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Go West, Young Man: Bernie Sanders' Path to Victory and Political Revolution

Wednesday, 16 March 2016 00:00 By The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed
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Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a Democratic presidential hopeful, speaks during a primary night event in Phoenix, March 15, 2016. (Sam Hodgson / The New York Times)Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a primary night event in Phoenix, Arizona, March 15, 2016. (Photo: Sam Hodgson / The New York Times)

Last night was pretty tough for Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton won four of the five primary contests at play in the latest Super Tuesday, and leads in a fifth contest in Missouri that's still too close to call. She also added to her already significant lead in delegates.

The mainstream corporate media, of course, have now declared the Democratic race for president over, and Hillary Clinton is now once again the "inevitable" nominee, and they couldn't be happier. This is probably the reason not one of the major networks covered Sanders' speech live last night. They're already writing him off as a cute but harmless afterthought.

But here's the thing: this race isn't over -- far from it. Sanders still has a path to the nomination, and a strong one at that.

See more news and opinion from Thom Hartmann at Truthout here.

Over the next few weeks, the primary schedule shifts to the West and upper Midwest, where Sanders has already had success and where he's favored to pick up even more victories.

If Sanders manages to win by big margins in states like Wyoming or Wisconsin, he can whittle away at Clinton's delegate lead -- which, despite what you might hear on the mainstream media, only grew by a net total of 57 delegates last night.

But more importantly, success out West and in the Midwest could win Sanders some much-needed momentum and media coverage, which will mean a lot when voters in big states like Pennsylvania, New York and California head to the polls later on in the year.

What happens after that is anyone's guess, but in the wake of what happened last week in Michigan, when Sanders won the largest primary election upset in history, there's no reason to think the "impossible" couldn't happen again. The experts and pundits in the establishment media industrial complex have written Sanders off before, and they've been wrong about pretty much everything this election, so we should take what they say with a gigantic grain of salt.

Even so, Sanders could still end up losing this race.

Even if he does win big in the West, he has to win really big (or at least not lose big) elsewhere to overcome Clinton's substantial pledged delegate and superdelegate leads. That superdelegate lead will be the hardest to overcome, because superdelegates are the establishment and likely won't ditch Clinton, the ultimate establishment candidate, unless things go really badly for her.

They ditched her back in 2008, but that was a different race -- a personality clash between mainstream Democrats, as opposed to an ideological clash between a neoliberal and a true-blue progressive.

All this is to say that while Sanders supporters should ignore the "conventional wisdom" BS that Sanders can't win and that this race is over, they should also be prepared for the real possibility that he won't be the Democratic nominee for president. And they should be prepared because an electoral loss is the not the end -- not if a political revolution is what you're fighting for.

It's only the beginning.

There is no better example of this than Ronald Reagan's first campaign for president.

Although a conservative, Reagan was a revolutionary who wanted to fundamentally transform his party and his country. And so in 1976, when conservatives called for a true right-winger to challenge President Gerald Ford, he threw his hat into the ring.

Reagan lost, but it was a very, very close race that was only decided at the convention. This close loss then set stage for Reagan's 1980 campaign, the campaign that set in motion the chain of events that led to the Reagan Revolution, which persists to this day.

Now, Bernie Sanders may not get the nomination, and he most likely won't run for president again, but for progressives, a narrow loss like Reagan's in 1976 might, in the long run, be almost as a good as an electoral victory.

That's because it would cement the progressive movement as the kingmaker in the Democratic Party, and signal to the establishment Clinton Democrats that their days are numbered unless they return to the FDR roots of the party.

It would also give Bernie a chance to play a big role at the convention -- perhaps even a role writing the party's platform.

So, in other words, the political revolution wins regardless of whether not its leader does.

This article was first published on Truthout and any reprint or reproduction on any other website must acknowledge Truthout as the original site of publication.

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Go West, Young Man: Bernie Sanders' Path to Victory and Political Revolution

Wednesday, 16 March 2016 00:00 By The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed
  • font size decrease font size decrease font size increase font size increase font size
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Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a Democratic presidential hopeful, speaks during a primary night event in Phoenix, March 15, 2016. (Sam Hodgson / The New York Times)Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a primary night event in Phoenix, Arizona, March 15, 2016. (Photo: Sam Hodgson / The New York Times)

Last night was pretty tough for Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton won four of the five primary contests at play in the latest Super Tuesday, and leads in a fifth contest in Missouri that's still too close to call. She also added to her already significant lead in delegates.

The mainstream corporate media, of course, have now declared the Democratic race for president over, and Hillary Clinton is now once again the "inevitable" nominee, and they couldn't be happier. This is probably the reason not one of the major networks covered Sanders' speech live last night. They're already writing him off as a cute but harmless afterthought.

But here's the thing: this race isn't over -- far from it. Sanders still has a path to the nomination, and a strong one at that.

See more news and opinion from Thom Hartmann at Truthout here.

Over the next few weeks, the primary schedule shifts to the West and upper Midwest, where Sanders has already had success and where he's favored to pick up even more victories.

If Sanders manages to win by big margins in states like Wyoming or Wisconsin, he can whittle away at Clinton's delegate lead -- which, despite what you might hear on the mainstream media, only grew by a net total of 57 delegates last night.

But more importantly, success out West and in the Midwest could win Sanders some much-needed momentum and media coverage, which will mean a lot when voters in big states like Pennsylvania, New York and California head to the polls later on in the year.

What happens after that is anyone's guess, but in the wake of what happened last week in Michigan, when Sanders won the largest primary election upset in history, there's no reason to think the "impossible" couldn't happen again. The experts and pundits in the establishment media industrial complex have written Sanders off before, and they've been wrong about pretty much everything this election, so we should take what they say with a gigantic grain of salt.

Even so, Sanders could still end up losing this race.

Even if he does win big in the West, he has to win really big (or at least not lose big) elsewhere to overcome Clinton's substantial pledged delegate and superdelegate leads. That superdelegate lead will be the hardest to overcome, because superdelegates are the establishment and likely won't ditch Clinton, the ultimate establishment candidate, unless things go really badly for her.

They ditched her back in 2008, but that was a different race -- a personality clash between mainstream Democrats, as opposed to an ideological clash between a neoliberal and a true-blue progressive.

All this is to say that while Sanders supporters should ignore the "conventional wisdom" BS that Sanders can't win and that this race is over, they should also be prepared for the real possibility that he won't be the Democratic nominee for president. And they should be prepared because an electoral loss is the not the end -- not if a political revolution is what you're fighting for.

It's only the beginning.

There is no better example of this than Ronald Reagan's first campaign for president.

Although a conservative, Reagan was a revolutionary who wanted to fundamentally transform his party and his country. And so in 1976, when conservatives called for a true right-winger to challenge President Gerald Ford, he threw his hat into the ring.

Reagan lost, but it was a very, very close race that was only decided at the convention. This close loss then set stage for Reagan's 1980 campaign, the campaign that set in motion the chain of events that led to the Reagan Revolution, which persists to this day.

Now, Bernie Sanders may not get the nomination, and he most likely won't run for president again, but for progressives, a narrow loss like Reagan's in 1976 might, in the long run, be almost as a good as an electoral victory.

That's because it would cement the progressive movement as the kingmaker in the Democratic Party, and signal to the establishment Clinton Democrats that their days are numbered unless they return to the FDR roots of the party.

It would also give Bernie a chance to play a big role at the convention -- perhaps even a role writing the party's platform.

So, in other words, the political revolution wins regardless of whether not its leader does.

This article was first published on Truthout and any reprint or reproduction on any other website must acknowledge Truthout as the original site of publication.

Hide Comments

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