Sanders Will Decide When Time Is Right to Leave the Stage

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a rally Monday, March 21, 2016, in Salt Lake City. (
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a rally Monday, March 21, 2016, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Having been involved in politics for many years, it seems to me the 2016 race for the Democratic nomination is more the norm than people seem to think. Compared to the fight in the Republican Party it is downright mild.

With Hillary's big win in Arizona, many are doing the math involved in accumulating the delegates (2,382) needed for a Democrat to win the nomination and coming to the conclusion Bernie Sanders won't be able to get them. There are 4,051 pledged delegates to be won in the primaries and caucuses and 712 given superdelegate status by the Party. Looking at the primaries and caucuses still to be held, he has close to zero chance of achieving that Holy Grail. Because of that, many are calling for him to leave the race, but that decision will only be made by him.

Elections bring out the passion in people. Candidates and their supporters can't do the 24/7 work needed to run if they aren't passionate and often find themselves working purely on adrenalin. Despite what the media, is reporting there is equal amounts of passion for both Clinton and Sanders. Like in love and war, it isn't unusual that passion for a political candidate can sometimes lead to less than logical thinking. It can lead to not seeing the good in the other candidate or denigrating them simply as a way to support your own choice. I recently wrote a column questioning the knowledge of history, or lack of it, of some of Sanders' young supporters and got pilloried for it. The fact there were some really complimentary things in the column about Sanders got lost and the column was seen as condescending. Maybe it was and maybe my passion for my candidate contributed to that.

In 2008 there were clearly hurt feelings on the part of many Clinton supporters, myself included, who felt someone came out of nowhere to win the nomination. But then politics is like that. Someone with charisma can come along, run an amazing campaign, grab the headlines and passion of voters who may have never heard of them before, and end up winning against someone who initially seemed to have all the cards. It is what makes politics so exciting to those of us who are political junkies. In 2008 that happened for Barack Obama. Many of us supporting Clinton accused his supporters of drinking the 'Kool-Aid'.

In 2016 things have changed and the person who came out of nowhere to grab headlines and passion is falling short. Sanders supporters face the same issues Clinton supporters did in 2008. As the primary continues the number of delegates needed for their candidate to become the nominee is looking more and more impossible to reach. In 2008 Clinton didn't end her campaign but kept going until June. She kept winning primaries and caucuses but was never able to close the delegate gap with Obama. He needed superdelegates to win the nomination.

It was in June Clinton gave her passionate speech officially suspending her candidacy at the National Building Museum where she said, "Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it," the former candidate continued. "And the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time." She held on to her delegates to the convention.

Then at the convention in Denver after meeting with her delegates, of which I was one, she asked us to join her in support of Obama. Hillary then went on the floor of the convention to urge the vote be unanimous for Obama. She went on to speak about the need to unite the Party and why we all needed to support Barack Obama for the good of the nation. It wasn't an easy speech for her to give or for her supporters to hear after they had worked their heart out for her.

So those of us who passionately support Hillary need to remember things correctly as we begin to suggest to supporters of Bernie Sanders they move toward supporting her and uniting the Party. In 2008, as it was becoming clearer in the days leading up to the convention Obama would be the nominee, there were Hillary supporters who formed groups like PUMA, which stood for Party Unity My Ass, saying they would never support Obama. While having already written a piece for the Washington Blade prior to the convention saying it was a 'time to heal' my heart was still with Hillary at the convention as reported in an interview I did with the Washington City Paper.

So many like me understand how difficult it will be for passionate Bernie Sanders supporters to put down their posters and move toward uniting the party. Political campaigns get passionate and you want your supporters to be passionate and passion is hard to turn off on a dime.

I am convinced Bernie Sanders, when the time is right, will do what Hillary did for Obama and not only endorse her but work hard for her and ask his supporters to do the same. The time for that may just not be quite right yet.