Sunday, July 3, 2016

Can Bernie take "yes" for an answer? The case against Sanders staying in

"He's already moved Clinton and the Dems to the left," writes David Corn at Mother Jones. But swearing to carry the fight against Clinton to the convention may cost Sanders and his supporters more than they can hope to gain.

The platform is not entirely The World According to Bernie. But it's a helluva lot closer to that than any political observer would have guessed a year ago. The influence of Sanders' folks on the drafting committee—including scholar Cornel West, environmentalist Bill McKibben, and Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota—is rather obvious. They have steered the party to the left.

Sanders now faces a stark calculation: Are the policy gains that could be obtained by continuing the fight to Sandersize the platform worth the potential discord that could come from not closing ranks with Clinton to combat Trump? To pocket additional wins, Sanders has to threaten floor fights and debates that could suck up time and attention at the convention. It seems probable that Sanders will eventually come around and lead as many of his supporters as possible to vote for Clinton. Yet he is drawing out this process and needling the Clinton camp. To what end? Will he win platform fights on trade, the Middle East, and other matters at the convention? Maybe, but he won't have a majority of the delegates. And what will be the cost of such battles? Also, to what degree does the platform truly matter? How many presidents or legislators feel beholden to a platform? It is also conceivable that should Sanders lead an all-out battle on these subjects, the final outcome could be disappointing to his supporters. If Sanders does not win these squabbles, some of his voters might then feel less inclined to be with [Clinton].

Sanders has reshaped the party and its platform in a stunning fashion, and he deserves much credit for that. But he appears to want to go further. At this stage, attempting that could hinder the effort to unify the party and focus it on the No. 1 job of stopping Trump. Clinton partisans are obviously eager for Sanders to declare victory and to fixate on defeating Trump. That's natural; they've had enough of Sanders and don't want to be bothered further. But he has his own reasons to claim success and to become a full partner in Clinton's anti-Trump endeavor. With Trump posing a serious threat to much of what progressives hold dear, Sanders and his backers, as they weigh whether to keep fighting the Dems for additional policy gains, might want to keep in mind that doing so could become a drag on the campaign against Trump and also tarnish the brilliant win Sanders has already attained. After all, a more progressive Democratic Party platform will mean little if Trump seizes the White House.

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