The national news media named Hillary Clinton the “presumptive nominee” of the Democratic Party for US President on the eve of the California primary, amid questions of journalistic ethics violations. Did the announcement affect the outcome with some Sanders’ supporters not voting because they were told the race was over? We’ll never know.
The national media’s decision to “call” the race for the nomination before the single largest delegation was chosen by voters surprised only the most rabid Sanders supporters. After all, HRC was anointed “presumptive nominee” by the media years ago. Few expected a serious challenge, and the press, TV news, radio, and internet journalists all repeated frequently that Sanders had no real chance. Did this affect the outcome? Certainly. Why vote for a symbolic candidate interested in raising economic and moral concerns only to push the inevitable nominee to address such issues?
Hillary ran as the candidate who could “get things done” and painted Bernie Sanders as a naive idealist. But Bernie appealed to four out of five millennials who are, after all, the future of the party and the nation. So HRC stressed her experience and her practicality while Bernie stressed Hilary’s connections to big money from Wall Street banks and to establishment politicians like Henry Kissinger.
Of course Hillary Clinton’s now official run for the White House is historic; few women have been candidates for the presidency, and none has been a major party nominee until now. Lost amid gender politics is the historic significance of Sander’s achievement: an aging Socialist jew winning twenty-two states and 12,000,000 votes in primaries, and running very near to Clinton (except for Super Delegates), despite her longstanding hold on this opportunity to represent her party and, perhaps, become the first woman president of the US.
It was the polling of Super Delegates that generated the early call of the nomination, since Super Delegates don’t participate in the process until the party convention. By design, Super Delegates protect the party from being hijacked by an outsider. And Sanders, a socialist-independent, certainly is an outsider to the Democratic Party’s system of nomination despite caucusing with Democrats in the Senate. No doubt some in the GOP will be thinking about reforming their nomination process given the outsider, Donald Trump, beating a dozen establishment Republicans to take that party nomination.
Many dedicated Clinton supporters are clammoring for Bernie to concede the race and go away. But Hillary herself took four days to concede to Obama in 2008, hoping to broker a deal for influence going forward. Sanders has earned his right to take his time in an effort to push the political pendulum to the left. After all, it was Hillary’s husband Bill who stole the Republican agenda from Newt Gingrich and swung the Democratic Party to the right of Richard Nixon (who ran on a negative income tax in 1968, something no candidate could do today).
We do live in interesting and historic times. When the dust settles, most Sanders supporters will vote for Hillary, and Bernie will not run as an independent, his most rabid enthusiasts notwithstanding. I expect millennials to vote — for Clinton — though not with the same enthusiasm Sanders inspired. And I expect Trump to dig as much dirt as he can — even invent some if necessary — and present a “scandal” in mid-to-late October, too late for effective fact-checking and thoughtful consideration. Let’s hope the system, while badly bent out of shape, is not sufficiently broken to prompt an exodus for Canada in the face of President Trump.