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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

All that stands between Hillary Clinton and the Democratic nomination are a few days in Philadelphia.

Washington, D.C. cast the last primary ballots Tuesday, giving Clinton a wide victory over Bernie Sanders. The two met for 90 minutes after the district’s vote became clear, a coming together ostensibly focused on the party platform, and certainly also focused on contrasting Democratic Party unity with the GOP’s slow, public identity crisis.

Clinton clinched the delegates necessary to win the nomination last week.

Sanders isn’t going to the White House next year, except to visit. He’ll be nearby on the Senate floor, bobbing with the millennial campaign trail energy that turned his message into a contentious movement. Democrats have a good chance of retaking the Senate in November; Republicans should be worried — according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, over 75 percent of Democrats say Sanders, the guy who legitimized socialism in America, should have a “major role” in shaping the party’s positions.

And it seems the people will get what they want.

On Tuesday, USA Today reported on a closed-door meeting between Sanders and other Democratic senators, Sanders said he plans to play an active role in shaping a new platform for the party. Sen. Tom Carper said Sanders “mentioned he has every intention of being involved in the platform process and making sure his 2,000 delegates have the opportunity to have their voices heard.”

Sanders, who Carper said was greeted with a “warm welcome, a friendly welcome” and standing ovations, also discussed the necessity for job training and making it easier for people to vote and participate in Democratic Party activities, as well as ensuring that young people feel welcomed by the party.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said the meeting was “terrific.”

“Sen. Sanders took time to talk to us about his experiences. It was really very, very moving,” he said.

Also on Tuesday, during a press conference, Sanders told reporters, “We need a person at the leadership of the DNC who is vigorously supporting and out working to bring people into the political process,” adding that he knows “political parties need money, but it is more important that we have energy.”

Laying out a list of reform plans for the Democratic Party, Sanders discussed electoral reform, calling for the elimination of superdelegates and the need for more open primaries, which allow independent voters to participate.

“We need an electoral process that is worthy of the Democratic Party,” he said.

Sanders’ comments came as polls were closing for the D.C. primary, the final nominating contest of the Democratic presidential campaign. The Vermont senator met with presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton later in the evening.

Throughout the primary, Sanders has stood firmly to Clinton’s left on policies like raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and providing universal health care and tuition-free college.

Although Clinton, who last week was endorsed by President Obama, Vice President Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, had already secured the delegates needed to claim the Democratic nomination, Sanders followed through with his pledge to compete in the D.C. primary.

Spokesman Michael Briggs stills says he expects Sanders “will be a candidate through the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.” Briggs said Sanders will speak via live video Thursday night, “directly to grassroots supporters from Burlington (Vt.) about how the revolution continues.”

“Sanders’ strength in the primaries had a significant impact on shaping the party platform,” said Brad Bannon, Democratic strategist.

In an interview with The National Memo, Bannon said Sanders used his campaign as a leveraging tool to move Hillary Clinton further to the left.

“When Bernie got in the race, I don’t think he thought about winning the nomination,” Bannon said. “I think he got in to use the primary process to make the Democratic Party more progressive.”

Given Sanders’ successful candidacy, the senator from Vermont will likely return to Washington not as a ranking member, but a committee chairman, and the same could be said for Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator and a prominent progressive voice from the sidelines during the primary, especially against Donald Trump.

“Sanders helped jumpstart a generational change in politics,” Bannon said. “He activated a young generation of activists who aren’t going away,” who “will have a significant impact on local, state, and eventually national politics.”

Robert Shrum, who was a senior advisor to Sen. Edward Kennedy during the 1980 presidential election, told The National Memo that an insurgent campaign like Sanders’ will incorporate new voices into the process.

Shrum noted that George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign “brought in Bill and Hillary Clinton, and they stayed around for a long time.”

“These ripples keep going for a long time.”

Photo: Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and his wife Jane O’Meara Sanders arrive for a meeting with Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at a hotel in Washington, U.S., June 14, 2016.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]