Reading the papers this morning, it seems that Hillary Clinton may have the nomination in the bag after a group of superdelegates pledged to support her at the Democratic convention in July. Though technically not yet a victory, the timing of the announcement was undoubtedly aimed at suppressing voter turnout among supposedly disheartened Sanders supporters. This message of Clinton’s inevitability is further echoed by a panicky liberal punditocracy fearful that Sanders’s commitment to staying in the race through the convention is only going to hurt Clinton in the general election.
It is absolutely vital that Trump lose.
It is also absolutely vital for Sanders to stay in the race.
A victory for Sanders in California today sends a clear message just how large Sanders’s base is within the Democratic Party. It’s highly unlikely that Sanders can overcome Clinton at this point, but thinking about politics as if they begin and end with presidential elections is short-term thinking. The real long-term goal is to shift the political landscape to the left and this primary contest has proven to be a surprisingly useful vehicle for doing that. So what, if Clinton wins? Depending on what Sanders’s supporters do today and continue to do over the next several years, this could be the last hurrah of the Clinton-wing of the Democratic Party.
Clinton will tack to the right once she’s convinced she’s got the nomination secured. The Democratic Leadership Council, the Third Way, the Blue Dogs, the New Democrats … all of these poll-driven folks who back Clinton sincerely believe that the center of the country is somewhere between her and Trump. That may well have been true in the 1980s, when Bill Clinton and gang began their takeover of the Democratic Party, but it’s not true now. It’s long past time to end the politics of triangulation.
A win for Sanders today – especially in California – will prove the triangulators wrong and show where the sympathies of the Democratic electorate really are. A large enough win will hopefully prevent Clinton from abandoning the next generation of Democratic voters in the general election. These folks are much further left than either Sanders or Clinton and they are the future of the party. And today, I hope they make their voices heard.
If they do, the future is ours.