By Larry Levine –
Here’s a truism about revolutions: Not everyone is always for them. Even the American Revolution had its naysayers, the Royalists who opposed the big Brexit of 1776.
That’s something Sen. Bernie Sanders and some of his supporters don’t seem to grasp. I read a piece the other day in which a Sanders supporter claimed the Sanders revolution was derailed by the coronavirus.
Huh? The majority of Democrats in primary after primary had already rejected the revolution by overwhelming majorities. They were choosing other candidates over the Sanders revolution before the coronavirus took over our lives and the news cycles.
On Super Tuesday, March 3, at a time when the virus was a footnote in the news, Vice President Joe Biden won 10 of 14 states. A week later, Little Super Tuesday, Biden swept to big wins in Mississippi, Michigan, Washington, Missouri and Idaho. What was happening became clear from watching television coverage that night. It started as election coverage. As state after state was entered into the Biden column, coverage began to shift to the coronavirus. By the end of the night it was difficult to tell there had been elections. With Biden now seen as the presumptive nominee, coverage became all-virus-all-the-time.
It is long past the time for Sanders to admit his revolution isn’t going to happen and for him and withdraw from the race. He’s gotten everything out of this run there is to get and he isn’t going to be the nominee. He would need to win 64 percent of the remaining delegates to win the nomination. That’s a number that is 50 percent more than what he has been getting so far.
It seems clear that in spite of all the logic and math Sanders is not about to face reality and leave the stage to the all but certain nominee. Neither are some of Sanders’ backers willing to cease their bitter and sometimes paranoid attacks on Biden and the Democratic Party. Those are the people, several each week, I am unfriending on Facebook. And to some extent, even as he claims to ask them to stop their attacks, Sanders is responsible for their continuing.
When he is not talking of the coronavirus these days, Sanders is saying the same thing he’s been saying throughout the campaign: “our campaign” will lead a revolution; to win in November it will take “the biggest turnout ever;” we will inspire “a surge of young people” to support the revolution. And on the issues he has become Bernie-one-note: health care for all, oligarchs, big pharma, billionaires. He’s been playing that note for five years and the overwhelming majority of voters through this primary season aren’t buying it.
If nothing else from this primary season should have chilled his enthusiasm to continue, the results in Michigan should have. It’s a state he carried over Hillary Clinton in 2016. Biden demolished him there this year, carrying counties and precincts Sanders had won by big majorities four years earlier. There’s not a single state in which Sanders hasn’t received a lower percentage this year than he did in 2016. Most of his victories have been in low-turnout caucuses, not in actual elections. The evidence indicates he was more of a beneficiary of an anti-Hillary vote four years ago than many of us would have imagined. He and his zealots can’t accept that.
Look, a majority of Democratic voters say they are for single-payer healthcare, a Sanders emblem. Yet those same voters are handing Biden landslide victories in state after state. Yet, Sanders continues to see some nefarious acts by a shadow establishment behind it. He thinks Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg dropped out of the race and endorsed Biden at a strategic moment because they were forced out by some conspiracy. He can’t accept the fact that they did what many politicians have done before them. Running behind and looking at polls that said there was no path forward, they stepped aside and endorsed the person who most closely approximated their positions on the issues, the person they believed had the best chance to defeat President Donald Trump in the General Election.
As for staying in the race to advance his agenda on issues, that is a tired excuse. His agenda has been loud and clear for five years. It isn’t changing. Joe Biden has a different vision on health care, the dominant issue of Sanders’ messaging. The voters heard each candidate present his case repeatedly in debates and the voters sided with Biden. Sanders could stay in the race to the bloody end and continue to preach his message of single payer. It isn’t new and it isn’t going to change anything.
All Sanders can accomplish from here on is to distract Biden and the party from the central goal of defeating Trump and fueling the vitriol his zealots spew on social media. Face it, Sen. Sanders, you gave a revolution and you lost.