It’s been “interesting”, shall we say, to experience the reaction of Bernie Sanders supporters to my suggestion that Sanders has lost the race and ought to find a way to break the news to his followers.
For example, I’ve learned things about myself that I did not know, including that I’m a corporate sellout on the Hillary payroll and, as one gentleman put it on Facebook, a Republican and “the same Bookman at the AJC who was one of George W. Bush’s early cheerleaders.”
Again, if you thought that disdain for a fact-based universe was limited to those on the right, you now know better.
One recurring theme among Sanders’ avid supporters is the claim that Bernie now has momentum, that much of Hillary Clinton’s obvious lead in delegates and the popular vote was built early in the race, before Bernie had the money and media visibility to be heard, and in primaries that were located disproportionately in the South. The implication is that the importance of those earlier primaries ought to be diminished, with more weight given to more recent outcomes.
It almost sounds convincing, except for one thing: That claim is no more factual than the claim that I was a Bush cheerleader.
Let’s take the last month of the Democratic campaign and for argument’s sake forget everything that happened before them. Let’s wipe the slate clean and pretend that the process started with the New York primary on April 19, a primary that Sanders at one point suggested that he would win.
Including that race, we’ve had 10 primaries and one caucus, in Guam. Hillary won six of those 10 primaries, and also the Guam caucus. Sanders won four.
In the past month, Hillary has won 462 earned delegates; Bernie has won 399.
And bottom line, in the past month, Hillary has gotten 627,218 more primary votes than Bernie.
That is not momentum, ladies and gentlemen. Sanders continues to lose more than he wins, he is falling further behind in the earned delegate count and even late in the race, with the issues and personalities fully explored, he continues to draw fewer votes than his opponent.
So let’s be frank: What the more avid Sanders backers are demanding as part of their “crusade to save democracy” is that democracy be ignored, that the opinions of a clear majority of those who have taken the time and effort to vote in Democratic primaries be thrown in the trash bin, and that anything short of tossing those votes in the trash bin amounts to a “rigged process” against them. The same folks who complained bitterly about the unfairness of superdelegates supposedly empowered to overturn the verdict of the people are now demanding that superdelegates must overturn the verdict of the people, so that they can be allowed to win and make everything right in the world. It is the argument of a spoiled child.
There’s considerable angst right now about the difficulty of reuniting the Democratic Party to face Donald Trump, especially given recent polls showing a slight Trump lead. I think that concern about division is overblown. The overwhelming majority of Sanders supporters have backed him in good faith, have participated in the process in good faith and I see every sign that they will accept the verdict of the primary process in good faith. They understand the stakes.
Sure, that probably won’t be true of the most hard-core Sanders supporters, but numerically speaking I don’t think that’s a large group. They are vocal and aggressive, they are passionate to the point of self-righteousness, but it’s a mistake to let them define the vast majority of those who #FeltTheBern but are now ready to accept the verdict of their fellow Americans and turn their attention to the fall.