Bernie Sanders has faced criticism, some of it fair, for creating more intra-party tensions than necessary in recent months. His detractors, however, should give the Vermont senator credit now for doing precisely what Democrats hoped to see him do.
There will be plenty of debate about whether or not he’s too late and why he didn’t take constructive steps sooner, but as NBC News reported today, Sanders isn’t on board with the disruptive tactics of his most ardent backers.
The Bernie or Bust movement appears to have been busted by Bernie…. As if making up for lost time, [Sen. Bernie Sanders] crisscrossed a sprawling hotel and convention center complex downtown to take the message from his speech directly to individual state delegations.From New York to Wisconsin to Iowa to California to Florida to Montana to Alaska, his message to the delegates was the same: The only way for his supporters to continue what they started is to elect Clinton and stop Donald Trump.
Not surprisingly, this message wasn’t well received among his backers in the California delegation, some of whom adopted far-right Republican mantras as their own yesterday, but the senator, again to his credit, didn’t placate them.
“It’s easy to boo,” Sanders said. “But it is harder to look your kids in the face who will be living under a Donald Trump presidency.”
And what about his supporters who may be thinking about throwing their support to third-party candidates who stand no realistic chance of winning the presidency? Sanders was specifically asked this morning at a Bloomberg Politics breakfast about the Green Party’s Jill Stein.
“[Green Party members are] focusing on very, very important issues,” Sanders said. “But I think right now – what is it, three, four months before an election – you’re going to end up having a choice. Either Hillary Clinton is going to become president, or Donald Trump.”
It’s easy to overlook this, but Sanders’ electoral pragmatic streak isn’t new. The Vermonter has long kept his distance from Democratic politics, but let’s not forget that Sanders endorsed Bill Clinton in the 1990s, Al Gore in 2000, John Kerry in 2004, and Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.
That 2000 race is of particular interest because some on the far-left rallied behind Ralph Nader. Sanders rejected each of Nader’s national presidential bids.
By all appearances, Sanders’ calculus has been consistent for a generation: evaluate the viable candidates, support the more progressive choice. The senator may have taken the long road to get to this point in 2016, but it’s a destination he’s reached several times before.
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For his fans inclined to boo, Bernie Sanders has a message