It is painful for me to acknowledge that the Democratic presidential nominating contest is getting out of hand, and that the weight of responsibility for that unhappy development rests with my candidate, Bernie Sanders.   I wouldn’t begin to try to assess the two sides’ respective rights and wrongs in what happened in the Nevada nominating process, but nothing can justify the appalling spectacle of progressive stalwart Sen. Barbara Boxer being booed by fellow Democrats, apparently just because she doesn’t support their candidate.   And, while he issued a statement condemning violence (after all, who doesn’t?) Sanders hasn’t done nearly enough to cool his supporters off. On the contrary, his rhetoric in the last couple of days suggests a desire to sharpen the fight for the nomination. That doesn’t make sense. It could be dangerously counterproductive.

Sanders has every reason to be thrilled with the level of success he has achieved in this campaign. A year ago, no one believed that he could so seriously challenge Hillary Clinton’s hold on the presidential nomination.  He has nudged Hillary to the left and demonstrated that his aggressive progressive populism represents a powerful force within the Democratic Party. But it is not yet a majority force, which is why he is not going to win the nomination. Which is why it is past time for Sanders to change course.   (I know I’ve said this before, but in light of recent developments, it bears repeating, with emphasis.) Yes, it is fine for him to continue to fight for his cause through the convention, and to try to amass delegates who will support him in that fight. But, he must know that the fight is not for the nomination; it is for the future of the Democratic Party. That future will be dim without a victory in November, and that objective has to be foremost. That will eventually require Sanders to call upon his supporters to come together behind Clinton. It will get harder to do that without some prior cooling of tempers, which needs to start before the convention. It really needs to start now, and it’s mainly up to Bernie.




  1. Nick Adamo May 19, 2016 at 11:26 am

    I hate to say that I called this, but I have been sounding these alarms for quite some time. It was evident to me that Bernie was going to try and get as much as possible out of this situation with no regards to how it impacts November.

    He mentioned bringing the fight to Philadelphia in his speech on Tuesday night, an escalation from previous rhetoric about taking the fight through California. A convention fight would be absolute mayhem and would be a gift to Donald Trump.

    I just don’t understand the lack of understanding on Bernie’s part. Is he really willing to rail against the billionaire class so hard that he actually puts one of them in the white house??

    • tonygreco May 19, 2016 at 2:20 pm

      Sanders has a long public record as a realistic and pragmatic politician, so I can only speculate that success has gone to his head. I have no doubt that he will ultimately endorse Clinton, but, unfortunately, he may have inflicted some irreversible damage before he does so.

      • Nick Adamo May 19, 2016 at 3:03 pm

        I don’t think he has been realistic since the campaign started. Paul Krugman refers to Bernie’s economic policy as a bunch of Unicorns but now isn’t the time for that debate.

        Sanders will endorse Hillary, but will he campaign for her? As I have said before I think that President Obama can sway a lot of Bernie supporters anyway. Its some of these attack lines that the Bernie campaign is still using that really troubles me.

        I just saw Nomiki Konst this Monday say on CNN that “Right now including Trump there is only one candidate being investigated by the FBI and that is Hillary Clinton”. I cringed when I heard that. Sanders needs to change the tone of his rhetoric immediately or we might see a President Trump.

        I don’t think that its too late because Trump has the ability to unify democrats more than most opponents. If we were facing a guy like Rubio or Kasich it would be so much worse. But we are certainly running out of time. The major problem is that Bernie has quite a few supporters who are non typical voters and they might be unswayable regardless of what even he says at this point.

  2. Bill Anscher May 19, 2016 at 11:40 am

    I think you are being to lenient on Sanders. As the NYT article points out, it is no longer “fine to continue to fight”. His primary victories now are weakening Clinton and are forcing her to devote time and money that should be directed toward Trump. And he doesn’t appear to have given up on the nomination. For the good of progressives and the country it is NOW time for him to stop campaigning for himself.
    Bill Anscher

    • tonygreco May 19, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      By “continue to fight” I meant with appropriate restraint. I don’t think he can just drop out at this point–it would be too much of a let-down for his followers–but he could gradually ease up. Unfortunately, he doesn’t show any signs of doing so.

