Winning ain't stealin'. With few exceptions in electoral politics, winning an election is simply just winning. The Presidential election of 2000 is one of the few examples that come to mind where it was probably stolen when conservatives on the Supreme Court stopped the counting of ballots in Florida.
Yet, all the way through the Democratic Presidential Primary, Bernie Sanders and many of his supporters have blamed every loss of his on something: close primaries, DNC meddling, election fraud, long lines, too few polling sites, voter registration deadlines and probably more. These excuses have come from Bernie all the way down to rank and file supporters.
It is very difficult to recall a single loss in a state contest in which Bernie and his supporters just took the loss and moved on. Instead, Bernie has leveraged the imperfections in our electoral system, many of the Republicans' doing, and used them as attacks on both Hillary and the Democratic Party.
Let me say up from that the issues that Bernie has raised in this Primary are incredibly important and I'm thankful that they have been moved to the front and center of political discourse in our nation. However, along the way, his championing of these issues turned into personal attacks on Hillary Clinton and now they have turned into attacks on the Democratic Party itself.
Pledged Delegates Bernie: 1488 Hillary: 1767 (+279)
Including Super Delegates Bernie: 1528 Hillary: 2291 (+763)
Delegates needed to secure nomination Bernie: 855 Hillary: 92
Popular Vote Totals Bernie: 9,946,565 Hillary: 12,982,904 (+3,036,339) 22,929,469
Popular Vote % Bernie: 43.37% Hillary: 56.62% (+13.25%)
Ya see, it's really hard to make an argument that the election is being stolen when you're losing by a significant margin. To pull off some kind of conspiracy that is intentionally denying Bernie Sanders the Democratic nomination would be absolutely impossible. Yet, *some* Bernie supporters continue to act as if there is some grand conspiracy to cheat Bernie of the nomination.
Cue, the bedlam that took place in Nevada over the weekend. In short, Hillary won the caucus by 6 points. Because Nevada has some complex delegate allocation rules, Bernie's campaign saw an opening and outworked Hillary's campaign to have more folks at County conventions and elected a few hundred more delegates to the state convention. However, at the state convention, Hillary filled 98% of her delegate slots and Bernie failed to turn out folks and only filled 78% of his delegate slots. In the end, Hillary won two more delegates, as she was expected to.
But along the way, the convention turned nasty. Speakers were interrupted. Chairs were thrown. The State Party Chair has received death threats. Sander supporters cried foul because they weren't allowed to amend the convention rules. They cried foul because a handful of people who didn't meet the qualifications weren't seated as delegates. Some have suggested this kind of bedlam was the intended outcome of the Sanders campaign. Others, including the Nevada Democratic Party, have suggested that this was a trial run for how to disrupt the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
When Bernie was questioned about this at his first encounter with the media after the Nevada convention, he literally walked away form the camera as the question was being asked, hardly showing leadership against such aggressive and offensive tactics. When a statement was put out, he dug in his heels and seemed to stoke further anger with the Democratic Party.
The new posture taken by Sanders hasn't gone unnoticed. Speaking for myself, my effort to find common ground with Bernie supporters by self declaring a moratorium on criticizing him came to an abrupt end. Commentators all over the place have weighed in:
Newsweek's headline: "Get control, Senator Sanders, or Get out"
Violence. Death threats. Vile, misogynistic names screamed at women. Rage. Hatred. Menacing, anonymous phone calls to homes and offices. Public officials whisked offstage by security agents frightened of the growing mob. None of this has any place in a political campaign. And the candidate who has been tolerating this obscene behavior among his supporters is showing himself to be unfit for office.
Wonkette: "Nice Grandpa Bernie Sanders gonna BURN YOUR SH*T DOWWWWWN"
If you were waiting for Bernie Sanders to release a statement on the clusterfuck that was the Nevada state Democratic convention, hooray! He has done so! If you were waiting for Bernie Sanders to release a statement telling his supporters "hey maybe don't drown out and scream at Barbara Boxer that she's a fucking bitch for having a different preference in the Democratic primary than you do," you are going to have to wait a little bit longer.
Talking Points Memo's Editor Josh Marshall: "It Comes From the Very Top"
Over the last several weeks I've had a series of conversations with multiple highly knowledgable, highly placed people. Perhaps it's coming from Weaver too. The two guys have been together for decades. But the 'burn it down' attitude, the upping the ante, everything we saw in that statement released today by the campaign seems to be coming from Sanders himself. Right from the top.
New York Observer columnist Jon Reinish: "Intimidation: The Only Thing Bernie Sanders Supporters Actually Do Well"
In politics, words matter. Campaigns should know this, particularly those for President. Especially knowing that our politics are pitched on the best of days, and endgames--such as the one the Sanders campaign currently finds itself in, and not a minute too soon--get emotional, candidates have responsibilities to recognize that they are powerful figures, occupy a bully pulpit and exert influence. They need to conduct themselves as such. Mr. Sanders and his campaign have not.
Washington Post's Paul Waldman: "Why the Sanders Movement is Just About Dead"
This is the problem with framing your campaign and everything you want to do as "revolution". You can't have a partial revolution; either you overthrow the old order or the old order survives. And Sanders is encouraging his supporters to believe that if there is anything left of the old order, then all is lost.
This primary process will be over in less than a month. There are some serious decisions that Bernie Sanders is going to have to make if this endeavor will have been worth it for him. Presidential campaigns are a unique experience. Just as quickly as it builds someone up, it can just as quickly tear that person down. For quite a while, it looked as if Bernie would come out of this campaign with an elevated stature in national politics and an ability to be a patriarch of the progressive community. With the state of things today, that is in question.
We would all be better off in the long run if Senator Sanders would categorically reject these bullying tactics. The evidence is clear that Hillary is winning by a large margin. In fact, she is likely to go into the convention with more than four times the pledged delegate lead that then-Senator Barack Obama had in 2008. Senator Sanders has a significant delegation that he will take to Philadelphia and that is plenty of leverage to influence the platform. He doesn't need bullying tactics. He needs to show leadership.
If he doesn't, he will be the thief. He will have stolen unity from the Democratic Party and he will have robbed himself of respect and admiration. It's all up to him. Regardless, we have to start preparing for the General Election and preventing Donald Trump from getting anywhere near the Oval Office.