Saturday, March 5, 2016

Last Call For Primary Motivations

Over at Reality-Based Community, Mark Kleiman analyzes where the Dems are right now and what Team Bernie has left to fight for as the nomination is all but out of reach right now.

So what are the Sanders people up to? Someone I know who talks to people inside the Sanders campaign is hearing that realists inside the campaign do not see a realistic path to his nomination, yet are committed to staying in the race for the purpose of maximizing leverage by building a large group of delegates, with 1000 being used as a rough target.

For some Sanders supporters, that would be a good enough reason to carry on. But others still sincerely think he can be nominated, and that either (1) he would be a better president than HRC or (2) he has a better chance than HRC to beat Trump or whoever. It’s not at all clear that those folks would keep working and giving for the purpose of building a movement or influencing the platform. And some of them, if they knew that Clinton had a virtual lock on the nomination and that the Sanders campaign understood that, would probably decide that their effort was better given to the task of winning in November. It’s hard to tell a story where Sanders’s continued hammering away at Clinton as a tool of Wall Street makes us safer from Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.

It seems to me that second group is, in effect, being cheated out of time and money. I bitterly recall writing what for me at the time was a substantial check to the McGovern campaign in the fall of 1972, in response to a desperate-sounding direct mail appeal and inspired by the idea that I was helping to defeat Richard Nixon. Only later did I learn that McGovern’s advisers, having given up on the Presidency by October, decided to cut back on expenditures to run a surplus, which was then diverted – perfectly legally – to McGovern’s Senate re-election campaign two years later. I felt – still feel – that I’d been flim-flammed.

Now, there’s no reason to think that the Sanders campaign is contemplating a similar gimmick. But the principle seems to me the same: the managers of the campaign getting people to give, and to work, in the false belief that they’re helping to elect a President. Not OK.

Footnote: Surely this is not a secret from the reporters covering the Sanders campaign. But I’ve seen no hint of it in print. Of course as long as the campaign continues, the people writing about it have stories to write, and of course any one of them who reported what was said to me would get the cold shoulder from Sanders and his staff. Still, isn’t it the job of journalists to tell their readers what they know?

It's a very good question, and the answer is that the Bernieswarm as our faithful readers put it aren't going to accept that Sanders doesn't have a way to get to the delegates he needs.  The reality of the night is Clinton's win in Louisiana tonight more than makes up for the delegates that Sanders is getting from winning Kansas and Nebraska, if not increasing her delegate lead.

Tonight I've seen people act like those two Midwestern states are the start of a massive wave of wins that will propel Bernie to the presidency, because "Hillary can't win outside Confederate States."  That's not only incorrect but massively devalues black voters, which has been a hallmark of the Sanders side of things for the entire primary season so far.

I'm still not completely sold on Hillary, and the primary will be long wrapped up by the time I get to vote here in Kentucky in May, but Team Bernie is making me less and less likely to vote for him by the hour and by the time March 15th rolls around and Maine, Michigan, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio vote, we ought to be at a point where we ought to start asking why Bernie's still in the race.

By the time April 26 comes, and Wisconsin, Wyoming, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania have voted, I'm betting that's going to be answered.

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