Bernie’s putting his fans in one very “tough spot” (Rolling Stone and Huffington Post). Sanders has just pulled a 180° flip-flop after a quarter million of his supporters signed petitions supporting his initial position (see below).
That was: Unelected elite establishment superdelegates should butt out, and not overturn the will of the voters. How can he reverse such a strong position overnight? Hundreds of thousands of his supporters from MoveOn and other groups have mainly stayed consistent. They should bring Bernie back to his principles—before he ruins his reputation.
Even Jeff Merkley, his lone Senate backer, says he should drop out if he loses the popular vote and the elected delegates. But Sanders says, No. Now he wants those same “undemocratic” superdelegates to do their job, overturn the will of the voters, and nominate him!
He’s three million votes behind and has 285 fewer elected delegates. It’s now virtually impossible for him to win democratically—by his own definition. He admits that. But he and his campaign manager say that after the last primary (June 14) they are going to try to flip enough superdelegates to steal the nomination from Hillary — and from the voters. Even if he has lost both the popular vote and the elected delegates.
What has happened?
Until he lost New York, Bernie thought he would win a majority of elected delegates, so his position was:
1. Superdelegates are undemocratic and should butt out (and not help Hillary come from behind).
But, after losing New York, Bernie knew Hillary would win a majority of elected delegates and that she didn’t need the supers. He needed them. So he flipped his position to:
2. Superdelegates should overrule the voters and nominate Bernie Sanders.
Why did he do it?
Sure, the flip-flop is self-serving. But why would Sanders (Mr. Consistent) reverse himself on a position that he said was a fundamental principle of democracy—one vote per person. Doesn’t he respect the voters?
|At the Brooklyn debate
Bernie explains why the deep
South (black) votes don’t matter.
If they don’t vote for him, Bernie tends thinks voters are just part of the conservative establishment. So they deserve little respect. For example, April 14, at the Brooklyn debate, he explained:
“Secretary Clinton cleaned our clock in the deep South. No question about it. We got murdered there. That is the most conservative part of this great country. … We’re out of the deep South now. And we’re moving up.”
—Bernie, April 14.
What does that mean? He dismisses deep-South votes as conservative, i.e. part of the conservative establishment. Sure, the deep South is conservative. But not the voters “who cleaned his clock.” Those were Democratic black voters. Everybody knows that. It was not the Southern conservative white voters; they’re Republicans. Everybody knows that too. Bernie was, in effect, saying, “conservative black votes don’t matter.”
Of course, if you asked him, he’d take it back. Or would he? He’s had plenty of chances and his comment was criticized in many papers (also here). I heard a black voter call in to NPR and ask about this. She was none too happy.
Say it ain’t so, Bernie. You’re the man of principle. Don’t tell us your principle is: Voters only matter if they vote for Bernie. Take it back.
You’ve done great. You could have a huge impact. Don’t blow it all now.
|What Are Superdelegates?|
|Superdelegates are chosen according to party rules. About 280 must be elected Democrats (senators, past presidents, etc.), and about 439 are party volunteers and officials. Bernie Sanders is a superdelegate, but Hillary Clinton is not.
They have never actually made any difference. In 2008, they backed Clinton until Obama got ahead; then they switched to him.
How is he fooling his supporters?
So far Bernie’s fans have mainly stayed honest and stuck by their position—that the voters should decide, and the superdelegates should butt out. So how does he get away with this total flip-flop?
The trick is getting us to believe the impossible, that there will be a contested convention in July. That would mean that no one has a majority on the first ballot, and that would free up elected (pledged) delegates to go against the popular vote and nominate Bernie. That crazy possibility lets his supporters feel it’s OK for him to carry on a crazy fight for superdelegates after primary voting ends June 14—even if he has lost the voters and the elected delegates.
But on July 25, someone will get a majority on the first ballot, because there are only two candidates, not three. That means it will not be a contested convention. Either Bernie or Clinton will win on the first ballot. So how does Bernie try to obscure this simple fact?
With three deceptive points:
- “It is virtually impossible for Clinton to reach the majority of convention delegates by June 14 [the last primary]. … She will need superdelegates.” (Huffington Post)
- “In other words,” he added, “the convention will be a contested contest.”
- “Superdelegates [should] decide what is best for this country and what is best for the Democratic Party.” (And he argues, he’s best.)
In point #2, Bernie uses the words “contested contest,” leading his followers to think he means it’s sure to be a “contested convention.” (As we saw, it is sure not to be.)
Point #1 says Clinton can’t get the majority of convention delegates by June 14. That sounds a lot like she can’t get a majority of delegates at the convention—which would mean it’s a “contested convention.” Again, a false lead.
