5 Pieces of Advice for Bernie Sanders From Hillary Clinton Circa 2008


Hillary Clinton has a lot of opinions on how a candidate losing a Democratic primary should act -- it's just that she's shed all of them since she became the front-runner.

Fortunately, the Internet.

With the help of this tool apparently no one in the mainstream media has access to, we can see what Clinton really thinks is the appropriate way forward for Bernie Sanders -- once we've stripped away the rank spin that media reports now confuse with principle.

(I can still remember media incredulity, but my memory's getting a little foggy.)

So, for the benefit of both the mainstream media and Clinton supporters who believe, along with The New York Times and The Washington Post, that anything coming out of the Clinton camp right now is inspired by first principles, here are five pieces of advice Hillary Clinton (2008 edition) has for Bernie Sanders:

1. Ask the super-delegates to overturn the will of the voters (as expressed by pledged delegates and the popular vote) if you can make the argument that you're more electable than your opponent.

Yes, this was Clinton's strongly held view in 2008.

Sanders' electability arguments, which are voluminous, can be found here.

2. Argue that if your opponent's delegate lead is under 100, the delegate race should be considered a "tie."

This would seem to suggest that Clinton's current lead on Sanders is, at worst, 130 delegates rather than 230 -- as Sanders closing the gap between him and Clinton by 131 delegates over the next two months and twenty primaries and caucuses would result in a pledged-delegate "draw."

Yes, this is what was coming out of the Clinton camp in 2008.

3. Antagonize super-delegates by telephoning them as much as possible until they come around to your side.

The New York Times explains how it was for two 2008 super-delegates:

"After switching to Mr. Obama two weeks ago, the Clinton campaign bombarded Patsy Arceneaux with dozens of calls, she said. 'You can't imagine how stressful this has been,' Arceneaux said. 'It had gotten to where my life had just been taken over by this.'

Debbie Marquez, a super-delegate from Colorado, said she had made up her mind to shift to Mr. Obama, largely because he opposed the Iraq war from the start. The ex-president [Bill Clinton] called and talked for 45 minutes, she said. 'When people talk about the finger wagging and lecturing in his speeches, I kind of felt that was going on over the phone,' Ms. Marquez said."

4. Have your supporters harangue the presumptive nominee about making you either Vice President or Secretary of State or (in Sanders' case) openly supporting your bid to be Senate Minority (or Majority) Leader.

In 2008, this effort started on the day Clinton conceded -- a concession that only came after an overwhelming number of people convinced the candidate, who was not herself so inclined, to step aside.

5. Allow your name to be put into nomination for the roll-call vote at the Democratic National Convention, thereby allowing more than 1,000 delegates to cast their votes for you until -- almost comically belatedly -- you sweep in to remove your name from consideration. Which you easily could have done weeks before the Convention.

Yes, this happened.

In fact, it was much worse than this. Clinton did nothing to stop her super-delegates and supporters from threatening to "stage a walkout or leave Denver altogether after she speaks [to the Convention], to protest what they view as a flawed and sexist party nominating process."

Instead, per The Washington Post, Clinton "suggested a roll-call vote."

President Obama, reluctantly responding to these threats from the Clintonites, agreed.

Said Clinton in closed-door meetings at the time, "My supporters have incredible pent-up feelings....[t]he best way I think to [release them] is to have a strategy so that my delegates feel like they've had a role and that their legitimacy has been validated. It's as old as Greek drama. There's a catharsis. Everybody comes, and they want to yell and scream and have their opportunity, and I think that's all to the good."

So Bernie -- says Hillary (2008 edition) -- make sure you insist that the 46 percent (or more) of Convention delegates who supported you over Secretary Clinton get their opportunity to publicly show the country just how close the race was, and how weak a candidate Clinton was, thereby maximizing your capital at the Convention.

And with that capital -- Hillary-2008 might have said eight years ago, had she not already been planning a Hillary-2016 -- demand the following of Democratic primaries going forward:

  • Abolition of super-delegates.
  • Abolition of closed primaries.
  • Abolition of super-PACs.
  • Abolition of regulations prohibiting same-day party registration.
  • Abolition of inconveniently timed primary debates.
  • Abolition of artificially limited debate schedules.
  • Abolition of shady "joint fundraising" efforts like those of the DNC and HVF.
  • Abolition of caucuses (assuming no more closed primaries, either).
  • Abolition of a set (rather than rotating) state primary schedule.

All of which Democratic Party practices both discourage insurgents and work to the advantage of those, like Clinton herself, who have absolutely no plans to change how political parties or the federal government does business.

Seth Abramson is the Series Editor for Best American Experimental Writing (Wesleyan University) and the author, most recently, of DATA (BlazeVOX, 2016).