Bernie‚Äôs Long Shot Campaign Strategy
Monday, March 28, 2016 at 11:24AM
Tom Hayden in 2016, Politics

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. 

Article originally appeared on (
See website for complete article licensing information.