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      Bernie’s Long Shot Campaign Strategy

      Bernie’s Continental Army (what else to call it?) is readying to throw itself into a vital string of primaries from Wisconsin (April 5) to the Wyoming caucus (April 9) all the way to New York (April 19) and finally California (June 7). They tend to win "whiter" primaries and caucuses where grass-roots organizers dominate. If Bernie splits those big and diverse states with Hillary, she will still add important delegates to her total of 280 pledged delegates and 440 additional super-delegates. That gives her a 300+ delegate edge on the quest for 2,382. According to the LA Times' poll today, among California Democrats Clinton leads 45-37 with eight percent undecided, a difference that Bernie might close. Interestingly, Bernie leads Hillary among Asian voters and has risen to the high thirties among Blacks and Latinos. Also notable, 13% of California Democratic primary voters said that they would outright refuse to vote for Hillary if she in fact gets the nomination.

      Bernie’s hope is to light a fire in those big states, giving him increased momentum, and pushing Hillary’s super-delegates to reconsider their positions by the convention in Philadelphia. By gaining stronger momentum and spirit, the Bernie forces are trying to convert a majority of Democrats before the convention. The possibilities are live even if the odds are long. 

      Bernie's advantages are these: spirit, momentum, money and polls showing he’s better in a showdown with Trump. His disadvantages are the lack of a broad base in communities of color, above all, and the fear among Democratic officials that their candidates will suffer if they run on the same ballot with a democratic socialist this fall. However, it is also possible that Democrats might regain Congress with Trump as the GOP nominee. The Supreme Court gap is more likely to be filled by Merrick Garland as well. 

      It’s true that Hillary leads Bernie by 2.6 million Democratic votes and retains a solid delegate and super delegate margin. But it’s an impressive fact that Bernie has come farther than any progressive candidate in history. 

      Their campaigns for now are on a curvature towards each other. The race is closer than the mass media ever imagined. 

      Bernie supporters refuse to accept any scenario short of victory. Many of them swear they will never support Hillary as the nominee, or refuse to vote at all. Some are giddy with the vision of a new party being created outside the dreaded two party duopoly. A few “told you so” folk are even hiding their dark fear that Trump will beat Hillary. The Green Party is pulling together their ranks to ensure ballot access for next time while somehow maintaining the threadbare argument that Trump and Hillary are exactly the same. 

      Here’s an alternative scenario. 

      First, Bernie goes all out until the California primary.

      Second, Bernie and Hillary appoint teams to negotiate a common platform. They agree to oppose the TPP and support fair trade, a policy designed to pull away white working class voters from Trump’s appeal to white nationalism. Both Hillary and Bernie agree on government job creation, implicitly adopting a Keynesian economics, not corporate neo-liberalism. They retain their current views on immigrant rights, overturning the era of mass incarnation, and taming the drug war fever. While endorsing military force against ISIS, they signal a retreat from unwinnable, unaffordable, unilateral wars of regime change. They hammer out a plan to achieve a Canada-style national health care system through the next congressional elections of 2018 and national elections of 2020. They sharply reduce escalating college tuitions.

      The behemoths of K Street will strenuously resist with moans, groans and fatter checks. 

      Obama should provide mighty help towards his legacy. 

      Hillary, assuming she has the delegates, needs to offer the vice-presidency to Bernie out of respect. There are exciting alternatives like Julian Castro and Elizabeth Warren. However there is no one but Bernie who can unify and mobilize his base for the general election. Think of Lincoln's 'Team of Rivals'.  

      Some already are discussing Bernie’s future and the future of democratic socialism after this election. That’s all well and good for my colleagues at the Nation, PDA, Move On, DFA, and the American Prospect, but the first priority is defeating Trump with a united front, one that achieves conflict resolution without leaving the scars and bruises that usually follow hotly disputed primaries. Conflict resolution starts with hearing the needs of the 'Other', not trying to impose factional control based on getting the most votes. Victory or defeat hangs in the balance. Only then we can build the greatest Progressive Bloc since the Thirties. 

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      Reader Comments (6)

      Useful commentary, Tom. It might help to point out that Bernie wins the majority of Afro-American and Hispanic voters under the age of 30, while he has little support from older Southern African Americans. In toto, there is more of an upside to the demographics than is apparent in the overall figures.

      If it comes down to unity based on Hillary as candidate, there needs to be an understanding that meaningful support from Bernie's Continental Army can only be won by substantial evidence that Bernie's goals and principles will be advanced by her eventual electoral victory.

