Op-ed by Chris Kofinis featured in CNBC, Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Even as news reports suggest that Hillary Clinton has enough total delegates to be the Democratic nominee, it’s obvious that everyone’s gotten the “she’s the nominee” memo except Bernie Sanders and his supporters. Regardless of what happens in California, or the other states voting Tuesday, the race is over, even if it’s not technically over.
Behind the scenes, emails and texts will undoubtedly flood top Sanders advisors, surrogate intermediaries will be used to carry messages to Sanders himself, and public pronouncements will be made by a host of political insiders, all in an attempt to prod, kick, or push Sanders out of the race (nicely, of course). Soon the chatter will begin: When will he endorse? When will he rally his supporters behind Clinton? Doesn’t he realize how he is hurting her, not to mention emboldening Donald Trump? Etc., etc., etc.
Maybe it will work, and Sanders will see the light, but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for Sanders to quit.
Tuesday night is only the beginning – if not for Sanders, at least for his supporters.
While it is easy to believe that this is about the 2016 nomination – it is not. Sanders can do the math. He knows it is over. He knew it was over months ago, unless one truly believes that superdelegates will somehow change course at the convention (and, short of an act of god they won’t). So, you may ask, why does he keep pushing for something he can’t have? Maybe because it’s about something much bigger than this one election.
If you listen to what Sanders is saying and has said throughout this primary season, this is about a revolution. And real revolutions only end when things have dramatically changed (i.e. those who revolt win) or when they are crushed by the powers that be.
Well, we are far from Sanders-like revolutionary change, yet the movement is far from crushed, so that leaves only one option – a revolution that needs fuel to grow.
While pledged and superdelegate math has foiled Sanders’ 2016 presidential ambitions, what his campaign has sparked, he is determined to see continue. It will not simply be absorbed by a Clinton campaign, or appeased by a convention speech. Right or wrong, Sanders and his supporters want the party to move far to the left. And, if the goal is to move the Democratic Party to the left, that campaign has only just begun.
While the party hasn’t gone “full Sanders,” it’s headed more to the left than it is to the center. From trade issues to the minimum wage, the party has moved noticeably more to the left now that it was twelve months ago.
Does anyone really think this movement will now end on Tuesday?
Going forward, the huge challenge for Clinton is to embrace what Sanders is speaking about, not just to whom he is speaking to. In fact, in every political Democratic focus group my firm has conducted since 2015, Sanders’ message moved people because it spoke to the economic anxiety people truly feel and the dramatic change they want – and that was true even among most focus group participants who supported Hillary Clinton.
In the coming weeks, the Clinton campaign must aggressively seek to tap this emotion and energy that has been unleashed. They can’t take it for granted, even if it’s logical to assume that most Sanders voters prefer her to Trump. Can they completely appease those who wholly believe in Sanders’ vision of revolutionary change? Maybe, but probably not quickly. The most resolute Sanders voters will not be truly appeased unless the Democratic Party dramatically changes and speaks to their vision for the country and the world.
Regardless of when Sanders drops out, his supporters have only begun their fight to change the Democratic Party. And make no mistake: Sanders’ supporters, and the others who want this “revolution,” will be there watching and waiting to make sure that change happens – even if Bernie Sanders is in the U.S. Senate, and Hillary Clinton is in the White House.
To view article on CNBC, visit: http://www.cnbc.com/2016/06/07/clinton-hits-magic-number-heres-why-sanders-wont-step-aside-commentary.html
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