Yves here. I’m running this post because, if nothing else, it describes how presumptuous the Clinton camp is in demanding that Bernie stop building his movement and kiss Hillary’s ring. However, even though, by any conventional measure, Sanders has a large, devoted, and well-informed following that the Clinton campaign wants, and may well need, to win the Presidential election, there is absolutely no way that she will shift positions in any meaningful way to win the support of his voters. The Clintons and Obama have consistently kicked the left. The fact that it is a bigger left makes no difference. Their belief is merely by being marginally less awful than the Republicans, they will still secure the votes of people they have no intention of representing in any way. If you want the long-form version, read Thomas Frank’s Listen, Liberal. Frank not only describes no only how the Democrats decided long before Bill Clinton came to office that they were going to abandon the working class, but how the Clintons embraced the practice of attacking
If you watched Sanders’ speech last week, it’s not hard to see why it would outrage Clinton bubble denizens. Sanders reiterated his long list of policy positions, none of which Clinton has any intention of adopting, and added a new demand: No TPP in the lame duck session. He not only did not move towards Clinton, or make substance-free conciliatory noises, but he reminded his supporters that there is almost no overlap in their programs. His talk thus simply emphasized that there is no overlap in their bargaining positions.
From the Clinton view, Sanders lost. He will formally endorse Hillary no matter what she does. That was part of the deal for running under the Team Dem banner. Clinton probably does not regard it as important that Sanders campaign for her. The one thing she wants is his mailing list, and I am told he will not give that to her (and even if he were to, I doubt she would get much from it, since the success of his campaign was based on his message, which she will never credibly adopt).
Even with a new Bloomberg poll showing that only 55% of Sanders voters will choose Clinton and 22% will back Trump, her campaign no doubt believe that those figures will shift much further in her favor as Sanders fades from the picture, her numerous media allies keep pounding on Trump, and she cranks up ad spending.
What they fail to factor in is that many Sanders voters recognize well how terrible Trump is and still regard him as a less dangerous choice than Clinton. Worse, the more she and her surrogates hector Sanders for taking the high road and acting as if she is capable of dealing with him and his movement in good faith, which means playing out the negotiations, the more they confirm the negative views that Sanders supporters hold of her.
By Richard (RJ) Eskow, a blogger and writer, a former Wall Street executive, a consultant, and a former musician. subscribe to Richard Eskow’s feed. Originally published at Campaign for America’s Future
Some politicians and commentators say that Bernie Sanders is losing leverage because he hasn’t conceded the primary to Hillary Clinton. To believe that is to misunderstand both the candidate and his supporters. Sanders received a mandate in “defeat” that most politicians never achieve in victory.
The calls to surrender reached a fever pitch before the last primary even ended. We were told that Sanders was being stubborn, that he was rapidly losing influence. It was even said that all of the convention’s prime-time speaking spots would be taken if he didn’t concede soon, as if they were reservations at Nobu and he had no pull with the maître d’.
If Bernie were denied a prime-time slot at the convention, chaos would ensue. You can be sure that whenever and however the deal is struck, they’ll make room for him at a peak viewing hour.
The Clinton team’s impatience is understandable, even if it lacks a certain grace. But they’re misreading both Sanders’ nature and the nature of the negotiations now underway. So is the New York Times’ Nate Cohn, who tweeted:
That thought experiment would make sense in a typical primary campaign. But this year is different. Even without context, the raw numbers are impressive.
Leverage? As New Yorkers used to say, I got your leverage right here:
- 12 million votes
- Victory in 22 states
- 45 percent of pledged delegates
- A history-making small-dollar fundraising campaign that outraised his well-heeled opponent
And all while facing one of the most powerful Democratic clans in history, rejecting big-money donors, and challenging one of the most famous people in the world as a leftist outsider.
Leverage? Consider the trend line: Twelve months ago Bernie Sanders was all but unknown nationally. He didn’t fit the typical “politician” profile in age, style or rhetoric. He was a self-described democratic socialist. And he faced overwhelming obstacles erected by the party machinery at all levels.
Memories are short. When Sanders announced his run in April 2015, FiveThirtyEight‘s Harry Enten said he was “almost certainly not going to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016.” Enten added, “Hillary Clinton is the most dominant non-incumbent frontrunner in modern primary history.”
“It would take a truly special candidate to defeat her,” he continued, “and Sanders … is not the politician for the job.”
That was what pretty much everyone thought. Look what happened.
There’s no need to relitigate all the roadblocks Sanders faced, at least not now. It’s enough to say that the success he achieved, against overwhelming odds and “the most dominant non-incumbent front-runner in modern primary history,” affirms the power of his message.
Sanders also won the hearts of Democratic voters—more so than his opponent, in fact, despite her thirty-year head start. A recent Gallup poll found that Sanders “continues to be significantly more popular than Hillary Clinton,” among members of the party he only joined last year.
Sanders’ current net favorable rating among Democrats is 13 points higher than Clinton’s, according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll. The same poll found that 75 percent of Democrats want him to play a “major” role in their party. (Surprisingly, 44 percent of Democrats polled wanted Sanders to run as an independent, a fact that should give the Clinton team pause.)
And Sanders’ stunning margins among young voters tell us that he isn’t just speaking for a large percentage of the Democratic Party’s voters. He also speaks for its future.
Clinton needs his supporters. As Nate Silver noted last month, “her lack of support from Sanders voters is harming her general election numbers.” A YouGov/Economist poll in late May found that “Only half (50 percent) of Sanders supporters pick Clinton over Trump in the general election trial heat.”
While those numbers are likely to keep falling, these voters can’t be handed off to Clinton and her party like a football. They are deeply skeptical about her, and not without reason. It will take concessions to win their support. And those concessions—especially on popular issues like tuition-free higher education, Wall Street reform, and Social Security—will make the Democrats a stronger party.
I have no inside information, but it seems pretty obvious that Bernie Sanders isn’t positioning himself for another run. He’s not being stubborn, he’s negotiating. Nobody concedes while the negotiations are still going on. His negotiating partners should stop demanding that he fold his cards before the dealing’s done.
They should also understand that they’re not just dealing with a candidate. They’re also talking to the representative of a movement, one that could decide the fate of this election and the future of their party.
As leverage goes, that’s about as good as it gets.