      March 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHenry Wortis
      Firstly, who can trust H. Clinton to follow through? Trust aside, it is not entirely in the control of the president to back up campaign promises. And what power does the V.P. have (Cheney excepted)? This “long shot” is also a long-term strategy, as the corporate state is going to fight very hard, and the Constitution supports it (see
      March 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJ.Deutsch
      Why would Hillary Clinton agree to the elements of the common platform you propose? She is by record and rhetoric adamantly opposed to nearly everything on that list. If she ends up with the nomination, per your scenario, she will see it as an endorsement of her political record and values which are both at odds with the common platform you suggest. That she might lose the presidential election by not adopting that platform does not in any way suggest she will take change her natural inclination and end up losing to Trump (or whomever). The arrogance and complacency of her campaign strongly suggests she will continue to assert, “it's my way or the highway.”
      March 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterColin MacWhirter
      I wish I could see a possibility of Clinton making any tangible concessions of the kind you describe. It would, of course, be in the best interests of the party, country, and planet, but not in the best interests of the Clintons and their friends.
      I would be in equal measure delighted and surprised if they took your very reasonable advice. I guess stranger things have happened!
      March 30, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterchuckvw
      I enjoy Tom's commentaries, but am saddened by his apparent disdain for third parties like the Green (as he's displayed more pointedly elsewhere)--as I am by other Democrats who advance progressive ideas while decrying what they view as the imminent demise of the GOP, on the grounds that we need two vigorous parties for our democracy. Of course we should have (at least) two vigorous parties, but we'll be hard pressed to enact truly progressive ideas without some form of proportional or preferential voting to empower those of us who hold those ideas. In the meantime we owe it to our democracy to support alternatives like the Green. We've learned that we really can't expect much from the Dems--I'm not sure the Dems and Republicans are Tweedledum and Tweedledee, but they're pretty darn close. As for Sanders, he's a full-throated supporter of our war against Afghanistan; for me that's enough said.
      March 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRichard Johnson
      In response to your recent endorsement of Hillary Clinton, online at The Nation:

      Dear Tom,

      I think you know I regard you with affection and respect.  You will also not be surprised that I'm disappointed in your endorsement of Hillary Clinton, at this stage of the Democratic primary campaign.  

      I was a little disappointed when Jann Wenner editorialized for Hillary in Rolling Stone a few weeks ago.  But his prose felt half-hearted, and I was doubtful that anyone in his position would change many minds anyway.

      Reading your justifications for siding with Hillary makes me sadder.  You've paid more dues than Wenner in political struggles, and you're capable of more penetrating thought.  But your explanations are longer, more taxing, and not much more persuasive than Wenner's.

      You begin by employing a simple scare-tactic, to end the Sanders campaign: If we don't unite behind Clinton NOW, Donald Trump will be our next president.  That debatable premise is not enough to make me want to surrender my principles and to line up behind the pragmatic Hillary, BEFORE the Sanders-Clinton contest has played out.

      To ratchet our fears up further, you declare that Bernie has not yet been subjected to the full fury of the Republican slander-machine.  

      Do you expect the old fighter to shrink at the first salvo?  Sanders has endured the sniping and ridicule (and silence) of the establishment mediums, and he seems to be getting stronger every week.  Clinton is a pugnacious, formidable opponent, and she has attacked Sanders with underhanded ferocity (accusing him of the "artful smear," and claiming that he stood with the racist Minutemen against immigrants).  Sanders hasn't flinched and he hasn't struck back with the same disregard for truth.

      Finally, Tom, you play your own version of the race card to justify your support for Clinton.  The majority of the African-American and Latino officials in the Democratic Party establishment long ago boarded the Hillary bandwagon.  So, you say, you feel a profound personal compulsion to follow their example, and, after waiting a decent interval, to jump on board with them.  (In your words, when "for example, the Congressional Black Caucus and Sacramento's Latino caucus --" came out for Hillary, "that was the decisive factor for me.")

      And you have chosen to declare your decision at a strange moment -- at a time when the Clintons' history of double-crossing African-Americans is receiving increasing exposure.  Didn't you see Bill Clinton's outburst at the Black Lives Matter activists in Erie, Pennsylvania?  Tom, you could engage your readers more usefully by researching and explaining the puzzling, and enduring, myth of the Clintons' "special relationship" with the black community.  

      I'm disappointed, Tom.  You really jumped the gun.  But, when the primary campaign has been allowed to run its full course, I will join with you in backing the legitimate nominee of the Democratic party.


      Dave Clennon
      April 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDave Clennon
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