  3. Lisa Lipman May 19, 2016 at 11:45 am

    I think it is worse than what you say. Now there is a new poll out, albeit from Fox, showing Trump ahead by 3 points, which is within the margin of error. Hillary’s trend in past polling, in her many years of running for office, is that she is unable to convert anti voters to supporters. Rather, she starts out ahead and then her margin is whittled away by the opponent; if she has a large enough lead at the outset, she will still win. Otherwise, she loses. She doesn’t have that here.

    The Supreme Court is at stake, and it is more than Bernie calling off, cooling off, and refocusing his troops.

    The issue is that those who are in the “if Bernie doesn’t get the nomination, I’ll support Hillary” camp is not enough to overcome her “dislikableness.” And, I believe that some recent polls are showing that more people think Hillary lies and is not trustworthy than Trump (even though he has lied the whole time).

    In the end, it is not polls, but on the ground work — and money — that will win this election. Unfortunately, I think many in the “if Hillary is it, I’ll vote for her” camp will not contribute either work or money. I think we are in for a dangerous time.

    • tonygreco May 19, 2016 at 2:27 pm

      Yes, those two recent polls are worrying (there’s a Rasmussen also showing Trump ahead a bit), but they could reflect the kind of post-convention bounce a candidate frequently receives just after winning (in this case, effectively securing) the nomination. And Fox and Rasmussen have been outliers before. But I am certainly not one to encourage complacency.

  4. Janet May 19, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    I agree, Tony. The question is Why? It seems the only explanation for Bernie’s actions is that his success has gone to his head and that he somehow believes he can win the nomination. But since we believe he’s smarter than that, perhaps this is part of his strategy to affect the Democratic party’s platform. Another questions: is there anyone who can persuade him to change his course?

    I continue to believe he will do the right thing in the end and strongly encourage his supporters to back Hillary. But this has been such a season for defying expectations, maybe he won’t!

    • tonygreco May 19, 2016 at 2:33 pm

      I don’t know if anyone can persuade Sanders to change course. Pressure from within his own camp, if forthcoming, could help. Or maybe some of his Senate colleagues, or Joe Biden, can play a mediating role. Again, I am confident that he will come around in the end, but very possibly not soon enough.

  5. Jeremy Graham May 19, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    I don’t think you should make a conclusion that favors one side if you’re not going to assess the rights and wrongs.

    People support Hillary for the most appalling reasons:

    1. Because she’s the establishment candidate.
    2. Because she’s a woman.
    3. Because Bernie claims to be a socialist.

    The second item has nothing to do with how she’ll act as president. The first item should be a negative for maybe someone who is high up in the establishment themselves. The third also generally does not involve discussing particular policies.

    If Hilary wants to be president, and I think she does, she will make a deal with Bernie at the convention. If she doesn’t people have to wonder about why they supported her in the first place.

    Bernie will be willing to make a deal. He believes sincerely in his policies, and he knows they will be almost impossible to implement if Trump is elected.

    • tonygreco May 19, 2016 at 11:01 pm

      I am indeed hopeful–I think more hopeful than some of the other commenters–that there will be a constructive deal. But I am nervous.

  6. Lisa Lipman May 19, 2016 at 7:48 pm

    I think there are other reasons that people support Hillary. Her policies for women are much better. As a small example, Hillary plan for social security addresses the smaller amount that women receive because of their lesser earnings over the years; Bernie just wants to increase social security for everyone. Thus Bernie’s plan maintains the status quo as to the wage disparity between men and women. Which do you think is more progressive?

  7. Jeffrey Herrmann May 21, 2016 at 6:07 am

    We are way past the time to be debating the relative merits of Hillary vs Bernie, a fact about which many Bernie supporters are in denial.
    As Andrew Sullivan recently wrote: “In terms of our liberal democracy and constitutional order, Trump is an extinction-level event.”
    Hillary will be Trump’s opponent and no one else will be positioned to stop him from destroying America as we know it. To deny that fact is tantamount to being delusional.
    The moral conclusion is that every decent person must immediately cease doing any harm to Hillary’s chances.
    It’s that simple.

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