How Elections Work: A Few Helpful Hints for Bernie Sanders And His Less Earthbound Enthusiasts

US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks during a rally at Santa Monica High School Football Field in Santa
US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks during a rally at Santa Monica High School Football Field in Santa Monica, California, on May 23, 2016. Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton on May 23 rejected an invitation to take part in a final campaign debate against her rival Bernie Sanders, her campaign said. / AFP / RINGO CHIU (Photo credit should read RINGO CHIU/AFP/Getty Images)

Just a few helpful hints, tips, rules and general guidelines for that disturbingly confused faction of Sanders enthusiasts (and, apparently, Sanders himself):

First and foremost, don't take things personally. A little humor and a bit of room for self-reflection go a long way. And #NotAllBernieVoters (#OrEvenLikeAThirdofBernieVoters,) should go without saying.

After that, probably the most important thing to accept is that, when you have won less than 43% of the vote in a two-person race, you will not be handed 51% of the delegates. And it's a little silly to whine about how "rigged" the process is when you have been gifted a greater than 43% share of those pledged. (Though, yes, that endless yowling about that one state where Clinton, instead, got a couple more delegates than her share has been super enjoyable for us all.)

A few more, in no particular order:

When you are down by 13 points, three million votes, five contests and about 275 pledged delegates, you can't really blame your loss on the superdelegates, who had nothing to do with any of those things.

Nor can you rightly lay blame at the feet of the DNC chair, even if the mean lady won't just hand you the nomination and you want it so bad.

Saying that you have actually won more votes, more contests or more pledged delegates will not, in fact, make any of those things true. Even if you say it a lot, or in the form of angry tweets and Internet comments.

When your opponent has won more open primaries than you, it will strike informed people as rather absurd if you insist or imply that you would really be winning if there weren't so many closed ones. Also know that 100% of people are fully aware that if you were over-performing in closed primaries, instead, you would claim without compunction that outsiders in open primaries were hijacking the Democratic Party and ignoring the overwhelming wishes of the liberal base.

Generally speaking, it's just a good idea to remember that rules written years, sometimes decades before you entered the race, were not drafted just to screw you.

Know also that, unfortunately, the United States has never awarded the presidency by ability to draw a crowd. Just ask Sarah Palin, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, George McGovern and soon (hopefully,) Donald Trump. With the noteworthy exception of Barack Obama, who followed a deeply unpopular opposing-party president, the phenomenon has generally been tied to enormous electoral losses.

We have to count the votes cast by black people, even if they disagree with you.

When your opponent is performing best among minority, urban and older voters, it makes no sense to say that you'd really be doing better if it wasn't for all of the voter suppression disproportionately impacting minority, urban and older voters--and is cuckoo-fucking-bananas to claim that your opponent is responsible.

In fact, when you are the candidate benefiting without complaint from the ridiculous, archaic and undemocratic caucus process, it's probably best to just steer away from that whole "will of the voters" pretense. If you can win a caucus (in which delegates are awarded,) by a whopping 14 points, then lose the same state's primary (in which no delegates are awarded,) it's pretty clear that the system is rigged--in your favor.

I can see how a person holding this advantage might come to believe that he or she automatically wins every single caucus. Entitlement is usually rooted in custom. This is not, however, the case. If and when you do lose a caucus by five points, you do not get to change the rules to give yourself more delegates than your opponent, even if your supporters have bragged for weeks about having already stolen that race, and are prepared to launch a massive online misinformation campaign.

When caucus organizers explain this to you, you do not get to throw chairs, call them disgusting slurs and threaten to kill them. (Come on, guys. Some of that is just plain, codified, criminal law.)

When your supporters do exactly all of that, you cannot, without seriously damaging your own reputation, respond with a childish, brazenly dishonest diatribe that amounts, essentially, to, "Yeah, well, you shoulda let me win, anyway, so there."

Especially when they really, really should not. You see, if your biography reads like an oppo guy's wet dream, complete with rape fantasies, unfortunate asides about child genitalia, a communist honeymoon, lots of quack medicine and even bizarre statements about fluoride, you will never convince delegates that you are so electable that they should disregard the decision of the voters.

Are such out-of-context allusions fair? Not entirely. The man who wrote and did all that crazy nonsense happens to be a very fine public servant and, I suspect, an equally fine human being. (Even if he hasn't been at his best these last couple months.) But, as anyone who remembers when John Kerry went from war hero up by double digits to alleged war criminal who lost the election knows, political smear campaigns are not known for being fair. Sometimes, "guy who wrote a bunch of wacky stuff in the 70s," is just the hand you're dealt.

And stealing the nomination from a candidate who got 56% of the vote, simply because she has successfully withstood those kinds of smears for over a quarter century while you have never really faced their full force? That doesn't exactly scream "fair," either.

Especially when you, personally, have slung some of that mud, accusing her campaign of laundering over-the-limit donations while you were the one under FEC scrutiny for accepting over-the-limit donations. (And took $10,000 from her last PAC, before implying to voters that she doesn't really pass any of that money on to other candidates.)

And above all, when a small but deeply embittered minority of your supporters becomes pathologically incapable of figuring any of this out, you don't really get to hold their votes hostage. I actually find myself disappointed to see the Democratic Party at all coddling a case of such sour grapes.

You know, maybe this could all be summed up in just one overarching rule: When you've lost an election and feel like throwing an ugly, months-long temper tantrum just to hurt your opponent out of spite... don't.

History books are full of heroes who fought hopeless battles to the bitter end without ever losing their dignity--and once-great men who ended their careers in disgrace.