Bernie Is Trying to Climb A Unicorn

The Democratic Primary is over. I know Bernie Bots and Bernie Bros. and #BernieorBust do not believe that. According to many reporters, Bernie himself may not believe this. We know Robert Reich and Nina Turner don’t believe this. That makes it very hard for the millions that joined him during his campaign to believe this.

I know I will receive hate mail for this but there is not even a scintilla of disrespect intended toward Bernie or any of his supporters. Every young person in our family is captivated by Bernie and I do not want anything to shatter their newly discovered passion for politics. All that being said, I was so very disappointed at him last evening.

Hillary Rodham Clinton made history last night. She made history for millions of women in America. She made history for millions of women around the world. She made history for billions of disaffected, marginalized and disregarded women in every area of the planet. She made history for every little girl who says “Mommy, when I grow up, I want to be President.” He could have joined her, and the democratic party and been part of that history. He could have been the very first “old white guy” and lifetime politician to recognize the revolution. A revolution that women have been fighting for since before Moses walked the earth.

Bernie had a choice last night. He could embrace the moment, and join in an overwhelmingly important event in world history; or, he could hunker down in his fantasy that he could still be the nominee. He could be gracious. He could be silent. He could be excited for women. He could be classy and magnanimous. He could say he would spend the next few days to plan the campaign’s next move.

He said instead “I am pretty good at arithmetic, and I know that the fight in front of us is a very, very steep fight, but we will continue to fight for every vote and every delegate we can get.”

Here comes the hate mail part. If there is any part of Bernie of his campaign that believes that arithmetic, under any definition will get him the nomination, he is not “pretty good” at it. If he or his campaign believe that this is merely at “very, very steep fight” to get enough votes to win, he is climbing a unicorn. That is not meanness, that is reality, in all its clarity.

When someone tells you you have a fatal disease, it is not what you want to hear. It is devastating. It is frightening. It is disappointing. It takes your breath away. But it does not cease to exist merely because you don’t want to believe it. Miracles can happen. I am living proof of that, but he is not looking for a miracle. He is looking for a do-over. He is looking to change time and space to affect a new reality.

Over and over again, he and his supporters have demanded that “the people should decide”. That “super delegates should not decide.” When that didn’t work they demanded the super delegates “could” decide to defy the will of the people if super delegates flipped for Bernie. But only the will of Hillary people should flip. They want to keep the Bernie people.

The people cast more than 4 million more votes for Hillary than for Bernie. In every state, people came out in the tens of thousands to hear Bernie’s message. To listen to his rallies. He had people on the ground. He was on television and radio. He was on MSNBC almost every single day getting extraordinary amounts of coverage. He was on CNN, FOX, NBC. He was in Town Halls, one-on-one interviews, and he was in debates. He was on Saturday Night Live and daytime talks shows and the night time comedy/variety/talks shows. He had thousands of supporters on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and all forms of social media. In state after state, territory after territory, people turned out to vote in caucuses and primaries in 56 contests. (55 are done and DC votes next week). At the end of the day, of those millions of Americans, millions more voted for Hillary than for Bernie.

There are 50 states, 5 Territories and the District of Colombia. Bernie won 22 states. Hillary won 28 states, 5 Territories and she is likely to win DC. If you count them together, she won 34 to his 22. In any sport contest, she “clinched” the nomination. She wins the pennant, or the Cup or the Ring with a 63% winning streak.

There were 17 Caucuses and 39 Primaries. Bernie won 12 Caucuses and 10 Primaries. Hillary won 6 caucuses and 27 primaries. Primaries are much bigger than caucuses. They are more complicated than caucuses. Tens of thousands more people show up for primaries than for caucuses. (For example there were 26,000 that showed up for Washington caucuses that overwhelmingly voted for Bernie; and more than 719,000 that showed up for the subsequent Washington primary that overwhelmingly voted for Hillary).(None of Hillary’s primary votes counted for Washington state).

open tableThe chart sums up the arguments that Bernie “wins” open primaries and loses “closed” primaries. The argument essentially says it is inherently unfair to require that the people who vote in a party election actually belong to that party. Sort of like saying it is unfair that Canadians and Mexicans can’t vote in American elections just because they are not citizens. But, the point has been that if more people who were not democrats could vote, Bernie would have won. As the chart shows. Hillary won more open primaries and she won more mixed primaries that sometimes even allowed same day registration. She won more closed primaries as well. In other words, she won more primaries in all three categories.

Another argument I hear is that if Bernie won big in a state, he should get all of the delegates and super delegates. No one ever argues that if Hillary won big in a state, she should get all of the delegates and super delegates. The discord comes when Bernie has won “overwhelmingly” but Hillary still gets delegates. There are 4 possible ways to look at this.

  1. Give one candidate all of the delegates – both super and pledged – if they “win big”
  2. Give each candidate the same proportion of super delegates from each state as pledged delegates
  3. Leave the pledged delegates the way they are but give the super delegates to the winner of the state
  4. Give Bernie all the delegates and super delegates in the states he wins but keep Hillary’s the same since the system is “rigged” in her favor “by the establishment.”

Since #4 is just plain silly, we won’t spend any time whatsoever on that one.

If we look at every state where either Bernie or Hillary won by 10 points or more here is what happens:

Hillary won 24 races by at least 10 points. If we did “winner take all” for those states, she has 2375 pledged delegates and 363 super delegates. Now add the proportional states that neither won by more than 10 points and she gets another 460 pledged delegates and 84 proportional super delegates. That gives her a total of 3,282 delegates. That is 899 delegates more than she needs.. That does not look good for Bernie.

Bernie won 19 states by at least 10 points. Same winner take all and he gets 709 pledged delegates and 167 super delegates. Add the proportional 442 delegates and proportional super delegates and 71 super delegates. Grand total 1,389. Oops 994 delegates short. Bernie had a wonderful showing and he won “big” in several states. But he won in states with fewer delegates. He won in caucus states and did not win as many primaries. He poured his heart into Nebraska and Kansas and he ignored Mississippi and Alabama. He valued and understood New Hampshire voters but not Texas voters.

It is not necessary to do the math on the other scenarios because it gets worse from here. And I hate math, so don’t make me do it.

The last possibility is to leave things as they are and try to flip delegates at the convention. Without a single super delegate going into the convention, Hillary only needs 180 of them. If you give Bernie the other 533 and take one of Hillary’s to break the tie, he will still be 21 delegates short.

Most people know how hard it is to try for something with all your heart and not quite make it. Senator Sanders should be given the respect to absorb all of this. To rest after an exhausting year of running his race. He should have the quiet of the Vermont countryside on a beautiful summer day. He should be able to enjoy a few peaceful normal days with his wife to reboot, to heal and to recover.

I wish he had stood up for women last night, but I understand why he cannot do that yet. I wish he had stood up for little girls but they will still be here in a few days. I wish he had embraced the magic moment that came and went right in front of him. I do not wish him to be rushed into healing.

I also do not wish him to continue disparaging our presumptive nominee, or insulting our party, or ridiculing our representatives that work hard under unbelievable Republican oppression and obstruction. I wish him well, and I hope he lives up to the expectations that he will do the right thing. Once he has rested and recovered and renewed, let’s hope he brings his passion to our fight. And it is our fight against Trump and republican obstructionism right now. It has been our fight for years and we want his help and we need the passion he brings to this fight.

He has run a fantastic race under the flag of the democratic party. In a few days, he can pick up that flag and raise it high overhead to stand up for our nominee and all the democrats that had his back and gave him the opportunity to bring his message to millions of Americans.


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