What’s Next For the Revolution?

In the five state primaries last night, Hillary Clinton won 60% of the delegates to Bernie Sanders’ 40%. That means that he would need to win 64% of the remaining delegates in order to take the lead going into the Democratic Convention. Barring a cataclysmic event, that is not going to happen. Some people have read between the lines of the statement the Sanders campaign released last night and think the candidate himself has come to the same conclusion.

The people in every state in this country should have the right to determine who they want as president and what the agenda of the Democratic Party should be. That’s why we are in this race until the last vote is cast. That is why this campaign is going to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia with as many delegates as possible to fight for a progressive party platform that calls for a $15 an hour minimum wage, an end to our disastrous trade policies, a Medicare-for-all health care system, breaking up Wall Street financial institutions, ending fracking in our country, making public colleges and universities tuition free and passing a carbon tax so we can effectively address the planetary crisis of climate change.

Whether or not that is true remains to be seen. But given Donald Trump’s commanding performance in yesterday’s primaries (he won over 50% of the vote in all 5 states) it is increasingly clear that we are heading for a Clinton/Trump contest in November.

What Bernie Sanders does from this point forward has been the object of much discussion. He’ll obviously stay in the race to the end of the primaries – which very few people, including me, have a problem with. During the MSNBC townhall the other night, he rejected the idea that he holds any sway over his supporters and put the responsibility on Clinton’s shoulders for winning them over. But there are other issues at stake. Michael Cohen did a good job of laying them out in his Open Letter to Bernie Sanders.

So here’s my suggestion: Don’t end your campaign, re-frame it. Rather than talking about Hillary Clinton’s speech transcripts like you did yesterday in Pennsylvania, and rather than boasting about how you don’t have a Super PAC and your opponent does, focus on the issues that got you into this race in the first place. Keep talking about inequality, reforming campaign finance, and making the rich pay their fair share, but shift the focus away from Clinton.

Rather than raising money to run more ads that likely aren’t going to move the polling needle, start raising money for liberal Democrats in swing districts, Democrats who, with that little extra boost from your supporters, might be able to win in November. After all, if you want a political revolution, don’t you need to elect a few more like-minded Democrats to Congress? And with Trump as the likely GOP nominee, the chances of a Democratic wave in the House and the Senate are that much greater. Maybe focus on local races in places like Florida or Ohio or North Carolina, where Republican-dominated state legislatures are putting up restrictions on abortion rights, voting rights, and LGBT rights. You have the megaphone and the money to get your supporters involved in the nitty-gritty of local politics that Democrats have ignored for far too long.

Markos Moulitsas made basically the same case to Sanders supporters.

I don’t care if you are excited about Clinton or not, she’ll be fine. I care that you get excited about Democrats down the ballot, about giving Clinton a Congress that will push her to the Left even when she might not want to. Clinton doesn’t get to pass a $15 minimum wage. Congress does. You want strong climate change legislation? We don’t have a dictatorship. Congress has to pass it.

To the extent that this is a revolution or a movement (whichever word you prefer) rather than simply a campaign for the man Bernie Sanders, they have described how change actually happens in a democracy. I hope that Sanders and his supporters heed that call.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.