Note: I write as one who has supported Bernie from the beginning, and voted for him in the Virginia primary.
Various good commentators are noting that Bernie has lately been campaigning in a way that fails to deal honestly with the reality that the race for the nomination is over and that is making more likely the election of Donald Trump to the presidency. (For example.)
The failure to come to grips with the reality that Hillary Clinton will be the nominee — Bernie will not win the remaining primaries with the necessary blow-outs, and the superdelegates are not going to switch to him — is being combined with feeding in his followers an essentially inappropriate sense of grievance. This combination is threatening a degree of division that would hand the election to Donald Trump.
Bernie Sanders has said most emphatically that a Trump presidency absolutely must be prevented. That alone should be reason enough to motivate Bernie’s way of campaigning to one that attacks the GOP and its presumptive nominee more than the Democratic Party and its presumptive nominee.
But if a second source of motivation for such change is necessary, there’s another one readily available: Bernie is in serious danger of turning what would have been a positive, even heroic legacy — for his movement going forward, and for his place in history — into a shameful one.
Is there someone in a position to deliver this message to Bernie so that it has the necessary impact?
Senator Merkley (D-OR) — the only member of the U.S. Senate to have endorsed Bernie — said yesterday that he absolutely opposes the plan, bandied about by Bernie and his people, to take the fight to the convention.
That’s a start. But more may be needed. Who has the clout — in terms of relationship with Senator Sanders, and in terms of their status — to be able to provide it?
Would Joe Biden be the man for the job? As a long-time colleague, and the Vice-President, would Biden be able to bring Bernie back to a clearer picture of the larger battlefield, and of what is now called for from him?
Would Elizabeth Warren coming out publicly at this late date to endorse Hillary and call for party unity provide the necessary wake-up?
I’ve loved Bernie. But the contest for the nomination has been decided. Bernie’s conduct is already visibly eroding the Democrats’ position, as registered in the futures markets, as the Republicans consolidate around Trump and as Bernie is widening rather than narrowing the divisions on the Democratic side.
It is sad to see Bernie lose his way on this homestretch, when a shift rather than an escalation is what is clearly called for.
But it would be more than sad, it would be an absolute disaster for America to so thoroughly lose its way as a nation as to hand all the powers of the presidency to a fascist demagogue.
Can anyone stop Bernie’s breaking bad?