democrats should support her and why she would be a good standard bearer for the party, I get, for example: “Bernie is not a democrat;” “Bernie is a socialist!,” or “no one is going to vote for a socialist,” or, horror of horrors, “Sanders has advocated for bread lines!” But the most common is, “he can’t win the general,” and all because of the above. Never mind the facts on the ground now that clearly cast this as nonsense. They say, for example, “Sanders never says how he’s going to break up the big banks.” And here I have to question the honesty of normally politically astute people who conveniently forget that in 2009 there were plans and ways to do just this, however the political will was lacking. This is not to say that somehow Sanders will magically make this happen, but to pretend that there is no way to do this or that Sanders “doesn’t have a plan” is disingenuous.

    If those selling democrats and Sanders supporters on Hillary base their pitch solely on the negatives of Sanders, then what they are already saying, unwittingly or not, is this really is a lesser of evils campaign. But is that what you really want to go into a general election campaign with?

    Some will also say, “Hillary can get things done” that Sanders can’t. Really? Does anyone honestly believe that Hillary Clinton, someone these people on the right have had an unhealthy, visceral hatred of for decades, fresh as it remains, would support anything she would propose? For what its worth, Sanders being a relative unknown in this sense is an advantage. And speaking of getting things done, if that means cutting a deal with the right to add more incremental steps to say, dismantling social security, and calling that an “accomplishment” for a democratic president, just because it “got done” then we really aren’t attempting to advance traditional democratic values, as much as we are supporting career accomplishments of political leaders.

    Then there are those who say “Sanders is a socialist” implying “communism” (bread lines!) as if this is a real concern rather than nothing more than dumb right wing sloganeering that people, democrats should take seriously. And this is offered up as to why Sanders “can’t win.” To that I say, “Benghazi,” emails,” and all the other phony scandals the right has dredged up. Democrats know that’s BS as well, and yet the same nonsense is deployed against a democratic candidate. This seems like desperation.

    If Hillary is the nominee, which is likely, I will support her, and hope other democrats supporting Sanders now will support her as well. If the choice is between her and any of the republicans, then its a no brainer. And I hope Sanders makes this clear. But this unification has to start with Hillary supporters acknowledging the real concerns of Sanders supporters, as well as coming together to come up with some positive selling points based on who Hillary is and what she will do to advance the party. At least we all can come together on that, because I really don’t think Hillary as a candidate can run on a vote for me because I am not as bad as the other guy campaign, and be assured if inspiring people to come out and vote to the extent we’ll need to win.

  7. @csm

    We already have breadlines – we call them food banks and the need for them has steadily increased in this supposed recovery of ours.

    My opinion is that we need to organize, organize, organize. The young should be our wave of the future – now let’s help them to do a better job than our sorry asses have managed. Let’s get them into politics,show them how to primary the Blue Dogs and Clintonites, organize a real Democratic party and start making this a country to be proud of again. If Clinton does manage to weasel her way into power, she needs to be educated in this one idea: triangulation means no re-election. Govern as a real Democrat, or lose power as a Blue Dog.

  8. “… I’d take a long vacation before going back to Vermont to campaign for my Senate seat.”
    That would be a pretty long vacation … Bernie’s term isn’t up until 2018.

    I’d like to put my two cents in about what I think Bernie should do if he doesn’t get the nomination. Instead of ending his campaign, I’d like to see him continue it by campaigning AGAINST the Republican, just as he would have if he were the nominee — rather than FOR Hillary, which as you say, would be counterproductive, in that a lot of his voters would not do it, and some might even turn against him.

    The effect would be to help her, true, but he wouldn’t have to actually endorse her or pretend to support her agenda. But the effect would also be to keep building the movement, so that by the time she begins her term, it would be a well-organized grassroots voting bloc. With Sanders’s proven fundraising prowess, they could support insurgent Dem candidates not picked by the establishment, who could win where “traditional” Dems couldn’t.

    The standard way of doing it, of course, would be (at best) For Bernie to try to get a few concessions from her at the convention in return for his support. But who are we kidding? He won’t get anything of any value from her, and the end result might well be to see her dilute and co-opt what’s left of his movement.

    As of now Bernie has at least the beginnings of a desperately-needed bloc within the party: In the senate, Merkley and (de facto) Elizabeth Warren; in the House; Ellison, Gabbard, Grayson, Grijalva, Kaptur, Lipinski, Nolan, Peterson, and Welch; 156 state legislators (so far); and a considerable number of former holders of these and other elected offices. I strongly suspect there are many more who just haven’t said so yet, may not say so but will respond to his leadership. — He also has (I’m pretty sure), the de facto support of Biden, who, though he will be out of office, will have considerable prestige in the party.

    In other words, Sanders, precisely by not kowtowing to Clinton, will remain a force to be reckoned with within the party, and a counterfoil to her worst tendencies.

    Nobody will be able to accuse him of acting against the party’s interests if he campaigns vigorously against the Republican: I can’t see why he wouldn’t want to. I wouldn’t expect Clinton to show gratitude, but it’s doubtful she can win without his voters, whose support she is taking for granted. Again, this way she will get it, but out of loyalty to him rather than to her.

    I believe Hillary would be more palatable to many Sanders voters if they felt they were voting for the continuation of the revolution, rather than for Clinton herself. I believe this because it’s how I myself feel.

    I know there are Bernie people that would preferTrump or Cruz to Hillary — a kind of politique du pire (the worse things are, the better). Personally, I don’t think that would work out too well.

  9. I will go to jail with the satisfaction that our efforts are bearing fruit – it’s not ripe yet, but the prospect of real change is budding, at least.

    I have hope. I know I’ve said it before, Doug, but thank you for what you did. I will continue to be inspired.

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