Democratic Party Will Implode if Bernie’s Revolution is not Leveraged
It is June, and the election is not until November. The convention at which a nominee will be selected is still a month away. If the super delegates that have said they will cast their votes for Hillary actually do so, she will become the nominee, but she must get the votes of those super delegates because she does not have a sufficient number of pledged delegates to become the nominee without those votes.
Bernie Sanders has not conceded the nomination. He says he will go to the convention with his pledged delegates. This seems to piss off Hillary supporters who use her concession prior to the convention in 2008 as the example of how a true "party person" handles defeat with class and dignity.
They fail to see the differences as relevant, let alone significant.
Hillary Clinton conceded the nomination in 2008 after Barack Obama had sufficient pledged delegates to win the nomination. He did not need a single vote from a super delegate to get the nomination. That alone should be enough of a reason for her supporters to recognize a huge difference in the scenario this year, but they use it to contend that his concession now is, therefore, more important this year than hers was that year.
While that point might be valid if this were two establishment candidates vying for the nomination, another huge difference between this year and 2008 is that Bernie Sanders is anything but an establishment candidate. He serves in the Senate as an Independent, not as a Democrat. He chose to run within the Democratic Party with the realization that his progressive independence aligns better with that party, and that an indendent run would serve only to give the Republican Party a better chance to take the executive branch in November.
Democrats of the traditional mold should be thankful that he did it that way. Beyond that, they should recognize what he was able to accomplish despite the odds being stacked against him. However, instead of recognizing the phenomenon that is the Bernie Sanders’ political revolution, they seem to disregard what his supporters, many of whom are young and represent the future, mean to the future of the Democratic Party. Beyond that, many of them are contending the race was fair and he knew the rules when he entered the race.
That level of sanctimosity is not attractive to his supporters. Besides, Hillary also knew the rules, and the rules are the super delegates do not vote until the convention, so she does not have sufficient pledged delegates to win the nomination until they vote - and only if they vote as they say they will today. To contend he should play by the rules, but Hillary need not play by the rules, is one of the reasons many Bernie supporters do not like Hillary: she seems to play by rules that don’t apply to other people.
Whether that perception is truthful or not, it is real. To disregard it out of hand as without merit will be significant when it comes to luring Bernie supporters into the party or alienating them into believing that "the party of the people" is really a shill organization for the wealthy whose motto should be "we are slightly less disfunctional and repugnant than Republicans." Most Bernie supporters want real change to improve the lives of common people, not the status quo of huge tax breaks for the wealthy and negotiation of how much less government will actually represent the people. Bernie represents that drastic change; Hillary does not.
The latest tactic taken by many Hillary supporters is to accuse Bernie Sanders and his supporters of making it possible for Donald Trump to become President. I don’t know why they feel it is so important that everyone get behind her in June for an election in November, nor do I know why they would try to lure Bernie supporters with such negative motivation. Do they really think that it needs to be pointed out that Trump is a worse choice than Hillary? Do they not see that a better way to draw Bernie supporters into the party is to recognize what he was able to accomplish, and mold some of his ideas into the party platform? If the answer to the last question is no, then why shouldn’t Bernie utilize the rules set forth by the party to force those ideals onto the party? Clearly, the answer is he shouldn’t.
He should take his delegates to the convention to loudly make the point that he and his supporters are not selling out what they believe to be right, and the Democratic Party would be wise to notice the numbers, check out the ages, and concede that they want this raucus group working with them by adopting many of his ideas into their platform. If they want Bernie and his supporters to get in line, they should, perhaps, make the line more appealing instead of talking about them being sore losers who should just pout and obey their elders.
Many, if not most, of his supporters are not typical Democrats. Many, if not most, of his supporters are so young that they haven’t participated in political elections long enough to formulate an alliance with a party. Many, if not most, are getting involved because he inspired them to get involved.
If the Democratic Party is not wanting young, enthusiastic people to join its ranks, then there are alternatives for them: vote for him as a write-in candidate, vote for the Green Party, or not vote at all because no one cares and no one listens.
Those alternatives are the worst possible option for the Democratic Party. If the party loyalists continue to get older, it will, eventually, become extinct. Youth is the key to any successful organization, and his supporters are largely youthful and enthusiastic.
I am not one of the young people who support him. At fifty eight years old, I will be voting in a Presidential election for the eleventh time. However, I also am not an old curmudgeon. I have not forgotten what it was like to be young and considered irrelevant to older people. I remember thinking they were idiots to tell me how to vote because they knew better than I did. I do not want to replace those people. I want to be on the side of youth. We had dreams and ideals, and we weren’t irrelevant. Besides that, I am a grandfather. I am interested in shaping the world my grandchildren will inherit. It’s not about me. It’s about us.
If the goal of the Democratic Party is to be able to point at the Republican Party and boast "we aren’t as bad as them," all they need to do is exactly what many Hillary supporters are doing today: ignore the message that is being sent loudly and clearly.
If the goal of the Democratic Party is to remain viable as "the party of the people" and "the progressive party," then they need to embrace the youthful exuberance that has been harnassed by, ironically, the oldest candidate in the election.
None of the party loyalists are likely to leave if the party adopts a hard line on Wall Street exploitations, the growing chasm of income inequality, universal single payer health care, free, or at least affordable, college tuitions, reallocation of tax revenues toward programs that benefit lower and middle income classes, and elimination of the war mentality. However, the youthful Bernie supporters are not going to align with the party unless those talking points become part of the party platform.
It is not up to Bernie to tell his supporters to forget everything he fought for. It is up to Bernie to make sure the party recognizes what is important to his supporters. That is best done by not making any concessions unless or until Hillary gets the super delegate votes she has been promised, but has not yet received.
If there is any lesson to be learned by the Democratic Party by watching the Republican Party implode, it is to recognize that factions divide the party, uniting the party with inclusion and expansion will eliminate the factions, and, most of all, stay young.
They have the opportunity to take advantage of the political revolution that Bernie Sanders started, or to show those darned Bernie supporters that they can rig the system leaving them to be, at best, a faction within the party or, at worst, giving their youthful exuberance to the Green Party or becoming so disenfranchised that they simply don’t care.
If they don’t leverage that political revolution into the party with enthusiasm and open arms, then they should make notes as to what is happening to the Republican Party to see if they can implode less dramatically as it happens over the next few years.
Some other things I've written about: