In the face of their increasingly slim chances at winning the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, both Bernie and Jane Sanders have repeated in recent weeks their desire to change the party’s “agenda” — interpreted by many pundits, perhaps incorrectly, to mean that they had all but ceded the fight for delegates and would instead focus on forcing Hillary Clinton to adopt a more progressive slate of priorities.
Not so. In a news conference Sunday at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., Sanders made explicit a strategy that his campaign has flirted with from its start: urging so-called superdelegates, or unbound delegates, to change their vote according to the results in those states where either candidate won “landslide victories.” Sanders mentioned Washington, Minnesota, Colorado, and New Hampshire by name.
Discussion of “delegate math” starts at around six minutes:
Sanders’ supporters have argued that superdelegates’ early and overwhelming support of Hillary Clinton, even if votes aren’t officially cast until the convention itself, has given her campaign an unfair advantage.
“It is virtually impossible for Secretary Clinton to reach the majority of convention delegates by June 14 — that is, the last day that a primary will be held — with pledged delegates alone,” Sanders told the Press Club. “In other words, the convention will be a contested contest.”
Sanders also reminded reporters that national polls have him beating Donald Trump by greater margins than Hillary Clinton does, though this point, Sanders’ primary argument to superdelegates in states which he hasn’t won by a landslide, seems moot. Clinton’s national approval numbers may be lower, but she has decades more experience dealing with the right wing attack machine, a crutch that Donald Trump will surely lean heavily on to compensate for… himself.
Despite Sanders’ signature perseverance, it’s simply not very likely that superdelegates will flock to him in droves to support a wildcard candidacy that relies on young people voting in record numbers — they haven’t been, and as a general rule, they don’t.
Far be it for me to tell Bernie Sanders how to lead a movement. And perhaps all of this jockeying is simply meant to keep the Vermont senator’s unlikely momentum building all the way to the convention, where he can make an extremely strong case for what would essentially be a transformation in the party’s priorities on issues like climate change, electoral reform, and trade.
But there are other ways to get the Democratic Party to listen to you, including, as Hillary Clinton does often, supporting the kinds of down-ballot races that will take back the Senate and maybe even the House in November. If Sanders really wants to change the party, he doesn’t need a “contested convention.” Heck, he doesn’t need to be president, either, but people like me (supporters of his record and his ideas) have been saying that for a year now.
Bernie’s not done making his case, no matter how steep a climb he faces.
“What happens if we do really, really well in the remaining 10 states?” he asked Sunday, explaining his superdelegate campaign.
What if, indeed.
Photo: Still, Sanders at the National Press Club. CSPAN.