Associated Press photo
Bernie Sanders speaks in Rhode Island today. Rhode Island is one of five states that vote in presidential primary elections on Tuesday, and then 10 more states, including Democratic powerhouse California, vote after that. “A future to believe in” is an apt slogan, as indeed, it’s probable that we progressives need to look beyond Bernie Sanders for the materialization of our political revolution. That said, Bernie has given us a strong base to build upon in taking back the Democratic Party and returning it to its progressive roots.
As I type this sentence, Bernie Sanders’ estimated pledged delegate count is 1,205 to Billary Clinton’s 1,446, a 241-delegate difference. Billary is 937 delegates away from the necessary 2,383 delegates to clinch the nomination, and Team Bernie should make her win every one of those 937 delegates if she’s to be the Democratic Party presidential nominee.
If the states that already have voted and caucused did so again today, Bernie would be significantly further along than he is now, I surmise. Nationwide polls of Democrats and Democratic leaners (those who already have and those who haven’t yet participated in a Dem presidential primary election or caucus) put Billary at 2.2 percent to 4.3 percent ahead of Bernie right now, but on February 1, when Iowans caucused, Billary’s lead on Bernie nationwide was 14.4 percent, according to Real Clear Politics.
But the way the game is set up right now, with states voting and caucusing over the course of several months, even if a candidate loses ground with the voters nationwide over the course of those months, if he or she garnered enough pledged delegates in the early states, those pledged delegates that already are in the bank can help him or her greatly when/if he or she loses popularity as the race drags on.
Indeed, this is the dynamic that we’ve seen with Billary Clinton, and indeed, the Democratic Party presidential primary and caucus schedule appears to have been designed by the Democratic National Committee to give Billary early wins in the South in order to save her ass should she falter later in the race. Billary’s early wins in the South helped give her a 200-and-something pledged delegate lead that Bernie has been unable to shake.
While I support Bernie’s campaign to the bitter end — yes, I even gave him yet another donation after he lost New York on Tuesday by double digits — at the same time it is time to strategize for the future.
I agree with Salon.com writer Michael Lerner that it’s time to start “the tea party of the left.”
If Billary Clinton is the proxy for the stale, calcified, sellout, center-right Democratic Party establishment that she and her husband started in the 1990s (utilizing divide-and-conquer toxic identity politics while not only enabling, but even encouraging, income inequality to worsen) and that Caretaker in Chief Barack Obama has preserved — and she is — then Bernie Sanders is the proxy for “the tea party of the left.”
And, of course, the seeds of “the tea party of the left” already were sown, back in 2011 — those seeds were the Occupy movement, which indeed was the left’s proto-“tea party,” and Occupy was a response to the fact that in 2009 and 2010, when both house of Congress still were controlled by his party, President Hopey-Changey squandered spectacularly the shitloads of political capital that he brought with him to the White House in January 2009. (No, forcing people to buy for-profit health-care insurance, as “Obamacare” does, is not progress.)
By 2011, it was obvious that Barack Obama’s ubiquitous, relentless campaign promises of “hope” and “change” either had been bullshit all along or that once he actually got into the Oval Office, he just didn’t feel like fighting that hard; it was just a lot easier to just sit back and enjoy the perks of the presidency.
In any event, Obama’s stunning failure to push through a progressive agenda in 2009 and 2010 led to the Repugnican Tea Party’s takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives that persists to this day, a takeover that ensured that the rest of the Obama years would be gridlock.
The Occupy movement fizzled, in my estimation, because taking over public spaces certainly drew attention to the problem of the insane income inequality here in the United States (and elsewhere) — indeed, the Occupy movement’s central complaint about the “1 percent” is Bernie Sanders’ central complaint — but taking over public spaces doesn’t change how things are done in D.C.
Until and unless there is a revolution that upends our political system, our political system remains in place, and the system requires that if you want political gains, you must seek them via the system.
Even the “tea party” dipshits have known that — that if you want power, you have to take it, and that the best way to do that is to infiltrate the party that (at least in your estimation, anyway) isn’t doing your bidding.
The “tea party” has been pretty successful — formed in 2010, two of its champions, Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who were elected in the “tea party” wave of 2010 and in 2012, have run for president and both of them at one point were two of the top three Repugnican Tea Party presidential candidates, along with Der Fuehrer Donald Trump. (“Tea party” darling Sen. Rand Paul, also elected in the “tea party” wave of 2010, also ran for president this cycle, but of course he fizzled before Rubio did, and, of course, Cruz remains in the running.)
Those of us on the left have not had nearly the success within the Democratic Party that the “tea party” set have had within the Repugnican Party, but Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign has been a great start.
Keep in mind that it was way too taboo for any Democrat to step on Queen Billary’s cape by also running for the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination. Not even the very popular Sen. Elizabeth Warren would dare to do so, so, from what I can tell, it was up to democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders to run to the left of Queen Billary if anyone was going to. (Anyone viable, I mean. I mean, Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chaffee and Jim Webb — um, yeah…)
It has been an uphill battle for Bernie Sanders from Day One, with the pro-Billary Democratic National Committee (whose chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was on Team Billary in 2008) making all of the rules and calling all of the shots to support their darling Billary, to do all they have been able to do to ensure her coronation.
