Is the Hillary Clinton campaign prepared for the possibility that Bernie Sanders may never actually concede?
Even if Clinton wins big in the New Jersey Democratic primary on June 7 and thus reaches 2,383 delegates* (regardless of the outcome in the California primary that night), it’s difficult to see him throwing in the towel prior to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, where he has already signaled that he will petition superdelegates to hand the nomination over to him, on the grounds that he is (in theory, anyway) a stronger general-election candidate than Clinton. The dream of unity between Clinton and Sanders after the conclusion of the primaries is unlikely to ever come true: the visceral hatred that Sanders so obviously feels for Clinton is simply not going to dissipate.
As the old joke goes, even Stevie Wonder can see that Sanders is going to have an epic meltdown at the convention if superdelegates reject his request for the nomination. The behavior of Sanders, his campaign staff, and some of his supporters is profoundly disappointing to those who wanted Sanders to play a constructive and healthy role in defining the post-Obama Democratic Party. During the 2008 Democratic primary, Clinton may have said a few undiplomatic words about Obama in the final days of her campaign, but it never seemed as though Clinton personally loathed the future president. Things are much different this time around.
I was disturbed watching Sanders’s interview on CNN’s State of the Union last weekend; Sanders seemed to be filled with a dark rage, an intense bitterness, a scornful tone. Sanders came across as a man who believes he is morally entitled to the Democratic nomination, who looks down upon those who think Clinton would be the party’s best representative, whose soul is now filled with palpable jealousy and contempt for Clinton.
Like Kevin Drum, I have to ask: what happened to Sanders? Why didn’t he remain positive? Why didn’t he and his campaign understand that putting Clinton down wouldn’t raise him up?
Clinton and the Democratic Party should be quite concerned about the prospect of a disastrous convention, disrupted by Sanders supporters upset over their hero not getting what they believe he was entitled to. (Just because chairs weren’t thrown the last time around doesn’t mean they won’t be thrown the next time.) If Sanders speaks at the convention and begins to make disparaging and disrespectful remarks about Clinton, current Democratic National Committee head Debbie Wasserman Schultz, or the allegedly villainous members of the Democratic “establishment,” will convention organizers feel compelled to cut his microphone?
It’s sad to see Sanders fall into the same intellectual abyss that the progressive radio host Sam Seder fell into three years ago, during the special election to fill the seat left vacant by the passing of New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg–the intellectual abyss that prevents one from recognizing the moral difference between a imperfect Democrat and a dangerous Republican. Who would have thought that when Sanders announced his presidential bid last year, he would become the biggest cautionary tale in American politics?
SECOND UPDATE: From the AP.
*ADDENDUM: As noted in the comment section, not all of the 2,383 delegates are pledged delegates. I apologize for any earlier confusion.