Predictably, some are saying Bernie’s pledged delegates entitle him to influence the party platform. That this is a victory in itself. Those who withheld their support don’t get to decide what success means to those who supported Bernie. And influencing the platform is no success in my mind.
The platform will be largely meaningless after November 8. It will not bind the eventual winner if they do not wish to be bound. It is collateral damage by August if the polls demand a pivot.
In any case, it will be written by committees packed with people who opposed Bernie’s candidacy:
In January, the party chairwoman, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, appointed dozens of Clinton supporters and advisers to the three standing committees of the Democratic Party convention. Of 45 potential members submitted by Mr. Sanders, she appointed just three, according to Mr. Sanders’s campaign.
So I do not expect Bernie’s ideas to be enshrined in the party’s platform. Nor should you. Nor will it be of any significance if they are.
We didn’t phone bank and canvass and volunteer for a tweak to the party platform. We did it to open millions of eyes to a new reality. To expand what is achievable and acceptable within the Democratic party. To open the hearts and minds of the people.
We have, together, walked through a door which has revealed that our world is not what many thought it to be. In this world:
- A 74-year old Democratic Socialist from Vermont can come within 5% of taking the nomination away from one of the most recognizable people in the Democratic party and the world.
- A candidate who stridently denounces the influence of money in politics and refuses to rely on wealthy backers can compete with a campaign finance machine built over decades.
- An “old white man” who downplays the religious barriers he would shatter can match a candidate reminding us her nomination would break historic gender barriers.
What do these things portend? What do they mean for the next person to champion these ideas and strike the right chord? A curtain has been drawn on a peculiar sort of naysayer, and this will influence the next crop of candidates.
Bernie’s donor list will not help those salivating over it. To gather these supporters, a candidate will have to demonstrate consistency and authenticity. That takes a lifetime of commitment. The names on the list are worthless to most politicians and organizations. Bernie’s supporters coalesced in months, almost organically. Like the appearance of the first songbird of spring, our value lies in the truth we reveal.
If you have the right policy proposals and people believe you, the means to support your campaign will arrive.
A “prime speaking slot” at the convention has never been the goal. The objective was to win the Democratic nomination and bring long-ignored policies back onto the mainstream political agenda. We have seen some success. Income inequality, truly universal healthcare, climate change, racial justice, immigration, our rights, the pursuit of peace and the sanctity of our democracy are back on the agenda. The work to keep them front and center goes on.
Our aim has been to nudge the Democratic party back to the left on economic issues and away from forces that compromise our democracy. That goal has, in some measure, been attained. The Overton window has widened, and a path blazed for those who wish to follow.
Yet I fully expect to hear that winning in November is too important to accommodate “ideological purity”. As if that is what any of us worked for. I expect to hear that we need this donor or that demographic to win, so maybe this issue should be downplayed and we should pivot on that one. I am certain we will be told tacking to the center is pragmatic necessity.
This primary has shown us how the defenses work. The Democratic party, like all organizations, resists change. Change is not viewed kindly by those who enjoy any measure of privilege or power. It arrives from without.
Be that as it may, the primary is not over. Bernie will keep going through June, so keep volunteering and keep phone-banking.
The final delegate count is a map of the reservoirs of support waiting for the candidates who take up the cause. It charts a path. But the true importance of continued engagement is to ensure voters in Indiana, California, New Jersey and 11 other states/territories can hear and evaluate Bernie’s ideas for themselves. We keep going through June because the path for future candidates needs to be as wide as possible.
If we do not succeed this year, it will not have been a dream. It is a premonition.
Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) has a prognostication in a blog post: The Unfavorability Illusion. He thinks Trump is a master persuader who can close the gap between his 70% unfavorable rating and Hillary’s 56%, to win. My own take is that no Republican candidate can win the 2016 presidential election. Hillary would defeat Trump, but the margin will be far narrower than we would like it to be.