But despite the corrupt, moribund DNC’s best efforts to shove Repugnican Lite Billary Clinton down our throats, democratic socialist Bernie Sanders of Vermont has won these states, chronologically:
- New Hampshire
- Vermont (of course)
A “fringe” candidate doesn’t win 16 states. Bernie won the Democrats Abroad, too, and several states were very close:
There was a 0.2 percent difference between Bernie and Billary in Missouri, a 0.3 percent difference between them in Iowa, a 1.4 percent difference in Massachusetts, and a 2 percent difference in Illinois — and, to be fair, a 1.4 percent difference in Michigan, which Bernie won (Billary won all of the other states that were within a difference of only 2 percentage points; the graph above shows how so many states that Billary won were close to 50-50).
Despite Team Billary and the Billarybots’ protests otherwise, the fact remains that Billary’s greatest margins of victory were in the early-voting South, as the graph above illustrates, well, graphically, and I hardly think that the future of the Democratic Party is in the South. No, it’s in the states that Bernie Sanders clearly has won (the states shaded in green):
And most of them are in the North. (Note that Nevada was pretty close, too, with Billary beating Bernie there by only 5.3 percent, and, again, given its far-right political leanings, I consider Arizona effectively to be part of the South.)
Bernie has a good shot at winning the state with the most pledged delegates (475 of them), my home state of California, on June 7; Real Clear Politics has Billary’s lead in California at only 6.5 percent and The Huffington Post puts it at only 6.8 percent. Winning the state with the most Democratic voters of all 50 states would be a big victory for Bernie, even if he doesn’t win the nomination — and it would further demonstrate how weak the Clintonian brand of the Democratic Party is.
Even if Bernie doesn’t take California, it is remarkable how well the democratic socialist has done thus far. Even former political rock star Howard Dean (who now supports Billary Clinton — I’m glad that I never supported Dean, and my suspicions as to how progressive at heart he truly was apparently were spot on) won only one state in 2004 (Vermont).
If Bernie Sanders doesn’t win the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination — and my best guess is that unless Billary is indicted or has a serious medical event or the like, he won’t — the worst thing that we progressives could do would be to drop out of the political picture until the next presidential cycle.
We’d need to politically pressure President Billary (shudder) continuously to do the right thing as much as humanly possible — if she has gone to the left at all in her rhetoric right now, know that once in the Oval Office she’d revert to her old, usual, center-right self — and we progressives need to not cower to the Democratic Party hacks’ predictable, craven charge that not to support the corrupt, self-serving, center-left President Billary is to help the Repugnican Tea Party.
And, of course, just as even the “tea party” morons have been smart enough to do, we progressives need to win as many seats in Congress as we can. We have been focused too exclusively on the presidency. We need to involve ourselves much more than we do now in the down-ticket offices, and we need to show up in force in the mid-term/off-presidential-year elections.
We need to occupy not only the Oval Office, but we need to occupy as many seats in Congress and as many other seats of power in D.C. and outside of D.C. as we possibly can.
Occupying space is a great idea; but you need to occupy the right spaces.
P.S. I read now that apparently the Bernie Sanders campaign now does not plan to to fight Billary for the nomination at the convention if he does not win more pledged delegates than Billary does by the time of the convention in July. (That’s how I interpret the news article, anyway.)
I read now that apparently the Sanders campaign’s publicly voiced game plan now is to fight (perhaps only) through June 7, when California and five other states vote. (Only the District of Columbia votes after June 7; it votes on June 14.)
“We intend to take the fight all the way to California, so people throughout this country have a right to determine who they want as president and what kind of agenda they want for the Democratic Party,” Sanders reportedly stated on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.”
Sanders also reportedly said on CBS’s “Face The Nation,” “You can’t say to largest [most populous] state in this country, ‘California, you can’t determine who the nominee will be or what the agenda will be.’”
I wholeheartedly concur, so the Billarybots’ anti-democratic calls for Bernie to drop out before I and millions of others of my fellow Californians have even had the opportunity to vote have offended me personally.
Of course, there’s a good reason why they’ve wanted Bernie to hang it up early: After all, should he win California, then Billary Clinton’s brand of “Democrat,” which plays the best in the South, certainly will be called into question, as Bernie himself recognizes and acknowledges when he says such things as “We intend to take the fight all the way to California, so people throughout this country have a right to determine who they want as president and what kind of agenda they want for the Democratic Party.” (Emphasis mine.)
Bernie recognizes, I’m sure, that at this point his greatest lifetime achievement might not be sitting in the Oval Office, but might be taking back the Democratic Party from the self-serving, corrupt, center-right, pro-corporate assholes who have turned it into a husk of its former self and restoring it to its progressive roots.
And that is no tiny achievement.