Gail Collins wrote in the New York Times last March,
Hillary Clinton is by far the best qualified candidate for president. But at this point in the campaign, you can understand why some people feel that voting for her against Bernie Sanders is like rewarding Washington for its worst behavior.
This was after her loss to Sanders in Michigan, where her campaigning against Sanders had gotten so dishonest and dirty that even mainstream media pundits were chastising her for it (see alsoÂ James Hohmann at the Washington Post).
On the same day the New York Times editorial board wrote,
Mrs. Clinton may be annoyed at the continued challenge posed by the self-described democratic socialist from Vermont. â€œThe sooner I could become your nominee, the more I could begin to turn our attention to the Republicans,â€ she told a crowd in Detroit. But Mr. Sanders is likely to remain in the contest to the end, and if she is the Democratic nominee, Mrs. Clinton must win over and energize his supporters. The results in Michigan suggest she has a ways to go.
If you read the editorial you see they aren’t just talking about her winning more primaries. They were telling her that her attacks on Sanders had gone over the line, and she needed to reel them back if she expected to unify the party in November. Nobody likes to see his candidate vilified and lied about.
I know the Clinton people complain perpetually that people are unfair to Hillary Clinton. Then in the same breath they turn around and smear Sanders, or his supporters. I’ve had to disengage with a lot of people I’ve been in touch with in social media for many years because I can’t stand their lies and insults. Never mind the paternalistic (yes, paternalistic) and dripping condescension that is the hallmark of the Clintonistas. They feel entitled to the innate superiority of their opinions. They were the same way in 2008, btw; I don’t know how many times I was dismissed as naive because I planned to vote for that Obama guy.
But this primary is turning into something worse, and it could get a lot uglier.
I’m hearing more about what happened in Nevada, and it appears the local dignitaries in charge took it upon themselves to railroad the Sanders contingent to keep them from adding delegates and possibly flipping the state to Sanders. Like that would actually matter now. Having looked at accounts of this from both sides, itÂ seems that part of the problem was that many Sanders delegates were new to state politics and weren’t familiar with the Nevada party’s arcane and convoluted process. But it’s also the case that the officials in charge were loyal Clinton supporters who treated the Sanders delegates as foreign hostiles. It appears to me that instead of helping them navigate the process to enable a fair convention, the officials took advantage of the confusion and railroaded the Sanders contingent to keep their participation at a minimum.
Here’s an interview (start at about 32 minutes in)Â with a Sanders supporter — Dan Rolle — at the convention who really did understand the process and tells his version of what happened, followed by an interview (start at about 50 minutes) with Nina Turner, former Ohio state senator who has been campaigning for Sanders and was at the convention representing Sanders. Even Turner, who strikes me as a level-headed person, says the Dem officials flat-out cheated.
Here is Rolle’s video. Rolle is currently running as a Democrat for a U.S. House seat, so he’s not a political neophyte.
See also D.D. Guttenplan in The Nation.
It fascinates me that many people bright enough to know that emails from Nigeria are possibly selling a scam accept the official Dem Party version of what happened in Nevada without question, in spite of what can be seen and heard in the many videos that support the Sanders’s delegates’ version, and in spite of the testimony of many people in attendance.
Now I’m reading from “establishment” media that violence was breaking out at the convention. There are many claims of chair-tossing and other physical violence. The chair says she had to flee because she feared for her safety. I’ve read several different accounts of participants and seen their videos, and among other things the participants deny that any chairs were thrown or that there were threats of violence within the convention itself. And the many videos I’ve seen support that claim. There was a lot of shouting and booing, but to say that the chairperson had to flee because she feared for her safety isn’t supported by what evidence has been available so far. It seems to be a claim being made by the Nevada state Dems to cover up their own bad behavior.
And any of us who lived through the Vietnam War protest era ought to recognize this tactic as a ruse to de-legitimize the Sanders contingent. Nixon’s people pulled that often enough back then.
I say that if the Democrats want to “unify” in November, they need to look to their own conduct. They can’t treat people in this ham-handed way and then demand they just get over it.
The chair of the Nevada state convention has received a lot of ugly threats, and that’s wrong. The Democratic Party condemned the threats, and rightfully so. But they’ve said nothing about what happened at the convention. If they had their heads on straight they would ask the chair to resign and issue an apology to keep the hard feelings from getting harder. But they won’t.
Bernie Sanders issued a statement that complained about what happened in Nevada, and Dem officials were outraged. How dare he question the official story? He’s supposed to be ordering his followers to behave, like a good cog in the machine. But instead of complaining to Sanders that he should turn his back on his followers and demand unity, the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign need to adjust their own attitude, and fast, to avoid violence at the national convention.
I am utterly opposed to violence at demonstrations and remain so, but I’m seeing emotions get out of hand. And I think the only people who have the power to avoid it are the Dems and Clinton themselves, not Sanders. Right now if he were to order his supporters to stand down and pledge loyalty to Clinton, they would just turn on him. They are that fed up.
Let’s consider where Hillary Clinton is at the moment. She might have assumed all along that once she had the nomination people would just get over their hard feelings and vote blue no matter who. There were a lot of hard feelings in 2008 — mostly caused by her own bad behavior — and Barack Obama won, anyway.
But this is a different situation from 2008. Barack Obama wasn’t the one fomenting the bad feelings; she was. She attempted to use her followers’ passions to hold the Dem party hostage to get the veep position until she finally relented some time in June, and I suspect she only relented because she was offered a cabinet position if Obama won.
But you know she’s not going to offer Sanders anything, and if she did I doubt he’d accept it. He’s going to go back to the Senate to be a dedicated thorn in her side. And as soon as she has the Dem nomination clinched, she’s going to move right and campaign to the center, ignoring the progressive Left.
As I write this the Kentucky primary is till too close to call. Sanders and Clinton will split the delegates no matter who is declared the winner. But Clinton made a big show of claiming victory several hours ago. This tells me she’s an insensitive ass whose own ego takes precedence over common sense. She’s far enough ahead that a delegate here and there won’t matter. A little sensitivity and magnanimity on her part would go a long way right now to soothe the anger. But she doesn’t have it in her to do that, apparently.
I cannot emphasize enough that Sanders didn’t create this schism in the Democratic Party. It’s existed, and has been widening, for at least a few years. Sanders was simply the guy who stepped up and articulated what a lot of us already were thinking. The Dems seem to think that if they can squash Sanders everything will go back to normal. And they are wrong. They have to address this. They can’t just smack Sanders’s supporters around and order us to get into line. The establishment Democrats must adjust to a change in the political landscape, starting with their own attitudes.
Itâ€™s not at all surprising â€“ or wrong, to be fair â€“ that establishment Democrats would support Hillary Clinton. Clinton is a party veteran and a known commodity. Sheâ€™s been at the center of Democratic politics for decades. … But the Democratic establishment can maintain neutrality in this process without compromising their preferred candidate. The fact is, Clinton has received at least 2.5 million more primary votes than Sanders. She was â€“ and is â€“ likely to win the nomination. Thereâ€™s no need to rig the process or skew the rules in her favor â€“ doing so only adds to the suspicion that the process itself is undemocratic, which is ruinous to the partyâ€™s long-term viability.
People shouldn’t have to feel compromised when they vote, that they are rewarding someone for bad behavior.Â The establishment Democrats need to swallow their egos and develop some class, and fast. If Clinton loses to Trump in November she’s going to scapegoat Sanders, but it really will be on her and on the Democratic Party.