Rigged vs Dumb Process

As I wrote recently, I really want to give Bernie Sanders the benefit of the doubt that he will campaign through the end of the primaries and then give his full support to Clinton when she wins the nomination by capturing over half of the delegates. The truth is, I get discouraged when the Sanders campaign does stupid aggressive things like challenging convention committee chairs Barney Frank and Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy. But the DNC flatly refused their request and we’ll see if Sanders agrees to let it go.

On Sunday, I was encouraged by a brief conversation Sanders had on Face the Nation with John Dickerson. He was asked about Donald Trump’s assertion that the Democratic nominating process was totally rigged. Here is Sanders’ response:

What has upset me, and what I think is — I wouldn’t use the word rigged, because we knew what the words were — but what is really dumb is that you have closed primaries, like in New York state, where three million people who are Democrats or Republicans could not participate, where you have situation where over 400 superdelegates came on board Clinton’s campaign before anybody else was in the race, eight months before the first vote was cast.

That’s not rigged. I think it’s just a dumb process which has certainly disadvantaged our campaign.

Now that’s something that we can talk about! The difference between a “rigged” and “dumb” process is that the former suggests nefarious motives on the part of enemies, while the latter is something we could fix if we worked out our disagreements.

This is indicative of what has been troubling about the Sanders campaign all along. When they suggest that the Democratic nominating process is rigged (which they have done) or that the only barrier to progressive change is the corruption of Democrats – it becomes impossible to acknowledge disagreements and have an actual conversation. It naturally leads to seeing the competition as enemies, becomes divisive and makes in nearly impossible to form coalitions.

So I was encouraged by what Sanders said on Sunday. Let’s keep an eye out for more of that.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .