Bernie Sanders has won.
No, not the election last night, not even if you include Rhode Island. And no, not the Democratic Party nomination. There’s no realistic chance of him ever winning that (as you’ll see by my number crunching in a moment). No, he’s won a movement. He’s won a constituency. He’s won a large block of the progressive base, and he will never lose it.
Now the question is, what does he do with it?
First, let’s all face a hard reality check. Bernie can’t win the Democratic nomination. That ship has not only sailed, but has been set on fire like the Viking funerals of old. How dead is his candidacy? Let’s look at the hard numbers:
Bernie has, according to CNN, 1359 pledge delegates. Excluding all remaining super delegates, there are 1021 delegates remaining. Add those two together and you get 2380. It takes 2383 to win the nomination outright. Bernie is three short! In other words, Bernie Sanders is mathematically locked out from being able to win the nomination outright! Even if he won 100% of everything left, he would not win!
It gets worse. Hillary’s lead over Bernie in pledge delegates has ballooned up to 307. To catch up to that number, Bernie now needs to win 65.03% of all remaining pledge delegates. Essentially, he needs to win 2/3rds of everything left, just to have a remote chance – and that only leads to a contested convention.
Hillary’s grand total of delegates now, super delegates included, is 2168. She needs 2383. That means she only needs 216 more delegates. That’s tiny! It’s only 21.16% of the remaining 1021 pledge delegates remaining! If you include the remaining 175 super delegates which are still out there, she only needs to win 18.06% of them! She could get her ass completely and thoroughly kicked from here to the convention and still cruise to an easy nomination victory!
Bernie would not only need to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, he would have to crawl past those jaws, down defeat’s esophagus and pull victory out from the gallbladder.
Now, the Bernie camp will be quick to point out that in order for Hillary to avoid a “contested convention” by winning enough pledge delegates to reach 2383 without any super delegates, she would need to win 70% of the remaining vote. (70.225%, by my calculation.) But if we are extra generous with Bernie, and speculate that Hillary wins only half of the pledge delegates that remain, she would only need 29% of the super delegates to finish Bernie off. Bernie would have to convert 71% of the pledge delegates into coming over to his side, and she already has 502 of them, and she already has 70% (69.82%) firmly committed to her! Plus, as we already know, that just won’t happen. The press will have looked at the numbers above and concluded the same thing. They will know that Bernie is done for, as will the electorate from here on out. People like to vote for a winner, and so Hillary is guaranteed a greater than 50% margin in the remaining states. Oregon may be a stubborn holdout. Maybe West Virginia will go for Bernie. But it won’t matter. Hillary could well have the nomination sewn up before California even votes on June 7th, and if that happens, Bernie’s percentages will go through the floor. Hillary will get her 70% of delegates, and then some. There will be no “contested convention,” and even if there were, Hillary would win that easily, too.
It’s over for Bernie. Anybody who says otherwise is delusional.
Okay, so Bernie’s birdie is now a lame duck. So what? What happens now?
There are really only two choices: Bernie could use his power to consolidate the Democratic party base. He could use his power to help his fellow liberals. He could, through endorsement and campaigning, win over a huge swath of House and Senate seats. He could actually bring about the “revolution” this way! Together, a Hillary and Bernie coalition would be an unstoppable force!
Or he could fracture the liberal base, be a sore loser, and disenfranchise an entire segment of the populace to the political process. He might even run as a third-party independent. After all, he’s done that before with tremendous success in Vermont. But in so doing, he could hand the presidency over to the fascist Trump. Even if he doesn’t break away, his rejection of Hillary could become a boon for the Green Party and possibly even the Libertarian Party, but most definitely it would be a gift to the Republican party, who could end up winning, even with a candidate who stinks on ice as badly as Donald Trump does.
Believe it or not, I’m actually encountering fellow liberals, some of whom I’ve known for years, actually advocating this! I think they may be unaware of the conservative Facebook ghosts masquerading as liberals on various feeds who are deliberately stoking the fires of hatred towards Hillary. But even if they are, they seem not to care. They would rather burn the house to the ground than see it go to another insider.
As if the word “insider” were somehow a guarantee such a person would not be a reformer.
The health of democracy is tied irrevocably to the health of democracy in the United States, and the economic health of the world is permanently tied to the dollar. If we advocate tearing it all down, we bring down democracy’s pinnacle, and the dollar with it. With the fall of the dollar would go the Yuen, the Yen, the Rubel and the Euro. We would literally take the entire world down with us. Some Bernie-backers are actually calling for this right now, determined to never let their “Bernie or bust” dream die. But all I can hear when I listen to such irrational rhetoric are the cries of the impoverished children in America who will know no real future because the republic decided to self-destruct instead of self-improve. I hear the shrieks of the starving third-world children who will die because American food aid dried up in the ensuing chaos. I see the cries of families in nations like Haiti and Mozambique who were actually beginning to turn things around thanks to foreign aid, and who will be able to do nothing except watch it all come crashing down around them because Europe and America will be unable to care for themselves, much less other nations. I see a resurgence of the Trump faction who will take advantage of the chaos to transform America into a Christianized version of the Taliban, where abortion is universally outlawed, and religious freedom taken away from Hindus, Buddhists, Pagans, Shintos, atheists and agnostics. I see this condition becoming permanent, as the age of super-surveillance transforms America into George Orwell’s 1984. And all the victims who are permanently trapped by this outcome will turn to our generation and ask, “Why!? Why, when you had the chance to unite, and win things for the good of all, did you not do so? Why did you let all humanity become enslaved?”
I want a better answer to give them than, “We didn’t want a political insider.”
Bernie lost the nomination. But he won his following. He is now a political movement. He may have lost the war, but now he has the power, and the responsibility, to win the peace. Now is the time to do so.
And if he doesn’t, we know the kind of man he truly is.