Clinton will have a majority of the pledged delegates. But on June 14 (before the convention) he’s saying: count the 714 superdelegates in the total Clinton needs half of, but don’t count any of their votes, because they can’t vote till the convention—a ridiculous calculation. He just says it to confuse his supporters.
So in spite of Bernie’s tricky wording, the truth is very simple:
- The convention will not be contested.
- If Clinton has more elected (pledged) delegates on June 14, she will win,
- UNLESS Bernie convinces most of the superdelegates to go against the popular vote and against the votes of the pledged delegates.
The bottom line: if Clinton is winning on June 14, Bernie can only change that by convincing the super delegates to throw the election against the wishes of the voters. That goes against everything Bernie and his followers have stood for up until the day they lost the New York primary.
Point #3 “Superdelegates [should] decide what is best for the country.” This is pure hypocrisy. That’s exactly what the Democratic Party has said all along, and it’s exactly what Bernie and his supporters railed against. But, point #3 sounds logical (and it is), so this makes it easy for his supporters to nod their heads and say to themselves, “Yes, Bernie is right again. And that justifies fighting to get super,” but forgetting what that means.
A final confusion. Bernie makes one more point. “If I win a state … I think I’m entitled to those superdelegates.” So what effect does that have? None. Clinton would just get the supers from her states, and she would still win on the first ballot. What’s the point of that? Obviously, this is just more rhetoric to sound righteous and to confuse his supporters. And of course it contradicts his new position that supers should vote for whomever is best for the country.
If, as is almost certain, Clinton ends the primary contests with more pledged (elected) delegates than Bernie, there are only two options.
- Most superdelegates vote with the primary & caucus voters. Clinton wins.
- Most superdelegates vote against the will of the voters and the against the delegates they elected. Bernie wins.
Bernie now says he’s working hard for option #2. That reverses his long-standing, loudly proclaimed position — that letting elite establishment superdelegates decide the nomination is undemocratic in the extreme.
Given that he flipped his position one day after his disastrous loss in New York, there can be no doubt as to why he has taken this new position. It is 100% opportunistic, and his self-righteous indignation about superdelegates is pure hypocrisy.
Most of his followers have stayed true to Bernie’s original position. They are the only ones who can save Bernie from self-destruction and from damaging the party we depend on to defeat the Republicans. To them, I would say: Heal the Bern.
Sat., April 24. Mark Longabaugh, a senior Sanders campaign strategist, told the LA Times, “We want to make a case to superdelegates that Bernie Sanders is the strongest candidate.” But what does that have to do with it? Bernie’s position had been the superdelegates should just go along with the majority. He thought it was horrible that they went for Clinton because she looked strong. So his campaign is trying to use the “establishment” to throw the election. That was right after their NY primary loss.
Wed., April 27. Steve Kornacki of MSNBC asks, “If June 7th [the last important primary] comes and goes, and Hillary Clinton has won the pledged delegates, and she’s won the popular vote, there are going to be calls … to unite around her. You’re saying instead of that you will spend those months, those weeks in the summer, trying to flip superdelegates to Bernie Sanders before the convention?
If successful, this would effectively disenfranchise about three-quarters of the black Democrats in favor of Bernie’s mostly-white independents who are significantly more conservative than Democrats.
Sun., May 1. Sanders tells the National Press Club in Washington, ““They’re [the supers are] going to have to go into their hearts, and they are going to have to ask, do they want the second strongest candidate to run against Trump or do they want the strongest candidate?” Sanders then argued he is the strongest based on polling data. [Again, he is no longer arguing that superdelegates should vote with elected delegates.]
Sanders went on to point out that Clinton “will need superdelegates to take over the top at the convention in Philadelphia.” And he said emphatically, “The convention will be a contested contest.” He did not say, “if I have more elected delegates or more popular votes.” He’s going to contest it even if he loses the popular vote race and the elected delegate race.
And if he loses the delegate race the only way he can win the nomination is by getting the “elite establishment superdelegates” to go against the will of the voters.
The race for the Democratic Party nomination should be decided by who gets the most votes, and not who has the most support from party insiders.
That’s why we’re calling on all the Democratic superdelegates to pledge to back the will of the voters at the Democratic Party convention in Philadelphia. —MoveOn, April 6, 2016.
But 187,833 Bernie supporters have been so confused, they are sending this to the superdelegates instead of to Bernie. That’s because Bernie has bamboozled them into thinking the voters are with him and the supers are going against the voters. It’s just the reverse. They should send this to Bernie! Hope he listens to them. (Another such petition, with 209,174. Here’s another accidentally anti-Bernie petition to supers that says “Announce that in the event of a close race, you’ll align yourself with regular voters – not party elites.” That was your idea Bernie, why not go back to it?)